Friday, September 8, 2017

Israel strikes Syrian military site; Syria threatens 'dangerous repercussions' - News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

by News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

Former Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin says strike was not routine, targeted facility manufacturing chemical weapons

Syrian weapons manufacturing base reportedly targeted by Israel
Photo credit: Google

News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

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

Tokyo’s North Korean Dilemma - Dr. Alon Levkowitz

by Dr. Alon Levkowitz

Tokyo should reconsider its newly conciliatory method of coping with the threat from Pyongyang.

Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan, photo via CSIS Flickr
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 581, September 7, 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: On August 29, 2017, North Korea launched a Hwasong-12 missile over Japan that landed in the Pacific Ocean – a show of force that once again illustrated Japan’s vulnerability to North Korea’s ballistic missiles. Tokyo should reconsider its newly conciliatory method of coping with the threat from Pyongyang. It will not be able to deter North Korea alone, and may have no choice but to be more active militarily.     

Over the years, North Korea has launched dozens of short-range missiles. They have ranged from less than 1,000 km to the latest ICBMs, which had a range of almost 8,000 km. Some of North Korea’s missiles have landed close to the exclusive economic waters of Japan, while others – three since 1998 – flew above Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean.

North Korea’s ballistic capabilities pose a security threat to Japanese security. Pyongyang has stated outright that Japanese and American bases in Japan are legitimate targets in case of war on the Korean Peninsula, or in retaliation for any limited strike on the DPRK.

For the time being, Tokyo does not face possible invasion by the DPRK. The more pressing issue is the ballistic missile threat.

Tokyo has several policy strategies it might consider with which to deal with this threat:

1. Defensive strategy: upgrade Japan’s missile defense system

Tokyo can purchase several more PAC-3 systems, which would allow it to better defend Japan’s cities and strategic industrial sites. It should upgrade its Aegis missile defense systems and improve synchronization with both the US Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD) and the South Korean missile defense systems, which would improve the multi-layer defense shield over Japan. An upgraded missile defense shield would allow Japan to decrease the number of North Korean missiles that might hit Japan in case of war (though it should be remembered that no system can offer a 100% guarantee).

Bear in mind that the new North Korean ICBM missiles do not pose a direct threat to Japan, but to the US mainland. In case of an ICBM launch towards the US or middle-range ballistic missile launch towards US bases in the region, Japan might be asked to operate its MD to intercept them.

2. Offensive strategy: take preemptive military action

Although Tokyo is subject to constitutional and other legal restraints, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has continued to implement an incremental change in Japan’s defense policy that allows Japan to respond militarily to regional threats. Over the past decade, Japan has obtained offensive military equipment that would enable it to attack North Korean missile launch sites as part of its self-defense policy, should a threat arise.

According to Article 51 of the UN Charter, a state can initiate a preemptive strike if non-military options fail to prevent an anticipated attack. Under this definition, Tokyo or Washington can initiate a preemptive strike on North Korea’s missile sites if they have intelligence that Pyongyang intends to launch nuclear missiles towards Japan, directed either at US bases or at the mainland.

That being the case, Japan should consider further upgrading its air power in order to build credible deterrence against the DPRK. Japan should consider acquiring at least two F-35 squadrons and expanding its Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV) capabilities. This should include UAV attackers, which would allow Tokyo to target the missile launchers in North Korea.

It should be recalled that even if Japan does improve its air power capabilities, it cannot attack the DPRK without Washington’s support and military backup.

3. Enhance the US-Japan alliance

The US-Japan alliance is the central pillar of Japan’s security policy. Tokyo should consider ways it can bolster the alliance and improve coordination with the Trump administration. Japan could, for example, conduct further air and sea military drills with US forces, which would both improve synchronization and serve as a show of force to deter the DPRK – although Pyongyang, which is clearly willing to challenge the boundaries of brinkmanship, may not, in fact, be deterred.

4. Enhance Japan’s relationship with the Republic of Korea 

Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s new president, began his term by expressing an optimistic policy towards the DPRK. Current events have led him to become slightly more hawkish while keeping the door open for diplomacy with the DPRK.

Tokyo should work with Seoul on solving some of their disagreements over political and diplomatic issues. A unified Tokyo-Seoul front could turn up the heat on Pyongyang – although it might also raise questions in Beijing.

5. Multilateral negotiation

It may be that a multilateral negotiation mechanism, such as the Six-Party Talks, is established after the current crisis dies down (and ahead of the next one). Tokyo should demand that it be permitted to take part. It should not allow Washington, Beijing, and Moscow to push it aside.

View PDF

BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshand

Dr. Alon Levkowitz a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, is an expert on East Asian security, the Korean Peninsula, and Asian international organizations.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

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

FDR's 'Rattlesnake' Rule and the North Korean Threat - John R. Bolton

by John R. Bolton

Uttered 60 years to the day before 9/11, and less than three months before Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt's words still resonate.

"When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until he has struck before you crush him." By these words in a Sept. 11, 1941, fireside chat, Franklin Roosevelt authorized US warships to fire first against Nazi naval vessels, which he called "the rattlesnakes of the Atlantic."

Roosevelt's order applied whenever German or Italian ships entered "waters of self-defense" necessary to protect the US, including those surrounding US outposts on Greenland and Iceland.

Franklin D. Roosevelt. (Image source: National Archives and Records Administration/Wikimedia Commons)
Uttered 60 years to the day before 9/11, and less than three months before Pearl Harbor, Roosevelt's words still resonate. North Korea's sixth nuclear test last weekend, along with its significantly increased ballistic-missile testing, establishes that Pyongyang is perilously close to being able to hit targets across the continental United States with nuclear warheads, perhaps thermonuclear ones.

The Nazi threat to US shipping, both normal commercial traffic and war supplies destined for Great Britain, was undeniably significant, and the Axis powers' broader totalitarian threat was existential. Nonetheless, right up to Dec. 7, 1941, many American leaders urged caution to avoid provoking the Axis and thereby risking broader conflict. Pearl Harbor followed.

In his chat, Roosevelt observed that others had "refused to look the Nazi danger squarely in the eye until it actually had them by the throat." We shouldn't commit that mistake today. North Korea's behavior, and its lasting desire to conquer the South, have created the present crisis.

Letting Kim Jong-un's bizarre regime "have America by the throat," subjecting us and our allies to perpetual nuclear extortion, is not an acceptable outcome.

We have endured 25 years of US diplomatic failure, with endless rounds of negotiations, presenting North Korea with the choice between economic incentives or sanctions. During this time, which certainly constitutes "not looking the danger squarely in the eye," North Korea has repeatedly breached commitments to abandon its nuclear-weapons program, often made in return for handsome compensation.

Nonetheless, we hear echoes from Roosevelt's day that "there is no acceptable military option" when it comes to Pyongyang. This means, as Susan Rice said recently, "we can, if we must, tolerate nuclear weapons in North Korea," as we did with the Soviets in Cold War days. The US should not accept such counsels of despair, based on dangerously facile and wildly inaccurate historical analogies.

Why accept a future of unending nuclear blackmail by Pyongyang, whose governing logic is hardly that of Cold War Moscow, and which would entail not that era's essentially bipolar standoff, but a far-more-dangerous world of nuclear multipolarity?

If Washington lets Kim retain his nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles, his regime will happily sell these materials and technologies to Iran, other rogue states or terrorist groups for the right price. This is another key difference from the Cold War; Moscow was substantially more worried about nuclear proliferation than Pyongyang now is.

It would be, as Roosevelt understood, "inexcusable folly" to ignore North Korea's pattern of behavior over the last quarter century: "We Americans are now face to face not with abstract theories but with cruel, relentless facts." For America in 1941, hope of sheltering behind the oceans was fast disappearing, forcing Roosevelt to extend our maritime defense perimeter effectively across the Atlantic to Europe.

In the age of ICBMs, there's no "perimeter"; we are at risk in agonizingly short time frames of a missile's flight launched anywhere, whether from North Korea or Iran. It is completely unacceptable to say we must await a first strike by Pyongyang before we will resort to military force. Roosevelt dismissed such arguments peremptorily: "Let us not say: 'We will only defend ourselves if the torpedo succeeds in getting home, or if the crew and passengers are drowned.' "

The remaining diplomatic options are few, and the time to exercise them dwindling fast. Convincing China that its national interests would be enhanced by reunifying the two Koreas, thus ending what Beijing itself believes is a threat to peace and security in northeast Asia, remains possible. Unfortunately, this is increasingly hard to accomplish before North Korea becomes a fully mature nuclear-weapons state.

We're moving rapidly to the point where Roosevelt said squarely, "It is the time for prevention of attack." George W. Bush spoke equally directly in 2002: "Our security will require all Americans to be . . . ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives." The alternative is potentially global proliferation of nuclear weapons, with the attendant risks lasting beyond our power to calculate.

This article first appeared in The New York Post

John R. Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, is Chairman of Gatestone Institute, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, and author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations and Abroad".


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

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

Obama's Syrian legacy: At least 2 dozen poison gas attacks on civilians - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

His apologists can try to wiggle away from Obama's culpability, but the fact of the matter is that Obama made the decision not to take out Syria's chemical weapons supply

When President Obama drew a "red line" that threatened the Syrian government with U.S. military action if Bashar Assad's forces used poison gas – and then withdrew it – the move was justified by a Russian guarantee that the Russians would take possession of Syria's entire gas inventory.

Only a five-year-old would have believed the Russians. As it turns out, no matter how much of Syria's stockpile of poison gas the Russians removed, they apparently made sure that there were plenty of weapons left to use on innocent people.

The U.N. is reporting that the Syrian government has used poison gas to attack civilians at least 27 times. In six other attacks, experts have been unable to identify which side used the banned weapon.

A government warplane dropped sarin on the town in Idlib province, killing more than 80 civilians, the U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Syria said, in the most conclusive findings to date from investigations into chemical weapons attacks during the conflict.
The Commission also said U.S. air strikes on a mosque in the village of Al-Jina in rural Aleppo in March that killed 38 people, including children, failed to take precautions in violation of international law.
The weapons used on Khan Sheikhoun were previously identified as containing sarin, an odourless nerve a gent. But that conclusion, reached by a fact-finding mission of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), did not say who was responsible.
"Government forces continued the pattern of using chemical weapons against civilians in opposition-held areas. In the gravest incident, the Syrian air force used sarin in Khan Sheikhoun, Idlib, killing dozens, the majority of whom were women and children," the U.N. report said, declaring the attack a war crime.
In their 14th report since 2011, U.N. investigators said they had in all documented 33 chemical weapons attacks to date.
Twenty seven were by the government of President Bashar al-Assad, including seven between March 1 to July 7. Perpetrators had not been identified yet in six early attacks, they said.
The Assad government has repeatedly denied using chemical weapons. It said its strikes in Khan Sheikhoun hit a weapons depot belonging to rebel forces, a claim dismissed by the U.N. investigators.
That attack led U.S. President Donald Trump to launch the first U.S. air strikes on a Syrian air base.
A separate joint inquiry by the U.N. and OPCW aims to report by October on who was to blame for Khan Sheikhoun.
The U.N. investigators interviewed 43 witnesses, victims, and first responders linked to the attack. Satellite imagery, photos of bomb remnants and early warning reports were used.
Most of the dead from these attacks are directly on the head of Barack Obama. His apologists can try to wiggle away from Obama's culpability, but the fact of the matter is that Obama made the decision not to take out Syria's chemical weapons supply and then made a ridiculous deal with Syria's ally Russia to have the stockpile removed. 
The Obama administration "guaranteed" in 2013 that "100%" of Syria's chemical weapons were removed by Russia. Following that guarantee, Syria's military dropped chlorine bombs on civilians. Obama claimed that chlorine was not a chemical weapon. (Millions of World War I soldiers would disagree). While it's true that chlorine has multiple industrial uses, the same cannot be said of sarin gas, used in several attacks over the last few years.
This U.N. report exposes the hollowness and cynicism of the Obama administration in its dealings with Russia and the American people. Many of us did not believe Obama when he assured us that the deal with Russia would end the threat of chemical weapons being used on Syrian civilians. But the media – ignoring the unprecedented withdrawal of a red line, which severely damaged U.S. credibility – played along with the fiction, and thousands of Syrian civilians died.

Rick Moran


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

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

The North Korean Threat: Rationality, Intentionality, and Nuclear War - Prof. Louis René Beres

by Prof. Louis René Beres

US strategic analysts must identify a core distinction between intentional or deliberate nuclear war and unintentional or inadvertent nuclear war.

Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump, image by Revent via Wikimedia Commons
BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 579, September 5, 2017

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: To deal with the growing nuclear threat from North Korea, US policy will need to be drawn from theoretical decision models. Four such models should be constructed along the axes of rationality and intentionality. With these models in hand, President Trump and his senior strategists would be better prepared to assess and counter the threats posed by Kim Jong-un to the US and its allies. In the latter regard, the North Korean leader maintains ties to some of Israel’s core enemies in the Middle East, including Syria, Hezbollah, and Iran.

To best prepare for any impending nuclear crisis with North Korea, the US must approach the problem in a systematic and intellectually disciplined manner. This means factoring into any assessment (a) the expected rationality or irrationality of principal decision-makers in Pyongyang and Washington; and (b) the intentional or unintentional intra-war behaviors of those same decision-makers.

If a distinction is made regarding the rationality and intentionality variables, four logically possible and analytically useful scenarios will result. These scenarios should be considered by Trump’s senior military planners and strategists. All four can subsequently be nuanced by the introduction of additional factors.

The four scenarios are as follows:

(1) Rational/Intentional 

Both Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are fully rational (i.e., each values national survival more highly than any other preference or combination of preferences). Any nuclear exchange between them would be the result of deliberate decisions by one or both of them.

(2) Rational/Unintentional

Both Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un are fully rational, and any nuclear exchange between them would be the result of unintended decisions made by one or both of them.

(3) Irrational/Intentional

Either Donald Trump or Kim Jong-un is irrational, or both are. Any nuclear exchange between them would be the result of deliberate decisions by one or both of them.

(4) Irrational/Unintentional

Either Donald Trump or Kim Jong-un is irrational, or both are. Any nuclear exchange between them would be the result of unintended decisions made by one or both of them.

Such comprehensive policy models can help guide President Trump and his counselors beyond otherwise vague or “seat-of-the-pants” appraisals of North Korean nuclear conflict possibilities.

The complex security issues facing the US should never be dealt with as mere matters of bombast (e.g., non-specific threats of “fire and fury”) or “common sense.” At the same time, although the proposed pattern of more systematic inquiry suggests a promising American approach to any North Korean nuclear crisis, nothing strictly scientific can ever be said about the probabilities of war.

The reason is simple. Science-based probabilities must always be drawn from the frequency of past events. Here, clearly, there are no pertinent past events. Any nuclear crisis between these asymmetrical enemy states would be unprecedented. It follows that President Trump and his advisors ought never to become too confident about either their own expectations of the likely outcome of any North Korean crisis or their own expertise. No one at the Pentagon or the White House is an expert on nuclear war.

Furthermore, the evident nuclear superiority of the US over North Korea suggests little of consequence about America’s overall capacity to protect its national security in the event of a clash. North Korea, inferior though its capacities may be, can nevertheless lay waste to vulnerable US allies in northeast Asia, to US military forces in the region, and perhaps even to American cities.

US strategic analysts must identify a core distinction between intentional or deliberate nuclear war and unintentional or inadvertent nuclear war. The derivative risks ensuing from these two very different types of conflict are apt to vary considerably. Analysts who remain too focused on a deliberate nuclear war scenario could vastly underestimate the cumulative nuclear threat North Korea can pose to the US and its allies.

Much of the nuclear threat could result from miscalculation or inadvertence, whether by Pyongyang, by Washington, or by both.

American strategists who remain too focused on comparative nuclear weaponry, alternatively, could overlook other hazards. For example, one often hears the allegedly “common sense” argument that Kim Jong-un would never consider striking first because he appreciates that any such aggression would elicit an immediate and overwhelming US nuclear reprisal. This argument only makes sense if it is first assumed that Kim is rational.

Pyongyang’s growing nuclear threat will depend significantly on the rationality or irrationality of both the North Korean leader and President Trump. Whether we like it or not, this issue must be considered as two-sided in any American assessment of US nuclear posture. Furthermore, in any such inquiry, scientific assessments must take account not only of conspicuous and inconspicuous facts, but also of almost every imaginable synergy between Trump and Kim Jong-un.

There is one more conceptual distinction that should be included in the American analytic mix: inadvertent versus accidental nuclear war. By definition, any accidental nuclear war would have to be inadvertent. Conversely, however, inadvertent nuclear war need not necessarily be accidental. False warnings, for example, which could be generated by mechanical, electrical, or computer malfunction or sparked by adversarial or third-party hacking, would not fit on the list of causes of unintentional or inadvertent nuclear war. Instead, they would represent narratives of accidental nuclear war.

Most critical among causes of inadvertent nuclear war are errors in calculation by one or both sides. The most blatant example, perhaps, would be misjudgments of either enemy intent or enemy capacity that might emerge as the crisis escalates. Such misjudgments would likely stem from the understandable desire of each party to achieve “escalation dominance.”

Still other causes of inadvertent nuclear war with North Korea could include flawed interpretations of computer-generated attack warnings; an unequal willingness to risk catastrophic war; an overconfidence in deterrence and/or defense capabilities on either or both sides; an adversarial regime change, including outright revolution or a coup d’état in Pyongyang; and poorly conceived pre-delegations of nuclear launch authority.

Pre-delegations of launch authority are made to ensure that any threats of nuclear reprisal can actually be executed. In part, such pre-delegations are designed to enhance a country’s nuclear deterrence posture – but this works only to the extent that they are sufficiently apparent and recognizable.

Problems of overconfidence could be exacerbated by “successful” tests of a missile interception system by either side (notably THAAD, on the US side) that overstate operational efficiencies. They could also be encouraged by too-optimistic assessments of alliance guarantees. An example would be the intra-crisis judgment by Pyongyang that Beijing stands firmly behind its every move vis-à-vis the US. It is reciprocally conceivable that Washington’s decisions could be affected by its own perceptions of the Chinese commitment to North Korea.

For a start, American analysts need to pinpoint and conceptualize all vital similarities and differences between deliberate nuclear warinadvertent nuclear war, and accidental nuclear war. As explained above, there will need to be related judgments concerning expectations of rationality and irrationality within each affected country’s core decision-making structure.

Correspondingly, a potential source of inadvertent nuclear war could be a backfiring strategy of “feigned irrationality.” A rational Kim Jong-un who has managed to convince his American counterparts of his own irrationality could spark an otherwise avoidable US military preemption. Conversely, a North Korean leadership that begins to take seriously President Trump’s self-aggrandizing unpredictability could be frightened into striking first.

View PDF
BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

Prof. Louis René Beres is Emeritus Professor of International Law at Purdue and the author of twelve books and several hundred articles on nuclear strategy and nuclear war. His newest book is Surviving Amid Chaos: Israel’s Nuclear Strategy (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

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

Vanquish the enemy - Prof. Eyal Zisser

by Prof. Eyal Zisser

The main challenge was and still belongs to the political echelon -- to specify the desired objective in a new round of fighting with Hezbollah.

The wide-scale military exercise the IDF launched two days ago in the country's north, the largest of its kind in two decades, is an attempt to simulate the next war, the third Lebanon war, which everyone -- in Israel but also in Lebanon -- fears but is preparing for in earnest.

Similar to the wars that preceded it, the working assumption in the Lebanese arena is that the next round, too, will begin with an isolated incident that spirals out of control, one response followed by a counter-response, sending both sides careening toward a skirmish, perhaps even war. This time, however, Hezbollah's menu of surprises will not only include massive missile barrages at Israeli cities and vital infrastructure, such as ports, airports and power grids, but an attempt to invade Israel and seize control of an IDF outpost; perhaps even a civilian community along the border with Lebanon.

Ever since the summer of 2006, Hezbollah has shied from clashing with the IDF. The blow the organization and its Shiite supporters suffered in the Second Lebanon War almost completely reduced their appetite for provoking Israel. Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah, scarred by the pummeling he received, effectively became an Israeli asset, because no one was better suited to maintain quiet and stability along the border.

With that, Hezbollah was also able to neutralize Israel's ability to act against it, certainly on Lebanese soil. The terrorist organization successfully sold the equation whereby its missile arsenal could cause significant damage to Israel, damage that potentially outweighs the threat Israel poses to Hezbollah and its supporters. All the more so if Israel's goal remains similar to its previous wars with Hezbollah or even Hamas, when it merely sought to buy itself a few more years of peace and quiet rather than fundamentally altering the reality in Lebanon.

Hence the conclusion reached by many pundits, but also numerous statesmen in Israel, that if Israel's objective in a future conflict with Hezbollah amounts to preserving the status quo and restoring a tense and illusory quiet along the border, while also coming to terms with Hezbollah's expanding influence inside Lebanon, then it would be best to invest its efforts in preventing the next war rather than fighting it.

This appears to be the challenge Israel faces and it should also be the focus of the next IDF exercise. These days, where reality is not only virtual but spurious as well, defeat and victory are elusive concepts. But in contrast to the prevailing assumption in Israel, Hezbollah is no longer -- and probably never was -- an amorphous guerilla organization, devoid a physical presence in the fighting arena, backed by nothing -- neither a supportive public nor a state. 

Hezbollah, therefore, can not only be hit, but also brought to its knees and vanquished. And if the organization cannot be convinced that Israel has the capability, and most importantly the public and political desire and will to defeat it, then any round of fighting will end like those before it, in a complex balancing act where reciprocal damage is hard to calculate; and which will always allow Nasrallah to sell the idea that Israel's war was a failure. 

The challenge at the center of the IDF's current drill, therefore, is not just to train the combat soldiers and junior officers on the ground; it is not even to help senior IDF commanders be more cognizant of the possible scenarios, which they were not prepared for in the summer of 2006. The main challenge was and still belongs to the political echelon -- to specify the desired objective in a new round of fighting with Hezbollah. In this regard, it would be wise for cabinet ministers, not just military commanders, to partake in such an exercise.

Prof. Eyal Zisser


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

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

Turkey won't blockade Kurdistan - David Bedein

by David Bedein

In light of the strong economic ties between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey, the Turks won't blockade an independent Kurdistan so long as it does not threaten Turkish national security.

Recently, Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu was in Erbil, the capital of the Kurdistan Region in Iraq, where he voiced Turkey's concerns over the Iraqi Kurdistan independence referendum, which is scheduled to be held on Sept. 25. Nevertheless, in the discussion he held with Kurdish leaders, he emphasized that while he supports a united Iraq and wants the Kurds to reach an arrangement with the central government in Baghdad, Turkey won't close its doors to doing business with Iraqi Kurdistan after the independence referendum. 

Since an independent Kurdistan would be landlocked, this move would enable the Kurds to continue to trade and do business with the rest of the world. This is a major relief for the Kurds; their worst fear was that upon achieving independence, they would face a blockade by Syria, Iran, Turkey and Shiite-controlled Iraq. Such a blockade would serve as a major stumbling block for the establishment of embassies, international flights and an independent economy for the new country.

The question remains, why did Turkey make this decision? Turkey now has $8 billion worth of trade with Iraqi Kurdistan. Iraqi Kurdistan serves as a gateway for trade between Iraq and Turkey. Iraqi Kurdistan exports its oil via Turkey and many Turkish companies operate in Iraqi Kurdistan. And it appears that this economic reality has affected how Turkey feels. In light of the strong economic ties between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey, the Turks won't blockade an independent Kurdistan so long as it does not threaten Turkish national security. 

Turkey's position is good news, and could have implications for other nations that oppose Kurdish independence, such as Iran. In fact, Iran may come around to Turkey's position since the Islamic republic won't want only Turkey to benefit economically from Kurdistan's independence. Iran will want a piece of the pie, as well. Therefore, it was smart of the Kurds to remove opposition by both Turkey and Iran. 

Kurdistan's Prime Minister Nechirvan Barzani has played a pivotal role in building up economic ties between Iraqi Kurdistan and Turkey. He invited Turkish companies to operate in Iraqi Kurdistan and facilitated the sale of Kurdish oil in Turkey. Kurdistan's prime minister never supported a united Iraq; the Kurds had negative experiences under both Saddam Hussein's Sunni Arab-dominated regime and the current Shiite-dominated government in Baghdad. Furthermore, he did not want the Kurds to get caught up in Iraq's sectarian conflicts. 

Barzani has been working for Kurdish independence for quite some time. He knew that Iraqi Kurds would need to build a strong relationship with the Turks unless they wanted to be blockaded upon the establishment of an independent country. And he felt that the best way to strengthen the relationship with the Turks was via economic ties. He understood that the first step toward independence was a strong economy, and trade ties with the Turks could facilitate that, as well. 

And now, given these latest developments, it appears that his long-term thinking on this issue will save a future Kurdish state from being a landlocked, blockaded entity facing hostile enemies seeking its destruction on all fronts. Barzani has turned a hostile country into a business partner that does not want to do anything that might sabotage these important economic relations. Both Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan attach great importance to bilateral trade and this strong economic relationship changed Turkish policy. The Turks don't want their interests to lose out after the referendum, and are thus prepared not to initiate hostile actions against an independent Kurdistan.

David Bedein is the director of the Israel Resource News Agency and the Center for Near East Policy Research.


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

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

New York AG will file multi-state DACA lawsuit - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

Judges are directly challenging the power and authority of the chief executive that has routinely been exercised for 241 years.

New York's Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman in a news conference today will announce a multi-state lawsuit on behalf of DREAMers.

New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman is expected Wednesday to announce a multi-state lawsuit to protect immigrants who as children were brought into this country illegally but who have been allowed to remain here as part of the Obama-era Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program.
Amy Spitalnick, a spokeswoman for Schneiderman, said the office planned to file the lawsuit after 2 p.m. She declined to offer details of the lawsuit before that.
On Tuesday President Donald Trump announced he would end the DACA program but has since said he would reconsider his decision if Congress within six months is not successful in dealing with the issue of how to handle those brought to the United States illegally as children.
Advocates for these so-called Dreamers say the change in immigration policy would affect nearly 800,000 people being protected under DACA.
My first reaction was "Can he really do that?" Then I remembered: the Constitution doesn't matter. Federal judges just make stuff up as they go along, carving out exemptions and exceptions that make a mockery of the separation of powers and constitutional rights. 

The tortured logic and reasoning used by federal judges to overturn Trump's travel ban came down to a simple idea: federal judges know better than the president of the United States how best to protect the country. The Supreme Court will almost certainly see the issue differently, but that's where we are now. Judges are directly challenging the power and authority of the chief executive that has routinely been exercised for 241 years. The carefully crafted separation of powers that gives the president broad authority to protect the people has been trampled on by liberal activist federal judges – mostly Democrats – who refuse to acknowledge that their side lost the election, or worse, hold a personal animus against the president.

If Democrats want DACA to continue, all they have to do is prevail in Congress. Trump did not "end" the DACA program. He passed off the responsibility of formulating policy to the branch of government where it belongs: the U.S. Congress. And he gave them six months to deal with the problem.

Schneiderman is suing to maintain an executive order by the previous administration where legislation is clearly called for. A normal federal judge would laugh him out of court. But never underestimate the ambition of a federal judge who chafes at normal constitutional restraints and desperately wants to make law himself.

Rick Moran


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

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

The prisoner exchange imbroglio - Isi Liebler

by Isi Liebler

Israel has suffered harrowing experiences in relation to previous exchanges and paid a heavy price for its grotesquely disproportionate concessions.

It has been reported that Israel is once again engaged in negotiations with Hamas on the issue of prisoner exchanges.

 There is no certainty whether the three Israelis—Ethiopian born Avera Mengistu and the Bedouin captives Hisham al-Sayed and Jumaa Abu Ghanima—all of whom entered Gaza of their own accord and allegedly suffer from mental illness—are still alive. Hamas has refused to provide video documentation even though Israel had offered to release several Palestinian prisoners in return. Israel also seeks the remains of Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul from Hamas in order to enable their families to have closure and give their loved ones an honorable burial.

Profoundly emotional factors are involved. It is an ancient Jewish tradition to prioritize pidyon shvuim—the redemption of captives. It reflects the compassion and humanity that has characterized the Jewish people over centuries of persecution and dispersion. The credo of the IDF is never to forsake its sons on the battlefield, which includes a moral and ethical obligation to do everything possible to bring home its soldiers—dead or alive.

The IDF is a citizens’ army; every parent identifies with the families of abducted soldiers and tends to support any compromise that will return them home.

Despite initial declarations not to capitulate to outrageous demands, the Israeli government has until now—in response to enormous public pressure—ultimately succumbed to Hamas blackmail. Since 1948, Israel has released over 7,000 Palestinian prisoners in return for 19 captive Israelis. In October 2011, with the support of 80% of the population, 1,027 terrorists—including the most vicious and barbaric serial murderers—were released in exchange for captive soldier Gilad Shalit.

Israel has suffered harrowing experiences in relation to previous exchanges and paid a heavy price for its grotesquely disproportionate concessions.

Many of those released returned to terrorism. One of them, Mahmoud Qawasmeh, financed and dispatched the murderers of the kidnapped three teenage boys in 2014. Another, Yahya Sinwar, is currently the fanatical leader of Hamas in Gaza, determined to “liberate” Palestine “from the river to the sea.”

In 2012, a committee formed by then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak, headed by former Supreme Court President Meir Shamgar, recommended the adoption of regulations designed to ensure that future hostage deals are not determined by public emotion and media hysteria, which led to grossly inequitable swaps with terrorists in previous exchanges. Regrettably, these recommendations remained just that and were never institutionalized as law by the Knesset. The argument was that if implemented, future Israeli captives would be killed immediately.

Paying any price is unsustainable, reduces Israel’s deterrent power and endangers national security. Israel, as a state under siege, cannot allow itself to be subjected to such extortion by terrorists. It is not applied in any other country.

It is not merely that Hamas is regarded as heroic for achieving such grotesquely distorted swaps. It provides our enemies with the evidence that kidnapped hostages are Israel’s Achilles’ heel and creates an incentive for further kidnappings. It enables them to demonstrate that terror is infinitely more effective than negotiations in achieving their objectives. It also creates an environment in which incarcerated terrorists remain optimistic that, ultimately, Israel will be forced to release them, at which time they will return as heroes rewarded with generous remuneration.

Their lust for our destruction is insatiable and continued capitulation to disproportionate demands will inevitably culminate in greater tragedies.

Before entering any negotiations, Hamas leader Sinwar is demanding release of all 60 prisoners still under arrest for reverting to terrorist activity since their release in the Shalit exchange. Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has rightly refused, stressing that Israel must not repeat the mistake of releasing Palestinian murderers in return for captives held by Hamas. He emphasized that those released for Shalit set the tone for Hamas in Gaza and returned to their former terrorist activity.

The defense minister’s remarks were in response to a passionate plea from Simcha Goldin, father of Hadar Golding whose remains have been held by Hamas since Operation Protective Edge in 2014. To his credit, Goldin has rejected initiatives which would yield disproportionate concessions to Hamas. Rather, he accused Lieberman of being “weak” and “cowardly” in not having forced Hamas to return the bodies of the soldiers so that their families could bury them and have closure. Lieberman said he accepted Goldin’s criticism and pledged to do his utmost to retrieve the soldiers’ remains, but not if this were to undermine Israel’s security or result in the death of more Israelis.

Lieberman’s comments were made following the resignation of Israeli negotiator Lior Lotan, allegedly because he felt he was given insufficient room to maneuver. He subsequently complained about Israeli weakness in its approach.

There have been other suggestions. The very least we should do is mount a full global campaign calling on the United Nations and human rights organizations to assume their responsibility in a compassionate and equitable manner. Amnesty International, which invests massive resources applying double standards to continuously depict Israel as a rogue state but glosses over Hamas atrocities, was obliged to condemn the kidnappings, but beyond an initial statement, has failed to pursue the matter.

Some suggest more radical measures. Lotan, the former negotiator, recommended that Israel turn the tables on Hamas by capturing or arresting 200 prominent Hamas activists for every Israeli held. Others suggest that Israel should cease returning the bodies of Hamas terrorists to their relatives as well as drastically downgrade the living conditions and restrict the conjugal rights of jailed Hamas terrorists. Some even urge that the siege on Gaza be significantly intensified.

Opponents claim that such steps would serve to alienate global public opinion and some military sources fear that they would spark a renewal of hostilities.

It is dangerous for armchair critics not in full command of the facts to make dogmatic recommendations.

One cannot argue with bereaved parents whose children were killed or captured, but that does not mean that one must agree to their demands if that will compromise the security of the people of Israel. We must remain conscious of the fact that with Hamas we are dealing with barbarians who have repeatedly reiterated their intention to initiate hostilities against us at a time of their choosing. If we announce our objectives to the world, public opinion—not counting the views of the bleeding hearts—is likely to side with us.

Admittedly, this is not an easy decision. Releasing another large group of murderers must be resisted—but merely making speeches is also unacceptable.

Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai told U.S. Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt that “we will not allow significant development in the Gaza Strip … without securing the return of the missing IDF soldiers.”

So perhaps the decision-makers have come around to the view that the carrot-and-stick approach is worth trying.
This column was originally published in the logo and logo 
Isi Liebler may be contacted at


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

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

Two Major Antifa Groups Spout North Korean Propaganda - Matthew Vadum

by Matthew Vadum

And yet they operate unmolested.

Two leading anti-Trump resistance groups, Refuse Fascism and the Workers World Party, are siding with the gulag-filled Stalinist hermit state of North Korea that has threatened to incinerate the American homeland with nuclear weapons, evidence suggests.

Both of these extreme-left organizations have organized demonstrations against the Trump administration that have turned violent, including those around Inauguration Day. Both groups are also part of the violent “Antifa” coalition of leftist groups that portray themselves as anti-fascist but embrace fascistic tactics like beating up political adversaries to intimidate them into silence.

Both groups are also spouting pro-North Korean propaganda talking points, and in at least one case, copying and pasting official North Korean statements into communiques.

Last month, masked Antifa thugs in Berkeley, California, called for the destruction of the United States. "No Trump, no wall, no USA at all!" the large gathering of black bloc-attired protesters chanted at a conservative “No to Marxism” rally. The same weekend Antifa worked with San Francisco officials to prevent the innocuous conservative group Patriot Prayer from holding a small rally at a federal park. As this writer previously observed, thanks to Antifa, the Left now has the power to dictate what is and is not acceptable speech in California and many parts of the country.

After the UN Security Council unanimously resolved August 5 to slap North Korea with more sanctions, both groups stoutly defended the nightmarish Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Daily Caller reports.

Leaders of Refuse Fascism indicated at a recent conference that the group hopes to deprive U.S. leaders of “international legitimacy” as a means of driving President Trump from office, an objective that would no doubt please North Korea.

Refuse Fascism has announced plans to try to overthrow the U.S. government through occupations and crippling strikes. The Trump-resistance organization plans to organize demonstrations in urban centers across the nation later this year, according to Politico.

Leftist currency speculator George Soros has ties to Refuse Fascism. He funds the Alliance for Global Justice (AfGJ), a group that took in donations on behalf of the Occupy Wall Street movement. The AfGJ now serves as a fiscal sponsor for Refuse Fascism, accepting donations on behalf of unincorporated or small groups and deducting a modest administrative fee so that donors can deduct the donations from their taxes.

Soros’s friends in the Democracy Alliance, a donors’ collaborative of wealthy left-wing one-percenters, may also be funding Trump-resistance groups like Refuse Fascism.

Refuse Fascism has characterized the situation between the U.S. and North Korea as “the largest military power in the world bullying a small, isolated country and terrorizing the people of that entire region.”

The month before, the group accused the U.S. of acting based on a “playbook of demonization” against dictator Kim Jong-un. Sounding like the seditious peaceniks of the pro-Soviet unilateral disarmament movement in the U.S. and the U.K. in the 1980s, Refuse Fascism appealed to Americans to forget about their country’s interests and “act in the interests of humanity instead.”

“Stop thinking like an American,” the group said. “Start thinking about humanity.”

Refuse Fascism asked Americans to resist what it called the U.S. media’s “lies and distortion” that put the DPRK — the most oppressive, totalitarian state in the world — in a negative light.

“No, we should not be comfortable with the disgusting media frenzy, full of lies and distortion, that marches us toward not just another invasion of a small country but a nuclear attack that can wipe out millions of people in one day and threaten the future of life on earth,” the group said.

The WWP has organized many of the anti-Trump demonstrations, including the violent “DisruptJ20” protests in the nation’s capital that sought to prevent Donald Trump from being sworn in as president. The communist group also organized many other demonstrations that have taken place in the United States since the election last November and was featured prominently in the documentary, America Under Siege: Civil War 2017. (I am an executive producer of the film series.)

WWP’s magazine, Workers World, ran an editorial with the headline “Korea won’t be intimidated.” The editorial posited that the U.S., not North Korea, is the obstacle to peace on the Korean Peninsula, and cribbed nine paragraphs’ worth of direct quotations from the North Korean regime. Less than a week later, the magazine ran an editorial, “Self-defense and the DPRK” that portrayed the United States as “oppressor” of North Korea.

Both Refuse Fascism and Workers World Party operatives attended the misnamed “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, at which an alleged neo-Nazi murdered a counter-protester and injured others by driving his car into a crowd. At the abortive rally, Antifa supporters physically assaulted reporters and others and set off on a statue-toppling spree targeting monuments commemorating Confederate figures from the Civil War.

Among WWP’s stated objectives are giving birth to a worldwide socialist revolution and “the shutdown of the Pentagon and the use of the war budget” — meaning the resources of the Department of Defense — “to improve the lives of the working class and especially the oppressed peoples.”

Founded in 1959, the WWP “is one of the most hardcore Marxist organizations of any consequence in the U.S.,” according to Trevor Loudon’s online encyclopedia of politics, KeyWiki. The party incorporates elements of Stalin, Mao, and Trotsky into its revolutionary philosophy.

The party’s first secretary, Larry Holmes, led an official delegation to North Korea in July 2013 to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the armistice that provisionally ended hostilities in the Korean War. At the time he acknowledged the WWP has “been developing a relationship with the DPRK for more than 40 years.”

“The purpose of our trip was simple — it was an important occasion for the DPRK and an opportune time to reaffirm our unwavering solidarity with them,” he said.

Holmes had no problem parroting the North Koreans’ lies about their monstrous utopian experiment. “The level of society, the cultural level, what they put into making sure that everyone is healthy, that everybody is fed, that the children have schools, that every generation is taken care of, whether in Pyongyang or outside the city, is just incredible.”

Anyone who up till now doubted Antifa was a seditious, anti-American movement, may now shed all doubt.

But there are still Democrats and left-wingers who romanticize Antifa because its hooded thugs supposedly stood up to neo-Nazis in Charlottesville. And some prominent Democrats are actually part of Antifa. For example, Refuse Fascism lists Ivy League academic and DNC platform member Cornel West as one of its “initiators.”

Many Democrats who aren’t part of Antifa aren’t exactly strangers to its goals and tactics.
Remember that the Democratic Party, by way of a DNC resolution supporting Black Lives Matter, officially endorses black-on-white violence and the murder of police officers. Condemning vicious radical left-wing hooligans hurts Democrat office-holders’ reelection chances as they risk being ridiculed by Michael Moore and others for being soft on “fascism.”

President Obama allowed Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter to run wild in recent years. Obama even rewarded riot-inciters and those who support killing police by hosting them at the White House. Instead of protecting citizens and their property, some politicians even admit pro-rioting policies openly, as when then-Baltimore Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake (D), at the time a DNC executive, acknowledged in 2015 that authorities “gave those who wished to destroy space to do that.”

Don’t expect Democrats, or the handful of Republicans like Paul Ryan, who have endorsed Antifa to abandon the movement anytime soon no matter how rabid its support for North Korea becomes.

Matthew Vadum


Follow Middle East and Terrorism on Twitter

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