Friday, August 20, 2021

Biden's Afghanistan Disaster Has Left the West Defenseless against Islamist Terrorists - Con Coughlin

 

by Con Coughlin

The fear now is that, as Western intelligence agencies are no longer able to monitor the activities of Islamist extremists both in Afghanistan and in neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Iran, the West will find itself increasingly vulnerable to high profile terror attacks as a direct consequence of Mr Biden's disastrous withdrawal plan.

  • The fear now is that, as Western intelligence agencies are no longer able to monitor the activities of Islamist extremists both in Afghanistan and in neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Iran, the West will find itself increasingly vulnerable to high profile terror attacks as a direct consequence of Mr Biden's disastrous withdrawal plan.

  • An important first step for the security of the United States would be immediately to shut its southern border.

  • The alarming implications, in terms of Western security, of a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan are clearly an issue the Biden administration failed to take into consideration when deciding to abandon Afghanistan to its fate. It is an oversight that adds to the scale of the disaster that Mr Biden has just inflicted on the security of the Western alliance.

The ability of U.S. security officials to monitor and disrupt the activities of Islamist terror groups will be severely diminished as a consequence of the Biden administration's catastrophic decision to end America's military involvement in Afghanistan. Pictured: A Taliban patrol on a street in Kabul on August 17, 2021. (Photo by Wakil Kohsar/AFP via Getty Images)

The ability of U.S. security officials to monitor and disrupt the activities of Islamist terror groups will be severely diminished as a consequence of the Biden administration's catastrophic decision to end America's military involvement in Afghanistan.

One of the most notable achievements of the US-led coalition's presence in Afghanistan during the past two decades has been its relentless campaign to destroy the terrorist infrastructure of Islamist terror groups such as Osama bin Laden's al-Qaeda organisation.

In the years immediately following the September 11th attacks in 2001, American and other intelligence agencies estimated that around 80 percent of Islamist-inspired terror plots against the West originated from Afghanistan or the lawless tribal territories on the Pakistani border.

Today that figure has been reduced to almost zero, as the highly successful counter-terrorism campaign mounted by the U.S. and key allies like Britain against Afghan-based Islamist terror cells has seen their infrastructure destroyed, and their ability to wreak havoc against the West curtailed.

The success of the American-led campaign has resulted in groups like al-Qaeda, as well as more recent Islamist organisations like ISIS, being forced to locate their operations to other failed states, such as Syria and Libya.

Following this week's dramatic collapse of the Western-backed Afghan government of President Ashraf Ghani and its replacement by the Taliban, senior Western intelligence officials are becoming increasingly concerned about their ability to continue monitoring the activities of Islamist terror cells in Afghanistan, as well as neighbouring countries.

Reports have already surfaced in recent days of al-Qaeda supporters flocking to join the Taliban as it intensified its campaign to seize control of the country through force of arms.

ISIS terror cells are also known to be actively involved in Afghanistan and have been accused of carrying out some of the most deadly attacks against civilian targets, including the 2020 joint attack on a hospital maternity ward and funeral procession in Kabul that left 56 dead and more than 100 wounded.

The fear now is that, as Western intelligence agencies are no longer able to monitor the activities of Islamist extremists both in Afghanistan and in neighbouring countries like Pakistan and Iran, the West will find itself increasingly vulnerable to high profile terror attacks as a direct consequence of Mr Biden's disastrous withdrawal plan.

Of particular concern for Western intelligence and security officials is the fate of Afghanistan's highly respected intelligence service, the National Directorate of Security (NDS), whose officers have played a central role in the U.S.-led coalition's long-running campaign against the Taliban and its terrorist affiliates.

Unlike Pakistan's ISI intelligence service, which has actively supported the Taliban and famously provided al-Qaeda founder Osama bin Laden with a safe house, the NDS has won many plaudits from American and other Western intelligence agencies for the bravery and courage they have displayed in taking the fight to the Taliban during the past two decades.

But now that the Islamist militants control the entire machinery of the Afghan government, NDS officers and their families have been abandoned to an uncertain fate by the Biden administration, one where their lives are at risk of reprisals by the Taliban.

As one senior Western intelligence officer told Gatestone after the Taliban seized power earlier this week, there is a great deal of anger and resentment within Western intelligence circles at the way their erstwhile Afghan allies have been abandoned to their fate. "These guys risked their lives on a daily basis for the coalition cause, and now the Biden administration is treating them as though they did not exist.

"The fact that we will no longer able to work with our former Afghan colleagues to monitor the activities of the Taliban and Islamist terror groups like ISIS and al-Qaeda leaves the West wide open to attack from terror cells based in Afghanistan and surrounding countries."

An important first step for the security of the United States would be immediately to shut its southern border.

The Taliban's dramatic seizure of power this week has certainly been a cause for celebration among jihadi extremists if their reaction to the power grab on social media is anything to go by.

Social media accounts sympathetic to al-Qaeda, for example, published an unsigned message shortly after the Taliban takeover congratulating "the brothers" in the movement on their victory. "Afghanistan is Conquered and Islam has won", read the message which was translated by the SITE intelligence group, which monitors extremist media.

Western counter-terrorism officials are also concerned that militant groups like al-Qaeda will be boosted after the Taliban released thousands of prisoners held at Kabul's Bagram Air Base, once the nerve centre of the coalition war effort, as well as Pul-e-Charkhi, another Afghan prison on the outskirts of Kabul.

The alarming implications, in terms of Western security, of a Taliban takeover of Afghanistan are clearly an issue the Biden administration failed to take into consideration when deciding to abandon Afghanistan to its fate. It is an oversight that adds to the scale of the disaster that Mr Biden has just inflicted on the security of the Western alliance.

 

Con Coughlin is the Telegraph's Defence and Foreign Affairs Editor and a Distinguished Senior Fellow at Gatestone Institute.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/17659/afghanistan-disaster-biden

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What Did Hezbollah Learn This Month? - Caroline Glick

 

by Caroline Glick

The likelihood that Hezbollah will start a major war against Israel has increased significantly.

 

 

The likelihood that Hezbollah will start a major war against Israel increased significantly in the wake of its Aug. 6 missile attack.

Hezbollah attacked Israel with 20 missiles because the outcome of Hamas’s offensive against the Jewish state in May convinced Iran’s foreign legion in Lebanon that it would only gain from aggression.

Three months ago, Hamas opened an unprovoked missile assault against Israel and incited Israeli Muslims to launch pogroms against Israeli Jews in cities across the country.

Israel responded to Hamas’s aggression with pinpoint airstrikes that targeted the terror group’s military infrastructure and command and control mechanisms and bases.

For its painstaking efforts to limit its strikes to military targets, Israel was pilloried as a racist, illegitimate state and threatened with an arms embargo by progressives in the U.S. Congress. Jews were attacked on the streets from Los Angeles to New York to Paris and London.

On the other hand, Hamas was celebrated. Even as it rained down missiles on Tel Aviv, the international community, led by the Biden administration, pledged hundreds of millions of dollars in “humanitarian aid” to Gaza. To date, Hamas has received nearly a billion dollars in pledges, and the money is already flowing in by the tens of millions.

Before it launched its offensive against Israel. Hamas was on the economic ropes. It had squandered the resources, destroyed the infrastructure and sucked dry the earning capacity of the denizens of Gaza, which it has controlled since 2007. But now, thanks to its latest illegal war of aggression against the Jews, it has the economic wherewithal to keep its terror fiefdom afloat.

For Hamas, its Iranian controllers and its fellow Iranian proxy Hezbollah, the lesson of May’s terror offensive is that attacking the Jewish state is the best economic development plan. It rendered sanctions relief for Iran unnecessary.

Iran can keep spinning its centrifuges and the U.S. and Europe will fund its terror arms for it.

Like Hamas’s situation in Gaza, since Hezbollah seized control over the Lebanese government through elections in 2007 and military force in 2008, the Iranian group has turned what was once the banking capital of the Middle East into an economic death trap. Lebanon defaulted on its loans. Its infrastructure is destroyed. Its people are going hungry and living without electricity or fuel, or prospects for earning a living. So Hezbollah decided to test out Hamas’s economic plan with a limited missile strike to see what would happen.

And it worked. All Hezbollah chief Hassan Nasrallah needed were 19 measly missiles to hit the jackpot.

On Tuesday, the Lebanese media reported that the Biden administration intends to transfer $100 million in aid to the Lebanese Health Ministry for assistance in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, although unsaid in the report, was the fact that Hezbollah has controlled Lebanon’s Health Ministry since 2019.

The Lebanese Armed Forces are also set to receive a boost in U.S. support following Hezbollah’s attack. In testimony before the Senate this week, Mira Resnick, Assistant Deputy Secretary of State for Regional Affairs, gushed that the LAF “is one of our most competent partners in the Middle East.”

US economic assistance to Hezbollah

As to Israel, not only did it barely respond to Hezbollah’s wanton aggression, it joined the United States in loudly advocating on behalf of economic assistance to Iran’s Hezbollah-run colony. In a tour of the border zone with Lebanon, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz restated his desire to give money to Hezbollah’s satrapy to keep the country from collapsing.

The U.S. and Israeli responses to Hezbollah’s aggression taught the terror army important—and dangerous—lessons about how it should advance its interests going forward.

As far as the Biden administration is concerned, Nasrallah learned the U.S. policy of appeasing Iran extends to its proxies, as well. To win over the ayatollahs in Iran, U.S. President Joe Biden and his advisers now believe it is the responsibility of the United States to protect Hezbollah (and Hamas) from Israel. It wasn’t coincidence that stood behind the administration’s decision to tell Arab media outlets that Israel’s decision to give Hezbollah a pass for its aggression was spurred by U.S. pressure.

The administration wanted to send a message to Hezbollah and Iran that Washington has their back. And they wanted to make sure that the Lebanese people and the Sunni Arab states threatened by Iran also understood that the Biden administration now sides with Iran’s terror proxies against Israel and other U.S. allies.

Underscoring the administration’s refusal to consider any policy other than appeasement towards Iran, Bloomberg reported last week that the administration is coming to terms with the fact that Iran will not agree to return to the 2015 nuclear deal. That deal requires Iran to temporarily scale down some of its nuclear operations in exchange for massive economic support and reintegration into the international economy.

In selecting the mass-murdering terrorist Ebrahim Raisi to serve as president, the regime has demonstrated irrefutably that it will not respond cooperatively to U.S. efforts.

Rather than reconsider its commitment to appeasement in light of the new reality, Bloomberg reported the administration has decided to ask less from Iran. Instead of getting sanctions relief for accepting the nuclear restraints it accepted in the 2015 deal, the administration intends to offer the cancellation of some sanctions in exchange for some restraints on some nuclear activities.

This brings us to Israel. According to the Arab media reports, the U.S. demanded that Israel not respond to Hezbollah’s aggression out of a fear that significant Israeli retaliation would make Iran even more unwilling to reinstate its pointless negotiations with the Americans. Israel’s decision to accede to Washington’s pressure showed Nasrallah Israel will take no action to defend itself against Iran or its proxies without U.S. permission.

True, the government denied the report that it stood down due to U.S. pressure. But the Arab media reasonably dismissed the denial. To date, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and his senior partner Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, along with Gantz, have toed the U.S. line on every major effort. They have committed to a “no surprises” policy on Iran that gives Washington veto power over all Israeli actions against Iranian aggression and nuclear operations.

Bennett supports aid to Gaza, PA

Bennett has also aligned himself with the United States on Hamas and more broadly on the Palestinian Authority. He supports “humanitarian aid” to Gaza. And according to Arab Affairs expert Yoni Ben Menahem, Bennett has even agreed to provide budgetary assistance to the Palestinian Authority and pave the way for a renewal of massive U.S. assistance to the PA despite the fact that the PA continues to pay the salaries of terrorists serving time in Israeli prisons, as well as the families of Palestinian terrorists.

Both U.S. and Israeli law bans financial support to the PA so long as the terror payments are maintained.

The government has bowed to U.S. and European Union pressure and permitted mass building for Palestinians in the strategically vital Area C of Judea and Samaria, and is significantly constraining Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria communities.

Bennett is even falling into line with the administration on Jerusalem. He supports a “compromise” offered by the Supreme Court on the Shimon HaTzadik/Sheikh Jarrah lawsuit. The lawsuit surrounds the efforts by Jewish owners of buildings in the neighborhood, illegally occupied by Palestinian squatters, to secure physical control over their property.

Siding with the squatters, the Biden administration and the European Union demand that the property rights of the Jews be seized and transferred to the illegal squatters simply because the owners are Jews.

Before issuing a ruling, the Supreme Court offered a “compromise” that would block the Jewish owners from regaining control over their buildings and leave the Palestinian squatters on the premises but compel the squatters to acknowledge that the Jews own the buildings. According to news reports, rather than reject the offer, which discriminates against the lawful owners simply because they are Jews, Bennett has asked the Biden administration to convince the squatters to accept the court’s offer.

Watering down Israeli sovereignty over Jerusalem

Like many Israelis, Hezbollah understands that when Israel’s government is willing to bow to U.S. pressure to water down its sovereignty over Jerusalem and break its own laws to finance a PA that pays salaries to terrorists and their families; when the government is willing to give the pro-Iranian Biden administration veto power over its efforts to block Iran from becoming an nuclear state, it will certainly not make a move in Lebanon without a green light from Washington (which will never come).

Hezbollah learned something else, as well, from the government’s statements and actions in the aftermath of its missile attack. It learned that Bennett, Gantz and Lapid don’t understand the political realities in Lebanon and that as a consequence, their strategy for fighting Hezbollah, when and if they ever do, will only advance Hezbollah’s interests.

Defense Ministry sources told the Breaking Defense website that ahead of a future assault, Israel “has prepared a collection of targets in Lebanon, including critical infrastructure whose destruction is designed to put political pressure on Hezbollah.”

But as we saw last weekend, Hezbollah is immune to political pressure, because it controls Lebanon through force. The missiles were launched against Israel by a mobile missile squad operating from a Druze border village. The local villagers responded with fury to the use of their lands as a launching pad. They attacked the missile crew and seized their missile launchers. Members of the missile squad were detained and their launchers were seized.

But three days later, the vaunted LAF, working with Druze leader Walid Jumblatt, released the squad members and returned the missile launcher to Nasrallah’s field commanders. Whether they like it or not, Jumblatt and the LAF recognize that they cannot get into a fight with Hezbollah. The terror army is too powerful. Attacking civilian infrastructure in Lebanon to put political pressure on Hezbollah is like attacking a school in Afghanistan to put pressure on the Taliban. They couldn’t care less.

And anyway, if Israel destroys Lebanese infrastructure, the Biden administration will finance its reconstruction.

Early this week, Raisi hosted the heads of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Tehran. According to reports of the meeting, its purpose was to intensify military cooperation between Iran and its Palestinian proxy armies. The Israel Defense Forces is reportedly operating under the assumption that in the next war, Israel will be attacked simultaneously from the north and south by Hezbollah and Hamas.

There is one thing that the government can do to reduce the chances of war, or at a minimum, increase the chance that if war does indeed break out, Israel will emerge stronger and its enemies will be weakened.

If the government cancels its “zero surprises” commitment to Washington and acts unilaterally against Iran, or against its proxies (or both), or if it simply defends the property rights of Jews in Jerusalem and announces that it will refuse the administration’s plan to open a consulate to the Palestinians in its capital, it will change the dynamic that is catapulting it into a war it is ill-prepared to fight or win. Unfortunately, given the government’s behavior and its temperament, there is little reason to believe that this will happen.

 

Caroline Glick is an award-winning columnist and author of “The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East.”

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2021/08/what-did-hezbollah-learn-month-caroline-glick/

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Any Afghan Migrants Who Reach America or Europe are Undeportable - Daniel Greenfield

 

by Daniel Greenfield

And after Taliban win, millions of Afghan migrants may head to U.S. and Europe.

 

 

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees estimates that 30,000 Afghans a week are fleeing their country. However a report in The Guardian states that “30,000 Afghan citizens have left the country each day for the past 10 days”. That would approach a third of a million migrants.

While a small minority can be seen trying to board American aircraft at Kabul airport, the vast majority are moving on foot through Pakistan and Iran. The Shiite terror state is a particularly ideal gateway destination because it allows them easy access to Turkey and then to Europe.

And because Iran, unlike Pakistan, has done little to fortify its border with Afghanistan, Iranian authorities profit from Afghanistan’s lucrative drug trade and allowing Afghan migrants access to Europe undermines its enemies in the European Union under the guise of humanitarian aid.

About half a million of the UN’s refugees were added to the lists this year. That means the flow is just beginning and with as many as a third of a million already underway, it’s possible that Europe, America, and other western nations will see even more Afghan than Syrian migrants.

The UN already lists 2.5 million officially registered refugees, but that’s only a percentage. Iran alone previously claimed that it had around 3 million Afghan refugees inside its borders. Pakistan holds at least 1.5 million officially and, unofficially, a total of as much as 3 million. 

Neither Muslim country has been willing to permanently resettle its fellow Muslims. Especially since Pakistan backs the Taliban and Iran is looking to build closer relations with the Taliban. 

Pakistan's backing for the Taliban created two generations of refugee crises in Afghanistan, but is loudly demanding that western governments take them. The Islamic terror state which harbored Osama bin Laden has alternately proposed that the UN should fund refugee camps inside Afghanistan. UN refugee camps inside Afghanistan would only be able to operate with the sanction of the Taliban and would lead to the United States funding the terror group.

That is exactly what Pakistan, which is behind the Taliban, wants America and the UN to do.

The refugee crisis is a trojan horse of political opportunities for the Pakistani, Iranian, Turkish, and other Islamist allies of the Taliban to finance terrorists and undermine western nations.

Maintaining a humanitarian crisis in Afghanistan will lead to a flow of foreign aid to the Taliban. 

Western nations, faced with the threat of millions of migrants showing up on their doorsteps, will be happy, after a few initial protests, to pay off the Taliban, overtly or covertly, to slow the flood. While the aid organizations swear up and down that none of the money is going to the Taliban, it is impossible to operate in a terror state without paying protection money to the terrorists. 

Doing any kind of business in Afghanistan will mean doing business with the Taliban.

Turkey, the bridge between Muslim refugees and Europe, has openly used the migrant flow to blackmail the European Union. The new flood of migrants will give Erdogan, Turkey’s own Taliban leader, even more leverage against weak European leaders like Germany’s Merkel. 

European countries may decide to preserve their legitimacy by using Turkey to covertly negotiate an arrangement with the Taliban that will slow the flow of Afghan refugees.

Such negotiations may very well be taking place right now.

570,000 Afghans have already applied for asylum in Europe over the past 5 years. While some of these asylum requests were rejected, the Taliban takeover means that the Afghans can no longer be deported. And they are now going to stay on in Europe: legally or illegally.

The same holds true for Afghans illegally in the United States.

Even assuming that the Taliban would take them, the United States is not going to deport Afghans back to Afghanistan. Any Afghan illegal aliens, past or present, who make their way to the United States are effectively here for good unless a non-Taliban government rises in Afghanistan. Or unless an America First administration wins an election in the United States, tears up past UN refugee agreements and finds a combination of countries willing to take them.

In the European Union, a bloc of six countries already overwhelmed with Afghan illegal migrants announced that they would maintain deportations. 

The six countries, some conservative like Austria, others as pro-refugee as Germany, had little in common except that they were already drowning in migrants. But the rebellion against the EU's immigration policy proved short-lived with Germany, the Netherlands, and Denmark all changing course. Only Austria is still trying to hold the line on deporting Afghan migrants.

What all of this means is that any Afghans (or migrants who claim to be Afghans) who reach America or Europe are undeportable. They will stay on and receive some quasi-legal status. 

The Taliban’s takeover and the rapid evacuation of western diplomats and organizations will make it all but impossible to verify the identities of even legitimate claimants. Despite all the billions of dollars poured into Afghanistan over the years, much of the country remains rural and backward, and many residents, especially those outside the major cities, have little in the way of identity documents. Afghanistan’s turbulent history and change in administrations, combined with the large unofficial refugee populations in Pakistan and Iran, have created a competing assortment of different identity documents, many of which will be all but impossible to verify. 

American or European immigration authorities won’t be able to screen out Islamic terrorists from refugees. Nor will they be able to do very much except ask some very rudimentary questions.

The United States currently hosts around 100,000 Afghans. The number of SIV visas for Afghans who worked for the United States in some capacity alone was estimated to eventually top 100,000 when accounting for family members. As the Taliban advanced, new lenient regulations were rolled out that put nearly every Afghan who worked for any American organization in just about any capacity eligible as a priority for refugee status in America.

The Afghans being transported out of Kabul airport to U.S. bases will move somewhere and it won’t be the Arab countries that are hosting those bases. They will most likely end up here. Plans are already underway to house them at bases in Texas and Wisconsin. 

Before too long the Afghan population in this country could double practically overnight.

And then go on doubling for as long as the refugee flow continues and our border stays open.

Thousands of Afghans have already been transported to Virginia. It ought to go without saying that it is highly unlikely that any Afghans who make it into the United States will ever leave.

While it’s not unreasonable to feel sympathy for people, some of whom are legitimately fleeing domestic terror, many others are simply taking advantage of an opportunity. Afghanistan’s recent relative prosperity was fed by the billions of dollars that the United States, Europe, and other allied nations invested in its infrastructure, its economy, and its military. Some Afghans genuinely fear being tortured, murdered, or enslaved by the Taliban. Others don’t object to the Taliban, but are seeking economic opportunities that will no longer be available under them.

The opponents of the Taliban also fall into many categories. There are dedicated Islamists who reject the Taliban for a variety of theological, political, and tribal reasons. Afghan Shiites are wary of the Taliban, but their ties to Iran don’t make them friends of the United States. 

Afghanistan contains a number of different ethnic, tribal, and religious groups who might oppose the Sunni Pashtuns of the Taliban without being any kind of fit for America or Europe. That is part of the reason why attempts to build any kind of democratic Afghanistan quickly fell apart.

Proponents of unlimited migration argue that we owe it to the Afghan people to take them in. But if there’s any debt there, it’s not from America to the Afghans, but the Afghans to Americans. 

The United States, Europe, and other countries about to be saddled with a massive refugee surge spent countless billions and sacrificed the lives of their young men to build a country out of the rock and ruin of Afghanistan. They took bread out of the mouths of their own people and filled VA hospitals with the wounded, inside and outside, in a sacrifice that Afghans squandered.

The blame game over the fall of Afghanistan will go on for years, but the simple fact of the matter is that the majority of the Afghan military surrendered to the Taliban or ran away. 

Any debt here is owed to us by the Afghans. We have paid our debts in blood and treasure.

The Afghan refugee crisis shows that the Taliban still have any number of ways that they can hurt us even once we have left Afghanistan. Their ability to turn the refugee tap on and off will allow not only the Jihadists, but their allies in Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey to blackmail us and our NATO allies by using Afghan refugees as a weapon. That’s a weapon we have to take away.

America is already staggering under the massive weight of illegal aliens arriving south of the border. We cannot accommodate the illegal aliens we have, let alone hundreds of thousands of people arriving from a stone age society whose values are fundamentally at odds with our own.

The Biden administration created the Afghan refugee crisis. It should not expect Americans in Texas, Wisconsin, Virginia, and anywhere else it’s plotting to dump its new wave of aliens, to shoulder the burden for a crisis that it created. 

The collapse of Afghanistan is one disaster. An Afghan refugee surge would be a second disaster. We can survive the collapse of Afghanistan, we can’t survive the collapse of America.

 

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical Left and Islamic terrorism.

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2021/08/after-taliban-win-millions-afghan-migrants-may-daniel-greenfield/

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Biden's Appalling Mistake is a Watershed for the West - Gwythian Prins

 

by Gwythian Prins

What is needed now is a swift cold shower of geo-strategic reality in our political classes. The time for self-harming distractions with "wokus pocus," obsessing about sexual dysmorphia, Marxist "critical race theory" and "climate catastrophism" ... -- all of which the Chinese Communist Party is glad to encourage -- must end.

  • The main mission was and should have remained one of self-defence. Once this was forgotten, muddle and a sapping of will set in. Moral ambivalence about our values and ourselves, which our enemies do not have about themselves, expressing itself as an embarrassment about using force in our self-defense, meant that softer edges were attached.

  • We needed strategic patience of the sort that has kept US forces on the Korean peninsula, or British forces in Cyprus, for a lifetime of decades. Our leaders, and mainly one, lacked the vision to have that patience and we shall pay a heavy price.

  • This withdrawal is therefore a set-back for the Free World as we square off to defend our way of life against Xi Jinping's communist command group which, like the Taliban, does not understand win-win. "We win, you lose" is the next game.

  • [O]ur political class ... was utterly na├»ve at "12/11" when the PRC was let into the WTO, expecting it to become like us. This was like letting the fox into the hen-house in the expectation that it would behave like a hen.

  • What is needed now is a swift cold shower of geo-strategic reality in our political classes. The time for self-harming distractions with "wokus pocus," obsessing about sexual dysmorphia, Marxist "critical race theory" and "climate catastrophism" ... -- all of which the Chinese Communist Party is glad to encourage -- must end.

We needed strategic patience of the sort that has kept US forces on the Korean peninsula, or British forces in Cyprus, for a lifetime of decades. Our leaders, and mainly one, lacked the vision to have that patience and we shall pay a heavy price. Pictured: US and South Korean soldiers stand guard in the truce village of Panmunjom in the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) dividing North and South Korea on September 16, 2020. (Photo by Park Tae-hyun/AFP via Getty Images)

Of course we, the Western Alliance, were going to withdraw from Afghanistan sometime. But not now and not like this. The twenty-year expedition in Afghanistan has been a litany of strategic and tactical errors starting with the failure to follow through on the success of Task Force Dagger to crush the Taliban when we most easily could have done so. The operationally brilliant first intervention by the Green Beret Special Forces "Horse Soldiers" of Alpha 595 (known to cinema-goers from the film "Twelve Strong" and now immortalised in an equestrian statue at 9/11 ground zero in New York), partnered with the Northern Alliance at the end of 2001, vectoring in modern Air Force fire-power from horse-back.

The Taliban were out of Kabul and on the run by November 2001 and Osama Bin Laden was on his way to the Tora Bora caves. US President George W. Bush's decision to open up war in Iraq before the Afghan job was done was a costly deflection. In the second phase, the Afghanistan mission lacked focus. Crushing terrorist bases? Nation-building? Narcotics suppression? Educational programmes for girls? Which? All?

Our mission should have been kept perfectly clear and the maintenance of aim should have been constant. It should have been about our national security first and last. Security from Islamist terrorist attacks was to be maintained by dominating these hard lands to the exclusion of others, as the British had done with some success for decades after General "Bobs" Roberts culminating victory over Ayub Khan in September 1880 at Kandahar in the Second Afghan War. This was called the Great Game. Geo-politics are facts on the ground. It is the Great Game still.

This week, not in military defeat but by just walking away, the West surrendered its hard-won dominance over this strategic space -- this pivotal crossroads -- in the modern version of that same old Great Game. The tactical expression of our strategic mission was to exclude the influence of our enemies, Russia, Iran and now Communist China, plus that of our "frenemies" Qatar and Pakistan, both active supporters of the Taliban. The Pakistani ISI intelligence service was the Taliban's great enabler -- with Chinese Communist support -- along the longest contiguous border. Remember that Osama Bin Laden was eventually found and killed hunkered down in the Pakistani military cantonment of Abbottabad. Now, maybe in a fit of absent-mindedness, President Biden has ceded our position in the most humiliating and morally indefensible way possible. The doctrine of R2P - "The Responsibility to Protect" - which was an honourable motif of twenty-first century Western military interventions, died in those mountains and deserts on the weekend 14-15th August 2021.

Now our enemies, who were enemies of each other, seem to be cutting deals with each other simply because they are our enemies. Shi'a Iranians from the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps' Quds Force are reported to have been assisting Sunni Taliban at their countries' common frontier. Has Communist Chinese oblique military support channelled both ways to the Taliban, through Pakistan and through Iran, and prompt diplomatic recognition, bought their silence and even their active support against their co-religionists, denying them sanctuary (for which there is some evidence) in the on-going Uighur genocide in Xinjiang? Neither the Taliban nor the Chinese Communists care a whit about human rights. They do not figure at all because the rights of the individual are entirely subordinate to those of their respective all-dominating ideologies.

Yet, having been silent over the fatal weekend, in his first statement British Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab misjudged the moment. He talked in traditional diplomatic bureaucratese that is wholly disconnected from the changed facts on the grounds after the fall. Sounding like one of his professional diplomats, he spoke of "contact groups", of G7 "pressure", of "sanctions" when there is now zero leverage. He even mused about increasing "development aid" to the Afghan people next year, to be supplied independent of the Taliban. What has he been smoking? We read authoritative reports that the Taliban may be preparing to boost poppy production next planting season to flood the West with heroin.

Taliban Afghanistan will now join the next empire, the People's Republic of China's Belt and Road form of neo-imperialism, which thereby deprives us and gives to the PRC access to un-mined gold reserves and the wealth of Afghanistan's minerals, including rare earths and enormous lithium deposits. The PRC uses them as part of a developed strategy to put a strategic economic arm-lock on us through the current self-harming western obsession with the thermodynamically incompetent orphan technology of lithium-ion battery electric vehicles. Meanwhile the PRC hoovers up oil supplies from our traditional suppliers -- it is already the world's leading oil importer -- and plans to double its oil consumption and its internal combustion engine vehicle fleets by 2040 using our primary intellectual property. Through "Net Zero" we are also giving away to the PRC western dominance of global transport systems too. Everything is interconnected in strategic terms.

Make no mistake, the educational and other benefits to the Afghans from the Western presence these last two decades -- and the benefits were immense but will now be erased along with the hopes and life chances of a rising young generation -- were a most welcome collateral, but they were collateral. The main mission was and should have remained one of self-defence. Once this was forgotten, muddle and a sapping of will set in. Moral ambivalence about our values and ourselves, which our enemies do not have about themselves, expressing itself as an embarrassment about using force in our self-defense, meant that softer edges were attached. These came to confuse and obscure the primary mission. It also appears that there was also an almost unbelievable intelligence failure in assessing the readiness of Afghan government forces to stand and fight. How did that happen? If it was indeed so, and not simply Biden ignoring the advice that he was given, it must rank as one of the greatest such failures in US intelligence history. Biden's withdrawal order had also swept away the "enablers" -- the people who kept helicopters and critical air support for Afghan Government ground forces flying. No wonder they gave up.

We needed strategic patience of the sort that has kept US forces on the Korean peninsula, or British forces in Cyprus, for a lifetime of decades. Our leaders, and mainly one, lacked the vision to have that patience and to understand that the insurance premium to keep western dominance of the Afghan strategic space in the modern Great Game was modest compared to the geo-political benefits it bought us. Conversely, the cost of suspending that insurance payment means that we shall henceforth pay a heavy price in diminished reputation and influence around the world, as well as in increased risks of future conflict - and ironically heavier costs. This defeat was not inevitable, and the assumption being peddled that it was, must be firmly rebutted.

President Biden's decision to cut and run has given the world the image of the Chinook helicopter evacuating US Embassy Staff from Kabul in a replay of Saigon in 1975 and then, far worse, the images of desperate Afghans who had trusted us but were now swarming over and clinging to a USAF Globemaster transporter airplane, even as it rolled on the runway, so frantic were they to escape the enveloping darkness that the return of the Taliban to Kabul has brought them. Two fell to their deaths. The era of the Twin Towers ended as it had begun with innocent bodies falling from the sky. President Biden's decision to cut and run has mercifully avoided the bloody chaos of the retreat from Kabul in 1842, but without Biden's decision none of this would have happened; and Elphinstone's memory would have remained in obscurity.

Paul Wolfowitz, one of the architects of the initial responses to 9/11, was completely correct in saying that the signal of the Taliban's return for the 20th anniversary of that attack is the worst possible: not just for Afghanistan but for the credibility and perceived reliability of the Free World. Although the British disapproved of Biden's order, we could not resist it and knowing that it was the wrong thing to do, we too have had to evacuate. Biden has damaged us as well, for this humiliation will make building "global Britain" after the liberation of "Brexit" that much harder.

In Afghanistan, late in the day the British and US Governments seem to have accepted a moral responsibility to evacuate all our interpreters and their families, as our rightly furious former field commanders demand. But it now may be too late for many, as Ben Wallace, a former soldier and British Secretary of State for Defence admitted. In addition, as with Hong Kong, we have a duty to open an escape route for all the educated Afghan democrats -- an entire young generation -- and especially for the young women. Like the Hong Kongers, we would be lucky to receive them. Again, the speed of the collapse brings this all into question.

What lessons should we learn? First, that the responsibility for this terrible self-inflicted defeat lies squarely with President Biden. Trump had many successes in his foreign policy (the Abraham Accords; preparing to deter Xi Jinping) but failings also, of which his naive attempt to "cut a deal" with the Taliban was one of the worst. The Taliban do not do negotiation, nor keep any word, and Trump should have known, or have been made to understand, that. The "Doha deal" and draw-down was a grave error: it disheartened the Afghan government and it encouraged the Taliban. So Trump does have his share of the blame, but not in the way some would suggest. A strong narrative is building in the usual anti-Trump quarters that tries to blame the current catastrophe entirely on Trump. Biden, who has so far distanced himself from all of Trump's other policies, tried that line in an apparent attempt at self-exculpation by teleprompter on 16th August. After reading it out, he marched off, refusing all questions, perhaps wisely. Last weekend's disaster cannot be laid principally at Trump's door. Biden's 8th July Press Conference will go down as one of the most damaging ever by any President. His petulant refusal to heed his own military and intelligence advisers -- or maybe to understand them -- and the assertion that we would never see what we have just seen five weeks later, a repeat in Kabul of the 1975 helicopter airlift from the Saigon US Embassy, have indelibly defined his Presidency.

In the USA, another slow fuse has also been lit this week. The Democratic Party will soon have to explain how it foisted such a manifestly impaired candidate as Biden upon the American people and by extension upon the Free World at any time and most especially at a time of such strategic transformation. There will be a great reckoning within our greatest ally. The American people want their troops home, as is normal and natural, but not in such circumstances that render the Free World in even more danger than before 9/11, not to mention the utter humiliation wrought at the hand of no enemy, but that of their own President.

Suzanne Raine, the formidable former Head of the British Joint Terrorism Assessment Centre and now at the University of Cambridge, has been at the epicentre of the fight against Islamist terrorism for the last twenty years; her words carry much weight. Her first public assessment on 18th August is that when the President argued that we should focus on today's threats, not yesterday's threats, there is a "logical inconsistency" in Biden's justification of his withdrawal. As she crisply observed, yesterday's threats are only not today's -- and tomorrow's -- threats by dint of all that has now been surrendered. We have lost our eyes and ears by surrendering dominance of the Afghan space in the modern Great Game (my words); and specifically she observes the known links between individuals in the current senior Al Qaeda leadership and the new rulers of Kabul. Under the western dominance of Afghanistan, Al Qaeda was pushed to the failed state spaces in Libya and Iraq but will now have the option of flowing back. The escape route from Afghanistan to Libya and Iraq was through Iran; so Iran can be the route of return, about which we can now do nothing. We are once more in a more passive than active mode. In sum, Ms Raine's view is the old message: that we should trust deeds not words. The price of freedom is eternal vigilance and Biden has just made that task immensely more difficult.

Biden's unexpected announcement of US withdrawal by an arbitrary date against the advice of Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III and Gen. Mark A. Milley, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as Central Intelligence Director William Burns, will be the most consequential decision of his presidency. Nor can it be denied that Biden's failure to consult his closest allies has weakened the Western alliance.

The US withdrawal has, in addition, precipitated the worst failure in British foreign policy since the Suez debacle of 1956, when the unilateral action of the Eisenhower administration, threatening to trigger a run on the British Pound, strong-armed British abandonment of its military operation on the very cusp of success. The Chairman of the House of Commons Foreign Affairs Committee, Tom Tugendhat, has correctly made that comparison. It was creditable of the UK government, after the shock announcement, to seek to assemble a rump alliance without Biden's America, but the chances of this succeeding were always slim. The real fighters like the Scandinavians, the Netherlands, Canada, Australia were too few and the paper tiger of the EU's ambition to present itself as a military power was exposed for what it was.

Suez was followed by an era of anti-Americanism and of "declinism" -- learned helplessness -- in the British establishment which became one of the groundwater springs that nourishes still the unreconciled remainer/remoaner/rejoiner losers of the 23 June 2016 referendum to leave the EU. We must guard against this resurgence at a moment when the solidarity of the anglosphere is more important than ever.

Second, this withdrawal is therefore a set-back for the Free World as we square off to defend our way of life against Xi Jinping's communist command group which, like the Taliban, does not engage in deal-making nor understand win-win. "We win, you lose" is the next game. The Chinese are highly organized and strategic -- as we must swiftly become after this defeat. They understand us incredibly well. They have sent their leadership cadres through our universities for three decades. In comparison we know hardly anything about China because we do not have that depth of experience in our political class which was utterly naive after "12/11" when the PRC was let into the WTO, expecting it to become like us. This was like letting the fox into the hen-house in the expectation that it would behave like a hen.

We are, however, not without resources for this Great Power contest which is already in train as a "grey war," with PRC "ghost attack" by economic means, in which it encourages us to follow policies -- notably "Net Zero" fantasy green economics -- that they think, correctly, are disadvantageous to both our economy and defence, and hence in their strategic interest. The Five Eyes intelligence alliance is still peerless. Our combined military deterrence, grounded in the world's leading military cultures, still gives us superior capability across the full spectrum of future conflict so long as we do not compromise it further in worrying ways, for example by allowing "woke" identity irrelevances or green virtue-signalling to distract commanders and injure the chains of command. Furthermore, in democracies, however flawed, power derived from the ballot box is always more legitimate in the eyes of those governed than rule by fear in autocracies.

Third, with the loss of Afghanistan we cross a watershed. What is needed now is a swift cold shower of geo-strategic reality in our political classes. The time for self-harming distractions with "wokus pocus," obsessing about sexual dysmorphia, Marxist "critical race theory" and "climate catastrophism" built on Whitehead's Fallacy of Misplaced Concreteness that mistakes hypothetical scenario projections for real data -- all of which the Chinese Communist Party Ministry of State Security United Front Work Department is glad to encourage -- must end.

Biden's terrible mistake must be turned into the wake-up call for the Free World to pull itself together after two years in which, one way or another, the Chinese Communists made the world sick, causing the deaths of more than four million people and injuring the economies of many nations -- all, to date, with no accountability. We must clear for action, which means that to defend ourselves by credible deterrence, we must start by dumping overboard all extraneous impediments.

The challenge of the defence of Taiwanese freedom -- first, by strong deterrence -- plainly approaches. The regional democracies Japan, India, and Australia stand ready as the 2021 Japanese Defense White Paper shows; and the USA must once again stand tall.

Gwythian Prins is Research Professor Emeritus at the LSE and a past member of the British Chief of the Defence Staff's Strategy Advisory Panel

 

Gwythian Prins

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/17657/biden-appalling-mistake

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Tehran ready to pounce on Afghanistan as it reels from Taliban takeover - Ariel Ben Solomon

 

by Ariel Ben Solomon

The collapse of the Afghan military could serve as further motivation for Iran to target US-allied Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as countries like Jordan.

 

Tehran ready to pounce on Afghanistan as it reels from Taliban takeover

Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei | File photo: AFP via the Iranian Supreme Leader's website

Newly installed Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi celebrated the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan and the failure of the United States to leave smoothly after 20 years entrenched in the country, marking the beginning of what's likely to be a more aggressive stance there and on other fronts in the Middle East.

American leaders have accused Iran of backing the Taliban in the fight against its military forces in Afghanistan. While a withdrawal was announced by the Biden administration earlier this year, what has happened over the course of the past few days was certainly not what they had in mind.

"America's military defeat and its withdrawal must become an opportunity to restore life, security and durable peace in Afghanistan," Raisi pronounced on Monday, according to Iran's state TV, reported Reuters.

Iran has had a complicated relationship with Afghanistan and the Taliban. The Shi'ite Muslim country shares a 560-mile border with mainly Sunni Muslim Afghanistan and hosts some 3.5 million Afghan refugees. In the late 1990s, Iran almost went to war with the Taliban-controlled Afghanistan after several Iranian diplomats were killed, and the Islamic Republic had cooperated with the United States early on in the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001 with intelligence support before relations deteriorated during the Bush administration.

Nevertheless, the embarrassment of the US military withdrawal from Afghanistan and the swift Taliban victory over the Western-backed government represents an opportunity for Iran to take a more defiant posture against an America on the retreat from the Middle East.

"The Islamic Republic of Iran believes that the reign of the will of the wronged people of Afghanistan has always created security and stability," said Raisi. "While consciously monitoring developments in the country, Iran is committed to neighborly relations."

Allies Iran, Hamas and Hezbollah have all come out praising the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan. They see it as a model for defeating the United States and Israel in the Middle East.

Raisi presented a cabinet of hardliners last week, including Gen. Ahmad Vahidi as interior minister. He is a former defense minister wanted by Interpol for his alleged role in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish cultural center in Buenos Aires that killed 85 and injured hundreds.

Meir Javedanfar, a lecturer on Iranian politics at IDC Herzliya in Israel, told JNS that the new Iranian government and its composition is a message to the international community that Iran will not be so forthcoming and as during the previous term of President Hassan Rouhani. "The latter was at least more accommodating rhetorically. But those days are over," he said.

Javedanfar sees Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei as being the impetus behind the new government.

In terms of what actions can be expected from the new government, Javedanfar predicted that "you could almost call it the Khamenei government; the people now in charge can be assumed to have been appointed directly from the leader himself."

As per the ongoing negotiations to revive the 2015 nuclear deal, he said it's too soon to speculate if this new government signals the end of the talks. "I do think the composition of the new government means Iran is sending a tougher message to the US negotiators, but an agreement might still be possible," said Javedenfar.

The International Atomic Energy Agency stated in a report presented to members states on Monday and seen by Reuters that Iran is advancing its work with uranium metal.

"On 14 August 2021, the Agency verified … that Iran had used 257 g[rams] of uranium enriched up to 20% U-235 in the form of UF4 (uranium tetrafluoride) to produce 200 g[rams] of uranium metal-enriched up to 20% U-235," said the UN nuclear watchdog.

Such work is not going to help advance talks that are already at an impasse.

Ali Alfoneh, a senior fellow at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington, told JNS that "the Iranian president does not necessarily represent a belligerent line, but lessons learned by the Iranian state in the past decade are likely to lead to a more confrontational approach."

He wrote in a recent article that this aggressive approach is likely to continue due to four main lessons learned by officials in Tehran.

First, proxy wars secured military victories in Syria and Yemen. Second, Iran survived the Trump administration's nearly four-year "maximum pressure" campaign. Third, no military retaliation came for attacks against Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. And fourth, the coronavirus pandemic has led to more government control of the country, rather than less.

Add Afghanistan to this list of countries where Iran is likely to push to increase its influence drastically after the US military withdrawal.

The collapse of the Afghan military could serve as further motivation for Iran to aggressively target American-allied Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as well as countries like Jordan.

Reprinted with permission from JNS.org.

 

Ariel Ben Solomon

Source: https://www.israelhayom.com/2021/08/19/tehran-ready-to-pounce-on-afghanistan-as-it-reels-from-taliban-takeover/

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Separatist Sentiment In Iran Is Rising - Hugh Fitzgerald

 

by Hugh Fitzgerald

Lessons for Western leaders to never capitulate to the regime.

 

 

The street protests that have taken place in Iran this summer are of two kinds. First, there are continued protests against the mismanagement of the economy, the corruption of the Islamic Republic’s leaders, and the continued transfer of Iranian wealth to support such proxies and allies as the Houthis in Yemen, Kata’ib Hezbollah in Iraq, and especially, Hezbollah in Lebanon, the terror group supported by $700 million transferred annually from Iran. Second, there are the demonstrations by ethnic minorities, who make up 50% of Iran’s population, and bristle under the continued dominance of the Persians.

A report on the recent displays of separatist sentiment, focusing on Arab-populated Ahwaz Province, is here: “Dismantle the Islamic Republic,” by Mordechai Kedar, Algemeiner, August 12, 2021:

In recent weeks, mass demonstrations have taken place in three peripheral provinces of Iran populated by non-Persian ethnic groups. The most prominent is the Arab-inhabited Ahwaz province, located on the banks of the Persian Gulf. Mass demonstrations were also conducted in the Kurdish and Azeri regions in the north of the country.

Iran’s economic crisis has resulted in a lack of investment in, among other things, water infrastructure. The Persian region of Iran has suffered severe drought for years. To address that problem, the Islamic regime diverted streams from the province of Ahwaz to the Persian region. This resulted in thousands of cows, sheep, and goats in Ahwaz dying of thirst. Because those animals are the source of many of their livelihoods, the people of Ahwaz consider the water diversion a theft….

Iranian leaders made their choice: they have spent, and continue to spend, billions of dollars on their nuclear project, the care and feeding of the IRGC, and on proxies and allies from Yemen to Lebanon — money that has not been spent on infrastructure to conserve water resources, on desalination plants, on the production of water from the air (a method now perfected by Israel’s Watergen company), and on drip irrigation.

During the last few years, there has been a severe drought in the Persian-populated parts of central Iran. In response, the government has chosen to divert water from Arab-populated Ahwaz in the south to central Iran. Ahwaz farmers paid the price: their livestock – cows, sheep, and goats – have died of thirst, impoverishing many of the Arab farmers. They naturally have been angered by Teheran’s water policy, its diversion of water to the north seen as one more example of the Persian-dominated central government’s inattention to their plight.

The Iranian government has not invested in “smokestack scrubbers” that could greatly decrease the amount of toxic emissions; it appears indifferent to the health of the Ahwazi Arabs. Since all the oil and gas in Iran comes from the Ahwaz region, it is the Ahwazi Arabs alone who continue to suffer the consequences of the toxic substances emitted by the oil and gas industry. The “uncaptured” toxic substances enter the soil, where they the poison the fruits and vegetables that the Ahwazis produce, and poison, too, the waters of the Gulf, and thus the fish that the Ahwazis rely on for food. This exposure to such poisons through their diet causes many Ahwazi women to give birth to deformed babies. Yet the Tehran government continues to ignore the need to clean up the oil-and-gas toxins emitted into the atmosphere that could be “captured” at the source through a “ smokestack scrubbers” policy.

The Ahwazi charge – that the Persian rulers wanted to situate the Bushehr Nuclear Power Plant in Ahwaz, where in case of any accident or meltdown, it will not be Persians but the local Arabs who will be harmed – is entirely consonant with Persian policy toward the Ahwazi Arabs, one of criminal indifference to their health and wellbeing.

The Ahwazis began protesting over the issue of water being “stolen” by the Persians – i.e., diverted from Ahwaz to the north – and metamorphosed into a demand that Ahwaz become independent from “Iranian occupation.” The Iranian government will never agree to that, for it would mean losing all of its oil-and-gas production, but the very fact that such a demand for Ahwazi independence is now being made is terrifying to Tehran. It must wonder who else is behind that demand? Is it Sunni Arab states in the Gulf, such as the UAE and Saudi Arabia, who want to tear away from Iran its main source of wealth, and are offering Ahwazi separatists financial and military support? Or could Israel itself be promising to supply the Ahwazis with weaponry and training to help them withstand, by force, any attempt by Tehran to crush the Arab separatists? Most likely, both the Sunni Arab states and Israel will be offering support, should the Ahwazi Arabs manage to break out in a large-scale open revolt that the Iranians are unable to suppress, for Israel and its Gulf allies want to encourage the Ahwazi separatist movement, as a simple way to threaten the economy, and undermine the security, of the Iranian state, and to keep it preoccupied with suppressing that revolt in the country’s oil-and-gas bearing south. It’s not only the Ahwazi revolt that in itself threatens the security of the state, but the effect of such a revolt on other ethnic minorities, including the Azeris, the Kurds, and the Balochis, who would be heartened by, and want to emulate, the Ahwazi example.

In response to the Ahwazis’ demand for independence, the regime cut off the Internet in the province. People from the area now have to film events in Ahwaz and travel to other areas to get the images out to the world.

Concurrently with the outbreak of demonstrations in Ahwaz, demonstrations broke out in support of the Kurdish and Azeri regions in northern Iran, as well as in Tehran, where slogans like “Death to the dictator” [the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei] and “Not Gaza, not Lebanon, the money for Iranians” were chanted.

The 20 million Azeris in Iran constitute about one-quarter of the country’s population, and right next door to the Azeri-populated parts of western Iran is the state of Azerbaijan, which has 10 million Azeris and a well-trained and well-supplied army. Azerbaijan could serve as a conduit for arms and money to the Azeri separatists – whose goal is not a separate state, like that desired by the Ahwazi Arabs — but rather, the incorporation of the Azeri-populated areas of Iran into an enlarged Azerbaijan. Were that effort to succeed, it would dramatically decrease Iran’s size, and strengthen its neighbor Azerbaijan, which just happens to be a close ally of Israel. Israel has long been a major supplier of weaponry to Azerbaijan. And Azerbaijan, in turn, has been mentioned as a possible site for an Israeli forward operating base in any future conflict with Iran. It’s a lot easier to bomb Iranian sites from Azerbaijan than from Israel. No wonder the Iranians will move heaven and earth to keep the Azeri separatist effort from succeeding.

It is important to note that despite widespread opposition to the Islamist regime among Iranians of Persian descent, they oppose the demand of ethnic minorities for disengagement from Iran. Indeed, when I [the author and former IDF intelligence analyst, Mordechai Kedar] raised in meetings with Persian-Iranian exiles the possibility that Iran would be partitioned into ethnic/national states (Persians, Arabs, Baluchs, Kurds, Turkmen, etc.) similar to what happened in the USSR, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia, their response was always completely negative. They aspire to remove the ayatollahs from power, and some even speak of the return of the Shah’s son and the renewal of the monarchy, but they unequivocally support Iran’s continued existence in its current form, which perpetuates Persian control of the country’s many ethnic minorities….

Persian Iranians in exile, though ferocious enemies of the Islamic regime, are also, however, proud Persian nationalists, who oppose the separatist movements – by Arabs, Azeris, Kurds, and Balochis – that would reduce Persia’s power and size. They want a change of regime, not a much diminished homeland.

Arabs, Azeris, Kurds, and Balochis, who for years have been conducting their own unconnected campaigns for greater rights, have been — according to the senior Israeli intelligence analyst Mordechai Kedar — more recently collaborating with each other, keenly aware that if they were to simultaneously rise in revolt, the Iranian army would have a hard time suppressing four distinct separatist groups “on the edges of Iran.” These include the two million Ahwazi Arabs in the south, on the Gulf, whom Sunni Arabs might be eager to aid, not just out of ethnic solidarity, but to deprive the Islamic Republic of the oil and gas production on which its wellbeing is completely dependent; the three million Balochis – Sunnis persecuted by the Shi’a Persians — in the far east, who could obtain reinforcements and weapons from the eight million Balochis right across the border in Pakistan; the 20 million Azeris in Iran who can count on the support of the 10 million of their fellows in Azerbaijan, well-armed and battle-hardened from the war in Nagorno-Karabakh; and the twelve million Kurds in northwestern Iraq, who can receive various kinds of aid (weapons, money, and volunteers) from the twenty-five million Kurds who live in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey.

An end to the current Iranian regime, and the replacement of the ruling Islamists by secular democrats, would put an end to Iran’s regional aggression, that had been undertaken by the Islamic Republic to help other Islamist groups, from the Houthis to Hezbollah, in order to spread the Iranian revolution, and Iran’s power, across the Middle East.

Along with a change in its regime, the disintegration of Iran, through the success of separatist movements among the Arabs, Kurds, Azeris, and Balochis, would ensure that even were Iran, most implausibly, to again revert to Islamism, it would be so reduced in size and wealth as to no longer constitute a threat to Israel, or to the Sunni states of the Gulf, or to the mullahs’ “Great Satan,” America.

The international community must therefore vigorously support the struggle of the ethnic/national minorities in Iran against the Islamist regime (as well as the struggle of the Persian majority against this regime) and their efforts to dismantle the Iranian state. President Biden must immediately abandon any intention to return to the nuclear deal or to remove sanctions from the regime, and instead invest significant resources — overt and covert, civilian and military — in helping the Iranian minorities free themselves from Persian suffocation.

An excellent idea from Mordechai Kedar, with his 25 years of experience as a senior intelligence officer for the IDF. The Bidenites should stop their policy of capitulation to the Iranians, forget about a return to the disastrous 2015 Iran deal that Iran, whatever it promises, has no intention of observing, keep in place those most effective sanctions, that have been wreaking havoc with Iran’s economy, and instead, direct American efforts to supporting the various separatist movements inside Iran – with weapons, with training, with money — whose success will put paid to any further dreams of geopolitical glory by a diminished, even dimidiated, Iran.

 

Hugh Fitzgerald

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2021/08/separatist-sentiment-iran-rising-hugh-fitzgerald/

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Nasrallah: Afghanistan exit shows Israel cannot rely on US - i24NEWS and ILH Staff

 

by i24NEWS and ILH Staff

Hezbollah leader slams US withdrawal from Afghanistan, calling the Taliban takeover the "moral downfall of America."

 

'We are not afraid of war with Israel,' claims Hezbollah leader
Hezbollah leader Sheikh Hassan Nasrallah speaks on Aug. 7, 2021, marking 15 years since the 2006 Second Lebanon War | Screenshot: Al-Manar TV via Reuters

 Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah slammed the US withdrawal from Afghanistan in a televised speech Tuesday night carried by official Hezbollah media, saying that the Taliban takeover is the "moral downfall of America."

The leader of the radical Shiite group said that the lesson to be taken from America's hasty retreat from Afghanistan is that the US is not a reliable partner, specifically mentioning Israel.

"Those watching most closely and drawing conclusions from this are the Israelis," the terrorist leader said.

Nasrallah said that US President Joe Biden was willing to "accept a historic failure" to prove a policy shift that the US will in the future not fight wars for other nations, asking rhetorically what the new American foreign policy would mean for Lebanon and its neighbors.

In a speech at the White House, Biden said he stood by the decision to leave the central Asian nation, despite the Islamist insurgents quickly conquering the entire country, including the capital, Kabul.

Biden said that the goal of the Afghanistan invasion almost 20 years ago was to respond to the 9/11 attacks with a narrow focus on counter-terrorism and was "never supposed to be nation-building."

He said that the US would focus on today's threats that go beyond Afghanistan, while threatening a "devastating" response if the Taliban targeted US interests.

"Everybody must consider it and meditate upon it," Nasrallah said, referring to the Taliban's victory. "Those who most need to draw conclusions and wisdom from this are the peoples of this region."

This article was first published by i24NEWS.

 

i24NEWS and ILH Staff 

Source: https://www.israelhayom.com/2021/08/19/nasrallah-afghanistan-exit-shows-israel-cannot-rely-on-us/

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Netanyahu: I refused Kerry's proposal to apply Afghan model to Palestinians - Ariel Kahana and i24NEWS

 

by Ariel Kahana and i24NEWS

"I predicted that as soon as the United States left Afghanistan, everything would collapse. Unfortunately, that is what happened: an extremist Islamic regime has conquered Afghanistan and will transform it into a terrorist state which will endanger world peace," former prime minister says.

 

Netanyahu: I refused Kerry's proposal to apply Afghan model to Palestinians
Former PM Benjamin Netanyahu | File photo: Marc Israel Sellem/Pool

In the wake of the Taliban's rapid takeover of Afghanistan this week, former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that the United States had indeed offered him to apply its "Afghan model" in Israel by having US-trained Palestinian forces provide Israeli security.

"In 2013, US Secretary of State John Kerry invited me on a secret visit to Afghanistan to see how the United States had established a local military force capable of fighting terrorism alone," Netanyahu said. "The message was clear: the 'Afghan model' is the model that the United States also seeks to apply to the Palestinian cause.

"I politely declined the offer and predicted that as soon as the US left Afghanistan, everything would collapse. Unfortunately, that is what happened: an extremist Islamic regime has conquered Afghanistan and will transform it into a terrorist state which will endanger world peace.

"We would achieve the same result if, God forbid, we handed over control of the homeland to the Palestinians. They would establish a terrorist state in Judea and Samaria."

The opposition leader said that time proved he made the right decision and warned that Israel "must not trust others to ensure our safety, we must defend ourselves against any threat."

However, "the Lapid-Abbas-Bennett government is doing the exact opposite, endangering our security and our very existence. They have agreed on a 'no surprises' policy with Iran, a dangerous policy that restricts Israel's operational freedom of action," he concluded.

i24NEWS contributed to this report.

 

Ariel Kahana and i24NEWS 

Source: https://www.israelhayom.com/2021/08/19/netanyahu-i-refused-kerrys-proposal-to-apply-afghan-model-to-palestinians/

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Netanyahu may offer Gantz rotation-free premiership, sources say - Mati Tuchfeld

 

by Mati Tuchfeld

With all signs pointing to the state budget passing as planned, opposition members are said to be working on a no-confidence vote to topple the government, but it is unclear whether Blue and White's leader is on board with the plan.

 

Early election bill enters final stages as compromise eludes coalition
Blue and White leader Benny Gantz and former PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, August 2020 | Photo: Oren Ben Hakoon

With all signs pointing to the state budget passing as planned, there are almost no ways left for the opposition to topple the government. Polls showing that approval ratings for the coalition are dropping while Former PM Benjamin Netanyahu's numbers rise are useless without the government somehow crumbling apart.

Attempts to drive a wedge between the coalition members in hopes someone rebels and votes against the budget will continue until the very last minute in mid-November, but at the same time, the Likud is scrambling to find other ways to undermine the government.

These actions come from the understanding that the government funds are readily and abundantly available to anyone demanding them to remain a "well-behaved" coalition member and that the safety net provided by the Joint Arab List is too solid to break, so the image of the "fragile coalition" does not necessarily reflect reality.

This is why for Likud, the possibility of turning Blue and White leader Benny Gantz is, in fact, the only option on the horizon.

Gantz does not bother denying it – his status in the government is emboldened by the coalition members' fear he may bolt – and the Likud makes no secret of the attempts to approach him.

Just this week Gantz said, "I could be prime minister, and I think I can be prime minister at any political point in time." Right now, it seems he fears the media will turn on him, but in the event that the government continues losing ground in public, he will be justified in making a move.

Opposition Leader Benjamin Netanyahu, for his part, has no intention of biding his time. He knows that the relationship between him and Gantz is a significant obstacle to realizing this plan and he also knows that Gantz will not make any move before the vote on the budget – after all, the last thing Blue and White's leader needs is to become the PM only to try to pass the budget in a vote that could spell the current Knesset's demise.

Recently, Netanyahu shared with opposition figures the possibility of reaching a deal with Gantz by which the latter will be named as prime minister through a no-confidence vote in the government and sans a power-sharing deal, meaning without a specified agreement on the date on which Netanyahu and Gantz switch the premiership role. This will see Netanyahu named PM-designate until the next elections are called, and it is believed that the opposition will be able to secure the 61-MK majority needed to push this type of move.

There is no doubt that if such an offer is made Gantz would have to at least entertain it, but he would still need a due cause to act on it.

 

Mati Tuchfeld

Source: https://www.israelhayom.com/2021/08/19/netanyahu-may-offer-gantz-rotation-free-premiership-sources-say/

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