Canadian Institute for Jewish Research
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Strength of Israel will not lie

Tag: Tunisia

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.

LIBYA’S CHAOS, SPAWNED BY WESTERN INTERVENTION, SPREADS TO TUNISIA. HOW WILL THE WEST RESPOND?

Time to Get Serious About Libya: Max Boot, Commentary, Mar. 8, 2016— The consequences of allowing Islamic State to establish a new stronghold in the Libyan city of Sirte continue to grow worse.

Why Libya Must be the Next Front in the War Against ISIL: Matthew Fisher, National Post, Feb. 21, 2016— Canada’s larger training mission with the Peshmerga in northern Iraq will not get underway until the back half of May, but preliminary discussions are already underway about what must come next.

Tunisian Clash Spreads Fear That Libyan War Is Spilling Over: Farah Samti & Declan Walsh, New York Times, Mar. 7, 2016 — Fear engulfed Tunisia on Monday that Islamic State mayhem was spilling over from neighboring Libya, as dozens of militants stormed a Tunisian town near the border, assaulting police and military posts in what the president called an unprecedented attack.

How Tunisia Became a Top Source of ISIS Recruits: Yaroslav Trofimov, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 25, 2016— The cradle of the Arab Spring, Tunisia remains the freest Arab democracy.

 

On Topic Links

 

A Radical Idea to Rebuild a Shattered Libya: Restore the Monarchy: Declan Walsh, New Tork Times, Feb. 24, 2015

ISIS Leader Moves to Libya: Pete Hoekstra, IPT, Feb. 16, 2016

Africa’s Terror Crescent: Wall Street Journal, Feb. 16, 2016

Liberals’ Vision for Canadian Forces Unlikely to be Swayed by Public Consultations: John Ivison, National Post, Mar. 7, 2016

 

 

TIME TO GET SERIOUS ABOUT LIBYA

Max Boot

Commentary, Mar. 8, 2016

 

The consequences of allowing Islamic State to establish a new stronghold in the Libyan city of Sirte continue to grow worse. Not only is Islamic State now poised directly across the Mediterranean from Europe, and not only is it now in a position to threaten or even seize chunks of the Libyan oil production — Islamic State is also now in a position to threaten neighboring states.

 

On Monday, dozens of extremists attacked the Tunisian town of Ben Gardane located next to the Libyan border. Some 36 of the attackers were killed along with 18 Tunisians, security forces and civilians alike. President Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia blamed Libyan-based ISIS extremists. This is evidence that the chaos of Libya continues to spillover and threaten the nascent democracy in neighboring Tunisia, the only success story to emerge from the Arab Spring.

 

The U.S. indirectly bears some responsibility for this dangerous state of affairs, having helped to topple Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 without doing nearly enough to stabilize Libya afterward. President Obama is trying to ameliorate the consequences of this dereliction of duty by staging air strikes against ISIS targets. Last month, U.S. aircraft bombed the Libyan town of Sabratha, killing a reported 43 people, including an ISIS leader. The U.S. also has reportedly deployed Special Operations Forces to Libya and has gotten permission from Italy to fly armed drones to defend them should they come under attack.

 

These are positive steps, but it is crucial that the American response not be limited to killing terrorists, who can always be replaced. There is a desperate need to establish a functioning state in Libya that can police its own territory, and that will not happen without active U.S. leadership along with that of our allies.

 

The United Nations has recognized a new Unity Government in Libya but turning it into a reality will require pressure from the U.S. and other states, using a combination of sanctions and suasion (in the form of weapons and aid deliveries), to force the various Libyan factions to come together. If and when the state comes together, it would make sense to dispatch an international peacekeeping force to help it establish its authority. Italy has been rumored to have offered 5,000 troops for such a force; other nations would need to ante up as well.

 

For too long, the U.S. and the rest of the West have turned a blind eye to the growing disorder in Libya, repeating the same mistake that they have made in Syria and Yemen. No one wants to intervene in yet another Arab civil war. Unless the U.S. leads an international coalition, however, the situation will only get worse, ISIS will only get stronger, and the threat to nearby states — including European states — will only grow.

 

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WHY LIBYA MUST BE THE NEXT FRONT IN THE WAR AGAINST ISIL

Matthew Fisher            

National Post, Feb. 21, 2016

                       

Canada’s larger training mission with the Peshmerga in northern Iraq will not get underway until the back half of May, but preliminary discussions are already underway about what must come next. And what must come next is Libya. Turning the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant back in Mesopotamia is the first part of a larger battle to rein in this gang of murderous religious zealots whose ambitions are much greater than simply dominating a stretch of desert between Saudi Arabia and Turkey.

 

Although a long way from being defeated, ISIL appears today to be on the defensive in Iraq. But the Daesh brand — and those who claim an allegiance to it and its dream of a vast caliphate where Sharia law is supreme — continues to grow in other parts of the Islamic world, from southeast Asia to Afghanistan, sub-Saharan Africa and the Maghreb.

 

This is especially true of Libya, which has been allowed to devolve into a lawless state since NATO warplanes deposed Moammar Gadhafi. Libya’s importance is obvious: it sits at the crossroads between southern Europe and Sudan, Chad, Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso, where Islamic terror is encouraging others in equatorial Africa, and it has a malignant influence on events in Tunisia, Algeria and Egypt. ISIL is already causing grief for Egypt and putting pressure on Israel because of its machinations in the Sinai Peninsula, where the independent Multinational Force and Observers peacekeeping organization is led by a Canadian — Maj.-Gen. Denis Thompson, who once ran Canada’s war in Kandahar.

 

How will NATO respond if ISIL becomes seaborne and uses the Maghreb as a launching point for terrorist attacks on southern Europe or to disrupt trade in the Mediterranean? After all, unlike Iraq and Syria, Libya is practically in Europe’s backyard. Tripoli is less than 500 kilometres from Sicily, eastern Libya is about 300 kilometres from Crete, and even closer to Malta, with its strong ties to Britain and membership in the European Union.

 

What role Canada and the West might play across this much broader canvas is already being talked about in Ottawa, at NATO headquarters in Belgium and at announced and unannounced meetings in Washington, Europe and the Middle East.

 

Gen. Joseph Dunford, the Marine who is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke late last month of the need “to take decisive action” against ISIL in Libya. U.S. jets and drones carried out air strikes three days ago against an ISIL training camp on the Mediterranean coast near Tunisia, and U.S. special forces are undoubtedly already conducting covert operations in the neighbourhood.

 

An Italian three-star general is to lead an eventual international military mission in Libya, although what shape it will take and what its mandate will be remains unclear. The British will help the Italians. The French are to be involved, too.  Ottawa has said almost nothing publicly about its potential involvement there. However, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan had private talks about Libya in Europe in December and again this month.

 

In many respects an international operation against ISIL in Libya would be tailor-made for Canada, given the Trudeau government’s championing of what has been described as Canada’s unique expertise in helping failed states with a comprehensive approach that includes governance, humanitarian aid and development.

 

Another factor that should compel Canada to act: we bear some responsibility for the chaos now gripping Libya. A Canadian general, Charlie Bouchard, ran the successful NATO air campaign against Gadhafi in 2011. Regrettably, neither Canada — which contributed CF-18 fighters to that push — or its allies, had any plan to restore order in Libya once Gadhafi was gone. The anarchy that followed the dictator’s death created a vacuum that ISIL has inevitably and ruthlessly exploited.

 

Canada’s special forces, already assisting the Peshmerga in Iraq, will likely be involved in Libya. But these commandos should only be a small part of an eventual whole-of-government approach. Using parts of Canada’s Afghan template, that could involve conventional forces serving as trainers, as well as experts from half a dozen government ministries and agencies to help establish the stability that Libya desperately needs. The bedlam in Libya presents the UN Security Council with an opportunity to pass a resolution authorizing an international response to Libya. For once, Western, Russian and Chinese interests may be in sync on such an undertaking.

 

ISIL’s rise in Iraq and Syria happened largely because the West and its Arab allies were asleep to the consequences, including the refugee crisis it spawned. The key for Canada and its allies is to get ahead of ISIL for once, and end its ability to dominate the narrative. Eliminate the jihadists in Libya before they can establish the deep roots there that they have now in Iraq and Syria.

 

 

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  TUNISIAN CLASH SPREADS FEAR THAT LIBYAN WAR IS SPILLING OVER

Farah Samti & Declan Walsh                   

          New York Times, Mar. 7, 2016

 

Fear engulfed Tunisia on Monday that Islamic State mayhem was spilling over from neighboring Libya, as dozens of militants stormed a Tunisian town near the border, assaulting police and military posts in what the president called an unprecedented attack. At least 54 people were killed in the fighting in the town, Ben Gardane, which erupted at dawn and lasted for hours until the security forces chased out what remained of the assailants. An enormous stash of weapons was later found.

 

The authorities said at least 36 militants were among the dead. The others were a mix of security forces and civilians, including a 12-year-old girl. It was unclear where the assailants had come from, although some witnesses reported that they had local accents and had pronounced themselves as liberators. But President Beji Caid Essebsi of Tunisia, increasingly alarmed about the Islamic State’s expansion in Libya, blamed the militant group. In a televised address, he suggested that the motive was to create a new Islamic State territory on Tunisian soil, similar to the 150-mile stretch it controls in Libya.

 

The authorities sealed the border, erected checkpoints in Ben Gardane and used bullhorns to announce a curfew as security officials searched for other attackers. A nearby beach resort popular with Western and local tourists was closed. It was the second time in a week that the area around Ben Gardane had been assaulted, and the first time that Tunisian military facilities had been targeted. Mr. Essebsi said that the Tunisian forces had expected such an attack. “Most Tunisians are in a state of war against this recklessness, against these rats,” he said, referring to the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL.

 

In the past year, the Islamic State has exploited Libya’s chaotic civil war not only to establish control of coastline around the central town of Surt, but also to establish bases near the Tunisian border. Tunisian troops raised their alert after Feb. 18 when American airstrikes against an Islamic State camp in Sabratha, 60 miles from the border, stoked worries that some fighters would try to slip into Tunisia.

 

Considered a conspicuous success story among the countries upended by popular uprisings in 2011, Tunisia has of late steeled itself against a growing Islamist threat. In two high-profile attacks last year, militants targeted Western tourists at the Bardo Museum in Tunis, and at the beach resort of Sousse where they killed 38 people, mostly British tourists. Tunisian officials said the attackers had been trained in Libya.

 

The American airstrikes last month against an Islamic State training camp in Sabratha, which killed at least 43 people, had sought to eliminate a militant commander linked to the Tunis and Sousse assaults. He is believed to have been killed. American commanders say such strikes are part of an effort to contain the spread of the Islamic State while the United States and its allies consider a much wider campaign of airstrikes against the group in Libya.

 

In an effort to stop militant infiltration, Tunisia has built a 125-mile-long berm along half of the border with Libya, and says it has contracted American and German firms to install electronic surveillance equipment to further secure that border.

 

Still, tensions are rising. In violence that foreshadowed the Ben Gardane assault, Tunisian soldiers clashed with militants on Wednesday near the town, killing five people. After the Ben Gardane assault, the Tunisian security forces said they had discovered a large cache of weapons including rifles, explosives and rocket launchers. They blocked nearby border crossing points at Ras Ajdir and on the island of Djerba, a beach resort home to a small population of Tunisian Jews.

 

In a statement, the Interior Ministry urged locals to remain indoors but assured them that the situation was “under control.” Although militants had never targeted a military installation in Tunisia, 12 people died in a suicide attack on a bus carrying members of the presidential guard in Tunis in November.             

 

                                                           

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HOW TUNISIA BECAME A TOP SOURCE OF ISIS RECRUITS

Yaroslav Trofimov        

                                                Wall Street Journal, Feb. 25, 2016

 

The cradle of the Arab Spring, Tunisia remains the freest Arab democracy. It has one of the region’s most developed economies and highest literacy rates. And it is also by far the largest source of foreign fighters heading to join Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

 

Between 6,000 and 7,000 Tunisians have left the small North African country to fight for the self-proclaimed caliphate—several times more than from much-more populous Algeria or Egypt. As many as 15,000 others have been barred from international travel because Tunisia’s government suspects them of planning to follow suit. The Tunisian exodus is remarkable because it defies conventional wisdom that has long sought to explain terrorism by evoking “root causes” such as political repression by dictatorial regimes, or the frustrations of poverty.

 

The working-class Hay Ettadhamen suburb of Tunis, a spread of drab concrete buildings that wouldn’t be out of place in parts of Spain or Eastern Europe, is one of the hot spots for such departures to Syria and Iraq.

Ahmed Amine Jebri, a 27-year-old architecture student, counted some 20 neighbors who had joined Islamic State: a childhood friend with whom he used to play the “Counter-Strike” videogame, a classmate, an older man who sold dried fruit and cigarettes in a corner store. Several of them are now dead.

 

“So many people have left from here, and quite a few of them were rather well-off,” Mr. Jebri said. “Some in the neighborhood believe these guys are fools who had gone to Syria to get killed. But many others say they are now in paradise with the virgins.” Increasingly, Tunisians also form the backbone of Islamic State’s growing presence in neighboring Libya. A U.S. airstrike last week on an Islamic State training camp west of Tripoli killed as many as 50 people, most of them Tunisian fighters.

 

So what explains this paradox? In a country that remains deeply divided, the answer, predictably, depends on whom you ask. Tunisia’s functioning democracy remains an exception: Arab Spring revolutions elsewhere have either turned into civil wars, as in Syria, Libya or Yemen, or were crushed by re-established dictatorships, as in Egypt.

 

Yet even in Tunisia, popular disappointment is spreading, said Moncef Marzouki, a human-rights activist who served as democratic Tunisia’s first president from 2011 and until the end of 2014. While the country’s Jasmine Revolution ushered in democracy, it failed to spur economic growth or curb rampant corruption, he said.

 

“Why do we have educated people, people with jobs, who go to ISIS?” wondered Mr. Marzouki. “It’s not the matter of tackling socioeconomic roots. You have to go deeper and understand that these guys have a dream—and we don’t. We had a dream—our dream was called the Arab Spring. And our dream is now turning into a nightmare. But the young people need a dream, and the only dream available to them now is the caliphate.”

 

Mr. Marzouki’s successor as president, 89-year-old Beji Caid Essebsi, served as foreign minister and parliament speaker in prerevolutionary administrations. Many other former officials returned to power after the 2014 elections. To some, especially in disadvantaged areas, the new Tunisia isn’t that different from the Tunisia of old.

 

“In Tunisia, a policeman can, just as before, stop a citizen on the street and slap him,” said Rafik Ghaki, an attorney who represents hundreds of Tunisians who returned from battlefields in Syria and Iraq, usually to face immediate detention. “A woman who wears the veil, a young man with a beard—they still feel discriminated” against.

 

To more-secular Tunisians, such explanations ignore what they see as the ambiguous attitude of postrevolutionary governments toward Islamist extremists. The local branch of the Muslim Brotherhood dominated Tunisia’s administration after the first elections in 2011, and remains a minority partner in the current government.

 

An amnesty declared soon after the revolution freed imprisoned jihadists and allowed others to return from exile. The government initially tried to entice radical groups to participate in politics. It began to crack down on Islamist radicals after their attempt to storm the U.S. Embassy compound in 2012, followed by a series of assassinations and terrorist attacks.

 

To critics—including some relatives of jihadists—the government is still far too lenient to those who incite radicalism. “These people have political cover here. Nobody interferes with them,” said  Mohammed Iqbel Ben Rejeb, president of the Rescue Association of Tunisians Trapped Abroad, a group that unites some 250 families of Tunisians who joined extremist groups in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere.

 

Mr. Ben Rejeb’s brother Hamza—who moves in a wheelchair and has to use both hands to raise a glass of water because of his muscular dystrophy—left for Syria in 2013 along with six friends. Realizing how inhospitable Syria was, the brother managed to return home quickly. “When a person is hypnotized, he doesn’t even know why he’s going there,” Mr. Ben Rejeb said. “It is like a virus.”

 

 On Topic

 

A Radical Idea to Rebuild a Shattered Libya: Restore the Monarchy: Declan Walsh, New Tork Times, Feb. 24, 2015—The deserted royal palace here, hidden behind locked gates and an overgrown garden, stands as a monument to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s virulent rejection of Libya’s monarchy.

ISIS Leader Moves to Libya: Pete Hoekstra, IPT, Feb. 16, 2016 —The barbaric and elusive Chechen commander who recruited British executioner "Jihadi John" has moved to Sirte, Libya to assume control of ISIS operations in the terrorist organization's metastasizing Mediterranean caliphate.

Africa’s Terror Crescent: Wall Street Journal, Feb. 16, 2016—For all the attention attracted by the battle against Islamic State in the Middle East, Islamism is also wreaking havoc in Africa. Jihadist groups control territory stretching from the Horn of Africa to the Mediterranean coast and south to Nigeria, and that crescent was ablaze this weekend.

Liberals’ Vision for Canadian Forces Unlikely to be Swayed by Public Consultations: John Ivison, National Post, Mar. 7, 2016—Within days, Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan will launch public consultations on the new review that will mandate the future size of the Canadian Forces, what kind of equipment they will use and the theatres in which they will operate.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                        

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

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.]                

 

                                                                       

Contents                       

     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.]

 

Contents                                                                                     

                                                                                       

 

On Topic

                                                                                                        

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.

 

 

                                                                      

 

              

ISLAMISTS, VOWING “MONTH OF DISASTERS”, ATTACK DURING RAMADAN, AS HEZBOLLAH ANTICIPATES IRAN SANCTIONS RELIEF

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

 

Terror on Three Continents: Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2015 — Jihadists have a fondness for anniversaries, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by three terror attacks, on three continents, all taking place on the eve of the Islamic State’s declaration of a caliphate last June 29.

Why Would Anyone Join ISIL?: Simon Cottee, National Post, June 24, 2015— ISIL is an abomination. Since capturing large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria last summer, it has slaughtered thousands of defenceless Iraqi soldiers and Shiite civilians. The Myth of Muslim Radicalization: Daniel Greenfield, Breaking Israel News, June 24, 2015 — After some of its quarter of a million Muslims headed to join ISIS, Quebec decided the answer was a $2 million anti-radicalization center headed by a specialist in cultural sensitivity.

A Nuclear Nightmare for Lebanon: Ahmad el-Assaad, Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2015 — Ever since it entered the Syrian civil war, the Iranian-funded Lebanese-Shiite terror outfit Hezbollah has suffered tremendously and in many different ways.

 

On Topic Links

 

America’s Friends in the Middle East are its Enemies: George Jonas, National Post, June 27, 2015

Trying to Placate All, Iran Leader Zigs and Zags on Nuclear Talks: Thomas Erdbrink, New York Times, June 27, 2015

Observing Ramadan with Murder: Washington Times, June 29, 2014

Fears of Terrorism Mount in France: Anthony Faiola, Washington Post, June 27, 2015  

Does Islam Have a Role in Suicide Bombings?: A.J. Caschetta, Middle East Forum, Summer, 2015

Many Paths to Jihadist Views, Federally Funded Study Finds: Jim Bronskill., Global News, June 28, 2015

                                          

                                      

                                     

TERROR ON THREE CONTINENTS                                                                                       

Wall Street Journal, June 26, 2015

 

Jihadists have a fondness for anniversaries, so maybe we shouldn’t be surprised by three terror attacks, on three continents, all taking place on the eve of the Islamic State’s declaration of a caliphate last June 29. That makes the prospect of follow-on strikes through Monday that much more plausible—and more difficult to stop.

 

ISIS took credit for only one of the three atrocities—a suicide bombing at a Shiite mosque in Kuwait, in which at least 27 people were killed. But their near-simultaneity suggested some kind of coordination, or at least joint inspiration. Ramadan began last week, and an ISIS spokesman recently called on “mujahadeen everywhere” to make it “a month of disasters for the infidels.”

 

Coordinated or not, ISIS’s trademark hyper-brutality has made its mark on jihadi minds. In Tunisia a gunman posing as a tourist killed at least 37 people, many of them European vacationers, at a beach resort. In France terrorists were less successful but no less bloody-minded: A car-bombing attempt at an American-owned chemical plant near Lyon failed to cause major damage, but not before the alleged attacker, Yassine Salhi, planted the decapitated head of his boss on the plant’s gate, along with an Islamic flag.

 

All of this is a stark reminder that the Middle East is no Las Vegas: What happens there doesn’t stay there. Tunisians make up the largest contingent of foreign fighters in ISIS, which took credit for murdering 21 people at a Tunis museum in March. Thousands of Europeans, and an estimated 180 Americans, have gone to fight for ISIS in Syria and Iraq, and Western security officials will not be able to track all of them. That increases the possibility of mass-casualty attacks by well-trained killers, as opposed to the more inept recent attempts by lone-wolf jihadists in Texas and Massachusetts.

 

Friday’s attacks should cause some rethinking from so-called civil libertarians in Congress and the White House, who have competed to hobble and dismantle the National Security Agency’s anti-terror surveillance capabilities. It’s especially instructive to note that Mr. Salhi had once been under surveillance by French intelligence but was dropped several years ago, likely because French resources are stretched by the number of potential suspects. A similar story played out in January, when it turned out that French authorities had stopped surveilling Said and Cheríf Kouachi nearly a year before their attack on the Charlie Hebdo offices.

 

The larger lesson is that defensive measures alone will never suffice to stop the next terrorist outrage; the best defense is a devastating offense. President Obama recently deployed 450 additional trainers to help the Iraqi army fight ISIS, as if Islamic State is mostly Baghdad’s problem. But ISIS is a direct threat to the West as well as to the region, and it needs to be dealt with that way. Until our mindset changes, we can expect more terror, on more continents.         

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

   

WHY WOULD ANYONE JOIN ISIL?                                         

Simon Cottee                                                       

National Post, June 24, 2015

 

ISIL is an abomination. Since capturing large swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria last summer, it has slaughtered thousands of defenceless Iraqi soldiers and Shiite civilians. It has raped and enslaved hundreds of Yazidi women. It has brutalized children by forcing them to watch scenes of horrific cruelty and violence. It has presided over public crucifixions in its stronghold of Raqqa, Syria. It has coerced boys as young as 14 to carry out suicide missions. It has launched a campaign of murderous aggression against gay men. It has stolen and vandalized ancient and irreplaceable artifacts. And it has created a vast library of snuff movies that degrades not only the defenceless victims whose deaths they depict, but also the viewers who watch them.

 

Why on earth, then, would anyone wish to join it? This question was asked with renewed urgency last week after it emerged that three sisters from Bradford, U.K., together with their nine children, may have fled to Syria to join the so-called Islamic State or the “Caliphate,” as it also calls itself.  According to Balaal Khan, a solicitor representing two of the fathers of the nine children, the women had travelled from Britain to Saudi Arabia on May 28 for an Islamic pilgrimage and were due to return on June 11. “The suspicion and main concern is that the women have taken their children to Syria,” he said. Khan added that the three sisters had a brother who had already left the U.K. for Syria.

 

At an emotional press conference last Tuesday, the two fathers pleaded for their wives to return. “Please come back home so we can live a normal life,” a distraught Akhtar Iqbal implored his wife Sugra Dawood. Mohammed Shoaib, also stricken with grief, issued the same plea to his own wife Khadija Dawood. “Come back to normal life, please,” he said, his face hot with tears. “I don’t know what happened,” Mr. Shoaib exclaimed. And neither do we — not yet anyway. A fuller picture is certain to emerge over the coming days and weeks. But we may never fully know why what happened happened.

 

One thing we can be certain of is more bafflement — unless of course it turns out that the three women were two-headed monsters raised in a cesspool on Mars. “Some newspaper stories,” the late Christopher Hitchens once wrote, “quite simply write themselves.” He was specifically referring to the journalistic tendency in news reports on serial killers and child molesters to relay the disbelief of neighbours and acquaintances, who “feel duty-bound to say that this has come as a great shock, not to say a complete surprise, and that the guy next door seemed perfectly decent — if perhaps a little inclined to ‘keep to himself’.”

 

This reportorial protocol is now standard in news stories on terrorists, too. The neighbours of Shehzad Tanweer, one of the 7/7 suicide bombers, said he was “nice lad” who could “get on with anyone.” A schoolteacher who had taught Mohammad Emwazi (a.k.a Jihadi John), said he was “shy” and “reserved.” According to Sahima Begum, her 15 year-old sister Shamima, one of the three east London schoolgirls who absconded to Syria in February, “was into normal teenage things” and “used to watch Keeping Up With The Kardashians, so there was nothing that indicated that she was radicalized in any way — not at home.” All of this was dutifully recorded in news reports on Tanweer, Emwazi and Begum. And when the neighbours and friends of the Dawood’s are interviewed, as they surely will be in time, you can bet their disbelief and bafflement will be dutifully recorded by the journalists who interview them.

 

Attention is certain to fall on the brother of the three sisters and what role (if any) he and his wider network of jihadi facilitators played in the women’s radicalization and eventual journey out to Syria. But this is unlikely to dispel the bafflement, since the women so profoundly disturb our assumptions or stereotypes about who becomes radicalized into joining a violent jihadi movement. They were not loners or radical losers; they were not — one imagines — sexual malcontents; they were not widows avenging the deaths of their martyred husbands; they were not — one presumes — violence in search of a cause. They are, in fact, mothers and wives, and they are relatively mature: 30 (Khadija), 33 (Zohra) and 34 (Sugra). They are also loved, by their children — and it would seem, in the case of Khadija and Sugra, their husbands.

 

Why these particular women decided to migrate to the Islamic State at this particular moment may forever remain a mystery. It is estimated that over 500 British men have joined ISIL over the last two years. In most cases, their female siblings have not followed them. What, then, is special about the Dawood sisters, and what makes them different from the scores of others sisters who have remained in the U.K.? We may never be able to fully explain it.

 

Our bafflement is partly the bafflement of the outsider and moral judge. We see ISIL as a horror show and consequently can’t imagine why anyone would decide, of their own free will, to join it. We assume that something terrible must have befallen those who do so, that some awful wound is behind it, “pushing” or “driving” them to do something so palpably crazy. But this is almost certainly a mistake, since, for those who join, ISIL is assuredly not a horror show. It is a glorious, exciting and divinely ordained project, for which they feel obligated to fight, in whatever capacity, and ultimately sacrifice their lives. That, from their perspective, is reason enough. And, more often than not, there is no obvious wound in the lives of the Western international jihadi jet-set; there is — or was — just ordinary banal life: the Kardashians, football, fish and chips and cricket.

 

In a report on the Western female migrants to the Islamic State published last month by the Institute for Strategic Dialogue, in collaboration with International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation, Erin Saltman and Melanie Smith noted that, given the striking “diversity within the profiles of women becoming radicalised and migrating to ISIS territory,” it is impossible “to create a broad profile of females at risk of radicalisation.” Saltman and Smith also postulated that among the various motives of the Western female migrants, preeminent was the desire to redeem their lives and secure their place in heaven by dedicating their lives to God’s “Caliphate.” This edges us closer to some understanding, but it still only scratches at the surface of why someone should take such a momentous and life-changing decision…

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

                                                                       

                                                                       

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THE MYTH OF MUSLIM RADICALIZATION                                                                                     

Daniel Greenfield                                                                                                         

Breaking Israel News, June 24, 2015

 

After some of its quarter of a million Muslims headed to join ISIS, Quebec decided the answer was a $2 million anti-radicalization center headed by a specialist in cultural sensitivity. But if you’re about to be beheaded by a masked ISIS Jihadist, a specialist in cultural sensitivity isn’t going to help you much. Western governments nevertheless keep rolling out their culturally sensitive approaches to fighting ISIS.

 

The key element in Obama’s strategy for fighting ISIS isn’t the F-15E Strike Eagle, it’s a Twitter account run by a Muslim Brotherhood sympathizer which claims to “Counter Violent Extremism” by presenting moderate Islamists like Al Qaeda as positive role models for the Islamic State’s social media supporters. So far 75% of planes flown on combat missions against ISIS return without engaging the enemy, but the culturally sensitive State Department Twitter account has racked up over 5,000 tweets and zero kills.

 

Cultural sensitivity hasn’t exactly set Iraq on fire in fighting ISIS and deradicalization programs here start from the false premise that there is a wide gap between a moderate and extremist Islam. Smiling news anchors daily recite new stories about a teenager from Kentucky, Boston or Manchester getting “radicalized” and joining ISIS to the bafflement of his parents, mosque and community. And who is to blame for all this mysterious radicalization? It’s not the parents. It certainly can’t be the moderate local mosque with its stock of Jihadist CDs and DVDs being dispensed from under the table.

 

The attorney for the family of Usaama Rahim, the Muslim terrorist who plotted to behead Pamela Geller, claims that his radicalization came as a “complete shock” to them. It must have come as a truly great shock to his brother Imam Ibrahim Rahim who claimed that his brother was shot in the back and that the Garland cartoon attack had been staged by the government. It must have come as an even bigger shock to Imam Abdullah Faaruuq, the Imam linked to Usaama Rahim and his fellow terrorist conspirators, as well as the Tsarnaev brothers, who had urged Muslims to “grab onto the gun and the sword.” The culturally insensitive truth about Islamic ‘radicalization’ is that it is incremental.

 

There is no peaceful Islam. Instead of two sharply divided groups, peaceful Islam and extremist Islam, there is a spectrum of acceptable terrorism. Muslim institutions have different places on that spectrum depending on their allegiances and tactics, but the process of radicalization is rarely a sharp break from the past for any except converts to Islam. The latest tragic victim of radicalization is Munther Omar Saleh; a Muslim man living in New York City who allegedly plotted to use a Tsarnaev-style pressure cooker bomb in a major landmark such as the Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building. Saleh claimed to be following orders from ISIS. Media coverage of the Saleh arrest drags out the old clichés about how unexpected this sudden radicalization was, but what appears to be his father’s social media account shows support for Hamas.

 

Likewise one of Usaama Rahim’s fellow mosque attendees said that Rahim and another conspirator had initially followed the “teachings of the Muslim Brotherhood” but that he had been forced to cut ties with them when they moved past the Brotherhood and became “extreme”. Despite the media’s insistence on describing the Muslim Brotherhood as a moderate organization, it has multiple terrorist arms, including Hamas, and its views on non-Muslims run the gamut from the violent to the genocidal.

 

A year after Obama’s Cairo speech and his outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood, its Supreme Guide announced that the United States will soon be destroyed, urged violent terrorist attacks against the United States and “raising a jihadi generation that pursues death just as the enemies pursue life.” Despite this, Obama continued backing the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power across the region. There are distinctions between the Muslim Brotherhood and Al Qaeda, but the latter is a splinter group of the former. Al Qaeda’s current leader came out of the Muslim Brotherhood. A move from one to the other is a minor transition between two groups that have far more in common than their differences.

 

And since the Brotherhood controls much of the Islamic infrastructure in the United States, the idea that Munther Omar Saleh or Usaama Rahim became radicalized because they went from a Jihadist group that takes the long view in the struggle against the infidel, putting political structures into place to make a violent struggle tactically feasible, to a Jihadist group that focuses more on short term violence, is silly.

 

Radicalization isn’t transformational; it’s incremental. It’s the Pakistani kid down the block deciding that instead of joining the Muslim Students Association and then CAIR to build Islamist political structures in America, he should just cut to the chase and kill a few cops to begin taking over America now. Radicalization is the moderate Imam who stops putting on an act for PBS and the local politicians and moves to Yemen where he openly recruits terrorists to attack America instead of doing it covertly at his mosque in Virginia.

 

Radicalization is the teenage Muslim girl who forgets about marrying her Egyptian third cousin and bringing him and his fifty relatives to America and goes to join ISIS as a Caliphate brood mare instead. It’s not pacifism giving way to violence. Instead it’s an impatient shift from tactical actions meant to eventually make Islam supreme in America over many generations to immediate bloody gratification. ISIS is promising the apocalypse now. No more waiting. No more lying. You can have it tomorrow.

 

Radicalization does not go from zero to sixty. It speeds up from sixty to seventy-five. It builds on elements that are already there in the mosque and the household. The term “extremism” implicitly admits that what we are talking about is not a complete transformation, but the logical extension of existing Islamic beliefs. Omar Saleh seemed cheerful enough about Hamas dropping Kassam rockets on Israeli towns and cities. Would he have supported his son setting off a bomb in the Statue of Liberty? Who knows, but his son was already starting from a family position that Muslim terrorism against non-Muslims was acceptable. Everything else is the fine print….

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

 

                                                           

Contents                                                                                      

   

A NUCLEAR NIGHTMARE FOR LEBANON                                                                             

Ahmad el-Assaad                   

Wall Street Journal, June 29, 2015

 

Ever since it entered the Syrian civil war, the Iranian-funded Lebanese-Shiite terror outfit Hezbollah has suffered tremendously and in many different ways. Over the past two years, more than 1,000 Hezbollah fighters have died in that war, and the Lebanese people’s resentment toward the group has increased. Lebanese Shiites who don’t belong to Hezbollah have also been targeted for scorn by the rest of the country, even though many of us oppose its vicious ways.

 

Long gone are the days when a large portion of the Lebanese population believed that Hezbollah is there to protect them and Lebanon. The mask has fallen off. Most Lebanese now see Hezbollah for what it is: a militia that works for the Iranian regime and must therefore obey Tehran’s orders. And to quiet the disenchanted voices, to make them dare not speak out, especially in the Shiite areas, Hezbollah has become more oppressive than ever.

 

The war in Syria has been a big financial burden on Hezbollah as well. The cash coming from Tehran is not what it used to be. In many Shiite neighborhoods, Hezbollah is asking people for donations. This has weakened the image of Hezbollah, as people see that its coffers are no longer filled as they once were. Most young men join Hezbollah not because they believe in its talk about “resistance,” but simply because it’s the only option for the poor, unemployed and uneducated Shiites to earn a few hundred dollars a month.

 

The source of Hezbollah’s financial troubles is obvious: The Iranian regime has spent exorbitant sums trying to support and sustain the Assad regime in Damascus. With a population of approximately 80 million, Iran’s gross domestic product is only $369 billion. The United Arab Emirates, by comparison, with a population of nine million, has a GDP of $402 billion.

 

Yet despite its penurious position, Iran continues to ignore its domestic and social problems. Instead, just like the old Soviet Union, it is stretching its influence throughout the Middle East as if it were an economic powerhouse, not an economic disaster. Furthermore, Tehran views Hezbollah’s results over the past 33 years as such a success that it is now franchising it. From Hamas in the Palestinian territories to the Sadrists in Iraq to the Houthis in Yemen, these proxy terrorist organizations are an exact replica of Hezbollah.

 

Now the Obama administration is negotiating a flawed nuclear deal with the Iranian regime that will see Tehran get a windfall of up to $150 billion. With so much cash on hand, Tehran would surely create new Hezbollah franchises elsewhere in the Middle East and order all these radical proxy groups to wage even more wars in the region. At the very least, Tehran would be eager to give a good boost to its pride and joy—Hezbollah—and help it buy its way out of the problems it is facing in Lebanon now.

 

I recently met in Washington D.C. with senators, members of Congress and think-tank analysts. When I shared my worries with those close to the Obama administration, the response was, “Let’s get a deal now on the nuclear issue and then we’ll work out a plan on how to stand up to this Iranian invasion of the Middle East.” When I pressed them further on the matter, I got no answers. What kind of plan are we talking about? Who would implement such a plan and confront the various Iranian proxy groups? Would the U.S. be willing to put American boots on the ground?

 

It has become clear to me that there is no plan. At best, if there will ever be a plan, it will be as successful as the one we see unfolding today against Islamic State. There is no doubt that a nuclear deal with Iran would be a nightmare for my beloved Lebanon and for all the other countries in the Middle East that are controlled, or could be controlled, by Iranian proxy groups.

 

With this deal, my Lebanon won’t be able to free itself in the foreseeable future from the control of Hezbollah. It will never again be the Switzerland of the Middle East, will never prosper and thrive again like it did in the 1960s and early ’70s. To those who say that this nuclear deal is a recipe for peace, I say that this deal is an invitation for more wars in the Middle East.

 

 Contents

                                                                                     

 

 

 

 

On Topic

 

America’s Friends in the Middle East are its Enemies: George Jonas, National Post, June 27, 2015 —Fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) is no picnic. America’s allies in the Middle East are often nothing but couriers delivering American arms to America’s enemies.

Trying to Placate All, Iran Leader Zigs and Zags on Nuclear Talks: Thomas Erdbrink, New York Times, June 27, 2015— Persian carpets were rolled out in the Beit-e Rahbar, the downtown Tehran offices of Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, on Tuesday, a sign that important guests were on their way.

Observing Ramadan with Murder: Washington Times, June 29, 2014—Ramadan is Islam’s period of religious reflection and observance, but this year, radical Muslims are making it a ritual of mayhem and murder.

Fears of Terrorism Mount in France: Anthony Faiola, Washington Post, June 27, 2015—Following Friday’s attempted assault on a chemical plant that officials described as a terrorist attack, France was hunkering down Saturday for what politicians and analysts warned could be a prolonged period of uncertainty and fear.

Does Islam Have a Role in Suicide Bombings?: A.J. Caschetta, Middle East Forum, Summer, 2015 —When journalists, historians, psychologists, and experts in group dynamics, organizational structures, and criminal justice write about the unique set of circumstances that lead to suicide terrorism, they share the view that Islam has little to do with it.

Many Paths to Jihadist Views, Federally Funded Study Finds: Jim Bronskill., Global News, June 28, 2015—A federally funded study of young people who embraced radical jihadism found they had little else in common, suggesting efforts to discourage extremism must be flexible and tailored to individual cases.

 

                                                                      

 

              

SISI FIGHTS ISLAMISM AS I.S. CONTINUES TERRORIST ATTACKS AND WESTERN RECRUITMENT

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 

 

Contents:

 

ISIS Claims Bloody Tunis Attack: Jamie Dettmer, Daily Beast, Mar. 19, 2015 — The so-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the murderous assault Wednesday on a landmark museum in Tunis that left 20 foreign tourists and three Tunisians dead…

The Allure of the Islamic State Vandals:  David Pinault, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 6, 2015— On Thursday the Islamic State assault on Iraq’s cultural heritage continued, with jihadists using trucks to wreck large statues in the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, according to government officials.

What Drives Islamic State Fangirls: Margaret Wente, Globe & Mail, Mar. 3, 2015 — In late 2013, a 19-year-old girl named Aqsa Mahmood said goodbye to her parents in Glasgow and slipped away from home.

Islam’s Improbable Reformer: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, Mar. 20, 2015 — When then-Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi appointed a little-known general named Abdel Fattah Al Sisi to be his new defense minister in August 2012…

 

On Topic Links

  

 

ISIS ‘Hacking Division’ Releases Hit List of 100 U.S. Military Personnel, Including Names and Addresses: Joseph Brean, National Post, Mar. 22, 2015

Why Islam Needs a Reformation: Wall Street Journal, Mar. 22, 2015

Can the U.S. Beat ISIS in a Twitter War?: George F. Will, National Post, Feb. 23, 2015

The Islamic State’s Utopian Vision: Ian Tuttle, National Review, Feb. 27, 2015

 

                            

ISIS CLAIMS BLOODY TUNIS ATTACK                                                                                   

Jamie Dettmer                                                                                                     

Daily Beast, Mar. 19, 2015

 

The so-called Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the murderous assault Wednesday on a landmark museum in Tunis that left 20 foreign tourists and three Tunisians dead, describing the attack by gunmen dressed in military uniforms as a “blessed invasion of one of the dens of the infidels and vice in Muslim Tunisia.” It said the attack was carried out by “two knights of the caliphate,” naming them as Abu Zakariya al Tunisi and Abu Anas al-Tunisi.

 

The attack is the biggest terror incident associated with the ISIS outside Iraq and Syria—prompting fears that more attacks are in the offing, not only in North Africa but in nearby Europe, by a group that until recently appeared focused on the Levantine region. Only a few months ago American officials were arguing reassuringly that ISIS was focused to the exclusion of all else on the consolidation of its caliphate straddling the Levant—and therefore posed no immediate major transnational threat. But last month it released a video in which one of its minions threatened to attack “Rome,” meaning the West, and underscored the threat by beheading Egyptian Christians.

 

The claim of responsibility for the Tunis attack carried in an audio message posted on a forum used by the militant group came as Tunisian officials announced they had arrested nine people in connection with the attack on the Bardo Museum, five of them allegedly involved in the planning and logistics for the violence. The other four had “ties to the terror cell,” officials said. Two gunmen were shot in the museum by security forces hours after the militants sprayed tourist buses outside with automatic gunfire and stormed the building holding several foreigners hostage. The authorities have named them as Tunisians Yassine Laabidi and Hatem Khachnaoui and say Laabidi was known to security services and was being monitored, raising questions about why he was still at large and able to participate in the deadly attack.

 

Jihadist sources tell The Daily Beast that both gunmen had recently been in eastern Libya and trained with the ISIS affiliate Mujahideen of Libya, which announced its formation last October in the eastern Libyan town of Derna. The group is thought to number about 800 fighters. The importance ISIS is placing on North Africa was signaled last autumn when ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi dispatched his deputy in Syria, Abu Ali al-Anbari, a former major general in the Iraqi army, to orchestrate the final takeover of Derna, a city of 100,000 that has been a hotbed of Salafism since the 1990s. Mujahideen of Libya claimed responsibility for the beheadings last month in Libya of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. "We tell the apostates who sit on the chest of Muslim Tunisia: Wait for the glad tidings of what will harm you, o impure ones, for what you have seen today is the first drop of the rain," the ISIS message said.

 

It remains unclear, though, whether the assault was directed and coordinated by ISIS strategists from their stronghold of Raqqa in Syria, or from Derna in Libya, or if the attack was more homegrown by an affiliate of the terror organization, allowing ISIS to claim overall credit. Tunisian authorities are avoiding being specific in their remarks about the affiliation of the assailants, with Interior Ministry spokesman Mohamed Ali Aroui refusing to go beyond describing them as “Islamists” and talking of just one terror cell.

 

Last December, a Tunisian jihadist group called Jund al-Khilafah announced its allegiance to ISIS. That pledge coincided with another video posted online by three Tunisian volunteers with ISIS warning that the country would not be secure “as long as Tunisia is not governed by Islam.” One of the fighters in the video was Boubakr Hakim, who is wanted in connection with the 2013 assassination of leftwing Tunisian politician, Chokri Belaid. Since December there has been a stream of jihadist tweets and chatter in militant forums about a likely terror attack—with strong hints that the targets would be cultural or foreigners. That. Too, raises questions about whether the Tunisian security services should have been more alert and high-profile around landmark tourist sites—in this case one adjacent to the national parliament, where deputies were discussing new anti-terror legislation as the assault unfolded. The deputies were evacuated quickly by security forces. One Tunisian lawmaker, Sayida Ounissi, told BBC Radio that intelligence officials told him that the gunmen had originally planned to attack the parliament but had been prevented from doing so and changed their targets.

 

The counter-terror operation mounted to clear the gunmen from the museum and to rescue more than a dozen foreigners being held hostage by the militants also seems to have been less than efficient. The museum doesn’t appear to have been searched exhaustively once the security forces had regained control.  A Spanish couple and a Tunisian security guard hid in the museum for 24 hours after the gunmen had been shot, not realizing the siege was over, according to Spain’s foreign minister, José García-Margallo. The couple, Juan Carlos Sanchez and his wife Cristina Rubio, four months into a pregnancy, “spent the whole night hidden in the museum and didn’t even dare to use their cell phones, which is why we were unable to contact them,’’ García-Margallo told reporters.

 

They weren’t the only tourists who hid for hours during the attack and after. Shocked tourists said the gunmen were shooting at anything that moved in the fifteenth century museum. "After they entered the museum, I saw their faces: They were about 10 meters 32 away from me," Josep Lluis Cusido, the mayor of a small Spanish town told Spain's Cadena Ser radio station. “I managed to hide behind a pillar; there were unlucky people who they killed right there," he said, adding that he and his wife spent nearly three hours behind the pillar until they fled.

 

Despite shortfalls in the security operation Tunisian leaders are endeavoring to establish confidence — both among Tunisians and overseas—insisting they can defeat terrorism. Army units are being deployed to major cities across the country. Tunisia relies on foreign visitors and nearly half-a-million jobs are dependent on tourism, which has only recently started to recover from the 2011 Arab spring uprising that led to the ouster of dictator Zein al-Abidine Ben Ali. But the country’s recently elected President Beji Caid Essebsi admitted in a statement that Tunisia was facing “exceptional circumstances,” adding, “terrorist operations have now moved from the mountains to the cities.” In recent months, Tunisian security forces have mounted a series of counter-terror operations, focusing partly on training camps in remote parts of the country…

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

                                                                       

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THE ALLURE OF THE ISLAMIC STATE VANDALS                                                                         

David Pinault                                                                                                     

Wall Street Journal, Mar. 6, 2015

 

On Thursday the Islamic State assault on Iraq’s cultural heritage continued, with jihadists using trucks to wreck large statues in the ancient Assyrian city of Nimrud, according to government officials. The rampage followed the recent release of a propaganda video showing the destruction of priceless artifacts in the Mosul Museum. In the video, one of the jihadists takes a sledgehammer to an ancient Mesopotamian statue. Another applies a power drill to the face of a winged man-bull of Nineveh. Three thousand years of history smashed, while the perpetrators celebrate with a mix of smug piety and aggressive malice.

 

I am a professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern studies, and my first reaction to news of this cultural vandalism was a sense of personal loss. These artifacts didn’t belong only to the people of today’s Iraq. They belonged to anyone who has ever spent a childhood reading “The How & Why Wonder Book of Lost Cities” or visited the University of Chicago’s Oriental Institute and gazed up into the blank stone eyes of its bearded animal-human genii (cousins of the gate-guardians that shattered on the Mosul Museum floor).

 

In the video, the destruction—repulsive to watch—is accompanied by the haunting, elegant sound of a jihadist chanting from the Quran. As a longtime student of Islamic culture, I know that such recitation is a demanding discipline, requiring finely timed breath control and mastery of the intricacies of seventh-century pronunciation and grammar. The fusha (“eloquent Arabic”) of Islamic scripture is revered by Muslims as a language nobler and purer than any Arabic dialect spoken today. Listening to good Quran chanting (and the chanter on this video was very good indeed) is a pleasure akin to hearing a fine performance of Shakespeare—Patrick Stewart, say, reciting Prospero’s lines in “The Tempest.”

 

Let me be clear: I’m a Christian, a Catholic. If I shut my eyes to the malicious violence being perpetrated in the video and just listen to the Arabic recital, I can conjure the pleasure of attending the Easter Vigil service (I was an altar boy once, when the mass was still said in Latin) while the priest sang the “Exultet” and lighted the Paschal candle. Yes, I can conjure all this—until I translate the particular Quranic verses chosen for the video by Islamic State. These are from Chapter 21, and involve the figure of Abraham. The Quran depicts him as having been reared in a family of idol worshipers. He condemns his own father’s paganism—“What are these statues, to which you’re so devoted?”—and then smashes the family’s idols to bits.

 

Immediately after the recitation of these verses, a militant is shown reminding viewers that the Prophet Muhammad “removed and destroyed the idols with his own exalted and noble hands when he conquered Mecca.” Historic accounts say that a circle of idols once surrounded the Meccan shrine of the Kaaba. But with the prophet’s conquest in 630, the Kaaba was “purified” and the idolatrous traces of Mecca’s pre-Islamic past were expunged.

 

Thus Islamic State marshals both Quranic scripture and the actions of Muhammad himself as precedents to justify the group’s attack on these ancient treasures. So much for President Obama’s claim that Islamic State’s actions have nothing to do with Islam. No question, we’re watching a recruitment video here. Think what it offers for young extremists: a chance to re-enact actions from the life of the prophet, to imitate Abraham, imitate Muhammad himself. Tempting, such an offer, for anyone confused by our disorderly 21st century, with its imperative that we come to terms with individualism, that we each find and test our own world views, with all their attendant doubts, in the modern world’s pluralistic societies. How tempting, then, to take a hammer to diversity, to strive to put an end to doubt—with a power drill.   

                                                                                                        

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WHAT DRIVES ISLAMIC STATE FANGIRLS                                                                                    

Margaret Wente                                                                                                  

Globe & Mail, Mar. 3, 2015

 

In late 2013, a 19-year-old girl named Aqsa Mahmood said goodbye to her parents in Glasgow and slipped away from home. The next time they heard from her, she was crossing the Syrian border to join the Islamic State. When her father begged her to come back, she said, “I will see you on the day of judgment.” Three months later, she married an IS fighter. Aqsa (who now calls herself Umm Layth) has become one of the Islamic State’s chief recruiters. Her targets are ardent girls from across the Western world who dream of marrying an IS fighter. She tells them that the hardest part is leaving home – but that Allah requires it.

 

Three such girls, ages 15 and 16, left Britain last week. At least one is thought to have been in touch with Aqsa. They were last spotted in Istanbul, waiting for a bus to Syria. Several Canadian girls have disappeared too, including two from Quebec. One of Aqsa’s besties is a 20-year-old Canadian who has adopted the name Umm Haritha. Aqsa has posted pictures of the two of them online, in identical head-to-toe black. The IS groupies weren’t radicalized in the mosque but in their bedrooms, via Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social media. Private messaging makes it easy for them to make personal contact with women like Aqsa. Everything they need to know is on the Internet – how to talk your way through the border, what life will be like in your new home (plenty of housework), even what to pack (boots and a solar adapter for your Android when the electricity fails).

 

Islamic State fangirls now number in the thousands, although just a few dozen have made it to Syria so far. What strikes you about these girls is how normal they were. They came from moderate religious backgrounds and did extremely well in school. They wanted to be humanitarians and make the world a better place. They were the apples of their devastated parents’ eyes. They seemed to be role models for successful integration.

 

What could tempt a smart young woman to join a band of murderous fanatics who brutally oppress women, crucify their enemies and use mass rape as a weapon of war? The answer is a mix of passionate idealism, combined with the absolutist world view of a convert and the desire to belong to something greater than themselves. Plus hormones. There is a transgressive thrill to the idea of marriage to a violent warrior. Some IS heartthrobs have acquired devoted bands of female followers who want nothing more than to submit to them and have their babies. “Messianic fervour, millenarianism and magnetism can whip up female hormones alarmingly,” wrote Yasmin Alibhai Brown in The Independent. Besides, the romance of jihad seems a lot more exciting than studying for your accounting degree. “There’s a lot of that kind of mentality,” Melanie Smith, who is in touch with hundreds of IS groupies, told the Daily Mail. “It’s laziness, really.”

 

It’s tempting to see these young women as innocent, naive dupes. But that would be a mistake. The Islamic State’s extreme self-publicized violence cannot possibly escape their notice. And the sisterhood in Syria give the brutality their wholehearted support. “OMG … Gut-wrenchingly awesome,” tweeted one female recruit after she saw a video showing the beheading of 18 Christians. “More beheadings, please,” tweeted another.  The flow of female recruits is picking up, and it’s hard to see how to turn it off. You can’t turn off social media, and you can’t police a girl 24 hours a day. You’d hope that once they discover the harsh reality of life as jihadi brides, they would regret their choices and long to come back. But Ms. Smith says she has yet to be in touch with anyone who has regrets. “They see it as emigrating to a better life,” she told the Guardian. “They say they feel free.”

                                                                       

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ISLAM’S IMPROBABLE REFORMER                                                                                                  

Bret Stephens                                                                                                      

Wall Street Journal, Mar. 20, 2015

 

When then-Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi appointed a little-known general named Abdel Fattah Al Sisi to be his new defense minister in August 2012, rumors swirled that the officer was chosen for his sympathy with the teachings of Mr. Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood. One telltale sign, people said, was the zabiba on the general’s forehead—the darkened patch of skin that is the result of frequent and fervent prayer.

 

A pious Muslim must surely also be a political Islamist—or so Mr. Morsi apparently assumed. But the general would soon give the world a lesson in the difference between religious devotion and radicalism.

“There are misconceptions and misperceptions about the real Islam,” now-President Sisi tells me during a two-hour interview in his ornate, century-old presidential palace in Heliopolis. “Religion is guarded by its spirit, by its core, not by human beings. Human beings only take the core and deviate it to the right or left.”

Does he mean to say, I ask, that members of the Muslim Brotherhood are bad Muslims? “It’s the ideology, the ideas,” he replies. “The real Islamic religion grants absolute freedom for the whole people to believe or not believe. Never does Islam dictate to kill others because they do not believe in Islam. Never does it dictate that [Muslims] have the right to dictate [their beliefs] to the whole world. Never does Islam say that only Muslims will go to paradise and others go to hell.” Jabbing his right finger in the air for emphasis, he adds: “We are not gods on earth, and we do not have this right to act in the name of Allah.”

 

When Mr. Sisi took power in July 2013, following street protests against Mr. Morsi by an estimated 30 million Egyptians, it wasn’t obvious that he would emerge as perhaps the world’s most significant advocate for Islamic moderation and reform. His personal piety aside, Mr. Sisi seemed to be a typical Egyptian military figure. Unflattering comparisons were made to Hosni Mubarak, a former air force general and Egypt’s president-for-life until his downfall in 2011.  The similarities are misleading. Mr. Mubarak came of age in the ideological anti-colonialist days of Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser, trained in the Soviet Union, and led the air campaign against Israel in the 1973 Yom Kippur War. Anwar Sadat elevated him to the vice presidency in 1975 as a colorless second-fiddle, his very lack of imagination being an asset to Sadat. He became president only due to Sadat’s assassination six years later.

 

Mr. Sisi, now 60, came of age in a very different era. When he graduated from the Military Academy, in 1977, Egypt was a close American ally on the cusp of making peace with Israel. Rather than being packed off to Russia, he headed for military training in Texas and later the infantry course at Fort Benning, Ga. He returned for another extended stay in the U.S. in 2005 at the Army War College in Carlisle, Pa. Recalling the two visits, he notes the difference. “The U.S. had been a community that had been living in peace and security. Before 9/11, even the military bases were open. There was almost no difference between civilian life and life on a military base. By 2005, I could feel the tightening.”

 

The remark is intended to underscore to a visiting American journalist his deep sympathy with and admiration for the U.S. He also goes out of his way to stress that he has no intention of altering the pro-American tilt of Egyptian foreign policy, despite suggestions that he is flirting with Russia’s Vladimir Putin for potential arms purchases and the construction of Egypt’s first nuclear power plant. “A country like Egypt will never be mischievous with bilateral relations” with America, he insists. “We will never act foolishly.” When I ask about the delivery of F-16 fighters to Egypt—suspended by the U.S. after Mr. Morsi’s overthrow, and now pending a decision by President Obama—he all-but dismisses the matter. “You can never reduce our relations with the U.S. to matters of weapons systems. We are keen on a strategic relationship with the U.S. above everything else. And we will never turn our backs on you—even if you turn your backs on us.”

 

There is also a deeper purpose to Mr. Sisi’s pro-American entreaties and his comments on 9/11: He wants to remind his critics of the trade-off every country strikes between security and civil liberties. It’s a point he returns to when I note the anger and disappointment that so many Egyptian liberals—many of whom had backed him in 2013—now feel. New laws that tightly restrict street protests recall the Mubarak era. Last June several Al Jazeera journalists, including Australian reporter Peter Greste, were sentenced to lengthy prison terms on dubious charges of reporting that was “damaging to national security,” though they have since been released. The Muslim Brotherhood has been banned, Mr. Morsi is in prison and on trial, and Egyptian courts have passed death sentences on hundreds of alleged Islamists, albeit mostly in absentia.

 

“My message to liberals is that I am very keen to meet their expectations,” Mr. Sisi rejoins. “But the situation in Egypt is overwhelmed.” He laments the Al Jazeera arrests, noting that the incident damaged Egypt’s reputation even as thousands of international correspondents “are working very freely in this country.” Later, while addressing a question about the Egyptian economy, he offers a franker assessment. “In the last four years our internal debt doubled to $300 billion. Do not separate my answer to the question regarding disappointed liberals. Their country needs to survive. We don’t have the luxury to fight and feud and take all our time discussing issues like that. A country needs security and order for its mere existence. If the world can provide support I will let people demonstrate in the streets day and night.”

 

Sensing my skepticism, he adds: “You can’t imagine that as an American. You are speaking the language of a country that is at the top of progress: cultural, financial, political, civilizational—it’s all there in the U.S.” But if American standards were imposed on Egypt, he adds, it would do his country no favors…All of this seems in keeping with Mr. Sisi’s military upbringing and reminds me of Pervez Musharraf, the former Pakistani general turned president. But the comparison is fundamentally inapt. Under Mr. Musharraf, Pakistan continued to make opportunistic deals with terrorists while giving safe harbor to leaders of the Afghan Taliban.

 

By contrast, it’s impossible to doubt the seriousness of Mr. Sisi’s opposition to Islamic extremism, or his aversion to exporting instability. In late February he ordered the bombing of Islamic State targets in neighboring Libya after ISIS decapitated 21 Egyptian Coptic Christians. Egypt’s security cooperation with Israel has never been closer, and Mr. Sisi has moved aggressively to close the tunnels beneath Egypt’s border with Gaza, through which Hamas has obtained its weapons. Later this month, Mr. Sisi will host an Arab League summit, the centerpiece of which will be a joint Arab antiterrorism task force. He says he won’t put Egyptian boots on the ground to fight ISIS in Iraq, which he says is a job for Iraqis with U.S. help. And he takes care to avoid mentioning Iran’s regional ambitions or saying anything critical of its nuclear negotiations, which he says he supports while adding that “I understand the concern of the Israelis.”…

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

 

 

Contents

                                                                                     

 

On Topic

 

ISIS ‘Hacking Division’ Releases Hit List of 100 U.S. Military Personnel, Including Names and Addresses: Joseph Brean, National Post, Mar. 22, 2015 —In a dramatic propaganda move, Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham terrorists have published a hit list of 100 American military personnel, including names, photos and addresses they claimed to have hacked from secure government computers.

Why Islam Needs a Reformation: Wall Street Journal, Mar. 22, 2015 —“Islam’s borders are bloody,” wrote the late political scientist Samuel Huntington in 1996, “and so are its innards.”

Can the U.S. Beat ISIS in a Twitter War?: George F. Will, National Post, Feb. 23, 2015 —The Obama administration’s semantic somersaults to avoid attaching the adjective “Islamic” to the noun “extremism” are as indicative as they are entertaining.

The Islamic State’s Utopian Vision: Ian Tuttle, National Review, Feb. 27, 2015—For his posthumous 1937 book Mahomet et Charlemagne: Byzance, Islam et Occident dans le haut Moyen Age, Belgian historian Henri Pirenne became an early victim of political correctness in the academy.

 

 

                                                                    

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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AS YEMEN & LIBYA “SPIRAL DOWNWARD”— M.B. SUFFERS SETBACK IN TUNISIA

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Contents:

 

As We Go To Press: PROSECUTOR WHO ACCUSED ARGENTINA’S LEADER OF IRAN COVER-UP FOUND DEAD (Buenos Aires) — The prosecutor who last week accused Argentine President Cristina Kirchner of working with Iran to subvert a probe into a 1994 terror bombing was found dead in his apartment on Sunday, less than a day before he was to testify in Congress over the unresolved crime. Officials found a 22-caliber handgun beside Mr. Nisman, 51 years old. An autopsy determined he fired the gun at himself at point-blank range. He didn’t leave a suicide note and there were no signs of forced entry. The timing of the death made many Argentines suspicious. On Wednesday, Mr. Nisman filed a criminal complaint that accused Mrs. Kirchner, Foreign Minister Héctor Timerman and others of conspiring to cover up a probe into Iran’s alleged involvement in the attack on a Jewish community center here that killed 85 people, the worst attack targeting Jews since World War II. [More details Wednesday in CIJR’s  “News in Review”—Ed.] (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 19, 2015)

 

As We Go To Press: YEMEN REBELS ATTACK PRESIDENTIAL COMPOUND (Sana’a) —Shiite insurgents overran Yemen’s presidential palace and shelled the president’s residence Tuesday in an escalating offensive striking at the heart of the Western-allied government. The coup-style strikes by the Houthi rebel faction — believed backed by Iran — posed the most serious challenge yet to President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, a staunch ally of the U.S. in the fight against al-Qaeda’s powerful branch in Yemen. But the overall objectives of the rebels remained unclear in a country beset by near nonstop unrest, a growing water shortage and splintered into a patchwork of rivalries. (Washington Post, Jan. 20, 2015)

 

The Forgotten War That Spawned Paris’s Attacks: Adam Baron, Daily Beast, Jan. 11, 2015— The massacre at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo was neither the only nor the deadliest terror attack to occur on Wednesday.

Libya Spirals Downward as the West Looks the Other Way: Washington Post, Jan. 12, 2015— When Libya’s attempt to construct a new, democratic political system faltered after 2012…

How the West Destroyed Libya: Raymond Ibrahim, Frontpage, Jan. 13, 2015— The full impact of Western intervention in Libya was recently highlighted during a televised interview of Worlds Apart with guest Hanne Nabintu Herland, a Norwegian author and historian who was born and raised in Africa for 20 years.

Tunisia’s Elections Represent Yet Another Muslim Brotherhood Defeat: Avi Issacharoff, Times of Israel, Dec. 26, 2014 — Four years have passed since that historic event that set off the Arab Spring.

 

On Topic Links

 

Benghazi – The Signs of Al Qaeda: Dawn Perlmutter,  Frontpage, Jan. 2, 2015

Tunisian President-Elect’s Focus on Security Has Some Worried: Tamer El-Ghobashy, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 26, 2014

How Did Yemen Become the Perfect Home to Al Qaeda Training Camps?: Clive Jones, Reuters, Jan. 14, 2015

Assessing the Arab Spring Uprisings After Four Years:  Robin Wright, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 17, 2014

                   

 

THE FORGOTTEN WAR THAT SPAWNED PARIS’S ATTACKS                                                               

Adam Baron                                                                                                                 

Daily Beast, Jan. 11, 2015

 

The massacre at the headquarters of Charlie Hebdo was neither the only nor the deadliest terror attack to occur on Wednesday. Hours before the Koauchi brothers made their way to the offices of the French satirical magazine, thousands of miles away, in the Yemeni capital, Sanaa, a car bomb struck a crowd of men lined up to enroll at the city’s police academy. Roughly four-dozen were killed as the bomb went off, strewing blood and body parts across the street. It’s a coincidence that has grown all the more notable—and tragic—in light of the emerging ties between the Charlie Hebdo attackers and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), the Yemen-based terror group that officials have accused of carrying out Wednesday’s car bomb. According to the AFP, Said Koauchi, the older of the pair, traveled to Yemen multiple times between 2009 and 2011, studying at Sanaa’s Iman University, a controversial institution headed by firebrand cleric Abdulmajid al-Zindani, prior to training with AQAP in camps in the south and southeast of the country.

 

Notably, Inspire, an English-language, AQAP-affiliate magazine, explicitly threatened to kill Charlie Hebdo editor Stephane Charbonnier in its March 2013 edition, and at writing time, AQAP has reportedly taken credit for the attack on behalf of the group, though the ultimate extent of the Koauchi brothers’ ties to Yemen and AQAP is still unclear. Either way, the attack has refocused attention to the impoverished, conflict-stricken country. Hailed as a textbook example of a successful counterterrorism strategy by U.S. officials as late as fall of last year, Yemen has instead been riven with unrest lately. An internationally backed power transition agreement has fallen apart, and the country’s economy—to say nothing of the central government’s control over the bulk of the country—has appeared to collapse as well. And no one in the circles of power in the West seems to have noticed.

 

Indeed, last week’s violence in Paris seems to underline how little progress has been made against AQAP. Despite the efforts of the U.S. and Yemeni governments, it still appears to possess the ability to unleash horrors against Western targets.  Yemen had already developed a reputation as a hotspot for extremism by the time Koauchi allegedly first arrived in 2009. Many western-born Muslim hardliners flocked to Salafi institutes in the country, most famously, perhaps, the Dar al-Hadith institute in the far northern town of Dammaj. While the bulk of these foreigners simply came to study, a number joined up with extremists on the ground. One of the most notorious among them was “Underwear Bomber” Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, a Nigerian student trained by AQAP who infamously attempted to blow up a passenger airliner on Christmas Day 2009. But while such rare plots against foreign targets have garnered AQAP the most attention, the bulk of activity—and the bulk of their attacks—has occurred on Yemeni soil. It is this violence the West ignores at its peril.

 

As the central government’s control over much of the country evaporated over the course of 2011 in the wake of the Arab Spring-inspired uprising against the country’s long time leader, President Ali Abdullah Saleh, AQAP quickly moved to take advantage. While the group was pushed out of its former strongholds in the southern Abyan in a Spring 2012 military offensive, they’ve quickly regrouped. AQAP has continued to find safe haven in areas across country, ranging from the eastern province of Hadramawt—where the group’s fighters have displayed aims of establishing an Islamic emirate—to the oil and gas rich provinces of Marib and Shabwa, to Abyan itself. AQAP has continued to unleash a steady flurry of attacks on military and security targets, supplementing their finances through everything from bank robberies to taking foreign hostages for ransom, allowing the group to buy new weapons and loyalties as it aims to spread its writ to new territories.

 

Only the most diligent of news junkies would be aware of this bloodshed, given the dearth of coverage in most Western media—a disheartening oversight, because AQAP represents perhaps the purest distillation of al Qaeda’s ideology and ambitions outside of the core group headed by Ayman al-Zawahiri. Most terrorism analysts consider it the most dangerous al Qaeda franchise. The U.S. has worked to counter AQAP’s growth, gaining a comparatively free hand from President Abdo Rabbu Mansour Hadi, Saleh’s successor and a former vice president. He has openly backed American drone strikes in the country. But while the sharp uptick of U.S. drone strikes has succeeded in taking out a handful of key figures, including AQAP deputy emir Said al-Shihri and charismatic extremist cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, the barrage of remotely operated American airpower has failed to deliver anything resembling a knock-out punch to the terror group.

 

Yemenis overwhelmingly oppose the strikes, which they see as violations of the nation’s sovereignty and the rule of law. These misgivings have only been heightened by a series of civilian casualties resulting from the strikes. A number of observers—including former U.S. deputy ambassador to Yemen Nabil Khoury—have vocally criticized the strikes, arguing that they ultimately risk creating as many militants as they kill, ironically threatening to inflame anti-American sentiments to the point of spurring the very attacks the U.S. is aiming to prevent. All of this, however, fails to touch on the key factors behind the presence of extremist groups like AQAP in Yemen. In large part, AQAP is a product of its environment; as many Yemenis see it, the group is the fruit of a foreign ideology that has been able to lay roots in the country due to Yemen’s widespread poverty and the government’s endemic corruption and persistent dysfunction. As the group’s resilience in the face of repeated U.S. drone strikes has demonstrated, AQAP will continue to carve out a presence in Yemen as long as its given space to do so—something that is virtually inevitable as long as the power vacuum in the country remains—meaning the group appears destined to retain the operating space to train operatives who can take aim at targets in the west…                                                                            

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

                                                           

Contents                                                                            

 

                                     

 

LIBYA SPIRALS DOWNWARD AS THE WEST LOOKS THE OTHER WAY                                                 

Washington Post, Jan. 12, 2015

 

When Libya’s attempt to construct a new, democratic political system faltered after 2012, the Obama administration and NATO allies who had intervened to support the overthrow of dictator Moammar Gaddafi could still rationalize that they had headed off the mass bloodshed and civil war that the Gaddafi regime threatened and that later overtook Syria. The respite, however, proved to be temporary. As 2015 begins, Libya is well on its way to becoming the Middle East’s second war zone — with the same side effects of empowering radical jihadists and destabilizing neighboring countries.

 

The sprawling but sparsely populated country of 7 million is now split between two governments, parliaments and armies, one based in the eastern city of Tobruk and the other in the capital, Tripoli. While Syria’s war is fought along the Arab world’s Sunni-Shiite divide, in Libya the contest pits the region’s secular Sunnis against Islamists (along with minority Berbers). Since that same divide dominates the politics of Egypt, Tunisia, the Palestinian territories and much of the rest of the Maghreb, outside powers have predictably picked sides: Egypt and the United Arab Emirates back the secular forces in the east, while Turkey, Qatar and Sudan support the Islamist Libya Dawn in the west. This mounting conflict is occurring not so much because of NATO’s 2011 intervention, which was limited to airstrikes, but because of its swift withdrawal and subsequent failure to assist in stabilizing the country. Without institutions or trained and loyal security forces, an interim government could not gain control over the numerous militias that had sprung up to fight the Gaddafi regime. As the situation has steadily worsened in the past two years, the Obama administration, France, Britain and other participants in the NATO intervention have reacted not by dispatching aid but by shutting down their embassies and washing their hands of Libya. The task of trying to broker peace has been handed to a U.N. mediator, Bernardino León, who in recent interviews has described his mission as quixotic. As in Syria, this passivity could soon produce a serious threat to Western interests. According to the U.S. Africa Command, 200 jihadists linked to the Islamic State already have set up a training camp in the eastern Libyan town of Derna. Only 300 miles from southern Europe, Libya could — far more easily than Yemen or western Iraq — become the launching pad for more attacks on Paris and other Western capitals.

 

The only sign that the Obama administration is conscious of this threat has been the issuance with its allies of empty statements, such as one Saturday that congratulated Mr. León for scheduling talks in Geneva this week among some of the warring parties. Real progress toward ending the fighting would require more energetic action, such as diverting Libya’s oil revenues to an escrow account, enforcing an arms embargo, freezing the international assets of both sides and pressuring Egypt and other outside powers to cease their interventions. Ultimately, an international peacekeeping force probably will be needed to help restore order. The Obama administration is, as always, reluctant to mount or even support such an effort. Yet doing so now is surely preferable to being forced, as in Iraq and Syria, to conduct another military intervention in the future.                                     

                                              

Contents                                                                            

                                                            

HOW THE WEST DESTROYED LIBYA                                                                                               

Raymond Ibrahim                                                                                                                 

Frontpage, Jan. 13, 2015

 

The full impact of Western intervention in Libya was recently highlighted during a televised interview of Worlds Apart with guest Hanne Nabintu Herland, a Norwegian author and historian who was born and raised in Africa for 20 years. At one point while talking about Libya, Herland firmly asserted that: “In a just world, the political leaders in the West, that have done such atrocities towards other nations and other cultures, should have been sent to the Hague [International Criminal Court], and judged at the Hague, for atrocities against humanity.”

 

Before that, the African-born, Norwegian author said: “Libya is the worst example of Western countries’ assault in modern history; it’s a horrible thing to be a European intellectual and to watch your own political leaders go ahead and engage in something like this. In Norway, for example, when it comes to something like the Libyan war … [political leaders] sent MSM messages to the other people in parliament; it was never a discussion in parliament, it was an MSM saying “Let’s bomb because someone called from America.”  We [Norway] bombed 588 bombs over roads, and water, and cities in Libya at that time.  And we had a large documentary in Norway, after that, where the fighters, the pilots that flew over Libya and dropped these bombs, they actually said in the documentary that “We were sent up and we weren’t even told what to bomb—just bomb something that looks valuable.”

Herland also pointed out that, according to UN figures, Gaddafi’s Libya was once the most prosperous nation in Africa. While Oksana Boyko, the host, sometimes disagreed with Herland, she agreed about the West’s counterproductive role, pointing out that Gaddafi “was very active in trying to advance women’s rights, he brought a lot of women into universities and the labor force [a thing few people in the West know, as usual, thanks to the “MSM”] and now what people and women in Libya are facing is Sharia [Islamic law], with the possibility of some of them being sold to ISIS fighters as virgin brides.” Indeed, that the jihadis and other “ISIS” type militants gained the most from Western intervention in Libya cannot be denied.  Simply looking at the treatment of Christian minorities—the litmus test of the radicalization of any Muslim society—proves this.

                                                                                                                                                          

Thus…Monday, January 12, “A Libyan affiliate of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has claimed the abduction of 21 Coptic Christians and released pictures of the captives.”  It is not clear if these 21 are in addition to the 13 Christians kidnapped  days earlier on January 3. Then, around 2:30 a.m., masked men burst into a housing complex in Sirte, Libya.  The militants went room to room checking ID cards to separate Muslims from Christians, seizing only the latter.  They handcuffed the Christians and rode off with them. (Segregating Christians from Muslims is a common procedure around the Islamic world.  For example, last November, after members from the Islamic organization Al Shabaab hijacked a bus carrying 60 passengers in Kenya, they singled out and massacred the 28 non-Muslim passengers, the Christians.  In October 2012 in Nigeria, Boko Haram jihadis stormed the Federal Polytechnic College, “separated the Christian students from the Muslim students, addressed each victim by name, questioned them, and then proceeded to shoot them or slit their throat,” killing up to 30 Christians.)

 

According to Hanna Aziz, a Christian who was concealed in his room when the other Christians were seized in Libya, “While checking IDs, Muslims were left aside while Christians were grabbed….  I heard my friends screaming but they were quickly shushed at gunpoint. After that, we heard nothing.” Three of those seized were related to Aziz, who mournfully adds, “I am still in my room waiting for them to take me. I want to die with them.” A few days earlier, also in Sirte, Libya,  a Christian father, mother, and young daughter were slaughtered reportedly by Ansar al-Sharia—the “Supporters of Islamic Law,” or the Libyan version of ISIS that rose to power soon after the overthrow of Gaddafi. On December 23, members of the Islamic group raided the Christian household, killing the father and mother, a doctor and a pharmacist, respectively, and kidnapping 13-year-old Katherine.  Days later, the girl’s body was found in the Libyan desert—shot three times, twice in the head, once in the back…As for motive, nothing was stolen from the household, even though money and jewelry were clearly visible.  According to the girl’s uncle, the reason this particular family was targeted is because “they are a Christian family—persecuted.”…                           

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

Contents                                                                           

 

                                                     

TUNISIA’S ELECTIONS REPRESENT                                                                   

YET ANOTHER MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD DEFEAT                                                                     

Avi Issacharoff                                                                                                    

Times of Israel, Dec. 26, 2014

 

Four years have passed since that historic event that set off the Arab Spring…A 26-year-old Tunisian from Sidi Bouzid opened his vegetable stand on the morning of December 17, 2010. A local female inspector came over and confiscated his wares, and, according to the vendor’s family, humiliated him in front of passersby. The young man, Mohammed Bouazizi, decided to set himself on fire as an act of revenge in front of the local governor’s office. Seventeen days later, he died of his wounds. The act led to a series of angry demonstrations against the rule of Zine El Abindine Ben Ali, “the Enlightened Dictator,” who ruled the country for 24 years. It didn’t take long for the protests to turn into the “Jasmine Revolution.” Ben Ali fled Tunisia on January 14. Eleven days later, a revolution began in Egypt, followed by Libya, Yemen, and of course, Syria.

 

As in Egypt, the first who managed to organize and make gains amid the chaos in Tunisia were the Islamists. The Ennahda Party won in the first free elections in October 2011. Three years later, the Islamists are out of power. They first voluntarily stepped down to allow for an interim government to draft a constitution, then lost the recent parliamentary elections, followed by this week’s presidential elections, which were won by officials from the old regime. At the beginning of the week, Tunisians were informed that their president-elect was Beji Caid Essebsi, 88, a former interior minister during the days of Habib Bourguiba, the dictator who preceded Ben Ali, and parliament speaker during Ben Ali’s rule. It should be mentioned, perhaps, that an interior minister in Arab countries isn’t just a functionary responsible for giving out passports, but is the man in charge of internal security, including intelligence bodies. That is, the flesh and blood of the previous regime. Essebsi, whose advanced age could give Shimon Peres some encouragement to run in Israel’s elections, won 55.7 percent of the vote, while his Islamist-affiliated opponent, Moncef Marzouki, garnered 44.3%. Essebsi’s victory led to a wave of protests, primarily in cities in southern Tunisia, seen as more religious, poorer, and largely cut off from the modern, Western capital of Tunis.

 

Tunisia is the second Arab country to experience an Arab Spring revolution, followed by electoral victory by pragmatic Islamists affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, only to see them pushed out in favor of members of the old regime. It happened in Egypt as well, after the Muslim Brotherhood’s Mohammed Morsi came to power, and was replaced by a second revolution that returned the army to its position of power in the country. Officials from the old political and security apparatus, who are nicknamed “a-doula al-amika,” or the deep state, have returned to power. They are from the same institutions that deepened their hold on the state over the decades, and after the fall of the dictator (Ben Ali or Mubarak) were left behind, and are now re-taking their positions of power. One can assume that Tunisia’s new president, Essebsi, will enjoy the help of the two strongest moderate Sunni rulers in the Middle East — Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, and Saudi King Abdullah. What’s more, the regime in Tunis, along with its counterparts in Cairo, will try to help its apparent ally in Libya, which sits between them.

 

After the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya stopped functioning as a country. Its territory is divided between major tribes from Misrata, and radical Islamist groups like Ansar al-Sharia. In recent months, Khalifa Haftar, a former general from Gaddafi’s army, who lived in exile for almost two decades, joined the battle for Libya. Haftar managed to clean out large areas in eastern Libya, including Benghazi, from Ansar al-Sharia, and he is now focusing his efforts on the western part of the country, near the Tunisian border and around the capital of Tripoli, currently in the hands of Misrata tribes. He supports the representative assembly that sits in Tobruk, while the tribes support the government in Tripoli, made up primarily of former members of the National General Congress.

 

It’s difficult by this point to talk about coincidences. The Muslim Brotherhood camp has been suffering one political defeat after another. The Arab public, which has been watching the madness that has gripped the region in the wake of the rise of the Islamic State (which was born in the same ideological womb as the Muslim Brotherhood), decided in Tunisia and Egypt, at least, to stay away from anything that reminded them of radical Islam (less radical than IS, but still radical). In some ways, the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt and its counterparts in Tunisia are now paying the price for the success of IS. These developments do not, of course, portend the demise of the Muslim Brotherhood. In Arabic, there is a wealth of proverbs that talk about sometimes being up, sometimes being down. But without a doubt, this is one of the low points in recent years for an organization that was seen, not long ago, as President Barack Obama’s hope for a better Middle East — especially given Qatar’s decision to bow its head to Saudi Arabia and Egypt. The Muslim Brotherhood’s main patron (with the exception of Turkey) surrendered to pressure from Riyadh and Cairo and chose to move away from its hostile tone toward Sissi. This didn’t happen overnight, and doesn’t stem from good will. The recall of ambassadors from several leading Gulf States (Kuwait, UAE, Saudi Arabia) from Doha did its work, and Qatar decided to appease the strongman on the Nile.

 

How will this affect the Middle East? It’s still too early to say. Senior Egyptian sources have expressed great caution over the move. “First let’s see their actions, then we’ll know their true intentions,” said one official regarding Qatar’s shift. One immediate indication will be the line al-Jazeera takes about the Egyptian government. Until now, al-Jazeera has aligned itself with the Muslim Brotherhood camp against Cairo. It stands to reason that the station will take a more moderate line toward Sissi and his supporters. Turkey could find itself even more isolated as the last country waving the flag of political Islam in Muslim Brotherhood-style. But the weakening of the movement isn’t necessarily good for the West or Israel. Hamas in Gaza, which subscribes to the Brotherhood ideology, will seek support elsewhere, like Iran…               

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

Contents           

 

On Topic

 

Benghazi – The Signs of Al Qaeda: Dawn Perlmutter,  Frontpage, Jan. 2, 2015—The latest version of the Benghazi cover up is being argued with semantics of whether the jihadist group that attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 was part of the “core” al Qaeda network.

Tunisian President-Elect’s Focus on Security Has Some Worried: Tamer El-Ghobashy, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 26, 2014—Beji Caid Essebsi ran for president on a promise to eradicate terrorism and restore security.

How Did Yemen Become the Perfect Home to Al Qaeda Training Camps?: Clive Jones, Reuters, Jan. 14, 2015 —According to Yemeni intelligence, both Cherif Kouachi and Said Kouachi, the two brothers who carried out a devastating attack on the offices of Charlie Hebdo last Wednesday, were trained in camps run by al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). This has once more drawn attention to the militant organization’s territorial base: Yemen.

Assessing the Arab Spring Uprisings After Four YearsRobin Wright, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 17, 2014—Exactly four years ago, Tunisia’s corrupt autocracy pushed Mohamed Bouazizi, a street vendor, too far.

 

           

 

 

 

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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AS “ARAB SPRING” TURNED INTO “ARAB FALL,” YEMEN & TUNISIA REPRESENT OPPOSITE OUTCOMES

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Contents:

 

Yemen Exposes Difficulties in U.S. Strategy to Combat Extremist Militants: Maria Abi-Habib, Wall Street Journal, Dec. 3, 2014— The steady weakening of Yemen’s pro-U.S. government over the past two months has exposed some of the same difficulties Washington faces in its efforts to battle extremist group Islamic State in Syria and Iraq.

How Iran Views the Fall of Sana’a, Yemen: “The Fourth Arab Capital in Our Hands”: Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall, JCPA, Nov. 3, 2014— In recent years the Yemeni government conducted a series of military operations against rebels of the al-Houthi clan of the Zaidi sect of Shia Islam.

So Far, So Good for This Arab Democracy: Matthew Kaminski, Wall Street Journal, Nov. 20, 2014 — The gracious loser is a stock character of American elections, and virtually unknown in the Arab world.

Tunisia Stands Alone: Max Boot, Weekly Standard, Nov. 10, 2014— Who knew being an election observer was such hard work?

 

On Topic Links

 

Yemen Changes Hands. Will an Iranian Stronghold Emerge Near the Entrance to the Red Sea?: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, JCPA, Oct. 7, 2014

Iran-Backed Shia Rebels Push Forward in Yemen: Jonathan Spyer, PJ Media, Nov. 5, 2014

Tunisia’s Islamists Learned from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Failure in Egypt: Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 29, 2014

Brought To You By The Arab World…: Dennis Prager, Jewish Press, Oct. 8, 2014

                                                  

                   

YEMEN EXPOSES DIFFICULTIES IN U.S. STRATEGY

TO COMBAT EXTREMIST MILITANTS                                            

Maria Abi-Habib                                                                                                

Wall Street Journal, Dec. 3, 2014

 

The steady weakening of Yemen’s pro-U.S. government over the past two months has exposed some of the same difficulties Washington faces in its efforts to battle extremist group Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. The Yemeni government, which had been a bulwark in the fight against the country’s potent al Qaeda offshoot, collapsed in September after Shiite-linked rebels known as Houthis attacked the capital San’a. Since then, Houthi rebels have taken control of towns and cities throughout Yemen and gained political power while the rival al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, mounted some of its deadliest attacks in an effort to thwart the Houthi advance.

 

The Pentagon’s strategy to counter Islamic State in Syria faces similar problems to those confronted in Yemen. The U.S. attempted to weaken AQAP by focusing on airstrikes in the absence of a strong local power on the ground to partner with. But with only a remnant of the Yemeni government remaining in power—President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi —Washington is now at risk of losing a key counterterrorism partner at a time when it is trying to contain a new threat in the region. Despite years of training and hundreds of millions of dollars invested, Yemeni troops have failed to develop into an effective fighting force that could fend off the double threat of AQAP and the Houthis.

 

In contrast, the Houthis, who have said they receive weapons and training from Shiite Iran, managed to bring down the government and then go on to capture more territory in the predominantly Sunni country. Along the way, they succeeded in holding back AQAP advances. AQAP claimed responsibility for a deadly car bombing that targeted the Iranian ambassador’s residence in San’a on Wednesday. A security guard and five civilians were killed, security officials said. Hossein Niknam, Iran’s new ambassador who is seen as a close ally of the Houthis, was unharmed. Since September, the Houthis have overrun territory in the northern provinces of Amran, Jawf and Hajjah and the central provinces of Ibb and Dhamar while continuing to control the capital. Additionally, the rebels took over much of Hodeidah province in the west in October, including the provincial capital, which is an important Red Sea port. U.S. and Yemeni officials have warned in the past that the Houthis have their eye on the Bab el Mendeb port in the same province, a narrow strait through which some 4% of the world’s oil supply passes.

 

In October, an offensive by the Houthis followed by U.S. airstrikes in November routed AQAP from Rada, a city overrun by AQAP in southern Bayda province in 2012. The struggles to build up a ground force in Yemen to underpin airstrikes against extremists resonate particularly in Syria, where the U.S. and its allies are struggling to find a local partner. Absent an effective ground force in Syria, the U.S. is relying heavily on airstrikes to rout Islamic State there. That tactic in Yemen had kept AQAP at bay since 2011, but has so far failed to defeat the force. Since the Houthi takeover in September, AQAP has increased attacks on government installations and the capital, Yemeni officials said.

 

A senior American official urged taking a longer view with regard to stabilizing Yemen. “We can help build up a functioning state inside Yemen, but we need to be patient. This is not going to be a short-term project,” the official said. “But unfortunately with the political and economic insecurities, especially over the last months, al Qaeda has been able to mount a bit of a comeback, which is unfortunate.” A challenge confronting current counterterrorism strategy to fight AQAP in Yemen and Islamic State in Syria is war fatigue after long commitments of U.S. troops and funding to the wars in Iraq and Syria. President Barack Obama campaigned on ending those wars and bringing U.S. troops home. U.S. airstrikes have become a centerpiece of the president’s counterterrorism strategy.

 

Yemen’s government has received roughly $950 million in U.S. military, economic and humanitarian assistance since 2011. Since late 2011, the U.S. has increased its assistance, providing $346 million for security, up from $288 million from 2009 to 2011, according to the State Department. Another $249 million has been given for political and economic development and $357 million in humanitarian aid. Even with U.S. support, Yemen’s government and its forces were deeply unpopular and long struggled to extend their authority across the country. By contrast, the U.S. spent $20 billion in Afghanistan in 2010-2011 for military training and equipment on top of many billions more in humanitarian, economic and political aid. “Without a ground force to partner with, airstrikes will be hamstrung,” said Jordan Perry, a Middle East analyst with research firm Maplecroft. “There are very few moderate actors that Washington could partner with against AQAP in Yemen. There are the Yemeni security forces. Their legitimacy is limited and much of the country is beyond their scope, so they aren’t effective partners.”…

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

 

 

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HOW IRAN VIEWS THE FALL OF SANA’A, YEMEN:

“THE FOURTH ARAB CAPITAL IN OUR HANDS”                                     

Lt. Col. (ret.) Michael Segall

JCPA, Nov. 3, 2014

 

In recent years the Yemeni government conducted a series of military operations against rebels of the al-Houthi clan of the Zaidi sect of Shia Islam. This conflict, which has already gone on for over 10 years, stems from feelings of political, economic, and social discrimination among the Zaidi Shia residents of Yemen’s north. The Houthis constitute about 30 percent of Yemen’s population, which totals over 25 million people. The Zaidi Shia are considered one of the moderate Shia schools, closer from a legal standpoint to the Shafi’i school of the Sunna.  At the same time, since the Islamic Revolution in Iran and all the more so in recent years with growing Iranian subversive activity in Yemen, the Zaidi Shia have been increasingly exposed to the ideological influence and political agenda of the regime in Iran, leading to a change in the usually moderate attitudes of the Zaidi Shia.

 

Yemen’s geostrategic location at the entrance to the Red Sea and across from the Horn of Africa, along with the inherent weakness of the central regime, has made it an attractive target for subversion by external power centers, both political and nonpolitical. That pertains particularly to Iran and Saudi Arabia, with Al Qaeda as another disruptive element. In September, Shia rebels of Ansar Allah (Houthi’s military wing) were able to exploit the weakness of Yemen’s central government, which is also engaged in a struggle with the Sunni Al Qaeda and with tribal and separatist elements in the southern part of the country. Ansar Allah took over on September 21 the capital city of Sana’a and the Al-Hudaydah port (150 kilometers southwest of Sana’a) on the Red Sea, Yemen’s second most important port after Aden almost without resistance by the security forces and the Yemeni army. The Houthi forces’ entry into the capital was accompanied by calls of “Death to America” and “Death to the Jews,” imprecations heard frequently from the Iranian regime. Battles are also being waged in Yemen between Ansar Allah and Ansar al-Sharia, which is affiliated with Al Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula (AQAP) and has had difficulty coming to terms with the recent Shia successes in Yemen. The Houthi Shia rebels, having conquered Sana’a and Al-Hudaydah, are now concentrating their efforts on a further conquest of the Bab al-Mandeb Strait. This key waterway, the southern gateway to the Red Sea, passes through the Gulf of Aden, linking the Red Sea with the Indian Ocean, and historically constituted a strategic hub connecting Eastern and Western trade routes. Yemen overlooks and indeed commands movement through the strait from the island of Miyun (Birim). From the African side, Eritrea and Djibouti overlook the strait.

 

Iran views Yemen, in general, and the northern Shia sector in particular, as a convenient staging ground for subversive activity against Saudi Arabia, its main religious-political rival in the Middle East, via the Saudis’ “backyard.”  Iran also sees Yemen as an important factor in its policy of establishing a physical Iranian presence, both ground and naval, in the countries and ports of the Red Sea littoral, which control the shipping lanes that lead from the Persian Gulf to the heart of the Middle East and onward to Europe. If the Shia rebels gain control of the Bab al-Mandeb Strait, Iran can attain a foothold in this sensitive region giving access to the Red Sea and the Suez Canal, a cause of concern not only for its sworn rivals Saudi Arabia, Egypt and the Gulf states, but also for Israel and European countries along the Mediterranean.

 

Arab commentators in the Gulf have warned in recent years about this Iranian push. For example, economic analyst Muhammad Abduh al-Absi said in an interview to Asharq Al-Awsat that Iran has long been trying to take over the sea lanes surrounding the Arab world. It commands the Strait of Hormuz in the Persian Gulf (through which five million barrels of oil pass daily) and now is trying to seize the Bab el-Mandeb Strait (through which three million barrels of oil pass daily), which forms a key conduit of trade for all the states along the Red Sea. Al-Absi emphasized that Houthi control of the strait will have a harmful impact on the entire world, but those that will suffer the most will be the Gulf states, which will be at Iran’s mercy. Before invading Sana’a and seizing other parts of the country, the Houthis were concentrated in the city of Sa’dah in northern Yemen, on the Saudi border. There the Zaidi Shia form a majority of the population. Now the Houthis are trying to extend their control beyond the oil-rich Mar’ib province in the country’s east.

Sana’a: The Fourth Arab Capital to Fall into Iran’s Hands

 

For Iran, which in recent years has supported the Houthis’ struggles as part of its fight with Saudi Arabia over regional influence, the Houthis’ recent gains in Yemen mark an impressive achievement.  Senior Iranian spokesmen have referred publicly and particularly defiantly to the latest Houthi successes and have not hidden their support and satisfaction with the expansion of their control in Yemen and their political gains. It should be noted that before the Arab spring erupted and undermined the old order in the Middle East harsh criticism was leveled in Iran at the government’s helplessness in the face of the “slaughter of the Shia” in Yemen.

 

Ali Akbar Velayati, former Iranian foreign Minister, and currently adviser on international affairs to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei and president of the Expediency Council’s Center for Strategic Research, recently told a group of Yemeni clerics in Tehran: “The Islamic Republic of Iran supports the rightful struggles of Ansar Allah [Houthis] in Yemen and considers this movement as part of the successful materialization of the Islamic Awakening [the name Iran adopted for the “Arab Spring”] movements.”4 Velayati added that the Houthis had succeeded in creating a movement without precedent in any Arab state, and that their frequent and rapid triumphs (in the domestic arena) proved that “Ansar Allah planned their moves well in advance [perhaps hinting at Iranian involvement?] and learned from past experience.” Velayati added that he was sure Ansar Allah’s triumph in Yemen meant that the Houthis would play a similar role to the one Hizbullah plays in Lebanon. Velayati was asked about the effects of the Yemeni revolution and responded, “The important issue is that the road to freeing Palestine passes from Yemen since Yemen has a strategic location and is near Indian Ocean, Gulf of Oman and Bab al-Mandeb.” Iranian official: “Sana’a – fourth Arab capital that belongs to us.” – Iran: Sana’a, Yemen Is “the Fourth Arab Capital in Our Hands”…

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

 

                                                                       

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SO FAR, SO GOOD FOR THIS ARAB DEMOCRACY                        

Matthew Kaminski                                                                                              

Wall Street Journal, Nov. 20, 2014

                            

The gracious loser is a stock character of American elections, and virtually unknown in the Arab world. Rachid Ghannouchi makes an unlikely pioneer. The 73-year-old politician is one of the world’s most influential Islamist thinkers and the longtime leader of Tunisia’s offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood. To his detractors, his sins range from indulging in “double discourse”—saying one thing to Westerners and another to his flock—to peddling anti-Semitism and supporting terrorists. His public record is long. “We must wage unceasing war against the Americans until they leave the land of Islam,” he said in a speech in Sudan, coming to Saddam Hussein ’s defense after Iraq invaded Kuwait. He tells me that those words “were fabricated,” but I hold in my hand a copy of an August 1990 article from Ila Filastin, an Islamist publication, that reported them. You can also find Ghannouchi statements going as far back in support of democracy and Islamic reformation.

 

Who’s the real Rachid Ghannouchi? Perhaps now, after a couple of Tunisian elections impressive for their orderly execution, and on the eve of a presidential vote Sunday, this divisive figure of Arab politics can be judged just by what he has done. Mr. Ghannouchi, who is not on the presidential ballot, is the one person most responsible for fostering the introduction of an Arab democracy, however fragile, in this North African nation—the exception in a region torn apart by the violent upheavals of the past four years. Ponder the picture of the bearded leader of the Islamist Nahda (Renaissance) Party last month calling to congratulate the head of the rival secular bloc for its victory in Tunisia’s parliamentary elections. It was as if everybody had won. Hardly. Nahda—which in 2011 secured a larger share (37%) of the country’s first free vote than the Muslim Brotherhood ever won in Egypt—had finished a surprise second in Tunisia’s second free election. With no apparent bitterness, Mr. Ghannouchi offered to join a government of national unity with the victorious Nidaa Tounes (Tunisian Call), which brings together remnants of the old secular and repressive regime ousted in early 2011. As promised, to calm secular nerves in Tunisia, Nahda isn’t running a candidate in this weekend’s presidential elections. Mr. Ghannouchi keeps repeating that without consensus and power-sharing, no formerly authoritarian country can build a democracy.

 

The road to here was bumpy, and the journey remains daunting. An Islamist insurgency in Tunisia is being aided by arms from neighboring Libya. As many as 3,000 Tunisians have reportedly joined the Islamic State terrorist forces in Syria and Iraq—more than from any other country. Islamists assassinated two prominent secular politicians last year, nearly ending the experiment in consensus politics. In the aftermath of those killings, massive protests blamed the ruling Nahda Party, not unjustly, for being too soft on violent extremism. Mr. Ghannouchi didn’t dig in—he turned conciliatory. He pushed Nahda, over the objections from insiders, to step aside for a technocratic government. He worked out a constitutional compromise with Beji Said Sebsi, an 87-year-old politician who served the old regime in various roles and now runs the Nidaa Tounes Party, winner of last month’s parliamentary election. The Tunisian constitution adopted this year is remarkably liberal.

 

When I saw him this fall in New York, Mr. Ghannouchi brought up the common charge against Islamists and democracy: One vote, one time, never again. (See Hamas in Gaza and Iran’s theocrats.) Yet Nahda gave up power last year and has now accepted the results of a free election. If you can win once and lose once, his party can feel confident it can win again. Like in a normal country. Mr. Ghannouchi seems to have digested this basic lesson. But have the people of the ancien, undemocratic regime? If Mr. Sebsi, the leading presidential candidate in Sunday’s vote, wins the election, his party will control the executive and legislative branches. Given its roots in the authoritarian past, there will be a temptation to slide back into the old ways. “We have a great constitution but it’s still only on paper,” says Radwan Masmoudi, who runs Tunisia’s Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy. “The culture of democracy is young and weak.”

 

We’re often told that the clash in the Muslim world is between Islamism and liberalism. This is misleading. In reality, the fight is authoritarianism or violent chaos versus freer and peaceful politics. Syria, Libya and Iraq are living through the chaos, and the rest of the region is ruled by strongmen. Some come in the military uniform of Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi. In the fine suits of Bashar Assad or the thawbs of Saudi royals. Or in the clerical garbs of Tehran’s mullahs. Then there’s the something-in-between of Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The lesson from Tunisia for the political future of the Arab lands: Don’t pay attention to the labels. What matters is the all-too-human capacity to adapt and see a better way to self-government. “Yes, God has given us his word and his commands, but he has not put anyone to represent him on this earth,” says Mr. Ghannouchi, explaining his Islamist take on representative rule. “This is why democracy is the best way to decide how to rule ourselves.” You don’t have to know the true content of Mr. Ghannouchi’s heart. It should be enough that his country is the one Arab nation with some guardrails now in place to protect it from the vices and stupidities that might issue from any mortal politician, no matter his religion.

                                                                       

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TUNISIA STANDS ALONE                                                                                          

Max Boot

Weekly Standard, Nov. 10, 2014

 

Who knew being an election observer was such hard work? When the International Republican Institute, a nonprofit, U.S. government-funded organization devoted to democracy promotion, invited me to serve on its team watching Tunisia’s parliamentary elections on October 26, I imagined myself lolling by a Mediterranean beach, sipping a café au lait, with a short break in the middle of the day to ascertain, yup, Tunisians are going to the polls. The reality was several days of nonstop meetings with Tunisian politicos, nongovernmental organizations, and election officials, both in the capital, Tunis, and in Jendouba, a governorate in the northwest near the border with Algeria.

 

On Sunday, election day, I got up at 5:15 a.m. and, with the rest of my team (an IRI staff member, local translator, and driver), set off, bleary-eyed, to observe preparations before voting booths opened at 7 a.m. We spent the rest of the day driving from polling place to polling place to see if balloting was being carried out by the book. The polls finally closed at 6 p.m., but our job was not yet done—we spent the next three hours locked in a small schoolroom that doubled as an election station, watching as four officials laboriously counted more than 450 ballots by hand. Everywhere we went, we inquired about election chicanery. We found none. The violations reported to us were laughably minor—for example, some campaign posters being displayed in violation of Tunisian law, which strictly limits the size and location of such advertising. Although there were fears that Ansar al Sharia militants would try to disrupt voting, there was not one terrorist attack in the country. More than 60 percent of the 5.2 million registered voters turned out—not the highest figure possible but still a stirring sight: so many people who had spent their lives under a dictatorship exercising rights that we in the West take for granted. That the election was so free and fair is impressive enough—remember how dishonest voting was in places like Chicago and Newark not so long ago? Tunisia’s achievement was all the more remarkable considering that there is not one peaceful and democratic state in the entire Arab world. (Iraq is sort of democratic but violent.)

 

Tunisia has been showing the path toward Arab democracy ever since a 26-year-old fruit seller named Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire on December 17, 2010, to protest the harassment he had suffered from heavy-handed government officials. His death set off a month of protests that brought down longtime dictator Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. That triggered antigovernment protests that shook the entire region. In Libya and Syria, the result was perpetual war; in Egypt, the rise of a new dictatorship. Only Tunisia has continued to stumble toward self-government. The first free elections, held in October 2011, left the Islamist Ennahda party in the lead but with far less than a majority—it won 37 percent of the vote, forcing it to form a coalition government with two secular parties. The rule of “the Troika” got off to a bad start in September 2012 when a fundamentalist mob stormed the U.S. embassy in Tunis, although, unlike in Libya, no American diplomats were hurt. This was followed in 2013 by the assassination of two leftist opposition politicians, Chokri Belaid and Mohamed Brahmi.

 

Secular political leaders blamed Ennahda for tolerating Salafist terrorists. Protesters took to the streets, the Tunisian General Labor Union called a strike, and for a few months the country appeared to be on the verge of coming apart. But cooler heads prevailed. Rather than cling to power the way that Mohamed Morsi had done in Egypt, Tunisia’s Islamist prime minister resigned in January 2014. Ali Laarayedh was succeeded by a technocratic caretaker administration under Mehdi Jomaa, whose task was to supervise parliamentary elections on October 26, to be followed a month later, on November 23, by a presidential election. (The president’s powers under the new constitution remain unclear but appear to be less significant, in many respects, than those of the prime minister.)…

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

 

Contents           

On Topic

 

Yemen Changes Hands. Will an Iranian Stronghold Emerge Near the Entrance to the Red Sea?: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, JCPA, Oct. 7, 2014—This past month, Sana’a, the capital of Yemen, was transformed.

Iran-Backed Shia Rebels Push Forward in Yemen: Jonathan Spyer, PJ Media, Nov. 5, 2014—The Middle East is currently the arena for a cross-border sectarian war.

Tunisia’s Islamists Learned from the Muslim Brotherhood’s Failure in Egypt: Ariel Ben Solomon, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 29, 2014—Tunisia’s Ennahda party, the first Islamist movement to secure power after the 2011 “Arab Spring” revolts, conceded defeat on Monday in elections, perhaps drawing a lesson from the failed power grab of Islamists in Egypt.

Brought To You By The Arab World…: Dennis Prager, Jewish Press, Oct. 8, 2014 —At least since the early part of the 20th century, the Arab world has produced essentially no technology, medicine, or anything else in the world of science. It has almost no contributions to world literature, art, or to intellectual development.

 

 

               

 

 

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

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‘ARAB FALL’ : AS CHAOS ENGULFS LIBYA, EGYPT & UAE SEND AIRSTRIKES; MEANWHILE, TUNISIAN JIHADIS FLOCK TO IRAQ & SYRIA

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 

 

Contents:

 

Meanwhile, in Libya …: Olivier Guitta, National Post, Sept. 4, 2014— While much of the world’s focus currently is on ISIS’ reign of Islamist terror in the Iraqi territory it has conquered, another fire is burning 3,000 km away, in Libya.

The UAE and Egypt’s New Frontier in Libya: Ellen Laipson, National Interest, Sept. 3, 2014

Tunisia Fears Attacks by Citizens Flocking to Jihad: Carlotta Gall, New York Times, Aug. 5, 2014  — The jihadi video out of Syria shows a line of prisoners bound and kneeling in a courtyard surrounded by dozens of civilians and armed men in a noisy hubbub.

The Mistaken Tragedy of the Arabs: Hussain Abdul-Hussain, Now, July 15, 2014  — “A thousand years ago, the great cities of Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo took turns to race ahead of the Western world,” wrote The Economist in an article that went viral in Arab circles.

 

On Topic Links

 

Islamist Militants Party in Pool at US Embassy Compound in Libya: Chris Perez, New York Post, Aug. 31, 2014

U.S. Can’t Retreat and Still Call the Shots: Max Boot, Commentary, Aug. 26, 2014

The UAE and Egypt’s New Frontier in Libya: Ellen Laipson, National Interest, Sept. 3, 2014

What Now for Israel?: Elliott Abrams, Mosaic, Sept. 2014

Surviving in an Even Worse Neighborhood: Israel and Growing Mideast Chaos: Louis René Beres, Jerusalem Post, July 7, 2014

 

MEANWHILE, IN LIBYA …                                               

Olivier Guitta                                                                               

National Post, Sept. 4, 2014

 

While much of the world’s focus currently is on ISIS’ reign of Islamist terror in the Iraqi territory it has conquered, another fire is burning 3,000 km away, in Libya. Having intervened in 2011 to depose Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, NATO powers now have a responsibility to provide what next-door Niger’s authorities have termed “after-sales service.” Libya is set to become a source of terrorism for all of Africa and beyond. And recent events in Libya continue to tilt the balance in the jihadists’ favour: Tripoli’s airport, for instance, now is mostly in the hands of Islamists. Two air raids against Tripoli in August are believed to have been the work of a joint UAE-Egypt operation. That Arab nations have become involved in this way is not surprising: Egypt’s leadership, in particular, repeatedly has warned about the Islamist threat in Northern Africa.

 

Algeria, another concerned Libyan neighbour, is believed to have its own operations underway on Libyan soil — involving as many as 5,000 soldiers tasked with rooting out jihadis. Morocco and Tunisia also are on a high state of alert. This is the result of an alleged CIA warning to the effect that jihadis are planning to use planes missing in Libya to fly into buildings or strategic sites in these countries in a local repeat of the September 11 attacks (whose anniversary is next week). These planes could be used against tall buildings such as the Twin Centre, paired 28-storey skyscrapers in Casablanca that eerily mirror New York’s Twin Towers in miniature. Almost all of this generally has been ignored by the Western media, which has been focused primarily on events in Ukraine, Iraq, Israel, Gaza and Syria.

 

The most impressive counter-terrorism deployment has taken place in Morocco, where tens of thousands of soldiers reportedly have been mobilized around the country to tackle this specific threat. Anti-aircraft batteries in Casablanca, Marrakesh, Tangiers and other strategic locations have been deployed to shoot down any incoming plane controlled by terrorists. (Algeria has deployed the same type of batteries along its borders with Libya and Tunisia.) One needs only be reminded of the deadly 2013 terrorist attack led by Mokhtar Belmokhtar against Algeria’s Tigantourine gas facility to understand the scale of Algeria’s concern. As the Egypt-UAE air strikes indicate, the region’s more stable governments are not going to sit by idly while dark clouds gather.

 

The larger question is how Libya — seen just three years ago as a model for light-footprint Western military intervention — could become one of the world’s most dangerous places. The country arguably has the largest stockpile of loose weapons in the world, most of which have fallen into the hands of terror groups such as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb, al-Murabitun (which controls large swathes of territory in the south of the country), Ansar al-Sharia in the east, and the Dawn of Libya (which has taken control of the U.S. Embassy grounds). The situation is so dangerous and chaotic that it may soon invite a new Western intervention. It’s too late to prevent Libya from becoming a failed state — but at least some good may come of efforts to keep the threat contained within Libya’s own borders.

 

The only Western country that seems to have grasped the Libyan time bomb is France. President François Hollande stated a few days ago that Libya was his gravest international concern. His government is seeking an international diplomatic solution to the security situation. But if that does not work out, do not be surprised if France intervenes militarily — even if it must act alone, as it did in Mali in 2013.

 

Contents

THE UAE AND EGYPT’S NEW FRONTIER IN LIBYA

Ellen Laipson    

 National Interest, Sept. 3, 2014

 

The surprising news that Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have carried out airstrikes against various Islamist rebels in Libya is yet another example of the scope and extent of change in the Middle East. It reminds us that many of the time-tested assumptions about how states behave have to be checked and challenged. The fact of military activism by two important Arab states is on some levels a positive development, but introduces some new practical and political variables.

 

Egypt and the UAE have been crystal clear about how they view the rapidly expanding threat from Islamic extremists in the region in general. The emergence of General, now President, Sisi in Cairo has reassured Gulf Arab leaders that the destabilizing effects of the Arab spring can be reversed. They want to reestablish state control and see forces for law and order prevail over extremist groups that have exploited the post-authoritarian moment in several Arabs states. In the Libyan case, they presumably acted to reverse the chaos and confusion of competing armed groups and a very weak central government, and to support General Khalifa Haftar, who is leading anti-Islamist factions as an independent actor, not on behalf of the Libyan state. This has led to speculation that Egypt and their purported military ally, the UAE, would like to see General Haftar in power to tame the centrifugal forces and restore some semblance of order in Libya.

 

If more information confirms the action by the UAE from Egyptian bases, the development represents a shift in tactics if not strategy that will yet again change power balances in the region. It reveals first and foremost how profoundly threatened some key Arab states feel by the rise of Al Qaeda, its affiliates and the even more extreme and lethal Islamic State. Secondly, it shows how the threat environment and increased military capacity has led the UAE and potentially other Gulf states to act independently of their key security partners, principally the United States.

 

Early signals from senior U.S. officials suggest that this show of independence has not been appreciated. But there’s a question about whether the United States was really blindsided, and whether some action in Libya was not in fact desired, even if publicly disavowed. The UAE had contributed to the coalition that ousted Muammar Qaddafi, so the return of its fighter planes to Libyan airspace reflects a genuine commitment and priority of Abu Dhabi’s rulers. There’s no guarantee that air support to the offensive by General Haftar will achieve its intended purpose, and control of the Tripoli airport remains in rebel hands. But there should be no doubt that the UAE and Egypt have a strategic interest in stabilizing Libya, and appear more willing to take risks to achieve it than Western donors who have been strangely passive as Libya unravels.

 

The United States has also urged regional states to take more responsibility for conflict management and resolution. It is a core tenet of the so-called Obama doctrine globally. This demonstration of regional ownership and leadership, therefore, in theory comports with U.S. goals. But it also raises concerns and introduces new uncertainties at a dangerous and volatile moment in the region. Most defense experts would not see the UAE and Egypt as able to sustain operations over an extended period of time, should their initial action fail to achieve desired outcomes, as occurred when EU states led the campaign to oust Qaddafi and ran into supply problems. They would also see a reluctance to coordinate with other interested and engaged parties as a serious weakness that could exacerbate regional tensions. It is possible that NATO countries nearby or other GCC states would be willing to provide support, but a political process to explore options is required, under NATO’s Mediterranean protocols or more ad hoc arrangements, if need be.

 

More information will appear in the coming days, but this latest surprise from the region is a sign of the times. The Middle East is more chaotic, with sustained violence and conflict in nearly a half-dozen states. At the same time, the rising middle powers of the region, including the financially dynamic countries of the Gulf, the UAE in particular, are increasingly willing to take matters into their own hands. For Washington, this is potentially a salutary development, but it also reveals the transition from a U.S.-led regional-security arrangement to something beyond U.S. control.

 

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TUNISIA FEARS ATTACKS BY CITIZENS FLOCKING TO JIHAD

Carlotta Gall

New York Times, Aug. 5, 2014

 

The jihadi video out of Syria shows a line of prisoners bound and kneeling in a courtyard surrounded by dozens of civilians and armed men in a noisy hubbub. One man in fatigues paces around, jabbing his arms as he issues orders. Eventually, a burly fighter in loose, dark clothes shoots each of the half-dozen prisoners in the back of the head. Though a black balaclava obscured the face of the man giving orders, investigators were able to identify him by the neck brace he was wearing and passed his name to the police in his home country: Tunisia.

 

While Western governments have been keeping a close eye on the possible radicalization of their own citizens, the greater threat by far, analysts warn, is for Arab countries like Tunisia, in transition from autocracy and struggling to deal with incipient terrorism. For a country of only 11 million people, Tunisia has supplied a disproportionate number of fighters to the Islamist cause in Iraq and Syria. At least 12,000 foreigners have joined Islamist groups in Syria to fight against the government of President Bashar al-Assad, and as many as 3,000 of them are Tunisians, the Soufan Group, a New York-based organization that conducts security analysis, said in a report released in June. The great majority of the foreign fighters in Syria are from Arab countries — only a fifth come from Western countries — and most have now joined the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, an extremist Islamist group, the report says.

 

The man in the neck brace is a striking example of the threat. He is known as Abu Jihad and is a member of the military police of ISIS, an enforcer in an organization notorious for its propensity for violence. The Spanish counterterrorism police have photos of him, showing a man around 30 years old, wearing a pakul, a traditional wool cap worn in Afghanistan, and posing by a jeep with “ISIS military police” painted on the hood. Eventually, Tunisian security officials fear, he will return to Tunisia determined to pursue the same goals there that he fought for in Syria and Iraq as a member of ISIS.

 

In the first act of the Arab Spring, Tunisians rose up against police brutality and the stifling corruption of the government of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, forcing him to flee. At first, the country seemed to be making a successful transition from authoritarianism, introducing a multiparty democracy, but deep political divisions soon threatened to tear the country apart. An Islamist party, Ennahda, won elections and formed a coalition government, and secular and left-wing parties campaigned bitterly against it. They accused the government of being soft on Islamist militancy and allowing Islamic extremists to take over mosques and intimidate people with vigilante groups.

 

Tunisians have been drawn to jihad since the 1980s, when the international jihad movement was formed in opposition to the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. One of the leading figures has been Seifallah Ben Hussein, better known as Abu Iyadh, a veteran of the war against the Soviets in Afghanistan, who trained and fought there into the late 1980s. By the time of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks, he had become one of the top 10 or 12 lieutenants to leaders of Al Qaeda. It was Abu Iyadh who supplied the two Tunisian suicide bombers who assassinated a renowned Afghan commander, Ahmed Shah Massoud, two days before the Sept. 11 attacks in order to remove the greatest obstacle to Taliban rule in Afghanistan. Abu Iyadh fought alongside Osama bin Laden at Tora Bora, Afghanistan, in December 2001, before they both escaped through the mountains to Pakistan. He later made his way to Turkey, where he was arrested in 2003, extradited to Tunisia and imprisoned by the Ben Ali government, which was rigidly anti-Islamist. He was released along with thousands of other Islamist and political prisoners under an amnesty after the revolution in 2011.

 

Commentators at first suggested that the democratic ideals of the Arab Spring had dealt a perhaps fatal blow to Al Qaeda and the entire jihad movement, but that was premature. As soon as he emerged from prison, Abu Iyadh founded the movement Ansar al-Shariah in Tunisia in April 2011. Within a year, he had drawn 30,000 to 40,000 youthful followers. His movement, with its emphasis on religion, charitable work in the community and supporting jihad in foreign lands, appealed to Tunisians suddenly freed from dictatorship and forced secularity. Abu Iyadh was a Che Guevara figure to them, said Fabio Merone, a doctoral student studying the movement.

 

But his opposition to democracy and his belief in violence as a tactic soon re-emerged. Three days after the attack on the United States Mission in Benghazi, Libya, he staged a similar action against the United States Embassy compound in Tunis, burning 100 cars in the parking lot and looting the American school next to the embassy. After two left-wing politicians were assassinated by Abu Iyadh’s followers, Ansar al-Shariah was declared a terrorist organization. That was in August 2013. Since then Abu Iyadh has been on the run, and now the police say he is in Libya. Many of his followers have been rounded up and imprisoned in a police crackdown. The influential ideologues of the movement — among them Khattab Idriss, who runs a mosque in the town of Sidi Bouzid, and Seifeddine Rais, the charismatic young spokesman of Ansar al-Shariah — have evaded arrest but fallen silent. Their followers are buckling under the heavy hand of the Tunisian police.

 

Families in the working-class neighborhood of Dawhar Hisher in the capital, Tunis, complain of house raids, phones being tapped and the arrest of relatives of suspects. Members of Ansar al-Shariah say that they are harassed by the police and government officials and that they cannot find jobs, or even a ride on intercity buses, because of their long beards. Some say they shaved their beards after warnings from the police. Others have left the country for military training camps in Libya and, after that, for Syria. Of the several thousand who have been fighting in Syria, about 400 have returned. Most of them, trying to recover from the experience, are more “traumatized” than anything, according to one Western official. The fear, however, is that some pose dangers. “You learn to kill,” said one Spanish investigator. “That’s what you get from radicalization, and they enhance that in the training camps. It’s the cruelty of the act that distorts.”

 

Contents

THE MISTAKEN TRAGEDY OF THE ARABS                                    

Hussain Abdul-Hussain                                                                                  

Now, July 15, 2014

                       

“A thousand years ago, the great cities of Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo took turns to race ahead of the Western world,” wrote The Economist in an article that went viral in Arab circles. “Yet today the Arabs are in a wretched state,” it added. The piece then refutes the arguments that explain the Arab decline: Arabs were not the only ones affected by imperialism, and Islam is the majority creed in some prosperous non-Arab states. What The Economist missed, however, is that Baghdad, Damascus and Cairo are only part of the story. During Ottoman times, cities in the Levant and Arabia were under direct Ottoman control and autonomous tribal territories were under nominal rule.  

 

The most commonly accepted historical narrative argues that Great Britain merged three Turkish vilayets – Baghdad, Basra and Mosul – to create modern day Iraq. A quick reexamination of this narrative proves it flawed. In 1917, Britain printed a brief guide to the history of Arab Ottoman territories. “Beyond the immediate vicinity of the towns, which are few in number, Mesopotamia is a tribal country,” it read. The making of Iraq, and the region, is much more complicated than the simplistic story of Sykes-Picot. Dulaim, the western province the Baathists renamed Anbar in 1968 to undermine the influence of the Sunni Dulaim tribe, was autonomous, nominally pledging allegiance to the Ottoman sultan, an arrangement similar to that in Mount Lebanon and other tribal areas. In Iraq’s Kut Province, now Wasit, the Shiite tribe of Rabiah gave the British a pounding. It took British forces two years to conquer the area.  

 

After the Ottomans, Iraq’s new rulers, the Hashemites, courted the tribes and gave them vast autonomy, which they enshrined in the constitution. Viceroy Abdul-Ilah, a Sunni, even married a Shiite woman from Rabiah in an effort to boost the monarchy’s position. Gertrude Bell, the famous British diplomat credited with creating Iraq, had instructions to create a secure route connecting Basra’s oil fields in southern Iraq to Haifa’s port in northern Palestine, both under the British mandate. This required the integration of several tribal territories into Iraq, including Muntafiq, Diwaniyah, Karbala, Dulaim and the Northern Desert. The British created Transjordan and put it under another Hashemite to link Iraq and Palestine. Bell and T.E. Lawrence were successful in winning over many tribes in the territories they needed to annex, but they could not possibly integrate all of them.  

 

One of the expanding tribal powers at the time was the Najdi Abdul-Aziz Ibn Saud, whose Annazah tribe defeated its rival Shammar, whose land extended from northern Arabia to Kurdistan, through the Syrian Badia. In the tribal code of that time, when a tribe was defeated, it joined the victor and conceded its land. When Ibn Saud wanted to annex Shammar land, he clashed with the colonials. Eventually, Ibn Saud relinquished the land, but kept the people. He made members of the tribes that had pledged allegiance to him Saudi nationals, who remain loyal to the Saudi monarchy to this day, even if they live in Syria or Iraq. If you ever wondered what Syrian opposition leader Ahmad Assi and Iraqi interim President Ghazi al-Yawar (both of whom are pro-Saudi) have in common, consider that both men come from the Shammar al-Jarba (as opposed to the Shiite Shammar al-Toga). Also hailing from Shammar is the mother of Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud.

 

The overlap in maps between Ibn Saud and the colonials created two regions: one based on kinship and loyalty in the old tradition of Arab tribalism and the other based on Sykes-Picot and the interests of the colonials and their Arab urbanite protégés. Like the Ottomans before them, the French and the British tried to urbanize Arab tribal regions by connecting them to cities and transforming their economies from subsistence to capitalism. These efforts backfired and the tribes revolted, especially the Druze in southern Syria. Eventually, a connection was established and, instead of urbanization, the tribes flocked to the cities, first forming belts of poverty and then replacing the cosmopolitan leadership and lifestyle with tribal code and tradition, including endless bloody feuds. The oil boom and the colossal revenues that resulted gave the new tribal rulers immense power.  

 

The Arabs are not in a wretched state – they are in a tribal state, and they are doing what they have been doing since time immemorial: conquering each other, demanding allegiance, and living in a state of perpetual war. The only difference now is that the Arabs are feuding in cities, and on TV and social media instead of in the desert.  

 

The cities, once connected to the center of a prosperous and modern Ottoman Empire, have been changed irrevocably. The majority of Arab urbanites have left the Arab world, many in exile, and they are the ones who read The Economist’s article and shared it. They are the ones who lament past glory, real or imagined, and assign blame for losing it. Unless they, and the world, understand the nature, history and expansion of the tribal Arab world, they will fail to understand what went wrong.

 

On Topic

 

Islamist Militants Party in Pool at US Embassy Compound in Libya: Chris Perez, New York Post, Aug. 31, 2014—They’re jihadists gone wild! Hootin’ and hollerin’ Islamic militants partied like it was spring break in Cancun on Sunday after invading a US Embassy annex in Libya.

U.S. Can’t Retreat and Still Call the Shots: Max Boot, Commentary, Aug. 26, 2014—Want to know what happens when the U.S. retreats from a leadership role in the Middle East?

The UAE and Egypt’s New Frontier in Libya: Ellen Laipson, National Interest, Sept. 3, 2014—The surprising news that Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have carried out airstrikes against various Islamist rebels in Libya is yet another example of the scope and extent of change in the Middle East.

What Now for Israel?: Elliott Abrams, Mosaic, Sept. 2014 —“The status quo is unsustainable,” President Obama said of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict soon after taking office in 2009.

Surviving in an Even Worse Neighborhood: Israel and Growing Mideast Chaos: Louis René Beres, Jerusalem Post, July 7, 2014 —Just when it seemed that matters for Israel couldn't possibly get any worse, "ordinary" security challenges are being augmented by still more complex strategic threats.

 

                      

                

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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