Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
L'institut Canadien de Recherches sur le Judaisme
Strength of Israel will not lie

Tag: Libya

NORTH AFRICAN ISLAMIST “ENCLAVES OF TERROR” EMERGING AFTER FAILED “ARAB SPRING”

A Bloodbath for Christians, No Response from Egypt: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Nov. 11, 2018— On November 2, heavily armed Islamic terrorists ambushed and massacred Christians returning home after visiting the ancient St. Samuel Monastery in Minya, Egypt.

Libya in Chaos: Where To?: Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar and Col. (res.) Dr. Dan Gottlieb, BESA, Sept. 30, 2018— On August 15, 2018, Tripoli’s Appeals Court sentenced 45 convicts to death by firing squad for opening fire on August 21, 2011 on residents abandoning Tripoli while it was falling into the hands of anti-government insurgents.

Tunisian Ennahda’s ‘Secret Apparatus’ Draws Comparisons to Brotherhood Origins: Hany Ghoraba, IPT News, Nov. 9, 2018— A lawsuit accusing Tunisia’s Ennahda Movement of plotting the assassination of two political opponents poses the most serious challenge to the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated group since its 1981 inception.

The Open Secret of Israeli-Moroccan Business is Growing: Sebastian Shehadi, Middle East Eye, Nov. 5, 2018— “Secret” Israeli-Moroccan business is increasingly visible, despite the North African country sharing no official relations with Israel and growing calls in Morocco against “economic normalisation”.

On Topic Links

Egyptian Sentenced to Death in Killing of Christian Doctor: New York Times, Nov. 17, 2018

Turkey Stabilizing Libya? Think Again.: Uzay Bulut, Gatestone Institute, Nov. 22, 2018

Why Do Terrorist Organizations Use Women As Suicide Bombers?: Nikita Malik, Forbes, Nov. 2, 2018

The Jews of the North Africa under Muslim Rule: Ruthie Blum, Gatestone Institute, Nov. 14, 2018

 

A BLOODBATH FOR CHRISTIANS, NO RESPONSE FROM EGYPT                                    Raymond Ibrahim                                                                                                                             

Gatestone Institute, Nov. 11, 2018

On November 2, heavily armed Islamic terrorists ambushed and massacred Christians returning home after visiting the ancient St. Samuel Monastery in Minya, Egypt. Seven pilgrims — including a 12-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy — were shot to death. More than 20 were left injured with bullet wounds or shards of broken glass from the buses’ windows. “I pray for the victims, pilgrims killed just because they were Christian,” said Pope Francis after the attack. Pictures posted on social media reveal “bodies soaked in blood and distorted faces of men and women.” In one video posted, a man can be heard crying, “The gunshot got you in the head, my boy!” and repeating, “What a loss!”

After the first and largest bus had passed the ambush point, the terrorists emerged in black 4x4s and opened fire with automatic weapons on the second bus; six pilgrims were injured, including a small child. Fortunately, the bus driver managed to escape and speed away, at which point the terrorists fired on the third and smallest bus as it approached. After the driver was killed, they surrounded the stalled minibus and opened fire on all sides. The bus carried 20 people — 14 adults and six children — all from one extended family who had visited the monastery to baptize two of the children.

The terrorists first opened the hatchback and looked to see who was still alive. They then shot all the men in the head and all the women and children in the ankles or legs. One of the female survivors who was shot in the legs recalls, in a video, only that an explosion of gunfire suddenly opened on all sides of their bus; by the time she could register what was happening, she saw pieces of her brother-in-law’s brain splattered on her lap.

Another woman, after realizing that her husband and daughter had been killed, begged the jihadis to kill her, too. They said, “No, you stay and suffer over your husband and daughter.” Then they shot her in the ankles so she could not move away. In a separate report, another survivor said the terrorists told her, “We will kill the men and children and leave you to live the rest of your lives in misery.” Virtually all of the survivors have “had a nervous breakdown of what they have seen and they are in the hospital.”

Coptic Bishop Anba Makarios of Minya confirmed that “The pilgrims were killed in such a savage and sadistic way, as if they were enemy combatants, when they were just simple Christians come to get a blessing from a monastery.” Reactions among Egypt’s Christians echoed those from earlier incidents. “Oh God, these children were students in my school!” wept one local teacher. “I can’t imagine they are dead now!”

The day after the attack, the Egyptian government created more questions than answers. It announced that it had killed 19 terrorists believed to be complicit in the November 2 attack. As one report noted: “With the suspects now dead, it is impossible to confirm whether they were indeed involved in Friday’s attack. Fear continues to permeate the Christian community in Egypt.” Another report stated that government photos of the purported slain terrorists “appear staged in a manner which mirrors past examples of Egyptian security forces executing suspected terrorists.”

The attack was a virtual duplicate of another that occurred on May 26, 2017. Islamist gunmen ambushed buses full of Christians returning from the same monastery. Twenty-eight Christians — ten of whom were children, including two girls, aged two and four — were massacred. According to accounts based on eyewitness testimonies, the terrorists had ordered the passengers to exit the bus in groups: “… as each pilgrim came off the bus they were asked to renounce their Christian faith and profess belief in Islam, but all of them — even the children — refused. Each was killed in cold blood with a gunshot to the head or the throat.”

Discussing the recent massacre with Bishop Makarios, a television interviewer said, “this is a duplicate of the same event and same place that happened a year and five months ago — how can this be? What does it mean?” Makarios replied, “Honestly, those best positioned to answer this question are the state authorities…. I add my voice to yours and ask the same questions.” “That the same attack occurred in the same place only means that, despite all the talk, protecting Egypt’s Christian minority is not on the government’s agenda,” Magdi Khalil, Egyptian political analyst and editor of the Egyptian weekly Watani International, told Gatestone by phone.

Despite Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s many conciliatory and brotherly words to the nation’s Christian minorities, they have suffered more under his rule than any Egyptian leader of the modern era, partially because ISIS arose during his term. In December 2017, a gunman killed 10 worshippers inside a church in Helwan. One year earlier, 29 Christians were killed during twin attacks on churches. On Palm Sunday in April 2017, a suicide bombing of two churches killed nearly 50 people and injured more than a hundred.

While it may be understandable that Sisi cannot eliminate terrorism entirely, there is evidence that the government itself participates in the persecution of Egypt’s Christians. According to the World Watch List (2018), Egyptian “officials at any level from local to national” are “strongly responsible” for the “oppression” of Egypt’s Christians. “Government officials,” the report adds, “also act as drivers of persecution through their failure to vindicate the rights of Christians and also through their discriminatory acts which violate the fundamental rights of Christians.”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                

 

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LIBYA IN CHAOS: WHERE TO?

Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Mordechai Kedar and Col. (res.) Dr. Dan Gottlieb

BESA, Sept. 30, 2018

On August 15, 2018, Tripoli’s Appeals Court sentenced 45 convicts to death by firing squad for opening fire on August 21, 2011 on residents abandoning Tripoli while it was falling into the hands of anti-government insurgents. The 45 are all ex-members of Muammar Qaddafi’s security forces.

On the same day, August 15, 2018, the International Criminal Court (ICC) in The Hague issued an arrest warrant for Mahmoud Werfalli, a senior commander in the Libya National Army (LNA). According to the indictment, Werfalli “appears to be directly responsible for the killing of, in total, 33 persons in Benghazi or surrounding areas, between on or before 3 June 2016 and on or around 17 July 2017, either by personally killing them or by ordering their execution.” Armed groups have been executing civilians in Libya with almost complete impunity ever since the toppling of Qaddafi’s government in 2011.

As of 2018, after the demise of ISIS in Libya due to its defeats at both Sirte and Benghazi (an unknown number of currently inactive ex-ISIS fighters remain in Bani Walid and south of Sirte), the country remains divided between two governments: 1) the Tripoli-based Government of National Accord, which is backed by the UN and headed by Fayez Sirraj; and 2) the Benghazi government, which is based on Libya’s national army, headed by General Khalifa Haftar, and backed by some Arab governments (Egypt, the UAE).

Oil plays a dominant role in the competition between the two rival governments. The UN and its affiliate in Libya, UNSMIL (UN Support Mission in Libya), arranged for Libya’s oil to be re-exported through the Tripoli-based National Oil Corporation, oil exports being the main pillar of Libya’s exports. In the last year of Qaddafi’s government, 1.6 million barrels of oil per day were exported. Oil exports were heavily slashed due to the conflict in Libya, but by the end of 2017, they had regained a level of 1.2 million barrels per day.

But through an understanding between the Haftar government and the UAE, 850,000 barrels per day are exported directly by the Benghazi government through UAE companies based in the Benghazi part of the country. (In 2017, the UN accused the UAE of supplying military equipment to Haftar’s forces in violation of an international arms embargo.) In June 2018, the Ras Lanuf and Sidra oil fields were seized by Haftar’s forces and their production taken away from the national oil company of Tripoli. As a consequence, oil exports from the ports of Zweitina and Harija were stopped.

An attempt in July 2018, supported by the UN, to reconcile the two rival governments failed over Haftar’s demand that he remain chief commander of the united army. The conflict continues. The consequences of all this are detrimental to the chances of finding any reconciliation between the two governments in Libya. The state is divided, and there are no prospects of a solution in the foreseeable future.

The chaotic situation enables the emergence of enclaves of terror, inspired by the ideology of ISIS and al-Qaeda. The world should make sure that Libya does not turn into another pre-2001 Afghanistan-like state on the doorstep of Europe. Since there is almost no power on the ground in Libya with which the EU can come to an agreement to stop the influx of illegal migrants from the sub-Saharan states through Libya to Europe, this migration route will probably continue to be a gateway for many more thousands of Africans into Europe. The consequences for the EU are complex and difficult.

The question that Europe, the US, Canada, and the UN should deal with is this: in what situation will the world intervene in Libya once again to contain the domestic chaos before it spills out to other parts of the world? The sooner this question is answered, the better.

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TUNISIAN ENNAHDA’S ‘SECRET APPARATUS’

DRAWS COMPARISONS TO BROTHERHOOD ORIGINS                                                               Hany Ghoraba

IPT News, Nov. 9, 2018

A lawsuit accusing Tunisia’s Ennahda Movement of plotting the assassination of two political opponents poses the most serious challenge to the Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated group since its 1981 inception. Mohamed Brahmi and Chokri Belaid were killed in separate 2013 shootings involving the same gun. Both men opposed the Ennahda Movement, which was in power at the time. Investigators blamed a jihadist cell and identified a 30-year-old French weapons smuggler as one of the killers. Subsequent investigations by attorneys for the dead men uncovered a massive amount of evidence which was presented to the Tunisian prosecutors. They opened a formal investigation into Ennahda’s secret apparatus on Oct. 10. The attorneys gave the same evidence to a Tunisian military court, which deals with terrorism and national security. The lawsuit alleges the murder plots were hatched by Ennahda’s secret security apparatus, which the attorneys claim was created by the Egyptian Brotherhood.

Described as an Arab Spring success, Tunisia has made social and economic reforms that collide with Islamist desires represented by the Ennahda Movement. In September, Tunisia’s secular incumbent President Beji Caid Essebsi dissolved an alliance with Ennahda .

The attorneys who brought the suit provided Tunisian authorities with evidence implicating Ennahda in the assassinations, said attorney Ridha Raddaoui. That includes a document titled “Motorcycle Fighting skills,” which was found in Interior Ministry archives. It details the training methods for assassinations using motorcycles, which were used in Brahmi’s and Belaid’s murders.

The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood introduced this type of training in the 1940s as part of its own “Secret Apparatus.” According to the Brotherhood literature, it was formed to execute military operations and train Egyptian citizens militarily to defend against foreign invasions. However, it wasn’t long before it was turned into a political tool of assassinations and terrorism. The assassinations targeted high profile Egyptian officials, including Prime Minister Mahmoud Al Noqrashy Pasha in 1948.

Interior Ministry documents show that Ennahda set up a similar apparatus based on a Muslim Brotherhood proposal, Raddaoui told a press conference. One document released as part of the lawsuit includes communication between Mustafa Khadr, chief of Ennahda’s secret apparatus, and the Brotherhood in Egypt. The contents of those conversations have not been released. Two unnamed Egyptian MB officials came to Tunisia posing as agricultural experts to help Ennahda set up the apparatus, Raddaoui said. He also accused Khadr of planting two Tunisian spies inside the American embassy in Tunisia.

Ennahda’s spy network allegedly wiretapped civilians, celebrities and key political and judicial figures, tape recordings released by Tunisian lawyer and radio presenter Dalia Ben Mbarek indicate. In one tape, Khadr is heard claiming that the head of the Tunis court is in working to serve the Ennahda apparatus’ agenda. Khadr, the alleged leader of Ennahda’s secret apparatus, is a former Tunisian officer who was dishonorably discharged from the army. He is serving eight years in prison for hiding evidence and documents related to the murders of Brahmi and Belaid . The lawsuit alleges that Khadr has direct ties to Ennahda founder Rachid Ghannouchi and Nourerddine Bhiri, who was justice minister from 2011-2013.

Tunisian MP Mongi Al Rahoui, who is part of the group that filed the lawsuit, also accused Khadr of having ties to al-Hakim, the alleged assassin. Al-Hakim confessed in a 2016 interview with ISIS’s magazine Dabiq to killing Brahmi. He said he had hoped the killing would “facilitate the brothers’ movements and so that we would be able to bring in weapons and liberate our brothers from prisons,” and had targeted Brahmi because he worked for the “apostate” government. Al-Hakim was killed in a November 2016 U.S. airstrike targeting ISIS in Syria. “Ennahda has connections to known terrorists including Abu Ayyad al-Tunsi, Boubaker al-Hakim and Samy al-Awadi,” Al Rahoui said.

A separate lawsuit, filed in June, claims that between 2011-14, the Ennahda-dominated government helped facilitate travel to Syria for jihadists hoping to fight with ISIS. More than 6,000 ISIS terrorists came from Tunisia, constituting the largest number of fighters from a single nationality. “We presented the documents [showing Ennahda’s secret apparatus] to all Tunisian journalists, researchers and even Tunisian Intelligence” to prove their authenticity, said Salah Al Dawodi, one of the lawyers involved in the lawsuit. They include archived messages, audio and video recordings and other intercepted communication involving Ennahda officials. That evidence has been presented to Tunisian courts, he said.

“The Tunisian Ennahda Movement is a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood,” said Egyptian MP Mohamed Abu Hamed, “and therefore adopts all the same mechanisms, strategies and ideologies adopted by the mother group. That including the establishment of a secret armed apparatus or a military wing.” This was created to hurt Ennahda’s foes ” through assassinations and violence,” Abu Hamed said. He fears a sharp escalation in violence if the military court rules against Ennahda, comparing it to the violent Muslim Brotherhood reaction after it was forced from power in 2013.

“Al-Ennahda is now cornered and all the political players demand that it should be prosecuted for its crimes in Tunisia,” said Tunisian Salvation Front leader Monder Guerfach, who is circulating a petition in the country calling for Ennahda to be banned. The Ennahda movement’s fate is in the hands of Tunisian the military court.

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THE OPEN SECRET OF ISRAELI-MOROCCAN BUSINESS IS GROWING         

Sebastian Shehadi                                              

Middle East Eye, Nov. 5, 2018

“Secret” Israeli-Moroccan business is increasingly visible, despite the North African country sharing no official relations with Israel and growing calls in Morocco against “economic normalisation”. Recent statistical discrepancies are a good start. Although Morocco’s official trade data has never made mention of Israel whatsoever, Israeli records shows $37m worth of commerce with Morocco in 2017, according to data released by the Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) this year.

This means that, out of Israel’s 22 African trading partners, Morocco is among the four top nations from which it imports, and ninth in terms of exports, according to CBS. However, with $149m worth of trade between 2014 and 2017, this partnership is not new.

More unusual is Israel’s first overt foreign investment into the Arab world, with Israeli agricultural technology giant Netafim setting up a $2.9m subsidiary in Morocco last year, thereby creating 17 jobs, according to fDi Markets, a Financial Times data service that has monitored crossborder greenfield investment worldwide since 2003. Greenfield investment is when a company builds its operations in a foreign country from the ground up. This development may fit into broader regional trends. Arab-Israeli relations are improving, for one, due to a growing alliance against Iran. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s recent visit to Oman is a good example of these warming relations.

Netafim’s investment is the most visible example of the longstanding and “clandestine” economic ties between Israel and Morocco, two countries that have shared historically warm ties compared to other Arab-Israeli relations. However, public opposition in Morocco against normalisation with Israel keeps these ties under wraps.

For example, in 2016, government ministers denied any trade or investment links with Israel. Mohamed Abbou, then the head of foreign trade at the Ministry of Industry, Trade, Investment and the Digital Economy, told parliament: “Morocco has no commercial relations with this entity [Israel] . . . and is keen to fight the entry of all Israeli goods to Morocco.” “The government has never granted any license for anyone to import dates or any other Israeli products,” he added. This is despite the fact that Israel’s Netafim has operated in Morocco since at least 1994 through an affiliate, Regafim. Today, under its own name, its Moroccan Facebook page currently has more than 26,000 likes.

Founded on an Israeli kibbutz in 1965, Netafim is the global leader in drip-irrigation systems, a technology that it pioneered. According to its website, it has 4,300 employees and provides equipment and services to customers in more than 110 countries. In February, the company sold 80 percent of its shares to Mexichem, a Mexican petrochemicals group, for $1.5bn. Kibbutz Hatzerim retains 20 percent and Netafim remains headquartered in Israel.

“The opening of the new subsidiary [in Morocco] is part of growth in the market and our desire to improve the quality of our service and our assistance to our customers and partners in Morocco,” Shavit Dahan, Netafim’s director for North and West Africa, told the French-Israeli Chamber of Commerce. The company declined further requests to comment on its investment in Morocco.

The unabashed visibility of Netafim’s investment is unusual since most Israeli-Moroccan trade appears to be conducted secretly. “However, [economic relations] are often hard to [prove] as trade and investment deals are either kept quiet or routed through intermediaries,” said Bruce Maddy-Weitzman, an expert on Moroccan-Israeli relations at Tel Aviv University.

The French-Israeli Chamber of Commerce noted last year that “many Moroccan and Israeli companies are resorting to increasingly complex commercial channels… The Israeli media regularly reports the signing of trade agreements, financial transactions or co-operation programmes with government authorities or the private sector… The most visible Israeli-Moroccan experience is that of Netafim”…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                

 

Contents

On Topic Links

Egyptian Sentenced to Death in Killing of Christian Doctor: New York Times, Nov. 17, 2018—An Egyptian man accused of supporting the Islamic State was sentenced to death on Saturday in the fatal stabbing of an 82-year-old Christian doctor in Cairo.

Turkey Stabilizing Libya? Think Again.: Uzay Bulut, Gatestone Institute, Nov. 22, 2018—Turkey was miffed. A Turkish delegation, including Vice President Fuat Oktay, stormed out of a recent two-day international conference in Palermo, Italy, held to deal with the crisis in Libya, on the grounds that it was not included in an unofficial meeting.

Why Do Terrorist Organizations Use Women As Suicide Bombers?: Nikita Malik, Forbes, Nov. 2, 2018—The news earlier this week that a woman in Tunis blew herself up in front of a shopping center came as a shock to many. This is the first attack in the Tunisian capital since 2015. While the attack has yet to be claimed, instability in bordering Libya remains a concern, as do claims by authorities that Islamic State and Al Qaeda continue to recruit extremists in Tunisia.

The Jews of the North Africa under Muslim Rule: Ruthie Blum, Gatestone Institute, Nov. 14, 2018—Exile in the Maghreb, co-authored by the great historian David G. Littman and Paul B. Fenton, is an ambitious tome contradicting the myth of how breezy it was for Jews to live in their homelands in the Middle East and North Africa when they came under Muslim rule.

I.S. THREAT GROWS IN SINAI, PAKISTAN, AFRICA—AND PERSISTS IN IRAQ—DESPITE DEFEAT OF CALIPHATE

The ISIS Threat: Nadav Shragai, Israel Hayom, Jan. 5, 2018— Will the Islamic State forces in Sinai take part in the next clash between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip?

Analysis: Is ISIS Done For?: Yochanan Visser, Arutz Sheva, Dec. 17, 2017— The United States and Iraq celebrated the defeat of the Islamic State on the Sunday after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the Jihadist organization had been driven out of the country.

ISIS in Sinai: Battered, Weakened But Still Dangerous: Zvi Mazel, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 15, 2018— Jihadi organization Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which morphed into “the Sinai Province of the Islamic State”…

ISIS Takes Hold in Pakistan: Kaswar Klasra, Gatestone Institute, Dec. 28, 2017— Concern over the extent of the presence and power of ISIS in Pakistan resurfaced on December 17, when a suicide-bombing at a church in Quetta left at least nine worshipers dead and more than 50 seriously wounded.

 

On Topic Links

 

Syria's Post-ISIS Future (Audio): Hillel Frisch, Middle East Forum, Jan. 3, 2018

Returning ISIS Jihadists Pose Long, Uncharted Challenge: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, Oct. 16, 2017

Are Jihadi Motives Really a Mystery?: Raymond Ibrahim, PJ Media, Jan. 5, 2018

The Jihadist Threat Won't End With ISIS' Defeat: Barbara F. Walter, Foreign Affairs, Dec. 22, 2017

 

 

 

THE ISIS THREAT

Nadav Shragai

Israel Hayom, Jan. 5, 2018

 

Will the Islamic State forces in Sinai take part in the next clash between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip?

Officials in the intelligence community who are monitoring the group's growing strength and movements on the Sinai Peninsula tend to think so, and Israel is preparing accordingly. The IDF has even notified communities in the Eshkol Regional Council that it is considering lengthening the anti-tunnel barrier that has been dug along the Gaza border to areas on Israel's border with Egypt to counter Islamic State in Sinai.

 

The Institute for National Security Studies has been busy studying the jihadi group for years. This week, the institute presented President Reuven Rivlin with its annual security assessment. Among other issues, the report discusses the potential for a major terrorist event in Islamic State-controlled Sinai. "If there is another war in Gaza between Israel and Hamas and other organizations there, we can assume that the parts of Sinai controlled by the Islamic State will also take part in it,"Lt. Col. (res.) Yoram Schweitzer, who heads the Program on Terrorism and Low Intensity Conflict at the INSS and is an expert in the field, says In an interview with Israel Hayom.

 

As someone who has spent years studying the globalization of suicide terrorist attacks, and who formerly served as head of the IDF's international counterterrorism department, Schweitzer shares the belief that ISIS in Sinai will not remain idle if another clash erupts in the south. He can point out family ties and mutual interests that Hamas in Gaza and the ISIS leadership in Sinai share. "Although ISIS sees Hamas as heretics, and there are deep ideological divides between the two groups, the relations between Hamas in Gaza and the Islamic State in Sinai include mutual interests, a history of cooperating on weapons smuggling and some Hamas members who crossed the border and joined ISIS in Sinai.

 

"The two groups mix. There are some Hamas members who were disappointed with the group and crossed over to operate as part of [ISIS] in Sinai, and there are clans in Gaza and Sinai who have some members who are active in Hamas in Gaza and others who are active within the framework of ISIS in Sinai," Schweitzer says. The analyst goes on to discuss the "complicated organizational ties between Hamas and ISIS in Sinai, which have had ups and downs." "Even when the Egyptians are putting heavy pressure on Hamas, the group does not turn over members of ISIS-Sinai who have sought shelter in Gaza," he adds. According to Schweitzer, this means that "Hamas is still leaving itself room to cooperate with ISIS in Sinai. A supply and weapons smuggling pipeline to Gaza, with assistance from ISIS-Sinai, is turning out to be an interest stronger than the fear of threats from Egypt, which is demanding that Hamas turn in Islamic State operatives who are hiding in Gaza."

 

Islamic State in Sinai has proved its military capabilities and professionalism over the past few years, in particular in recent months. The possibility of ISIS in Sinai taking part in the next round of Gaza fighting demands that we review what the organization has managed to perpetrate against Egyptian and Israeli targets these past few years. The worst terrorist attack ISIS in Sinai has carried out against an Egyptian target took place at the Sufi al-Rawdah Mosque in northern Sinai at the end of this past November. A total of 311 worshippers were killed, including dozens of children. The unusual target was apparently chosen because the Sawarka Bedouin clan and the mosque's imam were cast as vigorous opponents of the Islamic State and as collaborators with the Egyptian government's war on ISIS.

 

The al-Rawdah bombing was the worst terrorist attack in the history of modern Egypt, and it came after ISIS terrorists managed to slip a bomb onto a Russian tourist plane in Sharm a-Sheikh in October of 2015. The plane blew up in mid-air, and all passengers and crew – 224 people in all – were killed. Every year for the past three years, more than 400 Egyptian civilians and members of Egypt's security forces meet their deaths in jihadi terrorist attacks, mainly executed by Islamic State. The attacks are not limited to Sinai; they are creeping into Egypt proper. Often, they target the country's Coptic Christians and tourist destinations in Egypt and Sinai, like the shooting attack at St. Catherine's monastery last April.

 

According to foreign reports, as well as reports from the Islamic State delegation in Sinai, Israel is helping Egypt fight ISIS terrorism, contributing intelligence and airstrikes. This is prompting ISIS in Sinai to attack Israeli targets as well, although the jihadis in Sinai had Israel in their crosshairs long before Israel was involved in any way in Egypt's efforts to eradicate the jihadis from the Sinai Peninsula.

 

As early as October 2004, three explosives-rigged cars blew up at the main Israeli tourist destinations in Sinai – the Taba Hilton and the Ras al-Shitan beach, killing 34 people, 12 of whom were Israelis. In the summer of 2011, Salafi jihadis managed to infiltrate Israel from Sinai and attack two Egged buses and a number of cars near Eilat, close to the Egyptian border. Six Israeli civilians, an IDF soldier, and a member of the Israel Police special forces were killed in these attacks. A year later, the Sinai terrorists almost managed to perpetrate a disastrous attack when they used an explosives-rigged APC and truck to breach the Israeli border near Kerem Shalom. The truck hit an old British "pillbox" guard post at the border crossing and blew up, while the APC continued moving forward into Israeli territory until an IDF attack helicopter destroyed it with a missile.

 

Between 2011-2012, the natural gas pipeline running from Al-Arish in Sinai to Israel and Jordan was sabotaged 15 times. The Sinai-based terrorists have also fired rockets, although relatively few, at Israel over the years. Between 2010 and 2015, 22 Grad rockets were fired at Eilat and the communities in the Eshkol region. Three years ago, ISIS in Sinai claimed responsibility for one of the rocket attacks for the first time, after firing three rockets toward the Eshkol Regional Council. In 2017, another six rockets were fired, four at Eilat and two at the Eshkol region. The concern now is that in the next clash with Hamas, ISIS in Sinai will launch rocket attacks against Israeli communities, this time more numerous…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]    

 

 

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ANALYSIS: IS ISIS DONE FOR?

Yochanan Visser

Arutz Sheva, Dec. 17, 2017    

 

The United States and Iraq celebrated the defeat of the Islamic State on the Sunday after Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi announced the Jihadist organization had been driven out of the country. "Today, our troops were able to purge islands of Nineveh and Anbar in full, and they (the forces) are now fully controlling the Iraqi-Syrian borders,” al-Abadi said…“These victories are not only for the Iraqis alone, though the Iraqis were themselves who achieved such victories with their sacrifices. But the victories are for all Arabs, Muslims and the world alike,” the Iraqi leader added.

 

“Honorable Iraqis, your land has been completely liberated, the flag of Iraq is flying high today over all Iraqi territory and at the farthest point on the border,” according to al-Abadi who declared Sunday a national holiday. The U.S. State Department followed suit with spokeswoman Heather Nauert issuing a statement congratulating the Iraqi people and “the brave Iraqi Security Forces, many of whom lost their lives heroically fighting ISIS." Nauert cautioned, however, that the victory in Iraq doesn’t mean the war against terrorism and even Islamic State in Iraq is over.

 

A day after she issued her warning ISIS suicide bombers tried to attack the Iraqi city of Rashad but the assault was foiled by the Hashd al-Shaabi umbrella organization of predominantly Shiite militias which killed 10 Islamic State terrorists. It didn’t prevent al-Abadi from organizing a military parade in Baghdad with soldiers of the Iraqi army marching through the center of the city while helicopters and warplanes were flying overhead.

 

The announcement about the final victory over ISIS in Iraq came two days after the Russian army declared victory over the barbaric group in Syria. Both statements seem to be premature, however, and an Iraqi MP even accused al-Abadi of electoral propaganda by declaring victory over Islamic State at this point. Hushyar Abdullah, a member of the Iraqi security and defense committee, wrote on his Facebook account that ISIS is still able of creating new battle fronts in Iraq. “Domestic and foreign reasons that led to the emergence of ISIS still persist in Iraq and the region,” he added according to The Baghdad Post. Abdullah said the political failures in Iraq are “at their worst level,” but didn’t elaborate.

 

Experts agree with Abdullah and warn a repeat of al-Qaeda’s resurrection in Iraq, which led to the founding of the Islamic State group, could happen because “the earth on which IS flourished” has not dried out. “The jihadists have been deprived of oxygen and defeated militarily but the womb from which they emerged remains fertile.” Karim Bitar a French Middle East expert warned. He meant economic and social problems as well as marginalizing minorities and widespread corruption in the central government in Iraq. Another huge problem is that in Iraq a whole generation has grown up knowing only cruel war and being brainwashed by Islamist ideology.

 

To understand why it is premature to celebrate victory over the Islamic State group one should take a look at the broader picture of the war against ISIS. Take, for example, what is happening in Egypt and Libya, as well as countries in Asia, Africa and the Western nations. In Egypt Islamic State is on the rise despite a four-year-old campaign by the Egyptian military and continues to expand its destabilizing activities in the country of 90 million. Wilayat Sinai, the local ISIS branch, which began its activities under the name Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, has roughly 1200 fighters in the Sinai Peninsula, 80 percent of them foreigners according to the Woodrow Wilson Center.

 

The Jihadist group carried out the deadliest terrorist attack in Egypt’s history at the end of November and has expanded its terrorist operations to the densely populated Nile Delta and to the desert in western Egypt all the way up to the porous Libyan border. Via that border, ISIS terrorists who fled from Syria and Iraq are now regrouping in Libya – that thought it also had routed the Jihadist group after the fall of its local capital Sirte.

 

Then there is Gaza where ISIS-affiliated Salafist terror groups are more and more challenging Hamas rule over the enclave in southern Israel and who are reportedly behind the renewed rocket attacks on Israeli cities and communities in the vicinity of Gaza. Islamic State also has a presence on the Golan Heights where it operates under the name Khalid ibn al-Walid Army. Channel 2 in Israel reported in October on several senior ISIS commanders who fled from Iraq and Syria and were recruiting local youth who were receiving military training in camps a few kilometers from the Israeli border.

 

Farther away in Africa Islamic State’s ideology is leading to the formation of new terror groups which joined their brothers of Boko Haram in Nigeria, an Islamist group that swore allegiance to ISIS in 2015. In Niger and Somalia ISIS’ affiliates have already staged deadly terrorist attacks which aim to destabilize the countries to the point the regime collapses. In the middle of October the ISIS and Al-Qaeda affiliated group al-Shahaab killed at least 276 people when a truck bomb flattened the center of Mogadishu in Somalia.

 

Pakistan and Afghanistan in Asia have also proven to be fertile ground for Islamic State’s radical Islamist ideology and have witnessed a number of devastating terror attacks committed by local ISIS affiliates. Further east in the Philippines ISIS founded a new branch which operates under the name Al-Shabaab and committed a massacre in the predominantly Muslim city of Marawi, leaving more than 200 people dead this summer.

 

Then there is Europe where returning ISIS terrorists are increasingly staging so-called lone wolf attacks on Westerners and are forming local terror cells which, like in Spain, are able to wreak havoc. Some 1,200 Islamic State terrorists have returned to European countries and Andrew Parker, the director of the MI5 British intelligence service, warns that the threat they pose is evolving rapidly. “That threat is multi-dimensional, evolving rapidly, and operating at a scale and pace we’ve not seen before,” according to Parker. The United Kingdom tops the list of countries which are harboring ISIS terrorists, with 425 individuals who fought in Syria and Iraq.

 

The threat Islamic State poses to the world now tops the list of worries among the public. A Pew Research Center report from August 2017 showed that 61 percent of people interviewed in countries across the globe said Islamic State remains the greatest threat worldwide.

                                                           

                                                                       

Contents

ISIS IN SINAI: BATTERED, WEAKENED BUT STILL DANGEROUS

Zvi Mazel

Jerusalem Post, Jan. 15, 2018

 

Jihadi organization Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which morphed into “the Sinai Province of the Islamic State” when it pledged allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, self-proclaimed caliph of ISIS, is slowly losing steam. Torn apart by internal strife and new enemies it is less and less active. Terrorist attacks plummeted from 594 in 2015, to fewer than half that in 2016 and 2017, according to a recent report of Al-Ahram Weekly. This is due to several factors, first and foremost, the Egyptian Army which is doing much better since it killed the organization’s leader Abu Anas el Ansari in May 2016.

 

ISIS appointed in his stead Abu Hajer al-Hashemi, who is not Egyptian and is rumored to be a former Iraqi Army officer. More non-Egyptians were appointed to the leadership of the group or swelled the terrorists’ rank and file. Among them were deserters from the Izzadin Kassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, who fled the Gaza Strip because they were dissatisfied with what they perceived as the lack of resolve of Hamas against Israel and against the Palestinian Authority.

 

The growing influence of these “foreigners” led to significant changes. Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis no longer took into consideration the tribal intricacies of northern Sinai and did not hesitate to target local civilians and Beduin, even those who in the past had demonstrated sympathy toward the jihadists. The new policy was following the basic tenet of Islamic State: Apply maximum savagery to terrify to reach its goal: setting up an Islamic regime based on the Shari’a and ruled by a caliph.

 

The November 24 massacre at Al-Rawdah Mosque, linked to the Sufi school of Islam, was a stark demonstration of that new policy. More than 300 civilians were killed in the attack carried out during the Friday morning prayers. The large Tarrabin tribe, which in the past had helped the jihadists, supplying them with information and affording them sanctuary, then turned hostile and greatly hampered their movements. According to reports, armed tribesmen had started unspecified operations against the jihadists last summer. Meanwhile, there were bitter conflicts between the “Egyptians” and the newcomers among the terrorists.

 

The tribe’s hostility combined with the growing pressure from the army led to the desertion of many militants. Some went back to Gaza, others departed for Libya. Those who did not want to leave the Sinai Peninsula joined another terrorist group, The Army of Islam, which protects them from the vengeance of Daesh. It is a small organization affiliated with al-Qaida that appeared in 2011 and lately carried out two attacks, against the army and against Daesh. Worse, there were incidents between the two sides inside Daesh. Some weeks ago, 20 bodies were found in a desert area south of El-Arish, apparently the result of an armed confrontation between their followers…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                           

           

Contents

ISIS TAKES HOLD IN PAKISTAN

Kaswar Klasra

Gatestone Institute, Dec. 28, 2017

 

Concern over the extent of the presence and power of ISIS in Pakistan resurfaced on December 17, when a suicide-bombing at a church in Quetta left at least nine worshipers dead and more than 50 seriously wounded. Had Pakistani security forces not responded swiftly to the attack on the Bethel Memorial Methodist Church — where 400 men, women and children were attending Sunday services – the assailants "would have managed to reach the main hall of the building, and the death toll would have been much higher," Sarfraz Bugti, the provincial home minister of the Baluchistan province, where Quetta is located, told Gatestone Institute.

 

Responsibility for the attack — in which two terrorists, clad in explosive vests and armed with AK-47 rifles — was later claimed by ISIS, which has an impressive record of honesty in taking credit for attacks, in a statement published by the Amaq News Agency. This was the sixth ISIS attack in Pakistan in the past year and a half. The first took place on August 8, 2016, when a suicide bomber killed at least 70 people and wounded more than 100 in an attack on a crowd of lawyers and journalists gathered in a government hospital in Quetta — in the province that borders Afghanistan and Iran — to mourn a lawyer who had been murdered earlier in the day. The attack was claimed by a joint ISIS-Taliban faction.

 

On October 24, 2016, ISIS claimed responsibility for a deadly attack on a police training college in Quetta. The assault, committed by three heavily armed terrorists against sleeping cadets, left more than 60 dead and more than 165 others wounded. On February 16, 2017, an ISIS-affiliated suicide bomber blew himself up at a Sufi shrine in Pakistan's Sindh province, killing more than 90 worshipers and wounding more than 300. On April 18, 2017, the Pakistani army foiled a planned Easter suicide bombing against Christians in Lahore. Given the amount of explosives recovered from the perpetrators, had the attack succeeded, there would have been mass casualties.

 

On May 12, 2017, an ISIS suicide bombing on the convoy of the deputy chairman of the Pakistani Senate, traveling on the National Highway in the Mastung District of Baluchistan, left at least 28 people dead and 40 wounded. On August 12, 2017, an ISIS suicide bombing on a convoy of the Pakistani military in Quetta left 15 people dead – among them eight soldiers – and 40 others wounded.

 

All of the above attacks could have been anticipated. In February 2016, the director general of the Pakistani Intelligence Bureau warned the government that ISIS was emerging as a threat, with Pakistani terrorists providing a foothold for the group, whose Pakistani branch is called Walayat-e-Khurasan. Operatives in neighboring Afghanistan have also been playing a major role in the terrorist network. ISIS enlists "partners of convenience" in Afghanistan and "outsources" terror attacks to Pakistani organizations — such as Lashkar-i-Jhangvi and Jamaat-ul-Ahrar — a recent UN Security Council counter-terrorism report revealed. In addition — according to Punjabi Law Minister Rana Sanaullah — as many as 100 Pakistanis left the country in 2015 to join ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

 

Both revelations are interesting in light of the fact — told to reporters in Islamabad by Pakistani Ambassador to Iraq Ali Yasin Muhammad Karim after the liberation of Mosul in July 2017 — that Pakistan secretly supported Iraq in the fight against the terrorist group. "Pakistan's security forces have the capability and expertise to deal with terrorist groups," Mohammad Ali, an Islamabad-based security expert, told Gatestone Institute. "I hope they take the threat from ISIS seriously."…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

On Topic Links

 

Syria's Post-ISIS Future (Audio): Hillel Frisch, Middle East Forum, Jan. 3, 2018—With the demise of the Islamic State, Syrian President Basher Assad defeated the foremost threat to his regime thanks to Russian and Iranian support. But with substantial parts of Syria held by Kurdish forces, key strategic areas dominated by Turkey, and remnants of jihadist forces still active, the regime has yet to regain full control over his rebellious subjects.

Returning ISIS Jihadists Pose Long, Uncharted Challenge: Abigail R. Esman, IPT News, Oct. 16, 2017—For months now, Western counterterrorism experts have sounded the alarm: as ISIS loses ground, foreign fighters from America and Europe may try returning home. When they do, the experts cautioned, they will carry the terror threat with them, ready and willing to strike. Law enforcement needs to be prepared.

Are Jihadi Motives Really a Mystery?: Raymond Ibrahim, PJ Media, Jan. 5, 2018—The so-called mainstream media's approach to and apologias for Islamic terrorism have become as predictable as they are farcical.

The Jihadist Threat Won't End With ISIS' Defeat: Barbara F. Walter, Foreign Affairs, Dec. 22, 2017—Since October, the Islamic State (or ISIS) has appeared to be on the verge of defeat. Yet even if ISIS were never to reemerge, the United States is no more secure against the jihadist threat than it was in the past.

                                                              

 

 

EGYPT, SOMALIA, & LIBYA FACE ONGOING ISLAMIST TERRORIST THREATS

Land of Terror: ISIS Alive and Kicking in Sinai: Ron Ben-Yishai, Ynet, Oct. 17, 2017 — The Islamic State implemented a double strategic move in the Sinai area on Sunday night.

The Terror Group as Brutal as ISIS: Megan Palin, New York Post, Oct. 17, 2017— A young girl accused of adultery is forced into a hole in the ground and buried up to her neck in front of about 1,000 spectators who have come to the football stadium to watch her death.

Is Al-Azhar University a Global Security Threat?: Cynthia Farahat, American Thinker, Aug. 23, 2017 — Al-Azhar University, the world’s largest Sunni Islamic educational institution, is where many of the world’s most brutal terrorists received their formal religious training.

Benghazi at the Bar: Jenna Lifhits, Weekly Standard, Oct. 16, 2017 — "I want them to hate him," a federal prosecutor said quietly on the evening of October 2 as his colleagues packed up.

 

On Topic Links

 

Netanyahu-Sisi Meeting Highlights Warming Ties Between Israel and Arab World: Adam Abrams, JNS, Sept. 2017

A North Korean Ship Was Seized off Egypt with a Huge Cache of Weapons Destined for a Surprising Buyer: Joby Warrick, Washington Post, Oct. 1, 2017

Census Intensifies Concern in Cairo Over Soaring Population: Ben Lynfield, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 1, 2017

"Our Lives Have Turned into Hell" Muslim Persecution of Christians, May 2017: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 15, 2017

LAND OF TERROR: ISIS ALIVE AND KICKING IN SINAI

Ron Ben-Yishai

Ynet, Oct. 17, 2017

 

The Islamic State implemented a double strategic move in the Sinai area on Sunday night. First it fired rockets into Israel’s populated area in the Gaza vicinity, and several hours later it launched a major attack on the Egyptian army in the Sheikh Zuweid area near El-Arish.

 

These two operations, which the organization claimed responsibility for, had two purposes: One, to demonstrate that despite being beaten in its strongholds in Syria and Iraq and being driven away from them, ISIS is still alive and kicking; and two, to disrupt Hamas’ reconciliation agreement with Fatah and its tightening relations with Egypt. Both the reconciliation agreement between the two Palestinian organizations, and mainly the cooperation agreement with Egypt, contradict ISIS’s interests. The rocket fire into Israel, in the Gaza vicinity, is therefore aimed at raising the tensions and perhaps leading to an escalation and an active military conflict between the Gazan terror organization and Israel.

 

Another purpose of the ISIS operation is to attract activists who are fleeing Syria and Iraq and looking for a new area of activity on behalf of ISIS and its Salafi ideology. ISIS has been forced to painfully give up a key part of its religious ideology, which separates the organization from al-Qaeda and other Salafi groups—the caliphate idea. It has lost the territory it took over in Syria and Iraq, which it declared the area under “caliphate” sovereignty and under the control of the “caliph,” Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. In Iraq, the area was conquered by government forces with heavy backing from the Americans, the Kurds and Shiite militias sent by Iran. In Syria, the area was mainly conquered by a Kurdish Arab militia which receives American aid and backing.

 

The caliphate idea was one of the things that allowed ISIS to gain a lot of capital as a result of enslaving the local population, selling oil from the wells it took over, demanding ransom for hostages and imposing taxes on the population. All this is now slipping from its fingers and threatening to disappear. ISIS is losing one stronghold after another in the area defined as a caliphate, and these places are also being occupied by the Syrian army with Russian and Iranian backing. The IDF’s Intelligence Directorate estimated a long time ago that in such a situation, ISIS would seek two alternative channels. This first channel is mass attacks in Western Europe, North America and Africa, which are carried out not only by ISIS people who have returned from or fled Syria and Iraq, but also by locals inspired by ISIS’s social media activity. These “inspiration attacks,” as they are called in the West, allow ISIS to keep gaining prestige and supporters despite the blows it is suffering in the Middle East.

 

The second channel is decentralizing ISIS’s activity outside Syria and Iraq. The attempt to turn Libya into an ISIS center failed, and the organization members are now mainly left with Sinai and Boko Haram’s area of activity in Africa. The Sinai Peninsula, despite being a limited area in which the Egyptian government is constantly fighting the Islamist organization, is still an attractive place where ISIS occasionally scores achievements. The organization also threatens the Suez Canal and the ships that cross it and is capable of expanding its activity from there into Egypt.

 

A number of Bedouin tribe leaders in Sinai, mainly in the south and center of the peninsula, recently protested ISIS’s activity following promises they received from the Egyptian government and because ISIS is disentangling the traditional-family-tribal fabric that has characterized the Bedouin tribes in Sinai until now. The tribe leaders managed to restrict ISIS’s activity in southern and central Sinai, but the organization is still active in northern Sinai and is executing suicide bombings and successful attacks on the Egyptian army and police. These attacks are not only murderous but also sophisticated, and because they are carried out in several places simultaneously, they almost always claim a heavy price from the Egyptian security forces.

 

Egypt is operating its air force and armored forces in Sinai unlimitedly, while Israel is turning a blind eye to the massive amounts of forces and weapons Egypt is bringing into Sinai in contradiction of the security appendix of the peace agreement between the two countries. Recently, Egypt also succeed in reaching an agreement with Hamas, disconnecting ISIS from its ideological logistic backing and from the route it used to have for evacuating injured activists into the Gaza Strip.

 

Under its new leader in the strip, Yahya Sinwar, Hamas prefers to ease the Gazans’ distress and reach an agreement with Egypt and a reconciliation agreement with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas rather than continue the alliance and the aid provided to the organization. That is the reason he has stepped up the security measures in the Philadelphi Route and is preventing ISIS people from moving in and out of the strip. He is also arresting activists of ISIS-affiliated Salafi organizations within the strip quite intensively. As a result, ISIS feels the need to act against the enemies of its Sinai branch—Egypt, which is fighting the organization with certain yet insufficient success, and Hamas, which is currently cooperating with Egypt in a bid to ease the lives of the strip’s residents.

 

Sunday night’s operation did bring ISIS the return it had hoped for, at least in the short run. The Rafah Crossing, which had been closed for four months, was not opened Monday morning, and the strip’s residents were unable to leave for Egypt or return to Gaza. The second achievement is the rocket fire against Israel, which boosts ISIS’s prestige in the Muslim world and strengthens its image as an organization that fights not only Muslims but also Jews and the other heretics…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

Contents

THE TERROR GROUP AS BRUTAL AS ISIS

                                                  Megan Palin

New York Post, Oct. 17, 2017

 

A young girl accused of adultery is forced into a hole in the ground and buried up to her neck in front of about 1,000 spectators who have come to the football stadium to watch her death. Aisha Ibrahim Duhulow, 13, pleads with her captors to “don’t kill me” before a truckload of stones is rolled in and about 50 fighters from the al-Shabaab militia start to hurl them toward her. She’s being punished for reporting that three men had raped her in the southern port city of Kismayo in Somalia.

 

After about 10 minutes of Duholow being violently struck by stones, two nurses are instructed to dig her up and check if she’s still alive. She is. Barely. So they put her back into the hole and the men continue to pelt her with stones until she is dead. “This child suffered a horrendous death at the behest of the armed opposition groups,” Amnesty International’s Somalia campaigner David Copeman said at the time.

 

It was Oct. 27, 2008, and the terror group responsible for the killing was relatively new, but since then it has grown bigger and deadlier. Al-Shabaab — a terror group lesser known than ISIS but just as brutal — imposes its own version of Islamic law, which includes dress regulations and public mutilations, and has an estimated 7,000 to 9,000 fighters. The name translates to “The Youth” in Arabic. It’s been responsible for the deaths of thousands of people in a string of guerrilla-style terror attacks, making it Africa’s deadliest Islamic extremist group.

 

The group is suspected to be responsible for the deadly truck bombing that killed at least 276 people and injured 300 on a crowded Mogadishu street on Saturday. The blast occurred in Hodan, a bustling commercial district which has many shops, hotels and businesses, in the city’s northwest. Several experts said the truck was probably carrying at least 1,100 pounds of explosives. A second car bomb exploded two hours later, injuring two people. Somalia’s government blamed the al Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab extremist group for what it called a “national disaster.”

 

However, al-Shabaab, which often targets high-profile areas of the capital, has yet to comment. The group has a history of not claiming attacks where the scale provokes massive public outrage. Al-Shabaab carries out regular suicide bombings in Mogadishu in its bid to overthrow Somalia’s internationally backed government. It has already killed more than 4,281 people, according to data from the Armed Conflict Location and Event Dataset. It has also been known to cut off the hands of alleged thieves and regularly stones to death those accused of adultery.

 

Somalia has been battling al-Shabaab insurgents since 2007 with the help of 22,000 troops from the African Union and a US counter-terrorism campaign.  The militants emerged out of a bitter insurgency fighting Ethiopia, whose troops entered Somalia in a US-backed invasion in 2006 to topple the Islamic Courts Union that was then controlling Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab militants were pushed out of Mogadishu and other major towns across Somalia by African Union and Somali troops in 2011. But the al-Shabaab militants maintained control of rural areas and have continued to launch attacks on military, government and civilian targets in Somalia, as well as terrorist raids in neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia.

 

The Garissa University massacre in Kenya, which took place near the border with Somalia, was the bloodiest attack in the region prior to the truck bombing last weekend. A total of 148 people died in 2015 when gunmen stormed the university at dawn and targeted Christian students. It followed an attack on Nairobi’s Westgate shopping center in 2013, in which at least 68 people were killed. In Westgate and other attacks, the militants spared Muslims, while killing those unable to recite verses from the Koran. According to the Nairobi-based Sahan think tank, at least 723 people were killed and over 1,000 injured in bomb attacks during 2016 in Somalia.

 

Prior to last weekend, there hadn’t been a major terrorist attack in the country since Somalia’s presidential election in February. But the latest explosion has shattered hopes of recovery in an impoverished country left fragile by decades of conflict and again raised doubts over the government’s ability to secure the seaside city of more than 2 million people. The recent attacks in Somalia came after the new government threatened to renew efforts to tackle radical Islamic terror in the region and the US military stepped up its focus on the extremist group.

 

In a mysterious move, Somalia’s defense minister Abdirashid Abdullahi Mohamed and army chief Gen. Ahmed Jimale Gedi both resigned last week, without explanation. The Aamin Ambulance group, an independent organization based in Mogadishu, said the attack was a grim new milestone in the war. “In our 10-year experience as the first responder in #Mogadishu, we haven’t seen anything like this,” it tweeted. Earlier this year, the country teetered on the brink of famine, in large part because of the effect of fighting on agriculture and the distribution of humanitarian aid.

 

 

Contents

IS AL-AZHAR UNIVERSITY A GLOBAL SECURITY THREAT?                                                             

Cynthia Farahat

American Thinker, Aug. 23, 2017

 

Al-Azhar University, the world’s largest Sunni Islamic educational institution, is where many of the world’s most brutal terrorists received their formal religious training. This is to be expected, given the nature of the material taught there. Al-Azhar has thousands of affiliated mosques, schools, learning centers, and universities around the world, such as the Islamic American University in Michigan. The institution has also been unofficially controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood for decades.

 

According to the most recent data released by the Egyptian government, there were 297,000 students studying at al-Azhar University in 2013 and 2014. In 2015, there were 39,000 foreign students studying at al-Azhar. These students are taught the theological legitimacy of cannibalizing infidels, gruesome ways to torture non-Muslims to death, and the importance of raping and humiliating non-Muslim women.  This explains why numerous Egyptian public figures and intellectuals have called for a terrorism investigation of al-Azhar University. For example, Egyptian historian, Sayyid Al-Qemany, called upon the Egyptian government to designate al-Azhar University as terrorist organization.

 

In 2015, El-Youm el-Sabi, an Egyptian newspaper, published an investigative report about the curriculum at al-Azhar University. According to the report, one of the books called, al-Iqn’a fi Hal Alfaz ibn Abi Shoga’a (Convincing arguments according to Abi Shoga’a), taught to al-Azhar’s high school students states, “Any Muslim, can kill an apostate and eat him, as well kill infidel warriors even if they are young or female and they can also be eaten, because they are not granted any protection.”  On the treatment of non-Muslims, the report quotes the same book as saying, “to preserve one’s self from the evil of an infidel, any Muslim can gouge their eyes out, or mutilate their hands and legs, or sever one arm and one leg.” Even Muslims aren’t safe from al-Azhar’s teachings. According to the same the report, another book states, “Any Muslim is allowed to kill a fornicator, a warrior, or a [Muslim] who misses prayer, even without permission of the [ruling] Imam.”

 

This is expected given the fact that the Muslim Brotherhood dominates the organization. Not only does the Muslim Brotherhood use the university to recruit hundreds of thousands of students to adopt ISIS-style beliefs, the Brotherhood used the organization to train young people for combat. For example, In 2006, a video leaked from inside al-Azhar showed 50 masked young members of the Brotherhood in black uniforms, performing a military exercises in front of the head of al-Azhar University, resulting in a government investigation and arrests in what later became known as, “the case of al-Azhar militia.”

 

Thus, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many of the world’s most brutal Islamists either worked for al-Azhar, or graduated it from it. For example, Boko Haram leader, Abubakar Shekau, is a graduate from al-Azhar. Also, the first leader of al-Qaeda Abdulla Azzam (1941 –1989), studied at al-Azhar. The spiritual mentor for Osama Bin Laden (1957 –2011), and a leader of the international arm of al-Qaeda, Omar Abdel Rahman (1938 – 2017), known as “the Blind Sheikh,” was a scholar at al-Azhar.  The Nazi Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin el-Husseini (1897-1974), studied at al-Azhar University. As well as, Abu Osama al-Masri the mastermind of the Russian plane crash over Sinai in 2015

 

Not only is al-Azhar involved in the spreading of the violent Sunni Wahhabi sect, the government funded institution uses Egyptian blasphemy law to imprison critics of its radical teachings, halting any hope for Islamic reformation. For example, the President of al-Azhar University recently declare that Muslim scholar Islam el-Behery, who was previously imprisoned in Egypt for blasphemy, “an apostate of Islam.” According to the al-Azhar’s Sunni theology, apostasy is punishable by death. Al-Azhar is also responsible for the apostasy Fatwa that resulted in the murder of Egyptian secular figure Farag Fouda (1945-1992). After uproar in Egypt against the University for essentially placing a hit on Mr. Behery by calling him an apostate of Islam, it’s president was forced to resign, but the militant teachings remain untouched…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

 

Contents

BENGHAZI AT THE BAR

Jenna Lifhits

Weekly Standard, Oct. 16, 2017

 

"I want them to hate him," a federal prosecutor said quietly on the evening of October 2 as his colleagues packed up. It had been a long first day in the trial of Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the man charged with instigating the tragic 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya. Khatallah, a middle-aged man with a long gray and yellow beard, sat quietly for over five hours in one of the wood-paneled courtrooms of the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse—barely fidgeting, not looking at the benches to his left, which were filled with government officials, reporters, and spectators all looking at him.

 

His six-week trial is going to revive the controversy over Benghazi. The violent attacks that occurred at the U.S. mission and a nearby CIA annex on the night of September 11, 2012, left four Americans dead, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. They also triggered hyperbolic remarks and partisan rancor. The contradictory statements and foggy accounts of the night’s events from Obama administration officials led to intense efforts by Congress to pin down exactly what happened. Lawmakers held hearings and produced lengthy reports. But many questions were left unanswered. Monday marked the first day of a trial that should set the story straight.

 

Khatallah is facing 18 counts, including murder and providing material support for terrorists. He has pleaded not guilty on all charges. He wore a blank expression as a top federal prosecutor laid out what to expect in the weeks ahead. Jurors, he promised, would hear from a man named “Ali” who, at the behest of the U.S. government and in exchange for $7 million, grew close to Khatallah in Libya and lured him to his capture in 2014. “I would have killed all the Americans that night,” Khatallah allegedly told Ali of the Benghazi attacks, “if others had not gotten involved and stopped me.”

 

They’ll hear emotional retellings from people at the U.S. mission and CIA annex the night of the attacks, as well as testimony from arson and weapons experts. All of it, assistant U.S. attorney John Crabb argued, will prove one thing: that Abu Khatallah is responsible for the deaths of four Americans. “Those four Americans were killed because the defendant hates America with a vengeance,” he told jurors. “He didn’t light the fires, and he didn’t fire the mortars,” but Khatallah planned the attacks, incited the fighters, and ensured that no one interfered with the assault or helped the besieged Americans, Crabb said. “He got others to do his dirty work.”

 

About a week before the attacks, Khatallah and a few of his associates stocked up on weapons at a militia camp, Crabb reported. Aided by an elaborate model of the compound and annex as well as video footage, Crabb then walked the jury through the events of the night. He referred to the participants in the attacks as Khatallah’s “associates.” Crabb barely touched on Khatallah’s terror affiliations or those of the other attackers. He mentioned Ubaydah bin Jarrah (UBJ), a militia led by Khatallah, which sought to establish sharia in Libya, and he referenced Ansar al Sharia (AAS), which merged with UBJ around 2011. "I want them to hate him," a federal prosecutor said quietly on the evening of October 2 as his colleagues packed up. It had been a long first day in the trial of Ahmed Abu Khatallah, the man charged with instigating the tragic 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya.

 

Khatallah, a middle-aged man with a long gray and yellow beard, sat quietly for over five hours in one of the wood-paneled courtrooms of the E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse—barely fidgeting, not looking at the benches to his left, which were filled with government officials, reporters, and spectators all looking at him. His six-week trial is going to revive the controversy over Benghazi. The violent attacks that occurred at the U.S. mission and a nearby CIA annex on the night of September 11, 2012, left four Americans dead, including Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens. They also triggered hyperbolic remarks and partisan rancor. The contradictory statements and foggy accounts of the night’s events from Obama administration officials led to intense efforts by Congress to pin down exactly what happened. Lawmakers held hearings and produced lengthy reports. But many questions were left unanswered. Monday marked the first day of a trial that should set the story straight…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

Netanyahu-Sisi Meeting Highlights Warming Ties Between Israel and Arab World: Adam Abrams, JNS, Sept. 2017—At a time of warming relations between Israel and Arab states, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held his first public meeting with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York.

A North Korean Ship Was Seized off Egypt with a Huge Cache of Weapons Destined for a Surprising Buyer: Joby Warrick, Washington Post, Oct. 1, 2017—Last August, a secret message was passed from Washington to Cairo warning about a mysterious vessel steaming toward the Suez Canal. The bulk freighter named Jie Shun was flying Cambodian colors but had sailed from North Korea, the warning said, with a North Korean crew and an unknown cargo shrouded by heavy tarps.

Census Intensifies Concern in Cairo Over Soaring Population: Ben Lynfield, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 1, 2017—Egypt is grappling with a challenge its president, Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi, has implied is as dangerous to the country’s future as terrorism: runaway population growth. The publication Saturday of results of a national census has heightened concern that the growth – about two million newborns a year – is smothering prospects for sustained economic recovery and could further swell the ranks of young people unable to find work, generating social unrest.

"Our Lives Have Turned into Hell" Muslim Persecution of Christians, May 2017: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 15, 2017—One month after Islamic militants bombed two Egyptian churches during Palm Sunday and killed nearly 50 people in April 2017, several SUVs, on May 26, stopped two buses transporting dozens of Christians to the ancient Coptic Monastery of St. Samuel the Confessor in the desert south of Cairo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

EGYPT-ISRAEL RELATIONS IMPROVE, DESPITE ONGOING ANTISEMITISM; MEANWHILE, BENGHAZI DEBACLE HAUNTS CLINTON

 

The Evolution of Egypt-Israel Relations: No Longer a Terrorist Entity: Zvi Mazel, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 10, 2016 — The Egyptian foreign minister brought a breath of fresh air to the decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict when he stated unequivocally on August 21 that Israel could not be considered a terrorist state.

The Meaning of an Olympic Snub: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 15, 2016  — An Israeli heavyweight judoka named Or Sasson defeated an Egyptian opponent named Islam El Shehaby Friday in a first-round match at the Rio Olympics.

What the Benghazi Attack Taught Me About Hillary Clinton: Gregory N. Hicks, Fox News, Sept. 11, 2016— Last month, I retired from the State Department after 25 years of public service as a Foreign Service officer.

Libya: Unified Against ISIS, Fragmented After: Rod Nordland & Nour Youssef, New York Times, Sept. 3, 2016 — Martin Kobler, the United Nations envoy to Libya, used to regularly joke that the only functioning government in Libya was the Islamic State.

 

On Topic Links

 

Not Just Sports: Mixed Sentiments in Egyptian Discourse about Israel : Omer Einav , Orit Perlov & Ofir Winter, INSS, Aug. 18, 2016

The Weakening of Wilayat Sinai: Yoram Schweitzer, INSS, Aug. 31, 2016

Hillary Clinton Forgets Benghazi, Claims ‘We Did Not Lose a Single American’ in Libya: Ben Wolfgang, Washington Times, Sept. 7, 2016

Inside the Brutal But Bizarrely Bureaucratic World of the Islamic State in Libya: Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post, Aug. 23, 2016

 

THE EVOLUTION OF EGYPT-ISRAEL RELATIONS:

NO LONGER A TERRORIST ENTITY

Zvi Mazel                                                            

Jerusalem Post, Sept. 10, 2016

 

The Egyptian foreign minister brought a breath of fresh air to the decades-long Arab-Israeli conflict when he stated unequivocally on August 21 that Israel could not be considered a terrorist state. This further step toward closer relations between Egypt and Israel resonated throughout the Arab world, where accusing the Jewish state of terror against the Palestinians is a basic propaganda tenet.

 

Sameh Shoukry, meeting high school students in his office, was asked why Israel’s actions against the Palestinians were not considered terrorism. The exchange between the students and the minister was recorded and posted by the Egyptian Foreign Ministry on its Twitter account. His answer was factual and devoid of the accusations against Israel, which are automatic in the Arab world. He is quoted as having said, “You can look at it from the perspective of a regime of force,” going on to explain that “certainly in accordance with its history it has a society in which the element of security is strong.” And then he added something startling, “From Israel’s perspective, since 1948 that society had faced many challenges that have instilled in its national security doctrine its control of land and border crossings.” In fact, said the Egyptian foreign minister, “there is no evidence showing a link between Israel and armed terrorist groups.”

 

This can be seen as a new way of viewing Israel and its place in the region in the face of Arab attitudes, the Islamic establishments and nationalist elites still refusing to acknowledge its legitimacy and opposing it furiously. For not only did Shoukry distance himself from qualifying Israeli activities as acts of terror, that is, illegitimate and deserving of unreserved condemnations; he mentioned the year 1948 – that is,the year of the proclamation of the State of Israel and the war of independence, both sources of the nakba or “disaster” of the Palestinians and of all Arabs – as a well-known historical fact.

And it was because of the challenges that resulted from that historical fact that Israel had to react forcibly ever since.

Shoukry’s words made headlines in Egypt – though many media outlets chose to ignore them, including those affiliated with the regime who were reluctant to deal with such potentially explosive declarations. Indeed, the following day a Foreign Ministry spokesman accused “several papers” of having distorted what had actually been said and of falsely reporting that the minister had declared that the killing of Palestinian children was not terrorism.

 

Furthermore, he said, those papers were guilty of incitement against the well-known views of Egypt, which has championed Palestinian rights in the past, the present, and would forever champion them. He stressed that the students had not asked specific questions concerning the killing of Palestinian children but had simply voiced a theoretical question as to why the international community did not define Israeli actions as acts of terror. The minister, the spokesman said, had replied that there was no legal international definition regarding acts committed by nations. In other words, the Foreign Ministry did not try to distance itself from what the minister had said, and simply accused the media of having distorted his words.

 

Taken in the context of the evolution of the relations between Egypt and Israel, Shoukry’s comments can be seen as yet another step toward closer links between the countries. It is well known that there is strong intelligence and security cooperation between Israel and Egypt based, among other considerations, on the common threat of Islamic State – Sinai Province. If it is not defeated in Egypt, it will attack Israel directly. In the past, the group has launched missiles across the border and was responsible for a cross border terrorist attack near Eilat in 2011 in which eight Israelis were killed.

 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu openly declares that he has frequent conversations with Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi. Such is the background of the gradual rapprochement between the two countries: Egypt has sent an ambassador to Tel Aviv and the Embassy of Israel in Cairo is open again. Sisi has also said that he is ready to help promote negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians and his foreign minister recently made a visit to Israel. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s envoys regularly travel to Cairo for high-level talks. It can be safely assumed that they include a number of subjects and not solely the Palestinian question, which is far from being Sisi’s first priority.

 

There can be no mistake: The Egyptian president is behind all these moves. Sisi has launched an all-out effort to develop his country and put it on the path of sustainable economic growth. Cooperation with Israel is part of this vision. Sisi is a staunch Muslim but has always shunned religious extremism. He has been remarkably moderate concerning Israel ever since he became a public figure, that is, when he was appointed minister of defense by the since ousted Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi in the mistaken belief that this pious general would help bring about the rule of the Brotherhood with a complicit army.

 

Sisi refrains from attacking or even condemning Israel. It was made clear from the first interviews he gave the press even before his election to the presidency. It took several questions concerning his views on the Palestinian issue before he succinctly said that there should be a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital.

 

At the same time the Egyptian president has been pushing for toning down extremism in Islam. He has demanded that the clerics of al-Azhar Mosque undertake a reform of some of the more extreme expressions of religious dialogue. The Education Ministry has also been tasked with removing from textbooks elements or episodes encouraging religious extremism, more specifically those extolling Jihad – such as the wars of Saladin and of Akba Ben-Nafea, who conquered large territories in Africa. Also expunged were some texts disparaging the Jews, but not all. Chapters dealing with the peace agreement with Israel were expanded; the new modern history book of Egypt has a picture of Menachem Begin next to Anwar el Sadat, together with significant extracts of the peace treaty.

 

In spite of these encouraging developments, there are those who are steadfast in their opposition to Israel. They are mostly to be found in the old elites – the Islamic establishment and what is left of the nationalistic and pan-Arabic movements. There is still a prevalent belief among the Egyptian public that Israel is an enemy bent on harming Egypt. When Sisi decided to build a second canal alongside the Suez Canal to double its capacity and let a greater number of vessels through, a number of articles “explained” that the move was intended to spike Israel’s projected Ashdod-Eilat railway, allegedly intended to draw traffic away from the canal. When Prime Minister Netanyahu toured East African countries some weeks ago, media in Egypt “explained” that it was in order to encourage agriculture in countries situated up river on the Nile, which would then need more water thus diminishing what will be left for Egypt. When parliament member Tawfik Okasha had “the temerity” to host the Israeli ambassador for dinner, he was expelled from the parliament.

 

And of late an Egyptian judoka was roundly berated for agreeing to a match with an Israeli opponent – and for losing. No wonder then that the Egyptian president is proceeding cautiously. Warmer relations with Israel are of paramount importance, but he has no wish for a confrontation with elites he needs to support his economic policy, especially since at the moment it has ushered in a measure of austerity which is highly unpopular. He has apparently chosen a more circuitous route. A few months ago he announced that he wanted to help restart dialogue between Israel and the Palestinians, a perfectly legitimate long-term preoccupation for Egypt, which aspires to peace in the region…                                                                       

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents                                                                                                                                   

                                                             

THE MEANING OF AN OLYMPIC SNUB                                                                        

Bret Stephens                                                                                                      

Wall Street Journal, Aug. 15, 2016

 

An Israeli heavyweight judoka named Or Sasson defeated an Egyptian opponent named Islam El Shehaby Friday in a first-round match at the Rio Olympics. The Egyptian refused to shake his opponent’s extended hand, earning boos from the crowd. Mr. Sasson went on to win a bronze medal. If you want the short answer for why the Arab world is sliding into the abyss, look no further than this little incident. It did itself in chiefly through its long-abiding and all-consuming hatred of Israel, and of Jews.

 

That’s not a point you will find in a long article about the Arab crackup by Scott Anderson in last weekend’s New York Times Magazine, where hatred of Israel is treated like sand in Arabia—a given of the landscape. Nor is it much mentioned in the wide literature about the legacy of colonialism in the Middle East, or the oil curse, governance gap, democracy deficit, youth bulge, sectarian divide, legitimacy crisis and every other explanation for Arab decline.

 

Yet the fact remains that over the past 70 years the Arab world got rid of its Jews, some 900,000 people, while holding on to its hatred of them. Over time the result proved fatal: a combination of lost human capital, ruinously expensive wars, misdirected ideological obsessions, and an intellectual life perverted by conspiracy theory and the perpetual search for scapegoats. The Arab world’s problems are a problem of the Arab mind, and the name for that problem is anti-Semitism.

 

As a historical phenomenon, this is not unique. In a 2005 essay in Commentary, historian Paul Johnson noted that wherever anti-Semitism took hold, social and political decline almost inevitably followed. Spain expelled its Jews with the Alhambra Decree of 1492. The effect, Mr. Johnson noted, “was to deprive Spain (and its colonies) of a class already notable for the astute handling of finance.” In czarist Russia, anti-Semitic laws led to mass Jewish emigration as well as an “immense increase in administrative corruption produced by the system of restrictions.” Germany might well have won the race for an atomic bomb if Hitler hadn’t sent Albert Einstein, Leo Szilard, Enrico Fermi and Edward Teller into exile in the U.S.

 

These patterns were replicated in the Arab world. Contrary to myth, the cause was not the creation of the state of Israel. There were bloody anti-Jewish pogroms in Palestine in 1929, Iraq in 1941, and Lebanon in 1945. Nor is it accurate to blame Jerusalem for fueling anti-Semitism by refusing to trade land for peace. Among Egyptians, hatred of Israel barely abated after Menachem Begin relinquished the Sinai to Anwar Sadat. Among Palestinians, anti-Semitism became markedly worse during the years of the Oslo peace process. In his essay, Mr. Johnson called anti-Semitism a “highly infectious” disease capable of becoming “endemic in certain localities and societies,” and “by no means confined to weak, feeble or commonplace intellects.” Anti-Semitism may be irrational, but its potency, he noted, lies in transforming a personal and instinctive irrationalism into a political and systematic one. For the Jew-hater, every crime has the same culprit and every problem has the same solution. Anti-Semitism makes the world seem easy. In doing so, it condemns the anti-Semite to a permanent darkness.

 

Today there is no great university in the Arab world, no serious indigenous scientific base, a stunted literary culture. In 2015 the U.S. Patent Office reported 3,804 patents from Israel, as compared with 364 from Saudi Arabia, 56 from the United Arab Emirates, and 30 from Egypt. The mistreatment and expulsion of Jews has served as a template for the persecution and displacement of other religious minorities: Christians, Yazidis, the Baha’ i. Hatred of Israel and Jews has also deprived the Arab world of both the resources and the example of its neighbor. Israel quietly supplies water to Jordan, helping to ease the burden of Syrian refugees, and quietly provides surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to Egypt to fight ISIS in the Sinai. But this is largely unknown among Arabs, for whom the only permissible image of Israel is an Israeli soldier in riot gear, abusing a Palestinian.

 

Successful nations make a point of trying to learn from their neighbors. The Arab world has been taught over generations only to hate theirs. This may be starting to change. In the past five years the Arab world has been forced to face up to its own failings in ways it cannot easily blame on Israel. The change can be seen in the budding rapprochement between Jerusalem and Cairo, Riyadh and Abu Dhabi, which might yet yield tactical and strategic advantages on both sides, particularly against common enemies such as ISIS and Iran. That’s not enough. So long as an Arab athlete can’t pay his Israeli opposite the courtesy of a handshake, the disease of the Arab mind and the misfortunes of its world will continue. For Israel, this is a pity. For the Arabs, it’s a calamity. The hater always suffers more than the object of his hatred.

 

 

Contents           

WHAT THE BENGHAZI ATTACK TAUGHT ME ABOUT HILLARY CLINTON

Gregory N. Hicks

 Fox News, Sept. 11, 2016

 

Last month, I retired from the State Department after 25 years of public service as a Foreign Service officer. As the Deputy Chief of Mission for Libya, I was the last person in Tripoli to speak with Ambassador Chris Stevens before he was murdered in the Sept. 11, 2012 attack on our Benghazi post. On this, the fourth anniversary of the Benghazi tragedy, I would like to offer a different explanation for Benghazi’s relevance to the presidential election than is usually found in the press.

 

Just as the Constitution makes national security the President’s highest priority, U.S. law mandates the secretary of state to develop and implement policies and programs "to provide for the security … of all United States personnel on official duty abroad.”  This includes not only the State Department employees, but also the CIA officers in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012. And the Benghazi record is clear: Secretary Clinton failed to provide adequate security for U.S. government personnel assigned to Benghazi and Tripoli.

 

The Benghazi Committee’s report graphically illustrates the magnitude of her failure. It states that during August 2012, the State Department reduced the number of U.S. security personnel assigned to the Embassy in Tripoli from 34 (1.5 security officers per diplomat) to 6 (1 security officer per 4.5 diplomats), despite a rapidly deteriorating security situation in both Tripoli and Benghazi. Thus, according to the Report, “there were no surplus security agents” to travel to Benghazi with Amb. Stevens “without leaving the Embassy in Tripoli at severe risk.” Had Ambassador Stevens’ July 2012 request for 13 additional American security personnel (either military or State Department) been approved rather than rejected by Clinton appointee Under Secretary of State for Management Pat Kennedy, they would have traveled to Benghazi with the ambassador, and the Sept. 11 attack might have been thwarted.

 

U.S. law also requires the secretary of state to ensure that all U.S. government personnel assigned to a diplomatic post abroad be located at one site. If not, the secretary — and only the secretary — with the concurrence of the agency head whose personnel will be located at a different location, must issue a waiver. The law, which states specifically that the waiver decision cannot be delegated, was passed after the 1998 bombing of two U.S. embassies in Africa, when deficient security was blamed for that debacle under Bill Clinton's presidency.

 

When asked about security at Benghazi on Sept. 11, Mrs. Clinton has repeatedly asserted her lack of responsibility. Initially, she said that she never read any of the reporting on security conditions or any of the requests for additional security, claiming that “she delegated security to the professionals.” More recently, she stated that “[I]t was not my ball to carry.” But the law says otherwise. Sound familiar? Her decision to allow the Benghazi consulate to be separate from the CIA annex divided scarce resources in a progressively deteriorating security environment. U.S. personnel assigned to Benghazi tried to overcome this severe disadvantage through an agreement that the security personal from each facility would rush to the other facility’s aid in the event it was attacked. The division of our security resources in Benghazi is the root cause of the “stand down” order controversy so vividly portrayed in the movie “13 Hours.”

 

Notably, one of the primary goals of Ambassador Stevens’ fatal visit was to begin consolidating our Benghazi personnel into one facility, which would have concentrated our security posture in Benghazi’s volatile and violent environment. There are no punitive measures for breaching these two laws. Mrs. Clinton will not have to appear before judge and jury to account for her failures. Is this why she felt these laws could be ignored? Because she is now the Democratic presidential candidate, only the American electorate will have the opportunity to hold her accountable…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                   

 

Contents           

LIBYA: UNIFIED AGAINST ISIS, FRAGMENTED AFTER

Rod Nordland & Nour Youssef

New York Times, Sept. 3, 2016

 

Martin Kobler, the United Nations envoy to Libya, used to regularly joke that the only functioning government in Libya was the Islamic State. Unlike the country’s other three governments, it not only held territory but ran the courts, provided services to the public and ensured security — however harsh its rule. Fortunately, Mr. Kobler said recently, his joke is now out of date, with the Islamic State reduced to three neighborhoods in the coastal city of Surt, and its headquarters in the hands of militias supporting the new United Nations-backed government. “This is over now,” he said.

 

The problems of governing Libya, however, are far from over, particularly as its many remaining factions try to figure out what comes next at a potential second round of talks this month, presided over by the United Nations. Surt’s future will loom large in the discussions. Ever since Libya’s longtime ruler, Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, was deposed and killed in Surt in 2011, the country has been divided by tribal and militia rivalries. With a population slightly larger than that of Miami, Libya has no clear central government and scant possibility of exploiting its enormous oil reserves, the ninth largest in the world. That a United Nations-backed government in Tripoli was able to dispatch a militia force to subdue the Islamic State in Surt was the first piece of good governance news in five years of vicious internecine fighting.

 

But even victory in Surt remains worrisome. First of all, the militias have to finish clearing out remnants of the Islamic State from the three city neighborhoods. The militias are reported to be close to accomplishing that, which will then raise the question of what they will do next. They are from Misurata, a coastal city seen as a rival of Surt. While they were nominally doing the bidding of the new, United Nations-backed Government of National Accord, or G.N.A., it is not at all clear that they will continue to accept its authority. Then there are Libya’s other factions. The government in the eastern city of Bayda, with its Parliament in Tobruk, once enjoyed international support but now relies mostly on Egypt and some Persian Gulf allies. It is also suspicious of the intentions of the Misuratans, and angry about United Nations backing of the G.N.A.

 

The country’s most powerful military leader, Gen. Khalifa Hifter, based in Benghazi, has almost entirely cleared that city, the east’s biggest, of the Islamic extremists who once held sway there. But he, too, is deeply suspicious of the Misurata militias, because they are dominated by Islamists. While General Hifter has been named the Libyan National Army commander, politically he operates independently. That is true as well of the third faction claiming to rule Libya, a Tripoli-based Islamist militia grouping that has a Parliament separate from that of the G.N.A.

 

“The government has to implement state authority over who dominates this area,” Mr. Kobler said. That the Misurata militias were acting on behalf of the G.N.A. when they ousted the Islamic State from Surt was a very positive sign, he said. “It shows the strength of the G.N.A.,” he added. “The other two governments do not exist. A government should provide security, basic services. That is not the case from those two governments.” It is important as well, he said, that an international consensus is building to support the G.N.A., with the Arab League and the African Union calling on their members not to back other factions’ claims to legitimacy; the success in Surt bolstered that consensus. The same consensus does not seem to exist in many parts of Libya. The government based in Bayda has denounced the G.N.A. In Benghazi, General Hifter has boycotted the meetings that the United Nations has convened to bring all of the factions together, and he is by far the strongest military player. When Surt finally falls, said Ahmed el-Mesmari, the spokesman for the Libyan military in the east, the militias there will abandon the new Tripoli government.

 

“We don’t think anyone can control these forces,” Mr. Mesmari said. “They are anarchists and extremists. They are closer to Qaeda than they are to anyone else. They would be very hard to tame.”…

 

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

Contents                       

           

On Topic Links

 

Not Just Sports: Mixed Sentiments in Egyptian Discourse about Israel : Omer Einav , Orit Perlov & Ofir Winter, INSS, Aug. 18, 2016—The match on the judo mat between Israeli Ori Sasson and Egyptian Islam el-Shehaby in the 2016 Olympic Games went beyond sports.

The Weakening of Wilayat Sinai: Yoram Schweitzer, INSS, Aug. 31, 2016—Wilayat Sinai, an organization identified with the Islamic State, has recently suffered a series of serious blows from the Egyptian army.

Hillary Clinton Forgets Benghazi, Claims ‘We Did Not Lose a Single American’ in Libya: Ben Wolfgang, Washington Times, Sept. 7, 2016 —Glossing over the 2012 terrorist attack in Benghazi that claimed the lives of four U.S. diplomats, Hillary Clinton on Wednesday night claimed that “we did not lose a single American” due to military intervention in Libya. Speaking at a veterans’ forum hosted by NBC News, the former secretary of state said she stands by the 2011 decision to take action in Libya and that America suffered no casualties.

Inside the Brutal But Bizarrely Bureaucratic World of the Islamic State in Libya: Sudarsan Raghavan, Washington Post, Aug. 23, 2016—When the Islamic State’s religious police arrived at his door, Ahmooda Abu Amood feared he would never see his family again. The two militants drove up in a beige sport-utility vehicle, Abu Amood said, the kind used to transport anyone who broke the rules to an office to pay a fine, to get a whipping — or to jail.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

AMID SURGING AFRICAN ISLAMIST VIOLENCE — I.S. MOVES TO LIBYA, & CAPTURED NIGERIAN WOMEN BECOME KILLERS

Islamic State Moves to Libya with the Promise of Fresh Plunder: Jonathan Spyer, The Australian, Apr. 23, 2016— The reconquest by the forces of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad of the town of Qaryatayn from Islamic State this month is the latest indication of the declining fortunes of the extremist organisation in Iraq and Syria, following the loss of Palmyra in late March.

Italy Left to Deal With Migrants By Sea: Globe & Mail, Apr. 21, 2016— Alas, there is no three-year-old Alan Kurdi on a Turkish beach, and no corresponding photographer to compel the world’s compassion for the drowned and drowning migrants in the Mediterranean Sea.

Boko Haram Turns Female Captives Into Terrorists: Dionne Searcey, New York Times, Apr. 7, 2016— Hold the bomb under your armpit to keep it steady, the women and girls were taught.

U.S. at Easter: When Christians Are Slaughtered, Look the Other Way: Raymond Ibrahim, Gatestone Institute, Mar. 27, 2016— Boko Haram, the Nigerian Islamic extremist group, has killed more people in the name of jihad than the Islamic State (ISIS), according to the findings of a new report.

 

On Topic Links

 

Libya's Descent into Chaos: Yehudit Ronen, Middle East Quarterly, Winter, 2016

‘We Saw the Dead People With Our Eyes’: Two Men Describe Surviving Big Migrant Shipwreck Last Week: Elena Becatoros, National Post, Apr. 22, 2016

Libya Could ‘Open the Floodgates’ For Thousands Of Migrants Into Europe: Nick Hallett, Breitbart, Mar. 29, 2016

Tunisia's Fragile Post-Revolutionary Order: Daniel Zisenwine, Middle East Quarterly, Winter, 2016

 

 

ISLAMIC STATE MOVES TO LIBYA WITH

THE PROMISE OF FRESH PLUNDER

Jonathan Spyer

The Australian, Apr. 23, 2016

 

The reconquest by the forces of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad of the town of Qaryatayn from Islamic State this month is the latest indication of the declining fortunes of the extremist organisation in Iraq and Syria, following the loss of Palmyra in late March. Facing determined enemies on three fronts, the Sunni jihadis would appear to be adopting a policy of tactical retreat to preserve their forces for the vital battles to come. As Islamic State holdings in Iraq and Syria contract, the organisation is seeking to maintain its image and momentum by focusing on gains on other fronts.

 

Islamic State's slogan is baqiya wa tatamaddad (remaining and expanding). But in its home grounds, Islamic State is no longer expanding. The prospect of its eclipse there is visible, though still distant, on the horizon. Elsewhere, most notably in Libya, Islamic State is still moving forward. As its holdings in Iraq and Syria contract, Islamic State is seeking gains on other fronts.

 

Islamic State was never solely, or mainly, a ramshackle de facto governing authority in the badlands of western Iraq and eastern Syria. Had it been so, it almost certainly would have been left in place, just one florid example of brutal and dysfunctional governance in a neighbourhood where dictatorship is the norm.

 

Such a bargain would not have suited the Iraqi jihadis at the head of the organisation. They are not in business to rule a small and dusty emirate. Rather, they are deadly serious regarding the task of their caliphate: war against the non-Islamic world until the latter is defeated. More pragmatically, the sense of forward momentum is necessary to keep the foreign volunteers coming and the monetary contributions flowing.

 

For Islamic State, focus on other fronts means two things. The first is increased efforts to engage in international terrorism. The bloody attacks on Brussels airport and Maalbeek metro station on March 22 were the latest events in a discernible trend to offset defeats in the Levant by staging terrorist actions farther afield. The second is heightened efforts to expand territorial holdings in areas other than Iraq and Syria. The movement's holding in Libya is emerging as a place of concern. As Islamic State's territorial holdings continue to be whittled away, it is likely to attempt further international terrorist attacks.

 

Preparations for the retaking of Mosul city are under way. The Iraqi army is cutting supply lines to the city from Salah al-Din and Anbar provinces. Three army divisions have been moved to the Mosul area. Mosul, with more than a million inhabitants, will be a tough target to take. But the outcome of the war is clear and it is against the jihadis. The consequent need for vigilance, communication and co-operation between the security services of the democratic world has never been higher. Regarding the second issue, Islamic State claims authority over eight "provinces" in addition to its area of control straddling Iraq and Syria. The eight areas in question are in Sinai, Libya, Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Nigeria, the north Caucasus and the Afghanistan-Pakistan border area.

 

These areas vary greatly in size and importance, and in the extent of control that Islamic State has over them. In some cases, such as the "provinces" of Saudi Arabia and Algeria, the term means relatively little. Both these areas are ruled by powerful states with strong security agencies. The groups in question have carried out terror attacks. But they are seen more properly as organisations supporting Islamic State rather than entities in control of territory analogous to Islamic State in Iraq and Syria itself. However, in areas where, as in Iraq and Syria, the state has lost control over territory, the threat represented by Islamic State "prov­inces" is of a more substantial nature. It is in these lawless and ungoverned or poorly governed spaces that a repeat of the Iraqi and Syrian experiences and the emergence of new de facto jihadi sovereignties is most possible.

 

Some of the countries listed above fit this description. But it is in Libya that Islamic State has made the most progress. In other areas, various factors have stymied the growth of Islamic State, but these factors are absent in Libya. In Yemen, Islamic State declared its wilayah (province) in November 2014. Its growth and activity, however, have been hampered by the presence in that country of a strong rival Salafi jihadi organisation. This is the branch of the core al-Qa'ida leadership in Yemen, known as al-Qa'ida in the Arabian Peninsula. AQAP denounced the formation of Islamic State province in Yemen and its presence has limited the ability of Islamic State to grow. Nevertheless, the latter has carried out several attacks. These include suicide bombings in two Shia mosques in March last year and the murder by crucifixion of a Christian priest last month.

 

In northern Sinai, the former Ansar Bait al-Makdis organisation, now called Wilayat al-Sina (Sinai Province), is engaged in an insurgency against Egyptian security forces. The group also has vowed to carry out attacks against Israeli targets across the border. Wilayat al-Sina claimed responsibility for the downing of Russian Metrojet flight 9268. But the insurgency appears to be contained within Sinai, ongoing but with little likelihood of spreading into Egypt proper.

 

Libya is different. The importance of the Islamic State holding there derives from its location and the number of fighters under Islamic State command in the area.  Islamic State controls an area of about 200km around the city of Sirte on the Libyan coast. The greater part of this area was secured last year against the backdrop of Islamic State setbacks in Iraq and Syria, and general chaos in Libya. The location of Sirte offers the possibility for Islamic State of infiltration into Europe, sub-Saharan Africa and the Maghreb. Sirte was the birthplace of former dictator Muammar Gaddafi. It has extensive infrastructure, including an international airport, a seaport and oil installations.

 

Islamic State is thought to have about 4000 to 5000 fighters in Sirte, and is recruiting African migrants making their way to the coast. The movement also derives the depth of its support in the Sirte area from the loyalty of tribesmen. Clearly, the goal is to seek to replicate the model for success in Iraq and Syria: once a territorial base is established, a military force can be built up that can be used aggressively to expand the holding. Islamic State achieved its greatest successes this way, when its forces swept from eastern Syria into Iraq in 2014. In Libya, as in these countries, central government effectively has collapsed and the country is in a state of civil war. Two rival governments vie for power: an internationally recognised authority in Tobruk in the east and an Islamist de facto power in the capital, Tripoli, in the west…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

 

Contents

ITALY LEFT TO DEAL WITH MIGRANTS BY SEA

Globe & Mail, Apr. 21, 2016

 

 

Alas, there is no three-year-old Alan Kurdi on a Turkish beach, and no corresponding photographer to compel the world’s compassion for the drowned and drowning migrants in the Mediterranean Sea. In this latest disaster, it’s far from clear how many people died – maybe 500, with only 41 survivors. One of the 41 survivors was three years old, the same age as Alan Kurdi.

 

                      

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

2016 U.S. ELECTION: TRUMP, CRUZ & CLINTON PRO-ISRAEL AT AIPAC, BUT NOT NO-SHOW SANDERS—WILL LIBYA “DEBACLE” DERAIL HILLARY?

American Jews Face Dilemma in Presidential Elections: Isi Leibler, Jerusalem Post, Mar. 30, 2016— The turmoil associated with the American presidential elections has impacted on much of the nation, and certainly on the Jews.

The Libya Debacle Undermines Clinton’s Foreign Policy Credentials: George F. Will, Washington Post, Mar. 30, 2016— Republican peculiarities in this political season are so numerous and lurid that insufficient attention is being paid to this: The probable Democratic nominee’s principal credential, her service as secretary of state, is undermined by a debacle of remarkable dishonesty.

What Derailed Marco Rubio?: Jonathan Bernstein, National Post, Mar. 17, 2016— The 2016 demise of Marco Rubio has been obvious for a while, but it is nevertheless a very big event. He was the Republican Party’s choice. He lost.

The Donald and the Barack:  Wall Street Journal, Mar. 11, 2016— President Obama is said to be a reflective man, and often he is the one saying so, but you wouldn’t know it from his Thursday press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Four Foreign Policies: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Mar. 31, 2016

Beyond AIPAC Speeches: Assessing Israel’s Place as a U.S. Election Issue: Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman, JNS, Mar. 24, 2016

Donald Trump Faces his Biggest Threat Yet: Himself: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, Apr. 2, 2016

Iran Has a Surprising Favorite in the U.S. Presidential Race: Riyadh Mohammed, Fiscal Times, Mar. 21, 2016

 

         

   AMERICAN JEWS FACE DILEMMA IN PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS

Isi Leibler

Jerusalem Post, Mar. 30, 2016

 

The turmoil associated with the American presidential elections has impacted on much of the nation, and certainly on the Jews. Many, both liberal and conservative, feel that their traditional political affiliations have been destabilized. Grass-root voters have rebelled against entrenched long-term politicians and have astounded analysts by supporting relatively obscure personalities who have introduced levels of primitive populism into American politics unseen since the days of Huey Long.

 

Those deeply concerned about Israel find themselves in a special quandary. Democratic supporters witnessed a struggle between Hillary Clinton — who until recently faced virtually no competition — and Bernie Sanders, a relatively unknown older Jewish senator from Vermont, a leftist throwback to prewar Jewish socialists raging against the “domination” of Wall Street and calling for a redistribution of wealth. He is also highly critical of Israel and a J Street supporter, pandering to the growing anti-Israeli sentiment among left-wing Democrats. His populism has generated substantial support, especially from young people.

 

Nevertheless, despite being widely resented and distrusted in her own party, Hillary Clinton is likely to win the Democratic nomination. But the dramatic flow of support of the radical views promoted by Sanders has created concern that in office, she would seek to placate the radicals within the party. That, in turn, could encourage her to revert to the hostile attitude that prevailed during her term as secretary of state toward Israel and especially Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It also reinforces concerns about some of the vicious anti-Israeli advisers she had engaged in the past, who were exposed in her declassified emails.

 

Every presidential candidate invited to the recent annual convention of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), passionately supported the Jewish state. The only exception was Sanders, who declined to address AIPAC and spoke at another location where he bitterly criticized Israel. But electoral pledges and passionate undertakings by presidential candidates and politicians at AIPAC must be treated with considerable cynicism, as from experience, they are frequently watered down or breached.

 

Yet, Clinton’s address to AIPAC was significant…Despite justifying President Barack Obama’s Iran policy and criticizing Israeli settlements, her powerful endorsement of support for Israel was warmly received. She distinguished herself from Obama by promising that a renewal of good relations with Israel would be a priority, and that one of her first acts in office would be to invite Netanyahu to Washington. She expressed these views obviously aware that she would be intensifying the ire of the radical anti-Israel elements in her party.

 

The uneasiness concerning the Clinton candidacy shared by some traditional Jewish Democratic supporters pales when compared to the turmoil among many Republican supporters at the explosive ascendancy of Donald Trump, who was initially perceived as a clown, with virtually all analysts predicting his early political demise. Trump primitively denigrates intellectual discourse but has displayed an extraordinary populist talent to communicate and reach out to the disaffected masses who have flocked to support him, ditching seasoned leaders like former Governor Jeb Bush, eliminating Senator Marco Rubio, and at this stage enjoying a substantial lead over Senator Ted Cruz, his sole remaining credible opponent.

 

He has adopted crude, inconsistent and contradictory policies but struck a responsive chord from many Americans alienated and frustrated with their current status and seeking radical solutions. He has created a major schism in the Republican Party because of his rabble-rousing, vulgarity, abusive remarks about women and discriminatory outbursts against minorities — especially Mexicans. Many traditional Republicans, including senior party leaders, refuse to endorse him and some have even stated that they would never vote for him as president. His critics include the neoconservatives and the most prominent conservative thinkers and commentators who are outraged by his isolationist outbursts and demagogic anti-intellectual approach.

 

Trump attests to his long track record of friendship for Jews and Israel and constantly highlights the fact that his daughter converted and leads a traditional Orthodox Jewish lifestyle. But those voters seeking the restoration of warmer relations between the United States and the Jewish state are concerned with Trump’s ad lib flip-flop responses in relation to Israel.

 

Initially, he antagonized supporters of Israel by stating that he would be “neutral” in relation to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On one occasion, he promoted the extreme isolationist view that Israel should not be reliant on U.S. defense support and should repay American military aid. He even suggested that the U.S. should withdraw from NATO. He particularly angered Jews when initially, perhaps in ignorance, he dismissed calls to dissociate himself from support he was receiving from white supremacists and extreme anti-Semites. When it was announced that Trump would join other presidential candidates and address AIPAC, a group of Reform and Conservative rabbis planned a demonstrative walkout as he approached the podium. Their widely publicized threat turned out to be farcical and resulted in the boycott of only about 30 of the 18,000 participants.

 

Trump’s address to AIPAC … was his first attempt to present a crafted policy on any subject. He used a teleprompter which diverted him from his customary ad-libbing. It was an extraordinary political coup in which he received repeated standing ovations as he swept the audience off its feet by pressing all the pro-Israel buttons and systematically presenting a coherent case for Israel. He contradicted some of his earlier critical remarks, including his intention of being “neutral” in order to consummate a “deal” between Palestinians and Israel. He also announced his intention to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

Contents

                              THE LIBYA DEBACLE UNDERMINES

                         CLINTON’S FOREIGN POLICY CREDENTIALS

                                                       George F. Will                                  

                                                        Washington Post, Mar. 30, 2016

 

Republican peculiarities in this political season are so numerous and lurid that insufficient attention is being paid to this: The probable Democratic nominee’s principal credential, her service as secretary of state, is undermined by a debacle of remarkable dishonesty. Hillary Clinton’s supposedly supreme presidential qualification is not her public prominence, which is derivative from her marriage, or her unremarkable tenure in a similarly derivative Senate seat. Rather, her supposed credential is her foreign policy mastery. Well.

 

She cannot be blamed for Vladimir Putin’s criminality or, therefore, for the failure of her “reset” with Russia, which was perhaps worth trying. She cannot be blamed for the many defects of the Iran nuclear agreement, which was a presidential obsession. And she cannot be primarily blamed for the calamities of Iraq, Syria and the Islamic State, which were incubated before her State Department tenure. Libya, however, was what is known in tennis as an “unforced error,” and Clinton was, with President Obama, its co-author.

 

On March 28, 2011, nine days after the seven-month attack on Libya began and 10 days after saying that it would last “days, not weeks,” Obama gave the nation televised assurance that “the task that I assigned our forces [is] to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger and to establish a no-fly zone.” He said that U.S. forces would play only a “supporting role” in what he called a “NATO-based” operation, although only eight of NATO’s 28 members participated and the assault could not have begun without U.S. assets. Obama added: “Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.”

 

The next day, a Clinton deputy repeated this to a Senate committee. And then-Defense Secretary Robert Gates said at the time that no vital U.S. interest was at stake. Recently, he told the New York Times that “the fiction was maintained” that the goal was to cripple Moammar Gaddafi’s ability to attack other Libyans. This was supposedly humanitarian imperialism implementing “R2P,” the “responsibility to protect.” Perhaps as many as — many numbers were bandied — 10,000 Libyans. R2P did not extend to protecting the estimated 200,000 Syrians that have been killed since 2011 by Bashar al-Assad’s tanks, artillery, bombers, barrel bombs and poison gas.

 

Writing for Foreign Policy online, Micah Zenko, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, notes that “just hours into the intervention, Tomahawk cruise missiles launched from a British submarine stationed in the Mediterranean Sea struck an administrative building in [Gaddafi’s] Bab al-Azizia compound, less than 50 yards away from the dictator’s residence.” A senior military official carefully insisted that Gaddafi was “not on a targeting list.” This was sophistry in the service of cynicism: For months, places he might have been were on targeting lists.

 

The pretense was that this not-really-NATO operation, with the United States “supporting” it, was merely to enforce U.N. resolutions about protecting Libyans from Gaddafi. Zenko, however, argues that the coalition “actively chose not to enforce” the resolution prohibiting arms transfers to either side in the civil war. While a senior NATO military official carefully said “I have no information about” arms coming into Libya, and another carefully said that no violation of the arms embargo “has been reported,” Zenko writes that “Egypt and Qatar were shipping advanced weapons to rebel groups the whole time, with the blessing of the Obama administration.”

 

On May 24, 2011, NATO released a public relations video showing sailors from a Canadian frigate, supposedly enforcing the arms embargo, boarding a rebel tugboat laden with arms. The video’s narrator says: “NATO decides not to impede the rebels and to let the tugboat proceed.” Zenko writes, “A NATO surface vessel stationed in the Mediterranean to enforce an arms embargo did exactly the opposite, and NATO was comfortable posting a video demonstrating its hypocrisy.” On Oct. 20, 2011, Clinton, while visiting Afghanistan, was told that insurgents, assisted by a U.S. Predator drone, had caught and slaughtered Gaddafi. She quipped: “We came, we saw, he died.” She later said that her words expressed “relief” that the mission “had achieved its end.”

 

Oh, so this military adventure was, after all, history’s most protracted and least surreptitious assassination. Regime change was deliberately accomplished by the determined decapitation of the old regime, and Libyans are now living in the result — a failed state. Stopping in Libya en route to Afghanistan two days before Gaddafi’s death, Clinton said, “I am proud to stand here on the soil of a free Libya.” If you seek her presidential credential, look there.

 

 

Contents

        WHAT DERAILED MARCO RUBIO?

Jonathan Bernstein               

                                               National Post, Mar. 17, 2016

 

The 2016 demise of Marco Rubio has been obvious for a while, but it is nevertheless a very big event. He was the Republican Party’s choice. He lost. Starting last fall, I said he would be the most likely winner. I continued saying that through the early primaries and caucuses. In fact, he seemed on track to win up until his disappointing Super Tuesday March 1, and even in the days after that I thought he was in fairly good shape — that is, right up until his support collapsed the weekend after Super Tuesday.

 

Since I have been dead wrong about Rubio, I can’t turn around immediately and tell you why he lost. It’s something all of us who study presidential nominations are going to need to study, and it’s going to take some time, especially for those who believe that strong parties made up of formal organizations and informal networks control their presidential nominations. Is this year a fluke? A sign that the system has changed? Frankly, I don’t know right now. But I can run through some reasonable explanations of what happened with Rubio.

 

Some commentators have floated variations of this explanation. One is that Rubio wasn’t appealing to Republican voters. But for most of the contest, his favourability scores among Republicans were excellent. Even when he lagged in the horse-race polls, he usually did well when pollsters probed beyond the top vote choice among Republicans.

 

I’m also skeptical of blaming his position on immigration or his hawkish foreign policy. Both John McCain and Mitt Romney won Republican nominations with problems that were more severe. A more plausible explanation of Rubio’s weakness is that he choked under pressure. His poor debate before the New Hampshire primary, when he repeated a line multiple times, and his debate after Super Tuesday, when he got down in the mud with Donald Trump, both appear to have been disasters. Though parties normally choose their nominees, this Republican Party isn’t normal — it’s dysfunctional. Political scientist Norman Ornstein has pushed this line since August, and he could be correct. Republicans’ attacks on experts, the media and even the “establishment” of their own party made it more difficult than it should have been to explain why Trump was such a pariah.

 

But it was about more than Trump. Party actors took a long time to decide on Rubio, and even then their choice wasn’t close to a consensus. Some of them permitted Jeb Bush to stay in through South Carolina, and he spent that Bush faction’s considerable resources targeting Rubio. Another substantial faction supported Ted Cruz, even though many Washington Republicans dislike him so much that they were willing to play footsie with Trump back in January. And John Kasich has had a fair amount of party support as well, which perhaps is why he has been able to fight on.

 

No theory could have accounted for him. (People have used the analogy of the Mule in Isaac Asimov’s Foundation books, a mutant whose inhuman abilities disrupted the normal development of politics in the universe.) But I’m skeptical of this explanation, too. Trump is good at grabbing the new media’s attention, but it’s hard to see much evidence that he’s unusually talented in any other way. Still, if the party’s power flows from its ability to capture voters’ attention, it fizzled when the news coverage of Trump overwhelmed other sources of information. None of the above explanations are mutually exclusive. Perhaps they all played a role.\

 

Rubio finished just one per cent of the vote behind Trump in Iowa. If Republican Party actors had converged on him a few weeks earlier — or if Bush’s super PAC had targeted Trump or Cruz with some of the ads aimed at Rubio, the Florida senator could easily have finished second or even won the state, perhaps knocking out Cruz. If he hadn’t botched the New Hampshire debate, he probably would have finished second there, knocking out Kasich (probably) and Bush (perhaps) earlier and setting up a better finish in South Carolina…[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

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      THE DONALD AND THE BARACK                           

        Wall Street Journal, Mar. 11, 2016

 

President Obama is said to be a reflective man, and often he is the one saying so, but you wouldn’t know it from his Thursday press conference with Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Asked about political polarization and the Donald Trump phenomenon, Mr. Obama denied all responsibility. He doesn’t seem to appreciate the kind of country he will leave behind. “What I’m not going to do is to validate some notion that the Republican crack-up that’s been taking place is a consequence of actions that I’ve taken,” Mr. Obama said. He explained Mr. Trump’s ascent as the result of “the nasty tone of our politics, which I certainly have not contributed to.” He blamed Republicans for this tone, as ever.

 

“Objectively,” Mr. Obama said, “it’s fair to say that the Republican political elites and many of the information outlets—social media, news outlets, talk radio, television stations—have been feeding the Republican base for the last seven years a notion that everything I do is to be opposed; that cooperation or compromise somehow is a betrayal.” He listed a few more GOP shortcomings, but you’ve got to hand it to him for that “objectively.” As Mr. Obama tells it, all of this reflexive Obama bashing created “an environment where somebody like a Donald Trump can thrive. He’s just doing more of what has been done for the last seven and a half years.” In other words, Republicans didn’t clean up the standing water in their own backyard and now they’re complaining about mosquitoes. One irony is that even as Mr. Obama denied any liability for Mr. Trump, he lapsed into the same rhetorical habit that helped fuel the businessman’s ascent. For Mr. Obama, principled opposition to his policies is always illegitimate or motivated by bad faith.

 

Like the President’s nonstop moral lectures about “our values” and “who we are as Americans,” by which he means liberal values and who we are as Democrats, he reads his critics out of politics. No wonder so many Americans feel disenfranchised and powerless. And if we’re being objective, maybe Mr. Obama could account for the populist uprising among disaffected Democratic primary voters for a 74-year-old Vermont socialist vowing an economic revolution. Bernie Sanders is Mr. Trump’s leftward duplicate. The difference is that the Democratic establishment is doing a better job keeping their outsider away from a delegate majority.

 

The source of this public frustration is no great mystery. For the 10th straight year, the U.S. economy is growing by less than 3%. Such a long stretch of underperformance hasn’t happened since the 1930s. Slow growth for a decade means middle-class incomes are stagnant, which in turn increases economic anxiety, which in turn creates political unrest. As for tone, the 1980s and 1990s featured bitter partisan conflicts—and for that matter so did the 1880s and 1790s. But the late 20th century had popular two-term Presidencies almost back to back, and the era didn’t produce backlash candidates promising to burn Washington to the ground and salt the earth. The reason is that the economy was booming.

 

Mr. Obama’s apologists claim 2%-2.5% growth is the best we can do, but the truth is that the natural dynamism of the U.S. economy has been swamped by waves of Mr. Obama’s bad policy. Instead of a second term that is bereft of domestic achievements, in an alternate universe he might have worked with the duly elected Republican majority and started to repair the economy from the center out. Instead, Mr. Obama has shown contempt for institutions that he doesn’t run, and, notably, most of his growth-subtracting policies have been imposed through unilateral executive action. He doesn’t do persuasion and compromise. Some policies were intended to sow division, like his lawless immigration order that inflamed the restrictionist right, divided Republican elites and was only stopped by the courts…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

On Topic

 

The Four Foreign Policies: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, Mar. 31, 2016—After dozens of contests featuring cliffhangers, buzzer-beaters and a ton of flagrant fouls, we’re down to the Final Four: Sanders, Clinton, Cruz and Trump. (If Kasich pulls off a miracle, he’ll get his own column.) The world wants to know: What are their foreign policies?

Beyond AIPAC Speeches: Assessing Israel’s Place as a U.S. Election Issue: Maayan Jaffe-Hoffman, JNS, Mar. 24, 2016—At the recent American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) conference, each of the remaining United States presidential candidates—except for Democratic contender Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who did not appear—essentially laid claim to being the most pro-Israel candidate.

Donald Trump Faces his Biggest Threat Yet: Himself: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, Apr. 2, 2016—If Tuesday’s vote in Wisconsin goes according to the polls, Donald Trump’s remarkable ride to the Republican nomination will crash into a wall. And if he never recovers his momentum, the postmortems will say his front-runner status was an illusion befitting a modern P.T. Barnum.

Iran Has a Surprising Favorite in the U.S. Presidential Race: Riyadh Mohammed, Fiscal Times, Mar. 21, 2016 After years of isolation and sanctions imposed by the United States and the United Nations, Iran is quickly reclaiming its place in the Middle East and on the global stage. 

 

 

 

 

                        

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

OBAMA, EYES ON LEGACY, COMMITTED TO “ENDING THE WARS” — MEANWHILE, AS SYRIA BURNS, PUTIN TAKES DECISIVE ACTION

Putin’s Syria Victory: Wall Street Journal, Feb. 12, 2016 — President Obama has spent five years insisting that there is no military solution to the Syrian civil war. To judge by the “cessation of hostilities” announced Friday in Munich, Vladimir Putin is about to prove him wrong.

Forget ‘Ending the Wars’ — Let’s Win Them Instead: Jackson Diehl, New York Post, Feb. 10, 2016— ‘The tide of war is receding,” President Obama tirelessly insisted four years ago as he campaigned for re-election.

State of the Union Highlights Jordan’s Rift with Obama: Aaron Magid, Al-Monitor, Jan. 13, 2016— Despite the harsh divide among Republican presidential candidates on foreign policy, the importance of Jordan has been a unifying theme.

Israeli Ascendancy, American Decline: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, Feb. 12, 2016 — I spent half my week in briefings from top political and military leaders about Israel's regional strategic situation.

 

On Topic Links

 

Obama's Foreign Policy Rebuked – by His Own Intel Chiefs: William Tate, American Thinker, Feb. 13, 2016

America Makes a U-Turn in the Middle East: Tony Badran, Tablet, Feb. 4, 2016

Why Obama Will Get Away With Closing Gitmo: Eli Lake & Josh Rogin, New York Post, Jan. 16, 2016

U.S. and Allies Weigh Military Action Against ISIS in Libya: Eric Schmitt & Helene Cooper, New York Times, Jan. 22 2015

                  

PUTIN’S SYRIA VICTORY

                                       Wall Street Journal, Feb. 12, 2016

 

President Obama has spent five years insisting that there is no military solution to the Syrian civil war. To judge by the “cessation of hostilities” announced Friday in Munich, Vladimir Putin is about to prove him wrong.

 

In theory the cease-fire that Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov will bring a partial end to the fighting in a week and allow expanded humanitarian aid into the country. This is supposed to be followed by a resumption of peace talks, which collapsed this month as Bashar Assad’s regime backed by Russian warplanes pressed an offensive against moderate Syrian rebels.

 

In practice, however, this looks like another Russian victory. Russian planes have intensified their bombing of Aleppo, forcing thousands of civilians to flee to the Turkish border through the only corridor that remains beyond Mr. Assad’s control. Mr. Lavrov says the week delay is needed to sort out the “modalities” of the cease-fire, but the real reason is to give the regime time to complete Aleppo’s encirclement.

 

The cease-fire explicitly excludes attacks on Islamic State (ISIS) and the al Qaeda-backed Nusra Front. This would make sense if the Kremlin weren’t falsely claiming that its targets are “terrorists” even as it neglects to attack ISIS. Expect the charade to go on until Mr. Putin achieves his military and strategic goals.

 

The fall of Aleppo and other rebel enclaves in western Syria will allow Mr. Assad to consolidate his grip on the most fertile and populated part of the country. Next month’s negotiations can then “freeze” the conflict in place, a tactic Russia used to its advantage after its invasion of Georgia in 2008 and last year’s Minsk agreement over eastern Ukraine. ISIS can be dealt with later, while Mr. Assad can count on U.S. air strikes to degrade ISIS’s capabilities as he deals with his more immediate enemies.

 

This isn’t the Russian “quagmire” Mr. Obama predicted last year when Moscow stepped into Syria. Mr. Putin has consolidated his strategic position in the eastern Mediterranean with a tough but limited military intervention and minimal casualties. He has strengthened ties to Tehran. He has shown the Muslim world that he’s the power to be reckoned with, which is why Sunni states like Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have backed away from their opposition to Mr. Putin’s gambit.

 

The Russian has also gained diplomatic leverage that he’ll use to gain further concessions from the U.S. and Europe. This will likely start, but not end, with sanctions relief as Europe and the U.S. gradually acquiesce to his Ukrainian annexations. Mr. Obama will gladly make this trade since the “cease-fire” will ease what had been growing media criticism in the U.S. of his Syrian abdications.

 

The next U.S. President will inherit the wreckage. This includes the betrayal of the Free Syrian Army and the example it sets for other potential U.S. allies; the non-defeat of ISIS; the loss of credibility with traditional allies in Jerusalem, Riyadh and Cairo; Russia’s renewed influence in the region; the improbable victory of a murderous dictator who Mr. Obama once insisted had to “step aside”; and the consolidation of an Iranian crescent from Tehran through Baghdad and Damascus to Beirut.

 

Add to that the killing of more than 250,000 Syrians and the greatest refugee crisis since the end of World War II, and this is some record. Mr. Obama might call it success, but George Orwell would have used a different term.            

           

                                                                       

Contents

FORGET ‘ENDING THE WARS’ — LET’S WIN THEM INSTEAD

Jackson Diehl                        

                                                  New York Post, Feb. 10, 2016

 

‘The tide of war is receding,” President Obama tirelessly insisted four years ago as he campaigned for re-election. Even then, the slogan seemed untethered from reality. Not only was fighting in Afghanistan intensifying, with no end in sight, but Syria, Iraq and Libya were all sliding toward civil war.

 

That Obama stayed with the phrase reflected not just his electoral strategy but an enduring feature of his foreign policy. Having arrived in office with a handful of ideologically driven goals, the president has stubbornly stuck to them regardless of contradictory facts on the ground.

 

“Ending the wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan was foremost among those objectives. Obama forced the pace of US troop withdrawals from Iraq in order to finish in time for his 2012 campaign, and until a few months ago, he appeared implacably committed to completing an Afghanistan withdrawal before leaving office.

 

One of the most important questions of Obama’s remaining months consequently is whether — and to what extent — he can let go of his wished-for legacy. Can he accept that it is a vital US interest not just to preserve a US military presence in Afghanistan and the Middle East, but to step it up to confront growing threats from the Islamic State, the Taliban and al Qaeda? Can he acknowledge that the “tide of war” is not receding, but — like it or not — swelling?

 

Three big decisions are on his plate. In October, the president scrapped his plan to reduce the 9,800-strong US force in Afghanistan to an embassy-based contingent of maybe 1,000 by next January, and last month he gave US commanders permission to attack Islamic State targets as well as al Qaeda.

 

However, he hasn’t yet altered his target of reducing US forces to 5,500 by the end of the year. Nor has he responded to proposals to provide regular combat air support to Afghan forces against the Taliban to stop what have been steady and cumulatively alarming gains by the insurgents. As both the incoming and outgoing US commanders have publicly hinted, Obama will soon be asked, at a minimum, to stop the troop drawdown to prevent an Afghan military collapse.

 

In Iraq, Obama has allowed the US troop level to creep back up to 3,700 since 2013, counting special forces deployed in Syria. But as The New York Times recently reported, Pentagon officials believe many hundreds more will need to be dispatched in the coming months if Iraqi and Kurdish forces are to have a chance to retake Mosul, the largest terrorist-controlled city. That includes trainers, but also commandos and other front-line personnel — in other words, combat forces. There, too, Obama has not yet made a decision.

 

Last, but perhaps not least, Obama faces a choice in Libya, where his national-security team believes action is urgently needed to head off an Islamic State entity taking root there. “It’s fair to say we’re looking to take decisive military action,” Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford said last month, reflecting the Pentagon’s view. But not Obama’s: “That’s not in his horizon at the moment,” Secretary of State John F. Kerry said at a conference on Libya last week.

 

How will Obama manage these three decisions? Seven years of evidence suggests he’ll water down his commanders’ proposals and approve only incremental steps. The problem — especially for Obama’s successor — is that decisive action cannot easily be postponed for another year.

 

That’s particularly true in Afghanistan, as was underlined in a conversation I had last week with Saad Mohseni, the operator of the country’s most popular private television channel, Tolo TV. Tolo suffered a devastating blow last month when a Taliban suicide bomber slammed into a company bus in Kabul, killing seven and injuring 25.

 

But this assault on one of the country’s greatest achievements since 2001 — free media — was just part of a grim landscape sketched by Mohseni: a government paralyzed by infighting, a stalled economy and a poorly led and demoralized army that is barely preventing a Taliban takeover of several major provinces.

 

Mohseni’s recommendations echo the generals: Deploy US airpower against the Taliban and call off the troop drawdown. But he’d also like to see Obama appoint a special envoy to help break the political deadlock in Kabul, which is impeding steps to renew provincial governments and the Afghan army. “The United States has huge leverage,” he said. “You can still turn the situation around.” The question is whether a president who dreamed of ending the wars can be persuaded to do it.

 

 

                                                                       

Contents

              STATE OF THE UNION HIGHLIGHTS JORDAN’S RIFT WITH OBAMA

Aaron Magid                         

                                                Al-Monitor, Jan. 13, 2016

 

Despite the harsh divide among Republican presidential candidates on foreign policy, the importance of Jordan has been a unifying theme. Donald Trump praised King Abdullah on Twitter and Ohio Gov. John Kasich wished in a presidential debate that Jordan’s king “would reign for a thousand years.” In stark contrast to the Republicans, President Barack Obama downplayed or did not mention Amman’s most critical national priorities — the Islamic State [IS], Palestine and the war in Syria — during his Jan. 12 State of the Union address.

 

Addressing members of Congress that evening, Obama emphasized, “As we focus on destroying [IS], over-the-top claims that this is World War III just play into their hands.” The American leader’s assertion that such dire warnings about IS are misguided directly contradict one of Abdullah’s main talking points when traveling overseas.

 

Over and over — whether at the United Nations General Assembly podium, during an interview with PBS’ Charlie Rose or even in Kosovo — the Jordanian monarch has declared that the battle against IS is “a third world war, and I believe we must respond with equal intensity.”

 

After IS kidnapped Jordanian pilot Lt. Muath Al-Kaseasbeh and burned him alive in a cage in February of last year, the Jordanian air force launched a series of strikes against IS targets in Syria and Iraq. Jordan claimed to have killed 7,000 fighters in the days following Kaseasbeh’s execution.

 

Obama’s minimizing of the IS campaign speaks to a fundamental divergence with Abdullah and has led many leading thinkers in Amman to question America’s determination and willingness to, in the president’s own words, “degrade and ultimately destroy [IS]." If the world’s strongest and most advanced military cannot defeat a far inferior and less organized group, what are Obama’s true intentions?

 

In addition to IS, the State of the Union illustrated a major policy rift with Amman regarding the Palestinian peace process. Obama did not once bother to mention Palestine or Israel in the speech setting up his administration’s goals for the upcoming year. Here again, Jordanian leaders take an opposite approach to this sensitive issue. House Speaker Atif Tarawneh said in October, “Jordan, under the leadership of King Abdullah II, has placed the Palestinian issue on top of its priorities.” Amman raises the urgent need to create a Palestinian state in almost every meeting abroad.

 

The Hashemite Kingdom’s difference with the Obama administration is not solely focused on this speech, but rather encompasses a larger policy divide. Since Secretary of State John Kerry’s peace efforts stalled in 2014, the United States has not led an ongoing effort to end the Palestinian conflict. White House Middle East coordinator Rob Malley told reporters in November that reaching a negotiated solution between the parties during Obama’s remaining term “is not in the cards.” In contrast to Amman’s wishes, the Obama administration no longer prioritizes tackling the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in a region filled with violence.

 

Even before the speech, it was difficult to ignore the missing element in Abdullah’s Washington itinerary Jan. 12. After traveling thousands of miles, the king initially could not secure a meeting with Obama because of "scheduling conflicts." However, the two did meet briefly Jan. 13 at Andrews Air Force Base before both departed on separate trips. A longtime and dependable US ally despite the Middle East’s turmoil arrives in the US capital, but Obama could not carve out more than about five minutes for the king.

 

In addition to the battle against IS, nearly five years of fighting in Syria have dramatically impacted next-door Jordan. Jordan has absorbed over 630,000 Syrian refugees, according to the United Nations (one diplomat estimates that Syrians represent about 20% of Jordan’s population), and Abdullah has repeatedly called for decisive action to end the conflict. Yet, in Obama’s brief mentioning of the bloody crisis that has killed some 250,000 people, the US president appeared satisfied with US policy. Obama cites Syria as an example of the “smarter approach, a patient and disciplined strategy that uses every element of our national power” by partnering with local forces — despite the fact that the conflict’s violence has only been spreading.

 

It is no wonder that in recent months, Abdullah has met multiple times with Russian President Vladimir Putin, a US rival, during trips to Moscow to discuss developments in the Middle East. The United States provides Jordan with significant financial aid, but mere monetary assistance is no longer sufficient in tackling the region’s spiraling crises. With Putin demonstrating decisive action in his military intervention alongside Damascus while daylight grows between Abdullah and Obama over IS, Palestine and Syria, the king may question whether the United States is truly a reliable Jordanian ally during such uncertain times.

 

Contents

ISRAELI ASCENDANCY, AMERICAN DECLINE

David M. Weinberg

                                Israel Hayom, Feb. 12, 2016

 

I spent half my week in briefings from top political and military leaders about Israel's regional strategic situation. The other half of my week was devoted to analyzing America's Mideast policy and the tracking of the U.S. presidential primaries. The first half of my week filled me with confidence; the second half with despondency.

 

It is a time of strategic ascendancy for Israel. Alas, it is a time of self-inflicted strategic decline for America. Israel is growing in regional influence; America is shrinking. The implications are far-reaching. Israel's enhanced pre-eminence is a function of Arab state meltdown, Iran's drive for regional hegemony, and the resultant search for new defense and political alliances. Israel's importance also builds-out from its technological prowess and economic perspicacity.

 

Consequently, Egypt, the Gulf states, Russia, China, India and non-European democracies are pounding the pavement to Israel's doorstep to make common strategic cause — some more openly than others, but defiantly so. We share intelligence and know-how, plan diplomatic strategy and trade in quality goods. We form a bulwark against radical and subversive forces.

All the countries involved in these ascending relationships know that Israel is stable, credible and consistent in building and fulfilling its alliance responsibilities. It is a loyal partner. It understands the necessity of military power in statecraft, and it knows how to utilize it when necessary.

 

Alas, that is no longer the case with America, after seven years of President Barack Obama. The U.S. has telegraphed its fatigue and is begging to retreat from global leadership. The Obama administration has abdicated regional predominance to Vladimir Putin's Russia and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's Iran, while devoting only lip service to the fight against jihadi Islam. It has brow-beaten its friends and bowed before its adversaries. It has abandoned its erstwhile friends and squandered its prestige.

The administration has also fed the American people and the global community the following series of falsehoods that are transparently illusory: Al-Qaida has been defeated, the Islamic State group has been overwhelmed, Iran has been contained and Russia has been reset or tamed.

 

Worst of all, the Obama administration seems to have set the stage for the collapse into insanity that characterizes the 2016 U.S. presidential primaries. Only an American public so starved for pathways out of the muck into which Obama has dragged the country, in both domestic and foreign affairs, could be tempted into supporting demagogues like Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders.

 

Only a voter desperate for renewed American "greatness" (Trump) and/or American "magic" (Sanders), and seeking a supernatural wand that will break the cowardly spell that Obama has cast over America — could reach for the asinine extremes.

 

With their volatile temperaments, these outlier candidates promise only confusion. One day they talk about deep retrenchment from American global commitments — the next about more aggressiveness in global affairs. A swashbuckling foreign policy one day — a flaccid, uncaring foreign policy the next. Mega-capitalism one day — super-socialism the next.

America appears to be a forlorn country that is scraping the bottom of the barrel to find a radical antidote to Obama — a failed messiah if there ever was one. In the process, it risks becoming a laughingstock, not just an indisposed and confused superpower.

 

Everywhere in the world, people are asking: Is Trump or Sanders really the wisest commander-in-chief that Americans can conjure up? How much longer can this scary campaign continue before all the bolts start coming loose on the USS America? Have Americans fallen off their rocker? Needless to say, any extended fall of America from strategic acuity and sensible policymaking has seismic implications for Israel.

 

It's true, as described above, that today Israel enjoys new diplomatic maneuverability and strategic depth that does not run through Washington. But so much of Israel's armament, political cover and moral support are still dependent on the United States. No less than Americans, Israelis cannot afford further American political folly. Eight years of Obamanian arrogance and waywardness was enough. Please, America, get a grip and elect yourself a levelheaded leader!

 

 

On Topic

 

Obama's Foreign Policy Rebuked – by His Own Intel Chiefs: William Tate, American Thinker, Feb. 13, 2016 —Barack Obama's foreign policy – and by extension Hillary Clinton's – received a stinging rebuke this week…from Obama's own intelligence chiefs.

America Makes a U-Turn in the Middle East: Tony Badran, Tablet, Feb. 4, 2016—The administration of President Barack Obama seldom missed an opportunity to insist that the alternative to the Iran nuclear deal was a war with Iran, a prospect that has now presumably been kicked further down the road. Middle Easterners are not so lucky: They get to fight their wars with Iran right now.

Why Obama Will Get Away With Closing Gitmo: Eli Lake & Josh Rogin, New York Post, Jan. 16, 2016—President Obama is determined to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, and if he decides to do so without Congress, there may be little his opponents can do to stop him. Since his State of the Union Address Tuesday, the administration has sped up the effort significantly. Ten prisoners were transferred this week. Ninety-three prisoners remain, 34 of whom have been cleared for release.

U.S. and Allies Weigh Military Action Against ISIS in Libya: Eric Schmitt & Helene Cooper, New York Times, Jan. 22 2015—Worried about a growing threat from the Islamic State in Libya, the United States and its allies are increasing reconnaissance flights and intelligence collecting there and preparing for possible airstrikes and commando raids, senior American policy makers, commanders and intelligence officials said this week.

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

WHILE THE WEST IGNORES ISLAMIST THREAT IN AFRICA, TOURISTS & AID WORKERS MURDERED BY TERRORISTS

Where is the PM when Quebec Needs Him?: Lysiane Gagnon, Globe & Mail, Jan. 20, 2016— Terrorism doesn’t fit into Justin Trudeau’s sunny views.

West Ignoring Grave Threat from IS in Libya, Israeli Terror Experts Warn: Raphael Ahren, Times of Israel, Jan. 21, 2016 — Despite battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the West is woefully neglecting the spread of the terrorist group in Libya…

Tunisia's Fragile Post-Revolutionary Order: Daniel Zisenwine, Middle East Quarterly, Winter, 2016— On June 26, 2015, a lone gunman attacked a beachfront hotel in the Tunisian city of Sousse, exclusively targeting foreign tourists.

Goodbye Iran, Hello Israel? Sudan Changes its Approach: Roi Kais, Ynet, Jan. 21, 2016 — Relations between Israel and Sudan may be experiencing an unexpected, albeit slight, thaw.

 

On Topic Links

 

Terrorism is a Crime Against the Human Race. Trudeau Should Say So: Tasha Kheiriddin, IPolitics, Jan. 18, 2015

This One-Eyed Terrorist is the Leader of the al-Qaida Faction Behind Burkina Faso Attack: Stewart Bell, National Post, Jan. 17, 2016

Libya's Descent into Chaos: Yehudit Ronen, Middle East Quarterly, Winter, 2016

Senegal, a Peaceful Islamic Democracy, Is Jarred by Fears of Militancy: Dionne Searcey, New York Times, Dec. 12, 2015

 

WHERE IS THE PM WHEN QUEBEC NEEDS HIM?

Lysiane Gagnon

Globe & Mail, Jan. 20, 2016

 

Terrorism doesn’t fit into Justin Trudeau’s sunny views. The Prime Minister didn’t see fit to join the hundreds of Quebeckers who gathered on Monday to honour the memory of the six Quebeckers killed by Islamist terrorists in Ouagadougou, although the day before he made a point of visiting a mosque in Peterborough, Ont., that had been damaged by arson.

 

Six humanitarian workers from Lac-Beauport, a suburb of Quebec City, were killed last Friday in Burkina Faso’s capital in attacks claimed by a group known as al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. The day before, another Quebecker, Tahar Amer-Ouali, was killed in a terrorist attack by the Islamic State in Jakarta. Not since the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, have so many Canadians died in terrorist attacks.

 

Apparently, the Prime Minister’s Office didn’t see the point in changing Mr. Trudeau’s schedule so that he could attend the grieving ceremony in Lac-Beauport on Monday. The least he could have done would have been to express a bit of emotion and anger. “Instead,” wrote La Presse columnist Vincent Marissal, “what we had were a mild condemnation and empty words, and nothing about the government’s plan to fight terrorism.”

 

Mr. Trudeau reacted to the tragedy that struck home with a feeble, conventional expression of condolences, as if he were a reluctant visitor to a funeral home. In a statement issued Saturday, he said he was “deeply saddened by the senseless acts of violence against innocent civilians,” phrasing that suggests these acts were done randomly by a few mad people with no specific agenda.

 

Last November, he had the same reaction to the mass killings in Paris. Alone among world leaders – even U.S. President Barack Obama departed from his characteristic phlegm to express his revolt at the attacks and resolve in fighting terrorism – Mr. Trudeau reacted with a brief and spineless expression of condolences that left many observers puzzled.

 

The Paris attacks were not enough to change his plan to recall Canadian fighter jets from the coalition fighting the Islamic State. He stuck to his candid pacifist stand even as the other members of the coalition were stepping up their military efforts. The result is that Canada has lost its standing among its allies.

 

Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan was shut out of a high-level strategic meeting between the coalition partners being held Wednesday in Paris. Even Italy and the Netherlands will be represented, but Canada’s chair will be empty. The government hasn’t yet announced the plan that is supposed to replace the fighter jets mission, nor did it say how it intends to protect the hundreds of Canadians involved in humanitarian work in Africa (about a dozen Quebec non-governmental organizations are operating in Burkina Faso).

 

Former Prime Minister Stephen Harper was too warlike. Now, we have the other extreme: a prime minister who hates conflicts and sees the world through a New Age prism in which everything can be solved with love and understanding. Unfortunately, the country he leads doesn’t live in a dream world. Maybe Mr. Trudeau’s timidity is also due to the fear of raising anti-Muslim sentiments. But this is a misplaced fear: Canadians are not stupid and they know that the huge majority of Muslims have nothing to do with radical Islam. And Muslims are often the first victims of the murderous groups who reign by terror over large parts of the Middle East and Africa.

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                             WEST IGNORING GRAVE THREAT FROM IS IN LIBYA,

                   ISRAELI TERROR EXPERTS WARN                                               

                                Raphael Ahren                                                                                                

                     Times of Israel, Jan. 21, 2016

 

Despite battling the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the West is woefully neglecting the spread of the terrorist group in Libya, where it poses a supreme danger not only to the Middle East and North Africa, but also to Europe, according to Israeli terrorism researchers.

 

“Libya is the only country besides Syria and Iraq where IS controls a large territory and controls government infrastructure, including a power plant, port, and economical ports,” said Reuven Erlich, a former senior officer in military intelligence and currently the head of the Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center (ITIC). “We think that IS’s establishment in Libya poses a grave threat and it needs to be taken very seriously by Europe and the US.”

 

Several researchers at ITIC, which operates under the Israel Intelligence and Heritage Commemorations Center, spent a full year examining IS’s activity in Libya, and this week are publishing their worrying conclusions in a 175-paper report, entitled “ISIS in Libya: a Major Regional and International Threat.”

 

“So far, there hasn’t been an effective response by the international community,” Erlich told The Times of Israel. “The American and European strategy focuses on IS’s infrastructure in Syria and Iraq. But it all but ignores Libya. Libya is not just another country. It’s a country where IS rules over territory — the only place besides Iraq and Syria where it actually rules over parts of land – and therefore the US and Europe would be well advised to pay more attention to this issue and compose a strategy relating to Libya. Otherwise, the problem will soon find itself in their backyard.”

 

There has been the “occasional targeted killing of a terrorist,” but by and large in Libya, Erlich lamented, the Americans and the Europeans “have no comprehensive strategy regarding the combat against IS. And that’s a problem that should not be ignored.”

 

Since the fall of Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi in 2011, the country has been in a perpetual state of civil war, making it fertile ground for the infiltration of a terrorist group such as IS. But while a large coalition has been formed to attack the organization in its home base in Syria and tackle it in Iraq, it has been allowed to fester mostly uninterrupted in North Africa. “The branch of ISIS in Libya exploited the lack of a functioning government and the absence of international intervention to establish itself in the region around Sirte and from there to aspire to spread throughout Libya,” according to the ITIC report.

 

On February 18, 2015, IS conquered the large coastal city of Sirte in north-central Libya, which has since been functioning as the group’s capital in the country. “Sirte has a seaport, international airport, army bases, economic projects, oil installations and various government facilities. It is also Muammar Qaddafi’s birthplace and his tribe’s power base,” reads the report, an advance copy of which was made available to The Times of Israel.

 

In and around Sirte, IS built up a large military infrastructure for terrorism and guerrilla warfare against targets inside and outside Libya, the researchers write. Domestically, the organization attacks mainly government-supported military and militias, but has also executed Copts from Egypt and Christians from Eritrea. “The establishment of ISIS in Libya increases the chaos and anarchy already plaguing the country, making it difficult to stabilize a central government,” the 175-page report reads.

 

Outside the country, IS’s primary target is Tunisia, due to its relative weakness, and also because it has symbolic value as the birthplace of the Arab Spring, according to the researchers. In the future, however, IS may increase its support for jihadist organizations in sub-Saharan Africa, such as Niger, Chad, Mali and Sudan, the report warns. The Libyan branch of IS also has close ties with Nigeria’s jihadist Boko Haram and with Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, the group’s franchise in the Sinai Peninsula. Through Libya’s 1,115 kilometer-long border with Egypt, the local IS fighters may also smuggle weapons into the country, which may make their way to Gaza, the researchers posit.

 

Westerns should be particularly concerned about Libya’s proximity to Italy, which “makes ISIS’s presence there potentially dangerous not only to Italy but to all of Europe,” the document warns. “Their closeness may encourage ISIS to send terrorist operatives to Italy and other European countries once it has established itself in Sirte and other locations.” IS has already threatened terror attacks in Rome, which as the seat of the Vatican represents the Catholic world.

 

Some countries — such as France, the US, Egypt and Tunisia — are increasingly aware of the threats posed by an IS stronghold in Libya, the authors concede. “However, while the strategy the United States has implemented against ISIS since September 2014 professes to provide a comprehensive response to the challenge posed by ISIS, in reality it does not, because it focuses on Iraq and Syria. Therefore, it does not provide a response to ISIS’s spread to other countries, especially Libya and Egypt, and to the local and regional threats inherent therein,” they write.

 

“To deal with the overall threats of ISIS’s entrenchment in Libya, the United States and its European and Arab allies will have to change their concept of the anti-ISIS campaign,” the study concludes. “Their strategy should be extended to Libya and the other countries where ISIS is trying to establish itself, which would make it more comprehensive.”

 

Security experts widely acknowledge that IS gaining a foothold in Libya could have dramatic implications, but not everyone agrees with the Israeli researchers’ claim that the West is not doing enough to counter the threat. “In Europe, people are talking about it, the French and the Italians for example. The Americans are not talking about it. The Americans don’t like talking about it because if you talk about it there is the presumption of the need for action,” said François Heisbourg, a former security adviser to the French defense minister who currently chairs the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

 

Over the last two months, the French air force has been flying numerous reconnaissance flights over Libya and it is likely that Paris is involved in other forms of information collection as well, he said. “Would I be surprised if there were eventual French bombing operations in Libya? No, I wouldn’t be surprised.”

 

Contents

                           

TUNISIA'S FRAGILE POST-REVOLUTIONARY ORDER                                  

                         Daniel Zisenwine

Middle East Quarterly, Winter 2016

 

On June 26, 2015, a lone gunman attacked a beachfront hotel in the Tunisian city of Sousse, exclusively targeting foreign tourists. By the time he was shot to death by the security forces, the 23-year-old Seifeddine Rezgui had murdered thirty-eight people, many of them British tourists vacationing in the seaside resort. The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) quickly claimed responsibility for the atrocity.

 

One of the worst in Tunisian history, the attack occurred just over three months after the killing of twenty-two people (including seventeen foreign nationals) at the Bardo National Museum in the capital city of Tunis. While both attacks were clearly aimed at Tunisia's tourist industry, a vital source of foreign revenue that had been struggling to regain its footing since the 2010-11 revolution, they also threatened to undermine Tunisia's tenuous democratic system established in the years following the revolution.

 

Further endangering this system is the large number of young Tunisians (estimated at several thousand) who have rushed to Syria and Iraq to join the ranks of ISIS. There is much about which to be concerned, given the untested capacity of the country's new political structures to confront such widespread jihadist activity (in addition to the host of other challenges faced). While many Western governments aptly view Tunisia as a bright light in an otherwise bleak regional landscape, it would be misleading to consider post-revolutionary Tunisia a foolproof success story. In order to truly succeed, the government will need to address many lingering economic and political issues as well as inspire the younger generation and reduce the appeal of violent jihadists

 

The uprising was triggered in December 2010 by the self-immolation of Muhammad Bouazizi, a 26-year-old fruit and vegetable vendor from the minor town of Sidi Bou Zid, who set himself on fire in front of the local government offices in a desperate act of protest. While he was not the first Tunisian to embrace such a desperate act, his image reverberated across diverse segments of Tunisian society. Mounting frustration over deteriorating socioeconomic conditions, along with rising resentment against a corrupt regime that seemed out of touch with the lives of ordinary Tunisians unleashed a torrent of anger against the government.

 

Bouazizi was inaccurately presented on social media as an unemployed university graduate, forced to sell produce to support his family. This cyber image resonated with scores of young Tunisians, who, frustrated by their stalled economic progress, identified with this fictional image. Other segments of society sided with the frustrated, educated younger generation. These included the population of peripheral towns like Sidi Bou Zid, which took to the streets after Bouazizi's deed. Spontaneous protests spread across the country, reaching the capital in early January. Initial demands for social justice and improved economic opportunities gave way to unprecedented calls for President Ben Ali to step down. On January 13, 2011, the president delivered a televised address to the nation, in which he claimed that he "understood" the protesters, vowed to address their grievances and pledged not to seek reelection. These statements did little to calm the demonstrators, who returned to the streets of central Tunis the next day. By early evening of January 14, Tunisia's media announced that Ben Ali and his family had fled the country for Saudi Arabia where they received asylum.

 

News of Ben Ali's departure shocked the public. Few anticipated such an outcome, and many feared for the country's internal stability. At first, some of Ben Ali's cronies believed that political turmoil in the country had ended with the president's flight, that their own positions were secure, and that Tunisia would maintain its existing political structure. That assumption was quickly proved false by angry protesters who resumed their demonstrations, demanding that the Ben Ali regime be completely dismantled. From the demonstrators' perspective, the Tunisian revolution was far from over. As the protests intensified, the Tunisian military refused to intervene or suppress the demonstrations. The remaining officials of the Ben Ali regime ultimately relented; by early March, the ruling Rassemblement Constitutionnel Démocratique party was dismantled. A veteran Tunisian political figure, Beji Caid Essebsi, was appointed interim prime minister, and the country embarked on a transition process aimed at transforming the political system and establishing democracy.

 

Tunisia's potential for restructuring its political system was considered high, owing in large part to features specific to the country. These include a tradition of political moderation and compromise and a homogeneous, well-educated society. The fact that the military largely removed itself from political life also suggested that, unlike other countries, the armed forces would not intervene. But the obstacles the country faced throughout the ensuing years were substantial and could potentially have disrupted these efforts at any phase. Tunisia also came under stress as a result of the revolution in nearby Libya, which sent thousands of refugees into its territory. On the domestic front, there was no guarantee that Tunisian society would be able to construct a bottom-up democratic system and navigate a process that would avoid a "winner takes all" mentality between rival political forces.

 

Difficult relations between Tunisia's Islamists and the secular forces that opposed them presented a major challenge to efforts to construct a new political system. The Ben Ali regime had taken an uncompromising position toward Islamist movements, particularly the most organized of them, the Ennahda (Renaissance) faction, whose activities were banned while thousands of its supporters and leaders had been imprisoned and tortured. Some of its leaders had gone into exile abroad, including the movement's leading figure, Rachid al-Ghannouchi. There was no way of knowing how the Islamist movement would fare under the changed political circumstances of a post-revolutionary state…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]                

 

                                                                       

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     GOODBYE IRAN, HELLO ISRAEL? SUDAN CHANGES ITS APPROACH

Roi Kais

Ynet, Jan. 21, 2016

 

Relations between Israel and Sudan may be experiencing an unexpected, albeit slight, thaw. A few days ago, an "international Sudanese dialogue forum" came to a close in Sudan, aimed at uniting the various dominant parties and armed groups in the country. During the forum, which was launched in October by President Omar al-Bashir, the groups discussed various topics such as state law, personal freedoms and foreign policy.

 

Surprisingly, the issue of normalizing relations with Israel came up a number of times over the three months.

 

"There is no justification for Sudan having hostile relations with Israel, because it will pay a political and economical price for it," said the head of the Sudanese Independent Party, who viewed the lifting of US sanctions against Sudan as the opening point for normalizing ties with Jerusalem. The sanctions were put in place around two decades ago as a response to Sudan's support for terrorism.

 

The statements of the Sudanese Independent Party chairman were surprising, but not as surprising as those of Sudanese Foreign Minister Ibrahim Ghandour. "The matter of normalized relations with Israel is something that can be looked into," Ghandour said during a convention in the capital Khartoum, in response to an argument heard at the event that Sudan's belligerent stance towards Israel is an embarrassment to Washington. According to this argument, improved ties with Israel would open the door to creating better ties with the US government. Ghandour's announcement stirred up controversy in Arabic media, leading him to clarify that Sudan is not linking its relations with any specific country to those with another state.

 

Participants at the forum understood the message that the foreign minister was sending them and several dozen said that they support the establishment of ties with Israel under certain conditions. "The Arab League supports this approach," said one forum member, Ibrahim Sliman.

 

Members of al-Bashir's ruling party say that there has been no discussion relating to relations with Israel in any party meetings. Al-Bashir, who is subject to an international arrest warrant by the Hague for war crimes, said in November 2012 that normalization with Israel is a "red line." His declaration came shortly after Israel attacked a weapons factory in the center of Khartoum.

 

 The surprising dialogue that has arisen surrounding Israel-Sudan relations is likely due to the dramatic developments in the Middle East over the last few months. Nonetheless, it seems that full normalization is still some way off. Sudan appears to have been edging closer to the moderate Sunni camp over the last two years, while distancing itself from Iran's Shi'i leadership. Two weeks ago, Sudan cut its diplomatic ties with Iran following an attack on the Saudi embassy in Tehran.

 

Over the last few years foreign and Sudanese media have addressed Israel Air Force attacks inside Sudan, aimed at, according to the reports, preventing weapons deliveries to Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Hezbollah.

Relations between Sudan and "resistance movements," i.e. Hamas and Hezbollah, strengthened during the 1990s, particularly since al-Bashir's assumption of power. Sudan's support for Al-Qaeda and its leader Osama Bin Laden embroiled it in a dispute with the US, which hurt Khartoum both politically and economically.

 

The change began in September 2014 when al-Bashir closed Iranian centers in Sudan and expelled the Iranian cultural attaché under the claim that he had spread Shi'ism in the Sunni country. Sudan was one of the first countries to join the war against the Houthi rebels in Yemen, who are supported by Iran. The peak was reached with Sudan's severing of diplomatic ties with Iran two weeks ago, a step taken by a number of other Sunni countries.

 

 

It is not inconceivable that Sudan's actions are a means of winning financial rewards from Saudi Arabia and that it is interested in normalizing ties with Israel in order to improve its financial situation. It is worth remembering that one American visitor who leaked to Wikileaks quoted an adviser to President al-Bashar, Mustafa Osman Ismail, saying in a meeting with senior state officials: "If things with the US go well, you will help us ease matters with Israel, your closest ally in the region."

 

On Topic

 

Terrorism is a Crime Against the Human Race. Trudeau Should Say So: Tasha Kheiriddin, IPolitics, Jan. 18, 2015—Last week, seven Canadians were killed in two separate terrorist attacks.

This One-Eyed Terrorist is the Leader of the al-Qaida Faction Behind Burkina Faso Attack: Stewart Bell, National Post, Jan. 17, 2016 —The siege at the Splendid Hotel was still underway when the North African branch of al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the bloodshed, which it said was to punish the “disbelieving West” and incite youths to “jihad in the cause of Allah.”

Libya's Descent into Chaos: Yehudit Ronen, Middle East Quarterly, Winter, 2016—The overthrow of Libya's long-reigning dictator Mu'ammar al-Qaddafi by an international coalition in the summer and autumn of 2011was hailed at the time as paving the way for a "New Libya."

Senegal, a Peaceful Islamic Democracy, Is Jarred by Fears of Militancy: Dionne Searcey, New York Times, Dec. 12, 2015— Raids for suspects in the Paris attacks flashed across the television at the Sow family house in this small village along Senegal’s coastline.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

WHILE CANADIANS CHOOSE TRUDEAU AS LEADER, U.S. REVERSES AFGHAN WITHDRAWAL

 

NB: EXCITING UPDATE TO OUR CONFERENCE: KEYNOTE ADDRESS WILL BE FROM RABBI IRVING GREENBERG, & A SPECIAL VIDEO PRESENTATION FROM ELIE WIESEL!

 

Beth Tikvah Synagogue & CIJR Present: The Annual Sabina Citron International Conference: THE JEWISH THOUGHT OF EMIL L. FACKENHEIM: JUDAISM, ZIONISM, HOLOCAUST, ISRAEL — Toronto, Sunday, October 25, 2015, 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. The day-long Beth Tikvah Conference, co-chaired by Prof. Frederick Krantz (CIJR) and Rabbi Jarrod R. Grover (Beth Tikvah), open to the public and especially to students, features original papers by outstanding Canadian and international scholars, some his former students, on the many dimensions of Emil L. Fackenheim's exceptionally powerful, and prophetic thought, and on his rich life and experience. Tickets: Regular – $36; Seniors – $18; students free. For registration, information, conference program, and other queries call 1-855-303-5544 or email yunna@isranet.org. Visit our site: www.isranet.org/events.

 

Back to the Future, With the Kid: Margaret Wente, Globe & Mail, Oct. 20, 2015— A moment came during the red tidal wave Monday night when a friend turned to me in awe.

Obama’s Afghan Reversal: Wall Street Journal, Oct. 15, 2015 — If there is a single element of consistency in President Obama’s foreign policy it is his desire to end and avoid U.S. military engagements.

Plan B for Libya: Gal Luft, American Interest, Oct. 1, 2015— The September 20 deadline for establishing a unity government in war-torn Libya ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting came and went …

Assassination Attempt in Tunisia Highlights Mounting Challenges: Farah Samti & Kareem Fahim, New York Times, Oct. 9, 2015 — Hours before the Norwegian Nobel Committee gave its highest-profile honor to a coalition of Tunisian groups …

 

On Topic Links

 

America’s Failed Foreign Policy: Margaret Wente, National Post, Oct. 20, 2015

Obama Deploys Troops to Cameroon to Fight Boko Haram: Frances Martel, Breitbart, Oct. 15, 2015

Mideast Turmoil Strengthens Sudan’s Regime: Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 15, 2015

Toward a Post-Obama Middle East: Conrad Black, National Review, Oct. 7, 2015

                                      

                            

BACK TO THE FUTURE, WITH THE KID                                                                                 

Margaret Wente                                                                                                  

Globe & Mail, Oct. 20, 2015

 

A moment came during the red tidal wave Monday night when a friend turned to me in awe. The CBC’s seat counter had just clicked past 180 for the Liberals. “Oh my God,” she said. “What have we done?” No one, even diehard Conservatives, doubted that Stephen Harper deserved to lose. But even diehard Liberals wonder if Justin Trudeau deserved to win a majority government on his very first try, without the customary test of having to prove himself in Opposition, or, for that matter, any other responsible post in government. It’s like giving your kid the keys to the Ferrari before he’s finished driving lessons.

 

“I never thought this was in the realm of possibility,” one voter told the CBC. “I wanted the young son to squeak in and be supported by maybe more experienced people.” “Oh well,” said one of my Liberal friends cheerily. “At least he’ll have adult supervision.”

 

No one called this one. What happened was a snowball that picked up momentum as it went. During the last few days of the campaign it became a monster. The opinion polls were accurate about the fate of the Conservatives. What they didn’t catch was the dramatic collapse of the New Democratic Party. People decided Justin was the best anti-Harper and stampeded over to his side. And that is how Tom Mulcair’s dreams of glory melted in an instant.

 

All of a sudden Canada’s political alignment looks a lot like it did 30 years ago – before the Harper decade, before the fragmentation of the right, before Happy Jack Layton created the hope that the NDP could be something more than an also-ran. The Liberals and Conservatives have most of the seats, and the PM is a handsome guy named Trudeau with three photogenic kids and a gorgeous wife. Break out those bell-bottoms and love beads. The ’70s are back! This is not a bad outcome. A strong, stable majority government with a healthy opposition will give us four blissfully election-free years. There will be none of the nail-biting uncertainty that afflicts a minority government. The Governor-General can return to his ceremonial duties. The Conservatives will regroup, rethink and rebuild. One day they’ll be contenders again.

 

So what will Prime Minister Trudeau do with all that horsepower? His policy proposals (which many voters are only dimly aware of) are also a blast from the past. Expand the government. Tax breaks for the usual suspects, especially the sacred middle class (on top of the tax breaks they’ve been showered with for the past 10 years). Soak the rich some more and pretend it makes a difference. Deficit spending, whether or not we need it, on infrastructure projects that may or may not help the economy. But no idea of how to get our landlocked oil to markets, or any comprehensive plan to spur innovation and economic growth.

 

Mr. Trudeau’s foreign policy ideas are naive and nostalgic. They harken back to the golden age of peacekeeping and multilateralism, as if blue berets and good intentions could defeat Islamic State. Those ideas resonate with voters, because they like to think of Canada as a force for good in the world. Unfortunately, the world is a nastier, messier place than it used to be, and niceness does not go very far.

 

One of the few people to see the landslide coming was Brian Mulroney, a political junkie who knows every one of Canada’s 338 ridings inside-out. He has warned that Mr. Trudeau is a man of consequence, and last week he was telling friends to expect something big. Mr. Mulroney should know – it was a landslide that swept him into office in 1984, giving him the biggest majority in history. The joke was that if the election had lasted two weeks longer, he would have taken every single seat. (The tide went out in 1993, when his Progressive Conservatives were reduced to a pathetic two seats.)

 

“I ran and was successful because I wasn’t Pierre Trudeau,” Mr. Mulroney said Monday night. “Jean Chrétien ran and was successful because he wasn’t Brian Mulroney, and Justin Trudeau tonight was successful because he wasn’t Stephen Harper.” It’s high tide for Mr. Trudeau now. Does he have the smarts and instincts to make the most of it? We’ll have four years to find out. And I, for one, wish him well.

                                                                                   

                                                                       

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OBAMA’S AFGHAN REVERSAL

Wall Street Journal, Oct. 15, 2015

 

If there is a single element of consistency in President Obama’s foreign policy it is his desire to end and avoid U.S. military engagements. In 2011 he withdrew the final U.S. troops from Iraq. He had planned to do the same in Afghanistan, but on Thursday the President hit the pause button. For now, 9,800 American boots will remain on Afghan soil.

 

Mr. Obama is to be commended for changing his mind. He has been building a reputation for being impervious to counterargument, and here he listened to his generals. Senior officers earlier recommended that the U.S. keep up to 20,000 troops in Afghanistan, warning that a lesser number would put the fledgling Afghan army at risk from the Taliban. Those warnings became reality last month when the Taliban overran Kunduz, a major city in northern Afghanistan. With U.S. air support, the Afghans recaptured Kunduz, but Islamist fighters still threaten elsewhere. Fighting has broken out in a third of Afghanistan’s 34 provinces, with the terrorists, who now include Islamic State fighters, threatening Ghazni, another major city not far from Kabul. Last week U.S. forces led a sweep in southern Kandahar province against two large al Qaeda training camps.

 

It is possible that what drove Mr. Obama’s decision was concern that an Afghanistan overrun by terrorists, as ISIS had done in western Iraq, would leave his foreign-policy reputation in tatters. In a remarkably weary announcement Thursday, Mr. Obama said, “As you are all well aware, I do not support the idea of endless war.” The irony is that Mr. Obama is likely to bequeath “endless war” in the Middle East and Afghanistan to his successor. The central issue now is whether the Administration will do enough militarily in Afghanistan to ensure that the war inherited by the next President isn’t worse than it is today.

 

Mr. Obama said the U.S. military mission will remain primarily “supporting counterterrorism operations against the remnants of al-Qaeda.” Surely this understates the nature and scale of the current threat to Afghanistan. It is also troubling to note that Mr. Obama restated his goal of reducing U.S. troop levels there to 5,500 by January 2017. Press reports are calling this a “reversal,” given his prior goal of only 1,000 residual forces by then. But will even 5,500 troops prevent the Taliban, al Qaeda and ISIS fighters from taking large swaths of Afghanistan?

 

The U.S. continues to have some 29,000 troops in South Korea, 62 years after its war with the North ended. Their presence has kept the peace and allowed East Asia to flourish. If instead Mr. Obama gives the Afghans inadequate support, “endless war” will run deep into the next American Presidency. 

 

                                                                       

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PLAN B FOR LIBYA                                                                                                            

Gal Luft                                                                                                              

American Interest, Oct. 1, 2015

 

The September 20 deadline for establishing a unity government in war-torn Libya ahead of the UN General Assembly meeting came and went, and reconciliation between Libya's internationally recognized parliament based in Tobruk and the rival leadership, the new General National Congress (GNC), in Tripoli, was nowhere on the horizon. Anyone who is surprised by this just hasn't been paying attention.

 

Reuniting the Libyan militias has been the West's only endgame for Libya since the oil-rich country slid into a civil war following the 2011 removal of Muammar Qaddafi by a select coalition of NATO countries led by Britain, France, and the United States. But this outcome does not seem to be getting any closer. Indeed, things have gotten much worse.

 

During the 12 months in which the UN Special Envoy for Libya, Spanish Diplomat Bernadino Leon, labored to hammer out a deal, the country became a destination for ISIS fighters taking advantage of the chaos on the ground. The fact that a UN arms embargo prevents weapons transfers to either the Tobruk or Tripoli governments means that ISIS fighters have a distinct advantage: Where two fight, a third may win out. In June, ISIS temporarily took over the city of Sirte on the coast of the Mediterranean, and several days ago a group of their suicide terrorists attacked Libya's international airport in Tripoli, killing three people.

 

To make matters worse, the lack of functioning government and border controls had enabled many thousands of migrants from North and Sub-Saharan Africa to cross the Mediterranean into Europe, exacerbating Europe's migrant crisis.

 

Neither the continuation of ISIS's expansion in Libya nor the persistence of the flow of African migrants are options the U.S. government and those of the European Union can tolerate. It is time to thank Leon for his noble efforts and recognize the reality that the only realistic solution one can aspire to at the moment is the division of Libya into two independent national entities.

 

Following Leon's maneuvering in Libya over the past year, one always got the false impression that a deal to stabilize the country was just around the corner. A draft proposal on forming a national unity government would be put forth; the two sides would stall in approving it; they would then suggest amendments which, in turn, would get rejected; and public protests would then lead the rival factions to back down. And so it went, and so it goes. The appearance of progress when in fact there is none has served as eyewash as Libya has fallen ever deeper into chaos—and as the flow of migrants through Libya to Europe intensifies.

 

The failure of the Leon doctrine is not a testament to his less-than-stellar mediation skills but rather a reflection of a far deeper reality: the inability of the rival factions to accept the concept of shared governance over the country. Indeed, they don't even genuinely recognize the notion that Libya is a country.

 

What has complicated the West's efforts to reunite Libya is the senseless characterization of the Tripoli government as "Islamist." In our day and age there is no better way to delegitimize a group than to label it as Islamist. This is exactly what happened to the GNC. While the Tobruk government enjoyed broad international recognition and free access to international forums, only Turkey and Qatar recognize the Tripoli government, and its leaders cannot even travel abroad freely. But the notion that Tripoli is more Islamist than the other groups vying for control over Libya—not the least other groups and regimes throughout the Middle East that the West is happy to embrace—is bogus. When it comes to Islamist tendencies, all tribes are more or less cut from the same cloth. By not recognizing those who are in command of most of the country's institutions and strategic assets—paradoxically, the salaries of Libya's diplomatic staff representing the Tobruk government all over the world are drawn from the coffers in Tripoli—and who also contributed their fair share to Qaddafi's removal, the West is undermining any chance for stabilization. Equally delusional is the idea toyed with by some American and European operatives of installing a Western backed Libyan expat who would miraculously rally the tribes behind him. Wasn't the Ahmed Chalabi mirage in Iraq enough?

 

Now, when the deadline for reunification is passed, it is time to consider a Plan B for Libya. This plan should draw from the country's history. Back in the early 20th century the territory of today's Libya was split into three self-governing regions: Cyrenaica, which was located in eastern Libya, more or less in the region controlled today by the Tobruk government, and Tripolitania, situated today in some of the area controlled by the GNC. The third was Fezzan, which was and still is an inhospitable desert region in the southwest sparsely populated by Arab and Berber tribes. Some version of this arrangement, which lasted until 1963 during the reign of King Idris I, should be considered today.

 

Washington and Brussels should first recognize the Tripoli government and treat it as a legitimate party. They should then work to hammer out an agreement with the factions to form an orderly division of Libya into two separate entities, under the condition that these two will work—separately and jointly—to combat the spread of ISIS in North Africa. They also need to cooperate in active measures to create a virtual wall along Libya's coastline to thwart additional migration into Europe. To this end the Libyan navy and coast guard should be reconstituted, and the arms embargo should be gradually lifted to allow security forces to effectively take on ISIS.

 

In his UN speech this past week, President Obama boasted of America's achievement in Libya. But he admitted, "Our coalition could have, and should have, done more to fill a vacuum left behind." And then he somewhat incongruously promised, "In such efforts, the United States will always do our part." Thinking again on how to fill the vacuum, Obama should take note of a 2006 proposal by the senior Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee—namely, his Vice President, Joe Biden. Then-Senator Biden proposed that Iraq be divided into three separate regions—Kurdish, Shi'a, and Sunni. At the time the U.S. government and its allies were still consumed by dreams of forming a democratic heaven on the Tigris, and the idea was dismissed. A decade later it no longer sounds so bizarre. Let us hope that, when it comes to Libya, it will take the West less time to recognize that sometimes a divided country is better than a broken and hopeless one.               

                                                                       

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ASSASSINATION ATTEMPT IN TUNISIA

HIGHLIGHTS MOUNTING CHALLENGES                                                                                               

Farah Samti & Kareem Fahim

New York Times, Oct. 9, 2015

 

Hours before the Norwegian Nobel Committee gave its highest-profile honor to a coalition of Tunisian groups that had helped ease the country’s path to democracy, unknown gunmen attacked a member of Tunisia’s Parliament, firing seven or eight shots at his car as he drove to work in a seaside town. The assailants missed their target. But the attack…was an urgent reminder of the violence that still menaces Tunisia’s transition, one of many challenges to the country’s significant and celebrated political gains.

 

The threat against prominent political figures, by shadowy militant groups, is among the government’s deepest worries: Twice in the last two years, high-profile assassinations have thrown Tunisia into political crisis. This year, the country has also grappled with an unprecedented wave of jihadist violence, including two large-scale attacks on tourists that killed at least 60 people and helped plunge the economy into recession.

 

In a country still wrestling with its authoritarian past, the attacks have provoked anguished arguments about how much power the government and the police should wield to confront the threats. Other debates — about the economic direction of the country, and its ability to come to terms with a legacy of past abuses — have exposed divisions between old elites and newer political forces empowered by the uprising in late 2010 against the 23-year dictatorship of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali.

 

The challenges are testing not only the young government but also the compromise between secular and Islamist parties that is at the heart of Tunisia’s inchoate political system and is frequently held up as a model for the Arab world. Talk of Tunisia’s success is frequently attributed to its relatively peaceful transition, especially set against the violent struggles of other countries in the region, including Syria, Yemen and neighboring Libya. That contrast often overlooks an arduous road that began in December 2010, when a Tunisian fruit vendor named Mohammed Bouazizi lit himself on fire, in an act of despair that resonated throughout the Arab world.

 

Days after Mr. Bouazizi died in January 2011, mass protests forced Mr. Ben Ali into exile. The Islamist Ennahda Party won the most votes in parliamentary elections that October but fell short of a majority. The group promised that its own Islamist program would not overwhelm the country’s deeply ingrained secular politics, and it also promised to build, as one Ennhada official put it, a “charismatic, democratic system.”

 

But a backlash against Ennahda paralleled events in Egypt, where huge demonstrations led to a military coup in 2013 against the year-old government of President Mohamed Morsi, a leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, now banned.

 

The four groups honored with the Nobel Peace Prize on Friday helped Tunisia avert the civil strife that led to hundreds of deaths in Egypt. They helped Tunisia negotiate its way through the most serious threat to its nascent transition: the crisis that followed the assassinations of two opposition politicians, Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi, in 2013. Giant protests that summer threatened to topple the Ennahda-led government. But the Islamists refused to cede power until they completed their mandate to pass a new Constitution. The impasse began to destabilize the country as the government grappled with jihadist militancy, popular unrest and strikes, and a worsening economy.

 

After months of sometimes heated negotiations, a deal, concluded in December 2013, forged a new contract between the political parties, including a timetable for a democratic transition. The Islamist government agreed to step down and hand power to a caretaker government that would oversee the holding of parliamentary and presidential elections in October and November 2014. The adoption of the Constitution, in January 2014, was seen as a high point in the transition, producing a charter forged from robust debates between Tunisia’s disparate political currents, and that enshrined democratic principles and a separation of powers.

 

Compromises by two men — Rached Ghannouchi, the leader of the Islamist Ennahda party, and Beji Caid Essebsi, one of the founders of the secularist Nidaa Tounes party, and Tunisia’s current president — ended the impasse, analysts say. Despite that achievement, the basis of their compromise remains fragile: “It is very much a consensus from the top — often against elements of their base,” said Issandr El Amrani, who oversees the North Africa Project for the International Crisis Group. As both leaders manage the pressures from within their own ranks, the government has been criticized for lacking a sense of direction and dynamism as well as for failing to tackle urgent issues, Mr. Amrani said. “This worries people.”…

 

The Parliament member who survived the assassination attempt on Thursday, Ridha Charfeddine, 63, is a member of Nidaa Tounes and also a prominent businessman who owns a soccer team. The gunmen, riding in the back seat of a white car, attacked him in an industrial section of Sousse, on Tunisia’s eastern coast, according to the Interior Ministry. Sousse is the same beachside town where a 23-year-old Tunisian gunman slaughtered 38 people, mostly British tourists, in June. It was Tunisia’s worst terrorist attack in living memory. “This is not an isolated incident,” Mohsen Marzouk, the general secretary of Nidaa Tounes, said in an interview with a local radio station after the gunfire. He said the gunmen belonged to an organized movement, but he did not identify it.

 

As the political violence and jihadist attacks have unnerved the public, they have also given rise to fears about the state’s reaction. The police have reasserted themselves in response to the attacks, despite growing reports of human rights abuses and a lack of coherent strategy to reform the security services, Mr. Amrani said. In the aftermath of the attack on the tourists in Sousse, the government also started closing dozens of mosques — prompting concern that Mr. Essebsi’s secular government, with its strong connections to the old dictatorship, was reviving the crackdowns on Islamists that occurred during Mr. Ben Ali’s rule. The government closed at least 80 mosques, though none of them had any connection to the gunman in Sousse, officials said.                                               

 

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On Topic

 

America’s Failed Foreign Policy: Margaret Wente, National Post, Oct. 20, 2015—U.S. President Barack Obama’s decision to maintain American troops in Afghanistan was the correct move made under difficult circumstances.

Obama Deploys Troops to Cameroon to Fight Boko Haram: Frances Martel, Breitbart, Oct. 15, 2015 —President Obama announced Wednesday that 300 U.S. troops will be deployed to Cameroon to fight the ISIS-affiliated Boko Haram terrorist group.

Mideast Turmoil Strengthens Sudan’s Regime: Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 15, 2015—When it briefly looked as if Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir would be detained in June on an International Criminal Court warrant in South Africa…

Toward a Post-Obama Middle East: Conrad Black, National Review, Oct. 7, 2015 —In the week in which the Russians escalated their attacks on the Syrian factions being assisted by the United States and what is left of the Western Alliance, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas renounced the long-dead letter of the Oslo Agreement…
 

 

 

 

EUROPE’S MIGRATION CRISIS CONNECTED TO FAILURE TO CONFRONT ISLAMIST EXTREMISM

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication.

 

Real Action Needed Against ISIL, Not Sloganeering: National Post, Aug. 15, 2015— The reports are scattered, with little hope of speedy confirmation from Western reporters.

Saving Tunisia From ISIS: Mustapha Tlili, New York Times, Aug. 3, 2015 — “Who lost Tunisia?” This question may well haunt future European leaders.

Europe's Great Migration Crisis: Soeren Kern, Gatestone Institute, July 12, 2015 — Europe's migration crisis is exposing the deep divisions that exist within the European Union, which European federalists have long hailed as a model for post-nationalism and global citizenship.

How to Get a Better Deal With Iran: Mark Dubowitz, Foreign Policy, Aug. 17, 2015— The Iran nuclear deal is a ticking time bomb.

 

On Topic Links

 

The Illegitimate Libyan Government Is Funding the Terrorists Who Killed Chris Stevens: Ann Marlowe, National Review, July 20, 2015

Migration Crisis Pits EU’s East Against West: Anton Troianovski & Margit Feher, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 19, 2015

For French-Algerians and Algerian-French, No Place to Truly Call Home: Amir Jalal Zerdoumi, New York Times, Aug. 15, 2015

Libya Seeks Airstrikes Against ISIS Branch: New York Times, Aug. 15, 2015

 

 

         

REAL ACTION NEEDED AGAINST ISIL, NOT SLOGANEERING                                                                      

National Post, Aug. 15, 2015

 

The reports are scattered, with little hope of speedy confirmation from Western reporters. But there are mounting indications that, over the last several hours and days, the Islamic State has massacred hundreds in the Libyan town of Sirte. Local militias in the area had tried to resist encroaching Islamic State influence and are now reportedly paying for their resistance with their lives, including reports of wounded men being executed in their hospital beds.

 

Ho-hum. Another day, another ISIL atrocity. In recent days, the New York Times has detailed at length the brutal but highly organized, even bureaucratized, system of sexual slavery that thousands of young Yazidi girls and women are trapped in. Herded into pens, displayed for sale, raped repeatedly, their bodies are the war booty ISIL uses to reward its soldiers and entice new ones to join the fight. On Friday, reports emerged that U.S. intelligence officials believe that ISIL forces recently used chemical weapons — mustard gas, specifically, a blistering agent that damages the skin and lung tissue — during a battle against unprotected Kurdish militiamen.

 

The world has known such evil before. But never has the evil so openly celebrated its own depravity. You might have expected that to make it easier to rally decent nations to take up the fight against this group. But no. Other than a half-hearted allied air campaign, which has only partially contained its spread, the world seems little interested in putting an end to ISIL’s rule over millions.

Indeed, even as casualties mount and the rape camps remain much in demand, in North America, ISIL is treated as an issue fit only for domestic politicking. In the United States, Republican presidential hopeful Jeb Bush has been trading barbs with Hillary Clinton, the former secretary of state and current frontrunner for the Democratic nomination. Both accuse the other of sharing responsibility for ISIL’s rise. Bush’s brother, of course, was George W. Bush, whose botching of the Iraq war left the country in no condition to resist ISIL’s spread. Clinton, in contrast, was secretary of state when the Obama administration too-hastily withdrew the last U.S. troops from Iraq, though many U.S. officials — including Clinton herself, she claims — believed Iraq still needed support from the U.S. military to remain stable.

 

In Canada, of course, Prime Minister Stephen Harper is the tough-on-terror candidate, while the opposition parties squirm uncomfortably with every new ISIL outrage and try to explain why they would end even Canada’s relatively minor contribution to the allied effort. The Conservatives feel this is a winning issue for them, and hammer away at it often. While North American politicians posture and position, ISIL continues to grow. It now controls half of Syria, Iraq’s second-largest city and is spreading into Libya. Talking points on the domestic barbecue circuit are of little help to the sex slaves of the Islamic States, to the Kurdish militiamen breathing blistering fumes or the millions of displaced people crowding makeshift refugee camps.

 

It’s true that there is no immediate or obvious solution to the crisis. But that is no excuse not to be working on one. The suffering populations of the region need a real plan for confronting ISIL and a commitment to see it through. Instead, the leaders of the free world exchange slogans and sound bites in hopes of scoring rhetoric points off their political opponents. It is common to say, of past atrocities, “never again.” But sorrowful vows long after the fact are no substitute for action in the here and now.

 

                                                                       

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SAVING TUNISIA FROM ISIS                                                                                                         

Mustapha Tlili

New York Times, Aug. 3, 2015

 

“Who lost Tunisia?” This question may well haunt future European leaders. As Hervé Morin, a former French defense minister, recently warned, Europe — and France in particular — cannot afford to wait until the black flag of the Islamic State is hoisted above the presidential palace in Tunis. Sadly, this bleak scenario can no longer be dismissed as an alarmist exaggeration. Only weeks after the Bardo National Museum massacre in March, a jihadist struck again in June, this time at Sousse, a popular beach resort, killing dozens of European vacationers. The attack’s clear objective was to destroy Tunisia’s tourism industry, destabilizing the economy and undermining the new democratic state.

 

The carnage at Sousse exposed the Tunisian authorities’ inability to tackle on their own the country’s growing security challenges. Tunisia’s successful transition to democracy, the legitimacy of its government and the bravery of its armed forces are not enough to save it. Nor should anyone in Europe and the West comfort themselves with the idea that the jihadist movement will eventually self-destruct.

 

From their new theater of operations in Tunisia, the terrorists aim at extending their caliphate to Europe and beyond — a stated ambition of the Islamic State. In a video released in February of the brutal execution of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians on a beach in Libya, an Islamic State leader gazes out across the Mediterranean horizon and, in flowery classical Arabic, compares the coming battles in Europe to early Islam’s struggle against Rome.

 

The instability in Libya that followed the ouster of Muammar el-Qaddafi has turned that country, Tunisia’s immediate neighbor to the east, into a vast training camp and huge arms bazaar for Islamist terrorists of all stripes. The Islamic State, as the most barbaric, determined and messianic of them all, has been gaining ground there. Tunisia’s president, Beji Caid Essebsi, is fully aware of the mortal dangers his country confronts in the aftermath of the Sousse attack. Declaring a state of emergency last month, he warned that another large-scale terrorist attack could cause the state to collapse.

 

Tunisia’s vulnerability has its roots in the postcolonial era. Habib Bourguiba, the first president after independence in 1956, was eager to modernize his nation, but he was wary of the military coups that plagued other countries in the region at the time. So he spent a great part of the national budget on education and starved the army of resources. His successor, Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, continued on the same path, but as his administration turned dictatorial, he developed a strong police force. As a result, after the 2011 revolution that deposed Mr. Ben Ali, Tunisia inherited a discredited police force and a small army, which, though professional, was poorly funded and ill equipped. The police force was largely disbanded by the new authorities and has yet to be effectively reconstituted.

 

Tunisia also faces a threat from within. After decades of repression, the country’s youth face high unemployment and poor prospects; some are susceptible to radicalization by the jihadists’ sophisticated social media recruitment campaigns and by the proselytization of Salafist preachers from the Persian Gulf region. As many as 3,000 Tunisians have traveled to fight in the Syrian civil war, and hundreds more have become combatants in Libya. Some of these fighters return to Tunisia to spread havoc, as was the case in the Bardo Museum and Sousse attacks.

 

Despite this precarious situation, a recent survey suggested that more than three-quarters of Tunisians approve of the coalition government’s response to the crisis. And there is a consensus of support for new emergency measures, such as the crackdown on mosques linked to radical Salafist imams; restrictions on the travel of young Tunisians to parts of the Middle East; and the adoption by Parliament of a new antiterrorism law, which was passed by an overwhelming majority. Rachid Ghannouchi, the leader of the main Islamist party, Ennahda, has been vocal in his support for the administration’s response.

 

Tunisia, though, has been caught ill prepared to fight the threat of fanaticism. After meeting Mr. Essebsi in Washington in May, President Obama demonstrated a clear commitment when he conferred on Tunisia the status of “major ally.” The United States already supplies military aid, but Mr. Essebsi emphasized that more economic assistance was needed. “Our friends need to help us,” he said, “but we want stronger cooperation.” The Council of Europe recently reaffirmed its support for Tunisia’s young democracy, and Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain promised a “full spectrum” of antiterrorist assistance in the wake of the Sousse massacre. For obvious geographical and historical reasons, Europe is more closely linked to Tunisia than the United States will ever be. European leaders should follow the American lead.

 

To prevent the Islamic State from making Tunisia a beachhead for attacks on Europe, Mr. Cameron, along with President François Hollande of France and Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, should make a joint visit to Tunis. To provide Tunisia’s army and reorganized police force with greater support in the fight for control of their country, the European powers should offer Tunisia a security commitment that includes free access to arms, military training and intelligence-sharing.

 

Since the United States has already named Tunisia a “major ally,” why not also invite Tunisia to become an “aspirant country” for eventual membership in NATO on the basis of shared democratic values and common security interests? These values and interests are, after all, directly opposed to those of the Islamic State and its ideological kin. Europe has a strong interest in a secure, democratic Tunisia and must come to its aid. Only if it does so can we ensure that the question “Who lost Tunisia?” is one we will never have to answer.                                     

        

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EUROPE'S GREAT MIGRATION CRISIS                                                                                 

Soeren Kern                                                                                                        

Gatestone Institute, July 12, 2015

 

Europe's migration crisis is exposing the deep divisions that exist within the European Union, which European federalists have long hailed as a model for post-nationalism and global citizenship. Faced with an avalanche of migrants, a growing number of EU member states have moved decisively to put their own national interests above notions of EU solidarity. Hungary's parliament, for instance, has approved the construction of a massive border fence with Serbia as part of a new anti-immigration law that also tightens asylum rules.

 

The move is aimed at stopping tens of thousands of migrants from Africa, Asia and the Middle East from entering Hungary, which has become a key gateway for illegal immigration into the European Union. Hungarian officials say drastic measures are necessary because of the EU's inaction in the face of an unprecedented migration crisis, which has seen more than 150,000 migrants cross into Europe during the first six months of 2015. More than 715,000 people have applied for asylum in the EU during the past twelve months.

 

Hungarian lawmakers on July 6 voted 151 to 41 in favor of building a 4-meter-high (13-foot) fence along the 175-kilometer (110-mile) border with Serbia. The measure aims to cut off the so-called Western Balkan Route, which constitutes the main land route through Eastern Europe for migrants who enter the EU from Turkey via Greece and Bulgaria. More than 60,000 people have entered Hungary illegally during the first six months of 2015, a nearly 900% increase over the same period in 2014, according to Frontex, the European border agency. Approximately 95% of the migrants entering Hungary — most coming from Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Somalia and Kosovo — cross into the country from Serbia, which unlike Hungary is not a member of the EU.

 

Hungary forms part of the EU's passport-free Schengen zone, which means that once migrants are inside the country, they can travel freely throughout most of the rest of the EU without further border checks. In 2014, Hungary received more refugees per capita than any other EU country apart from Sweden. Although most of the migrants entering Hungary continue onward to wealthier countries in Western Europe, a growing number of refugees are deciding to stay in Hungary. During the first three months of 2015, Hungary received the largest number of asylum requests as a share of population of any EU member state.

 

Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto has justified the moves as necessary to defend his country. "The Hungarian government is committed to defending Hungary and defending the Hungarian people from the immigration pressure," he said. "Hungary cannot allow itself to wait any longer. Naturally, we hope there will be a joint European solution." Critics say the decision to build a fence evokes memories of the Cold War, when Europe was divided between East and West. "We have only recently taken down walls in Europe," said the EU's spokesperson for migration, Natasha Bertaud. "We should not be putting them up."

 

An unnamed European diplomat told the Telegraph newspaper: "This is a scandal. Hungary, which was the first Communist country to dismantle the Iron Curtain, is now building a new curtain on its southern border." Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban has pointed to the big picture consequences of untrammeled immigration from Muslim countries. Speaking at a conference in honor of former German Chancellor Helmut Kohl, who recently turned 85, Orban warned that the influx of so many migrants was threatening "the face of European civilization" which "will never again be what it is now." He added: "There is no way back from a multicultural Europe. Neither to a Christian Europe, nor to the world of national cultures."

 

Hungary is not the only EU country that has been building or fortifying walls and fences to keep migrants out. Bulgaria has built a 33-km (21-mile), three-meter-high (10-foot) barbed wire fence along its border with its southeastern neighbor Turkey in an effort to limit the influx of migrants from Syria and other parts of the Middle East and North Africa. The Interior Ministry has also deployed more than one thousand police officers to patrol the Turkish border.

 

Greece has erected a 10.5-km, four-meter-high barbed-wire fence along part of its border with Turkey. The Greek wall is said to be responsible for diverting migration routes toward neighboring Bulgaria and, consequently, for construction of the wall there. Spain has fortified fences in the North African exclaves of Ceuta and Melilla as record numbers of migrants are jumping over the barriers from neighboring Morocco. Border police registered more than 19,000 attempts to jump the fence at Melilla in 2014, up 350% on 2013, according to the Interior Ministry. Nearly 7,500 migrants successfully entered Ceuta and Melilla in 2014, including 3,305 from Syria.

 

The UK is setting up more than two miles of nine-foot-high security fencing at the Channel Tunnel port of Calais in northern France, in an attempt to stop thousands of illegal migrants breaking into trucks bound for the UK. Currently, more than 3,000 migrants are camped in and around Calais hoping to make it to Britain. More than 39,000 would-be illegal immigrants were prevented from crossing the Channel in the 12 months prior to April, more than double the previous year…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

                                                                       

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HOW TO GET A BETTER DEAL WITH IRAN                                                                            

Mark Dubowitz                                                                                                                                        

Foreign Policy, Aug. 17, 2015

 

The Iran nuclear deal is a ticking time bomb. Its key provisions sunset too quickly, and it grants Iran too much leverage to engage in nuclear blackmail. To defuse it, Congress needs to do what it has done dozens of times in the past including during the Cold War in requiring changes to key U.S.-Soviet arms control agreements: Demand a better deal. And contrary to the President Barack Obama’s threats, this doesn’t have to lead to war.

 

First, let’s review why this deal is so dangerous. The sunset clauses — the fatal flaw of the agreement — permit critical nuclear, arms, and ballistic missile restrictions to disappear over a five- to 15-year period. Tehran must simply abide by the agreement to soon emerge as a threshold nuclear power with an industrial-size enrichment program. Similarly, it must only hang tight to reach near-zero breakout time; find a clandestine sneak-out pathway powered by easier-to-hide advanced centrifuges; build an arsenal of intercontinental ballistic missiles; gain access to heavy weaponry like more sophisticated combat aircraft, attack helicopters, and battle tanks after the lifting of the U.N. conventional arms embargo after five years; and develop an economy increasingly immunized against future sanctions pressure. Iran can achieve all this without even cheating by simply waiting for the sunset dates to be reached; but cheating will only get Tehran there faster, for example, if it refuses physical access by the International Atomic Energy Agency to suspicious sites and Washington can’t get European support to punish Iranian stonewalling.

 

And it gets worse. If world powers reimpose sanctions in response to Iranian noncompliance, Tehran can void the deal. The nuclear agreement explicitly contemplates in paragraphs 26 and 37 of the main text that Iran will walk away from the deal if sanctions are reimposed in response to an Iranian violation. It also contains an explicit requirement in paragraph 29 of the main text for the United States and the EU to do nothing to interfere with the “normalization of trade and economic relations with Iran.” Let’s call these Iran’s “nuclear snap backs,” wherein Tehran will threaten nuclear escalation if the world powers try to force it back into compliance with the agreement.

 

But even without this arrow in their quiver, the Iranians over time will be immunized from economic shocks. Once European companies are sufficiently invested in Iran’s lucrative markets, any Iranian violations of the deal are likely to provoke disagreements between Washington and its European allies. Indeed, why would Europe agree to new sanctions when they have big money on the line? Their arguments against new nuclear sanctions will include questions about the credibility of evidence, the seriousness of the nuclear infractions, the appropriate level of response, and likely Iranian retaliation.

 

This dynamic undeniably threatens the effectiveness of the agreement’s Joint Commission — an eight-member body comprised of the United States, France, Britain, Germany, a representative from the EU, as well as Russia, China, and Iran — established to monitor the implementation of the deal. While an even more difficult-to-achieve unanimous decision is required for most decisions, a simple 5-to-3 majority is needed to get approval should Iran object for all-important IAEA access to suspect Iranian sites. The administration designed this scheme to bypass Russia and China if they take Iran’s side in a dispute. Washington assumes it can always count on European votes. But this is a mistake. Europe will have strong economic incentives to demur, particularly as pressure from European business lobbies grows, and good reason to buck the United States if Iran threatens a nuclear snap back. While Washington can unilaterally reimpose U.N. sanctions if the issue does not get resolved and it “deems the issue to constitute significant non-performance,” it is unlikely to do this in the face of European resistance.

 

The same dynamics apply to the reimposition of non-nuclear sanctions, such as terrorism or human rights sanctions. On July 20, Iran informed the U.N. Security Council, stating that it may “reconsider its commitments” under the agreement if “new sanctions” are imposed “irrespective of whether such new sanctions are introduced on nuclear related or other grounds.” Would Europe agree to a U.S. plan to reimpose terrorism sanctions on the Central Bank of Iran if it was found — once again — to be financing terrorism? This is doubtful given that Tehran would threaten to return to its nuclear activities including large-scale uranium enrichment, putting not just European investments but the entire nuclear deal in jeopardy.

 

In other words, Europe’s fear of a collapsed deal and lost billions would erode American leverage and diminish our ability to reapply snap back economic sanctions. And as Washington’s influence steadily weakens, its options become increasingly limited. Over time, with sanctions off the table, American or Israeli military force could become the only option to stop an Iranian nuclear weapon. If and when that war comes, Iran will be far stronger — economically and militarily — than it is today. So, what’s the alternative? The president says there is none. He’s wrong. Congress can and should require the administration to amend the agreement’s fatal flaws, such as the sunset clause and the nuclear snap back.

 

There is ample precedent to amend the deal. Congress has required amendments to more than 200 treaties before receiving Senate consent, including significant bilateral Cold War arms control agreements with the Soviets like the Threshold Test Ban Treaty and the Peaceful Nuclear Explosions Treaty, as well as multilateral agreements like the Chemical Weapons Convention negotiated with 87 participating countries, including Iran, by President Bill Clinton. And it’s not just Republicans putting up obstacles. During the Cold War, Democratic senators like Henry Jackson withstood pressure from Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger who insisted that the deals they negotiated go unchanged. This all happened at a time when Moscow had thousands of nuclear-tipped missiles aimed at America.

 

Should Congress follow in this proud tradition and disapprove of the Iran deal, there are three possible scenarios. Each presents challenges. But each is preferable to this fatally flawed agreement…

[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link—Ed.]

 

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The Illegitimate Libyan Government Is Funding the Terrorists Who Killed Chris Stevens: Ann Marlowe, National Review, July 20, 2015 — On June 14 of this year, American F-15 fighter-bombers struck a meeting of high-level terrorist leaders in Libya, targeting the notorious North African al-Qaeda leader Mokhtar Belmokhtar but also hitting members of Ansar al-Sharia, an increasingly important terror group in the region.

Migration Crisis Pits EU’s East Against West: Anton Troianovski & Margit Feher, Wall Street Journal, Aug. 19, 2015 — Slovakia says it will take in 200 Syrian refugees to help fellow European Union countries cope with an influx of hundreds of thousands of migrants—but with a condition: All 200 of them have to be Christians

For French-Algerians and Algerian-French, No Place to Truly Call Home: Amir Jalal Zerdoumi, New York Times, Aug. 15, 2015— The fishermen of Cap Falcon, a peaceful beach on Algeria’s western Mediterranean coast, swear they can see the Spanish mountaintops when the weather is clear. So tantalizingly close is Europe, the beach is a favorite launching point for the “harragas,” as illegal migrants are known here.

Libya Seeks Airstrikes Against ISIS Branch: New York Times, Aug. 15, 2015 — Libya’s internationally recognized government has asked fellow Arab states to conduct airstrikes against the Libyan branch of the Islamic State in the coastal city of Surt, a cabinet statement said on Saturday.