Friday, June 23, 2017

U.S.: Strategic Objectives in the Middle East - Peter Huessy

by Peter Huessy

The tectonic plates in the Middle East have shifted markedly with President Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel, and his announced new regional policy.

  • The new "test" of our alliance will be whether the assembled nations will join in removing the hateful parts of such a doctrine from their communities.
  • What still has to be considered is the U.S. approach to stopping Iran from filling the vacuum created by ridding the region of the Islamic State (ISIS), as well as Iran's push for extending its path straight through to the Mediterranean.
The tectonic plates in the Middle East have shifted markedly with President Trump's trip to Saudi Arabia and Israel, and his announced new regional policy.

The trip represented the beginning of a major but necessary shift in US security policy.

For much of the last nearly half-century, American Middle East policy has been centered on the "peace process" and how to bring Israel and the Palestinians to agreement on a "two-state" solution for two peoples -- a phrase that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas refuses to say.

First was shuttle diplomacy during 1973-74 in the Nixon administration; then second, in 1978, the Camp David agreement and the recognition of Israel by Egypt, made palatable by $7 billion in new annual US assistance to the two nations; third, the anti-Hizballah doctrine, recently accurately described by National Security Advisor General H.R. McMaster, as Iran, since 1983, started spreading its terror to Lebanon and elsewhere in the region. This last effort was often excused by many American and European analysts as a result somehow, of supposed American bad faith. Fourth, came the birth, in 1992, of the "Oslo Accords" where some Israelis and Palestinians imagined that a two-state solution was just another round of negotiations away.

Ironically, during the decade after Oslo, little peace was achieved; instead, terror expanded dramatically. The Palestinians launched three wars, "Intifadas," against Israel; Al Qaeda launched its terror attacks on U.S. Embassies in Africa; and Iran, Hizballah, and Al Qaeda together carried out the forerunner attacks against America of 9/11/2001.

Since 9/11, despite wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, terrorism has not only failed to recede; on the contrary, it has expanded. Iran has become the world's biggest state sponsor of terrorism, and the Islamic State (ISIS) has tried to establish a transnational "Islamic caliphate." Literally tens of thousands of terror attacks have been carried out since 9/11 by those claiming an Islamic duty to do so. These assaults on Western civilization have taken place on bridges, cafes, night clubs, offices, military recruitment centers, theaters, markets, and sporting events -- not only across the West but also in countries where Muslims have often been the primary victims.

Particularly condemnable have been the improvised explosive device (IED) attacks against U.S. soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan, perpetrated to a great extent by Iran, according to U.S. military testimony before Congress.

All the while, we in the West keep trying to convince ourselves that, as a former American president thought, if there were a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, most of the terrorist attacks we see in Europe and the United States "would disappear."

No matter how hard we may rhetorically push the "peace process", there is no arc of history that bends naturally in that direction. Rather, nations such as the United States together with its allies must create those alliances best able to meet the challenges to peace and especially defeat the totalitarian elements at the core of Islamist ideology.

If anything, the so-called Middle East "peace process" has undercut chances of achieving a sound U.S. security policy. While the search for a solution to the Israel-Palestinian "problem" dominated American thinking about Middle East peace for so many decades, other far more serious threats materialized but were often ignored, not the least of which was the rise of Iran as the world's most aggressive terrorist.
The United States has now moved in a markedly more promising and thoughtful direction.

The new American administration has put together an emerging coalition of nations led by the United States that seeks five objectives:
(1) the defeat of Islamic State;
(2) the formation of a coalition of the major Arab nations, especially Egypt and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, to clean up in their own back yards financing terrorism and providing terrorists with sanctuary. As Elliott Abrams, an adviser to former U.S. President George W. Bush, cautions us, however, this will not be an easy effort: "Partnerships with repressive regimes may in some cases exacerbate rather than solve the problem for us" but, Abrams says, "gradual reform is exactly the right approach...";
3) "driving out" sharia-inspired violence and human rights abuses from the region's mosques and madrassas;
(4) a joint partnership with Israel as part of an emerging anti-Iran coalition -- without letting relations with the Palestinian authority derail United States and Israeli security interests; and
(5) the adoption of a strategy directly to challenge Iran's quest for regional and Islamic hegemony, while ending its role in terrorism.

Defeating Islamic State

Defeating ISIS began with an accelerated military campaign and a new American-led strategy to destroy the organization rather than to seek its containment. According to the new U.S. Secretary of Defense, James Mattis, "Our intention is that the foreign fighters do not survive the fight to return home to North Africa, to Europe, to America, to Asia. We're going to stop them there and take apart the caliphate."

Secretary of Defense James Mattis. (Dept. of Defense/Brigitte N. Brantley)

So far, the United States coalition has driven ISIS from 55,000 square kilometers of territory in Iraq and Syria.

A New Coalition

Apart from a strategy to counter ISIS, the Trump administration also called on our allies in the Middle East to put together a new joint multi-state effort to stop financing terrorism. Leading the multi-state effort will be the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United States, which together will supposedly open a new center dedicated to the elimination of terrorist financing. Positive results are not guaranteed, but it is a step in the right direction.

According to Abdul Hadi Habtoor, the center will exchange information about financing networks, adopt means to cut off funding from terrorist groups, and hopefully blacklist Iran's jihadist army, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). These measures in turn will help eliminate the sanctuaries from which terrorists plot and plan.

This move also places emphasis on the responsibility of states to eliminate terrorism. As President Trump said, each country -- where it is sovereign -- has to "carry the weight of their own self-defense", be "pro-active" and responsible for "eradicating terrorism", and "to deny all territory to the foot soldiers of evil".

This determination was underscored by many Arab countries breaking diplomatic relations with Qatar for its support of Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS. Most of Qatar's Arab neighbors, including the Saudis, Egypt, and the UAE did so, while the US, although denouncing Qatar's support of terrorism, continues to maintain access to, and use of, its critical military base there.

In short, the U.S. is playing good-cop, bad-cop in the region, while U.S. allies are putting together what Josh Rogin of the Washington Post described as "a regional security architecture encompassing countries on the periphery of Iran."

Such an approach is not without risk: Turkey, allied with Iran and Qatar, has already has pledged to help Qatar defy the Gulf States' trade cut-off. If Turkey, for example, seeks to move its promised aid shipments to Qatar through the Suez Canal, the ships could possibly be blocked by Egypt or attacked on the high seas. Does the U.S. then come to the assistance of a NATO member -- Turkey -- against an ally in the strategic coalition?

Drive Hateful Ideology Out

A companion challenge by the new American President underscored this new security effort. President Trump said to the assembled nations of the Islamic conference that they have to expel the ugly Islamist ideology from the mosques and madrassas that recruit terrorists and justify their actions.

Trump said: "Drive them out of your places of worship". Such words had never been spoken so clearly by an American president, especially to the collection of nearly all the Islamic-majority countries (minus the Shi'ite bloc) gathered together.

The president's audience doubtless understood that he was speaking of the doctrine of sharia (Islamic law). The new "test" of our alliance will be whether the assembled nations will join in removing the hateful parts of the doctrine from their communities. It was a sharp but critical departure from the previous American administration's message in Cairo in 2009, and placed the Islamic doctrine that seeks to establish the sharia throughout the world in a contained context.

New Israeli Partnership

With Israel, the administration has cemented the next part of its strategy. Here the Trump administration successfully improved our political and military relations with Israel. Markedly so. One part of that effort was enhanced missile-defense cooperation called for in the FY18 United States defense budget, specifically to deal with Iranian and Iranian-allied missile threats.

On relations with the Palestinian Authority, the administration has moved to improve matters but has not moved to advocate a two-state solution -- for which there is no contemplated security framework sufficient to protect Israel.

Challenge and Roll Back Iran

The final part of the administration's strategy starts with a thorough review of our Iran strategy and the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or "nuclear deal", with Iran. As Max Singer recently wrote, even if we discount what secretive nuclear capability Iran may now have, the Iranian regime will at the very least be much closer to producing nuclear weapons down the road than when the JCPOA was agreed to.

As Ambassador John Bolton has warned the nuclear deal with Iran did nothing to restrain Iranian harmful behavior: "Defiant missile launches... support for the genocidal Assad regime... backing of then Houthi insurgency in Yemen... worldwide support for terrorism... and commitment to the annihilation of Israel" continue.

In addition, uranium enrichment, heavy water production, the concealed military dimensions of warhead development and joint missile and nuclear work with North Korea all lend a critical urgency to countering Iran's lethal efforts. The United States did not make these counter-efforts any easier by providing to Tehran $100 billion in escrowed Iranian funds, equivalent to nearly one quarter of the Islamic Republic's annual GDP.

The United States' and Europe's easing of sanctions on Iran has helped reintegrate Iran into global markets via mechanisms such as the electronic payment system run by the Society for Worldwide Interbank Financial Telecommunications (SWIFT). That, in turn, has helped Iran expand dramatically its military modernization budget by 33%, including deals worth tens of billions of dollars in military hardware with China and Russia.

Added to that is Iranian financial- and weapons-support for foreign fighters in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Lebanon and Afghanistan. Iran's significant support to the Houthi rebels in Yemen includes weaponry, financing and logistical support, including advanced offensive missiles. The Houthis regularly attempt to carry out missile attacks against Saudi oil facilities.

Such Iran activity is described by the Commander of U.S. Central Command, General Joseph Votel, as "the most significant threat to the Central Region and to our national interests and the interest of our partners and allies".

As such, it can only be challenged through exactly the kind of military, political, and economic coalition the Trump administration is seeking to band together, which would include the Gulf Arab nations, especially Saudi Arabia, as well as Egypt, Jordan, and Israel.

The administration's five-step strategy has a chance to work. It creates a policy to destroy ISIS; oppose Islamic terrorism and specifically the imposition of sharia; adopt measures to go after the financing of such terrorism; implement improvements in Gulf allies' military capabilities -- including missile defenses -- parallel with pushing NATO members to meet their military spending obligations; put back into place a sound and cooperative relationship with Israel; and specifically contain and roll back Iranian hegemonic ambitions and its terror-master ways.

What still has to be considered, however, is the U.S. approach to stopping Iran from filling the vacuum created by ridding the region of ISIS, as well as Iran's push for extending its path straight through to the Mediterranean.

If successful, some modicum of peace may be brought to the Middle East. And the arc of history will have finally been shaped toward America's interests and those of its allies, rather than -- however inadvertently -- toward its mortal enemies.

Dr. Peter Huessy is President of GeoStrategic Analysis, a defense consulting firm he founded in 1981, and was the senior defense consultant at the National Defense University Foundation for more than 20 years.

Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Ongoing Drama of Palestinian Lies - Bassam Tawil

by Bassam Tawil

Abbas knows, even if the American representatives do not, that any move in the direction [of peace] would end his career, and very possibly his life.

  • The current policy of the PA leadership is to avoid alienating the Trump administration by continuing to pretend that Abbas and his cronies are serious about achieving peace with Israel. This is why Abbas's representatives are careful not to criticize Trump or his envoys.
  • When Israel does not comply with their list of demands, the Palestinians will accuse it of "destroying" the peace process. Worse still, the Palestinians will use this charge as an excuse to redouble their terror against Israelis. The Palestinian claim, as always, will be that they are being forced to resort to terrorism in light of the failure of yet another US-sponsored peace process.
  • No doubt, Abbas cannot find it within himself to clarify to the American envoys that he lacks a mandate from his people to make any step toward peace with Israel. Abbas knows, even if the American representatives do not, that any move in that direction would end his career, and very possibly his life. Abbas also does not wish to go down in Palestinian history as the treacherous leader who "sold out to the Jews." Moreover, someone can come along later and say, quite correctly, that as Abbas has exceeded his legitimate term in office, any deal he makes is illegal and illegitimate.

US envoys Jason Greenblatt and Jared Kushner, who met this week in Jerusalem and Ramallah with Israeli and Palestinian Authority (PA) officials to discuss reviving the peace process, have discovered what previous US Middle East envoys learned in the past two decades -- that the PA has not, cannot, and will not change.

During their meeting in Ramallah with PA President Mahmoud Abbas, the two US emissaries were told that the Palestinians will not accept anything less than an independent state along on the pre-1967 lines with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Jared Kushner (left), Senior Advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump, meets with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on June 21, 2017 in Ramallah. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)

Abbas also made it clear that he has no intention to make concessions on the "right of return" for Palestinian "refugees." This means he wants a Palestinian state next to Israel while flooding Israel with millions of Palestinian "refugees" and turning it, too, into another Palestinian state.

At the meeting, Abbas also reiterated his demand that Israel release all Palestinian prisoners, including convicted murderers with Jewish blood on their hands, as part of any peace agreement. The release of terrorists in the past has only resulted in increased terrorism against Israel.

According to Abbas's spokesperson, Nabil Abu Rudaineh, the PA president told Kushner and Greenblatt that a "just and comprehensive peace should be based on all United Nations resolutions (pertaining to the Israeli-Arab conflict) and the (2002) Arab Peace Initiative." Translation: Israel must withdraw to the indefensible pre-1967 lines and allow armed Palestinian factions to sit on the hilltops overlooking Ben Gurion Airport and Tel Aviv.

Abbas's position reflects accurately the policy of the PA leadership over the past two decades -- a policy that has been regularly relayed to all previous US administrations, successive Israeli governments and the international community.

To his credit, Abbas has been nothing short of consistent. He has never, ever, displayed a willingness to offer any concessions to Israel. He misses no opportunity to reaffirm his demands to all world leaders and government officials, with whom he meets on a regular basis.

Nonetheless, some in the international community still believe that Abbas or any other Palestinian leader will be able to make concessions in return for peace with Israel.

Incredibly, Kushner and Greenblatt seem to believe that they can succeed where all others have failed.

The two inexperienced US envoys are laboring under the illusion that they will persuade Abbas and the PA leadership to drop demands such as the "right of return," the release of imprisoned terrorists and a cessation of construction in settlements.

Why President Trump's envoys are creating the dangerously misleading impression that peace is possible under the current PA leadership is nothing short of a mystery.

Creating such an impression is likely to boomerang with a vengeance; the higher the expectations, the greater the disappointment. Giving the Palestinians the feeling that the Trump administration holds a magic wand for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will eventually increase Palestinian bitterness and hostility towards both the Americans and Israel. When the Palestinians wake up to the fact that the Trump administration will not strong-arm Israel to its knees, they will resume their rhetorical attacks against Washington, accusing it once again of being "biased" in favor of Israel.

This was precisely the fate of previous US administrations and presidents who disappointed the Palestinians by failing to impose dictates on Israel. The Palestinians are still dreaming of the day that the US or any other superpower would force Israel to comply with all their demands.

When Israel does not comply with their list of demands, the Palestinians will accuse it of "destroying" the peace process.

Worse still, the Palestinians will use this charge as an excuse to redouble their terror attacks against Israelis. The Palestinian claim, as always, will be that they are being forced to resort to terrorism in light of the failure of yet another US-sponsored peace process.

The Trump administration is making a colossal mistake in thinking that Abbas or any of his Palestinian Authority cronies can exhibit any flexibility whatsoever toward Israel, particularly concerning Jerusalem, settlements and the "right of return."

No doubt, Abbas cannot find it within himself to clarify to the American envoys that he lacks a mandate from his people to make any step toward peace with Israel. Abbas knows, even if the American representatives do not, that any move in that direction would end his career, and very possibly his life.

Abbas also does not wish to go down in Palestinian history as the treacherous leader who "sold out to the Jews."

Despite the best intentions of the US envoys and others in the international community, Abbas knows full well the fate of any Palestinian leader who even considers "collaboration" with the "Zionist entity."

Abbas, whose term in office expired in 2009 and is seen as an illegitimate president by many Palestinians, is not even in a position to offer Israel any concessions for peace. First, someone can come along later and say, quite correctly, that as Abbas has exceeded his legitimate term in office, any deal he makes is illegal and illegitimate.

Abbas also cannot halt anti-Israel incitement; he cannot stop payments to convicted murderers and their families and he cannot accept Jewish sovereignty over the Western Wall in Jerusalem.

Even if some of his aides sometimes come out with statements suggesting that the PA leadership is prepared to consider some concessions on these issues, these remarks should not be taken seriously: they are only intended for Western audiences.

The PA's declared position is that it has already made enough concessions by merely recognizing Israel's right to exist and dropping Palestinian claims to "all of Palestine." This position argues that it is Israel, and not the Palestinians, that needs to make concessions for peace.

"We have reached the red line with regards to making concessions [to Israel]," explained Ashraf al-Ajrami, a former PA cabinet minister. "We have already made a series of concessions on the core issues, while Israel has not presented us with anything."

It might be recalled that this statement by the former PA official is a staggering lie, given the generous offers, gestures and concessions made by successive Israeli prime ministers and governments over the past two decades.

Again and again, all Israeli initiatives have been met with Palestinian rejectionism and stepped-up violence.

The offer made by Prime Minister Ehud Barak at Camp David in 2000 to withdraw from most of the territories Israel captured in 1967 was met with the Second Intifada.

The Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip five years later was misinterpreted by Palestinians as a sign of weakness and retreat, and resulted in thousands of rockets and missiles being fired at Israel.

Another generous and unprecedented offer by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert fell on deaf ears.

The current policy of the Palestinian Authority leadership is to avoid alienating the Trump administration by continuing to pretend that Abbas and his cronies are serious about achieving peace with Israel. This is why Abbas's representatives are careful not to criticize Trump or his envoys.

Abbas wants to deceive the Trump administration into believing that he has the courage, will and mandate to make peace with Israel, the same way he lied to previous Israeli prime ministers. This is the same Abbas who, for the past 10 years, has not been able to even go back to his private residence in the Gaza Strip, which remains under Hamas control.

But in private, some senior Palestinian officials have been criticizing the Trump administration for simply daring to make demands of the PA leadership, such as halting anti-Israel incitement and the payment of salaries to imprisoned terrorists and their families. In other words, what the Palestinian officials are saying is that either Trump accepts our demands or he can go to hell.

"The Americans have actually endorsed the Israeli position," complained Hanna Amireh, a senior PLO official.
"The Palestinian leadership rejects the demand to stop financial aid to the prisoners and their families... Instead of setting preconditions for the Palestinians, the Americans must demand an end to Israeli settlement construction and incitement."
In the twisted world of the Palestinian Authority leadership, Israeli demands for an end to the Palestinian glorification of murderers is itself an act of "incitement."

How dare Israel demand that the PA leadership halt funds to imprisoned terrorists and their families? How dare Israel expose incitement and glorification of murderers and terrorists?

The PA leadership simply cannot fathom the problem with naming streets, public squares and youth and women's centers after murderers of Jews.

It is only a matter of time before the PA leadership begins openly to accuse the Trump administration of being biased in favor of Israel. In the world of Abbas and his cronies, any US administration that does not swallow their lies and fabrications is a "hostile" party that is controlled by Jews and Zionists.

This is precisely what the Palestinians said about Trump and his team during the US presidential election campaign.

The PA leadership has indeed softened its tone against Trump and his advisors since they won the election. Yet this modified tone has one goal: for the PA to avoid accusations of being anti-peace.

In fact, the PA leadership has changed its tone, not its tune. We are witnessing a tactical and temporary move on the part of the Palestinians. This play-acting will end soon enough. The question remains, will the West notice that the curtain has gone down on the show?

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Will Iran lead United Nations agency? - David Rosenberg

by David Rosenberg

Concern growing in Israel that Iranian representative Ahmad Jalali will be chosen to lead UNESCO.

UNESCO headquarters in Paris
UNESCO headquarters in Paris
There is growing concern in the Israeli Mission to the United Nations that a prominent UN agency could soon find itself with an Iranian representative at its helm, Israel Hayom reported.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has been at the center of a string of controversies involving Israel recently, including the passage of resolutions denying the Jewish link to Jerusalem and key religious sites in the city, including the Temple Mount.

Iran’s representative at UNESCO, Ahmad Jalali, is a leading candidate in the UNESCO Steering Committee’s upcoming internal election.

The UNESCO Steering Committee, which includes 58 countries of the 195 currently represented at the UN, holds elections for committee chair every two years. The current UNESCO committee chair is Michael Worbs, a member of Germany’s UN delegation and a part of UNESCO’s Group I, made up of Western states.

The next UNESCO chair is expected to be chosen from Group IV, which is made up of countries across Asia - including Iran.

Iran, say members of Israel’s UN Mission, is making a concerted effort to win this year’s election, slated for October. The Iranian candidate, Ahmad Jalali, chaired UNESCO’s 31st General Conference in 2001, and appears well-positioned to win.

Israel’s representative at UNESCO, Carmel Shama-Hacohen, called the idea of Iran heading the organization “absurd”, but added that in the UN, anything was possible.

“Having an Iranian as chairman of UNESCO is completely absurd; but in UNESCO, any absurdity is liable to become a disturbing reality.”

David Rosenberg


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Israeli commanders reveal plans for mass evacuation of Lebanese civilians in next war - Barbara Opall-Rome

by Barbara Opall-Rome

Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel: "I am certain that if war breaks out on the northern front, we need to take strong action from the word 'go.' ”

HERZLIYA, Israel — The next war in Lebanon will be so powerfully punishing — with thousands of targets struck in the first day of an attack — that hundreds of thousands of Lebanese civilians will have to leave their homes or risk falling victim to “collateral damage,” according to top Israeli military commanders here.

“I have good news for the people of Lebanon,” Maj. Gen. Amir Eshel, the commander of Israel's Air Force, told participants at the Herzliya Conference on Wednesday. “Since Hezbollah has decided to be in urban areas, in those closed apartments where they launch rockets, if the people of Lebanon are to leave those houses before an event begins, they will not be in harm’s way.

"I am certain that if war breaks out on the northern front, we need to take strong action from the word 'go.' ”

According to Eshel, Israeli air power — both qualitatively and quantitatively — “will surprise our rivals in ways they can’t even perceive.” He noted, presumably in reference to Israel’s war in Gaza during the summer of 2014, that the Israeli Air Force “has had [the] opportunity to test ourselves, so what I’m saying is not just a theory.”

Eshel noted that the lethality of Israeli air power, despite “unprecedented precision,” has “some potential to damage those who are uninvolved,” which presents limitations to Israeli war planners.

“This limitation, too, is taken into consideration. I don’t want to go into too much detail, but we are trying to limit this as much as possible. Morally speaking, we want to make that collateral damage as little as possible. Not zero. I don’t want to delude myself. But as little as possible.”

Eshel declined to explain how Lebanese civilians would leave their homes, where they would go or who would be responsible for the evacuation. But Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, Israel’s top military officer, indicated that evacuations would be done by Israel.

In an address the previous evening to the same Herzliya gathering, Eisenkot, the chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces, or IDF, spoke about “hundreds of thousands of civilians” who would need to be evacuated in Israel’s next war with the Lebanese-based Hezbollah militant organization.

“The moment we know the enemy goes into urban terrain, it becomes a matter of morals and values. There are hundreds of thousands in the civilian population. We’ll need to evacuate them … and we’ll have to do that as quickly as possible. We need to preserve legitimacy while fighting,” Eisenkot said.

Israel’s top military officer declined to say how such an evacuation would be carried out without civilian consent or how Israel could possibly venture such an undertaking without ruining the element of a surprise attack and putting large numbers of Israeli forces in danger.

He noted, however, that the Air Force is capable of striking “thousands of targets a day should we be required to do so.”

Eisenkot, a former commander of Northern Command with territorial responsibility for Lebanon and Syria, served as the IDF’s director of operations during Israel’s last war in Lebanon in 2006. In the 11 years since that war, he said, Israeli intelligence, air power and ground maneuvering capabilities have improved tremendously as a result of significant investment and training. 

The IDF chief charged Hezbollah with “crudely violating” United Nations Resolution 1701, which mandated demilitarization of the area beyond Israel’s northern border, and claimed 240 villages and towns in south Lebanon would be legitimate targets in the next war. “We have very good intelligence, and we know them well. Hezbollah has 240 villages and towns where almost every third or fourth house has some Hezbollah force in it.”

Additionally, he said, Hezbollah has built up “thousands of underground locations” and “many tens of thousands of rockets and other capabilities,” most of which has been provided by Iran.

According to Eisenkot, Hezbollah is now heavily immersed in fighting in Syria alongside Russia on behalf of the regime of Syrian President Bashar Assad. This accruing military experience is something Israel “cannot ignore,” he said. At the same time, Hezbollah has lost some 1,800 combatants over the last three years and suffered some 8,000 wounded. 

The IDF chief acknowledged that Israel has made “great efforts” to stop Iranian- or Syrian-supplied arms from reaching Hezbollah, actions that until recently have been neither confirmed nor denied by Israeli officials. “Preventing weapons from reaching the hands of Hezbollah is a top priority for the IDF,” he said.

He also asserted that Hezbollah was taking possession of Russian weaponry without authorization. “Russian weapons are getting into their hands under the noses of the Russians without their approval,” Eisenkot said.


In his June 21 address, Eshel, the Air Force commander, said that since the 2006 Lebanon War, Israeli air power has improved to the point that it will now take the service only 40 to 60 hours to strike the number of targets attacked during the entire 34-day war 11 years ago. “I’m saying that quantitatively speaking we have doubled or quadrupled [the ability to generate and attack targets].” 

Nevertheless, Eshel acknowledged that in the next Lebanon war — due to Hezbollah’s acquisition of advanced capabilities — Israel should expect a worse-case scenario where it sustains fire on some of its air bases and/or airborne air assets. But, he insisted, “these two factors — fire on Air Force bases and threats on aircraft … cannot stop our Air Force.

“This huge machine that is the sum of surprise, quality and quantity will work. Don’t misunderstand me. There is no magic solution or spell. But it is a potent power and a lot more than anyone can estimate.” 

Barbara Opall-Rome


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Ramadan Jihad Comes to Wisconsin and Michigan - Robert Spencer

by Robert Spencer

One police officer in critical condition, two communities terrorized.

Ramadan is in full swing – it doesn’t end until Saturday evening – and Britain has been a particular recipient of Islamic piety during the holy month, with major jihad attacks in Manchester and London. But now the United States has been included in the multicultural festivities, as jihadis have struck, albeit with limited results, in Wisconsin and Michigan.

A Taliban spokesmen recently said: “Our fight is Jihad and an obligatory worship. And every obligatory act of worship has 70 times more reward in Ramadan.” Not just the Taliban believe that. Another likely believer in those special Ramadan rewards is a Muslim in Milwaukee named Mohamad Hamdan.

Last Thursday, according to, Hamdan walked into the U.S. Courthouse in downtown Milwaukee and “began yelling loudly in an Arabic language,” screaming, among other things, “Muhammad,” “Allah,” and “jihad.” According to the criminal complaint against him, he suddenly put his hand into his pocket, which “caused security to fear for their immediate safety.” Hamdan had apparently imbibed well the Qur’an’s command to “strike terror in the enemy of Allah and your enemy and others besides them whom you do not know whom Allah knows.” (Qur’an 8:60)

And he wasn’t finished striking terror in the enemy of Allah. Escorted out of the building by a U.S. Marshal, Hamdan resumed screaming in Arabic, and said in English: “I’m gonna kill you all. Allah. Bomb.”

This led to a massive traffic tie-up in downtown Milwaukee, as the Courthouse and several nearby buildings were evacuated and a bomb-sniffing dog called in. Nothing was found, and Hamdan was charged with making terrorist threats.

Then on the next Wednesday at Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan, a Muslim grabbed for his Ramadan reward by striking terror in the enemies of Allah there, screaming “Allahu akbar” and stabbing a police officer, Lt. Jeff Neville, in the neck. The attacker evidently chose his spot carefully, as the Qur’an directs Muslims: “When you meet the unbelievers, strike the necks” (47:4).

Like the U.S. Courthouse, Bishop International Airport was evacuated and the FBI called in. Tim Wiley of the FBI’s Detroit field office downplayed the attacker’s cry of “Allahu akbar,” saying: “We are aware of reports that the attacker made statements immediately prior to or while attacking the officer, but it is too early to determine the nature of these alleged statements or whether or not this was an act of terrorism. Based on the information that we have at this time, we believe this to be an isolated incident.”

That’s the last thing it was. There was nothing in the least isolated about the incidents in Michigan or Wisconsin, even if in both cases the Muslims involved were acting alone and were not in touch with the Islamic State or al-Qaeda. These “isolated incidents” all stem from the same motivating ideology and belief system. They increase in frequency during Ramadan because Ramadan is a time when Muslims are supposed to redouble their efforts to please Allah, and the Qur’an makes abundantly and repeatedly clear that jihad attacks against infidels are pleasing to Allah.

Yet as Ramadan jihad comes to Wisconsin and Michigan, the denial and willful ignorance of American authorities remains as thick as ever. Non-Muslims continue to congratulate Muslims on the occasion of Ramadan and behave as if it were wholly and solely a benign religious observance that good multiculturalists and all decent, broad-minded people should applaud.

As the death count spirals ever higher, the fatuity of this mainstream view becomes ever more apparent. But really, it has been apparent for years, although few are willing to say so publicly because of the inevitable barrage of charges that will ensue, of “racism,” “bigotry” and “Islamophobia.” As Ramadan jihad attacks become more frequent and more common inside the United States, expect the “Islamophobia” propaganda to grow ever more strident, shrill, and insistent. When you’re trying to put the Big Lie across, the only way you can overcome the hard evidence of reality is by means of constant repetition.

So in the aftermath of these jihad events in Wisconsin and Michigan, watch for new mainstream media presentations about how Muslims are victimized by Trump-supporting racist louts in…Wisconsin and Michigan.

Robert Spencer


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

“Murder of a U.S. Citizen” - Lloyd Billingsley

by Lloyd Billingsley

Double standards and media myths on North Korea’s “brutal and despotic” regime.

American student Otto Warmbier, 22,  passed away in Cincinnati on Monday, only days after he returned from North Korea unable to speak, see or respond to voices. North Korea had sentenced Warmbier to 15 years hard labor based on a bogus charge.

President Trump said “It's a total disgrace what happened to Otto and it should never ever be allowed to happen.”  The American’s death also prompted outrage from a leading Democrat.

“The barbaric treatment of Otto Warmbier by the North Korean regime amounts to the murder of a U.S. citizen,” California Democrat Adam Schiff told reporters.  “The North Korean regime has shown once again that it is perfectly willing to treat Americans who visit their nation as hostages to extract concessions from the United States.” Schiff also echoed Republican calls for a ban on travel to North Korea because tourism “helps to fund one of the most brutal and despotic regimes in the world.”

Schiff is the ranking member of the House Intelligence Committee and a prime mover of the charge that “President Vladimir Putin decided to become an active participant in the U.S. election and attempt to influence its result for Donald Trump and against Hillary Clinton.” This sudden display of wrath against North Korea might lead some to believe that the American left has always opposed that regime with the same vigor. Such is hardly the case.

With aid from American Stalinist spies such as Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, Soviet dictator Josef Stalin gained the technology to build nuclear weapons. The USSR exploded its first atomic bomb on August 29, 1949 and the blast encouraged Stalin to mount a surge in his expansionist plans. He urged his North Korean ally Kim Il-Sung to attack South Korea, an ally of the United States, and on July 25, 1950, the Communist forces invaded.

According to The Hidden History of the Korean War, it was South Korea that invaded North Korea. That was the official Soviet position, and no surprise from author I.F. Stone. As John Earl Haynes, Harvey Klehr and Alexander Vassiliev explain in Spies: The Rise and Fall of the KGB in America, Stone was in fact a Soviet agent who took money from the KGB. He made a career of recycling Communist propaganda but “by the time he died in 1989, I.F. Stone had been installed in the pantheon of left-wing heroes as a symbol of rectitude and a teller of truth to power.”

Peter Osnos, founder of PublicAffairs books, explains that the publishing house, “is a tribute to the standards, values, and flair of three persons who have served as mentors to countless reporters, writers, editors, and book people of all kinds, including me.” The first mentor is “I. F. Stone, proprietor of I. F. Stone’s Weekly,” a man who “combined a commitment to the First Amendment with entrepreneurial zeal and reporting skill and became one of the great independent journalists in American history.”

In similar style, when he passed away, the New York Times called Stone an “independent, radical pamphleteer of American journalism.”

In Hollywood, Communist writers portrayed North Korea as a peaceful, democratic country struggling to defend itself against the evil United States. Stalinist screenwriter Lester Cole, one of Hollywood Ten, praised North Korean cinema in his 1981 memoir Hollywood Red.

Leftist writers mocked movies such as Pork Chop Hill, about a hard-fought American victory in the Korean War. In recent decades, North Korea’s Stalinist regime has not been a favorite subject for Hollywood filmmakers, though not for a lack of stories. For example, Blaine Harden’s Escape from Camp 14: One Man’s Remarkable Odyssey from North Korea to Freedom in the West, charts the story of Shin Dong-hyuk, one of the few ever to escape.

In camp schools Shin saw teachers beating students to death for no reason. Students worked as slaves gathering human excrement in freezing conditions. Anyone who does not “acknowledge his sins and instead denies them or carries a deviant opinion of them will be shot immediately.”

This is the Stalinist regime that now menaces the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons. President Trump has responded with a deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), which North Korea, China and Russia find disturbing. Newly elected South Korean president Moon Jae-in opposes further deployment of THAAD, but this has not sparked the interest of congressional Democrats such as Adam Schiff of the House Intelligence Committee.

Did China and Russia perhaps intervene in the South Korean election? The Democrats neglect such questions and continue to charge, with no evidence, that Putin swung the U.S. election for Donald Trump.  Adam Schiff supports a travel ban to North Korea but shows no support for the president’s temporary restrictions on travel from six countries where those who seek to murder American citizens now thrive.

The old-line establishment media opposes the travel ban and echoes the baseless charge that Putin and Trump stole the election from progressive champion Hillary Clinton. It’s the same inversion of reality one finds in The Hidden History of the Korean War by “independent journalist” I.F. Stone.

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation, and Bill of Writes: Dispatches from the Political Correctness Battlefield.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Forgotten War that Changed American History - Janet Levy

by Janet Levy

The First Barbary War, marking the first time that the American flag was raised in victory on foreign soil, had ended with America standing up to the pirates, something the established European naval powers had not done.

In the late 1700s, the newly independent republic of the United States was continually beset by piracy at sea from four Muslim Barbary Coast states: Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, and Morocco. The U.S., with limited military resources and staggering debts from the War for Independence, sought to establish secure routes for international commerce to spur rapid economic growth needed to build the emerging country. Yet the U.S. faced constant Ottoman attacks on its merchant ships. American and European ships venturing into the region routinely faced capture of crewmembers, who risked being held as slaves until hefty ransoms were paid. The persistent Barbary pirate raids created a major crisis for a new nation that could not afford to either suffer from economic isolation or pay the exorbitant tributes demanded by the pirates.

In Thomas Jefferson and the Tripoli Pirates (Sentinel, 2015), coauthors Brian Kilmeade and Don Yaeger explore "the forgotten war that changed American history." In an action-packed thriller that aptly captures the time, place, politics, and circumstances, the authors chronicle the crisis leading up to the Barbary Wars and their triumphant aftermath.

The authors begin their chronicle with 1785, when the American merchant vessel, the Dauphin, was intercepted off the coast of Portugal by an Algerian cannon-equipped vessel, suffering the same fate as many ships of the day venturing near the Barbary Coast. Together with the crew of the schooner Maria, captured the same year, the sailors were shipped off to Algiers to spend years or their entire lifetimes in slavery under the Ottomans. 

Kilmeade and Yaeger explain that North African coastal states sustained their fiefdoms by routinely sending off ships to cruise the east Atlantic and Mediterranean looking for prey. For centuries, ships had been attacked in international waters and had their crews and cargoes held for ransom, even those belonging to the great naval powers of the day, France and Great Britain. Rather than fight the pirates, these countries preferred to pay annual tributes to purchase safe passage for their vessels.

John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, then respective American ambassadors to Britain and France, were confounded by the Muslim practice of attacking a nation outside the context of war and absent an identifiable threat. To understand the problem and negotiate a reasonable solution, Adams visited the office of Tripoli's envoy to Great Britain in London, who welcomed him with great hospitality. When the Tripolitan ambassador, Sidi Haji Abdrahaman, returned the visit a few days later, Adams perceived him as "a benevolent and wise man" with whom the United States could conduct business.

Sharing his positive perceptions and plans to broker an arrangement with Abdrahaman for safe passage of U.S. merchant ships, Adams invited Jefferson to join him in negotiations. Much to their mutual surprise, Abdrahaman unreasonably demanded exorbitant sums of gold for himself and informed the statesmen that additional sums would be required to buy peace with Tunis, Morocco, and Algeria. 

Both Adams and Jefferson registered astonishment at the excessive tribute amounts and inquired how the Barbary States could justify "[making] war upon nations who had done them no injury." The Tripolitan ambassador declared that "all nations which [have] not acknowledged the Prophet were sinners, whom it was the right and duty of the faithful to plunder and enslave." Kilmeade and Yaeger describe the two founders as being "horrified by the [envoy's] religious justification for greed and cruelty." Exhibiting no remorse or regret, the Tripolitan further explained that "every mussulman who was slain in warfare was sure to go to paradise."

Interestingly, Jefferson had read the Koran while in law school, been perplexed by its values, and dismissively relegated a spot for the Muslim holy book next to his collection of Greek mythology. Kilmeade and Yaeger point out the irony of Jefferson, author of "all men are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights," being confronted by the stark reality of Islamic doctrine.

Adams and Jefferson knew they couldn't afford to relinquish trade in the Mediterranean and realized they were at an impasse. While Adams preferred to pay for peace in a negotiated settlement and viewed a potential war as too costly and unwinnable, Jefferson, a steadfast believer in the freedom of the seas, recognized the necessity of commissioning an American navy to obtain freedom of passage through battle. Furthermore, he didn't trust the Barbary pirates to keep their word and thought a military solution would permanently end the threat.

As a young nation, America was in a difficult predicament. Trade in the Mediterranean was essential, but any exorbitant payments to pirates would have to be borrowed and piled on to the already burdensome war debt. The founders had to decide between the costs of building the capacity to patrol the waters and making ever increasing payments to guarantee safe passage.

In 1789, Jefferson returned to the United States to become the first secretary of state under George Washington. Even with the increased number of enslaved American ship crew members and the continuing threat to American trade in the Mediterranean, President Washington wanted neither a standing army nor navy and favored a policy of neutrality in foreign affairs. His administration made payments to ensure U.S. ships passage through the seas. 

Kilmeade and Yaeger relate that, in the end, America's course of action changed after Algeria in 1793 sent out a new flotilla of eight ships to roam the Atlantic near Gibraltar and specifically seek American ships. Following the capture of ten American ships, Washington's political leaders decided to begin building a permanent, professional U.S. Navy despite deep divisions among political parties and regions of the country.

Meanwhile, under presidents Washington and Adams, tributes had continued to be paid to Muslim leaders of the Ottoman Empire. But that policy changed as well because of the humiliation suffered in 1800 by the USS George Washington, the first American warship to enter the Mediterranean. The ship arrived safely in Algiers but failed to carry a significant enough tribute to satisfy the bashaw of Algeria. Under threat of attack, the despotic ruler, along with his extensive entourage and cargo, commandeered the ship and its crew for a visit to the sultan of Constantinople. 

After receiving a full report in October 1800 of what had occurred to the George Washington, then-president Jefferson responded with a flotilla of U.S. Marine Corps ships as a show of power to repel future attacks. The declaration of war and naval blockade that followed on Jefferson's orders served as a watershed in the Barbary conflict. 

In 1802, with outrage still fresh over the George Washington and Tripoli's continued seizure of American ships, Jefferson signed into law "An Act for the protection of the Commerce and Seamen of the United States against the Tripolitan Corsairs." This legislation authorized the president to end the failed era of appeasement and diplomacy and freed him to pursue a military response against the pirates.

In their book, Kilmeade and Yaeger detail a series of inconclusive battles that occurred afterward until, in 1805 in the Battle of Derna, U.S. Marines achieved a turning point under the leadership of self-declared "General" William Eaton, a former Army captain. Eaton captured Tripoli and raised the American flag in victory, an action memorialized in a line of the Marines Hymn, "to the shores of Tripoli." 

Although Eaton saw that a complete victory over Tripoli was imminent, Jefferson's State Department appointee, Tobias Lear, preferred to exercise diplomatic authority. Lear prematurely signed an armistice agreement, an action later condemned as an "inglorious deed" and "the basest treachery on the basest principles." With news of Eaton's initial military success, Lear used the triumph to broker a peace rather than see the conflict through to a successful military end. Sadly, Eaton's victory against the Barbary leaders – the complete humbling of the Tripolitan leader – was underestimated, a declaration of peace was signed, prisoners freed, a small tribute paid, and the near dethroned bashaw of Tripoli retained his kingdom.

Shocked to receive an order to retreat, Eaton had planned to continue the fight to Benghazi and Tripoli for a complete defeat of the enemy. Instead, he was forced to relinquish ground valiantly fought for by his men, a dangerous sign of weakness in a region that respected only strength.

In the end, Jefferson's decision to fight for the freedom of navigation of the seas proved to be the right one. Eaton's successful mission demonstrated that interference with American commerce and the captivity of American seamen required a strong response.

Ultimately, America received two important benefits from this incomplete victory: the free flow of American shipping in the region and the promise that future American captives would not be enslaved, but be treated as POWs. 

The First Barbary War, marking the first time that the American flag was raised in victory on foreign soil, had ended with America standing up to the pirates, something the established European naval powers had not done. The young nation's navy now had valuable experience and had proven that it could effectively fight for its interests. As a critical military legacy, it marked the emergence of the young nation as a force to be reckoned with in foreign seas. It was the first American victory outside the Western hemisphere and the first conflict in which the U.S. Navy worked in concert with U.S. land forces to demonstrate that American forces could fight as a cohesive unit in the execution of a war far from home to sustain national honor and respect.

With naval experience under its belt, the U.S. was now well prepared to return to the Maghreb during the War of 1812 and win handily. As a result of that British-instigated conflict which lasted a mere 48 hours, full shipping rights, minus financial fealty, were won for all American ships as well as restitution for damaged vessels and stolen goods.

It wasn't until 1815 that the naval victories won by Commodores William Bainbridge and Stephen Decatur led to treaties ending all tribute payments. After a decisive victory in Algiers, Decatur sailed to Tunis and Tripoli, where he reached similar agreements, gaining reparations and the releases of American and European slaves. Thus, Kilmeade and Yaeger conclude in their dramatic retelling of this mostly forgotten war that the Americans under James Madison finally put a stop to the centuries-old practice of Barbary kidnapping, theft, terror, and slavery. From this early international victory in the Barbary Wars, the U.S. embarked on its journey to become one of the world's greatest military and economic superpowers.

Janet Levy


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.