Friday, October 17, 2014

US-Israeli Relations: National Security Trauma - Amir Rappaport

by Amir Rappaport

Pursuant to developments during Operation Protective Edge, the Israeli defense establishment will reduce the production of weapon systems in the USA in the context of joint Israeli-American projects, and will rely more heavily on Israeli-made products

Here is another unfamiliar result of Operation Protective Edge: the Israeli defense establishment will reduce the production of weapon systems in the USA in the context of joint Israeli-American projects, and will rely more heavily on Israeli-made products. Under a veil of secrecy, a decision has already been made at IMOD not to enable the production of at least one highly sensitive weapon system on US soil, despite the fact that the manufacture of said system in the USA may be funded through US defense aid instead of being paid for in NIS with Israeli taxpayer money.

The Israeli defense establishment will also intensify the manufacture of Israeli missiles that can substitute US-made munitions. The decision, in itself, will not have a substantial effect on Israel's security status, but it represents a major trauma in US-Israeli defense relations: things that had been taken for granted until Operation Protective Edge, like the fact that Israel could always count on a US airlift of ammunition in a time of trouble, are no longer certain at all.

The cause of this trauma was, naturally, the decision by the USA not to enable the shipping of ammunition to Israel during Operation Protective Edge. The story was revealed for the first time by Wall Street Journal, which reported that a shipment of Hellfire missiles for helicopters was withheld, based on US sources.

The full truth, revealed here for the first time, is much more severe: apparently, during Operation Protective Edge, the USA had completely stopped all connections with Israel's defense procurement delegation based in the USA. For days, no item whatsoever could be shipped. The expected airlift of US ammunition had never even arrived at its point of departure.

The crisis began about ten days into Operation Protective Edge, pursuant to allegations that the percentage of uninvolved civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip was extremely high (IDF admitted that about one half of all Palestinian deaths were probably civilians who had not been involved in the fighting).

At that stage, the Israeli defense establishment submitted to the USA a request for various types of munitions, including Hellfire missiles, to replenish the dwindling inventories of IDF.

The urgent request was submitted using a procedure that the Israeli defense establishment practices as part of every training exercise and wartime scenario – through the European Command of the US military (EUCOM).

The order to stop the processing of all Israeli requests came from a senior echelon – probably the White House, among other reasons, because Israel had ignored the initiatives of Secretary of State John Kerry and preferred to end the operation through a direct channel with the Egyptians. The State Department had been annoyed with Israel for several months, since it was revealed that Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon had referred to Kerry as 'Messianic' in closed sessions.

The freezing of working relations vis-à-vis the Israeli procurement delegation generated a lot of frustration, but it should be noted that at the same time, strategic cooperative alliances between Israel and the USA continued through other channels. The Americans even allowed the IDF to use the materiel inventories they keep in storage depots on Israeli soil, which constitute 'backup' for the IDF inventories, in accordance with previous agreements between the two countries.

Israeli defense establishment authorities thought initially that the Americans delayed the airlift for the first time since the Yom-Kippur War of 1973, but US sources in Washington pointed out that a similar step was taken during the first Lebanon War in 1982.

Israel Defense has learned further that within the Israeli defense establishment, this recent affair has led to a reassessment of the almost automatic reliance on an airlift of ammunition from the USA as a part of practically every wartime scenario.

Among the measures currently under consideration is a review of the option of increasing the amount of US materiel stored in Israel in advance and a massive transition to Israeli-made munitions. For example, the Hellfire missiles the Americans failed to deliver may be replaced by IAI missiles, while precision guided munitions by Rafael may replace US-made air-to-surface munitions. Since Operation Protective Edge, Israeli defense industries have already received urgent procurement orders for arms and munitions worth billions of NIS.

Israeli and American defense industries have numerous joint projects under way, but pursuant to the developments during Operation Protective Edge, the standing order is for the weapon systems, at least in the context of one specific project, to be manufactured on Israeli soil.

Emerging from the Crisis?

It should be noted that the arms issue was resolved toward the end of Operation Protective Edge and that despite the recent events, the strategic defense relations between the two countries continue even now, including extensive intelligence cooperation. US DOD and IMOD are also proceeding with numerous joint research and development projects and US defense aid will remain a substantial element of the Israeli defense budget, which enables Israel to acquire such extremely costly systems as the F-35 future fighter aircraft. The Americans have also increased their support for the Iron Dome project during Operation Protective Edge. Thus far, they have financed, through a special budget (beyond the usual defense aid), the acquisition of most of the new batteries.

The AUSA 2014 Annual Meeting & Exposition was held this week in Washington DC, and the Israeli presence at the event was massive.

Next week, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and IMOD Director General Dan Harel will arrive in the USA for talks at the Pentagon. Apparently, the events of Operation Protective Edge will be one of the issues discussed in the context of these talks.

Amir Rappaport


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The Road from Qatar to the Gaza Strip - Reuven Berko

by Reuven Berko

In a recent speech, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor mentioned the central role of Qatar in supporting international terrorist organizations. Money flowing from Qatar to Hamas, for example, paid for the terrorist attack tunnels dug from the Gaza Strip under the security fence into Israeli territory, and for the thousands of rockets fired at Israeli civilian targets in both the distant and recent past. In response, State Department spokesperson Marie Harf rushed to Qatar's defense, claiming it had an important, positive role in finding a solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Qatar's funding for Islamist terrorist organizations all over the world is an open secret known to every global intelligence agency, including the CIA. It was exposed by Wikileaks, which clearly showed that funds from Qatar were transferred to al-Qaida. Qatar also funds the terrorist movements opposing the Assad regime in Syria, such as the Al-Nusra Front, encourages anti-Egyptian terrorism in the Sinai Peninsula and within Egypt itself, and is involved in Islamic terrorism in Africa and other locations. It accompanies its involvement in terrorism targeting Israel and Egypt (through the Muslim Brotherhood) with vicious and inflammatory propaganda on its Al-Jazeera TV channel.

Qatar also spends millions of dollars supporting the Islamic Movement in Israel, a branch of the Muslim Brotherhood headed by Sheikh Ra'ed Salah. The Islamic Movement is responsible for ongoing acts of provocation on the Temple Mount and in Judea and Samaria, and incites the entire Islamic world against Israel, claiming that the Jews are trying to destroy the Al-Aqsa mosque and replace it with the Jewish Temple. The incitement continued even as the Islamic Movement's sister movement, Hamas, fired rockets at Jerusalem and endangered both the mosques on the Temple Mount and Jerusalem's sites sacred to Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

As Qatar's representative, the Islamic Movement, which has not yet been outlawed in Israel, contributed to Hamas what it could during Operation Protective Edge by instigating riots, blocking roads and seeking to foment a third intifada which, according to the plan, would be joined by Israeli Arabs to augment the deaths of thousands of Israelis killed by rockets and the mass murders through the attack tunnels planned for the eve of the Jewish New Year.

In his recent UN speech, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rebutted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' accusations of Israeli "genocide" of the Palestinian people. He reminded his audience of Hamas' use of Gazan civilians as human shields and of the rockets fired to attack specifically civilian Israeli targets. Unfortunately, he did not mention the Hamas charter, which calls for the murder of all the Jews. The fact that Abbas now heads a national consensus government in which Hamas is a full partner commits him to the slaughter of the Jewish people – a true genocide – and it is to the disgrace of the international community that such an individual was permitted to address the UN instead of being tried for war crimes.

In fact, the similarities between Hamas and ISIS are clearly stated in the Hamas charter, which defines Hamas as part of the Muslim Brotherhood's global Islamic movement. One of its objectives is to fight "infidel Christian imperialism" and its Zionist emissaries in Israel in order to impose the Sharia, Islamic religious law, on the world. According to the charter's paragraph 7, Hamas' intention is to slaughter every Jew, as ordered by Muhammad and those who accept his legacy. That is the basis for the threat issued by ISIS "Caliph," Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, that under his leadership, Islam will "drown America in blood."

Throughout its history, Hamas, like ISIS, has been committed to the concept of the global caliphate, which it plans to help construct by creating its own Islamic emirate on the ruins of the State of Israel. Since its founding, Hamas has attacked Israel and murdered thousands of its citizens exactly as ISIS has attacked and murdered "infidels." They share the same slogans, with "There is no god but Allah" and "Allah, Prophet Muhammad" inscribed on their flags and headbands. Hamas terrorists have blown themselves up in Israel's coffee shops, hotels, restaurants, buses, malls and markets, wherever there are large concentrations of civilians. The way Hamas executed suspected collaborators during the final days of Operation Protective Edge bore the hallmarks of the al-Qaida execution of Daniel Pearl and the ISIS beheading of James Foley and others.

In the decades during which Hamas has carried out a continual series of deadly terrorist attacks against Israel, wearing the same "Allah, Prophet, Muhammad" headbands as ISIS terrorists, the international community rarely voices its support for Israel, or takes into account that by defending itself Israel also defends the West, which has failed to understand that "political Islam" inspired by the Muslim Brotherhood was setting up shop in the free world's backyard and that the ticking bomb was set to go off sooner than expected. The West has not clearly condemned Qatar for openly supporting Hamas and its terrorist activities against Israel or demanded that it stop.

While Israel responded to Hamas' rocket attacks on civilian targets to keep thousands, if not tens of thousands, of Israeli civilians from being killed, the international community demanded "proportionality." That requirement kept Israel from responding as it should have and encouraged Hamas to fire ever more rockets at "military targets" such as Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. When Israel built its security fence to keep Hamas suicide bombers from infiltrating into Israeli territory to blow themselves up in crowds of civilians, the international community opposed it, rushed to embrace the Palestinians' vocabulary of "racism" and "apartheid," and willingly played into the hands of Hamas and Abbas. This reaction occurred although Israel is the only truly democratic country in the Middle East, where Jews and Arabs can live in peace without "apartheid."

Today President Obama says he "underestimated" the threat posed by ISIS, while Israel has been warning the world of extremist military Islam for at least a decade, as Netanyahu warned the world of a nuclear Iran in his UN speech.

The international community has been curiously silent about the genuine apartheid in the Arab states neighboring Israel. There, descendants of the original 1948 Palestinian refugees, by now in their fourth generation, still live in refugee camps, do not have citizenship, and are excluded from jobs and social benefits. Israel, however, absorbed hundreds of thousands of Jewish refugees, many of them destitute, who fled Europe and were expelled from the Arab countries when the state was founded, and were given citizenship and enjoy full rights, as do the Arabs who remained in Israel after the War of Independence.

Israel, which has nothing against the Palestinian people, would like to see the Gaza Strip rebuilt for both humanitarian reasons and to give Hamas something to lose. Radical Islamic elements around the globe, however, including Hamas, ISIS, al-Qaida, the Al-Nusra Front and Hizballah, all financed by Qatar, do not want to see the Israeli-Palestinian conflict resolved. They all have the same global agenda, based on fueling the conflict to unite Islam around it, under their leadership.

Therefore, Qatar continues to support global Islamic terrorism. On Sept. 13, Qatar paid the Al-Nusra Front a ransom of $20 million to free abducted UN soldiers from Fiji. The world praised Qatar for its philanthropy, but in effect, it was a brilliant act of manipulation and fraud, both filling the Al-Nusra Front's coffers and representing itself as the Fijians' savior. Qatar is using the same underhanded trick in the Gaza Strip. After sending Hamas millions of dollars to fund its anti-Israeli terrorist industry, it pledged $1 billion to help rebuild the Gaza Strip during last weekend's conference in Cairo.

While the world hopes Operation Protective Edge was the last round of Palestinian-Israeli violence, senior Hamas figures reiterate their position of gearing up to fight Israel again. Not one Hamas leader is willing to agree to a full merger with the Palestinian Authority to establish a genuine unified Palestinian leadership. Hamas rejects even the idea of disarming or demilitarization as part of an agreement to rebuild the Gaza Strip and promote the peace process. Unfortunately, no one has suggested it as a pre- condition for any U.S. dollars that will be contributed to the reconstruction of Gaza.

All that is left now is to hope that the billions of dollars poured into the Gaza Strip for its rebuilding will be accompanied by the disarmament of Hamas and the establishment of an honest mechanism for overseeing the money and materials Egypt and Israel allow into the Gaza Strip. It is imperative that they not be diverted to rebuild Hamas' terrorist infrastructure and tunnels, or to bribe UNRWA officials to look the other way, as has happened so often in the past. There is every indication that only Hamas and Qatar know whether there is anything to justify that hope.

Dr. Reuven Berko has a Ph.D. in Middle East studies, is a commentator on Israeli Arabic TV programs, writes for the Israeli daily newspaper Israel Hayom and is considered one of Israel's top experts on Arab affairs.


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The European Left Turns Back the Peace Process - Michael Curtis

by Michael Curtis

All well-meaning people hope that the conflict between Israel and its Arab neighbors can be settled peacefully, if not ending in a paradise of inner tranquility.  Regrettably, leftist political groups in European countries are damaging that hope in two ways.  They ignore the belligerent statements as well as the actions of Palestinians.  In addition, by supporting unilateral actions by Palestinians, they repudiate formal international agreements made over the years, calling for an end to the Israeli-Arab conflict by negotiations.  The peace process is not helped by breakage of international understandings.

The British House of Commons – which, on October 10, 2014, approved a non-binding resolution, moved by left-wing members of the Labour Party in Parliament, calling for the recognition of a state of Palestine by a vote of 274 to 12, though most of the Conservative party abstained – did not appear to understand this.  They perceived themselves as making a small but symbolic step and a gesture for common humanity, but in effect, they ignored the fact that significant parts of the Palestinians do not recognize the State of Israel and would not allow that state to exist if they had power.

It remains a mystery why leftists ignore unequivocal Palestinian statements.  A recent one, reported in Al-Quds on October 3, 2014, comes from Jibril Rajoub, deputy secretary of the Fatah Central Committee.  Rajoub stressed that the Palestinian leadership had decided to close the subject of bilateral relations with the occupier (Israel).  Future relations with Israel would be as between enemies.

The British left apparently forgot, or perhaps welcomed, the belligerent voice of Palestinian President Abbas at the United Nations on September 26, 2014, when he spoke of the Palestinian people as subjected to “terrorism by the racist occupying power.”

The British left appeared to be unaware of threats to Israel and to Jews.  European countries have become conscious of these threats.  In France, the city of Lille, the fourth-largest in the country, decided “temporarily” to freeze its twin city agreement with Safed, one of Judaism’s holiest cities, the center of Kabbalah, and a major art center.  The ostensible and implausible reason for the decision was a response to actions by Israel when it was defending itself against Hamas rocket attacks during its Operation Protective Edge in Gaza in September 2014.  The city council explained that their decision was intended to pressure the Israeli government and thus accelerate the resolution of the conflict.

However, two other factors undermine this specious “explanation.”  One is the unmentioned fact that 4 of the 11 members of the council are Muslims in a city whose population at present is 27 percent Muslim.  The growing Muslim presence is reflected in at least two ways.  One indication is that thirteen mosques were built but only nine churches during the 2013 year.  Another is that a Muslim high school, the first in France, was started recently as an alternative to the secular public educational system.  

The second factor is that citizens of Lille are aware of, and may fear, trouble coming from Israel’s enemies.  They remember the unpleasant episode in June 2014 in the soccer match between Lille OSC and Israeli Maccabi Haifa, played in Austria.  Palestinian protestors interrupted the game by invading the field to attack the Israeli players.

The Palestinian issue has been complicated by being linked to Islamist terrorism.  France has been faced by the problem that more than 100 French women have left the country to join the terrorist Islamic State (IS) in Iraq and Syria.  Whatever their reasons, an identity crisis or a desire to become martyrs, their fate is foreseen.  They are already scheduled to become either the wives or the concubines of the terrorists.

Britain too has witnessed hundreds of citizens leaving the U.K. to fight for IS.  Instead of concentrating on this growing problem, the political left, the Labour Party (LP), in the country has concerned itself with the issue of a Palestinian state.  The British Liberal Democratic Party showed its blind spot or political deaf ear by holding its annual conference on Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.

Though opinions within the Labour Party differ on Middle East questions, the party in 2011 and in 2012 supported the Palestinian bid for upgraded Palestinian status at the United Nations.  It did so when the U.N. approved the resolution for Palestine to become a non-member observer state by a vote of 139 to 9.  The British Conservative government was one of the 41 countries that abstained on the vote.

A considerable part of the Labour Party, if not the leadership, has adopted a more critical position on Israel, emulating that of Sweden.  On October 3, 2014, the new Swedish prime minister, the leftist Stefan Lofven, head of a coalition government, made a statement in Parliament on his first day in office.  He announced, as part of his general statement on government policy, that Sweden would recognize the state of Palestine.  He explained, in rather non sequitur fashion, that a two0state solution required mutual recognition and a will to coexist peacefully.  Therefore, Sweden would recognize the state of Palestine.  It is the first EU country to do so.  Other European countries – Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia – did so before they became EU members.

This ill-considered and counterproductive statement by the prime minister followed disturbing utterances by other leftist politicians in Malmö, Sweden, a city in which about one third of the inhabitants are Muslims.  Sweden’s leftist Social Democrats are harming the reputation of the country as rational and objective.  The former mayor of Malmö, Ilmar Reepalu, was notorious for his statement that Zionism was racism, for statements that bordered on anti-Semitism, and for his refusal to deal with Muslim aggression against Jews in the streets of Malmö.

Another leftist politician, a member of the Malmö city council, Adrian Kaba, produced a new version of history.  In 2012, he warned of “the Jew-European extreme right-wing conspiracy.”  In October 2014, he proclaimed in his new version that the Israeli Mossad had trained the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.  This bizarre set of accusations makes it appear that Swedish media do not carry information on recent events – namely, the beheading of innocent journalists and mass murders by IS.  Rather, Kaba informed us that “Muslims are not waging war; they are being used as pawns in other peoples’ game.”

The British leftists have not gone over to this ludicrous and paranoid Swedish leftist view of Israelis as almighty.  Though the Labour Party leaders thought it was unwise, a group of leftist members of the House of Commons did propose the motion on October 13, 2014 that the British government recognize the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel.  The initiator of the motion was a backbench MP named Grahame Morris, who, since December 2013, has been chair of the Labour Friends of Palestine and the Middle East.  He spoke of the fight for freedom of the Palestinian people and against their unjust treatment, though he forgot to mention that Hamas was largely responsible.  His true views were revealed in an earlier speech when he mentioned that the comparison between Israel and apartheid South Africa was “solid.”

Supporters of the Palestinians may take satisfaction in what they see as symbolic gestures and propaganda coups to which European countries pay attention.  But symbolic gestures do not change foreign policy, and unilateral actions do not advance peace.  The exact contours of a Palestinian state will be determined only by negotiations.  By calling for unilateral action for the establishment of a Palestinian state, the leftists are in effect reactionaries, preventing dialogue and perverting the international agreements that called for a final status to be determined by negotiations.

Michael Curtis


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Obama's 'Strategy': Linking Israel and Iran - Barry Shaw

by Barry Shaw

In fifty days of Gaza conflict, Israel launched 5500 precision air strikes against terror targets. In 70+ days the U.S. launched less than 400 strikes in Iraq and Syria against ISIS. Why?

It’s not lack of planes and firepower. It’s a lack of political will, despite all the rhetoric of having to degrade and defeat the Islamic State's rampaging and mayhem.

Despite Obama’s late decision to launch air strikes, he has only tickled the enemy. He could do more. He won’t. He doesn’t want to. What is the reason for this procrastination?

Part of the reason for Obama’s reticence in attacking ISIS with more force seems to be contained in a think tank policy document he commissioned entitled “The Iran Project. Iran and its Neighbors. Regional Implications for US Policy of a Nuclear Agreement.”

Experts who signed off on this document include Thomas Pickering, Brent Scowcroft, Daniel Kurtzer, Nicholas Platt, and Zbigniew Brzezinski.

The document mistakenly sees the possibility of using ISIS to drive Iran and Israel closer together in a common cause. This misguided strategic fantasy is described thus, "If ISIS were to continue to progress, Israel and Iran might find themselves with a common enemy."

The dream of bringing Iran and Israel together seems so devoutly to be wished by the Obama Administration that it surmounts any political reality to facts on the ground.

Could this be the reason that America has not applied the full measure of air power at its disposal in killing and driving back ISIS?

If it is, it’s dangerous and false thinking. It appears as if the U.S. president is cynically allowing thousands to be slaughtered in front of our eyes for a strategy that will never come to pass.

Does he, or his experts, really think that Iran and Israel will join his feckless coalition out of joint fear of ISIS?  If so, he is dead wrong.

In contrast to President Obama’s recent statements, the document does call ISIS a state of sorts. “ISIS is no longer just a terrorist group but represents a hybrid state/non-state threat.”

The top strategic experts explain themselves thus, “In parts of the territory it now controls, ISIS exercises a kind of governance: it collects revenue, executes brutal Islamist law, has a police force, and controls a jihadist conventional army.”

The only force that is bravely standing and confronting ISIS on the ground are the Kurds, and yet Obama is still not arming them directly. He should. Instead, the documents points to the U.S. administration playing a double game by recruiting not only Iran but also Tehran’s ally Assad to fight against ISIS;
“Syrian forces should be urged by Tehran to attack ISIS directly in Syria. Syrian military commanders, security personnel, and top government officials should be motivated to avoid an ISIS victory.” 
However you read this, the administration think-tank policy document is calling on the White House to back an Iranian, Assad, even Hizb’allah coalition to fight ISIS in Syria.

A nuclear agreement with Iran runs through the document. It is the center piece of a U.S. Middle East policy. At parts it reads like a dream world of smoke and mirrors. “A nuclear agreement could help the United States and its allies find common ground with Iran for a creative response to ISIS, although the United States must avoid seeming to ally itself with the Shi’a and thereby enhance the appeal of radicals to Sunnis.”

It is hard to comprehend a policy in which the ISIS threat is seemingly put off until after the signing of a nuclear agreement with Iran on the supposition that it will make for closer buddies between the rival states in the region. As if Saudi Arabia and Erdogan would link arms with Ayatollahs and Assad to defeat ISIS. If only! Putting off a strong direct attack on ISIS until after a nuclear deal with Iran is dangerous wishful thinking, not foreign policy. 

The mixing of two unrelated issues, a nuclear deal with Iran and the threat of ISIS, leads to a muddling Middle East strategy. The dangers implied here is that it is impossible to defeat ISIS without a nuclear deal, and from that stems the desire to rush through a nuclear deal in order to solve the ISIS issue.
“The degradation and defeat of ISIS presents an opportunity for America to work even-handedly with the nations of the region to achieve a common goal. Cooperation with Iran would thus take place within a larger regional grouping that should include the Gulf States and Turkey in addition to the Government of Iraq.”
The reason this is doomed to failure is in the description of the nuclear deal that the administration is trying to reach. It talks of “limiting” the Iranian program, “lengthening” the time for Iran to reach nuclear breakout, and “reducing” the risk that Iran “might” acquire nuclear weapons. It does not talk of stopping Iran’s march to a nuclear weapon.

Israel sees ISIS creeping closer to its border. It can visibly see the Al-Nusra terror group on the Golan Heights. ISIS is not far away, and the document states the threat for Israel;
“The ‘Islamic State’ declared an end to the 1916 British and French-imposed Sykes-Picot borders, and announced that its next goal would be to free Palestine.”
This threat would give Israel a justification to get into the fight. If it did, it is more likely to assist the Kurds than get into bed with Iran, as the document wrongly suggests. Albeit indirectly arming and trained the brave Kurds, before the ISIS threat becomes a face-to-face confrontation for Israel, could become a necessity for Israel.

There is a case to be made for Israel to arm the Kurds, particularly in Iraq. The Kurds are close to America and sympathetic to Israel’s plight in a radical region. They are more democratically minded than other players in the region. They have proven themselves to be the only courageous fighters on the ground in Iraq.

Israel sees convergence of interests with Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Egypt over the growing threat of the ISIS brand of Islamic terror. As happened with its conflict against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, it is reasonable to assume that these countries will turn a blind eye to Israel arming the Kurds.

Israel looks on the Kurds with great sympathy, but it could do more. Helping them overcome their confrontation with ISIS would be one way for Israel to demonstrate to the world what a small, but courageous and just, coalition can achieve in a regional war against radical Islamic terror.

As the document states, “if allowed to consolidate its control over large parts of Syria and Iraq, ISIS would also represent a terrorist threat to the American homeland.”

Barry Shaw is the author of ‘Israel Reclaiming the Narrative.’ He is the Special Consultant on Delegitimization Issues to The Strategic Dialogue Center at Netanya Academic College in Israel


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The Death of R2P - Clifford D. May

by Clifford D. May

Remember R2P? Not to be confused with R2-D2 (a robotic character in the Star Wars movies), "Responsibility to protect" was an international "norm" proposed by U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan following the genocide in Rwanda in 1994 and the mass murders in the Bosnian town of Srebrenica a year later. The idea was for the "international community" to assume an obligation to intervene, militarily if necessary, to prevent or halt mass atrocities.

So why has R2P not been invoked to stop the slaughters being carried out in Syria and Iraq? Why isn't it mentioned in regard to the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobani which, as I write this, may soon be overrun by barbarians fighting for what they call the Islamic State?

Here's the story: In 2009, Annan's successor, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, issued a report on "implementing" R2P. The foreign policy establishment cheered. For example, Louise Arbour, a former U.N. high commissioner for human rights, called R2P "the most important and imaginative doctrine to emerge on the international scene for decades." Anne-Marie Slaughter, an academic who served under Hillary Clinton at the State Department, went further, hailing R2P as "the most important shift in our conception of sovereignty since the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648."

In 2011, U.S. President Barack Obama cited R2P as his primary justification for using military force to prevent Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi from attacking the opposition stronghold of Benghazi. 

If that was the apogee of R2P, the nadir was not far off. The intervention in Libya has led to chaos and bloodshed with no end in sight. Meanwhile, in Syria four years ago this spring, Bashar Assad brutally cracked down on peaceful protestors.

Obama made Assad's removal American policy but overruled the recommendation of his national security advisors to assist Syrian nationalist opposition groups. Civil war erupted. Self-proclaimed jihadis from around the world flocked to Syria to fight on behalf of the Sunnis. The opposition was soon dominated by the Nusra Front, an al-Qaida affiliate, and the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL), whose leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, broke with al-Qaida and, audaciously, declared himself caliph -- supreme leader.

As for Assad, he is supported by the Islamic Republic of Iran, deploying both its elite Quds Force (designated in 2007 by the U.S. government as a terrorist organization) and Hezbollah, a Lebanon-based militia loyal to Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. Russia also backs Assad, even supplying on-the-ground military intelligence specialists. 

With no United Nations-approved R2P effort to rescue the innocent civilians of the region from these brutal forces, the death toll in Syria and Iraq has topped 200,000, and the number of refugees is in the millions.

Failed experiments, like crises, should not go to waste. Among the lessons to be learned from the R2P debacle: (1) The notion of an international community that can prevent or halt mass atrocities is a chimera. If such work is going to get done, the U.S. has to do it, perhaps supported by a coalition of the willing and, with few exceptions, not particularly able. (2) It's ludicrous to propose that the U.N. Security Council -- whose permanent members include neo-Soviet Russia and anti-democratic China -- should be vested with the authority to pass judgment on the legitimacy of such missions. (3) American power should be used primarily in pursuit of American interests. Sometimes that will include humanitarian interventions. But that's a decision for Americans to make.

This, too, should be clear: While the Islamic State is currently attracting the most attention, it is the Islamic republic -- which has been using proxies to kill Americans on and off for the past 35 years -- that could soon have nuclear weapons as well as missiles to deliver them to targets anywhere in the world. Hezbollah and other terrorist groups offer an alternative means of delivery. Iran's radical Shia rulers are more sophisticated than the Sunni jihadis displaying disembodied heads on pikes. But their goals differ little from those of their rivals.

In response to this dire and deteriorating situation, Obama should be instructing his advisors to present him with a range of strategic options. I''d recommend conceptualizing the global conflict not as disconnected "overseas contingency operations," and not as akin to World War II, but more like the Cold War. That is to say, the U.S. should plan for a long, low-intensity struggle. In particular, we should support those willing to fight the jihadis who threaten them. 

Economic weapons can be powerful if used correctly, which has not been the case in the past. For example, though sanctions brought Iran's rulers to the negotiating table, premature relief from sanctions pressure has encouraged Iranian intransigence as the talks proceeded. 

Also long overdue is a serious war of ideas -- it's insufficient to leave that to Bill Maher and Ben Affleck on HBO. Bottom line: We are not really engaged in a conflict against "violent extremism" or even "terrorism." What we're confronting are ideologies derived from fundamentalist readings of Islamic scripture. Proponents of those ideologies stress the supremacy of one religion -- much as communists stressed the supremacy of one class, and Nazis of one race. There is no reason to suppose that saying this clearly, rather than obfuscating, will radicalize Muslims not already favorably inclined toward killing infidels.

Our aim should be, to borrow a phrase from Obama, to "degrade and eventually defeat" jihadism. Nothing is more imperative than preventing Iran's rulers from taking the next, short steps toward a nuclear weapons capability that they clearly intend to use to threaten not just their neighbors but also Americans for decades to come. For an American president, this is where the R2P needs to begin.

Clifford D. May is president of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and a columnist for The Washington Times.

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What makes ISIS the most powerful force in Syria?‎ - Uzay Bulut

by Uzay Bulut

When the civil war in Syria started, Salafis were a minor element of the Syrian opposition. ‎But since the ‎beginning of 2013, five of the most powerful organizations in Syria have been ‎Salafi groups. ISIS was only ‎one of them. Today, ISIS is the most powerful group in the ‎region. 

It is widely acknowledged that three countries back the Salafi groups for their own political or ‎economic ‎motives: Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar.

Turkey and Free Syrian Army ‎

What happened to the Free Syrian Army?‎

The Free Syrian Army is not an organized, militarily trained or ideologically homogenous ‎group. This has ‎resulted in its weakening in conflict zones. And the political rivalry between ‎countries that support the FSA ‎has also played a role in its loss of power. Turkey, for example, ‎supported the FSA groups that fought ‎against Kurds in Syrian Kurdistan and Aleppo but the ‎Saudis supported other FSA groups in the same ‎region in order to establish political hegemony ‎there. This has made the FSA even more fragmented, open to ‎corruption and ideologically ‎divided. And the empowerment of the Salafis was a final blow to the FSA.‎

Turkey and the Syrian National Council ‎

Despite its influence in the Istanbul-based Syrian National Council, Turkey has not striven to ‎turn the ‎council into a democratic and pluralistic organization. What has mattered for Turkey ‎has been the loyalty of ‎SNC persons and groups to Turkey's "red lines." Most of the SNC ‎consists of Arab nationalist and Islamist ‎groups whose political agendas are in line with the ‎state ideologies of Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. ‎Actually, members of this council have ‎not been free to express their demands openly and their fates depend ‎on the steps to be taken ‎by Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. With its current structure, internal power ‎struggles and ‎ineffective members, it seems that the SNC does not promise hope for the Syrian people.‎

Moreover, the SNC has not taken a concrete, independent step toward expressing its own ‎demands other ‎than issuing written statements. The SNC's support for anti-pluralistic Islamist ‎groups, its hostile stance ‎against the Democratic Union Party (PYD), which administers the ‎autonomous regions of Syrian Kurdistan, ‎and its silent approval of Salafi attacks against the ‎PYD's armed wing, the People's Protection Units (YPG), ‎are other signs of its anti-democratic ‎nature. ‎

Turkey and Salafis

Turkey's anti-PYD stance in Syrian Kurdistan and its desire to gain power in the post-Assad ‎era have caused ‎it to invest in jihadist groups in Syria. Its main criteria in determining which ‎plans and groups to support in ‎Syria were the Kurdish issue and Islamism.‎

With those criteria in mind, it has reportedly provided intelligence, logistics and monetary ‎support to groups ‎fighting against the Kurds, enabling the flows of fighters and ammunition ‎to them.‎

It has reportedly hosted the leaders of some Salafi groups in Ankara. For example, it invited ‎Ahrar ash-‎Sham's leader, who was already living in Turkey and had close relations with the ‎Turkish Foreign Ministry, ‎to help him negotiate with the FSA.‎

Turkey's policy -- or political games -- on Syrian Kurdistan

On the one hand, Turkey has supported all forces, including ISIS, that are fighting the ‎Kurdish YPG. It has ‎provided these forces with health services and logistics, facilitating the ‎flow of their fighters to Syria. On the ‎other hand, Turkey has formed other military groups ‎that it can control more than ISIS. ‎

For instance, an armed group called the Ahfad al-Rasul Brigade, which fought against the ‎Kurds in Sere ‎Kaniye (in Syrian Kurdistan) in 2012, was reportedly established in the Turkish ‎province of Urfa, with the ‎support of the Turkish government.‎

In November 2013, Turkey and Saudi Arabia reportedly formed a new Salafi front, called the ‎Islamic Front, ‎which consists of groups such as Al-Tawhid Brigade, Ahrar ash-Sham, Suqour ‎al-Sham, Jaysh al-Islam, and ‎Ansar al-Sham. As a result of this project, Salafism in the region ‎became even more intensified. ‎

Turkey's relations with the Islamist and jihadist groups in Syria have further deepened the ‎ethnic and ‎religious divisions in the region. Even though Turkey is a NATO member and an ‎EU candidate, it has been ‎fueling the civil war in Syria, along with Saudi Arabia and Qatar, ‎intensifying armed conflicts and increasing ‎the suffering of civilians. ‎

Islam, ISIS and the West

Most Western analysts and politicians choose to overlook the fact that the rise of jihadism has ‎much to do ‎with literalist interpretations of the Quran. ‎

The idea that ISIS is a reaction to U.S. and Western foreign policy is unrealistic. Without ‎studying the ‎history of Islamic jihad from its beginnings in 620 C.E., the current rise of ‎jihadist groups and the influence ‎of the historic jihadist mentality on today's challenging times ‎cannot be fully understood. Whether the West ‎intervenes in Islamic countries or not, jihadists ‎will always desire to conquer Western, non-Muslim, and ‎secular Muslim countries. This will ‎continue for as long as they have adequate funds and logistical support.‎

Turkey chooses ISIS over the Kurds

Turkey has openly chosen ISIS over the Kurds. It would also choose another radical Islamist, ‎Salafi force ‎that it could control more easily, but under the current circumstances, it has ‎chosen ISIS over the PYD. ‎Turkey does not want the PYD administration on its southern ‎border. The fact that Turkey does not have a ‎preventive stance toward ISIS and overlooks the ‎flow of ISIS fighters to Syria are indications of this.‎

The AKP government's understanding of "democratic resolution"

The stance of Turkey's ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) toward the Kurdish issue ‎is complex ‎and ridden with contradictions. Unlike traditional Kemalist governments, the AKP ‎government seems to be ‎trying to resolve the Kurdish issue by expelling armed groups from its ‎own territory.‎

The resolution of the Kurdish issue, however, is not only about ending armed conflicts. Kurds ‎demand the ‎right to self-rule, and especially, linguistic rights.‎

To this end, the Kurdish Language Research Foundation, Democratic Society Congress and ‎Teachers' Union ‎established three schools that would give education in Kurdish in the Kurdish ‎provinces of Diyarbakir, ‎Sirnak and Hakkari. The schools were opened on September 15, 2014 ‎but were closed by police on ‎September 16, as the governors of those cities had declared the ‎schools illegal and the Turkish Interior ‎Ministry had ordered that the schools be sealed. The ‎students, their parents and local politicians opened the ‎seals of the schools to start education ‎on September 17. But the police sealed the schools on the same day ‎again, this time using ‎pepper spray, gas bombs and water cannons against the protesters (including elderly ‎people) ‎who demanded that the schools be opened. ‎

This must be an unprecedented, Turkish-style resolution of a national conflict through ‎‎"democratic" means. ‎Turkey has given a unique meaning to democratization which should be ‎analyzed in sociology textbooks ‎under the chapter "How Not to Make Peace with Oppressed ‎Minorities."‎

The AKP government presents the Kurds' desire to have education in their native language as ‎‎"a demand ‎thwarting the resolution process." Its intolerance against Kurdish schools alone ‎shows that the AKP ‎government is seeking not to achieve peace with its Kurds, but to ‎establish a new kind of hegemony over ‎them.‎

As if Turkey's oppression of its own Kurds did not suffice, now it aims to annihilate the ‎autonomous ‎administrations of Syrian Kurdistan with all the means at its disposal, particularly ‎with the military might ‎that it owes mostly to its NATO membership.‎

Be it the AKP government or former Kemalist governments, Turkey has always made it its ‎hobby to oppress ‎the Kurds.

But it was the West that paved the way for dividing and separating Kurdistan with the Sykes-‎Picot ‎Agreement, leaving Kurds stateless and marking the beginning of their tragic fate. So it ‎is the same West ‎that should end this injustice and help the Kurds realize their centuries-old ‎dream of statehood.‎

Uzay Bulut


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Support Allies, Not Terrorists - Shoshana Bryen

by Shoshana Bryen

Kerry's international party should be trying to aid the Kurds, our friends and the mortal enemy of ISIS, instead of trying to lavish more international funds on Hamas and Fatah -- two sides of a movement dedicated to destruction.

For the moment and against the odds, Kobani stands. Kurdish men and women, abandoned by the United States and watched but not aided by Turkey, hold the line against the sweep of ISIS across Iraq and Syria; one little point of heroism that may be gone by the time you read this. ISIS, on the other hand -- well-financed, armed, vicious, and fighting on toward Baghdad -- will assuredly not be gone.

So the Cairo meeting of Secretary of State John Kerry with UN General Secretary Ban Ki Moon and representatives of the EU, Qatar and Britain this weekend was probably a good thing, right? Just last week, a UN envoy was worried that massacres at Kobani would rival Srebrenica in the Bosnian war. Coordinated with President Obama and NSC, State and DOD meetings in Washington, an international meeting might decide a) how to take immediate steps to protect the tens of thousands of people left in the unfortunate city, b) how to pressure the Turks to provide serious support, and c) how the U.S. "air only" war plan needs to be revised in the absence of "allied" troops on the ground.

Since no battle plan survives first contact with the enemy, and this one survived less well than others, there is no shame in moving to Plan B. Except they were not discussing Kobani.

They were trying to raise $4 billion for the Gaza Strip, to remove the evidence of Hamas's rocket war against Israel and its own people. Israel was not represented.

The Cairo meeting, the brainchild of Egyptian President Sisi, appealed to Kerry, who appears still to think Palestinians hold the key to glory if not peace. Qatar pledged $1 billion, the U.S. $213 million, the UK $32 million and the EU 450 million Euros. In the court of international organizational politics, Kobani loses and the Palestinians, including the terrorist group Hamas, win.

Can anyone spare some change for the Kurds of Syria? Above, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry (front row, 5th from left) in a group photo at the Gaza Donors Conference in Cairo, Oct. 12, 2014. (Image source: U.S. State Department)
The real winner is Mahmoud Abbas, the man on whom the Palestinian fixation of Europeans and Americans can be focused. Abbas was said to be doing all he could to ensure that a "third intifada" did not break out. He is promoted as "not-Hamas," a partner for European, American, and NGO money that could be used without fear of rearming Hamas or rebuilding of tunnels. Everyone conveniently ignored the Hamas-Fatah "Unity Government", which met in late September to announce agreement on most major points -- although not whether or how to place Hamas military assets under Fatah control.

If Kobani is shamefully not on their minds, at least a few points might be considered before running billions of dollars more through the corrupt and kleptocratic Palestinian Authority [PA]:
Abbas and the PA engage in ongoing and vicious incitement not only against Israel, but against Jews, and look the other way when incitement results in violence. Abbas's government hid the murderers of three Israeli teens for two months before the IDF found them. Abbas took no steps to assist Israel in its manhunt, even though the IDF increased security for the PA by arresting nearly 100 Hamas operatives during that time. Palestinians were told to place multiple calls to the Israeli Police emergency number to stymie real calls that might come in. In particularly revolting displays, Palestinians walked near Jews waving three fingers, signifying the three kidnapped students; staged "reenactments" of the kidnapping with the boys portrayed as soldiers; and gave candy to their children to celebrate their deaths.
Since August, a low-level intifada has, indeed, been going on, primarily in Jerusalem and its environs. The light rail line from the suburb of Shuafat into Jerusalem, designed to bring Palestinians into central Jerusalem has been vandalized several times. Palestinians have vandalized graves on the Mount of Olives Cemetery, thrown rocks and firebombs at a Jewish nursery and daycare center and more, as can be seen here and here.
Hamas and Fatah agree that the independence of Israel in 1948 was a mistake by the international community, coming at the expense of Palestinians and needing to be reversed. Hamas is religious, corrupt and believes in armed revolution; Fatah is secular, corrupt and believes in negotiation until armed revolution is viable.
Incitement goes along with preparations for war. Fatah also claims to be producing rockets, showing Russian Television a West Bank production facility. A Palestinian journalist told RT, "The moment (Gaza) ended, the Palestinian military wings renewed military production in order to replenish the stock, which was emptied during the war." The indispensable Palestinian Media Watch has "documented that PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas himself has said a number of times that he opposes violence against Israel only because it is not currently in the Palestinian interest. He has given two main reasons for this. First, Palestinians are not prepared militarily, and second, a war would heavily damage the infrastructure in the Palestinian areas."
Abbas and the PA have been corrupt stewards of international funds, here, here, here, here, and here for starters. The PA claims Hamas stole $700 million, but European auditors say Fatah is no better: see here and here.
Abbas broke his commitment to the U.S. not to engage in attempts to use international institutions -- including the UN and the International Criminal Court -- unilaterally to press claims against Israel. His UN speech about Israel as a genocidal monster prompted even the State Department to condemn it as "provocative."
Fighters in Kobani have found ways to slow down ISIS over the weekend, but lack serious weapons and intelligence to advance their position. Under the circumstance of immediate and critical fighting, Kerry's international party should have been trying to aid the Kurds, our friends and the mortal enemy of ISIS, instead of trying to lavish more international funds on Hamas and Fatah -- two sides of a movement dedicated to destruction.

Shoshana Bryen


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Indyk’s Yom Kippur War on Israel - Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn

by Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn

As Yom Kippur sermons go, Martin Indyk’s was a doozy. Speaking at the Adas Israel synagogue in Washington, D.C. on the holiest day of the Jewish year, the former U.S. envoy to the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations accused Israel of showing “total disrespect” for the Obama administration. 

Indyk said many things in his Yom Kippur address with which one might take issue, but one analogy in particular stands out as especially disturbing.

He said that he “discovered” in the most recent round of failed negotiations “that we would crack the whip, but no one was responding to our whip cracks. That’s a change.”

How disappointing for Indyk. Those who recall his days as U.S. ambassador to Israel no doubt feel a sense of deja vu when they hear Indyk talking about whips. Here is how he described his role in Israel to the Washington Post back on February 24, 1997:  “The image that comes to mind is a circus master. All these players in the ring. We crack the whip and get them to move around in an orderly fashion.”

Ironic, isn’t it? The ex-diplomat who accuses Israel of being “disrespectful” has repeatedly compared the Israelis to circus animals who need to have some sense whipped into them. And when the dumb brutes don’t respond, Indyk the circus master is outraged and lashes out at his victims.

The irony goes further. Indyk served a president who has made almost a hobby of being disrespectful to Israel’s prime minister. Nobody can forget the time that President Obama deliberately left Prime Minister Netanyahu waiting for an hour and a half, while he went off to have dinner with Michelle and the kids. Or the infamous photo that the White House released of President Obama with his feet on his desk as he spoke by phone with Netanyahu.

Not to mention just last week, when Mr. Obama repeatedly referred to Netanyahu as “Bibi,” while Netanyahu, by contrast, appropriately referred to Obama as “Mr. President.” In an earlier era, perhaps someone could complain that it was difficult for an American president to pronounce a name such as “Menachem.” But how hard would it have been for President Obama to pronounce the name “Benjamin” ?

If the U.S.-Israel relationship is indeed “in trouble,” as Ambassador Indyk claimed in his Adas Israel speech, the reason is not that Israelis are being “disrespectful,” which Indyk claims to be “really, really disturbed by.”

The reason is that the Obama Administration’s policymakers, starting with the president and going all the way down the line to envoys such as Indyk, automatically blame Israel for everything and the Palestinians for nothing.

They denounce Israel for construction within existing Jewish towns in Judea-Samaria, but never criticize the Palestinian Authority for building entire new Arab cities there. They denounce Israel for building homes in Jerusalem, yet they never say anything about the widespread illegal Arab construction in Jerusalem.

Nor do they ever say a word about the truly “disrespectful” actions by the PA toward the United States, such as paying salaries to imprisoned terrorists who have murdered Americans, or naming streets, parks and soccer tournaments after killers of Americans — including the killer of the niece of the late U.S. Senator Abraham Ribicoff.

Just two weeks ago, both PA cabinet minister Yusuf Ida’is and the official PA news agency “WAFA” praised the killers of the three Israeli teenagers –one of whom was an American– as “Shahids,” or “martyrs.” And just a few weeks before that, the official PA daily newspaper Al-Hayat Al-Jadida published no less than five articles in a six-day period acusing the United States of creating ISIS in order to destabilize the Middle East.  (For details, see

It is precisely this Obama-Indyk attitude, which ignores the disrespectful actions of the PA, and accuses Israel of being “disrespectful” if it fails to respond to “whip cracks,” which threatens U.S.-Israel relations.

Moshe Phillips and Benyamin Korn


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Germany: Holy War Erupts in Hamburg - Soeren Kern

by Soeren Kern

"We are living in Hamburgistan." — Daniel Abdin, imam of Hamburg's Al-Nour Mosque.
One politician has been repeatedly threatened with beheading as the price to pay for leading a fundraising campaign to provide food and water for Kurds in northern Iraq.
"As a society we must ask ourselves: how can it be that people who live in Germany and... born and raised here, are supporters of a brutal, inhuman and fundamentalist group such as the IS and attack peaceful protestors with knives, sticks and machetes. Here in Germany, the IS threatens to become a refuge for frustrated young people…." — Claudia Roth, Vice-President, German Parliament.
"Under no circumstances should [politicians who receive death threats] give in and change their stance, otherwise the extremists will have achieved their objectives." — Wolfgang Bosbach, CDU official.

Parts of downtown Hamburg, the second-largest city in Germany, resembled a war zone after hundreds of supporters of the jihadist group Islamic State [IS] engaged in bloody street clashes with ethnic Kurds.

The violence—which police say was as ferocious as anything seen in Germany in recent memory—is fueling a sense of foreboding about the spillover effects of the fighting in Syria and Iraq.

Some analysts believe that rival Muslim groups in Germany are deliberately exploiting the ethnic and religious tensions in the Middle East to stir up trouble on the streets of Europe.

The unrest began on the evening of October 7, when around 400 Kurds gathered outside the Al-Nour mosque near the central train station in Hamburg's St. George district to protest against IS attacks on the Syrian Kurdish town of Kobani.

According to police, the initially peaceful protest turned violent when the Kurds were confronted by a rival group of around 400 Salafists armed with baseball bats, brass knuckles, knives, machetes and metal rods used to hold meat in kebab restaurants.

In the melee that followed, more than a dozen people were injured, including one person who nearly had his leg chopped off by someone wielding a machete, and another person who was stabbed in the stomach with a kebab rod.

Some 1,300 police officers, brandishing batons and accompanied by water cannons, were deployed to halt the clashes, which lasted into the early morning hours of October 8. In the final tally, hundreds of weapons were seized and 22 people were arrested.

German police in riot gear, accompanied by armored vehicles and water cannons, charge into a street battle between Kurds and radical Islamists in Hamburg, Oct. 8, 2014. (Image source: N24 video screenshot)

"I had the feeling that we are living in Hamburgistan," the imam of the Al-Nour mosque, Daniel Abdin, told the German newsmagazine Der Spiegel. "The atmosphere was very, very explosive."

Police said they were shocked by what they described as an unprecedented level of violence.

In an interview with the newspaper Passau Neue Presse, the chairman of the German Police Union, Rainer Wendt, reported that police in Hamburg "experienced life-threatening brute force" by perpetrators who were armed "to the teeth." Wendt warned that the IS-Kurdish conflict is "threatening to unleash a proxy war on German soil."

A police official in Hamburg, Gerhard Kirsch, said the level of the violence points to a new "dangerous dimension" that "we have so far not seen at other demonstrations."

The chairman of the German Police Union in Hamburg, Joachim Lenders, described the viciousness as unprecedented. "The violence in the early hours of Wednesday was of a ruthless and inhuman brutality as I have rarely experienced," he said, adding that without the timely deployment of the police there would almost certainly have been fatalities. Lenders added:
"If in the middle of Hamburg 800 hostile people are fighting each other with machetes, knives and iron rods, there must be consequences for the perpetrators. Politically motivated extremists and religious fanatics have brought a conflict to Hamburg that cannot be solved here."
On the same day of the unrest in Hamburg, dozens of mostly Chechen Muslim immigrants clashed with Kurdish Yazidis—a non-Arab and non-Muslim minority that has been persecuted by IS—in Celle, a town in Lower Saxony that is home to more than 7,000 Yazidis. Police said the violence, in which nine people were injured, was fueled via social media after radical Muslim preachers sent out a call to Islamists to confront the Yazidis.

The conflict in Celle was reminiscent of—but far more violent than—the Muslim-Yazidi clashes that occurred in the eastern Westphalian town of Herford in August.

"Solidarity with Kobani" demonstrations have also taken place in Munich—where protestors waving large Kurdish flags occupied the offices of the Christian Social Union [CSU], the Bavaria-based sister party to Germany's ruling Christian Democratic Union party [CDU]—as well as in the western German cities of Berlin, Bremen, Göttingen, Hamm, Hannover, Kiel, Oldenburg and Stuttgart.

Germany is home to an estimated 4.3 million Muslims, one million Kurds and 60,000 Yazidis. According to the 2013 annual report (published in June 2014) of the German domestic intelligence agency, the Bundesamt für Verfassungsschutz [BfV], Germany is also home to 30 active Islamist groups and 43,000 Islamists, including 950 members of the Lebanese terrorist group Hezbollah, 1,300 members of the Muslim Brotherhood and 5,500 Salafists.

Salafism is a radically anti-Western ideology that openly seeks to replace democracy in Germany (and in other parts of the West) with an Islamic government based on Sharia law.

Although Salafists make up only a fraction of the Muslims in Germany, authorities are increasingly concerned that many of those attracted to Salafi ideology are impressionable young Muslims who are susceptible to perpetrating terrorist acts in the name of Islam.

German authorities have faced criticism for being overly complacent concerning the rise of Salafism in the country. On October 2, for example, the German public broadcaster ARD revealed that German officials have for many years pursued a secret policy of encouraging German Islamists to travel abroad rather than to invest in counter-radicalization efforts. According to ARD, the general idea was that if German jihadists were intent on committing terrorist acts, it would be better that they do so somewhere else than inside Germany.

The overall aim was to "protect our population" by exporting the problem, the head of counter-terrorism for Bavarian Police, Ludwig Schierghofer, told ARD. The reasoning was "to bring those persons who pose a risk that they will commit terrorist attacks outside of the country," he said. "If someone had become radicalized and wanted to leave, then the policy was to allow them to leave or even accelerate their departure by various means."

An estimated 450 German Muslims have traveled to Syria and Iraq, and at least 100 are now believed to have returned to Germany.

Meanwhile, a growing number of German politicians are receiving death threats from German Salafists.

One such politician, Tobias Huch of the (classical liberal) Free Democratic Party [FDP], has been repeatedly threatened with beheading as the price to pay for leading a fundraising campaign to provide food and water for Kurds in northern Iraq.

"I am not afraid, but I have become more careful," says Huch, who now receives police protection. He says he has altered his daily comings and goings in order to be less predictable. Among other lifestyle changes, he has cut out regular visits to restaurants, pubs and other public venues.

Another politician, Ismail Tipi of the ruling CDU, is paying the price for criticizing the rise of Salafism in Germany. "I receive threats almost every day," Tipi says. "The death threats against me have no limits. The Salafists want to behead me, shoot me, stone me, execute me and they have many other death wishes for me."

According to CDU official Wolfgang Bosbach, politicians who receive death threats should not allow themselves to be intimidated. "Under no circumstances should they give in and change their stance, otherwise the extremists will have achieved their objectives."

The head of the FDP, Christian Lindner agrees. "It is unacceptable for Liberals to allow religious extremists to take an ax to the central values of our constitution. We will not give in to threats and intimidation, rather we will demand the determined reaction of the rule of law."

By contrast, the Vice President of the German Parliament, Claudia Roth of the Green Party, believes the growing radicalization of Muslims in Germany points to problems in German society. In an interview with the newspaper Die Welt, Roth said:
"The violent clashes between Kurdish and Islamist groups in German cities and on German streets refer more to internal German problems than the situation in northern Syria and northern Iraq.
"As a society we must ask ourselves: how can it be that people who live in Germany and in large part are born and raised here, are supporters of a brutal, inhuman and fundamentalist terror group such as the IS and attack peaceful protestors with knives, sticks and machetes. Here in Germany, the IS threatens to become a refuge for frustrated young people who lack future prospects."
While politicians debate causes and solutions to the problem of radical Islam, police throughout Germany remain on alert for more violence.

Soeren Kern is a Senior Fellow at the New York-based Gatestone Institute. He is also Senior Fellow for European Politics at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter.


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