Friday, October 31, 2014

"Incoherence of Western Policy"

Dr. Jonathan Spyer

Islamic State and the incoherence of Western policy - Jonathan Spyer, PhD

This war has come about because of some fundamental and unresolved problems inherent in the creation of the states of Iraq and Syria. Neither are historic entities. Both were carved out of the ruins of the Ottoman Empire by the British and French. Disparate and incompatible populations were contained within their borders.

Once the conflict is understood in this way, its cross-border dynamics become clearer and more predictable, and the role of the West also becomes clear. Most importantly – in the core Sunni-Shia war, the West has no ally.

The Shia bloc constitutes the most powerful anti-Western alliance currently in existence in the Middle East. Among the Sunni Arabs, meanwhile, are some of the most floridly brutal organisations ever to have emerged anywhere – such as ISIS – as well as others who rank among the most ineffectual. The victory of either camp would not constitute progress in any form for the people living in the states in question.

Rather, a Western policy which seeks to mobilise allies to contain both forms of political Islam would be prudent. This would involve support for the states and entities surrounding the arena of the war – including Israel, Jordan, the Kurdish Regional Government in Iraq and the Kurds of Syria.

Such a policy is unlikely to emerge until policy-makers have a clear picture of the dynamics at work. The Middle East is currently in the midst of a historic process, in which rival versions of political Islam are battling over the ruins of the post-war regional order. The outcome is not yet clear. The task is to reduce and contain the damage.
[GLORIA Center]

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Chickenshit-gate: Obama-Israel Feud Heats Up

Rabbi Marvin Hier

Rabbi Marvin Hier, the founder and Dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, has called on President Barack Obama to “name, apologize for, and repudiate” the anonymous official who was quoted, in an Atlantic Magazine article by Jeffrey Goldberg, describing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a “chickenshit.”

In a telephone call with The Algemeiner from his Los Angeles office, an incensed Rabbi Hier declared: “It is rather ironic that a senior American official is prepared to curse his friends, yet when it comes to the mortal enemies of the United States – as the Iranians discovered during the recent nuclear negotiation – praise is heaped on them.”

Another senior official, Goldberg wrote, “agreed that Netanyahu is a ‘chickenshit’ on matters related to the comatose peace process, but added that he’s also a ‘coward’ on the issue of Iran’s nuclear threat.”

Commenting on the remarks of this second official, Hier asserted: “He said Netanyahu is a coward for not taking pre-emptive action against Iran, but I suppose this anonymous official who is hiding behind his desk is very brave.”

Asked whether he thought Obama should fire the officials who made these comments, Hier said “that’s up to the president.” However, he added, “a senior American official who doesn’t name himself and then hurls curse words at one of our strongest allies should be repudiated by the president. President Obama needs to make it clear that these officials don’t speak for him. Most of all, an apology is in order: That is not the way a senior American official should speak to the Prime Minister of Israel, that is not the way to conduct foreign policy.”

Hier noted that similar sentiments were not forthcoming from the administration about Qatar, a putative American ally that nevertheless backs Hamas and has allegedly been a conduit for funding the Islamic State terrorist organization. “There are no curse words on or off the record about the emir of Qatar for supporting Hamas and supporting Islamic State,” Hier noted. “The emir of Qatar is being rewarded for supporting Hamas and Islamic State. He is certainly not being treated in the way that Netanyahu is now.”
[The Algemeiner]

Cursing Israel’s prime minister - Jennifer Rubin

The [anonymous official's] statement is ignorant or an intentionally false accusation on so many different levels it is hard to know where to begin.

Netanyahu has confirmed Israel will pursue a two-state solution, voluntarily entered into a housing freeze and has been willing to negotiate without precondition. Moreover, it is not simply the far right but the large majority of Israelis who now see the Oslo process as a failure. From the Labor Party to Likud, the political spectrum in Israel on this issue is in sync. And finally, Israel is getting along fine with the Sunni states, better than the latter are with the Obama administration, since both understand the threat posed by Iran and its surrogates.

The immature and deplorable insult is nothing all that new. Whether it is former negotiator Martin Indyk accusing Israel of killing the peace process or the president off-mike complaining about having to deal with Netanyahu constantly, the administration’s animosity is never far from the surface. That such a senior official could feel so confident in his slur says volumes about the environment at the White House. Even more telling, a White House spokesman would only say that the comments were “inappropriate and counterproductive,” not false or unfair or outrageous.

This is yet one more reason to rebuke the president, his foreign policy and his staff. If the president were truly upset about the speech, he would find the staff member who made the remarks and fire that person. By the White House’s initial statement, however, it seems like business as usual around there.
[Washington Post]

Netanyahu is a 'chickensh*t'? - Rabbi Abraham Cooper

A top, unnamed Obama administration official calls an important leader, a “chickensh*t.”

Was this a hard-nosed warning aimed at the Ayatollah Khamenei to pressure Iran to destroy those 23,000 centrifuges before next month’s nuclear negotiating deadline?

Or just maybe, a well-deserved barb at our Turkish “ally” Erdo─čan to stop acting like a regional bully and more like the eastern guardian of NATO?

Of course not. No one in this White House or State Department would ever deign to insult America’s enemies. Unfortunately, and all too often such special treatment has been dished out against our only reliable friend and ally in a region that is rapidly self-destructing—Israel.
[Fox News]



Obama is seeking a confrontation with Israel - Isi Leibler

In an interview with American journalist Jeffery Goldberg published in The Atlantic, a senior US official referred to Prime Minister Netanyahu as “chickenshit” and described him as “the foreign leader who seems to frustrate the White House and the State Department the most.” More than Assad, Erdogan, the Iranian ayatollah, Putin and the “peace loving” Abbas?

This is just the latest in a series of vindictive acts by the Obama administration because Israel has dared to reject its diktats. Nothing illustrates President Obama’s contemptuous attitude toward Israel more than his directive to withhold arms to Israel during wartime because Israel had rejected Kerry’s initiative to engage Qatar as the mediator to end the Gaza hostilities.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas humiliated the US administration by merging with Hamas without prior consultation. But the US failed to criticize this move, has not responded to Abbas’ stated policy of ethnic cleansing, nor condemned him for executing any Palestinian found selling land to an Israeli.

The US did not reprimand him for failing to denounce the act of terror in which a baby and a young woman were killed last week in Jerusalem. Yet when an Arab teenager was shot to death while hurling potentially lethal firebombs at Israeli automobiles, the US immediately conveyed its condolences to the family and urged Israelis to initiate an investigation.

Israel, the principal regional ally of the US, is the only country consistently facing criticism and has become the punching bag for the inept Obama administration, even being denunciated for opposing a nuclear agreement with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Only recently, Kerry again conveyed to an Arab audience the absurd allegation that the Arab-Israel conflict fanned IS and Islamic extremism.

Netanyahu should be commended for his extraordinary diplomatic balancing act in withstanding the unreasonable pressure from Obama and Kerry, avoiding outright confrontations and in so doing, retaining the support of American public opinion and Congress.
[Jerusalem Post]

Chickenshit-gate; Insulting Netanyahu: Spontaneous combustion or intelligent design?
- Herb Keinon

[One] option for those who see that there was an invisible hand behind these insulting comments is that they were tied to Iran.

According to this school of thought, adhered to by some senior Israeli officials, these comments indicate that the US is on the verge of signing a nuclear deal with Iran, and is trying to preempt what is certain to be Netanyahu’s withering criticism by “discrediting the messenger” and saying in advance that he had his chance to act on Iran but blew it because he is a coward.

[Jerusalem Post]

The perils of allying with America - Michael Rubin

Here's the rub: back in 2010 and 2011, Netanyahu did not launch a pre-emptive attack on Iran's nuclear infrastructure and weapons laboratories in large part because the Obama administration had asked him repeatedly not to do so. So, first Obama makes a request of Netanyahu. Netanyahu acquiesces against his better judgment because Obama and his emissaries swear that the United States will never let Iran get nuclear weapons. Then, Obama seeks to strike a deal that effective reneges on that promise and has the audacity to have his senior aides ridicule Netanyahu for being a good ally and listening to Obama in the first place.
[American Enterprise Institute]

Jewish Democrats Disapointed in Obama Administration - Press Release

The National Jewish Democratic Council expresses surprise and disappointment at the profane and inappropriate language attributed to a senior administration official in describing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. 

The personal frustration that is reflected in the anonymous source’s ad hominem attack should be channeled to constructive engagement rather than rhetorical flourishes.
[National Jewish Democratic Council]


U.S. Policy, Viewed from the Middle East - Elliott Abrams

The damage done by administration officials who savaged Prime Minister Netanyahu is deep, including among Arab leaders. That's not because they like Netanyahu, but because it suggests that administration officials are undisciplined and untrustworthy.

After all, those remarks were made with the intention that they be published; they were not off the record. The speakers obviously thought that trashing allied leaders in the press is fine. The officials who made those remarks did serious damage to U.S. credibility, and not just in Israel.

(Council on Foreign Relations)

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

American's Get It

86 Percent of Americans: Radical Islamic Terrorism is Threat

A new Rasmussen Reports survey finds that 86% of likely U.S. voters now consider radical Islamic terrorism a threat to the U.S., up 11 points from January, while 12% disagree. 
(Rasmussen Reports)

Ambassador Don Dermer referred to a recent jihad axe attack in New York City

Leaving Iran on the Nuke Threshold - Dave Bender

Israel's ambassador to Washington, Ron Dermer, said: "It's one thing when fanatics are armed with axes, but it's quite another when they are armed with a nuclear bomb, and this danger is approaching as the world approaches the agreement with Iran."

"We're told not to worry, that UN inspectors will prevent Iran from breaking out or sneaking out to build the bomb. Well, I'm sure you all feel as safe as I do knowing that a few Inspector Clouseaus at the UN is all that stands between fanatic ayatollahs and nuclear bombs."  

The White House Risks a Strategic Relationship - Bret Stephens

Since coming to office in 2009, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has agreed, against his own inclination and over the objections of his political base, to (1) recognize a Palestinian state; (2) enforce an unprecedented 10-month settlement freeze; (3) release scores of Palestinian prisoners held on murder charges; (4) embark on an ill-starred effort to reach a final peace deal with the Palestinians; (5) refrain from taking overt military steps against Iran; and (6) agree to every possible cease-fire during the summer's war with Hamas.

In exchange, Mr. Kerry publicly blamed Israel for the failure of the peace effort, the White House held up the delivery of munitions at the height of the Gaza war, and Mr. Obama is hellbent on striking whatever deal the Iranians can plausibly offer him.
(Wall Street Journal)

Monday, October 27, 2014

State Department's Double Standard

The official Press Statement out of Washington:
The United States expresses its deepest condolences to the family of a U.S. citizen minor who was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces during clashes in Silwad on October 24. Officials from the U.S. Consulate General in Jerusalem are in contact with the family and are providing all appropriate consular assistance. We call for a speedy and transparent investigation, and will remain closely engaged with the local authorities, who have the lead on this investigation. We continue to urge all parties to help restore calm and avoid escalating tensions in the wake of the tragic recent incidents in Jerusalem and the West Bank.

IDF Kills Palestinian Throwing Firebomb - Ben Hartman

A Palestinian who was throwing firebombs at Israeli motorists in the West Bank was shot and killed by IDF troops outside the village of Silwad on Friday, the IDF Spokesperson said. The IDF said the soldiers opened fire "in order to neutralize the threat to the lives of civilians driving on the highway."  

(Jerusalem Post)

U.S. Expresses Condolences for Slain Firebomber

Washington confirmed that a Palestinian teenager shot dead by Israeli troops was a U.S. citizen. Orwa Hammad, 17, was killed as he was about to hurl a petrol bomb at Israeli motorists. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the U.S. "expresses its deepest condolences to the family of a U.S. citizen minor who was killed by the Israeli Defense Forces." 


Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Palestinians, Poverty & Islamic State

A Jerusalem Post editorial points a finger at Palestinians for not "taking responsibility" for their own condition

A Kurdish TV Parody of Islamic State

Taking Responsibility - Editorial

Palestinians would have had a state decades ago if they had renounced violence and focused on improving their lives. Random suicide bombings, rocket fire directed at civilians and other forms of violence adopted by Palestinians over the decades are not a protest against poverty and unemployment. They are a cause of it.

As long as Palestinians continue to justify violence as a legitimate means of political action they will live in poverty.
(Jerusalem Post)

Another obscene Israel analogy - Ben Cohen

We all know about the ludicrous and insulting parallel drawn between Israel and the former apartheid regime in South Africa.

And we know, too, of the obscene comparison between Israel and Nazi Germany.

But now there’s a new analogy—and it’s one that attacks Israel by using a contemporary reference. Appropriately for our digital age, it takes the form of a Twitter hashtag: #JSIL.

If it’s not immediately clear what that means, JSIL is a spinoff of ISIL, the barbaric jihadist terrorist organization with whom we are now at war. JSIL, meanwhile, stands for “Jewish State in the Levant.”

Yes, you read that correctly. There are people out there who are seriously equating a gang of rapists, decapitators, slave traders, and genocidal killers with a democratic state that takes the trouble, whenever it is dragged into an armed conflict, of informing civilians on the other side when and where it will be launching an attack so that they can get themselves to safety.

Just this week, Deutsche Welle, the taxpayer-funded German broadcaster, published an article on its website that cast American Jews volunteering for the IDF in the same light as Muslims from Europe and elsewhere joining the Islamic State terrorists. Germans should, by now, know better.

[W]hat the Deutsche Welle piece demonstrates is how easily this clumsy, morally illiterate argument can penetrate the mainstream.

What Was Kerry Thinking? - David P. Goldman

Israel has nothing whatever to do with any of this suffering. It is all the result of social and political disintegration in the Muslim world itself. To blame ISIS' recruitment of young Muslims on the refugee problem of 1948, as Secretary of State John Kerry did last week, boggles the imagination. It is one thing to ignore the elephant in the parlor, and another to pretend it is not there when it is standing on one's toe.
[Middle East Forum]


No Connection Mr. Kerry - Khaled Abu Toameh

The rise of the Islamic State is one of the by-products of the "Arab Spring," which began as a secular revolt against decades of tyranny and corruption in the Arab world. The Israeli-Palestinian conflict was the last thing Arabs had in mind when they took to the streets to protest against decades of dictatorship and bad government.

In fact, the "liberation" of Jerusalem is ranked sixth among the Islamic State's objectives. Indeed, the group's failure to express solidarity with the Palestinians or Hamas during the Gaza war drew strong condemnations in the Arab world. 
(Gatestone Institute)

Monday, October 20, 2014

Will Obama Allow Iran to Remain A Nuke Threshold State?

Don't Make a Bad Deal with Iran - Yuval Steinitz (New York Times)
  • Israel is deeply concerned about the trajectory of the ongoing negotiations concerning Iran's nuclear program. The talks are moving in the wrong direction, especially on the core issue of uranium enrichment.
  • Iran has softened its inflammatory anti-Western rhetoric and shown some flexibility on less important issues, but we must not be duped by these gestures. President Obama must stand by his declaration that no deal with Iran is better than a bad deal.
  • Israel also worries that the ongoing campaign against the Islamic State will come at the expense of the critical struggle against Iran's nuclear program. Fighting the Islamic State is vital and Israel unequivocally supports the global effort to prevent the formation of a new Islamic caliphate in the Middle East. But even more important is the imperative to preclude the already existing Islamic Republic of Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapons capability.
  • Iran has already made considerable progress in its attempt to advance toward nuclear weapons. An agreement that allows Iran to continue circling in a holding pattern will resemble what happened with North Korea after the 2007 agreement left large parts of Pyongyang's nuclear capabilities intact, which enabled the North Koreans to produce several nuclear weapons in the following years.
  • Second, a flawed deal would hand Iran practical advantages in return for almost nothing. In return for an insignificant and temporary reduction of its enrichment capacities, Iran stands to reap $100 billion per year when the sanctions are lifted; gain formal legitimacy for its uranium enrichment activities; and, despite its history of nuclear fraud and concealment, preserve the capability to produce nuclear weapons at a time it deems appropriate.
  • Barring a surprising change in Iran's negotiating stance, there is zero chance of reaching a satisfactory good deal before the Nov. 24 deadline. Standing our moral ground will transmit a clear message to the leaders in Tehran that the only way to escape mounting pressure will be through ultimately making the necessary significant compromises.

    The writer is Israel's minister of intelligence.


Report: U.S. Willing to Accept 5,000 Iran Centrifuges
Israel Channel 2 TV reported that the U.S. is willing to accept an agreement with Iran that would permit it to retain 5,000 centrifuges.
(Israel Hayom)

No Agreement Seen as Deadline Looms - Dennis Ross

Hardly anyone involved in the Iranian nuclear negotiations has expressed optimism about meeting the Nov. 24 deadline for a comprehensive agreement. A rollback of the Iranian nuclear program in return for a rollback of sanctions seems increasingly beyond reach.

One possibility would be an extension of the negotiations under the current terms. Yet this would essentially recognize a new status quo for Iran's nuclear program, in which Iran is only two or three months away from being able to break-out to producing weapons-grade enriched uranium. 
The writer served as special assistant to President Obama and as a senior director at the National Security Council.
(Foreign Affairs)

The Middle East in Chaos - Reuel Marc Gerecht

Despite the best efforts of Western or Western-inspired modernizers, religion is the primary identity. Secular military dictatorship among Muslims has been a double-edged sword: It helped to build nationalist consciousness; but its injustices and brutality degraded the legitimacy of the state, collapsed traditional mores, and fueled the growth of Islamic fundamentalism.

The promise of a new conquest society by self-appointed caliph of the Islamic State, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, offers a tempting chance to get even for young men who've not hitherto enjoyed much fortune, in the Middle East or in the West. Add the Islamic State's anti-Americanism, and it's not surprising how well the organization has done.

And then there are the nuclear negotiations, where the White House keeps giving ground to Iran's continuing progress toward a bomb. The Islamic Republic's pursuit of nuclear weapons is a strategic game-changer. All of the region's problems, especially those that hurt us, will worsen when the mullahs go nuclear.
The writer is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies.
(Weekly Standard)

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Hamas' Strategy to Spread Out of Gaza

Hamas Searches for a New Strategy - Ehud Yaari

Hamas' Executive Council is taking a hard look at the realities it faces. Gaza's local Hamas leadership, under growing pressure from residents, pushed Hamas' top leader, Khaled Mashal, to accept a cease-fire long before he himself was willing to drop his preferred terms in return for a cessation of hostilities. The main conclusion for Hamas is that beyond the bombastic rhetoric about the "success of the resistance," its military strategy has proven self-defeating.

The tendency among most in Hamas' leadership council is to finally accept that Gaza offers only limited opportunities for escalating the struggle against Israel. Mashal has explicitly stressed the far greater importance of the West Bank and east Jerusalem for any military undertakings, reflecting a recognition of the limited opportunities offered by Gaza for future military assaults.

As Hamas is prepared to give up its monopoly of governance in Gaza, in return, Hamas aspires to receive a much wider scope for operating in the West Bank. Hamas would tolerate reemergence of Fatah activities in Gaza as the price for opening the West Bank's gates to Hamas, including permission for political mobilization, which will serve as a cover for resurrecting underground military networks
The writer is a fellow of The Washington Institute and a Middle East commentator for Israel's Channel 2 TV.
(Washington Institute for Near East Policy)


Hamas Determined to Retain Gaza Grip - Avi Issacharoff

While Hamas has stated that the Palestinian unity government will oversee the reconstruction of Gaza, Hamas has no intention of relinquishing practical control over the strip. Its police and military hierarchies will continue to operate throughout Gaza, and Abbas' PA security forces will not, except perhaps at the border crossings.

Meanwhile, the Hamas' Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades has launched a recruitment drive. Last Thursday the brigades held a large military parade in Shejaiya - intended to convey a clear message to the residents of Gaza: the "resistance" is not about to disarm.
(Times of Israel)

British Spit @ Israel

London anti-Israel protest featuring this scum with Hitler facsimile t-shirt and Israel flag toilet paper

Historic decision to recognise Palestinian state -Oliver Wright

Parliament took the historic step tonight of voting unilaterally to back the recognition of Palestinian statehood. Voting by 274 to 12, a majority of 262, MPs on all sides urged the Government to “recognise the state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel” as part of a “contribution to securing a negotiated two-state solution”.

Support for the motion, while symbolic, marks a significant change in the political landscape, following the failure of successive peace negotiations and the bitter conflict in Gaza over the summer.
[The Independent - UK]

Recognizing Palestine Won't Promote Peace - Melanie Phillips

According to the main proposer of a motion in Parliament to recognize Palestine, Labour MP Grahame Morris, the international community has "cruelly refused" the Palestinians their right to a state. Totally untrue. The sole reason no Palestine state exists alongside Israel is that the Arabs have consistently refused to accept one.

Such a state was proposed in 1937, 1948, 2000 and 2008. The Jews agreed to or promoted every such proposal. The Arab answer has always been rejection, war and terrorist campaigns.

Recognizing Palestine makes no sense, as such a state has no agreed boundaries. Negotiations with Israel are supposed to hammer out the borders. Unilaterally declaring a state tears up the Oslo treaty that committed both sides to a negotiated settlement. Imposing Palestinian demands upon Israel in this way would destroy the peace process altogether. 
(The Times-UK)


Which Palestine Do Europeans Recognize? - Jonathan S. Tobin
  • As long as the Europeans are talking about recognition of Palestine as a state, it's fair to ask which Palestine they are ready to welcome into the family of nations: The weak, corrupt, and undemocratic Palestinian Authority in the West Bank or the terrorist Hamas state in Gaza? Or both?
  • The vote in London was pushed by rank-and-file members of the opposition Labor Party, apparently driven by a desire to embarrass its leader Ed Milliband more than anything else. Prime Minister David Cameron, with the rest of his government and its supporters, abstained on the measure.
  • Undoubtedly, supporters of the measure were thinking of the Palestinian Authority. But, in truth, that Palestine is a corrupt kleptocracy run by Mahmoud Abbas, a man currently serving the 10th year of a four-year presidential term.
  • The Fatah-ruled West Bank is a petty tyranny that oppresses and robs Palestinians while raking in billions in economic aid. Abbas is adamant about being unwilling to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state no matter where its borders might be drawn.
  • Were Europe's governments truly interested in peace, they would understand that unilateral recognition of independence is a way for the PA to avoid having to talk with Israel.
  • A two-state solution can only happen when the Palestinians stop waiting for their foreign friends to hand them Israeli concessions - or Israel itself - on a silver platter.

Road to Peace Does Not Pass through the House of Commons
- Ron Prosor

In November 2012, the PA asked the international community to grant it observer status at the UN; and 138 countries chose to disregard the regime of terror in Gaza, the lack of governance and the rife-with-corruption civilian services, thereby signaling that terror trumps dialogue. Ever since, Mahmoud Abbas has been channeling his efforts towards finding ways to bypass negotiations, by appealing to various international institutions.

The road to peace between Israel and the Palestinians does not pass through New York or Stockholm. The Palestinians need to internalize the fact that a state created through paperwork will remain a state on paper only. True peace will be achieved only via direct negotiations. The writer is Israel's ambassador to the UN.
(Ynet News)

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Yemen Falls

Sanaa, Yemen's beautiful capital

Shiite Rebels Are Yemen's New Masters - Hamza Hendawi

Anti-American Shiite rebels known as Houthis man checkpoints and roam the streets in pickups mounted with anti-aircraft guns after they overran Sanaa, the capital of Yemen, two weeks ago. Rebel fighters have plastered the city with fliers proclaiming their slogan - "Death to America, death to Israel, a curse on the Jews and victory to Islam."

The Houthis, who are backed by Shiite-led Iran, are poised to become Yemen's version of the Shiite Hizbullah in Lebanon - top powerbrokers dominating the government. After the fall of Sanaa, Houthis staged a massive victory rally in the city, flying Hizbullah flags and portraits of Iran's late supreme leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
(AP-ABC News)

Yemen Changes Hands: Will an Iranian Stronghold Emerge?
- Jacques Neriah

Zaydi Shiites from the Houthi clan have taken control of the capital of Yemen. While the Zaydi Shiism practiced in Yemen differs from the Shiism practiced in Iran, in recent years Iran has sought to bring the Zaydis under its wings. Last year an Iranian weapons boat bound for Yemen was interdicted. 

A Houthi-controlled Yemen could evolve into a full-scale Iranian stronghold in the future and threaten freedom of movement through the Bab al Mandab Strait, the gateway to the Red Sea and a vital sea route between Europe and the Far East.
(Institute for Contemporary Affairs-Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

Yemen May Not Offer Best Model

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: "This counterterrorism campaign will be waged through a steady, relentless effort to take out ISIL, wherever they exist, using our air power. And our support for partners - forces - on the ground. This strategy of taking out terrorists who threaten us, while supporting partners on the front lines, is one that we have successfully pursued in Yemen and Somalia for years."
[National Public Radio]


Yemen: Houthis Set Up Iranian Cultural Centers - Hamdan Al-Rahbi

Houthi fighters stormed Yemen's Interior Ministry in Sana'a. The Houthis are continuing to advance in a number of other Yemeni provinces while meeting little or no resistance from government forces. 

Meanwhile, Iranian culture centers are being established in Yemeni provinces under Houthi control, including Hajjah province which borders Saudi Arabia, with the objective of spreading Shi'ism
(Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)

Iran: “The Fourth Arab Capital in Our Hands”

A member of the Iranian parliament who is close to Khamenei declared, “Three Arab capitals (Beirut, Damascus, and Baghdad) have already fallen into Iran’s hands and belong to the Iranian Islamic Revolution.” He suggested Sana’a, Yemen’s capital, is the fourth.
[Jerusalem Center for Public Affaris]

Monday, October 06, 2014

Obama As Wartime President

The Education of a Wartime President: Obama Admits Rule on Civilian Casualties Is Unworkable in Fighting ISIS
- Alan M. Dershowitz  

Last year the Obama administration issued, with considerable fanfare, a new military policy designed to reduce civilian casualties when U.S. forces are attacking enemy targets. This policy required "near certainty" that there will be no civilian casualties before an air attack is permitted.

When Israel acted in self-defense this summer against Hamas rocket and tunnel attacks, the Obama administration criticized the Israeli army for "not doing enough" to reduce civilian casualties. Now the Obama administration has exempted itself from its own "near certainty" standard in its attacks against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Its statement came after a Tomahawk missile last week struck the village Kafr Daryan in Syria, reportedly killing and injuring numerous civilians including children and women.

In every attack on terrorists who operate from civilian areas, there will be civilian casualties. The Obama administration's theoretical "near certainty" policy has proved to be unworkable and unrealistic in actual battle conditions involving human shields and enemy fighters embedded in densely populated areas.

There must be a single universal standard for judging nations that are fighting the kind of terrorism represented by ISIS and Hamas. This standard must be both moral and realistic, capable of being applied equally to all nations committed both to the rule of law and to the obligation to protect citizens from terrorist attacks.
The writer is a Democrat, supporter of President Obama and a law professor emeritus at Harvard University.
(Wall Street Journal)

The Genome of Islamic Terrorism - Moshe Arens

It took the grizzly, televised beheadings of two journalists by an Islamic State executioner to arouse the Western world to the dangers of Islamic terrorism. In short order, President Obama assembled a coalition to fight Islamic State and within days the bombing of IS targets by coalition aircraft began. They evidently did not take the kind of precautions taken by the Israeli Air Force in Gaza - prior warnings, "knocks on the roof," a call for civilians to evacuate the area - in order to minimize casualties among innocent civilians, and there was the inevitable collateral damage.

Israel has been contending with Islamic terrorism for many years, alone - against Hizbullah, funded, armed and directed by Iran, and against Hamas, an ideological affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood, also armed by Iran. Although both Hizbullah and Hamas are considered by the U.S. and EU as terrorist organizations, Israel has received little sympathy when battling them, and on occasion has even come in for severe criticism for causing collateral damage. So far no coalition has been organized to fight Hizbullah and Hamas. That job has been left to Israel.
Yet I[slamic] S[tate], Hamas, and Hizbullah are similar versions of Islamic terrorism. They all have a common denominator - they see the West as their enemy and they all carry the gene that calls for the destruction of the State of Israel. It is a myopic view to see IS as the only terrorist threat to the world.
The writer served as Israel's Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs.


Bombing for show? Or for effect? -Charles Krauthammer, MD

For almost a month, Kobane Kurds have been trying to hold off Islamic State fighters. Outgunned, outmanned and surrounded on three sides...
It took Vice President Biden to accidentally blurt out the truth when he accused our alleged allies in the region of playing a double game — supporting the jihadists in Syria and Iraq, then joining the U.S.-led coalition against them. His abject apologies notwithstanding, Biden was right.
The vaunted coalition that President Obama touts remains mostly fictional. Yes, it puts a Sunni face on the war. Which is important for show. But everyone knows that in real terms the operation remains almost exclusively American.
No one is asking for U.S. ground troops. But even as an air campaign, this is astonishingly unserious. As former E.U. ambassador to Turkey Marc Pierini told the Wall Street Journal, "It [the siege] could have been meaningfully acted upon two weeks ago or so" — when Islamic State reinforcements were streaming in the open toward Kobane. "Now it is almost too late."

Obama has committed the United States to war on the Islamic State. To then allow within a month an allied enclave to be overrun — and perhaps annihilated — would be a major blow.  Guerrilla war is a test of wills. Obama's actual objectives — rollback in Iraq, containment in Syria — are not unreasonable. But they require commitment and determination. In other words, will. You can't just make one speech declaring war, then disappear and go fundraising.

The indecisiveness and ambivalence so devastatingly described by both of Obama's previous secretaries of defense, Leon Panetta and Bob Gates, are already beginning to characterize the Syria campaign.

The Iraqis can see it. The Kurds can feel it. The jihadists are counting on it.
[Jewish World Review]

Thursday, October 02, 2014

Eye on Iran

By John Branch, The San Antonio Express-News

Iran on the Verge of a Diplomatic Triumph - David Frum

  • The rulers of Iran stand on the verge of scoring a stunning diplomatic triumph over the U.S. Even more impressive: They did it all on bluff.
  • A year ago, the rulers of Iran faced disaster. Their currency had lost 3/4 of its value, due in largest measure to the tough economic sanctions signed into law by President Obama at the beginning of 2012. Inflation was raging, unemployment was surging. And their most useful regional ally, Syria's Bashar al-Assad, seemed doomed.
  • Today, the U.S. is coordinating bombing missions with Assad. Iran has obtained considerable sanctions relief. Its currency has strengthened, inflation has abated, and foreign trade and investment are reviving. The U.S. has progressively reduced its demands for nuclear limits on Iran.
  • The New York Times reports that the Obama administration has retreated from the longstanding demand that Iran dismantle its nuclear centrifuges, allowing its nuclear-enrichment capacity to remain intact, marking the latest in a series of American climb-downs.
  • On the present trajectory, any final agreement will leave Iran paused on the verge of nuclear-weapons capability - and this time, with the U.S. having signed away any non-military means of preventing Iran's final drive to complete a bomb.
  • The U.S. - which began the nuclear talks from a position of strength - has acted throughout the negotiations like the weaker party. The U.S. visibly hungered for a deal, and Iran took advantage of that hunger.
(Atlantic Monthly)

Netanyahu to Obama: Don't Allow Iran @ Nuclear Threshold
- Matt Spetalnick

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu told President Obama that he must make sure that any final nuclear deal with Iran does not leave it at the "threshold" of being able to develop nuclear weapons. "As you know, Mr. President, Iran seeks a deal that would lift the tough sanctions that you worked so hard to put in place and leave it as a threshold nuclear power," Netanyahu said. "I firmly hope under your leadership that would not happen." 



Iran Is a Greater Threat than Islamic State - Melanie Phillips

  • "To defeat ISIS and leave Iran as a threshold nuclear power is to win the battle and lose the war," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said this week.
  • It is perplexing that Iran is not being treated by the West as the threat that it so patently is, despite its serial atrocities against Western interests. In Britain, the main anxiety is not about a nuclear Iran but the possibility that Israel might attack it.
  • This week the British home secretary, Theresa May, observed that "the lesson of history tells us that when our enemies say they want to attack us, they mean it." She was talking, however, not about Iran but about the Islamic State, which she described as planning to establish "the world's first truly terrorist state."
  • But that's precisely what Iran already is. And if the Islamic State with its 25,000 followers is such a threat, why isn't Iran, with its standing army of more than half a million and its terror proxies, rocket arsenals and imminent genocide bomb, seen as immeasurably more dangerous?
  • Iran is the world's principal terrorist regime. It is surely beyond irresponsible to allow it to become a nuclear-capable power.
  • The alternatives for the U.S. and its allies are stark. Either they support Israel in fighting Iran as the principal enemy of the West - or they crumble before Iran and thus inescapably empower its attack on the West.
 (Jerusalem Post)

CartoonBite: Islamic State & Tolerance

A stunning cartoon...sometimes few words are needed