Tag: US

SYRIAN WAR IS “FAR FROM OVER” AS RUSSIA, TURKEY, & IRAN CARVE UP REMAINS, AND U.S. FACES MOMENT OF TRUTH

As Syria Sees One of the Bloodiest Periods of its War, UN Calls for Immediate Cease-Fire: 'The War is Far From Over': Liz Sly, Washington Post, Feb. 7, 2018— The United Nations appealed for an immediate cease-fire in Syria on Tuesday as spiraling violence pushed the country to the brink of one of the worst humanitarian crises in the seven-year war.

As Russia Carves up Syria, US May be Drawn into War: Benny Avni, New York Post, Feb. 6, 2018— It turns out trying to stay on the sidelines of the Syrian civil war may be the very thing that drags us into it with both feet.

Trump’s Obligation to Syria’s Gas Attack Victims: Noah Rothman, Commentary, Feb. 6, 2018— In the space of a single month, the Syrian regime has reportedly deployed chlorine gas in civilian neighborhoods on six separate occasions.

Welcome to Syria 2.0: Jonathan Spyer, Foreign Policy, Jan. 25, 2018— The idea that Syria's civil war is winding down has been repeated so often in recent months as to become a cliché. It has never been entirely true.

 

On Topic Links

 

U.S.-Led Forces Kill an Estimated 100 Syrian Regime Troops: Jacqueline Klimas, Politico, Feb. 7, 2018

Syrian State Media: Air Defenses Intercept Israeli Missiles: Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 7, 2018

On Northern Syria Front Line, U.S. and Turkey Head Into Tense Face-off: Rod Nordland, New York Times, Feb. 7, 2018

Haunted by Memories of Syrian Torture, Saved by Art: Aida Alami, New York Times, Feb. 2, 2018

 

 

AS SYRIA SEES ONE OF THE BLOODIEST PERIODS OF ITS WAR,

UN CALLS FOR IMMEDIATE CEASE-FIRE: 'THE WAR IS FAR FROM OVER'

Liz Sly

Washington Post, Feb. 7, 2018

 

The United Nations appealed for an immediate cease-fire in Syria on Tuesday as spiraling violence pushed the country to the brink of one of the worst humanitarian crises in the seven-year war. A halt to the fighting for at least a month is vital to allow urgently needed aid to reach 2.9 million stricken people living around the front lines of the latest fighting, the UN mission in Damascus said, warning of “dire consequences” if the current levels of violence are sustained.

 

The appeal coincides with the collapse in recent weeks of a year-old Russian effort to tamp down the violence through “de-escalation zones,” which had helped contribute to a perception that the war in Syria finally was winding down. Instead, the first weeks of 2018 have turned into one of the bloodiest periods of the conflict yet, with hundreds killed in airstrikes, nearly 300,000 displaced in northwestern Syria and 400,000 at risk of starvation in a besieged area east of Damascus that has not received food since November.

 

“The war is far from over,” Panos Moumtzis, the United Nations’ humanitarian coordinator in Damascus, said at a briefing for journalists in Beirut. “This is a really critical stage. The humanitarian situation has dramatically deteriorated, and that’s why we are ringing alarm bells.” There has also been a spike in the number of reports of attacks by the government using chlorine as a chemical weapon, prompting warnings from the United States to the Syrian government to desist and to Russia to pressure its ally to halt the attacks. There have been six reported attacks using bombs laden with chlorine in the past month, the State Department said, adding that Washington is “gravely alarmed” by the continued allegations of the use of chlorine gas.

 

The latest surge in violence began in late December and coincides with the winding down of the fight against the Islamic State in eastern Syrian, which freed up thousands of Syrian government forces to take on rebels and al-Qaida-allied fighters in their last few enclaves elsewhere in the country. Since then, nearly 300,000 civilians have fled a new government offensive to recapture territory in the northwestern province of Idlib. They have taken refuge in the north of the province in one of the biggest displacements of the war so far, Moumtzis said. Aid workers are struggling to find space to accommodate them, and as many as 750,000 more could flee if the violence continues, he said.

 

A separate crisis is developing east of Damascus, in the rebel-held enclave of Ghouta, where over 400,000 people surrounded by government forces have been reliant on UN aid for the past four years. The Syrian government has prevented all deliveries of food to the area since November, putting the population at risk of starvation, and has refused to allow the evacuation of about 600 people injured in the fighting to hospitals in nearby Damascus, Moumtzis said.

 

Syrian warplanes pounded the area Tuesday, conducting over 40 strikes and killing at least 37 people, according to the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, which monitors violence in Syria. Activists in the area later said more than 70 people had died in the raids. Later in the day, five civilians died when rebels fired shells into government-controlled neighbourhoods in Damascus, including three in the historic Bab Touma district of the Old City, according to the official Syrian news agency SANA.

 

Those strikes followed an onslaught of airstrikes by both Russian and Syrian warplanes against rebel-held towns and villages in Idlib on Sunday and Monday, in apparent retaliation for the downing of a Russian warplane in the province Saturday. At least three hospitals or health facilities were hit in the strikes, which recall some of the worst periods of the war. The Syrian Network for Human Rights said that at least 260 civilians had died in airstrikes in Syria since December, including 88 children and 71 women. The Observatory said that more than 500 people had died in the recent upsurge of violence.

 

“We’re in emergency mode,” Moumtzis said as he described the numbers of people who are hungry, displaced or in need of immediate medical treatment. “There’s a dramatic deterioration . . . and the situation is desperate for the people on the ground.” The incursion by the Turkish army into the Kurdish-controlled enclave of Afrin has further complicated the war, displacing more than 15,000 people and adding new obstacles to efforts to resolve the war.          

 

 

Contents

AS RUSSIA CARVES UP SYRIA, US MAY BE DRAWN INTO WAR

Benny Avni

New York Post, Feb. 6, 2018

 

It turns out trying to stay on the sidelines of the Syrian civil war may be the very thing that drags us into it with both feet. For three weeks now Turkish jets have bombarded America’s Kurdish allies in northern Syria. Kurdish fighters, known as YPG, have battled hard on our behalf for years. More than anyone they’re responsible for chasing ISIS out of its Syrian strongholds.

 

And US Special Forces are still stationed alongside YPG Kurds near that area. Washington has warned Ankara, but how long before an American is, God forbid, hit in a Turkish air attack? Yes, Ankara is increasingly at odds with Washington on a host of issues, but Turkey’s still a NATO member. A deadly incident is bound not only to further sour relations, but also create a rift within the wider alliance.

 

Meanwhile, Iran has condemned Ankara’s airstrikes even while it’s been just as aggressive in its zone of influence, establishing a military foothold in southwest Syria, just across from Israeli positions on the Golan Heights. Last week, Russia hosted Turkey and Iran at Sochi, where the three allies continued their attempts to carve up postwar Syria. At the same time, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu popped up in Moscow to deliver a warning to President Vladimir Putin: Israel, he made clear, will prevent Iran from establishing a beachhead near its border — by force, if necessary.

 

But Staffan de Mistura, UN Secretary General António Guterres’ Syria envoy, told me Israel’s concerns weren’t even discussed at Sochi, and aren’t being considered in the Geneva-based peace process established by the UN Security Council. Fact is, Russia, Turkey and Iran increasingly dominate the endgame of the long Syria war, taking over the diplomatic effort to shape the country’s future the same way Moscow stepped in on the battlefield to help create the conditions ripe for its diplomatic and geopolitical coup.

 

Once America made clear it was all but disinterested in Syria, Russia took over, leading a military effort to save the hide of the Damascus butcher, Bashar al-Assad. Even as Assad, with Russia’s help, mops up the remaining Sunni rebel holdouts, the war’s horrors are as vivid as they’ve been throughout its seven-year duration. Just this past Sunday, Assad attacked in the Idlib region with what looks, smells and kills like chemical weapons. Syrian civilians, displaying the now-too-familiar symptoms of gas poisoning, including foaming mouths, crowded local hospitals — at least the ones that weren’t recently bombed by the Syrian army and its Russian allies.

 

We can’t say for sure whether chlorine, sarin or another substance was used, or who used it, because Russia recently vetoed several attempts to renew the mandate of a United Nations team charged with investigating such things. (Moscow was angry the team previously concluded Assad was responsible for earlier chemical attacks.) UN Ambassador Nikki Haley denounced Russia Monday during an emergency Security Council meeting, but so what? After initially Tomahawking a Syrian chemical-manufacturing base early on in the Trump presidency, America is reverting to doing little beyond expressing outrage.

 

And we lag behind on the diplomatic front as well. Initially, Guterres and de Mistura were supposed to lead the Geneva process. That process is stuck now, and even de Mistura takes his cues from Moscow, bowing to the facts on the ground. And anyway, has Sochi, where Russia dominates, replaced Geneva, where all powers, including America, were supposed to shape Syria’s future collectively? “I hope so,” Russian UN Ambassador Vasilly Nebenzia told me Monday. (Since Russia is ostensibly committed to the Geneva process, he then quickly corrected himself, saying the Sochi sessions just give a “major boost” to the Geneva process.)

 

So unless America flexes some diplomatic muscle, Russia, Turkey and Iran will settle Syria’s future, and carve it up according to their interests. They’re already doing so on the ground. Yes, the eventual division of Syria is all but inevitable. That’s why those with even a minimal stake in the future of the country must try to assure their interests are maintained. And us? For years, America mostly sat out the Syrian war, allowing Russia & Co. to dominate it. We’re playing catch-up now, but will that suffice to stop them from dictating the “peace” in the same bloody manner they’ve led the war?

 

 

Contents

TRUMP’S OBLIGATION TO SYRIA’S GAS ATTACK VICTIMS

Noah Rothman

Commentary, Feb. 6, 2018

 

In the space of a single month, the Syrian regime has reportedly deployed chlorine gas in civilian neighborhoods on six separate occasions. The Trump administration admirably declined to look away. The State Department demanded that the world “speak with one voice” in condemning these attacks, and was particularly hard on Syria’s benefactors in Moscow. “Russia ultimately bears responsibility for the victims in East Ghouta and countless other Syrians targeted with chemical weapons since Russia became involved in Syria,” said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson. Let’s suppose, though, that the world does not speak with one voice on Syria. What then? The Trump administration cannot now fall back on perfunctory statements of disapproval amid mass murder using chemical weapons. That is, unless this White House is prepared to abandon the laudable precedent it has set in defense of the defenseless.

 

Donald Trump did not waste time censuring Damascus in April of 2017, following reports that 80 civilians were subsequently killed and another 400 injured in a chemical attack on the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. The president acted. “Tonight, I ordered a targeted military stroke on the air base in Syria from where the chemical attack was launched,” Trump said. “Years of previous attempts at changing Assad’s behavior have all failed.” Trump proceeded to connect the global instability that has resulted from the metastatic Syrian civil war to the crimes against humanity executed by Assad and defended by the regime’s allies. “It is in this vital national security interest of the United States to prevent and deter the spread and use of deadly chemical weapons,” Trump concluded. He was correct; it would be a tragic shame if this administration proved they never meant a word of it.

 

The 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles that targeted aircraft, shelters, radar and air defense, ammunition bunkers, and fuel stores at the Al Shayrat airfield were dismissed as inconsequential by the Trump administration’s critics. They alleged that the strike was too small to have any lasting effect on Assad regime behavior, particularly since the administration informed Russia ahead of the strikes, which allowed for the evacuation of Syrian military personnel from the strike zone. But the targeted missile strikes did have the effect of deterring the Assad regime from using chemical weapons against civilians, and not just the Sarin that was used on Khan Sheikhoun; chlorine, too.

 

Amid reports that Syria was preparing another chemical attack on civilian populations, the White House confronted the threat early. “[If] Mr. Assad conducts another mass-murder attack using chemical weapons,” former White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer warned in June, “he and his military will pay a heavy price.” These threats worked. At least, for a time.

 

That time has passed. Today, surface-to-surface missiles containing chlorine gas are raining down on populous towns like Saraqeb in Idlib Province and the Damascus suburb of Eastern Ghouta. The United Nations is still investigating these attacks, but it has blamed Damascus for similar chlorine strikes on civilians in the recent past. Despite disappearing from the headlines in the West, the situation in Syria is growing worse by the day. The fighting is flaring up again, and civilians are suffering. “Humanitarian diplomacy seems to be totally impotent, we’re getting nowhere,” United Nations humanitarian adviser Jan Egeland said last week. He added that Assad’s forces had prevented UN humanitarian relief missions from accessing certain besieged areas, and aid convoys have not reached some parts of Syria in two months.

 

The Trump administration now faces a moment of truth. It could preserve the moral authority it purchased after declining to merely scold the Syrian regime for deploying weapons of mass destruction against civilians, or it could retreat into a defensive crouch and act like the Syrian regime’s de facto defense counsel. That, to their everlasting shame, was the Obama administration’s approach to the use of chlorine munitions in Syria.

 

At a May 2015 press conference in which he defended his administration’s efforts to secure a deal to stall Iran’s nuclear weapons development, Barack Obama was asked about reports of over 30 chlorine bombings in Syria in the space of just two months. His response was devoid of moral clarity. “We have seen reports about the use of chlorine in bombs that have the effect of chemical weapons,” Obama told reporters. “Chlorine itself is not listed as a chemical weapon, but when it is used in this fashion, can be considered a prohibited use of that particular chemical.” He went on to say that addressing the potential use of chemical weapons was a job for the international community and Russia, and added that the deal he made with Moscow that supposedly neutralized Assad’s chemical weapons stockpile was a wild success. “Those have been eliminated,” Obama insisted.

 

Chlorine is a dual-use chemical that has industrial applications and, as such, is not subject to the same global prohibition that nerve agents like Sarin and VX are. But the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons lists chlorine as a choking agent with potentially lethal battlefield applications. This revelation should surprise no one who has a cursory familiarity with the events of World War I. The last administration’s efforts to downplay the severity of chlorine attacks in Syria were grotesque. Obama’s appeal to Russia as a source of relief for the people of Syria—a nation that now actively blocks the international community’s efforts to extend the mandate of chemical weapons inspectors in Syria—was craven.

 

The last administration wanted to avoid the demands that history made on it, and it was a disgrace. Will the Trump administration abandon the course correction it embarked upon last April? Will it retreat to the same obtuse legalisms to which Obama appealed, even as the worst humanitarian and military crisis of this century intensifies? Will this president shirk his duty to humanity and to history, too?        

                       

                                                                       

Contents

WELCOME TO SYRIA 2.0

Jonathan Spyer

Foreign Policy, Jan. 25, 2018

 

The idea that Syria's civil war is winding down has been repeated so often in recent months as to become a cliché. It has never been entirely true. U.S. officials recently confirmed Washington's intention to indefinitely retain effective ownership of around 28 percent of Syrian territory, in partnership with the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces. But those plans are increasingly in conflict with the other major international players in the war-torn country. That includes America's erstwhile ally, Turkey, which recently launched "Operation Olive Branch," an incursion into the Kurdish-held Afrin canton in Syria's northwest. Meanwhile, President Bashar al-Assad's regime is assaulting mainly Sunni Arab rebels to the south, and completing its conquest of the Abu Duhur airbase in the northern Idlib Province.

 

All this bloodshed doesn't just spoil Washington's plans — it also calls into question whether the participants in the Syrian war are anywhere close, to quote another cliché, to "bleeding themselves out." Even if the dynamics driving the overlapping conflicts of Syria's war are drawing to a close, they aren't generating a peaceful and orderly future for long-suffering Syrians. Rather, new conflicts are emerging fully formed from the wombs of the old.

 

Since mid-2014, there have been two parallel wars taking place on Syrian soil. The "original" war is the fight between the Sunni Arab rebels and the Bashar al-Assad regime, which is centered on the more densely populated area of western Syria. The second war is the contest between the Islamic State and the U.S.-led global coalition assembled against it. Both these wars are indeed close to conclusion. The former war was decided in Assad's favor on Sept. 30, 2015 — the day that Russian aircraft appeared over the skies of Syria. The rebellion, lacking any but the most rudimentary anti-aircraft capacity, has found itself helpless against the combination of Russian air power and Iran-supported and supplied manpower.

 

The regime's survival, therefore, is no longer in doubt. But it is a different entity to the one that launched the war against anti-Assad protesters in the summer of 2011. Seven years later, the regime in Damascus is no longer about to dictate events in Syria as it once did, and instead it must defer to the wishes of those powers that ensured its survival.

 

The events of recent days in Afrin offer an instructive example. Assad himself expressed his adamant opposition to the Turkish incursion, saying that "[t]he brutal Turkish aggression on the Syrian town of Afrin cannot be separated from the Turkish regime's policy from the first day of Syria's crisis, which was essentially built on supporting terrorism and terrorist organizations." Faisal Mekdad, the regime's deputy foreign minister, told reporters in Damascus that Syria's forces were "ready to destroy Turkish air targets in the skies of the Syrian Arab Republic."

 

But Assad's Russian patrons evidently took a different view of the Turkish operation. Russian military personnel in the Kurdish enclave were withdrawn prior to the commencement of the Turkish operation. Turkish aircraft currently being used to bomb Kurdish positions in the Afrin region could not have crossed the border without Russian permission, given the presence of two Russian S-400 air defense batteries guaranteeing that Moscow can rid Syria's skies of any unwanted presence. Assad's government was required by the actual decision-makers to tolerate this situation — and true to form, it has not followed through on its threat to shoot down Turkish jets.

 

Similarly, recent events demonstrate the extent to which the rebellion is no longer essentially a Syrian phenomenon. The rebels taking part in the Afrin operation against Kurdish forces are effectively military contractors working on behalf of Turkish interests. These northern rebel groups — such as Faylaq al-Sham, Nour al-Din al-Zenki, and the Levant Front — have played this essentially subaltern, proxy role since the summer of 2016, when it became clear there was no longer any possibility of a strategic rebel victory over Assad.

 

Rebel factions are mainly now fighting for survival. Those based in Turkey or close to the border have no option but to serve as proxies for Ankara's ambitions. (Even the al Qaeda-associated Hayat Tahrir al-Sham group, which now dominates Idlib province, has a curious relationship of "soft coordination" with Turkey made necessary by the group's desire not to face Russian airpower.) The rebels farther south play a similar role for their Jordanian, American, or Israeli patrons…

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

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

U.S.-Led Forces Kill an Estimated 100 Syrian Regime Troops: Jacqueline Klimas, Politico, Feb. 7, 2018—In a major clash the U.S.-led military coalition in Syria has killed more than 100 troops allied with the regime of Bashar Assad — after some 500 soldiers backed by tanks launched what appeared to be a "coordinated attack" on a headquarters of rebel fighters being trained by American advisers, military officials revealed late Wednesday.

Syrian State Media: Air Defenses Intercept Israeli Missiles: Anna Ahronheim, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 7, 2018—Syrian air defenses intercepted several Israeli missiles targeting an Iranian base west of the capital of Damascus, Syrian state media claimed on Wednesday. Describing it as “a new Israeli aggression,” Syria’s official news agency SANA said Israeli fighter jets flying in Lebanese airspace fired a number of missiles toward the area of the Jamraya research center, targeting an Iranian base.

On Northern Syria Front Line, U.S. and Turkey Head Into Tense Face-off: Rod Nordland, New York Times, Feb. 7, 2018 Two senior American generals came to the front line outside the Syrian city of Manbij on Wednesday flying outsized American flags on their vehicles, in case pro-Turkish forces just the other side of the no man’s land, 20 yards away, did not realize who they were.

Haunted by Memories of Syrian Torture, Saved by Art: Aida Alami, New York Times, Feb. 2, 2018—Najah al-Bukai cannot forget. As an accomplished artist in Syria before the war, Mr. Bukai had long thought his photographic memory was his greatest asset, allowing him to recreate scenes on his sketch pads and canvases days, months and even years after he witnessed them. But now, after he has survived two stretches in the Syrian government’s notorious detention centers, his sharp memories only serve to haunt him.

 

                                                              

 

 

ISRAEL AND WEST “REVOLUTIONIZING” WAR WITH ADVANCED WEAPONS TECHNOLOGY, INCLUDING IRON DOME, F-35, & ROBOTICS

Threatened South to North, IDF Seeks Calm While Steeling for Worst: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Nov. 14, 2017— With tensions rising in the south amid fears that the Islamic Jihad terror group will attempt to avenge a tunnel demolition two weeks ago…

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter Aircraft: What It Brings to the IAF: Yaakov Lappin, BESA, Oct. 29, 2017— The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet is poised to become a key tool to help Israel stop Iran and its proxies from creating a threatening military outpost in Syria.

How Technology Is Revolutionizing War: Jeremy Rabkin & John Yoo, National Review, Nov. 14, 2017— In his 2017 inaugural address, President Trump protested that for decades the American people “subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military…

Canadian Forces Pull off a Rare Feat: a Procurement Triumph: Editorial, National Post, Nov. 3, 2017— The Canadian Forces may have recently pulled off a rare feat: a military procurement triumph.

 

On Topic Links

 

‘Israel Not Prepared for Drone Threat’: Yona Schnitzer, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 16, 2017

Don't Return Bodies For Nothing: Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, Israel Hayom, Nov. 6, 2017

Canada’s Peacekeeping Incoherence: Richard Shimooka & Don Macnamara, Globe & Mail, Nov. 14, 2017

North Korea and the Threat of Chemical Warfare: Theo Emery, New York Times, Oct. 27, 2017

                                                           

 

 

THREATENED SOUTH TO NORTH,

IDF SEEKS CALM WHILE STEELING FOR WORST

                                                       Judah Ari Gross

Times of Israel, Nov. 14, 2017

 

With tensions rising in the south amid fears that the Islamic Jihad terror group will attempt to avenge a tunnel demolition two weeks ago, the Israeli military is finding that striking a delicate balance between keeping terror groups from preparing for a future war and keeping the region relatively calm is easier said than done. While neither side may be gunning for a fight, a miscalculation by the IDF runs the risk of triggering a bloody tit-for-tat fight that can lead to all-out war.

 

For the past two weeks, the military has been trying to prevent such an escalation as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group has vowed revenge for the army’s demolition of its attack tunnel that crossed into Israeli territory from Gaza. Israel Defense Forces troops in southern Israel have been on alert following last month’s tunnel razing. In the army’s most recent measure, on Monday it deployed its Iron Dome missile defense system in central Israel — including at least one battery in the greater Tel Aviv region — out of concerns the group may retaliate with a barrage of rockets.

 

In addition to preparing for attack, the Israeli military has also been trying to prevent one, repeatedly warning against a retaliation in direct addresses to both the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Strip’s rulers, Hamas. The army blew up the tunnel, which originated in the Gazan city of Khan Younis and crossed into Israeli territory, near Kibbutz Kissufim, on October 30. In total, 14 terrorists were killed, two of them from Hamas and the rest from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, including two senior commanders. The bodies of five of the Islamic Jihad terrorists, who were working on the tunnel inside Israeli territory, were recovered by the IDF a few days later.

 

But according to the army, this high body count was not intentional. The goal for the operation, per the IDF, was the destruction of the tunnel, not assassination. In comments after the blast, IDF officials also noted that many of the terrorists died not in the explosion, but in botched rescue attempts. But the military stressed it does not regret the deaths of terrorists, after facing backlash from politicians who interpreted the officers’ comments as apologetic. In light of the body count, the military determined that the group “will have a hard time holding back.”

 

Incidentally, Tuesday also marks five years since the IDF killed then-Hamas military commander Ahmed Jabari in an airstrike, which sparked the week-long Operation Pillar of Defense campaign in Gaza. Palestinian terror groups have been known to carry out attacks to coincide with significant anniversaries. Former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin praised the military on Monday for preparing to counter the threats from Gaza, but warned it not to forget that “the northern front is Israel’s main focus — Assad, Hezbollah, and Iran will seek to challenge the IDF.”

 

On Saturday, Israel shot down a drone from Syria with a Patriot missile in the third such incident this year, which military officials say is an indication of Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s increasing brazenness in light of his successes in the country’s civil war. The army’s top brass and Israeli government officials are also currently locked in intense discussion with their American and Russian counterparts concerning a ceasefire agreement for southern Syria, especially the distance from Israel’s borders that Iran-backed militias will be allowed to operate.  While Iranian entrenchment along the Golan border presents a far greater strategic threat to Israel’s security in the long term, the more pressing concern seems to be the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, which could attack at any time.

 

When the IDF uncovered two Hamas attack tunnels that also crossed into Israeli territory last year, there was also concern of a potential retaliation, but this faded fairly rapidly. In those cases, however, there were no terrorist casualties, as in last month’s demolition. Late Saturday night, Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians, published a video message in Arabic directed to the Islamic Jihad leaders in Damascus, telling them that the IDF is aware of the group’s terror plots and that they are “playing with fire.” “We are aware of the plot that the Palestinian Islamic Jihad is planning against Israel,” Mordechai said. “Let it be clear: Any attack by the Islamic Jihad will be met with a powerful and determined Israeli response, not only against the Jihad, but also against Hamas,” warned the general.

 

The group responded a day later, saying the Israeli threats against its leaders constituted “an act of war,” and vowing to continue to try to carry out a revenge attack against Israel. “We reaffirm our right to respond to any aggression, including our right to respond to the crime of aggression on the resistance tunnel,” Islamic Jihad said.

 

In the eyes of the military, its strike on the tunnel was entirely justified, legally and morally, as it entered Israeli territory and threatened Israeli civilians. As such, the army feels, while it may smart, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad needs to just count its losses and move on. “They violated Israeli sovereignty. They were conducting an act of hostility against Israel. We were able to thwart that, and that is the end of the sentence,” said army spokesperson Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus in an extended interview with the Israel Project’s podcast on Monday. “And if they will try to aggress again, that will be met with significant resolve and power,” Conricus added.

 

On Monday, Israeli forces arrested a top commander of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, in what seems to be a non-verbal deterrent message to the terrorist group. The Shin Bet security service confirmed that Tariq Qa’adan, a senior officer in the Gaza-based terror group’s West Bank wing, was picked up by the IDF in Arrabeh, southwest of Jenin, in the northern West Bank. A Shin Bet official said Qa’adan was arrested “for being a member of a terrorist group.”

 

According to Yadlin, who now runs the esteemed Institute for National Security Studies think tank, the messages put out by Mordechai and the army’s spokesperson’s office are important tools to prevent escalation and also show a significant change in tack by the military since the 2014 Gaza war, known in Israel as Operation Protective Edge. “The messages and warnings that Israel has been sending to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) over the last couple of days are not incidental, but actually indicate concrete intel according to which PIJ plans to respond to the destruction of his terror tunnel into Israel,” Yadlin wrote on Twitter. “It seems Israel learned the lessons of Operation Protective Edge, and this time it will focus on hitting the heads of the organizations (with a particular focus on the chiefs of their military/terror branches) and their operational infrastructure,” he said.            

 

Contents

THE F-35 JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER AIRCRAFT: WHAT IT BRINGS TO THE IAF

Yaakov Lappin

BESA, Oct. 29, 2017

 

The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jet is poised to become a key tool to help Israel stop Iran and its proxies from creating a threatening military outpost in Syria. It will also play a leading role vis-à-vis Hezbollah’s heavily armed fortress in Lebanon. The Lockheed Martin-produced aircraft, which is due to become fully operational in December of this year, brings with it a number of new capabilities that ideally suit Israel’s requirements in terms of monitoring and, when necessary, striking Iranian-Hezbollah-Syrian military targets in Syria and Lebanon. The aircraft is well suited for the mission of selectively targeting the ongoing Iranian-Hezbollah weapons trafficking program.

 

The F-35 is an intelligence-gathering machine in a league of its own. It is able to deploy a range of sensors to gather detailed information on events on the ground. It can fuse unprecedented quantities of intelligence automatically, then share it with other aircraft and with the Israel Air Force’s (IAF) ground control stations.

 

This intelligence can then be sent to Israel’s Military Intelligence Directorate for further analysis and for the creation of a large databank of targets. This will provide Israel with a significantly enhanced picture of the activities of Iran, Hezbollah, and the Assad regime throughout the northern arena. It will also give Israel a strong starting position in the event of an escalation of the security situation, since these targets can be struck in the future.

 

In mid-October, an Assad regime SA-5 surface-to-air missile battery detected and fired upon Israeli jets, which were reportedly on an intelligence-gathering mission over Lebanon. That incident is an indication of a growing Iranian-Assad-Hezbollah determination to harass Israel’s intelligence operations. But the F-35, with its stealth capabilities, should be able to evade enemy radar detection, making such crucial missions smoother. Israeli F-35s could be sent to gather intelligence in contested air space filled with hostile radar systems and avoid detection.

 

IAF officials say they are also working on getting the F-35 to communicate effectively with the older, fourth-generation F-16s and F-15s. In combat situations, the F-35s would be able to spearhead operations, moving first into contested battle zones, striking enemy targets before being detected, and sending back valuable data to the fourth-generation aircraft. Such capabilities will be critical going forward, as both Syria and Lebanon have become filled with a variety of surface-to-air missile systems. Several different types of missile batteries are in the possession of Hezbollah and the Assad regime. In recent years, Russia has also stationed its advanced S-300 and S-400 batteries in Syria.

 

The F-35’s value in this increasingly complex and challenging environment is clear. It becomes even more pronounced when examining Israel’s need to improve its long-range strike capabilities in the event of a conflict with Iran. The F-35 has unique long-range capabilities. By 2024, Israel will have two full squadrons of F-35 A jets – a total of 50 aircraft. The last 17 of these jets were purchased by Israel in August of this year. The Planning and Organization Department within the IAF is in the midst of intensive preparations aimed at integrating the F-35 into daily operations.

 

The IAF expects the new aircraft to affect the way the rest of the air force operates and to boost Israeli capabilities across the board. The IDF’s ground forces, too, could experience its benefits. The F-35’s data could be relayed quickly to units on the ground, improving their lethality and battle space awareness. For now, the IAF is continuing to gather vast quantities of intelligence and engage in low-profile action against the radical Shi’ite axis to the north – but it is also planning for the possibility of open conflict. If such conflict unfolds, the IAF will unleash waves of heavy firepower never before seen in the region’s military history. The F-35’s unique awareness of its combat environment will let it take a leading role in such operations.                                                         

 

Contents

HOW TECHNOLOGY IS REVOLUTIONIZING WAR

          Jeremy Rabkin & John Yoo

National Review, Nov. 14, 2017

 

In his 2017 inaugural address, President Trump protested that for decades the American people “subsidized the armies of other countries while allowing for the very sad depletion of our military . . . spent trillions of dollars overseas while America’s infrastructure has fallen into disrepair and decay.” No longer would the United States waste its blood and treasure fighting abroad for the interests of others. “From this moment on,” Trump declared, “it’s going to be America first.” During the campaign, Trump had launched even sharper critiques of U.S. foreign policy. Paying attention to the interests of foreigners had led the United States into disastrous wars, most lamentably in Iraq. “We shouldn’t have been there, we shouldn’t have destroyed the country, and Saddam Hussein was a bad guy but he was good at one thing: killing terrorists,” Trump said during the campaign.

 

Despite such rhetoric, the administration did not pursue a foreign policy of isolationism or even non-interventionism. In the Middle East, the United States has not only continued fighting foes from its recent wars but gone beyond them. In April 2017, the Trump administration set aside the passivity of its predecessor and launched 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles against a Syrian air base in response to the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons. It expanded the American deployment of ground troops in the Syrian civil war, provided arms to Kurdish militias, and lent air and tactical support for Iraqi forces fighting the Islamic State terrorist group. U.S. troops continued to fight in Afghanistan against a resurgent Taliban, even going so far as to use a massive ordnance bomb against insurgent tunnels. Promising to “bomb the hell out of ISIS” during the campaign, Trump has authorized a significant increase in drone strikes and special operations by both the CIA and the U.S. armed forces.

 

In Asia, the Trump administration did not send U.S. forces into direct combat, but it resorted to the threat of force to support its foreign policy. To pressure the North Korean regime to halt its nuclear-weapons program, Trump dispatched the USS Vinson aircraft-carrier strike group and a nuclear submarine to the area. “There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea,” he said. “Absolutely.” His administration proposed a more aggressive response to China’s building of artificial islands in the South China Sea. “Building islands and then putting military assets on those islands is akin to Russia’s taking of Crimea. It’s taking of territory that others lay claim to,” Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said in his confirmation hearing. “We’re going to have to send China a clear signal that, first, the island-building stops, and second, your access to those islands also is not going to be allowed.” To enforce such demands would require more frequent freedom-of-navigation patrols and could even call for naval blockades.

 

For all that, President Trump shows little sign of reversing the Obama administration’s caution on risking American lives. He continues to criticize the U.S. interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan as “costly” — by which he seems to mean costly in American lives but also in budget allocations. The Trump administration faces a quandary. Restoring a muscular American foreign policy will demand a higher rate of operations and deployments, increasing costs and risking greater casualties. Though the administration has proposed increases in military spending, it remains cautious about costly foreign commitments.

 

Technology can help resolve this looming impasse. Robotics, the Internet, and space-based communications have increased productivity across the economy. These same advances may have a comparably transformative impact on military affairs. Unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) allow pilots to strike targets more precisely at reduced cost, with less harm to bystanders and less threat to themselves. Cyber weapons permit nations to impose disruptions on an adversary in more precisely targeted attacks and without physical destruction. Space-based networks enable militaries to locate their forces exactly, lead their troops more effectively, and target their enemies more precisely.

 

These new advances are turning military development away from the 20th century’s reliance on draft armies equipped with simple, yet lethal, mass-produced weapons. As nations use force that becomes more precise and discrete, they can consider changing rules developed in the era of mass armies and attrition warfare. The laws of war need not fuss over the line between targetable military and immune civilian assets when nations can rely on UAVs to deliver precision-guided munitions on particular targets.

 

As it is, reluctance to use force has led western nations to rely on economic sanctions, which punish entire populations. Drones and cyber attacks might achieve comparable results to economic sanctions by inflicting harm on the target state’s economy, but in a more precise manner. Such an approach may avoid unintended effects of sanctions and operate much more quickly and reliably, leaving adversaries less time to adapt to (or circumvent) sanctions. To make the most of those new capacities, we should rethink current legal formulas purporting to regulate when “military force” is lawful, and against what targets.

 

New weapons technologies could help the United States and its allies protect international stability. WMD proliferation, international terrorism, human-rights catastrophes, and rising regional powers are threatening the liberal international order constructed by the U.S. and its allies after World War II. Nations will be discouraged from confronting these problems with conventional force. But if new technology reduces the costs of war while improving its effectiveness, nations may turn to force more often to promote desirable ends. Promoting international stability remains a global public good, in that peace benefits all nations regardless of who pays for it. This gives nations a strong incentive to free-ride off the efforts of others to maintain international peace and security. If using force becomes less expensive and more effective, nations may turn to force more readily when the times require it. New weapons may be particularly helpful in situations where a large-scale military response would seem excessive but mere words seem insufficient.

 

In fact, new weapons technologies may produce the welcome benefit of reducing the harms of individual disputes. While the United States, among others, is rapidly developing new means of fighting, these innovations may limit war. Robotics can reduce harm to combatants and civilians by making attacks more precise and deadly. Cyber can more effectively target enemy military and civilian resources without risking direct injury to human beings or the destruction of physical structures. Space satellites will provide the sensors and communications that make possible the rapid, real-time marriage of intelligence and force, and future orbital weapons may create a viable defense to nuclear missiles.

                                                                       

 

Contents

CANADIAN FORCES PULL OFF A RARE FEAT: A PROCUREMENT TRIUMPH

Editorial

National Post, Nov. 3, 2017

 

The Canadian Forces may have recently pulled off a rare feat: a military procurement triumph. We are reluctant to even write these words, lest the cosmos note this aberration from the natural order of things and immediately smite the project. Barring otherworldly intervention, though, the recent conversion of MV Asterix is the kind of smart, efficient military procurement we see so rarely. Asterix is a large ship, originally intended to serve as a commercial vessel, which was rapidly refitted by Quebec’s Davie Shipyard to serve as a logistical support ship for the Royal Canadian Navy. She is completing sea trials now and will be ready for active service imminently, perhaps as early as this month.

 

A modern navy is only as effective as its logistics ships, floating warehouses that sail with the warships and provide stores of food, fuel, ammunition, spare parts and advanced medical care facilities for fleets on the move. In recent years, Canada had lost both of its support ships to a combination of old age, bad luck and political mismanagement.  Old age: the ships were well into their fifth decade when retired, and well behind the technological curve. Bad luck: both ships were suddenly retired after unforeseen crises — an onboard fire and a collision at sea, respectively. Political mismanagement: even though the fire and collision were unforeseeable, the need to replace the ships wasn’t, but both Liberal and Conservative governments had failed to invest the funds necessary to replace the vessels.

 

Without them, the Navy is essentially limited to being a coastal patrol force. New ships have been ordered, at an estimated cost of billions, but aren’t due until the early 2020s. Enter the Asterix. She will return a vital capability to the Navy, and the total cost of the project is less than $700 million — a comparative bargain. So much so that we question the need to wait for the new ships at all. The government should at least explore the possibility of repeating the process with another vessel, so that we can put one on both the east and west coasts. But at least the Navy can begin functioning as a proper fighting force again. We hope the success of this project, and its real economic and military advantages, are not overlooked by a government (and Navy) that needs all the good news it can get.

 

Contents

 

On Topic Links

 

‘Israel Not Prepared for Drone Threat’: Yona Schnitzer, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 16, 2017—he IDF has  yet to develop a suitable response to the threat of cross border drone attacks, State Comptroller Joseph Shapira said in a special report issued Wednesday that also looked at regulation of domestic drone use.

Don't Return Bodies For Nothing: Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror, Israel Hayom, Nov. 6, 2017—The Israel Defense Forces has racked up three recent achievements on the southern front: locating an attack tunnel leading into Israel and blowing it up; striking over a dozen terrorists, including senior Islamic Jihad operatives; and according to an IDF report on Sunday, holding on to bodies of the terrorists who were in the tunnel at the time of the strike.

Canada’s Peacekeeping Incoherence: Richard Shimooka & Don Macnamara, Globe & Mail, Nov. 14, 2017—Over the past few weeks there has been a renewed impetus toward Canada undertaking a new peacekeeping mission. While some of the motivations behind such an intervention are laudable, they present a number of challenges and considerations that should be fully understood before a commitment is made.

North Korea and the Threat of Chemical Warfare: Theo Emery, New York Times, Oct. 27, 2017—The war of words between President Trump and the North Korean leader Kim Jong-un over Pyongyang’s nuclear program has rattled nerves around the world. But the trial of two women in Malaysia for using the nerve agent VX to kill Mr. Kim’s half brother is a reminder that North Korea’s lethal arsenal isn’t limited to nuclear weapons. The North’s chemical weapons pose a grave risk to South Korea and to regional stability.

 

 

 

 

 

ORLANDO ATTACK RESULT OF JIHAD ON INFIDELS & FAILURE TO CONFRONT ISLAMIST ENEMY

Terrorism: Stop the Mud-Slinging, Fight the War: David Horovitz, Times of Israel, June 13, 2016— I don’t have a panacea to prevent terrorism, but amid all the hand-wringing and mud-slinging in the wake of Sunday’s massacre in Orlando, what’s striking — and unforgivable — is the absence of a strategic, international, coordinated bid to so much as try.

What We Really Need to Reject is Islamophobia-phobia: Kyle Smith, New York Post, June 13, 2016 — A dangerous mindset has taken hold in America, but it isn’t Islamophobia. It’s Islamophobia-phobia.

Orlando and Trump’s America: Roger Cohen, New York Times, June 13, 2016— Trump and “Brexit” represent action — any action — to shake things up. They are, to their supporters, the comeuppance smug elites deserve.

President Canute and Orlando: Bret Stephens, Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2016— In the spring of 2013  Barack Obama delivered the defining speech of his presidency on the subject of terrorism.

 

On Topic Links

 

Father of Orlando Massacre Suspect Omar Mateen Supports Taliban on his TV Show: Max Bearak, Washington Post, June 12, 2016

Trump Demands Obama’s Resignation For Avoiding Term “Radical Islam” on Orlando Terror: Abra Forman, Breaking Israel News, June 13, 2016

Clinton Fires Back on 'Radical Islam': Deeds Matter More Than Words: Bill Hoffmann, Newsmax, June 13, 2016

How Orlando Divides America: Margaret Wente, Globe & Mail, June 13, 2016

 

 

TERRORISM: STOP THE MUD-SLINGING, FIGHT THE WAR                                                       

David Horovitz                                                                                           

Times of Israel, June 13, 2016

 

I don’t have a panacea to prevent terrorism, but amid all the hand-wringing and mud-slinging in the wake of Sunday’s massacre in Orlando, what’s striking — and unforgivable — is the absence of a strategic, international, coordinated bid to so much as try.

 

We can all spend the next few days and weeks arguing about whether US President Barack Obama should have called the mass killing a case of Islamist terror, or whether that would have been a rush to judgment; and, for that matter, whether Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai should have invoked the occupation when discussing last Wednesday’s terrorist attack in Sarona Market, or whether that risked affording untenable legitimacy to the killings of four Israeli innocents. We can exercise ourselves, dominate the airwaves, and spend fortunes fighting and determining elections over what people are saying about terrorism. But wouldn’t it be smarter — and wouldn’t it be better for our prospects of staying alive — if we expended rather more serious thought, and budget, on the practical task of stopping the death cult extremists?

 

Specifically, that means a great deal more focus on each of three key areas: defending more effectively against the killers; taking the battle to them where necessary and feasible; and preventing the creation of the next waves.

 

Israel, though manifestly imperfect, has much to teach the world about defending against terrorism. As the Sarona attack bitterly underlined we have not halted it completely, but we have gradually improved techniques to make it harder for the killers to achieve their goals. The construction of the West Bank security barrier, relentless intelligence work, military operations to arrest would-be bombers and those who arm and inspire them, security coordination with the Palestinian Authority, the deployment of security guards at places where people gather in large numbers — all these and other steps gradually defeated the Second Intifada in the early years of this century, when our buses and our malls and our restaurants were being blown up on a weekly basis, and prevented a resurgence on a similar scale ever since.

 

Again, we are emphatically imperfect: Better intelligence, more security guards at Sarona, and a completed security fence would likely have averted last Wednesday’s killings. It is beyond scandalous that, more than a decade on, the West Bank barrier is still not finished, and the two Palestinian terrorists were thus able to enter Israel through one of the gaps. But Israel has learned, bloodily, a great deal about keeping terrorists at bay, and when politicians around the Western world wailed, in the wake of last November’s terrorist onslaught in Paris, that they simply could not deploy security guards at every concert arena, soccer stadium, restaurant, etc., we Israelis said to ourselves, Well, actually, you can. And, tragically, you may have to.

 

Get serious about defensive action, allocate the necessary resources, and you self-evidently raise your prospects of thwarting the killers. Reading about how Omar Mateen, the Orlando mass murderer, had twice been questioned by the FBI but then slipped off the radar after those interviews proved inconclusive, I was reminded of what Malcolm Hoenlein, the veteran head of US Jewry’s Conference of Presidents, said to me in an interview in February. The head of a “major security agency” in France, said Hoenlein, had told him that French intelligence had the Charlie Hebdo killers under surveillance until the Friday before that attack, but the agents were then redeployed to what was deemed to be a more pressing case, and thus brothers Saïd and Chérif Kouachi were not being tracked when, on January 7, they forced their way into the Paris offices of the satirical magazine and gunned down 11 people.

 

If France had budgeted more resources to its security agencies, it might have prevented that attack and the massacres that followed 10 months later. If the overstretched American security agencies are similarly bolstered, maybe the next Omar Mateen will not be able to slide away from the authorities and return with horrifying consequences.

 

When it comes to taking the offensive, again, Israel has more experience than we would have wished, and much of the world has been loath to learn from it. It was the notably Israel-empathetic George W. Bush, not Barack Obama, who told Israel to get out of the West Bank, and do so right away, when prime minister Ariel Sharon was stewarding Operation Defensive Shield in 2002 — destroying the Hamas and Fatah terror networks that were building bombs and training and dispatching suicide bombers. “I expect there to be withdrawal without delay,” Bush said that April, following a dreadful, bloody March in which over 100 Israeli civilians had been killed in terror attacks that culminated in the Netanya Passover eve massacre. Had Sharon heeded Bush, let there be no doubt, the bombings would have continued. Had Israel ceased its intermittent incursions into Palestinian cities ever since, Israel would now be in the midst of another full-fledged intifada, rather than what by our standards is a “low-level” terror war.

 

In considering when a more proactive stance might be appropriate, it seems to me that failing to support Iranians’ efforts to stand up to their regime, doing one’s best to ignore an escalating civil war in Syria for years, and now watching unhelpfully from the side as Egypt’s president attempts to marginalize Islamic extremism, are not the smartest approaches. Not when Tehran is the world’s leading state sponsor of terrorism, when the Syrian civil war has prompted a vast river of refugees with who knows how many killers hiding among them, and when Egypt could so easily fall again into the grip of the Muslim Brotherhood. The West cannot afford to try to disengage from the Middle East. Its extremists bite back. Sometimes, the enemy has to be tackled at source — prudently, cool-headedly, but tackled, nonetheless.

 

Finally, and most importantly, the leaderships of those countries that delight in the gift of being alive need to focus strategic attention, and resources, on fighting extremism at its root — where tomorrow’s killers are being imbued with hatred, and are attaining the skills and means to make that hatred fatally plain. We may hear in the coming days, as we have in the wake of previous attacks, how it was that the Orlando killer was radicalized. Which spiritual leaders he heeded. Which websites he frequented. Where he gained practical information in preparing to carry out his devastating crime.

 

The political leaders, the spiritual leaders, the conventional and social media outlets, the educational frameworks that are breeding tomorrow’s killers continue to disseminate their toxins with near-impunity. Some of this dissemination of hatred can be tackled by the free world in the free world. Where, for instance, are the potent partnerships between politicians, jurists, intelligence agencies and internet platforms to grapple with the spread of murderous expertise online? And where is the concerted international effort to ban, defund and marginalize extremist leaders and teachers the world over, using every ounce of diplomatic and economic leverage that can be mustered?

 

Right now, untold numbers of would-be killers are honing their capabilities, seeking their targets, preparing to strike. Worse still, countless more potential death cult recruits are gradually being wooed to follow them. Shrill and contemptuous mud-slinging might provide a vent for fear and frustration. But it’s not going to win the war against terrorism. 

 

 

Contents                                                                                                                                           

WHAT WE REALLY NEED TO REJECT IS ISLAMOPHOBIA-PHOBIA

Kyle Smith                                       

   New York Post, June 13, 2016

 

A dangerous mindset has taken hold in America, but it isn’t Islamophobia. It’s Islamophobia-phobia. In a large and growing segment of American society, fear of being tagged “racist” about Muslims (though Islam is not a race) provides a much more direct threat to your livelihood than radical Islam. Former police officer Daniel Gilroy told Florida Today that he repeatedly raised red flags about Omar Mateen when both men worked at the same security firm, but his employer did nothing because Mateen was a Muslim.

 

The pattern is familiar. Before the Islamist attack that left 14 dead in San Bernardino last December, neighbor Aaron Elswick told ABC 7 News in Los Angeles that shooter Syed Farook was “kind of suspicious” and Elswick “wanted to report it” but “didn’t want to profile” him. Before Army Maj. Nidal Hasan murdered 13 people at Fort Hood in 2009, “He made his views known, and he was very vocal, he had extremely radical jihadist views,” Lt. Col. Val Finnell told FoxNews.com. Finnell took health-services classes with Hasan, who said, “I’m a Muslim first, and I hold the Shariah, the Islamic Law, before the United States Constitution,” according to Finnell. That statement alone disqualified Hasan from military service. No one did anything, Finnell added, because “they were too concerned about being politically correct.”

 

Perhaps nothing could have been done to stop Mateen’s rampage, but I have a sickening suspicion that we’re going to learn that many more warnings went unseen by those who blindfolded themselves with political correctness. No one wants Muslims to feel harassed as a class, but it’s silly to pretend that being a Muslim makes you just another patch in the glorious American quilt, like being black or Jewish or gay.

 

In a poll of British Muslims, a majority said homosexuality should be illegal. Nearly a quarter said Shariah law should be imposed in Britain. Four percent — that’s tens of thousands of people — admitted they sympathized with suicide bombers.

The Islamophobic-phobic-in-Chief pooh-poohs both the terrorist threat and its ideological root. President Obama likes to say that bathtubs kill more Americans than terrorists. I’d like to see him try that argument with the families of the victims of the Orlando massacre. Last year Obama actually chided us that we shouldn’t look askance at Islam because Christians committed violent acts, too, during the Crusades, 600 or so years ago. I’d like to see him tell the Orlando families that, too.

 

Obama is the avatar of the false moral equivalence that, having infected elite universities in the 1960s, has gradually metastasized to infect virtually the entire elite class of American society, along with a large chunk of the cringing, guilt-ridden bourgeoisie. The supreme rule is the severely undergraduate notion that everyone and everything is roughly equal. We like our ideas, but, hey, if you have a different point of view, that’s groovy, too.

 

Taking it to its most absurd conclusion, as Obama does, the ideal holds that Western liberal democracy and murderous medieval fanaticism should each be given a fair hearing. At his National Prayer Breakfast speech last year, Obama euphemistically referred to global jihad as “this”: “This is not unique to one group or one religion. There is a tendency in us, a sinful tendency that can pervert and distort our faith … We should start with some basic humility. I believe that the starting point of faith is some doubt — not being so full of yourself and so confident that you are right.”

 

They believe this, we believe that. Who’s to say who’s wrong? Obama’s response to the global culture clash is a shrug. When it comes to an ideology opposed to everything the US stands for — tolerance for gays being one of the top items on the list — Obama must be the first president in history to see himself as a trans-national figure who has to be scrupulously neutral about America’s role.

 

Hillary Clinton might be the second. In an unusually candid moment at Georgetown in 2014, she let slip that she saw Islamist fanatics as a sort of loyal opposition with reasonable requests: “Smart power,” she said then, means “showing respect even for one’s enemies. Trying to understand, insofar as psychologically possible, empathize with their perspective and point of view. Helping to define the problems, determine the solutions.” How would that work? “Omar, you want to massacre dozens of gays. Would you be willing to compromise on that?”

 

 

Contents                                                                                                                                                                                  

ORLANDO AND TRUMP’S AMERICA                                                                                       

Roger Cohen                                                                                                          

New York Times, June 13, 2016

 

Trump and “Brexit” represent action — any action — to shake things up. They are, to their supporters, the comeuppance smug elites deserve. On top of this, and feeding this, Islam is in epochal crisis. Its Sunni and Shiite branches are mired in violent confrontation. Its adjustment to the modern world has proved faltering and agonized enough to produce a metastasizing strain of violent anti-Western jihadist beliefs to which Mateen — like the San Bernardino shooters — was apparently susceptible.

 

That he shot revelers in a gay club suggests once again that Islam and sexuality constitute a particularly combustible realm. Liberal Western sexual mores are the most troubling affront to a certain strain of Islam. The resultant confrontation incubates explosive violence.

 

It is 12 years since Theo van Gogh was murdered in Amsterdam by a Dutch-Moroccan Muslim jihadi for making a movie about the treatment of women in Islam; and now homosexuals at the Pulse club in Orlando are targeted by an American citizen of Afghan descent who, it seems, had also found in Islamic extremism the ideological answer to his troubles.

 

It is poisonous to blame all the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims for this crisis of their religion. Trump’s self-congratulatory reiteration of his call for a temporary ban on non-American Muslims entering the United States exemplifies his violence-tinged politics of division. Michael Oren, the former Israeli ambassador to the United States, was quoted on Twitter hours after the massacre as saying: “If I were Trump, I’d emphasize the Muslim name, Omar Saddiqui Mateen. This changes race.” Later, he said Trump would do this, not that he had recommended it.

 

It is, however, also dangerous to ignore or belittle the potency of ISIS ideology, the core role it has played in recent violence from Paris to California, and the link between that ideology and the broader crisis of Islam. The favored phrase of the Obama administration in addressing this scourge — “violent extremism” — is vague to the point of evasive meaninglessness. Yes, jihadi terrorists are “violent extremists” but calling them that is like calling Nazism a reaction to German humiliation in World War I: true but wholly inadequate…

 

President Barack Obama described the shooting as “an act of terror and an act of hate.” He made clear his disapproval of gun laws. He called for solidarity. He said nothing about ISIS, or the way the Islamic State’s hold on territory in Syria and Iraq reinforces the charismatic potency of its ideological appeal, disseminated from that base through the internet. He also said this: “To actively do nothing is a decision as well.”

 

Yes, to have actively done nothing in Syria over more than five years of war — so allowing part of the country to become an ISIS stronghold, contributing to a massive refugee crisis in Europe, acquiescing to slaughter and displacement on a devastating scale, undermining America’s word in the world, and granting open season for President Vladimir Putin to strut his stuff — amounts to the greatest foreign policy failure of the Obama administration. It has made the world far more dangerous. I hope for the best but fear the victory of the politics of anger in America and Europe.        

 

 

Contents           

 

             

PRESIDENT CANUTE AND ORLANDO                                                                                               

Bret Stephens                                

Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2016

 

In the spring of 2013 Barack Obama delivered the defining speech of his presidency on the subject of terrorism. Its premise was wrong, as was its thesis, as were its predictions and recommendations. We are now paying the price for this cascade of folly.

 

“Today, Osama bin Laden is dead, and so are most of his top lieutenants,” the president boasted at the National Defense University, in Washington, D.C. “There have been no large-scale attacks on the United States, and our homeland is more secure.” The “future of terrorism,” he explained, consisted of “less capable” al Qaeda affiliates, “localized threats” against Westerners in faraway places such as Algeria, and homegrown killers like the Boston Marathon bombers.

 

All of this suggested that it was time to call it quits on what Mr. Obama derided as “a boundless ‘global war on terror.’ ” That meant sharply curtailing drone strikes, completing the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan, and closing Guantanamo prison. It meant renewing efforts “to promote peace between Israelis and Palestinians” and seeking “transitions to democracy” in Libya and Egypt. And it meant working with Congress to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against al Qaeda. “This war, like all wars, must end,” he said. “That’s what history advises. That’s what our democracy demands.”

 

King Canute of legend stood on an English shoreline and ordered the tide to recede. President Canute stood before a Beltway audience and ordered the war to end. Neither tide nor war obeyed. In 2010, al Qaeda in Iraq—Islamic State’s predecessor—was “dead on its feet,” as terrorism expert Michael Knights told Congress. World-wide, the U.S. government estimated al Qaeda’s total strength at no more than 4,000 fighters. That was the result of George W. Bush’s surge in Iraq, of Mr. Obama’s own surge in Afghanistan, and of the aggressive campaign of drone killings in Pakistan and Yemen.

 

But then the Obama Doctrine kicked in. Between 2010 and 2013 the number of jihadists world-wide doubled, to 100,000, while the number of jihadist groups rose by 58%, according to a Rand Corp. study. That was before ISIS declared its caliphate. Today, the U.S. government estimates that ISIS can count on as many as 25,000 fighters. This is after a two-year campaign of airstrikes to destroy the group. In Libya alone, U.S. intelligence recently doubled its estimate of ISIS fighters, to as many as 6,000. Even “core” al Qaeda is surging again in its Afghan and Pakistani heartland, thanks in part to the military gains the Taliban have made in the face of America’s withdrawal.

 

Apologists for Mr. Obama will rejoin that it’s unfair to blame him for trends in terrorism, an argument that would have more credibility if he hadn’t been so eager to take credit for those trends only three years ago. The same apologists also claim that the U.S. cannot possibly cure what ails the Middle East, and that no law-enforcement agency can stop a lone-wolf terrorist such as  Omar Mateen.

 

But these arguments fail. The rise of ISIS was a predictable result of Mr. Obama’s abdication in Iraq and especially Syria—a result Mr. Obama himself foresaw in his 2013 speech. “We must strengthen the opposition in Syria, while isolating extremist elements,” he said, “because the end of a tyrant must not give way to the tyranny of terrorism.” Was the opposition strengthened? Were the extremists isolated? As for lone wolves, one study from last year cited 38 cases of “lone wolf” terrorism between 1940 and 2001, another 12 during the eight years of the Bush administration—and more than 50 since then.

The phenomenon is catching in part because ISIS is canny at using the internet and social media to attract and activate recruits. But what ISIS mainly does is give aimless and insignificant young men what most young men secretly crave—a cause worth dying for. When Mr. Obama attempts to reassure Americans by suggesting, as he did Monday, that Mateen was not part of “a larger plot,” he demonstrates once again that he doesn’t understand the enemy. ISIS, al Qaeda and other jihadist groups are not criminal conspiracies. They are a religious movement. No coordination is required for the true believer to put his faith into action.

 

It would require more humility than Mr. Obama is capable of mustering to admit that what happened in Orlando is also a consequence of his decisions—of allowing Iraq and Syria to descend to chaos; of pretending that we could call off the war on terror because fighting it didn’t fit a political narrative; of failing to defeat ISIS swiftly and utterly; of refusing to recognize the religious roots of terror; of treating the massacre in San Bernardino as an opportunity to lecture Americans about Islamophobia, and Orlando as another argument for gun control. This is the president’s record. His successor will have to do better to avoid future Orlandos. Will she?    

 

Contents     

      

On Topic Links

 

Father of Orlando Massacre Suspect Omar Mateen Supports Taliban on his TV Show: Max Bearak, Washington Post, June 12, 2016 —The father of Orlando massacre suspect Omar Mateen is an Afghan television personality who holds strong political views, including support for the Afghan Taliban.

Trump Demands Obama’s Resignation For Avoiding Term “Radical Islam” on Orlando Terror: Abra Forman, Breaking Israel News, June 13, 2016 —Presumptive Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump demanded that President Barack Obama resign on Sunday after the president made a statement about the horrific Orlando terror attack without using the words “radical Islam”.

Clinton Fires Back on 'Radical Islam': Deeds Matter More Than Words: Bill Hoffmann, Newsmax, June 13, 2016 —Hillary Clinton on Monday slapped Donald Trump for complaining she won't say "radical Islam" in discussing terrorist ties to the Orlando nightclub massacre, telling NBC's "Today" show her favored term of "radical jihadism" means the same, but is less inflammatory.

How Orlando Divides America: Margaret Wente, Globe & Mail, June 13, 2016—Today, 9/11 seems as if it happened in another century. After the planes hit the towers, Americans stood united in their grief and solidarity. They cast aside their partisanship to mourn the dead.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

ISRAEL’S SUBS, ANTI-TUNNEL & SPACE TECH IMPROVE DEFENSE, WHILE US & CANADA SEEK COHERENT MILITARY STRATEGY

For Deterrence and the Second Nuclear Strike: Yossi Melman, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 13, 2016 — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, obsessed with his Holocaust fears and motivated by his political agenda, could not resist Tuesday hinting what has been so clear to the rest of the world for two decades…

Israel Developing ‘Underground’ Iron Dome: John Reed, FT, Feb. 3, 2016— The Iron Dome missile defence system is widely credited with helping protect Israel from aerial missile attack.

'Israel's Space Program Lagging Behind, as Iran's Surges Forward': Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Feb. 2, 2016— Inadequate investment and research in Israel’s civilian space program will have a harmful knock-on impact on military space industries, experts warned during a conference in Herzliya on Tuesday.

Peacekeeping is Fine, but Peace-Building is Essential — and it Works: Michael Den Tandt, National Post, Feb. 2, 2016 — Are Canadian soldiers, following a decade of militaristic tub-thumping by the former Conservative government, inordinately prepared for war, at the expense of peacekeeping and diplomacy?

The U.S. Has No Global Strategy: Holman W. Jenkins, Jr., Wall Street Journal, Jan. 29, 2016— Many Americans probably had misgivings when U.S. troops were withdrawn from Iraq in 2011, but even the most pessimistic must be surprised at how quickly things went south.

 

On Topic Links

 

The IDF’s Misplaced Trust in the PA: Caroline Glick, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 3, 2016

If the US Can Decrypt Vital Israeli Transmissions, Who Else Can?: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Jan. 29, 2016

IDF Moves Steel Formation as Part of Multi-Arena Force: Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 28, 2016

Dr. Eitan Shamir’s New Book on Military Command: BESA, Jan. 10, 2016

                  

               FOR DETERRENCE AND THE SECOND NUCLEAR STRIKE

  Yossi Melman                                           

                                             Jerusalem Post, Jan. 13, 2016

 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, obsessed with his Holocaust fears and motivated by his political agenda, could not resist Tuesday hinting what has been so clear to the rest of the world for two decades – the fact that the Israeli submarine fleet was mainly established for the purpose of deterrence and, according to foreign reports, to grant Israel the capability of a second nuclear strike.

 

On Tuesday, the Israel Navy’s fifth submarine anchored at Haifa Port after a 3,000 kilometer voyage from the German shipyards in Kiel where it was built. “Above all, our submarines serve to deter enemies that aspire to destroy us,” Netanyahu stated at the ceremony. The decision to build a significant submarine fleet was a result of strategic thinking and advantage of the circumstances.

 

In the 80s, Israel feared, as it does today, that the Middle East was going nuclear with Iraq’s efforts to build a nuclear bomb. At the same time, Israel was attacked by Iraqi Scud missiles during the first Gulf War in 1991. It turned out that German companies had supplied Iraq’s dictator, Saddam Hussein, with technology and materials for a suspected chemical weapons program. To cleanse its conscience, Germany agreed to finance the manufacturing of the first new Israeli submarines. According to foreign reports, this led to further German consent to subsidize more submarines for Israel as long as they were built in the Kiel shipyards, thus also helping the German economy. Thus, fat Germany financed half the cost of the Israeli submarine fleet.

 

According to foreign reports, Israel has upgraded the submarines to conform to its own unique needs, turning them into platforms to launch nuclear-tipped missiles. Navy experts, led by the late admiral Avraham Botzer, estimated that it would require at least nine subs to make the Israeli navy strategically effective. They argue that at any given moment three subs will be on routine missions, three at docks for maintenance and three always available to carry out strategic assignments.

 

Indeed, until recently, the Israel Navy was on its way to accomplish its strategic vision and mission as Germany agreed to subsidize the manufacturing of the sixth sub, according to foreign reports. But then a new reality emerged. IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, under budgetary pressure, decided to postpone the purchase of the sixth sub – a decision that was only natural since it coincided with recent developments regarding Iran since the naval build up was primarily aimed to be a deterrence against Iranian efforts to achieve nuclear capabilities.

 

Once Iran’s aspirations were suppressed by the nuclear agreement reached last summer with the world powers, Israel had more leeway and breathing space, so it was decided that the purchase of sixth sub would be delayed to take place by 2020. In the meantime, the submarine fleet will continue to perform its other capabilities in long-range intelligence and clandestine missions in the Mediterranean, and according to foreign reports, in the Red Sea and even the Indian Ocean leading to the Persian Gulf.

 

 

Contents

                                       

ISRAEL DEVELOPING ‘UNDERGROUND’ IRON DOME                                          

                               John Reed

     FT, Feb. 3, 2016

 

The Iron Dome missile defence system is widely credited with helping protect Israel from aerial missile attack. Now the country’s military establishment and defence companies are developing technology to shield them on a new front: underground. The country’s ministry of defence this week confirmed that the US had earmarked $120m over three years to help it develop and produce a system to detect tunnels built by its enemies.

 

Israelis are describing the system as an underground equivalent of Iron Dome, the US-funded missile defence system that allowed Israel to destroy many of the rockets and mortars fired at it by Hamas and other militant groups from the Gaza Strip during Israeli military operations there in 2012 and 2014. In addition to uncovering the concrete-reinforced tunnels Hamas burrows in the sandy earth along Israel’s 60km-long border with Gaza, Israeli military planners say they need the system to detect tunnels built by the south Lebanon-based guerrilla group Hizbollah in the north. The US wants the technology to find tunnels used by criminal gangs to smuggle illegal immigrants or drugs across the Mexican border.

 

The Israeli companies Elbit Systems and Rafael Advanced Defence Systems — which developed Iron Dome — are among those developing the technology, both companies confirmed. However, they declined to discuss the project because of its sensitivity. Between 50 and 100 smaller companies are also involved in developing the technology needed to find tunnels, according to an Israeli engineer briefed on the details.

 

“We do whatever we can to find a technological solution,” Maj Gen Nitsan Alon, head of the Israel Defense Forces’ operations directorate, said at a briefing on Wednesday. He declined to give details of the technologies being tested, saying it would “help Hamas”.

 

News of the US-Israeli co-operation on anti-tunnel technology comes amid signs that Hamas is rebuilding its underground network, which Israel’s military targeted during Operation Protective Edge, its 2014 war against the militant group in Gaza. The Qassam Brigades, the Islamist group’s military wing, said two of its members were killed on Tuesday while working in a tunnel in the al-Nuseirat area of the central Gaza Strip. Last week, seven Hamas members were killed when a tunnel they were working on in eastern Gaza collapsed.

 

The IDF says it found and destroyed 32 tunnels during the 2014 war, and accused the militant group of using the tunnels to ambush soldiers, fire rockets or mortars, and carry out operations inside Israel. The war killed more than 2,100 Palestinians, 66 Israeli soldiers, and six civilians in Israel. The discovery of tunnels during the first days of the war brought angry accusations by Israelis against Benjamin Netanyahu, the rightwing prime minister, of having underestimated or missed the threat. In recent days, the government has been embarrassed again by reports from residents of southern border communities who said they heard sounds of underground digging.

 

On Monday, Mr Netanyahu said Israel was “working systematically and level-headedly against all threats”, including from Hamas. “If we are attacked from tunnels from the Gaza Strip, we will take very strong action against Hamas, much stronger than we took in Operation Protective Edge,” he said. However, Major General Alon said he thought Hamas “is not ready for another fight against Israel”. Notwithstanding the country’s technological prowess in many areas, finding the Hamas-built tunnel systems burrowed between 15 and 50 metres underground is proving elusive. Israel has been working on technology needed to detect tunnels for at least two decades.

 

While details of the systems now being tested along the Gaza border are not public, analysts said they would likely gather information from sensors planted in the ground, then use algorithms to interpret the data. They said detecting tunnels while they were being built — when vibrations and sounds might be detected — was less difficult than finding tunnels that had already been built. “The biggest problem is detecting a tunnel when it is already ready, and it is just a hole in the ground,” said Yiftah Shapir, an analyst at Israel’s Institute for National Security Studies. Mr Shapir said such tunnels might be detected using geophones, sensors used in the oil industry — along with controlled explosions — to detect geological features.

 

 

Contents

        

  'ISRAEL'S SPACE PROGRAM LAGGING BEHIND,

  AS IRAN'S SURGES FORWARD'

             Yaakov Lappin                                                           

   Jerusalem Post, Feb. 2, 2016

 

Inadequate investment and research in Israel’s civilian space program will have a harmful knock-on impact on military space industries, experts warned during a conference in Herzliya on Tuesday. Speaking at the 11th Ilan Ramon International Space Conference, held by the Fisher Institute for Air and Space Strategic Studies, Brig.- Gen. (res.) Abraham Assael, CEO of the institute, also described how the lifting of sanctions on Iran will speed up Tehran’s space program and missile development.

 

“After over a decade in which the Fisher Institute watched and examined the Israeli space industry, we can today say that without an innovative and dynamic civilian space industry, and without significant investment in research and development on the national and academic, as well as industrial levels, there is no future for sustainable space industry in the State of Israel,” said Assael, a former air force base and squadron commander.

 

Driven by need, Israel has in the past led space technology advances, particularly in the areas of small satellites and their launchers, he noted. “Today, we are moving forward in very measured steps while other space industries, like the Iranian space industry, are developing at a spedup rate,” Assael said. “The lifting of sanctions following the Iran nuclear agreement will cause its space program development to speed up. This will act as a legitimate engine driving Iranian technology in a range of fields and serving as a fertile ground for the development of matching military capabilities like the research and development of long-range missiles,” he cautioned.

 

Ofer Doron, head of Israel Aerospace Industries’ MBT Space Division, issued his own stark warning, saying Israel’s civilian satellite program is shrouded in uncertainty. “Israel has no space policy, and we are moving backwards,” Doron told the conference. He warned of inadequate educational and academic research to support Israel’s space agency, which could harm future technology and satellite development. “In most of these areas, there is no significant activity occurring in the State of Israel, and I can only be jealous of foreign space agencies around the world. A multi-year budget is required with a significant scope.

 

We need mechanisms that allow us to take advantage of the budget,” Doron said. “Even the low budget of the Israel Space Agency cannot be implemented. We need to leverage the great achievements of military space programs toward civilian applications so that budgets can have double uses. Without civilian licenses, which are the norm in the world, this simply will not work.”

 

The Israel Space Agency’s current annual budget stands at $15 million, matching the size of the Mexican, Swiss and South African programs. “If we make it five times bigger, we will be like Pakistan. We are behind Iran, Spain and Argentina and significantly behind European space agencies,” Doron said.

 

Contents

PEACEKEEPING IS FINE, BUT PEACE-BUILDING IS ESSENTIAL

— AND IT WORKS

Michael Den Tandt                                                             

    National Post, Feb. 2, 2016

 

Are Canadian soldiers, following a decade of militaristic tub-thumping by the former Conservative government, inordinately prepared for war, at the expense of peacekeeping and diplomacy? Judging from a new study done for a pair of left-leaning Ottawa think tanks, the Rideau Institute and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, you might assume so. The paper, by Royal Military College professor and peacekeeping specialist Walter Dorn, bears the stamp of academic authority. It is also, in one of its central thrusts, wrong.

 

Here’s the paragraph that leaps out: “The 2006–11 combat mission in Kandahar, Afghanistan, certainly gave CAF personnel valuable experience in combat and counter-insurgency (COIN) operations. While there are similarities between these types of missions and international peace operations, there are also fundamental differences in the training, preparation and practice of peacekeeping deployments. “War-fighting and COIN are enemy-centric, usually non-consensual missions that primarily involve offensive tactics, whereas peacekeeping is based on a trinity of alternative principles: consent of main conflicting parties, impartiality and the defensive use of force.”

 

In other words, the Afghan mission was all about destroying the enemy — killing the “detestable murderers and scumbags” of the Taliban, as former chief of defence staff Rick Hillier once put it, rather than trying to help the Afghans rebuild their war-torn, barren, desperately impoverished country. It’s yet another restatement of the Liberal narrative that emerged suddenly and fully-formed in the spring of 2006, coinciding miraculously with the accession of Stephen Harper’s Conservatives to power.

Liberal Jean Chretien had first sent Canadian soldiers to Afghanistan in 2002; Liberal Paul Martin had sent them in greater numbers beginning in 2005 and continuing in early 2006. That mission was framed from its inception as a combination of humanitarian aid, diplomacy and force protection, along with so-called “kinetic operations,” the purpose of which was to destroy the enemy.

 

None of this changed when the new government took over. Indeed, when I went to Afghanistan in the fall of 2007 — my second trip to the country — I found the Canadian military even more focused on reconstruction than it had been the previous year. We visited de-mining and police training projects near Kabul and a Provincial Reconstruction Team outpost in Kandahar City, Camp Nathan Smith,that had grown substantially since my first trip. Canadian soldiers stationed at the PRT supported local schools and engineering projects, operated “presence patrols” into the surrounding countryside, arranged meetings and held teas with local elders.

 

All the Canadian military engagement I saw in Afghanistan was primarily defensive in nature. In other words, the soldiers and their armaments were there to protect and support Canadian whole-of-government efforts to help local people. There were certainly also pure combat operations, run by special forces and other units, that I didn’t see. But there was a great deal of diplomacy and “peace-building.” It just didn’t draw a lot of attention back home.

 

Indeed, by 2007, the CF seemed almost desperate to draw attention to their reconstruction efforts. Presumably, this had something to do with the fact that, back in Ottawa, the political debate was all about combat casualties and detainee torture. I had numerous conversations with front-line soldiers in those years who were deeply frustrated by the tenor of debate in Canada which they deemed, to a person, to be shallow and misleading. They weren’t wrong. Canadian soldiers — sergeants primarily, not the officers, who were more circumspect — also told me numerous times how deeply relieved they were that the horribly failed “peacekeeping” era of the 1990s — Bosnia, Rwanda, Somalia — was a thing of the past.

 

In 2010, I travelled with Canada’s Disaster Assistance Response Team to Haiti in the aftermath of the Jan. 12 earthquake that destroyed much of the island’s infrastructure and killed several hundred thousand people. The D.A.R.T. was drawn from units across Canada, and many of its members had by then served in Afghanistan. Somehow, the demands of doing humanitarian relief in a chaotic and diplomatically fraught environment were not beyond them. Indeed they seemed to me to be exceptionally good at their jobs.

 

Would Canada’s military benefit from a re-start of some of the peacekeeping courses that fell by the wayside during the Harper years? Probably they would. Additional training, for whatever function, is worthwhile — and it was quite clear, in the aftermath of the Somalia debacle in 1993, that the Airborne Regiment’s spec-ops combat training had not prepared it adequately for the humanitarian complexities of that mission. 

 

But let’s not forget why we have armed forces to begin with. Following 9/11 and especially because of the Afghan war, the Canadian military was transformed from a chronically bureaucratized, under-gunned, under-resourced organization into a force capable of fighting a so-called three-block war – defence, diplomacy and development in the space of three city blocks, within a failed state. That transformation was hard-won and long overdue. It should not be set aside now simply because we have a new government intent on playing up its swords-into-ploughshares credentials.

 

Contents                                                           

                                                                         

                                   THE U.S. HAS NO GLOBAL STRATEGY                                                                                 

                                              Holman W. Jenkins, Jr.                                                                                               

                                      Wall Street Journal, Jan. 29, 2016

 

Many Americans probably had misgivings when U.S. troops were withdrawn from Iraq in 2011, but even the most pessimistic must be surprised at how quickly things went south. Turn on the TV news: Western Iraq, including the Sunni triangle that the U.S. once worked so hard to pacify, is in the hands of a terrorist group, Islamic State, radiating attacks as far as Paris, Jakarta and San Bernardino, Calif.

 

The battlefield where the U.S. spent most of its blood has become swept up into the chaos of next-door Syria. Refugees from the region are destabilizing Europe. Proxy forces, shadowy groups and national armies representing half a dozen countries are fighting on the ground and in the air. The world seems one incident away from World War III in the vacuum U.S. troops left behind—as when NATO member Turkey recently shot down a Russian jet.

 

Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates occasionally meets veterans of the Iraq and Afghan wars in his travels. What their effort bought seldom comes up. “We don’t really talk about where we are today,” he says. “You have to assume it’s very painful for a Marine who lost a buddy in Fallujah to see an outfit like ISIS in charge of Fallujah again. Was the sacrifice worth it?”

 

Mr. Gates, along with President George W. Bush and Gen. David Petraeus, was a prosecutor of the troop surge, a decision unpopular even in the Pentagon to double down on the Iraq war in 2006. His 2014 memoir, “Duty,” which a  New York Times  reviewer called “one of the best Washington memoirs ever,” makes clear that the suffering of U.S. troops weighed more and more heavily on him as he served under President Bush and then re-upped under President  Obama. Today, if the mess in Iraq comes up, he tells those who served there, “You accomplished your mission. It was the Iraqis that squandered our victory.”

 

But Mr. Gates also believes the outcome could have been different if the U.S. had kept troops in place. Islamic State wouldn’t have spread its influence across the border from Syria. More important than firepower, he says, was having a four-star representative of the U.S. military present who could “bring Sunni and Kurdish and Shia leaders together, make them talk to each other. When that process disappeared, all the external brakes on Maliki”—Iraq’s then-Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, whom Mr. Gates blames for the unraveling—“disappeared.”

 

In 2008 the Bush administration gritted its teeth and reached a Status of Forces Agreement with Mr. Maliki, keeping U.S. troops in place through 2011. Whether a second agreement was in the cards we may never know. “It was clear from the Bush experience that it was going to take the deep involvement of the president, really working the phones and twisting arms. And my impression is that that didn’t happen.”

 

Mr. Gates, 72, is making the rounds on behalf of his new book, “A Passion for Leadership,” drawing on his experience reforming large institutions, including the CIA under the first President Bush, the Pentagon and, his favorite job, as president of Texas A&M University from 2002-06. As we settle at a table at the bar in midtown Manhattan’s London hotel, Mr. Gates, the freshly minted author of a management book, appears less than impressed with the greatest management book of all time (by its author’s own estimate), “The Art of the Deal.”  Donald Trump “brings the same skill set to leadership in the public sector that I would bring to the New York real-estate market,” he says. “The skills don’t transfer. When he talks about making other countries do things, it’s just completely unrealistic.”…

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

 

On Topic

 

The IDF’s Misplaced Trust in the PA: Caroline Glick, Breaking Israel News, Feb. 3, 2016 —Amjad Sakari made no effort to hide his feelings and intentions towards Israel. The soldier in the Palestinian security forces filled his Facebook page with paeans to Saddam Hussein. Last weekend he published two posts indicating his imminent plan to carry out a terrorist attack.

If the US Can Decrypt Vital Israeli Transmissions, Who Else Can?: Judah Ari Gross, Times of Israel, Jan. 29, 2016—News that the United States and the United Kingdom have for years been tapping into the encrypted communications of Israel Air Force drones and fighter jets sent shock waves through Israel on Friday, with the story dominating the front pages of the country’s newspapers.

IDF Moves Steel Formation as Part of Multi-Arena Force: Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Jan. 28, 2016—This week the IDF’s Armored Division 162, also known as the Steel Formation, officially moved from the Central Command, where it has been based for nearly 40 years, to the Southern Command, marking a significant step in realizing plans by IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot to prepare the military for future challenges on Israel’s borders.

Dr. Eitan Shamir’s New Book on Military Command: BESA, Jan. 10, 2016—The Israel Ministry of Defense has published an updated and revised Hebrew edition of Dr. Eitan Shamir’s landmark book, Transforming Command (Stanford UP, 2011; Pikud Mesima, Modan, 2015). The book has been endorsed by General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, and has become required reading in many military academies including the US army, navy and marines, the UK military colleges, and in the IDF.

 

 

 

 

 

                  

 

 

 

CANADA WITHDRAWS, U.S. DOWN-SIZES, BUT—FACING IMMEDIATE THREATS—ISRAEL TAKES A PRO-ACTIVE MILITARY APPROACH

Canada Should Keep its Fighter Jets in the Middle East: Allan Levine, National Post, Oct. 26, 2015 — Given his busy schedule the past two months, you can forgive prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau for not having had the time to watch the first episode of season 5 of Homeland …

A New Phase to an Old Conflict: Yaakov Lappin, Jerusalem Post, Oct. 15, 2015— The spate of murderous, unorganized Palestinian attacks on Israelis probably won’t end any time soon.

Proactive Redemption in Responding to Palestinian Violence: Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen, BESA, Oct. 11, 2015— The ongoing discourse among Israeli cabinet members and, to a large extent among settler leaders, has been largely over how to provide security to Israelis.

Obama’s Military Policy: Down-Size While Threats Rise:  Michael O’Hanlon, Wall Street Journal, Oct. 28, 2015 — The Obama administration’s official policy on U.S. military ground forces is that they should no longer be sized for possible “large-scale prolonged stability operations.”

 

On Topic Links

 

IDF Prepares for Possible Combined Attack from Iranian-Backed Syrian Forces: Raphael Poch, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 3, 2015

US Military Intensifies Cooperation With Israel: Barbara Opall-Rome, Defense News,  Oct. 18, 2015

A Joint Israeli-Arab Attack on Iran?: Ehud Eilam, Israel Defense, Nov. 4, 2015

What Coordination? Russia and Israeli Warplanes Play Cat and Mouse Over Syria: Debka, Nov. 2, 2015

                                      

         

CANADA SHOULD KEEP ITS FIGHTER JETS IN THE MIDDLE EAST

Allan Levine                                                         

National Post, Oct. 26, 2015

 

Given his busy schedule the past two months, you can forgive prime minister-designate Justin Trudeau for not having had the time to watch the first episode of season 5 of Homeland, the intense television drama about the CIA and the realities of terrorism. He probably also has not had a chance to read Yale University historian Timothy Snyder’s new book, Black Earth: The Holocaust as History and Warning. Both should be on his to-do list before he carries through with his decision to withdraw Canadian fighter jets from the mission against the Islamic State.

 

In the new Homeland episode (mild spoilers ahead), CIA operative Peter Quinn (actor Rupert Friend), who has spent two years in Syria including the city of Al-Raqqah, now controlled by the Islamic State, is invited to offer his assessment of the U.S.-led bombing strategy to a room full of American decision-makers. “What strategy?” he poignantly asks them. He explains that ISIL does have a strategy based on its distorted interpretation of the Koran. “They’re gathering right now in Raqqah by the tens of thousands … and they know exactly what to do,” he says. “They call it the ‘end of times.’ What do you think the beheadings are about? The crucifixions and the revival of slavery? Do you think they make this shit up? … They’re there for one reason and one reason only to die for the Caliphate and usher in a world without infidels. That’s their strategy and it’s been that way since the 7th century.” Pressed further as to what he would suggest, he says that the Americans should dispatch 200,000 soldiers for a ground war and the same number of doctors and teachers. The officials tell him that’s not possible. Then, says, Quinn, “Hit reset. Pound Raqqah into a parking lot.”

 

That may be problematic, but it is probably not overstating the case: That the only way ISIL will be stopped is by a massive allied assault, precisely the same approach the west took with Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. Imagine if one of Trudeau’s Liberal Party predecessors, William Lyon Mackenzie King, had decided that Canadian participation in the Second World War would have consisted only of providing training.

 

Perhaps this is not an accurate comparison with what is transpiring in Syria and Iraq. Yet, Timothy Snyder’s new book, though far from perfect in its analysis, does provide insight into Hitler’s global strategy to rid the world of Jews and then reshape the planet. The Nazi plan for world domination was broader than ISIL’s quest to re-establish its Caliphate, yet both share an extreme and brutal mindset in which negotiation and diplomacy has no part.

 

Justin Trudeau may be correct that Canada’s six fighter jets are only minimally effective in the war against ISIL, but at least they are doing some damage. Doing nothing militarily is worse — and on the ground training of Iraqi troops, while helpful, is hardly the answer. It is difficult to figure out Trudeau’s exact thinking or logic on this issue. In an interview last January, London, Ont., radio host Andrew Lawton attempted without success to pin Trudeau down on explaining when he would consider it essential for Canada to participate in a ground war against terrorism. The best Lawton could obtain was Trudeau’s comment that: “I’ve never been against Canada engaging robustly against ISIS. What I have been concerned with is the prime minister’s choice around the way we should best do that.” Lawton had pointed out that a United Nations report had indicated that 8,400 Iraqi civilians had been killed by ISIL up to then.

 

“Well, I think it is warranted if there is a reasonable chance of success,” Trudeau explained further. “If there’s a way that Canada can offer expertise the rest of the world is unable to provide.” He also added that looking at conflicts in the Middle East that “very few people believe there is a military-only solution to what is going on in the Middle East … there are a lot of different paths that need to be taken by the international community to de-fang and neutralize ISIS.”

 

Two months later, during the debate in the House of Commons on extending and expanding the anti-ISIL mission into Syria, Trudeau asserted that “we are all committed to keeping Canadians safe.” He argued, as he still does, that Canada “does have a role to play in responding to humanitarian crises and security threats in the world” and “that when we deploy the Canadian Forces — especially into combat operations — there must be a clear mission and a clear role for Canada.”

 

Finally at the end of June, in an interview with Terry Milewski on CBC television’s Power & Politics, Trudeau once more was asked to explain his reasoning about confronting ISIL. “I was very much focused on making sure that Canada’s position is the right one for the long term,” he said. “And that’s where crossing the line from a non-combat mission into a combat mission is a decision that has to be taken very, very carefully and [responsibly]. And to be quite frank about it, the prime minister did not take that aspect of it very seriously. He preferred to play politics … ”

 

One cannot but get the feeling that it is Justin Trudeau who is now “playing politics.” Having made his promise to end the anti-ISIL air mission, he is stuck with it — even if it does not serve the larger and desperate needs of the thousands of people being terrorized by ISIL, and even if it leaves our allies left in the fight while Canada goes home. Whether Canadian CF-18’s are making a huge difference is not really the point; at least they are doing something pragmatic in a difficult battle that we cannot afford to lose. More talk, training and humanitarian aid are all important, but they are not going to produce the desired result. On this significant issue, Trudeau should try channelling Winston Churchill, not Neville Chamberlain.                                                                 

                                                                       

Contents                                                                                      

   

A NEW PHASE TO AN OLD CONFLICT                                             

Yaakov Lappin                                                               

Jerusalem Post, Oct. 15, 2015

 

The spate of murderous, unorganized Palestinian attacks on Israelis probably won’t end any time soon. Despite the complexity of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, this latest phase of terrorism is driven by the same fundamental force that has been behind all previous stages: The rejection by Palestinians of Israel’s existence in this land. As such, Israelis will have to stand firm in the face of the effort to terrorize them as security forces get down to the business of formulating effective ways to minimize the number of attacks.

 

The IDF is joining forces with the Israel Police, which is stretched to the limit, and has sent 10 companies of soldiers from Training Base One and other units to enable police to beef up their presence in every district. Additionally, the army has made available more than 20 Combat Collection Intelligence units to police in east Jerusalem. The units provide visual intelligence assistance to enable the police to identify in real time the movement of terrorists on their way to try and butcher Israeli civilians.

 

The IDF understands that if it does not help police reduce the level of attacks in east Jerusalem and Israeli cities, the violence will spread to the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. It is focused on the mission of seeking to improve Israelis’ sense of security and avoiding a situation in which Hamas, Islamic Jihad, Fatah-Tanzim and the Palestinian Authority’s own security forces join in the violence – a development that would dramatically escalate the situation.

 

Along the border with Gaza, the IDF deployed two additional battalions to cope with the new phenomenon of Palestinian rioters approaching the fence. Wherever rioters approach the border fence in the vicinity of Israeli communities, army units are under orders to respond more aggressively to ensure that civilians are not at risk. In cases where mobs riot near the fence in open areas, a more flexible response, which decreases the chances of casualties and a further escalation, is encouraged.

 

At the end of 2014, the IDF’s Military Intelligence assessed that the Palestinian arena was the most likely front to erupt. Yet, that does not mean the defense establishment is sure of where things are headed. This phase of terrorism is, despite the claims of terrorist organizations, unorganized, and it is coming from the depths of Palestinian society. This society is deeply radicalized, as polls show 16 percent of Gazans and 13% of West Bank Arabs support Islamic State. In Arab countries around Israel, this support is at between 3% and 4%.

 

This provides a clue to the depth of the pent-up hatred that is now coming to the fore. Certain triggers have amplified this rage, including PA President Mahmoud Abbas speech at the UN last month, when he transmitted a message of desperation to the General Assembly. According to the military’s assessments, systematic incitement to hate, false claims of a changing status quo at the Temple Mount and incidents like the deadly arson attack on the Duma family home all helped nourish the already-existing hate. A growing number of incidents in which settlers attack Palestinians in Area B of the West Bank could also prove explosive.

 

This is a new phase of an old conflict in which the spilling of blood and symbols of al-Aksa generate more attacks every day. Yet, away from east Jerusalem, in the West Bank, the IDF and the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) are continuing to keep a reasonable level of control over organized terrorism. The IDF maintains more soldiers in Judea and Samaria than all the forces under the Northern and Southern commands put together. It is these security personnel who risk their lives every night to make arrests based on accurate Shin Bet intelligence and stop organized terrorist cells from maturing into imminent threats.

 

Now, however, the fire is focused in east Jerusalem, and the IDF must adjust its operational and intelligence capabilities to deal with the new threat. A number of key restraining factors still remain in place. Hamas and Islamic Jihad are wary of an open conflict with Israel in Gaza, and are not firing rockets into Israel (though Islamic State-affiliated terrorists are, on occasion). Fatah is restraining its Tanzim militiamen in the West Bank from engaging the IDF in gun battles.

 

And the PA, despite its public rhetoric, continues to coordinate security with the IDF, which is a key Israeli interest (as well as serving the PA). PA forces are instrumental in holding back large Palestinian riots. The livelihoods of some 100,000 Palestinians continue to rely on Israel, a fact that prevents workers from swelling the ranks of the rioters. Given all of these factors, the IDF has not begun calling up its reserves. If this changes, it will mean the current efforts to contain and reduce the terrorist attacks have failed.      

                                                                       

                                                                       

Contents                                                                            

   

PROACTIVE REDEMPTION IN RESPONDING TO PALESTINIAN VIOLENCE                                              

Maj. Gen. (res.) Gershon Hacohen

BESA, Oct. 11, 2015

 

The ongoing discourse among Israeli cabinet members and, to a large extent among settler leaders, has been largely over how to provide security to Israelis. While this is obviously a valid objective, it has nevertheless locked Israel into a defensive posture.

 

Israel's defense doctrine, devised by Israel's first prime minster, David Ben-Gurion, seeks to transfer the battlefield into enemy territory, in part because Israel's narrow borders makes defensive maneuvering difficult. But the main reason why Ben-Gurion favored this approach was his belief that to win a war, even a defensive war, Israel had to seize the initiative. In other words: Israel must be proactive, rather than, reactive.

 

It is not enough to arrest those who killed Israelis after they perpetrated their crime. When you call such crimes terrorism, it blurs the need to figure out what the terrorists tried to achieve. Even if it is hard to pinpoint exactly who the masterminds are, the attacks create a trend that undermines Israel's strategic and vital interests and its very sovereignty in its capital.

 

Under the government's defensive strategy, the Israel Defense Forces is tasked with providing security. The government expects the IDF to take a series to steps to respond to the situation, with the expectation that the overall operational effect would lead to the ebbing of violence. But reality is more complex. When the Palestinians create a reality in which certain areas are essentially off bounds for Jews – as has been the case in the current reality we live in – they consider it an accomplishment.

 

Helping a derailed train get back on track is a technical solution that restores order. The job is done when the train resumes normal operation. But when it comes to the complex relations between human beings, even when calm is restored, a new reality is created. In this part of the world, to reshape reality according to one's preference, a proactive and strategic initiative is necessary. It is incumbent upon us to subscribe to a new modus operandi to effect the desired change by departing from the reactive pattern of behavior.

 

But what kind of proactive action would serve Israel in the current state of affairs? This question puts Israel (in) a critical crossroad that could define the very essence of our presence on this land: Do we want Israel to be a homeland where Jerusalem serves as the linchpin of statehood, with all the religious and national implications; or do we simply want a country that serves as a safe haven for persecuted Jews and is recognized by the international community?

 

At the height of the War of Independence, in 1948, Ben-Gurion explained why he set the capture of Jerusalem as a primary objective in the war. Speaking before the Zionist General Council, he said, "I don't need to tell you what value Jerusalem has had in the history of the Jewish people and the land of Israel and world. … If a land has a soul, then Jerusalem is the soul of the land of Israel, and the battle for Jerusalem is paramount, not just in a military sense. … We are duty bound to stand by Jerusalem, and it deserves it. The pledge we took on the rivers of Babylon is binding now as it was binding then, otherwise we would no longer be able to call ourselves the people of Israel."

 

Indeed, that pledge is recited by every Jewish groom: "If I forget thee, O Jerusalem, let my right hand forget her cunning." Jerusalem is a point in the universe that encapsulates the Jews' religion, nationhood and polity. The Palestinians also consider it as their national focal point. That is why the city has fueled this current conflagration.

 

In light of this reality, the government should do more than just approve the security establishment's operational plans. Proactive measures are required that go beyond the authority of security authorities. At the strategic level, the situation calls for increased construction in Judea and Samaria and in Jerusalem. Such action will serve the national interest, not just a narrow sectarian interest. At this critical juncture, those who view this land and country as a stepping stone for redemption and as a national homeland will act differently than those who view Israel merely as a safe haven. We have to make fateful choices that will shape our future here, and our decision should be clear.                              

                                               

                                                                  

Contents

   

OBAMA’S MILITARY POLICY: DOWN-SIZE WHILE THREATS RISE                                                             

Michael O’Hanlon                                                                                                                 

Wall Street Journal, Oct. 28, 2015

 

The Obama administration’s official policy on U.S. military ground forces is that they should no longer be sized for possible “large-scale prolonged stability operations.” The policy was stated in the administration’s 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance, and dutifully reasserted last year in the Pentagon’s signature planning document known as the Quadrennial Defense Review.

 

“Stabilization operations” can include the range of missions spanning counterinsurgency, state-building, large-scale counterterrorism, and large-scale relief activities conducted in anarchic conditions. Though constraints like sequestration have limited the money available for the U.S. military, the Obama policy calling for a smaller standing ground army reflects a deliberate strategy shift and not just a response to cost-cutting, since some other parts of the military are not being reduced.

 

It is understandable that in the aftermath of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, President Obama would want the military to avoid messy ground operations in the future and rely instead on drones, commandos and other specialized capabilities. But as a guide to long-term force planning, the order to end America’s ability to mount such large-scale missions is dangerous. It should be corrected by the next president before it does real harm to the nation’s military.

 

There are lots of reasons to worry about the effect of the edict. As a direct result of it, during the 2013 government shutdown standoff, Pentagon internal budget reviews contemplated an active-duty army of only 380,000 soldiers. That would have been less than half Reagan-era levels and almost 200,000 fewer than in the George W. Bush and early Obama years. Such a figure would also have been 100,000 fewer than in the Clinton years, when the world seemed somewhat safer than it does today.

 

Nonetheless, people such as former Chief of Naval Operations Gary Roughead have advocated an army of less than 300,000 full-time soldiers which, at least in terms of size, would barely leave it in the world’s top 10. The U.S. Army is already smaller than those of China, North Korea and India—even if one adds the Marine Corps’s 180,000 active-duty forces.

 

Such small-is-enough thinking echoes a romantic part of America’s past. For most of its first 150 years, the U.S. had a very modest standing army. Until the Civil War, the figure hovered around 15,000 soldiers, and after the war it declined to similar levels. At the turn of the 20th century, U.S. ground forces barely ranked in the top 20 in the world in size. After World War I they were cut back to a comparable standing, as America consciously sought to avoid the ways and mores of the European nation-states and their permanent militarization.

 

After World War II, the U.S. disbanded its armed forces so fast that five years later, in 1950, the nation that had recently wielded the greatest military machine in history was unable to fend off North Korean communists attacking the South. By Vietnam the U.S. had forgotten so much about the innate character of war that it wound up waging a counterinsurgency campaign that overemphasized tanks, artillery, B-52s and napalm.

 

After Vietnam, the national revulsion against messy ground war, combined with a fascination with precision-strike technology after Operation Desert Storm in 1990-91, persuaded us that traditional ground conflicts would not be repeated. As a result, the U.S. was caught off guard by the tactical requirements of counterinsurgency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

With defense budgets declining, China rising, and high-tech frontiers beckoning, the temptation is again to put all of our strategic eggs in the baskets of cyber operations, high-tech air and sea operations, robotics, space technologies and special forces. All are important and should be pursued in certain ways. But history suggests they will not be enough.

 

To protect core national security interests, the U.S. must anticipate a range of possible large-scale ground operations. Some—like scenarios involving Russia’s President Putin and aggression against the Baltic states, or conflict between the Koreas—have more the character of classic preparation for war. Others range from stabilization and relief missions after a massive tragedy or Indo-Pakistani war in South Asia, to a peace enforcement mission after a future peace deal in Syria, to a complex counterinsurgency alongside an Ebola outbreak in a place like northern Nigeria.

 

In every case, deterrence would be better than having to fight. But deterrence may fail. Each crisis could directly threaten the U.S. and its security, and could require American forces as part of a multinational coalition. This suggests that while the Army may not need to grow significantly, it should not be cut further.

 

It is one thing for President Obama to try to avoid more Mideast quagmires on his watch. It is quite another to direct the Army not to be ready for the plausible range of missions that history, as well as ongoing trends in demographics and technology and global politics, counsels us to anticipate. In our future defense planning, we should remember the old Bolshevik saw: You may not have an interest in war, but war may have an interest in you.

                                                                                              

 

On Topic

 

IDF Prepares for Possible Combined Attack from Iranian-Backed Syrian Forces: Raphael Poch, Breaking Israel News, Nov. 3, 2015 — A senior source in the IDF told Israeli media outlets that the Mount Hermon Brigade, the IDF brigade which sits closest to the Syrian border, is preparing to counter combined terrorist attacks from Iranian-backed forces in Syria.

Read more at https://www.breakingisraelnews.com/52843/idf-prepares-for-possible-combined-attack-from-iranian-backed-syrian-forces-idf/#zQ4Vu4SlGS7PfAhk.99

US Military Intensifies Cooperation With Israel: Barbara Opall-Rome, Defense News,  Oct. 18, 2015—The US and Israel are marking a jam-packed week of military-to-military cooperation that cuts across all services and command echelons, from America’s top-ranked officer – USMC Gen. Joseph Dunford – to members of the 15th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU), who are winding up a five-month deployment with rest and relaxation here in this Red Sea resort town.

A Joint Israeli-Arab Attack on Iran?: Ehud Eilam, Israel Defense, Nov. 4, 2015 —Israel and Sunni-led Arab states are worried that Iran might produce nuclear weapon, i.e. "the Bomb".

What Coordination? Russia and Israeli Warplanes Play Cat and Mouse Over Syria: Debka, Nov. 2, 2015—Syrian media reported an Israeli air force attack Sunday, Nov. 1, after two sorties Friday night against Syrian army and Hizballah bases in the Qalamoun Mountains on the Lebanese border.

BOLSTERED BY A SYMPATHETIC U.S., MEDIA, “PRO- PALESTINIANS,” & “TERROR TUNNELS”—HAMAS “HOLDS OUT”

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 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

John Kerry Has Hamas’ Back: So, Who Has Israel’s?: Lee Smith, Tablet, July 30, 2014— You know there’s something going on when Ha’aretz, the flagship of the Israeli left, reads like it’s being edited by Dick Cheney.                                                   

Why Hamas is Still Holding Out: Dr. Mordechai Kedar, Arutz Sheva, July 31, 2014: Before the start of Operation Protective Edge, an entire bevy of so-called "experts" appeared on Israeli media informing us of the weak state of Hamas…                     

Hamas Underground Warfare: Dr. Eado Hecht, Besa, July 27, 2014 — Underground warfare is not a new phenomenon – it started when humans were living in caves.

Who is the Real Enemy?: Masada Siegel, Times of Israel, July 27, 2013— I was working at CNN as a field producer on Sept 11, 2001.

 

On Topic Links

 

Message from the People of Israel to the World (Video): Israel Unseen, July 9, 2014

Pro-Israel Mensch of the Day: Marco Rubio (Video): Israeli Cool, July 22, 2014

Arab Leaders, Viewing Hamas as Worse Than Israel, Stay Silent: David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, July 30, 2013

Why Hamas Stores its Weapons Inside Hospitals, Mosques and Schools: Terrance McCoy, Washington Post, July 31, 2014

U.S. Senate: Support Israel's Right to Defend Itself: Ayelet Izraeli, Jerusalem Online, July 30, 2014

                               

JOHN KERRY HAS HAMAS’ BACK: SO, WHO HAS ISRAEL’S?     

Lee Smith                                                                                                                           

Tablet, July 30, 2014

 

You know there’s something going on when Ha’aretz, the flagship of the Israeli left, reads like it’s being edited by Dick Cheney. Last Friday Secretary of State John Kerry presented the Israeli cabinet with a draft of a ceasefire agreement that, in the words of Ha’aretz columnist Barak Ravid, “could have been penned by Khaled Meshal. It was everything Hamas could have hoped for.” The draft, Ravid explained, “recognized Hamas’ position in the Gaza Strip, promised the organization billions in donation funds and demanded no dismantling of rockets, tunnels or other heavy weaponry at Hamas’ disposal.” Accordingly, wrote another Ha’aretz columnist, Ari Shavit: “The Obama Administration proved once again that it is the best friend of its enemies, and the biggest enemy of its friends.”

 

The fact is that Ha’aretz is simply in step with Israeli public opinion. One poll, conducted by Israel’s Channel 10, showed that 87 percent of Israelis were in favor continuing the operation in Gaza, with another 69 percent in favor of toppling the organization that the White House wants to save. Another poll showed that 86.5 percent are against a ceasefire right now because “Hamas continues firing missiles on Israel, not all the tunnels have been found, and Hamas has not surrendered.” Therefore, explained one pollster, Netanyahu would be confronting the vast majority of Israel if he accepted, as Obama reportedly demanded in a phone call Sunday, an immediate ceasefire. “Qatar and Turkey are the biggest supporters of Hamas,” Netanyahu told President Obama, according to an Israeli transcript of a recording of the phone call. (A transcript the White House and prime minister's office now claim is false.) “It’s impossible to rely on them to be fair mediators.” To which Obama snidely responded: “I trust Qatar and Turkey. Israel is not in the position that it can choose its mediators.” When Netanyahu objected to Obama’s high-school mean-girl treatment—“I protest because Hamas can continue to launch rockets and use tunnels for terror attacks”—the president of the United States simply ignored him: “The ball’s in Israel’s court, and it must end all its military activities.”

 

Obama’s big theory of the Middle East seems to be that Israel is the least popular kid in the lunchroom, which means that it is lucky to have the United States as any kind of friend at all. But what neither the president nor his peripatetic secretary of State appear to have noticed is that the least popular kid among Middle Eastern leaders isn’t Bibi—it’s Obama. While self-infatuated postering may be the key to popularity among a certain segment of the president’s daughters’ peer group, it tends to go over badly with world leaders who face real threats—and who feel that America regularly lies to them. According to reports, Cairo was so angry that Kerry involved its regional rivals Qatar and Turkey in discussions over what new Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi considers a vital national interest that it refused to send its foreign minister to meet with Kerry in Paris. Not surprisingly, the Palestinian Authority, in whose name Obama and Kerry are supposedly acting, was also furious with the administration. Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party released a statement critical of the White House as well as his intra-Palestinian rivals: “Those who want Qatar or Turkey to represent them should leave and go live there.” The reality is that the ceasefire makes plain what the United States’ traditional regional partners have long feared: Obama is lining up against America’s traditional friends in the Middle East, with Jerusalem directly in the crosshairs.

 

It’s at times like this that Israel could use a powerful friend in Washington. When Israel is at war with a terrorist group that plotted to send hundreds of its members through tunnels to slaughter and kidnap thousands of Israelis this coming Rosh Hashanah, and the White House proposes a ceasefire agreement that works to the advantage of the terrorists, it makes you wish there was a large, well-funded lobbying organization that wasn’t afraid to remind the White House of the overwhelming American support for Israel among both Jews and Christians…Of course, the pro-Israel community does have an organization like that—or it did. Sure, AIPAC gets House and Senate members to sign letters supportive of Israel and makes statements of its own. On Monday, for instance, AIPAC President Robert Cohen said, “It is essential that the United States works closely with our democratic and indispensable ally, Israel, to ensure Jerusalem is able to keep its citizens safe from terror.” But it’s crunch time for Israel, and thus also for the organization that is supposed to represent most potently the U.S.-Israel friendship, a relationship Obama is crashing on behalf of Israel’s adversaries. So, the question is why won’t AIPAC say out loud what everyone, including the Israeli left, now sees plainly? Regardless of what Obama may feel in his “kishkes” about the Jewish state, his policies are hostile to Israel.

 

John Kerry was determined to broker a deal that would not only bring about a ceasefire but also preserve his failed peace process. The problem with his attempt to rescue his own public profile and salve his wounded ego was that he didn’t study the region carefully enough: Both Israel and Egypt consider the Muslim Brotherhood and its Palestinian iteration Hamas to be serious threats to their own national security, and it is hard to say that the fears of both governments aren’t well founded. Both Israel and Egypt found Kerry’s proposal way too favorable to Hamas. (Indeed, Kerry had told Hamas via a Qatari intermediary that many of the Palestinian terrorist group’s demands would be met.) That was too much for Kerry, who can’t stand to be left in the corner at the dance. As the secretary showed last week when a live mic caught him on Fox News saying “we have to get over there,” Kerry needs to be in the mix, to be holding important press conferences in foreign capitals and shaping big events. Accordingly, when Israel and Egypt showed Kerry the door, the only place left for him to go was Turkey and Qatar—who back Hamas. Now, so does John Kerry…

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

                                                                     

Contents                                                                                                                 

WHY HAMAS IS STILL HOLDING OUT                                                                

Dr. Mordechai Kedar                                                                                          

Arutz Sheva, July 31, 2014

 

Before the start of Operation Protective Edge, an entire bevy of so-called "experts" appeared on Israeli media informing us of the weak state of Hamas, how its oxygen supply is cut off because the smuggling tunnels from the Sinai are closed and Egypt has turned against it, as has Saudi Arabia; it cannot pay salaries, it wants to preserve the state it has created in Gaza at all costs – and so one and so forth. Because of that, they concluded, its power of resistance is limited and since we have the Iron Dome to protect us, our decision makers can act judiciously, using our military power – particularly from the air – which is immeasurably more massive than that of Hamas. Even the world is on our side, they said, and surprisingly, supports us.

 

Now, after four weeks of air attacks and two weeks of a ground operation, Gaza has seen over 1,200 of its people killed and 7,000 wounded, and has not capitulated, has not raised a white flag, continues to launch rockets to Tel Aviv and the south, and the Gazan population has not rebelled. Just imagine what would happen to Israel's government if something like that, G-d forbid, happened here. It has suddenly become clear that all the "weakness factors" attributed to Hamas – the closed smuggling tunnels that Sisi sealed, Saudi Arabia, money and state – do not have the effect the "experts" predicted for the organization. Perhaps Hamas is not exactly the organization these "experts" painted for us. Unfortunately, our mistakes result from continuing to look at the enemy through our own cultural lenses: we need money, a strong army, protection from rockets, friends in the region and international approval, and we think that if Hamas has none of these, it will be as weak as we would be if we lacked them. There is no greater error than that line of thought, because Hamas is the product of a vastly different culture where the strength and weakness factors are totally different from ours.

 

1. The Spiritual Element: The basic and most deep-seated difference between us is that Hamas depends on a "power player" in the form of Allah, who dwells on high. The organization's raison d'etre is a plan whose end goal is Allah's reign over the entire world and Hamas' activity is aimed at succeeding in that Jihad for Allah. Hamas fighters are filled with fervor and the bandanna on their heads says the "Shahada", the testimony that there is no deity besides Allah and that Mohammed is his prophet. Our army is fighting valiantly for our nation, people and land, all of which are human and tangible, and if a commander dares to write his soldiers something with an allusion to religion, he is attacked by the thought police of Haaretz, and defamed along with the Jewish message he was trying to put forward. (An allusion to IDF Brigadier General Winter, who wrote his soldiers a letter of encouragement using biblical expressions from the fight of David and Goliath and was attacked by anti-religious coercion advocates). Many of us have distanced ourselves from the "Power Player" who dwells on high and have erased the concept from our cultural experience. Hamas continues to stick to spiritual goals and in this regard, has the advantage.

 

2. Culture and Ethos: Our culture sanctifies life, health, education, progress and economic, scientific and civil success. Death negates all of these and therefore, naturally, we try to prevent it when it comes to our lives and also those of our enemies. The terror organizations in our region, on the other hand, sanctify death for Allah, and even mothers rejoice when their sons go out to die. This difference explains the fact that the over 1200 dead do not bring Hamas to ask for a ceasefire. As long as the dead are called "shaheeds", they are considered not dead, according to the Koran: "Do not think that those who have been killed for Allah are dead; they are alive and nourished by the hand of Allah (Chap. 3, v. `69). Hamas terrorists are proud of their often-used slogan: "The Jews wish for life and we wish for death." This is the reason for their using human shields, for even if those "shields" are killed, they are not really dead, so their death is not seen as something bad. In general, in the Middle East there is no dividing line between citizens and combatants, everyone is considered "the enemy".

 

3. Attitude to the Media: The media has a critical role to play in wartime, as it has direct influence on large audiences worldwide and determines the public's  opinion of the operation. Public opinion has immediate influence on politicians, who try to act in accordance with their voter's inclinations. Israel adheres to journalistic ethics and limits its announcements to the media, refraining from showing bodies, body parts and other horrors that can influence viewers. Hamas, on the other hand, does not care about causing people to  be shocked by horrible pictures of the dead and wounded, and supplies photographs that are intended to create a sympathetic audience. 4. Legal Restrictions: Israel is a country based on law, it limits military actions to the strictures of international law. Soldiers and officers can find themselves facing the Israeli courts or international ones. Hamas is not a state, does not act like one and does not limit its activities to the accepted laws of warfare. The obvious example: Israel attempts to prevent harm to non-involved citizens, while Hamas intentionally launches deadly rockets to heavily populated Israeli areas.

 

5. International Support: We have been hearing that "the world understands us" from the beginning of hostilities and therefore, that it supports our actions. However, this is a highly fragile support, easily shaken by one picture of a rocket – even a Hamas rocket – hitting a school. The change in America's position is a gigantic plug for Hamas' steadfastness, for even the US president has adopted Hamas conditions for ceasefire, first among them removing the sea blockade of Gaza, although at the beginning of the operation he supported Israel and its right to defend itself. Hamas enjoys unlimited and unquestioning outside support from Qatar and Turkey. Despite the losses and destruction in Gaza, those two countries will stream material and financial aid to Gaza, including building materials that will allow it to rehabilitate the organization, its weapons arsenals and rockets, enlist new soldiers, train and equip them as well as dig more tunnels so as to infiltrate Israel and sow death… 

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

 

 Contents

HAMAS UNDERGROUND WARFARE                                                

Dr. Eado Hecht             

Besa, July 27, 2014

                       

Underground warfare is not a new phenomenon – it started when humans were living in caves. However, it became a deliberate form of warfare when men began digging tunnels for military defensive and offensive use. Defensive tunnels were used to hide people and property from attackers. Offensive tunnels were used to infiltrate under defensive walls or to collapse these walls by undermining their foundations. The defenders of besieged cities and forts fought back, trying to locate the attackers’ tunnels by digging their own tunnels to break in and capture their enemies in hand-to-hand combat. The major problem for the defenders was locating the tunnels. Unless the attackers were careless, this was rare. The invention of gunpowder made siege and anti-siege tunnels much more effective – the sappers could be less accurate while navigating underground in order to hit the target.

During the First World War, hundreds of tunnels (called ‘mines’) were dug on the French front by armies on both sides of the conflict, under each other’s positions. These were packed with explosives and detonated, killing dozens of men, in some cases more than a hundred, with each attack. Since the First World War, tunnel warfare reverted mostly to defensive, smuggling or infiltration uses – the most famous and widespread use being during the Vietnam War. The Vietcong dug hundreds of kilometers of multi-level tunnels to live in, hiding from American forces and using them to ambush or raid the Americans. The Americans established a special unit, the Tunnel Rats, to discover and fight inside the tunnels. More recently, since the mid-1990s, Hezbollah has used tunnels to store weapons and protect personnel. At first these were only under Beirut and in central Lebanon. However, after the Israeli withdrawal in 2000, Hezbollah also began building them in southern Lebanon as underground combat positions for launching rockets and from which to conduct military operations against IDF units above ground. After the war in 2006, Hezbollah increased its investments in these tunnel complexes. Possibly, they are also working on cross-border tunnels into northern Israel.

 

The use of tunnels in Gaza began approximately a decade and a half ago, on the border with Egypt to smuggle weapons into Gaza under the IDF border security. Very quickly, in addition to smuggling weapons, the tunnel operators began importing civilian goods. After Israel withdrew from Gaza, the number of smuggling tunnels jumped from a few dozen to hundreds as more and more Gazans got involved in this lucrative business. Taxes imposed by the Hamas government on the imports were a major source of its revenue. After the Egyptian military overthrew the Muslim Brotherhood government, the new regime shut down these tunnels – this being one of the causes of the present economic crisis in Gaza. From 2001 the Palestinians began using explosive-filled tunnels to attack Israeli border-posts. However, they employed this tactic rarely because the effort far exceeded the benefit – casualties were light and it was much easier to achieve them by other means. In 2006 the Palestinians tried something new – a tunnel was dug underneath the Gaza-Israel border and an assault-team emerged behind an Israeli border-post. The Israeli soldiers were surprised – two were killed, one wounded and one abducted (Gilad Shalit).

 

After taking control of Gaza, Hamas began a project to build a maze of underground concrete bunkers connected with tunnels and multiple entrances/exits underneath the residential areas of Gaza. These underground complexes are fairly similar in concept to the Vietcong tunnels, though the quality of finishing is better with concrete walls and roofs, electricity and other required amenities for a lengthy sojourn. Their purpose is to enable the Hamas command structure to reside safely underground while their armed forces conduct a mobile defense against Israeli forces. Many of the tunnels are interconnected to enable traveling underground from one to the other with multiple camouflaged openings to emerge above ground in different locations (inside civilian houses, mosques, schools and other public buildings). This enables surprise attacks on the IDF units from different directions, allowing the attackers to then disappear again underground to emerge and attack somewhere else. The exact extent of these complexes is not known. The entrances and probably the tunnels themselves are booby-trapped with explosives. These were first used during Operation ‘Cast Lead’ (December 2008 – January 2009). They were deemed successful so the project was expanded and accelerated. After the failure of Hamas’ rocket forces to inflict significant damage on Israeli towns in November 2012 (Operation ‘Pillar of Defense’), Hamas apparently decided to build a large offensive tunnel capability that would enable them to infiltrate into Israeli villages within a few kilometers of the border or place large bombs underneath these villages. The IDF knew of this operation but failed to find and destroy more than a few tunnels…                                                                                                                            

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

                                                    

Contents

WHO IS THE REAL ENEMY?                                                                                     

Masada Siegel

Times of Israel, July 27, 2014

 

I was working at CNN as a field producer on Sept 11, 2001. In disbelief, I watched smoke pour out of the enormous gash in the World Trade Center. Soon after, the building started to fall. The next few weeks were filled with bomb scares. New Yorkers’ days were filled with crying friends, heroic firefighters and first responders all over the streets and the smell of death which permeated the city. Millions in NY, Washington DC and Pennsylvania were traumatized. New York City was officially a war zone. The USA went after the terrorists, after Al Qaeda, even eventually killing Osama Bin Ladin. The world for once was on America’s side, except of course for the Palestinians who were dancing in the streets, giving out candy and celebrating death in America.

 

In 2005, Israel voluntarily left Gaza. Israel’s soldiers were forced to uproot their fellow citizens from their homes, all in the name of peace. Gaza leadership has been destroying infrastructure ever since. First they destroyed empty buildings that were once synagogues, instead of using them for their own benefit. Also, Israeli settlers had built greenhouses to grow vegetables when they were living in Gaza. Instead of dismantling them before they left, the settlers sold them to American Jewish donors for $14 million. The green-houses were then transferred over to the Palestinian Authority in order to help create economic opportunities for the Palestinians. Former World Bank President James Wolfensohn, who brokered the deal, put up $500,000 of his own cash. In September of 2005, Palestinians looted dozens of greenhouses walking off with irrigation hoses, water pumps and plastic sheeting in a blow to fledgling efforts to reconstruct the Gaza Strip. The result was obvious; the Palestinians destroyed their own opportunity to rebuild. A multi-million dollar opportunity to create employment was ripped to shreds with no pushback from leadership. The destruction continued outside of Gaza with unending rockets firing at Israel – hundreds, thousands of rockets. For years now, the children in border town Stderot, Israel run to bomb shelters on a daily basis…

Hamas is a recognized terrorist organization dedicated to the destruction of Israel and of Jewish people. Men, women and children are all legitimate targets to kill. This is in their charter. What is not in their charter is to build bridges, infrastructure, schools and give women rights. That’s because they are not interested in freedom of the press, freedom of religion, education and gay rights. Hamas doesn’t build. It knows only how to tear down. So while the world defends Hamas, we might think about what our lives would be like if we were forced to live under an organization whose core beliefs is to kill.

 

When Israel was created as a state in 1948, the next day five Arab nations went to war against a new country. Israel has been fighting for survival ever since. Against all odds, so far Israel has succeeded. But not without an enormous challenge and psychological cost: in its 66 years of existence, it has suffered numerous wars, thousands of rocket attacks and dozens of suicide bombings. Over the past several years, thousands of rockets have been launched from Gaza, home to one of the supposed poorest people in the Middle East. How is there money for rockets but not food? How is there money for weapons and not infrastructure? Israel controls both the water and the electricity in Gaza. What country shoots rockets at another and still has their basic utilities turned on? Not to mention, Hamas is delinquent in paying their bills for these services. Billions of dollars from around the world have flooded into Gaza, where has the money gone? According to the Congressional Research Service, Since the establishment of Palestinian self-rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the mid-1990s, the U.S. government has committed about $5 billion in bilateral assistance to the Palestinians. Additionally, the United States is the largest single-state donor to the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UN-RWA). America has taken a keen interest in also helping the Palestinians develop an economic infrastructure. If the money was allocated properly; Gaza would have become the Singapore of the Middle-East, a thriving beach resort metropolis.

 

However, damning evidence is pointing directly to where the money has gone. Hamas built an underground city of tunnels from people’s homes in Gaza into Israel in order to kidnap and kill Israelis…Additionally, a second UN chartered school filled with missiles was found, not to mention a hospital being used as the headquarters of Hamas, where news briefings are held. Is a hospital an appropriate place for news briefings? Many media outlets, which are also businesses, need ratings and to make money. They find it much easier to show horrific photos of dead children instead of discussing facts and what alas has caused these innocent and unnecessary deaths and what could have prevented them. Perhaps that is why, earlier in the week, it was underreported when according to UN websites, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said “The United Nations position is clear: We condemn strongly the rocket attacks. These must stop immediately,” said Mr. Ban. “We condemn the use of civilian sites – schools, hospitals and other civilian facilities – for military purposes.”…

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

 

On Topic

 

Message from the People of Israel to the World (Video): Israel Unseen, July 9, 2014

Pro-Israel Mensch of the Day: Marco Rubio (Video): Israeli Cool, July 22, 2014

Arab Leaders, Viewing Hamas as Worse Than Israel, Stay Silent: David D. Kirkpatrick, New York Times, July 30, 2013—Battling Palestinian militants in Gaza two years ago, Israel found itself pressed from all sides by unfriendly Arab neighbors to end the fighting. Not this time.

Why Hamas Stores its Weapons Inside Hospitals, Mosques and Schools: Terrance McCoy, Washington Post, July 31, 2014 —Inside a Gaza Strip mosque in January 2009, nothing at first seemed unusual with the wooden pulpit pushed against the cement wall.

U.S. Senate: Support Israel's Right to Defend Itself: Ayelet Izraeli, Jerusalem Online, July 30, 2014—Diplomatic reinforcement from the U.S. to Israel in operation "Protective Edge": the U.S. Senate passed a resolution this morning (Wednesday) in which it supports Israel's right to defend itself from Gaza missile attacks.

                              

 

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

A “PRESIDENT WITH IMPUNITY”: WHILE ANTI-ISRAEL MEDIA SEIZES ON ABU KHDEIR MURDER, U.S. FOREIGN POLICY CONTINUES TO ALIENATE FRIENDS & EMBOLDEN TERRORISTS

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 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

Breaking News: THREE ISRAELI SUSPECTS CONFESS TO KILLING PALESTINIAN TEEN (Jerusalem) —Three Israeli suspects in the killing of a Palestinian teenager last week confessed to the crime on Monday. The confessions came as tensions continued to rise along Israel’s front with the Gaza Strip. Israeli airstrikes, launched in response to persistent rocket fire, killed at least eight Palestinians. The Hamas terrorist group vowed revenge, saying “the enemy will pay a tremendous price.” The region has been on edge since three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed in the West Bank. Last week, hours after the Israeli teens were buried, 16-year-old Mohammed Abu Khdeir was abducted from outside his home in east Jerusalem, and his charred remains were found shortly afterward in a Jerusalem forest. His death triggered days of violent protests in Arab areas of Jerusalem and northern Israel. The Jewish suspects have not been identified. (New York Post, July 7, 2014)

 

Contents:

 

How Obama Lost the Middle East: Victor Davis Hanson, National Review, July 3, 2013— In his first term, Barack Obama all but declared victory in America’s Middle East struggles.

The Daydream and the Nightmare: Peggy Noonan, Wall Street Journal, July 4, 2014— I don't know if we sufficiently understand how weird and strange, how historically unparalleled, this presidency has become.

Obama Knows He Can Ignore Scandal With Impunity: Andrew C. McCarthy, New York Post, May 31, 2014 — President Obama’s record of lawlessness is prodigious.

No Moral Symmetry: David M. Weinberg, Israel Hayom, July 7, 2013— Muhammad Abu Khdeir’s murder is well on its way to becoming a core building block in the pantheon of anti-Israel propaganda, a central plank in the false argument that Israelis are just as murderous as the Palestinians. That Israelis are no more moral than the Palestinians.

 

On Topic Links

 

Why the Arab World Is Lost in an Emotional Nakba, and How We Keep It There: Richard Landes, Tablet, June 24, 2014

Government by Fiat: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, June 26, 2014

The Collapsing Obama Doctrine: Dick Cheney & Liz Cheney, Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2014

Obama Speaks Loudly and Carries a Small Stick: Amir Taheri, New York Post, May 31, 2014

 

 

HOW OBAMA LOST THE MIDDLE EAST                                                              Victor Davis Hanson                                                                                         

National Review, July 3, 2014

 

In his first term, Barack Obama all but declared victory in America’s Middle East struggles. As he precipitously pulled out all U.S. peacekeepers from Iraq, the president had his own “Mission Accomplished” moment when declaring the country “stable,” “self-reliant,” and an “extraordinary achievement.” Those claims echoed Vice President Joe Biden’s earlier boast that Iraq somehow would prove Obama’s “greatest achievement.” After the death of Osama bin Laden, and during Obama’s reelection campaign, the president also proclaimed that al-Qaeda was a spent force and “on the run.”

 

But what exactly was the new Obama strategy that supposedly had all but achieved a victory in the larger War on Terror amid Middle East hostility? Fuzzy euphemisms replaced supposedly hurtful terms such as “terrorism,” “jihadist,” and “Islamist.” The administration gave well-meaning speeches exaggerating Islamic achievement while citing past American culpability. We tilted toward Turkey and the Palestinians while sternly lecturing Israel. Military victory was caricatured as an obsolete concept. Leading from behind was a clever substitute. Middle Easterners gathered that a bruised America would limp away from the region and pivot its forces elsewhere, saving billions of dollars to be better spent at home. The new soft-power rhetorical approach sought to win over the hearts and minds of the Arab Street, and thereby deny terrorists popular support. To grade that policy, survey the current Middle East, or what is left of it: Egypt, the Gulf monarchies, Iraq, Iran, Israel and the Palestinians, Libya, Syria, and Turkey. It is fair to say that America has somehow managed to alienate friends, embolden enemies, and multiply radical Islamic terrorists.

 

So what happened? In short, the Obama administration put politics and ideology ahead of a disinterested and nonpartisan examination of the actual status of the 2009 Middle East. The more Obama campaigned in 2008 on a failed war in Iraq, a neglected war in Afghanistan, an ill-considered War on Terror, and an alienated Middle East, the more those talking points were outdated and eclipsed by fast-moving events on the ground. By Inauguration Day in January 2009, the hard-power surge had largely defeated al-Qaeda in Iraq. It had won over many of the Sunnis and had led to a U.S.-enforced coalition government, monitored by American troops. But there remained one caveat: What had been won on the ground could be just as easily lost if the U.S. did not leave behind peacekeepers in the manner that it had in all its past successful interventions: the Balkans, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Philippines, and South Korea.

 

Likewise, the once-derided “War on Terror” measures — Guantanamo, the Patriot Act, military tribunals, preventative detentions, renditions, and drones — by 2009 had largely worked. Since 9/11, America had foiled dozens of terrorist plots against our homeland and neutralized terrorists abroad, killing tens of thousands in both Iraq and Afghanistan. Obama for a while privately accepted that truth and thereby continued many of the very protocols that he had once derided. But there was again one problem. Obama kept posturing to the world that he would close Guantanamo and substitute civilian trials for military tribunals. He continued to say that he did not enjoy using renditions or drones — even as he upped the latter’s deadly missions tenfold. The results were contradictory messages that encouraged radical Islamists. The conclusion radical Islamists drew was that even the Obama administration had admitted its anti-terrorism protocols were either morally questionable or ineffective. Blaming a video maker instead of immediately taking out the known jihadists who had murdered Americans in Benghazi only reinforced that mixed message. So did exchanging five terrorist kingpins in Guantanamo for an alleged American military deserter in Afghanistan.

 

A series of empty Middle East red lines, deadlines, and withdrawal dates likewise reinforced the idea of American abdication. We warned Syria of air strikes and then backed down. We surged in Afghanistan only to simultaneously announce a withdrawal date for our troops. We issued Iran lots of deadlines to stop enriching uranium, only to forget them and end sanctions in hope of negotiations. As was the case with Russia, at first there were few consequences to such reset diplomacy and promises of easy victory. Al-Qaeda had been nearly wiped out in Anbar province in 2007–08 and was still regrouping. Iran had been crippled by sanctions and was wary of U.S. intentions. Terrorists did not wish to end up at Guantanamo or in a military tribunal. But newly emboldened terrorists gambled that the old deterrence was stale and now existed mostly as Obama’s reset rhetoric. They gambled that it was a great time to go on the offensive. They may have been right. Once more in the Middle East, Barack Obama is looking to blame others for a mess that has grown since 2009. But mostly he just wants out of the lose-lose region at any cost and wishes that someone would just make all the bad things go away.

 

 

Contents

THE DAYDREAM AND THE NIGHTMARE                                                   Peggy Noonan                                                                                                     

Wall Street Journal, July 4, 2014

 

I don't know if we sufficiently understand how weird and strange, how historically unparalleled, this presidency has become. We've got a sitting president who was just judged in a major poll to be the worst since World War II. The worst president in 70 years! Quinnipiac University's respondents also said, by 54% to 44%, that the Obama administration is not competent to run the government. A Zogby Analytics survey asked if respondents are proud or ashamed of the president. Those under 50 were proud, while those over 50, who have of course the longest experienced sense of American history, were ashamed.

 

We all know the reasons behind the numbers. The scandals that suggest poor stewardship and, in the case of the IRS, destructive political mischief. The president's signature legislation, which popularly bears his name and contains within it the heart of his political meaning, continues to wreak havoc in marketplaces and to be unpopular with the public. He is incapable of working with Congress, the worst at this crucial aspect of the job since Jimmy Carter, though Mr. Carter at least could work with the Mideast and produced the Camp David Accords. Mr. Obama has no regard for Republicans and doesn't like to be with Democrats. Internationally, small states that have traditionally been the locus of trouble (the Mideast) are producing more of it, while large states that have been more stable in their actions (Russia, China) are newly, starkly aggressive. That's a long way of saying nothing's working. Which I'm sure you've noticed.

 

But I'm not sure people are noticing the sheer strangeness of how the president is responding to the lack of success around him. He once seemed a serious man. He wrote books, lectured on the Constitution. Now he seems unserious, frivolous, shallow. He hangs with celebrities, plays golf. His references to Congress are merely sarcastic: "So sue me." "They don't do anything except block me. And call me names. It can't be that much fun." In a truly stunning piece in early June, Politico's Carrie Budoff Brown and Jennifer Epstein interviewed many around the president and reported a general feeling that events have left him—well, changed. He is "taking fuller advantage of the perquisites of office," such as hosting "star-studded dinners that sometimes go on well past midnight." He travels, leaving the White House more in the first half of 2014 than any other time of his presidency except his re-election year. He enjoys talking to athletes and celebrities, not grubby politicians, even members of his own party. He is above it all.

 

On his state trip to Italy in the spring, he asked to spend time with "interesting Italians." They were wealthy, famous. The dinner went for four hours. The next morning his staff were briefing him for a "60 Minutes" interview about Ukraine and health care. "One aide paraphrased Obama's response: 'Just last night I was talking about life and art, big interesting things, and now we're back to the minuscule things on politics.' '' Minuscule? Politics is his job. When the crisis in Ukraine escalated in March, White House aides wondered if Mr. Obama should cancel a planned weekend golf getaway in Florida. He went. At the "lush Ocean Reef Club," he reportedly told his dinner companions: "I needed this. I needed the golf. I needed to laugh. I needed to spend time with friends." You get the impression his needs are pretty important in his hierarchy of concerns.

 

This is a president with 2½ years to go who shows every sign of running out the clock. Normally in a game you run out the clock when you're winning. He's running it out when he's losing. All this is weird, unprecedented. The president shows no sign—none—of being overwhelmingly concerned and anxious at his predicaments or challenges. Every president before him would have been. They'd be questioning what they're doing wrong, changing tack. They'd be ordering frantic aides to meet and come up with what to change, how to change it, how to find common ground not only with Congress but with the electorate. Instead he seems disinterested, disengaged almost to the point of disembodied. He is fatalistic, passive, minimalist. He talks about hitting "singles" and "doubles" in foreign policy. "The world seems to disappoint him," says the New Yorker's liberal and sympathetic editor, David Remnick. What kind of illusions do you have to have about the world to be disappointed when it, and its players, act aggressively or foolishly? Presidents aren't supposed to have those illusions, and they're not supposed to check out psychologically when their illusions are shattered.

 

Barack Obama doesn't seem to care about his unpopularity, or the decisions he's made that have not turned out well. He doesn't seem concerned. A guess at the reason: He thinks he is right about his essential policies. He is steering the world toward not relying on America. He is steering America toward greater dependence on and allegiance to government. He is creating a more federally controlled, Washington-centric nation that is run and organized by progressives. He thinks he's done his work, set America on a leftward course, and though his poll numbers are down now, history will look back on him and see him as heroic, realistic, using his phone and pen each day in spite of unprecedented resistance. He is Lincoln, scorned in his time but loved by history. He thinks he is in line with the arc of history, that America, for all its stops and starts, for all the recent Supreme Court rulings, has embarked in the long term on governmental and cultural progressivism. Thus in time history will have the wisdom to look back and see him for what he really was: the great one who took every sling and arrow, who endured rising unpopularity, the first black president and the only one made to suffer like this. That's what he's doing by running out the clock: He's waiting for history to get its act together and see his true size…

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

 

 

Contents

OBAMA KNOWS HE CAN IGNORE SCANDAL WITH IMPUNITY

Andrew C. McCarthy                                                                                                      New York Post, May 31, 2014

 

President Obama’s record of lawlessness is prodigious. There is the assumption of a power to rule by presidential decree — unilaterally amending ObamaCare provisions, immigration statutes, and other enactments in flagrant disregard of Congress’s constitutional power to write the laws. There is rampant fraud on the American people — think: “If you like your health care plan, you can keep your health care plan, period,” just for a start. In the Benghazi massacre, we see the arc of administration malfeasance: In the absence of congressional authorization, the president instigated an unprovoked and ultimately disastrous war in Libya, empowering virulently anti-American Islamic supremacists. He then recklessly failed to provide adequate security for US officials who, for reasons that remain mysterious, were dispatched to Benghazi, one of the most dangerous places on the planet for Americans. Finally, when four Americans including our ambassador were predictably killed in a terrorist attack on September 11, 2012, the president took no action to rescue them during the siege and then led a tireless campaign to blame an anti-Muslim video, rather than his wayward policy of empowering Islamists — even trumping up a prosecution against the video producer in violation of the First Amendment.

 

Making recess appointments when the Senate is not in recess. Ignoring court orders. Refusing to enforce the immigration laws. A Justice Department run amok: politicized prosecution, racially discriminatory enforcement of the civil rights laws, and Fast & Furious — a program that intentionally transferred thousands of guns to Mexican criminal gangs, resulting in the murder of a US border patrol agent. The list goes on. In fact, Obama’s behavior would easily satisfy the Constitution’s standard for removing a president from power. Yet, at this point, impeachment seems farfetched. In their wisdom, the Framers bequeathed us a Constitution that makes impeachment a political remedy, not a legal one. You can prove a thousand impeachable offenses, but absent the public will to remove the president from power, impeachment is a non-starter. The political case for ousting a president must be built. That is a good deal tougher than building the legal case.

 

As a matter of law, a president is impeachable for “high crimes and misdemeanors.” This is a standard borrowed from British law. Indeed, during the 1787 constitutional convention in Philadelphia, the delegates were following the sensational impeachment trial of Warren Hastings in London, involving abuses of power that Parliament alleged Hastings committed while the empire’s top official in India. The term does not refer to “crimes” and “misdemeanors” as we commonly understand them — i.e., to ordinary criminal offenses listed in the penal code. Instead, “high crimes and misdemeanors” are what Alexander Hamilton described as “the misconduct of public men, or . . . the abuse or violation of some public trust.” They are best understood, he elaborated, as “political” wrongs because “they relate chiefly to injuries done immediately to the society itself.”  Ordinary criminal offenses may qualify, but the concept is broader. It comfortably embraces such military-justice offenses as dereliction-of-duty — which is fitting given the president’s role as commander-in-chief of the armed forces.

 

Obama’s behavior would easily satisfy the Constitution’s standard for removing a president from power. Duty, in fact, is the critical ingredient. The president’s primary constitutional duties are to execute the laws faithfully and to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. He is even required to take an oath to that effect. Consequently, a chief executive who undermines our constitutional framework, who usurps the powers of the states or other branches of government, who intentionally misleads Congress and the public, or who obstructs other government officials in the performance of their constitutional responsibilities — such as Congress’s duty to conduct oversight of the departments and agencies it creates and funds with taxpayer dollars — commits high crimes and misdemeanors.

 

No man could be above the law, the Framers insisted, particularly that public official who, as George Mason put it, was positioned to “commit the most extensive injustice.” The Framers made the president the most powerful single official — reposing in his person all executive power — because they wanted him to be uniquely accountable. He is responsible not only for his own actions but for those of all administration officials. Misconduct and maladministration — whether it is ostensibly committed by Hillary Clinton, Lois Lerner, Eric Holder, Kathleen Sebelius, Eric Shinseki or some other underling — is the president’s misconduct and maladministration, especially if has encouraged and protected rogue subordinates rather than disciplining and firing them. The buck really does stop at the Oval Office. The legal grounds for impeachment are therefore easily established. What is quite difficult, by design, is the political decision to remove the president from power. The Framers understood that it might become necessary to oust a chief executive who abuses his authority. To leave in place a president who was incorrigibly lawless or incompetent would be an unacceptable threat to our republic. But they did not underestimate how socially disruptive impeachment could be, and they did not want it to become an exercise in factional or partisan hackery…

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

 

Contents

NO MORAL SYMMETRY                                                                                  

David M. Weinberg                                                                                            

Israel Hayom, July 7, 2014

 

Muhammad Abu Khdeir’s murder is well on its way to becoming a core building block in the pantheon of anti-Israel propaganda, a central plank in the false argument that Israelis are just as murderous as the Palestinians. That Israelis are no more moral than the Palestinians. Without being too defensive, or in any way forgiving of the inexcusable kidnapping and gruesome murder of the young Arab boy from east Jerusalem, let it be said loud and clear: Comparisons that place Israeli and Palestinian societies on the same moral plane are evilly intended and utterly untruthful. No parallels can be drawn between Israel and the Palestinians when it comes to ethical standards. This is an asymmetrical conflict in every way: moral, political and ideological.

 

Israeli terrorists are few and far between. Over 100 years of conflict, they comprise a mere handful: Ami Popper, Jack Teitel, Yehuda Etzion, Baruch Goldstein, Yona Avrushmi and several others. This list of Palestinian terrorists fills fat ledger books across the globe, and the list of their victims fills even more. Israeli terrorists are denounced roundly and emphatically by Israeli society, caught quickly, and jailed fast. Nor are they released five minutes later. They are skunks, not heroes, of the Zionist movement and the Jewish people.

 

By contrast, Palestinian terrorists are celebrated widely by Palestinian society and feted by Palestinian leadership, sheltered methodically from justice, and rewarded generously. And if they're taken into custody, Palestinian terrorists are released just as quickly as international attentions turn elsewhere — the infamous "revolving door" record of the Palestinian Authority. And if Palestinian terrorists are held in Israeli jails, the Palestinians extort their release via kidnappings of Israelis, which again are celebrated. A perfect circle of perfidy. Note that Abu Khdeir’s murderers are already under arrest in Israel. They have nowhere to hide in Jewish-Israeli society. Whereas the murderers of Naftali Frenkel, Gil-ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrach are still at large, hiding among their sympathetic and admiring brethren in the West Bank or Gaza.

 

When it became clear that Jews had murdered Abu Khdeir, for reasons of revenge or just ugly thugishness, the president, the prime minister, the chief rabbis, and all the political and cultural icons of Israelis society expressed deep shame at the killing, and spoke out immediately and without reservation in fierce denunciation of the crime. This killing does not represent the values or path of the Israeli people. When it became clear that Palestinians had kidnapped the three teenage Israeli boys, there was no shame in the streets of Ramallah, Hebron or Gaza City, only triumphant jubilation and defiance. A new three-finger stick-it-to-the-Israelis salute became the rave, and the pleased mother of one of the suspected kidnappers was lavished with hours of Palestinian television screen time. She told viewers that ("if he did it") she was proud of her son. Hamas and some Fatah leaders congratulated the kidnappers and promised them safe refuge and rewards, while promising Israel more kidnappings and murders.

 

The IDF arrested and jailed 10 soldiers last week who posted Facebook messages with calls for revenge. Contrast this with PA television, which broadcast a dozen sermons by local clerics, who get salaries from the Palestinian Authority, glorifying terrorism against Israelis and praising the kidnappers. All the while, the PA continued to pay salaries to the families of Palestinian terrorists in Israeli jails and large reward stipends to terrorists released from Israeli jails. My point is that you judge a society not the by crimes of a few, but on the basis of the way that society deals with its criminals and who it celebrates as its heroes. In such a tally, there is no moral symmetry whatsoever between Israeli and Palestinian societies. Ironically, Palestinian propagandist MK Ahmed Tibi essentially affirmed the basic moral distinction between the two societies when speaking to Israel Radio this week before the killers in Jerusalem were identified. "Every Jew in this country," Tibi declared, "is praying that the murderer of Abu Khdeir is not a Jew. But I'm telling you for sure that he was a Jew." Tibi meant to curse and spit on Israeli society, yet didn't realize he was praising it. Indeed, every Jew in this country was praying that the murderer of Abu Khdeir would turn out not to be a Jew, because the very thought was reprehensible…

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

 

         

Contents

 

On Topic

 

Why the Arab World Is Lost in an Emotional Nakba, and How We Keep It There: Richard Landes, Tablet, June 24, 2014—Anthropologists and legal historians have long identified certain tribal cultures—warrior, nomadic—with a specific set of honor codes whose violation brings debilitating shame.

Government by Fiat: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, June 26, 2014 —The Supreme Court this week admonished the Environmental Protection Agency for overreaching in regulating greenhouse gases.

The Collapsing Obama Doctrine: Dick Cheney & Liz Cheney, Wall Street Journal, June 17, 2014 —As the terrorists of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) threaten Baghdad, thousands of slaughtered Iraqis in their wake, it is worth recalling a few of President Obama's past statements about ISIS and al Qaeda.

Obama Speaks Loudly and Carries a Small Stick: Amir Taheri, New York Post, May 31, 2014 —Until last week, some had hoped that, having failed to develop a credible foreign policy, President Obama may at least be ­capable of engaging in serious ­debate with his critics.

 

 

 

 

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

AS O. FIDDLES: AS IRAQ CIVIL WAR LOOMS, IRAN IS SUDDENLY A “SAVIOR” — IN ISRAEL, HAMAS’ STUDENT KIDNAPPING IS END OF “P.P.”

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 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

UPDATE ON THE ABDUCTED ISRAELI TEENS: SEARCH FOR KIDNAPPED BOYS ENTERS FIFTH DAY, IDF ARRESTS 41 (Nablus) —The IDF arrested some 40 Palestinian suspects, most of them Hamas members, in Nablus overnight Tuesday, expanding its operation to retrieve three abducted Israelis northwards from Hebron. On the fifth day of Operation Brothers's Keeper, a thousand soldiers launched raids in Nablus's Balata and Awarta areas. A total of 200 suspects have been arrested since the start of the operation. In addition to the arrests, soldiers on Tuesday seized handguns, explosives, and grenades. A security source said a large quantity of weapons was recovered during the arrests, describing the raids as a large-scale counter-terrorism clean-up operation. "Everything linked to Hamas is being targeted," the source stated, adding that this includes civilian organizations linked to the terrorist organizations, municipal figures, and the organization's military wing. (Jerusalem Post, June 17, 2014)

 

Contents:

 

The Men Who Sealed Iraq's Disaster With a Handshake: Fouad Ajami, Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2013— Two men bear direct responsibility for the mayhem engulfing Iraq: Barack Obama and Nouri al-Maliki.

Obama’s Iraq: Max Boot, Weekly Standard, June, 2014— Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, has long been hard for the central government to control because of its combustible mix of Arabs and Kurds.

America's Middle East Delusions: Flynt Leverett & Hillary Mann Leverett, National Interest, June 15, 2014— The explosive ascendance of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) underscores the thoroughgoing failure of America’s political class to devise an effective and sustainable strategy for the U.S. after 9/11. 

War-Weariness As an Excuse:  William Kristol, Weekly Standard, Mar. 24, 2014 — Are Americans today war-weary?

 

On Topic Links

 

On Decision to Leave No Troops in Iraq, Hillary Clinton Points to Bush: Patrick Goodenough, CNS News, June 12, 2014

The Speech Obama Should Have Given About Iraq: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, June 15, 2014

Iraq: Barack Obama’s Self-Regarding Goodness is Bad News For the Rest of Us: Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph, June 13, 2013

Obama Fiddles While the World Burns: Shmuley Boteach, Algemeiner, June 16, 2014       

                                               

THE MEN WHO SEALED IRAQ'S DISASTER WITH A HANDSHAKE              

Fouad Ajami                                                                                                                    

Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2014

 

Two men bear direct responsibility for the mayhem engulfing Iraq: Barack Obama and Nouri al-Maliki. The U.S. president and Iraqi prime minister stood shoulder to shoulder in a White House ceremony in December 2011 proclaiming victory. Mr. Obama was fulfilling a campaign pledge to end the Iraq war. There was a utopian tone to his pronouncement, suggesting that the conflicts that had been endemic to that region would be brought to an end. As for Mr. Maliki, there was the heady satisfaction, in his estimation, that Iraq would be sovereign and intact under his dominion. In truth, Iraq's new Shiite prime minister was trading American tutelage for Iranian hegemony. Thus the claim that Iraq was a fully sovereign country was an idle boast. Around the Maliki regime swirled mightier, more sinister players. In addition to Iran's penetration of Iraqi strategic and political life, there was Baghdad's unholy alliance with the brutal Assad regime in Syria, whose members belong to an Alawite Shiite sect and were taking on a largely Sunni rebellion. If Bashar Assad were to fall, Mr. Maliki feared, the Sunnis of Iraq would rise up next.

 

Now, even as Assad clings to power in Damascus, Iraq's Sunnis have risen up and joined forces with the murderous, al Qaeda-affiliated Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), which controls much of northern Syria and the Iraqi cities of Fallujah, Mosul and Tikrit. ISIS marauders are now marching on the Shiite holy cities of Najaf and Karbala, and Baghdad itself has become a target. In a dire sectarian development on Friday, Iraq's leading Shiite cleric, Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, called on his followers to take up arms against ISIS and other Sunni insurgents in defense of the Baghdad government. This is no ordinary cleric playing with fire. For a decade, Ayatollah Sistani stayed on the side of order and social peace. Indeed, at the height of Iraq's sectarian troubles in 2006-07, President George W. Bush gave the ayatollah credit for keeping the lid on that volcano. Now even that barrier to sectarian violence has been lifted. This sad state of affairs was in no way preordained. In December 2011, Mr. Obama stood with Mr. Maliki and boasted that "in the coming years, it's estimated that Iraq's economy will grow even faster than China's or India's." But the negligence of these two men—most notably in their failure to successfully negotiate a Status of Forces Agreement that would have maintained an adequate U.S. military presence in Iraq—has resulted in the current descent into sectarian civil war.

 

There was, not so long ago, a way for Mr. Maliki to avoid all this: the creation of a genuine political coalition, making good on his promise that the Kurds in the north and the Sunnis throughout the country would be full partners in the Baghdad government. Instead, the Shiite prime minister set out to subjugate the Sunnis and to marginalize the Kurds. There was, from the start, no chance that this would succeed. For their part, the Sunni Arabs of Iraq were possessed of a sense of political mastery of their own. After all, this was a community that had ruled Baghdad for a millennium. Why should a community that had known such great power accept sudden marginality?

 

As for the Kurds, they had conquered a history of defeat and persecution and built a political enterprise of their own—a viable military institution, a thriving economy and a sense of genuine national pride. The Kurds were willing to accept the federalism promised them in the New Iraq. But that promise rested, above all else, on the willingness on the part of Baghdad to honor a revenue-sharing system that had decreed a fair allocation of the country's oil income. This, Baghdad would not do. The Kurds were made to feel like beggars at the Maliki table. Sadly, the Obama administration accepted this false federalism and its façade. Instead of aiding the cause of a reasonable Kurdistan, the administration sided with Baghdad at every turn. In the oil game involving Baghdad, Irbil, the Turks and the international oil companies, the Obama White House and State Department could always be found standing with the Maliki government. With ISIS now reigning triumphant in Fallujah, in the oil-refinery town of Baiji, and, catastrophically, in Mosul, the Obama administration cannot plead innocence. Mosul is particularly explosive. It sits astride the world between Syria and Iraq and is economically and culturally intertwined with the Syrian territories. This has always been Mosul's reality. There was no chance that a war would rage on either side of Mosul without it spreading next door. The Obama administration's vanishing "red lines" and utter abdication in Syria were bound to compound Iraq's troubles.

 

Grant Mr. Maliki the harvest of his sectarian bigotry. He has ridden that sectarianism to nearly a decade in power. Mr. Obama's follies are of a different kind. They're sins born of ignorance. He was eager to give up the gains the U.S. military and the Bush administration had secured in Iraq. Nor did he possess the generosity of spirit to give his predecessors the credit they deserved for what they had done in that treacherous landscape. As he headed for the exits in December 2011, Mr. Obama described Mr. Maliki as "the elected leader of a sovereign, self-reliant and democratic Iraq." One suspects that Mr. Obama knew better. The Iraqi prime minister had already shown marked authoritarian tendencies, and there were many anxieties about him among the Sunnis and Kurds. Those communities knew their man, while Mr. Obama chose to look the other way. Today, with his unwillingness to use U.S. military force to save Syrian children or even to pull Iraq back from the brink of civil war, the erstwhile leader of the Free World is choosing, yet again, to look the other way.

 

Contents
                                  

OBAMA’S IRAQ

Max Boot                                                                                                    

Weekly Standard, June, 2014

 

Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, has long been hard for the central government to control because of its combustible mix of Arabs and Kurds. The first time I visited Mosul was in August 2003 when a tenuous calm was maintained by the 101st Airborne Division. Its commander, a then-obscure two-star general named David Petraeus, had on his own initiative opened the Syrian border to trade, struck deals with Syria and Turkey to provide badly needed electricity, restored telephone service, and held elections to elect local leaders. Along the way he also managed to kill Saddam Hussein’s poisonous offspring Uday and Qusay.

 

This kept militants at bay, but they returned with a vengeance after the 101st pulled out in 2004, to be replaced by a smaller American unit whose officers were less attuned to the demands of civic action. Mosul became a hotbed of Saddamist and Islamist militants, as I saw for myself in February 2008 when, during another visit, the U.S. Army convoy in which I was riding was hit by a “complex ambush”: The Humvee in front of mine hit a bomb concealed in a big puddle, and insurgents opened machine gun fire from the left. Luckily no one in our unit was hurt, but a bystander had his arm sliced off by a flying piece of the Humvee’s engine. Mosul was the last major city to be pacified by the successful “surge.” It took until at least 2010 before it was secure. But now that achievement has been undone. Black-clad fighters from the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as Al Qaeda in Iraq has rebranded itself, stormed into Mosul last week and seized control. Dispirited Iraqi soldiers ran away rather than fight. Many were so eager to escape that their discarded uniforms littered the streets. ISIS freed more than 2,000 of its fighters from prisons and seized copious stocks of money, ammunition, and weapons—many of the latter provided by the United States to Iraqi forces.

 

This was only the latest and most alarming advance for this extremist group, which has risen out of its grave to display dismaying strength in recent years. In January, ISIS seized Fallujah and holds it still—a loss that, like Mosul, is particularly painful to American veterans who sacrificed so much to wrest control of those cities from militants. Following up on their success in Mosul, ISIS fighters advanced south to seize, at least temporarily, Tikrit, Saddam -Hussein’s hometown, and Baiji, home to Iraq’s largest oil refinery, which supplies Baghdad with much of its electricity. Their next targets are certain to be Baqubah and Baghdad. In the capital, ISIS has already inflicted devastating casualties with a series of car bombings. Iraq Body Count calculates that some 9,500 people were killed in Iraq last year, the highest total since 2008. Worse is surely yet to come as Shiite militant organizations such as Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Kataib Hezbollah respond to Sunni atrocities with atrocities of their own.

 

This is not just a problem for Iraq. ISIS, as the name implies, has spread across the border into Syria, where it has been showing increasing strength amid the chaos of the Syrian civil war, in no small part because the United States has done so little to aid the non-jihadist opposition to Bashar al-Assad. ISIS is well on its way to carving out a fundamentalist caliphate that stretches from Aleppo in northern Syria to Mosul in northern Iraq. The post-World War I borders of the Middle East seem to be unraveling. Syria is being split into two entities, one controlled by Sunni Islamists, the other by Hezbollah and the Iranian Quds Force and their Alawite proxies. Iraq is being split into three, with a prosperous and stable Kurdish state, a fundamentalist Sunni Triangle state controlled by ISIS, and the Shiite portions of the country under the sway of militants backed by Iran. Iran is directly involved in the fighting in both countries: It has already sent Quds Force troops to Syria and now reportedly to Iraq as well. The only thing that remains to be determined is whether Shiite or Sunni extremists will control the capital—the new battle for Baghdad, which has already begun, is likely to be even bloodier than the previous installment from 2003 to 2008.

 

It is hard to exaggerate how much of a disaster this is, not only for Syria and Iraq and their neighbors, but for the United States. Rising oil prices (crude oil rose to over $112 a barrel last week), which could torpedo a weak economic recovery, are just the start of it. Senior intelligence officials have testified recently that they fear Syria could become a launching ground for attacks against the United States. Similar concerns now must extend to Iraq. Certainly, the track record of Islamist militants suggests that whenever they control a piece of terrain—whether Afghanistan before 2001 or Mali in 2013—they immediately set up training camps for foreign jihadists, some of whom then filter back to their home countries to commit atrocities. At the least, neighboring states such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia will be destabilized by the growing strength of ISIS; at the worst, the American homeland and Americans overseas will be threatened.

 

How did this disaster come about and what can be done about it? Critics of the Iraq war affix blame to President George W. Bush’s decision to invade in 2003. But there is no guarantee that, even absent American intervention, Saddam Hussein would have had any more luck staying in power than other Arab despots. A civil war might well have broken out in Iraq anyway, as has been the case in Syria and Libya. It is true that Bush’s mismanagement from 2003 to 2007 aggravated the situation, especially his foolish decisions to disband the Iraqi Army without sending enough U.S. troops to fill the vacuum and to purge Baathists from the government in a process that was hijacked by Shiite militants such as Ahmad Chalabi. This created the lawless conditions out of which both Sunni and Shiite extremists arose. The “surge,” however, turned the tide and created an opening for a more stable and democratic Iraq. Al Qaeda in Iraq was decimated in 2007-08. As a result Shiite militias such as Moktada al-Sadr’s Mahdi Army lost their rationale of protecting Shiites from Sunni terrorism. Violence fell by more than 90 percent, and Iraqi politics began to function. But that tenuous calm started to unravel the minute that U.S. troops pulled out at the end of 2011. Freed of effective American oversight, Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki gave full vent to his Shiite sectarian tendencies by persecuting senior Sunni politicians and many of the Sunni commanders who, as part of the American-backed Sons of Iraq, had once fought against al Qaeda…    

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

 

Contents
                                  

AMERICA'S MIDDLE EAST DELUSIONS                                                              

Flynt Leverett & Hillary Mann Leverett                             

National Interest, June 15, 2014

 

The explosive ascendance of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) underscores the thoroughgoing failure of America’s political class to devise an effective and sustainable strategy for the United States after 9/11.  The failure cuts across Democratic and Republican administrations, with the most self-damaging aspects of each administration’s policies roundly endorsed by the opposing party in Congress. Both sides deny responsibility for unfolding catastrophe in Iraq:  Republicans criticize Obama’s marginal modulations of Bush’s approach to the Middle East while Democrats blame Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.  (Republicans also criticize Maliki, but not so much that it might exculpate Obama.)  Foreign policy elites also ignore a more urgent and ongoing flaw in America’s post-9/11 Middle East policy that is directly linked to Iraq’s current crisis—Washington’s recurrent partnership with Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states to arm, fund, and train Sunni militias.      

 

America’s turn to jihadi proxies did not start with Bush’s strategic malpractice in Iraq.  It was born on July 3, 1979, when President Carter signed the first directive to arm jihadists in Afghanistan, before Soviet forces invaded the country.  For U.S. policymakers, collaborating with Riyadh to launch transnational jihad in Afghanistan seemed a clever way to undermine the Soviet Union—by goading it into a draining occupation of Afghanistan, which Carter’s national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, hoped to make Moscow’s Vietnam.  Ultimately, Red Army garrisoning of Afghanistan contributed only marginally (if at all) to the Soviet Union’s dissolution.  But U.S. support for the mujahideen and cooperation with Riyadh contributed critically to al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, and 9/11—which opened the door for Republican neoconservatives and Democratic fellow travelers to unite behind attacking Iraq.      

 

America’s invasion-cum-occupation of Iraq was not just badly implemented, as many of its non-Republican champions self-servingly lament; it was an irredeemably bad idea from the start.  Certainly, U.S. action destroyed the Iraqi state.  But, just as fatefully, the political displacement of Iraqi Sunnis by decisively larger Shi’a and Kurdish communities attracted powerful patrons—e.g., Saudi Arabia and other Gulf Arab states—determined to help Iraqi Sunnis, including segments of Saddam’s disbanded army, fight to regain a disproportionate share of political power.  Such were the roots of the insurgency that erupted within months of the U.S. invasion in 2003—stoked by an externally-facilitated influx of non-Iraqi Sunni fighters (including a substantial number from neighboring Syria), many coalescing into the Jordanian Abu Musab az-Zarqawi’s nascent Al-Qa’ida in Iraq.

 

Increasingly desperate to coopt a critical mass of these fighters, Bush disregarded 9/11’s lessons and chose to gamble on arming and training 80,000 Iraqi Sunni “tribesmen” as part of General David Petraeus’ 2007-2008 “surge.”  Bush turned to Sunni proxies in the vain hope of eliciting Sunni acquiescence to a post-Saddam order inevitably dominated by Shi’a Islamist and Kurdish parties representing the overwhelming bulk of Iraqis.  Washington also wanted to check what it considered the unacceptable growth of Iranian influence in Iraq (Tehran had supported Iraq’s leading Shi’a Islamist and Kurdish parties in exile for twenty years) and regionally.  The surge temporarily paid off enough Sunni fighters to let American commanders and politicians claim that violence was coming down.  But it also gave Iraqi Sunnis greater material and organizational wherewithal with which—once U.S. forces were gone—to attack what were bound to be non-Sunni-dominated central governments…  

 

U.S.-armed Sunnis needed a catalyst for resurgence, however.  In the first two years of Obama’s presidency, they grudgingly co-existed with central governments grounded in coalitions of Shi’a Islamist and Kurdish parties.  The Islamic State of Iraq—formed in 2006 from Zarqawi’s Al-Qai’da in Iraq—seemed on the wane.  Then, in spring 2011, Obama decided to support largely Sunni militias and forces willing to collaborate with them in trying to overthrow incumbent leaders in Libya and Syria.  This was motivated partly by dysfunctional aspects of Washington’s strategic co-dependency with Riyadh, and partly by a longstanding delusion that America could orchestrate a de facto axis of Saudi Arabia and other “moderate” Sunni states with Israel to check Iran’s rise and bolster a pro-U.S. regional order under threat from the Arab Awakening.  But, by reigniting the flames of Sunni militancy, the decision proved profoundly inimical to American interests…   

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

                                                          Contents
                            

WAR-WEARINESS AS AN EXCUSE                                                    

William Kristol

Weekly Standard, Mar 24, 2014

 

Are Americans today war-weary? Sure. The Iraq and Afghanistan wars have been frustrating and tiring. Are Americans today unusually war-weary? No. They were wearier after the much larger and even more frustrating conflicts in Korea and Vietnam. And even though the two world wars of the last century had more satisfactory outcomes, their magnitude was such that they couldn’t help but induce a significant sense of war-weariness. And history shows that they did. So American war-weariness isn’t new. Using it as an excuse to avoid maintaining our defenses or shouldering our responsibilities isn’t new, either. But that doesn’t make it admirable.

 

The March 5 Wall Street Journal featured a letter from Heidi Szrom of Valparaiso, Indiana. She was responding to an earlier letter defending President Obama’s foreign policies against a powerful critique in the Journal by the historian Niall Ferguson (“America’s Global Retreat”). The first letter writer noted Ferguson’s statement that more people may have died violent deaths in the Greater Middle East in the Obama years than under Bush, but excused Obama: “True, but it is also equally certain that fewer Americans have died violent deaths in the Greater Middle East during this presidency than during the previous one, and this is what matters more now to a war-weary American public.”

 

To which Ms. Szrom responded: “According to pundits, the president and letter writers, America is “war weary.” Every time I hear this, I wonder: Did you serve? Did you volunteer to fight oppression in foreign lands? Did your son or brother or husband? If so, then I understand and sympathize with your complaint .  .  . unlike most of those who utter this shopworn phrase. Perhaps the country’s weariness stems from a reluctance to face unpleasant truths—one of which is that power, like nature, abhors a vacuum. .  .  . History tells us it will only be a temporary reprieve. Our current defense cuts ensure that we will be woefully unprepared to face the next test. We are so weary that we are falling asleep.”

 

Well said. If only Republican elected officials were half as clear-minded and nearly as courageous as Ms. Szrom in taking on the claim that we all need to defer to, to bow down to, our own war-weariness. In fact, the idol of war-weariness can be challenged. A war-weary public can be awakened and rallied. Indeed, events are right now doing the awakening. All that’s needed is the rallying. And the turnaround can be fast. Only 5 years after the end of the Vietnam war, and 15 years after our involvement there began in a big way, Ronald Reagan ran against both Democratic dovishness and Republican détente. He proposed confronting the Soviet Union and rebuilding our military. It was said that the country was too war-weary, that it was too soon after Vietnam, for Reagan’s stern and challenging message. Yet Reagan won the election in 1980. And by 1990 an awakened America had won the Cold War.

 

The next president will be elected in 2016, 15 years after 9/11 and 5 years after our abandonment of Iraq and the beginning of the drawdown in Afghanistan. Pundits will say that it would be politically foolish to try to awaken Americans rather than cater to their alleged war-weariness. We can’t prove them wrong. Perhaps it would be easier for a Republican to win in 2016 running after the fashion of Warren Gamaliel Harding in 1920 rather than that of Ronald Wilson Reagan in 1980. But what would such a victory be worth? The term “war-weary” (actually “war-wearied”) may have first appeared in Shakespeare. In Henry VI, Part 1 (Act IV, Scene 4), the Earl of Somerset, for reasons of domestic political calculation, resists the entreaty of Sir William Lucy to go to the aid of his fellow English lord, “the over-daring Talbot,”

 

Who, ring’d about with bold adversity//Cries out for noble York and Somerset//To beat assailing death from his weak legions: And whiles the honourable captain there//Drops bloody sweat from his war-wearied limbs, And, in advantage lingering, looks for rescue, You, his false hopes, the trust of England’s honour,    Keep off aloof with worthless emulation…Somerset fails to rescue Talbot, but grandly states: If he be dead, brave Talbot, then adieu! To which Lucy replies: His fame lives in the world, his shame in you.

 

Can Republicans do no better than shamefully to emulate Somerset and Obama (“I assure you nobody ends up being more war-weary than me”)? Will no brave leader step forward to honorably awaken us from our unworthy sleep?

On Decision to Leave No Troops in Iraq, Hillary Clinton Points to Bush: Patrick Goodenough, CNS News, June 12, 2014

The Speech Obama Should Have Given About Iraq: Michael Goodwin, New York Post, June 15, 2014

Iraq: Barack Obama’s Self-Regarding Goodness is Bad News For the Rest of Us: Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph, June 13, 2013

Obama Fiddles While the World Burns: Shmuley Boteach, Algemeiner, June 16, 2014       

 

                               

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

IRAQ SPURRING REGIONAL CRISIS: AS TERRORISTS TAKE MOSUL & THREATEN BAGHDAD, ASSAD IS STRENGTHENED, JORDAN THREATENED, & O. MULLS IRAN ALLIANCE

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 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

What to do in Iraq: Frederick W. Kagan & William Kristol, Weekly Standard, June 16, 2013— It’s widely agreed that the collapse of Iraq would be a disaster for American interests and security in the Middle East and around the world.

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Has a Consumer Protection Office: Aaron Zelin, Atlantic, June 13, 2014— No sooner had it seized the Iraqi city of Mosul and surrounding villages, than the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) began outlining how it would govern its dawla (state).

Is the Fall of Mosul in Iraq to the Jihadists a “Game Changer”?: Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah, JCPA, June 11, 2014— The radical group, the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS),” has scored a huge achievement with the capture of Mosul, Iraq’s second biggest city with over 1.5 million inhabitants, and areas of the Kirkuk oil producing province.

Could Jordan Fall?: Michael Rubin, Commentary, June 16, 2014 — I spoke about the situation in Iraq Saturday morning on C-Span’s Washington Journal.

 

On Topic Links

 

White House Weighs Military Options in Iraq: Julian E. Barnes & Carol E. Lee, Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2014

U.S., Iran Near Talks as Iraq Chaos Worsens: Jay Solomon, Carol E. Lee and Ali A. Nabhan

, Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2014

Rebels’ Fast Strike in Iraq Was Years in the Making: Tim Arango, Kareem Fahim and Ben Hubbard, New York Times, June 15, 2013

The Al Qaeda Spring Is Here: Daniel Greenfield, New York Post, June 13, 2014

The Mad Dream of a Dead Empire That Unites Islamic Rebels: Amir Taheri, New York Post, June 14, 2014

               

WHAT TO DO IN IRAQ                                                    

Frederick W. Kagan & William Kristol                                                                           

Weekly Standard, June 16, 2014

 

It’s widely agreed that the collapse of Iraq would be a disaster for American interests and security in the Middle East and around the world. It also seems to be widely assumed either that there's nothing we can now do to avert that disaster, or that our best bet is supporting Iran against al Qaeda. Both assumptions are wrong. It would be irresponsible to embrace a premature fatalism with respect to Iraq. And it would be damaging and counterproductive to accept a transformation of our alliances and relationships in the Middle East to the benefit of the regime in Tehran. There is a third alternative.

 

That alternative is to act boldly and decisively to help stop the advance of the forces of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS)—without empowering Iran. This would mean pursuing a strategy in Iraq (and in Syria) that works to empower moderate Sunni and Shi’a without taking sectarian sides. This would mean aiming at the expulsion of foreign fighters, both al Qaeda terrorists and Iranian and Lebanese Hezbollah regular and special forces, from Iraq. This would require a willingness to send American forces back to Iraq. It would mean not merely conducting U.S. air strikes, but also accompanying those strikes with special operators, and perhaps regular U.S. military units, on the ground. This is the only chance we have to persuade Iraq’s Sunni Arabs that they have an alternative to joining up with al Qaeda or being at the mercy of government-backed and Iranian-backed death squads, and that we have not thrown in with the Iranians. It is also the only way to regain influence with the Iraqi government and to stabilize the Iraqi Security Forces on terms that would allow us to demand the demobilization of Shi’a militias and to move to limit Iranian influence and to create bargaining chips with Iran to insist on the withdrawal of their forces if and when the situation stabilizes.

 

This path won't be easy, but the alternatives are much worse. Doing nothing means we will face a full-scale sectarian war—Syria on steroids—with millions of refugees and tens or hundreds of thousands more dead, along with a massive expansion of Iranian control into southern Iraq and an al Qaeda safe haven stretching from the Tigris to the middle of Syria. Throwing our weight behind Iran in the fight against al Qaeda in Iraq, as some are suggesting, would make things even worse. Conducting U.S. airstrikes without deploying American special operators or other ground forces would in effect make the U.S. Iran’s air force. Such an approach would be extremely shortsighted. The al Qaeda threat in Iraq is great, and the U.S. must take action against it. But backing the Iranians means backing the Shi’a militias that have been the principal drivers of sectarian warfare, to say nothing of turning our backs on the moderates on both sides who are suffering the most. Allowing Iran to in effect extend its border several hundred kilometers to the west with actual troop deployments would be a strategic disaster. In addition, the U.S. would be perceived as becoming the ally of the Islamic Republic of Iran against all of the forces of the Arab and Sunni world, conceding Syria to the Iranian-backed Bashir al-Assad, and accepting the emergence of an Iranian hegemony soon to be backed by nuclear weapons. And at the end of the day, Iran is not going to be able to take over the Sunni areas of Iraq—so we would end up both strengthening Iran and not defeating ISIS.

 

Now is not the time to re-litigate either the decision to invade Iraq in 2003 or the decision to withdraw from it in 2011. The crisis is urgent, and it would be useful to focus on a path ahead rather than indulge in recriminations. All paths are now fraught with difficulties, including the path we recommend. But the alternatives of permitting a victory for al Qaeda and/or strengthening Iran would be disastrous.

 

Contents
                                  

THE ISLAMIC STATE OF IRAQ AND SYRIA

HAS A CONSUMER PROTECTION OFFICE

Aaron Zelin

Atlantic, June 13, 2014

 

No sooner had it seized the Iraqi city of Mosul and surrounding villages, than the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) began outlining how it would govern its dawla (state). On Thursday, the Sunni militant group released a wathiqat al-madina (charter of the city) to Moslawis. Many residents of the largely Sunni city may have initially welcomed the “liberation” from Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s Shiite-dominated regime, which they had major grievances with, but they might have sobered up after reading the jihadists’ interpretation of sharia law. Those who steal will have their hands chopped off. Islam’s five daily prayers must be performed on time. Drugs, alcohol, and cigarettes are forbidden. Carrying weapons and non-ISIS flags is illegal. All shrines and graves will be destroyed, since they are considered polytheistic. Women must dress modestly (a euphemism for the full-body niqab).

 

The rules highlight the harsh realities of life in ISIS territory. But what’s often overlooked is that the group also has a soft-power governing strategy that includes social services, religious lectures, and da’wa (proselytizing) to local populations, including parts of the northwestern Iraqi province of Anbar, which it seized this past winter. In its charter for Mosul, ISIS notes that Sunnis who worked in the Maliki government’s institutions and security apparatus can atone for their actions and ward off imprisonment or execution. ISIS has already allowed sahwa members (participants in Sunni “Awakening” councils that the U.S. stood up during its troop “surge” against al-Qaeda in Iraq (AQI), ISIS’s forerunner, a decade ago) to repent in Babil and Diyala provinces.

 

The best way to get a sense of ISIS’s blueprint for state-building is to look at how it has ruled al-Raqqa governorate and other territory in neighboring Syria. The group’s first move is often to set up billboards around town that emphasize the importance of jihad, sharia, women’s purity, and other pietistic themes. It reaches out to local notables and tribal leaders as well to blunt the kind of backlash that greeted AQI and its harsh interpretation of sharia during the sahwa movement last decade.

 

The group also has a surprisingly sophisticated bureaucracy, which typically includes an Islamic court system and a roving police force. In the Syrian town of Manbij, for example, ISIS officials cut off the hands of four robbers. In Raqqa, they forced shops to close for selling poor products in the suq (market) as well as regular supermarkets and kebab stands—a move that was likely the work of its Consumer Protection Authority office. ISIS has also whipped individuals for insulting their neighbors, confiscated and destroyed counterfeit medicine, and on multiple occasions summarily executed and crucified individuals for apostasy. Members have burned cartons of cigarettes and destroyed shrines and graves, including the famous Uways al-Qarani shrine in Raqqa.

 

Beyond these judicial measures, ISIS also invests in public works. In April, for instance, it completed a new suq in al-Raqqa for locals to exchange goods. Additionally, the group runs an electricity office that monitors electricity-use levels, installs new power lines, and hosts workshops on how to repair old ones. The militants fix potholes, bus people between the territories they control, rehabilitate blighted medians to make roads more aesthetically pleasing, and operate a post office and zakat (almsgiving) office (which the group claims has helped farmers with their harvests). Most importantly for Syrians and Iraqis downriver, ISIS has continued operating the Tishrin dam (renaming it al-Faruq) on the Euphrates River. Through all of these offices and departments, ISIS is able to offer a semblance of stability in unstable and marginalized areas, even if many locals do not like its ideological program.

 

That’s not to say this ideological project isn’t an integral part of ISIS’s social services. Its media outlet al-I’tisam sets up stalls to distribute DVDs of the videos it posts online. In a number of ISIS-held locales, a da’wa truck drives around broadcasting information about the group's belief system. Moreover, ISIS has established a number of religious schools for children, including ones for girls where they can memorize the Koran and receive certificates if successful, while also holding “fun days” for kids replete with ice cream and inflatable slides. For their older counterparts, ISIS has established training sessions for new imams and preachers. Schedules for prayers and Koran lessons are posted at mosques. In a more worrisome development, ISIS runs training camps for “cub scouts” and houses these recruits in the group’s facilities.

Men in the Syrian province of Raqqa pray outside their shops beside ISIS flags. (Stringer/Reuters)

 

The militants have also developed health and welfare programs. ISIS helps run bread factories and provides fruits and vegetables to many families, passing the goods out personally. In Raqqa, ISIS has established a food kitchen to feed the needy and an Office for Orphans to help pair them with families. The Taliban may be paranoid and skeptical about vaccination campaigns, but ISIS conducts polio-vaccination campaigns to try and arrest the disease’s spread.

 

While the governance and social services that ISIS provides shouldn’t overshadow the repression and deadly violence it carries out, they do illustrate that the group runs a sophisticated and well-organized operation. The $425 million (almost half a billion!) that ISIS seized from Mosul’s central bank this week won’t only aid the militants on the region's battlefields. It will also help underwrite the group’s campaign to win hearts and minds. And that will make it even more difficult to dislodge the nascent proto-state from Syria and Iraq.
 

Contents
 

IS THE FALL OF MOSUL IN IRAQ

TO THE JIHADISTS A “GAME CHANGER”?

Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah                                     

JCPA, June 11, 2014  

 

The radical group, the “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS),” has scored a huge achievement with the capture of Mosul, Iraq’s second biggest city with over 1.5 million inhabitants, and areas of the Kirkuk oil producing province. By controlling Mosul, ISIS has succeeded in creating a territorial contiguity that stretches from Ramadi and Fallujah, north of Baghdad, to the Iraqi Kurdish autonomous areas west of Arbil, the Kurdish areas of Syria, past the city of Al-Raqqah, parts of Aleppo, and facing the Turkish border near Qamishli.

 

According to the pattern already implemented in the “conquered” areas in Syria, the ISIS will likely begin its rule by establishing a Caliphate governed by Islamic law – Shari’ah – and headed by its leader Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi, a jihadist who began as an affiliate of Al-Qaeda in 2003. In February 2014, Al-Baghdadi refused to declare allegiance when Al-Qaeda’s leader Ayman Al-Zawahiri demanded that he subordinate himself to the Jabhat Al-Nusra jihadist organization fighting the regime in Syria. ISIS presented the non-Muslim population with three choices: either convert, pay a special tax (the Islamic per capita tax “jizya“) applied to non-Muslims, or leave the area. A first signs of this development are the 500,000 residents of Mosul fleeing the area, mostly Assyrians of Christian faith, who historically were the majority of the population in the Ninawa (Nineveh) Governorate surrounding Mosul.

The Meaning of the ISIS Victory

 

The ISIS’ achievement in Mosul has very dire implications: Analysts originally estimated ISIS’s strength to be around two to three thousand fighters. The Mosul campaign means that the assessment was a gross underestimation. Moreover, it appears that ISIS has mastered communications and tactical operations suggesting that it may have adopted the pattern of an organized army, graduating from guerrilla warfare and undisciplined bands. The Iraqi army’s disintegration and disorderly retreat show a lack of leadership, a low morale and a weak resolve to fight the insurgents. This may lead the ISIS to exploit its victory and carry out further attacks on army outposts and to enlarge ISIS’s territory (perhaps towards the oil city of Kirkuk).

 

The ISIS now neighbors the Iraqi Kurdish area which leads to several assessments: 1. The Kurds, seeing the Iraqi central regime’s weakness, will take all the necessary measures to protect their autonomy and expand their influence to neighboring Syrian Kurdistan. The Kurds understand very well that they could be the next target after the Assyrians and accordingly will preempt any attempt by the jihadists to step foot in their areas. The fall of Mosul could become the beginning of Kurdish quest for independence.

 

2. Mosul is a strategic city at the crossroads between Syria and Iran. Several strategic oil and gas pipelines crisscross this area to the west, north and south. The presence of the ISIS represents a threat if the ISIS takes possession of oil-producing areas and shipments. Destabilizing northern Iraq and further deteriorating the security of other areas such as Baghdad and further south to Basra, could have dire consequences of Iraq’s production and export of oil. In an extreme scenario, one could envisage a situation similar to Libya, where militias’ rule brought Libya’s production of oil almost to a halt. Today, Iraq fills the gap created by Libya’s absence in the oil market. Would Iran and Saudi Arabia be able to replace Iraq production?

 

3. The city of Mosul is 45 miles south of the mammoth Mosul Dam formerly known as the Saddam Dam. Built on a water-dissolving gypsum foundation, the dam’s stability has generated great concerns and led to major reconstruction and rehabilitation program since 2003. A man-made or natural collapse of that dam could unleash a trillion-gallon wave of water, possibly killing tens of thousands of people and flooding the largest cities in the country, according to assessments by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and other U.S. officials.

 

American officials have warned that the dam’s collapse could lead to as many as 500,000 civilian deaths by drowning Mosul under 65 feet of water and parts of Baghdad under 15 feet. “In terms of internal erosion potential of the foundation, Mosul Dam is the most dangerous dam in the world,” the Army Corps concluded in September 2006. At this point in time, it is not known if the ISIS controls also the dam or if it is in the hands of the Kurds or the Iraqi Government. Falling into ISIS hands could represent a huge threat of “titanic” dimensions were the jihadists to use the dam as an extortion weapon against the Iraqi regime. Even without trying to destroy the dam, the possibility of the dam remaining under their control raises the question of the maintenance and the resilience of its foundations if not taken care on a continuous basis.

 

 

4. In order to keep Iraq as a unified political entity, the regime has no choice but to declare war on the ISIS. Failure to dislodge the ISIS from Mosul and from other cities will signal other communities that they have to take care of their own interests. This could lead to the partition of Iraq into four main autonomous areas: the Kurds in the northeast, the Sunnites in Baghdad area, ISIS in the northeast and the Shi’ite autonomous areas in the south comprising Najf, Karbala and Basra.

 

5. Facing this situation, Iran will likely intervene in order to assist its Shi’ite neighbor. Iran cannot accept the partition of Iraq as a solution because the irredentist trends in Iraq might find an echo in Iran itself. Then, as in the case of Syria, losing Shi’ite Iraq to the Sunnites would mean in the long run another conflict with Iraq. In this situation would Iran choose to intervene like in Syria, through proxies such as Iraqi Hizbullah or expeditionary Lebanese Hizbullah units, or through its own Basij units?

 

6. The U.S. Administration also has to act swiftly to preserve its own national interests and to prevent “newcomers” replacing the U.S. role in Iraq. A divided Iraq or an Iraq caught up in civil war is not of America’s interests. The U.S. choices stop short of sending troops to Iraq. American assistance would be limited to actions such as providing intelligence, carrying out drone attacks, training, and/or supplying sophisticated lethal and intelligence equipment. In this perspective, the U.S. administration might be led to assess that its ongoing dialogue with Iran could also include regional issues, such as the stability of Iraq.

 

7. Finally, the ISIS victory in Mosul could become a beacon to rally other jihadist organizations (such as in Nigeria) and another threat to the monarchies of the Gulf. The ISIS has proven that years after the takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban and of Mali by the MNLA, the jihadist organizations are still capable of mass operations and not only limited to small scale guerrilla warfare. On the other hand, the same examples of Afghanistan, Mali, Syria, Somalia, Yemen and Central African Republic demonstrate very clearly that no terrorist organization can withstand a head-on collision with an organized, well-led regular army. It is up to the Iraqi government to make the tough decision to enter into armed conflict in order to prevail.

                                                                     

Contents
                            

COULD JORDAN FALL?                                                                                            

Michael Rubin

Commentary, June 16, 2014

 

I spoke about the situation in Iraq Saturday morning on C-Span’s Washington Journal. Many callers expressed skepticism at any American involvement in Iraq, arguing simply that no American interests are at stake. I respectfully disagree with that assessment. That the United States cannot afford to allow terrorists safe haven is a lesson that not only American policymakers but also the general public should have learned after allowing al-Qaeda and other terrorists groups to set up shop in the Taliban’s Afghanistan. It is a truism that other countries have learned, be they Pakistan after the ill-considered Malakand Accord, or Lebanon, which allowed Hezbollah to fill the vacuum in its south following the Israeli withdrawal, a decision that directly led to a destructive war just six years later. If ISIS is able to consolidate control, and given its ideological antipathy to nation-state borders, then it will likely turn its sights on Jordan. After all, while ISIS considers Jews, Christians, and Shi’ite Muslims to be heretics deserving of a slow and painful death, its main victims have always been Sunnis.

 

Security officials acknowledge that ISIS already has cells in Jordan. King Abdullah II of Jordan does himself no favors. Like Mikhail Gorbachev in Russia or Ayad Allawi in Iraq, Abdullah is far more popular abroad than he is at home. Indeed, when he assumed the throne upon the death of his father, Abdullah was fluent in English but stumbled through Arabic. His wife Rania might charm Western audiences and might be imagined to attract Palestinian support because of her own heritage, but her profligate spending and tin ear to the plight of ordinary people has antagonized many Jordanians. Many tensions Jordan faces are not Abdullah’s fault: While Jordan has, more than any other Arab state, worked to integrate the Palestinian refugee population, it has also been hit by waves of refugees, first from Iraq and then from Syria. Those working among the Syrian refugees in Turkey and Jordan report that they have not previously seen such a radicalized population. Jordan also does not have the natural resources of some of its neighbors: Saudi Arabia and Iraq are oil-rich and Israel now has gas…

 

An element of blowback also exists. Speaking on the Chris Matthews Show almost a decade ago, King Abdullah II warned of a “Shi’ite crescent,” a specter he subsequently explained in this Middle East Quarterly interview. For those who see an Iranian hidden hand behind every Shi’ite community, Abdullah’s warning had resonance. For Arab Shi’ites, however, it was unrestrained bigotry. Abdullah was not simply content to warn, however. He transformed Jordan into a safe haven for Iraqi Sunni insurgents and spared little effort to undermine Iraqi stability. He, like Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, was too clever for his own good: By supporting those who justified violence against Shi’ites on sectarian grounds and by working for his own sectarian reasons to undercut Iraqi stability, he set the stage for the blowback which is on the horizon.

 

White House Weighs Military Options in Iraq: Julian E. Barnes & Carol E. Lee, Wall Street Journal, June 13, 2014

U.S., Iran Near Talks as Iraq Chaos Worsens: Jay Solomon, Carol E. Lee and Ali A. Nabhan, Wall Street Journal, June 15, 2014 —Whatever the United States or Iran does in response to the Iraqi crisis, there are wider international considerations at stake.

Rebels’ Fast Strike in Iraq Was Years in the Making: Tim Arango, Kareem Fahim and Ben Hubbard, New York Times, June 15, 2013—When Islamic militants rampaged through the Iraqi city of Mosul last week, robbing banks of hundreds of millions of dollars, opening the gates of prisons and burning army vehicles, some residents greeted them as if they were liberators and threw rocks at retreating Iraqi soldiers.

The Al Qaeda Spring Is Here: Daniel Greenfield, New York Post, June 13, 2014—Many of us declared the Arab Spring dead and buried. But the Arab Spring really came in two phases.

The Mad Dream of a Dead Empire That Unites Islamic Rebels: Amir Taheri, New York Post, June 14, 2014—They call themselves the Army of God (Jund Allah) and claim to be fighting to unite mankind under the banner of Islam as “the only true faith.”

 

 

                               

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org

THE WEEK THAT WAS: MOSUL FALLS, BAGHDAD THREATENED; O.: “NO BOOTS, BUT BERGDAHL O.K.” —IRAN THREATENS INTERVENTION, 175,000 SYRIANS DEAD; MEANWHILE, JERUSALEM REMAINS VIBRANT & PEACEFUL OASIS

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 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail: rob@isranet.org

 

Iraqi Insurgents Boast They’re Building an Arab Super-State: Lee Smith, Tablet, June 12, 2013— In seizing Mosul, Tikrit and other northern Iraqi cities over the last 48 hours, the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham has moved closer to what some Middle East experts believe is the organization’s end goal—to create an emirate, an Islamic rump-state, encompassing large parts of Iraq and Syria.

Pragmatism, Obama and the Bergdahl Swap: Caroline B. Glick, Jerusalem Post, June 10, 2014— US President Barack Obama is an artist of political propaganda.

Free Bowe Bergdahl, Then Try Him: Charles Krauthammer, Washington Post, June 5, 2014— What is it with Susan Rice and the Sunday morning talk shows?

Jerusalem’s ‘One-Shekel’ Mayor is Adamant About One Thing: The City Must Never Be Divided: Joseph Brean, National Post, June 8, 2014 — Nir Barkat, the software entrepreneur in his second term as mayor of Jerusalem, is known as a “one-shekel mayor” because he takes a nominal salary, pays his own expenses, and makes a point of describing his constituents as “customers.”

 

On Topic Links

 

Maliki’s Iraq Disaster: David Ignatius, Washington Post, June 12, 2014

Iraq is on the Brink, But the U.S. is Not to Blame: Fred Kaplan, National Post, June 13, 2014

P.O.W. Deal Gives Qatar a Victory, and a New Test: Rod Nordland & Mark Mazzetti, New York Times, June 6, 2013

The Other Captive Americans–Will Obama Trade For Them?: William McGurn, New York Post, June 13, 2014

50th Anniversary of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ Reunites Tevye’s Many Daughters: Melinda Henneberger, Washington Post, June 13, 2014

                                            

IRAQI INSURGENTS BOAST THEY’RE

BUILDING AN ARAB SUPER-STATE                                                             

Lee Smith                                                                                                               

Tablet, June 12, 2014

 

In seizing Mosul, Tikrit and other northern Iraqi cities over the last 48 hours, the Islamic State in Iraq and Sham has moved closer to what some Middle East experts believe is the organization’s end goal—to create an emirate, an Islamic rump-state, encompassing large parts of Iraq and Syria. This, some fear, is a symptom of the region-wide sectarian war, from Beirut to Baghdad, threatening to jeopardize the Arab state system and crash the borders imposed by the British and French with the demise of the Ottoman Empire. Certainly, ISIS is boasting as much. Its propaganda outlets claim the organization is in the process of restoring the caliphate, and erasing the lines secretly drawn by French diplomat François George-Picot and his British counterpart Mark Sykes before the end of World War I.

 

Still, it’s worth putting ISIS’s claims, and the predictions of Middle East experts, in context. The reality is that virtually every Arab political movement of the last century (or at least since London and Paris agreed on the Sykes-Picot lines in 1916) has attempted to eliminate the boundaries drawn by the Great Powers. Indeed, Arab nationalism itself is nothing more than the conviction that the Arabs constitute one great historical nation, divided only by a series of imperial overlords, from the Mongols through the Ottomans up to the Western powers, most recently the United States and Israel. The destiny of the Arabs then is to reunite and thereby overcome the divisions, and borders, forced on them by foreigners.

 

Accordingly, various political movements have manipulated the conceit of Arab unity largely for the purpose of empowering themselves at the expense of rivals. Consider, for instance, Gamal abdel-Nasser, the Arab nationalist hero par excellence. For a brief period, the Egyptian president “erased” Sykes-Picot when he joined his country to Syria to create the United Arab Republic. This combined entity was a formidable affair—until it crashed after only three years on the rocks of Egyptian-Syrian enmity, and Damascus withdrew from the portmanteau state. Nasser promoted himself as a champion of Arab nationalism for no other reason than to enflame the passions of the Arab masses across the region and direct them against his Arab rivals, especially the conservative, or pro-U.S. states, like Jordan, Saudi Arabia, and Iraq, who, said Nasser, betrayed the Arab cause. In other words, Nasser used pan-Arabism to promote his interests and those of Egypt in particular, not of the Arabs as a whole.

 

Baathism, a rival of Nasserism, was a secular doctrine also arguing for the oneness of the Arabs. And yet Baathism’s two major parties in Damascus and Baghdad were perpetually at each other’s throats, from the 1960s up until the fall of Saddam Hussein, as each sought to keep the other off balance. That is, while Baathism had promised to erase the colonial borders of Sykes-Picot, both the Syrian and Iraqi branches were willing to die and kill each other for the interests of regimes ruling states whose lines were drawn by foreigners.

 

The same fractiousness is equally true for another Arab nationalist doctrine, albeit one with a religious coloring—Islamism. Long before ISIS planted its flag to claim a caliphate, the Muslim Brotherhood was there first, promising its adherents a political order that would unite Arabs from North Africa to the Persian Gulf under the banner of the prophet of Islam. Nonetheless, Muslim Brotherhood chapters around the region, and even sometimes within states, are in constant competition with each other. As for the likelihood of Islamists erasing Sykes-Picot, Egypt’s former president, the now-imprisoned Muslim Brotherhood member Mohamed Morsi, wasn’t even able to hold on to power in Cairo, never mind build a caliphate.

 

In short, despite all the pan-Arab ideologies, both secular and religious, that have promised to do away with the borders imposed by the Western powers and build a new pan-Arab super state, or an Islamic caliphate, nationalism is still a powerful force in the Arabic-speaking Middle East—as is Sykes-Picot. Consider, for instance, the standard-bearers of the region’s most famous national movement: the Palestinians. Yasser Arafat didn’t settle for cantons or a rump-state, and neither will Mahmoud Abbas—they want the entirety of at least that part of Mandate Palestine stretching from the West Bank of the Jordan River to the Mediterranean, now called Israel. In 1970, King Hussein of Jordan vanquished the PLO when Arafat made a play for the eastern half of Mandate Palestine, what used to be called Transjordan, as well.

 

The Sykes-Picot borders are still live issues—in part because they are based on living historical traditions, as evidenced by ISIS’s name. Bilad al-Sham, or “country of the north,” is how many Arabs refer to what is now called Syria, which with its capital in Damascus was home to the Umayyad empire (661-750 CE). The Iraqi capital, Baghdad, was the home of the dynasty that followed the Umayyad caliphs, the Abassids (750-1258). The Sykes-Picot lines were drawn in the full knowledge that Arab unity was a myth—a dangerous myth that left unchecked would inspire regional actors to ambitious feats of conquest. Instead, boxed in by borders, Arab despots from Nasser to Syria’s Assad regime had to settle for sabotage and subterfuge. Arab efforts to redraw Sykes-Picot, like Saddam’s 1990 invasion of Kuwait, have been rebuffed by the Western powers. Likewise, it’s those same Western states that are responsible for redrawing the only real new borders in the region. For instance, by establishing a no-fly zone in northern Iraq, the United States effectively drew the lines for what today has become an autonomous Kurdish region in Iraq. Moreover, consider that over the last sixty-plus years no regional state has redrawn its own borders, and those of its neighbors, more than Israel, the country that Arab nationalists call an outpost of Western imperialism…

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

 

 

Contents
                                  

PRAGMATISM, OBAMA AND THE BERGDAHL SWAP

Caroline B. Glick

Jerusalem Post, June 10, 2014

 

US President Barack Obama is an artist of political propaganda. Both his greatest admirers and his most vociferous opponents agree that his ability to manipulate public opinion has no peer in American politics today. So how can we explain the fiasco that is his decision not only to swap five senior Taliban terror masters for US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, but to take ownership over the decision by presenting it to the American people in a ceremony with Bergdahl’s parents at the White House Rose Garden? Clearly Obama overreached. He misread the public’s disposition.

This much is made clear by the immediate criticism his actions received from the liberal media. It wasn’t just Fox News and National Review that said Obama broke the law when he failed to notify Congress of the swap 30 days prior to its implementation. It was CNN and NBC News. MSNBC commentators criticized the swap. And CNN interviewed Bergdahl’s platoon mates who to a man accused him of desertion, with many alleging as well that he collaborated with the enemy. It was CNN that gave the names of the six American soldiers who died trying to rescue Bergdahl from the Taliban. What was it about the Bergdahl trade tipped the scales? Why is this decision different from Obama’s other foreign policy decisions? For instance, why is the public outraged now when it wasn’t outraged in the aftermath of the jihadist assault on US installations in Benghazi on September 11, 2012, in which US Ambassador Chris Stevens and three other Americans were murdered? Politically, Obama emerged unscathed from failures in every area he has engaged. From Iraq to Iran to Syria to Libya to Russia and beyond, he has never experienced the sort of across the board condemnation he is now suffering. His political allies and media supporters always rallied to his side. They always explained away his failures.

So what explains the outcry? Why are people like Senator Dianne Feinstein, who have been supportive of Obama’s nuclear appeasement of Iran, up in arms over the Bergdahl swap? There are three aspects of the Bergdahl deal that distinguish it from the rest of Obama’s foreign policy blunders. First, the Bergdahl deal was conducted in an unlawful manner and the White House readily acknowledged that it knowingly broke the law by not informing Congress 30 days in advance of the swap. This brazen lawbreaking angered Obama’s loyal allies in Congress who, like Feinstein, were insulted by his behavior. Second, Obama initiated the story and made himself the sole owner of the swap. Obama didn’t have to make the Bargdahl swap a story about his foreign policy. He chose to. As commentators have argued, if Obama had simply ordered the Defense Department to issue a press release announcing the swap the story probably wouldn’t have caused more than the normal amount of controversy. And whereas Benghazi was a story about jihadists attacking, and Obama was pilloried – and defended – for his response to an act of aggression initiated by US enemies, Obama presented the Bergdahl swap as his brainchild. So it is impossible to blame anyone else for this move, or wish it away.

As the administration saw it, the public would rally around the leader over this feel-good story. Obama obviously believed that the Bergdahl trade would help him to surmount his opponents’ criticism over the Veterans’ Administration scandal and other issues. And this is where his failure to understand the disposition of the American people comes into play. The third aspect of the swap that distinguishes it from his other foreign policy failures is that by organizing the ceremony at the Rose Garden, and making it a story about himself, Obama denied his supporters the tools they have used in every other instance to explain away his failures and justify his counterproductive decisions. Obama sailed into office by presenting himself as a non-ideological pragmatist. Obama recognized that the public was tired of foreign policies based on ideology. George W. Bush lost public support for the war in Iraq, and for his foreign policy goal of bringing freedom to the Islamic world more generally, when his ideologically charged rhetoric of American exceptionalism stopped matching the situation on the ground.

A year after Bush declared an end to major combat operations in Iraq, the sight of US military contractors being lynched in Fallujah soured the public on American exceptionalism. In Obama, they hoped that they found the antidote to Bush – a man who promised to replace ideology with hard-nosed pragmatism. In the event, Obama turned out to be even more driven by ideology than Bush was. Obama is the anti-Bush not because he matches Bush’s ideology with pragmatism. He is the anti-Bush because he matches Bush’s grand foreign policy based on American exceptionalism with his own grand foreign policy based on American moral deficiency. He made this clear most recently at his commencement address at West Point last month where he stipulated that “American influence is always stronger when we lead by example. We can’t exempt ourselves from the rules that apply to everybody else… .”
[To Read the Full Article Click the Following Link –Ed.]
 

Contents
                                  

FREE BOWE BERGDAHL, THEN TRY HIM

Charles Krauthammer

Washington Post, June 5, 2014

                                                  

What is it with Susan Rice and the Sunday morning talk shows? This time she said Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl had served in Afghanistan “with honor and distinction” — the biggest whopper since she insisted the Benghazi attack was caused by a video. There is strong eyewitness evidence that Bergdahl deserted his unit and that the search for him endangered his fellow soldiers. If he had served with honor and distinction, there would be no national uproar over his ransom and some of the widely aired objections to the deal would be as muted as they are flimsy. For example:

 

1. America doesn’t negotiate with terrorists. Nonsense. Of course we do. Everyone does, while pretending not to. The Israelis, by necessity the toughest of all anti-terror fighters, in 2011 gave up 1,027 prisoners, some with blood on their hands, for one captured staff sergeant. 2. The administration did not give Congress 30-day notice as required by law. Of all the jurisdictional disputes between president and Congress, the president stands on the firmest ground as commander in chief. And commanders have the power to negotiate prisoner exchanges. Moreover, from where did this sudden assertion of congressional prerogative spring? After five years of supine acquiescence to President Obama’s multiple usurpations, Congress suddenly becomes exercised over a war power — where its claim is weakest. Congress does nothing in the face of 23 executive alterations of the president’s own Affordable Care Act. It does nothing when Obama essentially enacts by executive order the Dream Act, which Congress had refused to enact. It does nothing when the Justice Department unilaterally rewrites drug laws. And now it rises indignantly on its hind legs because it didn’t get 30 days’ notice of a prisoner swap?

 

3. The Taliban release endangers national security. Indeed it does. The five released detainees are unrepentant, militant and dangerous. They’re likely to go back into the field and resume their war against local and foreign infidels, especially us. The administration pretense that we and the Qataris will monitor them is a joke. They can start planning against us tonight. And if they decide to leave Qatar tomorrow, who’s going to stop them? The administration might have tried honesty here and said: Yes, we gave away five important combatants. But that’s what you do to redeem hostages. In such exchanges, the West always gives more than it gets for the simple reason that we value individual human life more than do the barbarians with whom we deal. No shame here, merely a lamentable reality. So why does the Bergdahl deal rankle? Because of how he became captive in the first place. That’s the real issue. He appears to have deserted, perhaps even defected. The distinction is important. If he’s a defector — joined the enemy to fight against his country — then he deserves no freeing. Indeed, he deserves killing, the way we kill other enemies in the field, the way we killed Anwar al-Awlaki, an American who had openly joined al-Qaeda. A U.S. passport does not entitle a traitor to any special protection. (Caveat: If a POW is turned, Stockholm-syndrome-like, after falling captive, these condemnatory considerations don’t apply.)

 

Assume, however — and we will find out soon enough — that Bergdahl was not a defector. Simply wanted out — a deserter who walked or wandered away from his duty and his comrades for reasons as yet unknown. Do you bargain for a deserter? Two imperatives should guide the answer. Bergdahl remains a member of the U.S. military and therefore is (a) subject to military justice and (b) subject to the soldiers’ creed that we don’t leave anyone behind. What to do? Free him, then try him. Make the swap and then, if the evidence is as strong as it now seems, court-martial him for desertion…

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

                                                                     

                                                         

Contents
                            

JERUSALEM’S ‘ONE-SHEKEL’ MAYOR IS ADAMANT ABOUT ONE              

THING: THE CITY MUST NEVER BE DIVIDED

Joseph Brean

National Post, June 8, 2014

 

Nir Barkat, the software entrepreneur in his second term as mayor of Jerusalem, is known as a “one-shekel mayor” because he takes a nominal salary, pays his own expenses, and makes a point of describing his constituents as “customers.” His emphasis on fiscal prudence, in a city whose economy has struggled to retain its most skilled workers, is partly a symbolic exercise in political branding. But it also reflects his broader vision of the political life of a city that is holy to Judaism, Islam and Christianity, in which religious tension abounds, and his greatest challengers have come from the large, insular Orthodox community. In such a climate, being a secular mayor offers a chance to transcend those divisions.

 

In an interview Sunday, Mr. Barkat, 54, barely mentioned religion. He said Jerusalem is “vibrant” and “bullish,” as evidenced by the number of cranes in the air, and he is pursuing an aggressive growth strategy based on the twin pillars of cultural tourism and health sciences. There is momentum, he said, with double digit growth in the municipal budget, but “relative to our potential, it’s still tiny.”

 

“Countries are falling apart around us,” he said. “Our economy’s growing, our crime rate is down on the floor, we must be doing something right.” His firm position that Jerusalem must never be divided, however, made his city seem a microcosm of the wider Mideast conflict, following the collapse of the latest round of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, and a unilateral push for Palestinian statehood in which the question of Jerusalem as a capital city for both sides looms large.

 

Though it is often referred to as the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem’s status as Israel’s capital has not been universally recognized, with many countries choosing to do as Canada and the United States have done, and locate their embassies in the financial centre of Tel Aviv, while generally avoiding firm declarations on the topic. A key pillar of the long-sought “two state solution” is a new Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital. Proposals to bridge this gulf have included partition of the city, or the reclassification of Jerusalem as an international city.

 

Mr. Barkat rejects both, and takes another view. “It’s a simple answer,” he said. “Jerusalem will only remain the undivided, united capital of the Jewish people. If the Palestinians would like to open an embassy, side by side to the American embassy, then it should come, and the Canadian embassy should come to Jerusalem. They are welcome to do that.” In response to the observation that countries open embassies in foreign cities, not in their own capital, he said: “Right. Look, both ideologically and practically, there’s no other solution.”

 

“Ideologically, 3,000 years ago, when the people of Israel came back to the land of Israel, the land was divided into tribes, except one city, Jerusalem. The philosophy of managing it was it was open for all, and everyone that came to the gates of the city felt a feeling of belonging. You’re talking about the city that actually created the infrastructure of modern democracy the way we know it today. People that came into the gates of the city were different, but treated equally. One governance, all equal, Jews and non-Jews alike.”

 

“On the practical side, you cannot show me one example of a city that was split that ever functioned,” he said. “So why go there in the first place? All these theoretical models never fly, especially not on a city like Jerusalem that was never divided.” Mr. Barkat is in Toronto to thank Canadian donors to Canada House, a community centre developed by the Jerusalem Foundation of Canada. A gala dinner Monday night is on the theme of “youth retention,” to combat the tendency of young and vibrant Jerusalemites to migrate to Tel Aviv. “I find that the deep commitment and relationship between the people [of Canada and Israel] mustn’t be taken for granted and I’m here to develop the relationship we have,” he said. “I’m here to thank them.”

 

He is also keen to articulate his vision for Jerusalem’s growth, in which Canada plays a key role as both a source country of tourists and of health sciences expertise. “These two areas have gotten a lot of attention, my attention, and we can demonstrate lots of progress,” he said. “The right philosophy is to focus on your competitive advantage… It’s not forcing, it’s leveraging.” Health sciences in particular is “scaling very nicely.”

 

“We see a direct correlation of the vibrancy of the city and the growth of the high tech sector, specifically in health life sciences we are now about 33% of market share in the whole country,” he said, listing pharmaceutical companies that draw on the graduates of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. It is this link, between academia and industry, that he is focusing on developing, taking inspiration from the “business cluster” theories of Michael Porter, the Harvard economist and expert on competitiveness. He also cited his admiration for the ideas of Richard Florida, the University of Toronto urban theorist, about the “creative class,” which he said are complementary. “We’re sitting as market makers, if you like, developing the relationships, the contacts, making sure they all speak to each other. We supply the incentives,” he said. On tourism, his goal is 10-million tourists a year by 2020, which is more than double current levels.

 

He also offered praise for the “outspoken, honest and straightforward” approach taken by the Canadian government to questions about Israel in the global context, and offered this ideal — of putting values before politics — as a point of comparison between Canada and Russia. “You can criticize the Russian government as much as you want, but they know a few things about relationships, if you look at what they do with their allies,” he said. “Alignment and strategy is one of the most important things you have in life. You cannot blink when talking about the relationship between strategic allies. I think that Canada has demonstrated that it knows very well how to be a strategic ally to the people of Israel, to the Israeli government.”

 

CIJR Wishes all of its Friends & Supporters: Shabbat Shalom!

 

Maliki’s Iraq Disaster: David Ignatius, Washington Post, June 12, 2014 —The stunning gains this week by Iraq’s Sunni insurgents carry a crucial political message: Nouri al-Maliki, the Shiite prime minister of Iraq, is a polarizing sectarian politician who has lost the confidence of his army and nation.

Iraq is on the Brink, But the U.S. is Not to Blame: Fred Kaplan, National Post, June 13, 2014 —The collapse of Mosul, Iraq’s second-largest city, has little to do with the withdrawal of American troops and everything to do with the political failure of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki.

P.O.W. Deal Gives Qatar a Victory, and a New Test: Rod Nordland & Mark Mazzetti, New York Times, June 6, 2013—The five hardened Taliban militants were quickly whisked in a fleet of cars to the shoulder of a highway on the outskirts of the capital just as they arrived.

The Other Captive Americans–Will Obama Trade For Them?: William McGurn, New York Post, June 13, 2014—When President Obama delivered the commencement at West Point, he sounded less a commander-in-chief addressing brand-new Army officers than a local college professor speaking to a chapter of the Elks.

50th Anniversary of ‘Fiddler on the Roof’ Reunites Tevye’s Many Daughters: Melinda Henneberger, Washington Post, June 13, 2014—When “Fiddler on the Roof” first opened on Broadway 50 years ago, “we all thought it was going to close after the Jews had seen it,’’ said Joanna Merlin, who originated the role of Tevye the milkman’s oldest daughter, Tzeitel. “We thought it was a show for Jews.”

 

                               

 

                            

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Contents:         

Visit CIJR’s Bi-Weekly Webzine: Israzine.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing is available by e-mail.
Please urge colleagues, friends, and family to visit our website for more information on our ISRANET series.
To join our distribution list, or to unsubscribe, visit us at http://www.isranet.org/.

The ISRANET Daily Briefing is a service of CIJR. We hope that you find it useful and that you will support it and our pro-Israel educational work by forwarding a minimum $90.00 tax-deductible contribution [please send a cheque or VISA/MasterCard information to CIJR (see cover page for address)]. All donations include a membership-subscription to our respected quarterly ISRAFAX print magazine, which will be mailed to your home.

CIJR’s ISRANET Daily Briefing attempts to convey a wide variety of opinions on Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish world for its readers’ educational and research purposes. Reprinted articles and documents express the opinions of their authors, and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint of the Canadian Institute for Jewish Research.

 

 

Rob Coles, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish ResearchL'institut Canadien de recherches sur le Judaïsme, www.isranet.org

Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284 ; ber@isranet.org