The American Kafir

2012/03/24

Iran: The leading state sponsor of int’l terrorism

Source JPost

Iran: The leading state sponsor of int’l terrorism

By IRWIN COTLER

By training, arming, financing and instigating groups like Hezbollah, the Iranian regime gives violent expression to the genocidal narrative of its leadership.

There is increasing – and compelling – evidence of Iranian footprints in a series of recent aborted terrorist attacks in India, Georgia, Azerbaijan and Thailand.

The Indian police have just reported that the Iranian connection to the bombing of the Israeli Embassy car has been “conclusively established” and that the bombing was connected to a botched attack targeting Israeli consular staff in Bangkok.

Thai officials have now detained three Iranian nationals in connection with the plots, while a fourth has been detained in Malaysia. Similarly, an Indian journalist with close ties to Iran’s notorious Quds Force was also arrested last week for facilitating the New Delhi attack. An Indian court has now issued arrest warrants for three other Iranian nationals in connection with the bombing.

Two other Iranian nationals suspected of involvement in the Thai attack, including the alleged mastermind who is presently in Iran, remain fugitives.

Moreover, Thai investigators have released photos of unexploded bombs found in the home of one of the suspects, which are strikingly similar to those used in the Georgian and Indian attacks. And in what is perhaps the most shocking – albeit least reported – development yet, Azerbaijani police are reporting that they are detaining nearly two dozen people for allegedly plotting attacks on the country’s U.S. and Israeli Embassies and other Jewish and Western targets. According to initial reports, a number of the operatives were trained in Iranian military camps and armed by its intelligence agency.

Given the evolving evidence of Iranian involvement, these attacks constitute a major Iranian escalation in its state sponsorship of international terrorism and in the systematic targeting of diplomatic missions in defiance of preemptory norms of international law.

Such an escalation dovetails with the converging Iranian fourfold threat – nuclear, incitement, terrorism, massive domestic repression – and its corresponding incendiary rhetoric which finds increasing expression in the regime’s serial use of terrorist violence as a central tenet of its foreign policy.

Indeed, the recent web of attacks comes in the aftermath of ominous warnings by Gen. Masoud Jazayeri, the spokesman for Iran’s Joint Armed Forces Staff that “the enemies of the Iranian nation, especially the United States, Britain and the Zionist regime have to be held responsible for their activities.” Senior Iranian officials have also recently warned of their intention to strike Israeli and Jewish targets worldwide.

In particular, since the fraudulent election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in 2009, Iran’s escalating rhetoric has been accompanied by increasingly brazen terrorist acts and attempts. In what has become an annual tradition, Iran was once again designated by the US State Department’s Country Report on Terrorism as “the most active state sponsor of terrorism.”

The United States’ recent indictment of senior Iranian officials, accused of orchestrating an elaborate plot to assassinate the Saudi Ambassador in Washington is but the latest example.

Indeed, as part of the same plot – though this has gone largely unremarked – the indicted Iranian officials also conspired to bomb the Israeli Embassy in Washington and the Saudi Embassy in Argentina. By striking at diplomatic targets – indeed, all four of the February attacks targeted Israeli Embassy and consular officials – Iran demonstrates not only its hatred and rejectionism of Israel but its violent rejection of the principle of diplomatic immunity, a foundational principle of international law.

It should be noted that the notorious Quds Force has been at the forefront of Iranian state terror, and has been implicated in the planning, arming or carrying out of attacks against civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan, Europe, the United States and Asia. Indeed, the IRGC remains the epicenter of threats to international peace and security – to regional and Middle East stability –and is now involved also in the brutal Syrian crackdown on its people, in the beatings, killings and torture, constitutive of crimes against humanity.

US officials have recently acknowledged that aid from Iran to Syria “is increasing, and is increasingly focused on lethal assistance.” Syrian army defectors tell of Iran’s involvement in summary executions, torture and other atrocities carried out against civilians, including the torture of hospital residents.

WHAT IS more, the Revolutionary Guard Corps has been at the forefront of a long-standing global campaign of terror against perceived opponents of the regime. The Iran Human Rights Documentation Center has linked senior regime officials to the extrajudicial murder of at least 162 political activists in 18 countries from East Asia through Western Europe to the United States. In a particularly brazen incident, Iranian agents assassinated four Kurdish activists at a Berlin restaurant in 1992.

A Berlin court concluded that “Iran’s political leadership ordered the crime.”

By its ongoing and escalating statesponsored terror on foreign soil, Iran is in standing violation of every cannon of domestic and international law. Iran also continues to act as chief patron of Hamas and Hezbollah. These groups are not just terrorist entities, though this would be bad enough. But they have an objective which is genocidal – an ideology which is anti-Jewish – not because I say so but because their charters proclaim it – and where terrorism is an instrument for the implementation of their objectives. The recent attacks – all of which targeted Israeli and Jewish institutions – also bore the hallmark of Hezbollah, and follow the January arrest of one of the Hezbollah operatives suspected of planning the attacks in Bangkok. Hezbollah has also been accused of acting at the behest of Iran in the escalating terrorism in Homs, Syria.

The spate of violence is particularly worrying given the recent and incendiary pronouncements by Iran’s supreme leader, Ali Khamenei, to the effect that Israel is a “cancerous tumor” that must be eradicated, and will be eradicated.

Lest there be any ambiguity as to the genocidal intent of Iran’s clerical and political leadership, the supreme leader explained in a subsequent interview that there is a “jurisprudential justification to kill all the Jews and annihilate Israel and that Iran must take the helm.”

By training, arming, financing and instigating groups like Hezbollah, the Iranian regime gives violent expression to the genocidal narrative of its leadership.

Indeed, the convergence of Iranian state-sanctioned incitement to genocide and its state-sponsored terrorism has not suddenly emerged in the context of the current standoff with the West over the Iranian nuclear weaponization program. Rather, since the early days of the Islamic Revolution, Iranian terrorist threats have materialized into attacks against civilians around the globe.

The regime’s anti-Jewish brutality was witnessed most vividly on 18 July 1994, when a bomb tore through Argentina’s Jewish Community Center (AMIA) in Buenos Aires. The Argentinean minister of justice advised me that “this was the worst terrorist atrocity in Argentina since the Second World War.”

The Argentine Judiciary concluded that the attack, which killed 85 people and wounded 300 others, was planned, orchestrated and implemented at the highest echelons of the Iranian leadership, including both the office of the president and the Iranian Embassy in Argentina – yet no Iranian official has been brought to justice for the attack.

On the contrary – and reflective of the culture of impunity that reigns in Iran – Ahmed Vahidi, wanted by Interpol for his role as an organizer of the Argentinean bombing, currently serves as Iran’s Defense Minister, and was appointed in 2009 – Ahmadinejad’s defiant response to Obama’s “outstretched hand” during his year of engagement with Iran.

In a particularly chilling reminder of Iran’s no-holds-barred capacity to engage in state-sponsored terrorism in association with the most deadly of terrorist groups, a New York Federal District Court ruled in December that Tehran materially and directly supported al-Qaida’s devastating September 11 attacks on the United States.

The court’s findings included:

  •  Proof that a Revolutionary Guard contingency plan for unconventional warfare against the US included a plan to crash hijacked airlines into the World Trade Centres and the Pentagon.
  •  Proof of coded messages from an Iranian government official during the weeks before 9/11 to the effect that the aforementioned plan had been activated.
  •  Evidence that Iran facilitated the escape of al-Qaida leadership from Afghanistan during the US invasion.
  •  Evidence that Ali Khamenei was aware of the 9/11 attacks as early as May 2001.
  •  Evidence that senior Hezbollah operatives met with the 9/11 hijackers in the months leading up to the attacks.

Given the evidence of the escalating Iranian state sponsorship of international terrorism – and the increasing targeting of diplomats – all states have the responsibility to invoke the legal, diplomatic, economic and political instruments at their disposal to confront Iranian terrorist aggression. These instruments include, but are certainly not limited to: increasing bilateral and multilateral diplomatic and economic sanctions; the mobilization of political pressure to isolate the Iranian regime as a pariah among nations; and invoking legal remedies against the Iranian regime and its terrorist agents.

Specifically, State Parties to the Genocide Convention should initiate interstate complaints before the International Court of Justice (ICJ) against Iran – also a state party to the Genocide Convention – for its incitement to genocide, a violation of the Convention.

Similarly, states may bring Iran before the ICJ for its attacks against diplomats, pursuant to the Islamic Republic’s obligations under Article 13 of the Convention on the Prevention and Punishment of Crimes against Internationally Protected Persons, including Diplomatic Agents, which it ratified in 1978.

States should also list the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, an organization that has been at the vanguard of the Islamic Republic’s campaign of state terrorism, as a terrorist entity. The Argentinean Judiciary’s decision – and resulting Interpol arrest warrants – should be enforced. Civil suits should be instituted where appropriate against Iran and its terrorist agents for its perpetration of acts of terror; and the principle of universal jurisdiction should be invoked to hold Iran’s leaders – under indictment for war crimes and crimes against humanity – accountable.

Ahmed Vahidi, such an indicted criminal, should not be able to travel freely with impunity.

Simply put, the recent wave of terrorist attacks must serve as a wake-up call for the necessary action to be taken by the international community to combat this culture of incitement, terror and impunity. Indeed, history teaches us that a sustained and coordinated international response is required in combat such grave threats to peace and security. We must act now to hold Iran’s state-sanctioned terror to account, lest more lives be lost. Such Iranian statesanctioned terror is a chilling warning of what dangers await the international community should Iran become a nuclear power.

Irwin Cotler is a member of the Canadian Parliament, emeritus professor of law at McGill University and a former minister of justice and attorney-general of Canada. He is the Canadian representative on the International Parliamentary Coalition Against Terrorism and has initiated a series of civil and criminal remedies to combat terror.

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2011/10/31

Where are the Muslim Brotherhood and the Obama Administration Taking America?

Source Article Link: Family Security Matters

Where are the Muslim Brotherhood and the Obama Administration Taking America?

Dr. Essam Abdallah

–       In this article, published in the leading liberal pan Arab “Elaph, Egyptian liberal writer Dr. Essam Abdallah exposes the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood within the Obama Administration and the campaign led by CAIR and its allies against Middle East Christians, US experts and American Muslim reformers. Abdallah’s article is powerful evidence to a reckless policy of backing Islamists, perpetrated by the Obama Administration and its advisors on Islamic affairs.  The Editors. 

Disturbing reports are coming out of Washington, D.C.

These reports reveal the depth of the below-the-surface coordination between the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR), Hamas, Hezbollah, the Iranian regime and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, Syria, Tunisia, Libya and Jordan. This bloc of regimes and organizations is now becoming the greatest Islamist radical lobby ever to penetrate and infiltrate the White House, Congress, the State Department and the main decision making centers of the US government. All of this is happening at a time when the US government is going through its most strategically dangerous period in modern times because of its need to confront the Iranian Mullahs regime, which is expanding in the Middle East, as well as penetrating the United States, via powerful and influential allies.

It looks like the near future will uncover many surprises after the fall of the Gaddafi regime, as we realize more and more that the popular revolts in the Arab world – and the Obama Administration’s position towards them – were determined by political battles between various pressure groups in Washington.  Moreover, pressures by these lobbying groups have left an impact on the region’s events, the last of which was the canceling of the visit of Maronite Patriarch Rahi to Washington. A number of Arab and Western news agencies have leaked that one of “those who sought to cancel this visit was Dalia Mujahid, a top advisor on Islamic and Arab affairs at the State Department, who is of Egyptian origin. And that”, said the reports, “came at the request of the high command of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, who wish to see the US Administration support the Islamist Sunni current.”

Also very noticeable at this point is the growing domination of Islamist forces around the Mediterranean: the victory of the Nahda Islamist Party in Tunisia, the declaration by (TNC Chairman) Mustafa Abdeljalil that Libya is an Islamist state and the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. These developments wouldn’t have happened without the approval of the United States. A document published in Washington indicated that Egypt will face more violence and tensions while moving to the Pakistani, rather than the Turkish, model. Egypt will be ruled by an opportunistic bourgeoisie and a regime declaring itself Islamist, and it will be backed by a military institution. The military will be used by the Islamists to maintain power but the armed forces, the parliament, the regime and the constitution will all become Islamist.

In return, the Maronite Patriarch is denied a visit to Washington, Coptic Christian churches are destroyed in Egypt, and Coptic demonstrators are massacred at Maspero in Cairo by the Egyptian military, demonstrating that the goal is to suppress Christians in the Middle East, who are – as Patriarch Rahi said – paying a high price for the revolts of the Arab Spring. Rahi expressed his concerns about the fate of Syrian and Lebanese Christians and sees, as does the world, the flight of millions of Iraqi and Middle Eastern Christians from their homelands as a result of events in Iraq, and the methodic persecution against the Copts. The Christians of Egypt aren’t only facing suppression and ethnic cleansing but a form of genocide.

The real question now is: who is allowing the Muslim Brotherhood lobby to damage the relationship between the US Administration and millions of Middle East Christians? This lobby was able to delay meetings between leaders from Coptic Solidarity International, including Magdi Khalil and Adel Guindy, with the US Government. Similar obstructions have been happening with Chaldean and Assyrian delegations over the past few years. Moreover, the Muslim Brotherhood has waged a hysterical campaign against prominent experts in counterterrorism such as Steven Emerson, Daniel Pipes, John Guandolo and Robert Spencer. One particularly rough campaign was waged by CAIR against Professor Walid Phares, one of the most important, and even prescient, experts in counterterrorism and Jihadist movements in the US. In his book, “The Coming Revolution: Struggle for Freedom in the Middle East”, Dr. Phares predicted its evolution and the shape of coming Islamist regimes in the region.

But the Muslim Brotherhood’s campaign is not limited to liberal Arabs, Christians, Jews and Atheists. It has also targeted Muslims who oppose the Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) lobby such as Dr. Zuhdi Jasser, the President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD); Sherkoh Abbas, from the Syrian Kurdish Council; Farid Ghadri; the Somali-American author Ayan Hirsi Ali; Ali al Yammi; Tarek Fatah and many more.  Attacking Muslim liberals in the West helps the Muslim Brotherhood’s project in the radical Islamization of the Middle East, but it does not at all help US interests. Oppressing opposition, diversity, pluralism, and shedding human rights and freedoms are in direct contradiction to the values defended, and sacrificed for, by America’s founding fathers as well as by all those who fought wars for America throughout her history.

These intimidation and suppression campaigns directed against Arab and Middle East Christians – and against intellectuals and researchers opposing the Muslim Brotherhood and its sinister ties to Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran – in fact are aimed at America’s ability to become aware of the threat all of them pose to American freedoms. For American strength isn’t only in its navies and military power, but in its Constitution and the laws which provide the moral force for all other distinctly American liberties.

Note that the US Constitution did not include any suppressive articles (regarding freedom of religion or freedom of speech), the lack of which is the case in many Middle Eastern countries. Rather, it was written in the spirit of a Jeffersonian federal democracy based on individual freedoms.

So, all things considered both here and in the Middle East, where exactly are the Obama Administration and the Muslim Brotherhood lobby, together, taking America? And why?

Dr. Essam Abdallah is an Egyptian liberal intellectual who writes for the leading liberal pan Arab “Elaph”.

2011/10/29

Europe: “You Are Entering a Sharia Controlled Zone”

Source Article Hudson NY

Europe: “You Are Entering a Sharia Controlled Zone”
Hezbollah Pitches Tent in Denmark

by Soeren Kern

A Muslim group in Denmark has launched a campaign to turn parts of Copenhagen and other Danish cities into “Sharia Law Zones” that would function as autonomous enclaves ruled by Islamic law.

The Danish Islamist group Kaldet til Islam (Call to Islam) says the Tingbjerg suburb of Copenhagen will be the first part of Denmark to be subject to Sharia law, followed by the Nørrebro district of the capital and then other parts of the country, the center-right Jyllands-Posten newspaper reported on October 17.

Call to Islam says it will dispatch 24-hour Islamic ‘morals police’ to enforce Sharia law in those enclaves. The patrols will confront anyone caught drinking alcohol, gambling, going to discothèques or engaging in other activities the group views as running contrary to Islam.

Integration Minister Karen Haekkerup told Jyllands-Posten “I consider this to be very serious. Anything that attempts to undermine our democracy, we must crack down on it and consistently so.”

The Call to Islam group promotes Salafism, a fundamentalist sect within Sunni Islam that espouses a literalist reading of Islamic scriptures and adheres to a conservative and highly regulated puritan lifestyle.

Salafism also seeks the destruction of Western democracy, which is to be replaced by a Universal Islamic Caliphate, a worldwide Islamic theocracy regulated by Sharia law.

In a statement on its website, Call to Islam asks: “How can we [Muslims] claim to be followers of the Sunnah [principles established by the Islamic prophet Mohammed] and defend the best Deen [doctrines of Allah], when we prefer to live among the infidels, be subject to their laws, emulate them and fail to differentiate ourselves from their kufr [camp of unbelievers]? How can we claim to love Allah and His Messenger when we are embarrassed to call for Sharia? How can we be indifferent to the establishment of Allah’s rule on Earth, which is a duty for every Muslim?”

The statement continues: “To work to establish the Caliphate is one of the biggest tasks of our time. And this task cannot be achieved unless we work collectively under an Emir [commander, general or prince]. Moreover, it is known that it is a duty to fight the evil that is prevalent everywhere around us. Man-made laws and rules are present today and it has now become a mandatory obligation for all Muslims to work collectively to rid the world of this great munkar [evil], democracy.”

Denmark’s TV2 public television recently filmed members of Call to Islam in downtown Copenhagen openly campaigning for the abolishment of democracy and calling on people not to vote in parliamentary elections that were held on September 15.

A video posted on the Call to Islam website asks: “Do you want to take part in establishing Sharia in Denmark? Or do you want to stand by? The choice is yours!”

Call to Islam in Denmark is emulating similar movements in other parts of Europe.

In Britain, for example, a Muslim group called Muslims Against the Crusades has launched a campaign to turn twelve British cities – including what it calls “Londonistan” – into independent Islamic states. The so-called Islamic Emirates would function as autonomous enclaves ruled by Islamic Sharia law and operate entirely outside British jurisprudence.

The Islamic Emirates Project names the British cities of Birmingham, Bradford, Derby, Dewsbury, Leeds, Leicester, Liverpool, Luton, Manchester, Sheffield, as well as Waltham Forest in northeast London and Tower Hamlets in East London as territories to be targeted for blanket Sharia rule.

In the Tower Hamlets area of East London (also known as the Islamic Republic of Tower Hamlets), for example, extremist Muslim preachers, called the Tower Hamlets Taliban, regularly issue death threats to women who refuse to wear Islamic veils. Neighborhood streets have been plastered with posters declaring “You are entering a Sharia controlled zone: Islamic rules enforced.” And street advertising deemed offensive to Muslims is regularly vandalized or blacked out with spray paint.

In Belgium, a radical Muslim group called Sharia4Belgium recently established an Islamic Sharia law court in Antwerp, the country’s second-largest city. Leaders of the group say the purpose of the court is to create a parallel Islamic legal system in Belgium in order to challenge the state’s authority as enforcer of the civil law protections guaranteed by the Belgian constitution.

The Sharia court, which is located in Antwerp’s Borgerhout district, is “mediating” family law disputes for Muslim immigrants in Belgium. The self-appointed Muslim judges running the court are applying Islamic law, rather than the secular Belgian Family Law system, to resolve disputes involving questions of marriage and divorce, child custody and child support, as well as all inheritance-related matters.

Unlike Belgian civil law, Islamic Sharia law does not guarantee equal rights for men and women; critics of the Sharia court say it will undermine the rights of Muslim women in marriage and education. Legal experts say the Islamic court will also undercut the Belgian state’s ability to investigate and prosecute perpetrators of so-called honor crimes.

Sharia4Belgium says the court in Antwerp will eventually expand its remit and handle criminal cases as well.

In Germany, the spread of Islamic Sharia law is far more advanced than previously thought, and German authorities are “powerless” to do anything about it, according to a new book about the Muslim shadow justice system in Germany.

The 236-page book titled “Judges Without Law: Islamic Parallel Justice Endangers Our Constitutional State,” which was authored by Joachim Wagner, a German legal expert and former investigative journalist for ARD German public television, says Islamic Sharia courts are now operating in all of Germany’s big cities.

This “parallel justice system” is undermining the rule of law in Germany, Wagner says, because Muslim arbiters-cum-imams are settling criminal cases out of court without the involvement of German prosecutors or lawyers before law enforcement can bring the cases to a German court.

In France, Islamic Sharia law is rapidly displacing French civil law in many parts of suburban Paris. The 2,200-page report, “Banlieue de la République” (Suburbs of the Republic) says France is on the brink of a major social explosion because of the failure of Muslims to integrate into French society.

The report shows how the problem is being exacerbated by radical Muslim leaders who are promoting the social marginalization of Muslim immigrants in order to create a parallel Muslim society in France that is ruled by Sharia law.

In Spain, Salafi preachers in the north-eastern region of Catalonia have set up Sharia tribunals to judge the conduct of both practicing and non-practicing Muslims in Spain. They also deploy Islamic “religious police” in Lérida and other Catalan municipalities to monitor and punish Muslims who do not comply.

In one case, nine Salafists kidnapped a woman in Reus, tried her for adultery based on Sharia law, and condemned her to death. The woman just barely escaped execution by fleeing to a local police station.

In another case, a Salafi imam in Tarragona was arrested for forcing a 31-year-old Moroccan woman to wear a hijab head covering. The imam had threatened to burn down the woman’s house for being and “infidel” because she works outside of the home, drives an automobile and has non-Muslim friends.

Back in Denmark, local politicians appear oblivious to the spread of Sharia law. In September, the city council of Copenhagen gave its final approval for the construction of the first official “Grand Mosque” in the Danish capital.

The mega-mosque will have a massive blue dome as well as two towering minarets and is architecturally designed to stand out on Copenhagen’s low-rise skyline.

Unlike most mosques in Europe, which cater to Sunni Muslims, the mosque in Copenhagen pertains to Shia Islam. The mosque is being financed by the Islamic Republic of Iran and critics say that theocrats in Tehran intend to use the mosque to establish a recruiting center for the militant Shia Muslim group, Hezbollah in Europe.

The Copenhagen city council says that who pays for building the mosque is none of its concern. But the Copenhagen mosque is, in fact, being built bty Ahlul Beit Foundation, a radical Shia Muslim proselytizing and political lobbying group run by the Iranian government.

Ahlul Beit already runs around 70 Islamic centers around the world, and has as its primary goal the promoting of the religious and political views of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Ahlul Beit is especially focused on spreading Islamic Sharia law throughout Europe including Denmark.

Soeren Kern is Senior Fellow for Transatlantic Relations at the Madrid-based Grupo de Estudios Estratégicos / Strategic Studies Group. Follow him on Facebook.

2011/10/06

Counter-Terrorism, Common Sense and Words of Wisdom

Filed under: CIA, Hezbollah, Jihad, National Security, Obama, Shari'a Law, Terrorism — - @ 7:22 am

Source Article Link: Family Security Matters

Counter-Terrorism, Common Sense and Words of Wisdom

By John Miller

Jihadists of AQAP (Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula), depicted in Issue 6 of “Inspire” magazine, p.23, posing with a vehicle they had captured.

The very nature of all intelligence work is its fluidity and unpredictability.  What can be taken as stone cold fact and held to be true at the time, in retrospect and in future projections does not work in several areas of intelligence endeavor.  By its very nature, terrorism and counterterrorism work if is something of an elusive beast and an elementary Google search will produce many differing definitions and hairsplitting differences.  I could waste a great deal of time and effort in pointing out some examples but one will suffice. There are many different takes on the role of suicide bombers.  There is an influential group emanating from the University of Chicago which maintains that religion plays no part in the motivation for suicide bombing, a view which I do not share and I think is borne out by experience.  Only this past week, a former Afghan President Burhanuddin Rabbani, who was apparently prominent in drawing up a framework for discussions between the Taliban and the US and allies about a drawdown of military forces was killed by a suicide bomber who had slipped through the security cordon with explosives secreted in a turban.  I fancy this will not be popular with Sikhs.

Since the death of Osama bin Laden there has been the systematic elimination of senior members of Al Qaeda, including Anwar al-Awlaki, the American-born leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) who was credited with a keen insight into the US psyche. While hailing this action the Obama administration has warned US nationals travelling to Yemen about reprisals.  The BBC in reporting his death on September 30, noted that this was another significant blow against Al Qaeda and especially against its global media campaign.  He was, according to a report filed by Seth Jones of the Rand Corp., the quintessential modern day terrorist, mixing adroit use of social media as propaganda, with operational support for violence against the West.  He was credited with knowledge and appreciation of the use of the Internet and social networking and for being an advocate of suicide bombing.  It is a significant blow against Al Qaeda to have him removed by a Predator drone at a time when that body has suffered losses and is redeploying in different ways.  I will admit to being something of a dystopian when it comes to counterterrorism because the ideology that drives fundamentalist Islamic terrorism is difficult to counter and break down, especially because of its deep cultural roots.  I have said many times that not all Muslims are terrorists but most terrorists are Muslims and it is my current view that decapitation of the leadership of Al Qaeda has been beneficial in terms of raising Western morale but it has compounded the counter terrorist problem by forcing Al Qaeda and affiliated groups to adopt a far more decentralized structure, based on cells and correspondingly harder to detect and counter.

I view a great deal of the study of terrorist groups with a measure of skepticism because those that speak the loudest and appear to have the most influence are to be found in universities and very few of those who lecture students in the theory and practice of terrorism have any first-hand knowledge.  Universities are not known for hiring recently retired intelligence officers as specialist lecturers or experts, at least in this part of the world.  The mainstream media has captured quite a number of retired CIA and FBI counterterrorist specialists but the press, being part of the political scene, has to tread very carefully in reporting or offering expert knowledge. Even think tanks with qualified staff cannot guarantee success in gazing into the crystal ball.  In the short term, some have been quite accurate, while others have missed critical incidents but I am not disposed to point out examples.  After years of writing about terrorism, I would like to go to meet my Maker without any of my predictions coming to pass.  In short, I would be please to be proven wrong.  However, for the moment, we must struggle on militarily and in maximizing intelligence sources until the price of terrorism becomes too high for its disciples to undertake but we are dealing with religious fanatics who care little for human life: where we are soft(er) they are uncompromisingly hard and have no qualms about using women and small children as suicide bombers..

Just a couple of weeks ago, I was very pleased to see that the Heritage Foundation had produced a special report as a precursor to the commemoration of 9/11 entitled: “A Counterterrorism Strategy for ‘The Next Wave’.” (SR 98, August 24, 2011) which this had been largely reproduced in Right Side News and deserves to be read carefully.  I regard this publication as being well-written and entirely appropriate for the times and for many reasons.  I am not acquainted with any of the writers, although some are known by name and I think they deserve congratulations for a job well done.  It has long been my contention that think tanks work best when they manage to draw all the material together and as a friend of mine observed, “sort out the flies from the horse puckey.”  For anyone baffled by this statement, basically it means analyzing all the data available, extracting facts from wishful thinking and providing a framework congruent with political policies and military reality.

If I have one criticism of commentators in the media in general with respect to the so-called “Arab Spring” in the Middle East, it is that most appear to have very little understanding of the cultures involved.  To read such esteemed journals as the New York Times leaves the average reader with the impression that the uprisings against tyrannical rule  have been and are in favor of freedom and democracy, and greatly facilitated by twitter and Facebook.  Unfortunately this is an extremely superficial view as events are already proving.  While it is true that many who put their lives on the line to remove tyrants espoused freedom, their principal objectives concerned a higher standard of living, more work, better pay and conditions, including access to consumer goods; more of a say in how they are to be governed but by no means does this translate into a longing for Western-style democracy.

The new regime in Egypt and the recently recognized government of Libya have both stated that sharia (Shar’ia) law will apply in the future governing of their countries.  It is not possible to determine exactly how rigorously sharia will be implemented but Islam will remain the dominant religious force and very little has been said about tolerance of other religions.  It would appear that freedom of religion does not enter the equation at present and the change in the balance of forces in the Middle East is still ongoing and there are few certainties in sight.  It could well be that Syria, which so far has held out against domestic unrest will fall and there are intriguing signs of a rift between Damascus and its principal supporter in Tehran. If any certainty can exist, it will be that scores will be settled and the different strains of Islam will continue to fight one another as well as the common enemy, which happens to be the US and its allies, especially Israel, and there has been some disconcerting speculation in the media about war between Israel and Iran before the latter obtains too many nuclear weapons and more than a little doubt about US support for Israel.  The call for the recognition of Palestine as an independent state is currently before the UN and while the US might use its veto, it would appear that the leaders of Palestinian organizations (Hamas and Hizbollah) and Israeli PM Netanyahu are on a collision course. [1]

With a great deal of American attention focused on domestic issues, especially the presidential election next year, it is hard to raise the sights and many will be basing their future activities on the US administration being diverted from foreign policy issues especially the Middle East, and more particularly within the past few days, the relationship with Pakistan.  Not that it is often described as such but working in intelligence sometimes engenders a feeling that too many pieces are missing from a puzzle or alternatively there is an elephant in the room.  In the struggle against terrorism, the politically correct in the West have captured the language and I need hardly repeat the weasel words of senior administration officials about the nature of various terrorist plots and activities over the past few years. If common sense is to prevail, talk of “deranged individuals” and the like needs to be strictly contextualized. It says a great deal for the Heritage Foundation that part of the report mentioned earlier contains a section entitled: “The U.S. Must Name the Enemy.”  It’s extremely easy for commentators with a low profile and not very well-known such as myself to speak those highly charged and politically incorrect words “fundamentalist Islamic terrorism” without any qualification and it is very refreshing to find that an organization with a good reputation is prepared to break the dominant paradigm.  Perhaps the most important paragraph in the Heritage Foundation report states: “Radical groups employing terrorism against governments and civilians have an agenda, and that is to destroy certain governments, challenge Western values of civilization, and erect in their place is if their own governments and notions of culture and religion.  Extremist ideology alone is not the problem.  Rather, the issue is that Islamist extremists are using terror as a weapon, employing their ideology as justification to kill in the name of Islam in order to further their radical agenda.”  And the writers of the report ask quite legitimately whether there is something wrong with the US government’s stated policy if you cannot articulate an obvious fact about the strategic aims and further, show reluctance and blur the identity of the enemy and what is at stake.  (Page 8)  (Heritage Report)

If, as we are repeatedly told, the West is not at war with Islam then there needs to be a corresponding gesture from Muslim communities in the West and a change in the activities of Muslim governments around the world.  Only when Muslim community spokesmen condemn terrorism and become as outraged as non-Muslims when terrorists kill in the name of their religion will there be any progress made.  Even then, to quote a former US President we must use the maxim of: “Trust but verify,” because the techniques of taqiyya and kitman [2] are widely used by Muslims and involve complex disinformation and decomposition operations against political opposition.  The honeyed words of an Islamic spokesman following any given atrocity cannot be taken on trust, especially when communities rejoice at the death of US and allied soldiers or civilians.  Many US electronic journals have pointed to organizations which specialize in trying to disarm the population by a mixture of professed indignation and words of peace and concord, usually uttered in the most sincere fashion but designed to deceive.  It is regrettable that many senior Christian clergy have entered into dialogue with so-called Islamic clerics and the public has been fed the illusion that Muslims are peace loving “people of the book” on the same basis as Christians and Jews.  At present, any dialogue with Muslims domestically or with foreign governments must be viewed with the gravest suspicion.  The simple reason is that until change is made manifest and accompanied by action, the only things radical Muslims wish to discuss are the terms of our surrender.

We should be very much aware of this problem in any dialogue with the Taliban in Afghanistan especially since the retiring chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen boldly spoke what many know to be the truth in relation to the situation in Pakistan and the links between the Pakistani ISI and the Haqqani group.  This is a far lesser known outfit than the Taliban or Al Qaeda but equally lethal, being described by US military sources as one of the most resilient networks if.  Its inception apparently dates from the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan and members fought alongside the mujahedin, despite being predominantly Pakistani and hailing from the troublesome Northwest frontier provinces, more frequently known as the federally administered tribal areas (NWFTA).  Given the fluid nature of the borders between Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Bangladesh, tribal groups pass fairly easily through the notional borders left after the British withdrawal from the subcontinent following World War II.  According to US press sources, the Haqqani Group makes extensive use of suicide bombers in Afghanistan and appears able to recruit foreigners to the cause.  Like the Taliban, the Group shares the same ideology as Al Qaeda – fundamentalist Islam and according to some commentators is too difficult to target for the Pakistani government to eradicate, provided it decided to take this course of action. The group finds sanctuary in North Waziristan, one of the virtually ungovernable NWFTAs.

Unlike some US officials, Adm. Mullen spoke up boldly and truthfully when describing links between the Pakistani ISI and the Haqqani group although it should be noted that Pakistani intelligence has always had operational links with the groups that fought against the Soviets and were collectively known as the mujahedin.  Indeed, a former director of the ISI, Lieut. Gen. Hamid Gul, who was heavily involved in organizing resistance against the Soviets later became more open about his support for the Taliban and opposition to the US and its allies.  As the saying goes: “With friends like those, who needs enemies?” Although the US administration treads very carefully when talking about Pakistan, the stark fact remains that it is close to being a failed state, albeit with nuclear weapons and the distinct cooling in relations between Washington and Islamabad especially since the stepped-up use of predator drones has prompted the Pakistani government to reach out to China.  While there have been detailed negotiations between the two governments, there have been suggestions that the Chinese might not be too keen to get closer to Pakistan, which was a US ally during the Cold War, especially as they have their own problem with fundamentalist Islamic terrorist groups especially the Uighurs.

While I very much admire the outspokenness of Adm. Mullen, it comes at the end of his tenure and the impact of his statement has been judiciously hosed down by the White House and State Department officials, although President Obama was forthright in dumping the mess squarely into the lap of the Pakistani government and surprisingly perhaps, Haji Mali Khan, the senior Haqqani commander in Afghanistan was captured in late September, although the news only broke over the weekend.  However, as recently as October 1, there were reports from Europe that the Afghan government had gone cold on negotiations with the Taliban and some might be wondering whether it is in their interest to have the US and allied forces withdrawn.  I have changed my mind on the subject within the last year because I have always recognised that it is impossible to graft Western-style democracy on feudal and tribal societies and the degree of difficulty is increased by the religious element.  I felt that the Heritage group could have gone further in talking about Western diplomacy and relations with Islamic countries.   Diplomats in the West engaging with other Western and European countries have evolved a style of diplomacy which stresses personal relationships between leaders, which are not always reflected in official communiqués as Wikileaks has shown.  Nevertheless, there are certain modes of behavior that are understood on both sides.  Even during the Cold War, there were a number of back channels between the Soviet Union and the US and a certain amount of posturing was just that.  “Diplomacy” with Muslim leaders is a deep and murky process and Westerners need to know who and what they are dealing with in negotiations.

Ali Saleh, a jihadist in Yemen, whose “martyrdom” from a U.S. drone attack was celebrated in Al Qaeda’s Inspire magazine # 6 (Summer edition, August 2011, page 26).

Now more than ever, State Department officials are at risk serving abroad even in non-Muslim countries as we have seen in Africa.  European security and intelligence is usually tied in to the overall Western effort and American embassies tend to be well guarded.  One of the dreadful ironies of the Middle East is that the US has close ties with Saudi Arabia.  This is an absolutist monarchy, with a theocratic government; where the King has graciously permitted women to vote – in 2015.  The rights of women in Saudi Arabia are severely circumscribed.  They are not permitted to drive nor are they usually allowed to travel unaccompanied.  Nevertheless there are a considerable number of very well educated Saudi women especially in science and computer technology. But the iron rule from the Islamic clergy ensures that they remain second-class citizens.

An Australian academic of my acquaintance has written a great deal about funding from Saudi Arabia of schools and universities in the West and the great number of young Saudi Arabian men travel to the West to study. [3] Western governments allow this funding which comes with some conditions such as the right to build schools and mosques.  By contrast, no Christian church has been able to establish itself in Saudi Arabia because it is illegal. The only moderation in recent years has been to conduct executions behind closed doors.  At one stage, football stadiums were execution grounds where those found guilty of capital crimes were ritually beheaded.  Their compassion extends to minor infringements such as amputating limbs under anesthetic and providing follow-up treatment.  This is what we are dealing with – an unreconstructed oil rich feudal kingdom held together by a royal family, which is split into various groups.  It hardly needs to be mentioned that Osama bin Laden originally hailed from Saudi Arabia and although the Saudi government took action against his followers it and holdings, we simply do not know whether tacit approval for terrorism exists.  What we do know is that the export of fundamentalist Islamic ideology is active and widespread.  The long-term danger is the build up of Islamic communities, which can and do provide support for terrorists.  Needless to say, the Saudi government plays a very deep and long game in its diplomacy with the West and we should not forget their role in the first oil crisis of 1973.  Whether the wave of unrest sweeping the Middle East hits Saudi Arabia and makes an impact remains to be seen but strategically, the importance of this nation to the US and the security of Israel remains vital, even while Saudi clerics and diplomats routinely speak in vituperative terms about Israel.  Once more there is more than a little hypocrisy because some of the Wikileaks demonstrated quite clearly that more than a few governments in the region would be happy to see Israel take-out Iran.

If the recent setbacks for the jihadist cause provides a modicum of quiet pleasure in Western capitals, it should not be taken for an occasion to break out expensive champagne. I tend to categorise it as taking out the trash – a routine affair.  We cannot forget that the conflict in Afghanistan is by far the longest that the US and certain allies have been at war and the effects on the budget, weapons and matériel and troops is cumulative.  It would be tempting at times to agree with certain US commentators that the US should pull out unilaterally, especially as the war is not popular domestically.  However, the nature of the struggle with fundamentalist Islam will remain.  Like the Chinese, the Muslim nations are patient and believe they have time on their side.  Even as I was preparing this piece, it was driven home to me that there had been over 40 foiled terrorist plots in the US alone and last week a neat sting operation prevented yet another attack on US soil and the arrest was announced of a senior member of the Haqqani group in Pakistan.  The basic problem is that while we continue to accept Islamic migration in the West, there is correspondingly a higher degree of understanding of the ways of our society being known and the mere fact that Al Qaeda and affiliates have become technologically savvy and use the Internet, Facebook, twitter and just about every other form of communication familiar to us portends a greater threat.  Where our religions have become diluted, fragmented and largely meaningless to so many, the reverse is true in the Muslim world.  There is no sign of any reformation such as that experienced by the Christian church and while there are various factions in Islam, straying too far from the path constitutes apostasy with the appropriate punishment.  Even as Westerners have sat in their armchairs and cheered the events of the Arab Spring, the fact that during battle, prayers are observed promptly give cause for considerable thought.  Modern 21st century Western man may well enjoy a reasonable lifestyle, even with the current economic difficulties, but we have no grand plan for countering the greatest threat to our way of life. Burying heads in the sand is not a substitute for a clearly articulated policy.

Notes 

1. In short, there is an analogy with the Cold War and the split between the USSR and China: this we used to say, neither side had any doubts about the burial of capitalism, only the time of the funeral.  For those hoping that internecine fighting between strains of Islam will alter the ultimate objective, they are doomed to great disappointment.

2. I am pleased to be able to cite the work of a former Australian intelligence analyst who conducted groundbreaking studies into Taqiya and Kitman without a great deal of recognition. Originally published in the National Observer (Aust) in 2005, it is available from Amazon and entitled Taqiyya: how Islamic extremists deceive the West. A companion paper Taqiyya and the Global War on Terrorism can be obtained online National Observer (Council for the National Interest, Melbourne),  No. 66, Spring 2005, pages 26-36.

3. Mervyn F. Bendle (Dr) “Secret Saudi funding of radical Islamic groups in Australia”, National Observer No.72, Autumn 2007, pp.7-18. (Part One)

Mervyn F. Bendle (Dr) “How to be a useful idiot: Saudi funding in Australia” — Part II National Observer, No.77 Winter 2008, pp. 8-24.

FamilySecurityMatters.org Contributing Editor John W. Miller is a former senior intelligence officer with NATO and allied forces, with considerable experience in Russian (Soviet) affairs and counterterrorism.A version of this article first appeared at Right Side News.

2011/10/05

Assad threatens to attack Tel Aviv in case of NATO strike

Source Article Link: YNet News

Assad threatens to attack Tel Aviv in case of NATO strike

In meeting with Turkish FM, Syrian president discusses possibility of NATO strike, says ‘I won’t need more than six hours to transfer hundreds of rockets to Golan to fire at Tel Aviv’

Syrian President Bashar Assad on Tuesday threatened to set fire to the Middle East, and especially to Israel, if NATO attacks Syria, the Iranian Fars news agency reported.

In a meeting with Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Assad said: “If a crazy measure is taken against Damascus, I will need not more than six hours to transfer hundreds of rockets and missiles to the Golan Heights to fire them at Tel Aviv.”

Davutoglu reportedly conveyed a message of warning from the US to Assad. The Iranian report has not been verified by other sources.

According to the Fars news agency, the Syrian president stressed that Damascus will also call on Hezbollah in Lebanon to launch a fierce rocket and missile attack on Israel, one that Israeli intelligence could never imagine.

Related Article Highest-ranking Syrian defector takes refuge in Turkey

Spotlight On Iran

Source Article Link: Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center

Spotlight on Iran

Highlights of the week

  • Confusion in Iran over Palestinian UN bid.
  • Strong criticism for decision to release two Americans.
  • Iran and the cyber challenge: second Cyber ​​Hezbollah conference held in Tehran .
  • Barbie doll continues to anger conservatives as school year begins .
  • Pictures of the week: school year begins in Iran.

Confusion in Iran over Palestinian UN bid

The Iranian media reactions to the Palestinian UN bid exemplified the confusion in Tehran over the Palestinian appeal for international recognition of independent statehood within the June 1967 borders.

Earlier this week the Asr-e Iran website discussed the complexity of the Iranian stance on the Palestinian UN bid and the contradictory positions of top Iranian officials on the issue. Support for the Palestinian appeal for recognition could be interpreted as dropping the demand for the liberation of the entire Palestine and reinforce Abu Mazen’s status. On the other hand, by opposing the Palestinian bid, Iran can be seen as siding with the United States and Israel.

According to Asr-e Iran, the complexity of the Iranian stance was reflected in the statement made ​​by President Ahmadinejad in New York, saying that Iran recognizes the establishment of an independent Palestinian state as a first step towards the complete liberation of Palestinian territory.

Earlier this week two members of the Majles National Security and Foreign Policy Committee voiced reservations about the Palestinian UN bid. Majles member Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh branded the Palestinian UN bid as an American-Israeli conspiracy designed to divert the attention of the region’s nations from the anti-American and anti-Zionist uprisings in the Arab world. Majles member Parviz Sarvari argued that, with the Palestinian UN bid, Israel seeks to transform the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into one that is purely domestic (Palestinian) and reinforce the position of Mahmoud Abbas.

The conservative daily Jomhuri-ye Eslami was also critically opposed to the potential recognition of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. Abu Mazen’s plan is tantamount to recognition of Israel’s existence and it serves the purpose of the Zionists to gain recognition from the Palestinian people.

According to the daily, the Palestinian UN bid is an American-Zionist conspiracy to free Israel from the threat posed to its existence by the developments in the Arab world, and the ostensible opposition of the United States and Israel to the Palestinian appeal is just a tactic for the furtherance of that conspiracy. The daily said that the struggle against Israel must continue until the complete liberation of Palestine.

A different approach to the Palestinian UN bid could be seen in an editorial published by the daily Shargh. The reformist newspaper argued for unconditional support for the Palestinians’ rights on the international scene, saying that support for the independence of Palestine also serves Iran’s national interests.

Strong criticism for decision to release two Americans

This week government critics strongly criticized the decision to release Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the two Americans imprisoned in Iran on charges of espionage for the United States. They were released from a Tehran prison last Wednesday on $ 1 million bail after more than two years in custody.

Majles Research Center chairman Ahmad Tavakoli criticized the fact that the release of the two Americans coincided with President Ahmadinejad’s visit to New York for the UN General Assembly meeting. The timing, Tavakoli said, was chosen to let the president portray himself as the “champion of the foreign policy scene” even at the cost of dishonoring Iran and compromising the country’s interests. Tavakoli also found fault with the Foreign Ministry for not using the mediation services of such countries as Oman and Venezuela, which mediated the release of the Americans, to secure the release of the Iranians held by the United States.

The criticism surrounding the release of the two Americans intensified as a result of the statements they made ​​after being released. Speaking at a press conference in Oman, Bauer and Fattal described the harsh conditions of imprisonment throughout their custody, and said they had heard the screams of other detainees held in the same prison. According to the daily Resalat, the statements made ​​by the two Americans show that they did not deserve the generosity and compassion of the Iranian government. The indecency and derision shown by the two “American spies” towards the Iranian people and government are proof that the humanitarian considerations of Iranian politicians always receive barbaric reactions.

Iran and the cyber challenge: second Cyber ​​Hezbollah conference held in Tehran

Last weekend the second conference of the Cyber ​​Hezbollah organization was held in Tehran. Established in June 2011, the organization’s objectives include coordinating between pro-regime activists operating in cyberspace, providing them with instruction on cyber warfare, and organizing various online activities.

The conference was held on the occasion of the Holy Defense Week, marking the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War, and was titled “Clicks of Resistance”. Fars News Agency reported that the aim of the conference was to show appreciation for jihad and resistance activists operating in cyberspace as well as bloggers whose blogs are dedicated to jihad and sacrifice.

The main lecture of the conference was given by Dr. Hassan Abbasi, head of the Center for Doctrinal Analysis for Security without Borders and one of the major theoreticians of the radical faction in the conservative camp and the Revolutionary Guards. Abbasi warned about the close monitoring of Iranians’ web traffic by Western intelligence services, particularly the American National Security Agency (NSA). The Iranian online presence, according to Abbasi, is like an operation in enemy territory. He called for the use of existing online tools against the enemy, based on the principles of asymmetrical warfare.

Abbasi added that the United States intends to carry out a massive September 11-like cyber attack on Iran, and that Cyber ​​Hezbollah activists must act cautiously to foil the plot of the enemies and not give them any pretext to take action against Iran.

Meanwhile, Passive Resistance Organization chief Gholam-Reza Jalali announced this week that cyberspace is one of the key focus areas of his organization in dealing with enemy threats. He specified the actions taken this past year to improve cyber preparation, including the establishment of a Cyber ​​Defense Headquarters under the Armed Forces General Staff and the launch of a cyber defense study program in Tehran’s Imam Hossein University. In addition, 500 cyber defense drills are expected to take place this week to identify weak spots in the country’s executive systems.

The first national cyber defense conference is scheduled to take place in Iran in late January 2012.

Barbie doll continues to anger conservatives as school year begins

As the school year begins in Iran, the popularity of Western characters, particularly the Barbie doll, with Iranian children is once again cause for concern among the country’s conservative circles.

Last weekend the website Eqtesad-e Penhan (“Hidden Economy”) strongly condemned the extensive use of Western culture characters on school bags and stationery used by school children. The website reported that most Iranian pupils now purchase schoolbags and stationery with such characters as Barbie, Spiderman, Shrek, Tom and Jerry, Cinderella, and so forth, even though they are usually expensive.

The website criticized the culture and education authorities for not taking the necessary steps to encourage local manufacturers to produce stationery carrying original Iranian prints. According to the website’s editors, the Barbie doll is taking over the souls of Iranian children and promoting the objectives of the country’s enemies.

Confusion in Iran over Palestinian UN bid

The Iranian media reactions to the Palestinian UN bid exemplified the confusion in Tehran over the Palestinian appeal for international recognition of independent statehood within the June 1967 borders.

Earlier this week the Asr-e Iran website discussed the complexity of the Iranian stance on the Palestinian UN bid and the contradictory positions of top Iranian officials on the issue. According to the website, this complexity was reflected in the statement made by President Ahmadinejad to journalists in New York, saying that Iran recognizes the establishment of an independent Palestinian state as a first step towards the complete liberation of Palestinian territory.

On one hand, Iran has always stressed the need to liberate all of Palestine, and it is not willing to accept most of historic Palestine remaining in Israel’s possession. Support for the Palestinian appeal for recognition, Asr-e Iran said, could be interpreted as dropping the demand for the liberation of the entire Palestine and being willing to settle for a smaller Palestine within the 1967 borders. Such support may also reinforce the status of Abu Mazen vis-à-vis Hamas, Iran’s partner. On the other hand, by opposing the Palestinian bid, Iran can be seen as siding with the United States and Israel, two countries that oppose the Palestinian demand (Asr-e Iran, September 24).

The reformist daily E’temad also argued that the Palestinian UN bid poses a problem for Iran, since supporting it means recognizing the existence of the State of Israel. Iranian officials must make a decision about Iran’s stance on the issue and address the implications stemming from it with regard to UN Security Council resolutions 242 and 338. If Iran recognizes a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, it may be perceived as a change in its regional policy. On the other hand, opposing the Palestinian UN bid may weaken Iran’s political position among the nations of the region.

The government of Iran hopes, according to E’temad, that the United States will veto the Palestinian appeal. Such a veto will derail what is for Iran a problematic plan and weaken the position of the United States in the Middle East. The daily argued that recognition of a Palestinian state by the UN will signal a new age for the region, whose significance will outweigh even that of the recent developments in the Arab world. It is a development that will require Iran to reexamine its regional policy (E’temad, September 25).

Meanwhile, two members of the Majles National Security and Foreign Policy Committee voiced reservations about the Palestinian UN bid. Majles member Heshmatollah Falahatpisheh branded the Palestinian UN bid as an American-Israeli conspiracy designed to divert the attention of the region’s nations from the anti-American and anti-Zionist uprisings in the Arab world. The popular Islamic uprisings in the region have entered their anti-Zionist phase, Falahatpisheh said, and will likely turn against the American presence in the region in the third phase. The Palestinian UN bid was designed to create differences of opinion among the region’s nations and divert their attention from the anti-Zionist and anti-American campaign to the issue of the establishment of an independent Palestinian state (Fars, September 24).

In an editorial published by the Majles member in the conservative daily Resalat, Falahatpisheh argued that, in any case, the United States and Israel will not allow the establishment of an independent Palestinian state that will turn into a base for the mobilization of anti-Zionist movements in the Middle East. The actors working behind the scenes of the Palestinian UN bid want to sway the revolutionist and anti-Zionist movements in the region from their chosen path and strengthen Israel (Resalat, September 25).

Majles member Parviz Sarvari also voiced reservations about the Palestinian UN bid, saying that it will only strengthen the regional position of Israel and the United States. He argued that, with the Palestinian UN bid, Israel seeks to transform the Israeli-Palestinian conflict into one that is purely domestic (Palestinian) and reinforce the position of Mahmoud Abbas in light of the increasing support for Hamas among Palestinians (Fars, September 24 ).

The conservative daily Jomhuri-ye Eslami was also critically opposed to the potential recognition of an independent Palestinian state within the 1967 borders. An editorial titled “Only one government in Palestine” said that if the proposal brought up by Mahmoud Abbas had included a statement calling for just one state and government in Palestine, his plan could have been defended. As it currently stands, however, his proposal includes recognition of the existence of a Palestinian state alongside the State of Israel, and the establishment of two states and two governments in Palestine. The plan, therefore, is illegitimate, and the Palestinian people do not accept it.

Adopting Abu Mazen’s plan is tantamount to recognizing Israel’s existence, which serves the purpose of the Zionists to gain recognition from the Palestinian people. In addition, it promises to the Palestinians sovereignty in just one small part of Palestinian land. Such a plan goes against history, which proves that “Canaanite Arabs” were the rulers of Palestine as early as in 2500 BC, and that it was only 700 years later that the Jews came to Palestine from Egypt, only to leave once again. The establishment of a state named Israel for the Jews is a Zionist conspiracy created less than one hundred years ago with the support of the United States and the other colonial powers, primarily Britain. The Jews have no right for sovereignty in Palestine. According to the daily, the Palestinian UN bid is an American-Zionist conspiracy to gain control of the storm that is shaking the foundations of the “Zionist regime” in light of the developments in the Arab world. The best way to protect Israel is through Abu Mazen’s initiative to establish a Palestinian state, which will make recognition of the Zionist regime possible by deceiving public opinion. Jomhuri-ye Eslami said that the threat made by the United States to veto the Palestinian appeal and PM Netanyahu’s opposition to Abu Mazen’s initiative are just a tactic for the furtherance of the conspiracy, whose long-term goal is the implementation of Abu Mazen’s plan, which will help the Zionist regime out of its current predicament.

The correct policy towards the Palestinian issue is based on the principle that all of Palestine belongs to the Palestinians, and that Zionists do not belong there. The struggle against the Zionist regime must continue until the complete liberation of Palestine, where only one government should rule based on the wishes of the Palestinian people, the daily said (Jomhuri-ye Eslami, September 25).

A different approach to the Palestinian UN bid could be seen in an editorial published by the daily Shargh. The reformist daily argued for unconditional support for the Palestinians’ rights on the international scene, saying that support for the independence of Palestine also serves Iran’s national interests. International recognition of two independent states, Israel and Palestine, will have no significant change as far as Iran is concerned, seeing as Israel is already recognized by most countries in the world and Iran’s position towards it will not change. Even if the establishment of an independent Palestinian state will not solve all the issues of the Israeli-Arab conflict, it will boost the Palestinians’ ability to realize their demands and rights (Shargh, September 26).

Another editorial published by Shargh criticized President Obama’s position on the Palestinian appeal for international recognition. The daily argued that there’s no difference between Obama and Bush, and that both presidents are willing to ignore the wrongs committed by the Jews against the Palestinians to get more votes. Any person or government that for any reason or argument opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state can never be called “a friend of Palestine”, Shargh said (Shargh, September 25).

Strong criticism for decision to release two Americans

This week government critics strongly criticized the decision to release Shane Bauer and Josh Fattal, the two Americans imprisoned in Iran on charges of espionage for the United States. They were released from a Tehran prison last Wednesday on $ 1 million bail after more than two years in custody.

Majles Research Center chairman Ahmad Tavakoli, considered one of the president’s major opponents in the conservative camp, criticized the fact that the release of the two Americans coincided with President Ahmadinejad’s visit to New York for the UN General Assembly meeting. The timing, Tavakoli said, was chosen to let the president portray himself as the “champion of the foreign policy scene” even at the cost of dishonoring Iran and compromising the country’s interests. Tavakoli expressed his regret that the judiciary, which made the decision to release the two Americans, blindly obeyed the president and the executive branch, saying that this undermined the independence and status of the judiciary. If “compassion” was indeed the reason for the release, as stated in an announcement released by the Foreign Ministry, Tavakoli wondered, why did the release take place just before President Ahmadinejad’s trip to New York? Tavakoli criticized the Foreign Ministry for not using the mediation services of such countries as Oman and Venezuela, which mediated the release of the Americans, to secure the release of the Iranians held by the United States (Fars, September 24).

Strong criticism for decision to release two Americans

Alef, a website affiliated with Ahmad Tavakoli, said in an editorial published after the release of the two Americans that it was inappropriate for someone charged in court with espionage to be released on bail and leave Iran. Even if the decision to release them was based on national interests, the least that could be done was to let the Iranian public know about it and avoid releasing the Americans on bail. The website added that the conduct of the judiciary in the affair has a negative impact on the public trust of the judiciary at a time when it is required to address sensitive issues, such as the recently-exposed large embezzlement in Saderat Bank (Alef, September 25).

The criticism surrounding the release of the two Americans intensified as a result of the statements they made after being released. Speaking at a press conference in Oman, Bauer and Fattal described the harsh conditions of imprisonment throughout their custody, and said they had heard the screams of other detainees held in the same prison. The Iranian media said that this is how grateful the two Americans are for the mercy and compassion Iran showed by releasing them.

Tabnak, a website affiliated with the pragmatic conservative bloc, said that while the government and the president released the two Americans based on “humanitarian” considerations, the pair created an anti-Iranian atmosphere at their press conference, where they made “their false claims “. The two young people gave the journalists irrelevant answers probably prepared for them in advance, the website claimed. While it is only natural that “spies” should make such claims, the decision to release them was not natural. Tabnak criticized the international media for putting an emphasis on the Americans’ claims against Iran while completely ignoring Iran’s good will and the humanitarian measure that was its decision to release them (Tabnak, September 16).

The conservative daily Siyasat-e Rooz also addressed the statements made by the two Americans after their release, saying that it was to be expected that the United States would use them for propaganda after the release, and that the necessary preparations should have been made for that possibility. By releasing the Americans, Iran’s authorities intended to show their good will and the compassion of Islam, but the result was just the opposite (Siyasat-e Rooz, September 27).

The daily Resalat said that the statements made by the two Americans after their release show that they did not deserve the generosity and compassion of the Iranian government. The president made a mistake when he decided to act towards their release on the eve of his trip to New York and before legal proceedings against them were complete, said an editorial published by the daily. The indecency and derision shown by the two “American spies” towards the Iranian people and government are proof that the humanitarian considerations of Iranian politicians always receive barbaric reactions (Resalat, September 27).  

Iran and the cyber challenge: second Cyber ​​Hezbollah conference held in Tehran

Last weekend the second Cyber ​​Hezbollah conference was held in Tehran. Cyber ​​Hezbollah is an organization whose establishment was first reported several weeks ago. The conference was held on the occasion of the Holy Defense Week, marking the beginning of the Iran-Iraq War (September 1980), and was titled “Clicks of Resistance”. Fars News Agency reported that the aim of the conference was to show appreciation for jihad and resistance activists operating in cyberspace as well as bloggers whose blogs are dedicated to jihad and sacrifice, and who attract considerable interest.

During the conference, Cyber ​​Hezbollah member and spokesman Soheil Karimi read a statement emphasizing the need to spread the culture of sacrifice also in cyberspace (www.hizbullahcyber.com, September 22).

From www.hizbullahcyber.com
From http://www.hizbullahcyber.com

The main lecture of the conference was given by Dr. Hassan Abbasi, head of the Center for Doctrinal Analysis for Security across Frontiers, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards. Abbasi is considered one of the major theoreticians of the radical faction in the conservative camp and the Revolutionary Guards.

Abbasi warned about the close monitoring of Iranians’ web traffic by Western intelligence services, particularly the American National Security Agency (NSA). Addressing students who use the internet, he said that even though they currently do not possess important information that can be of interest to foreign intelligence services, they must exercise caution on the web, because someday they will have important and sensitive information that can be exposed by those who follow their online activity. He noted that the NSA is the organization that actually controls the world wide web.

Abbasi said that the major concern is that a considerable part of the information on young Iranian men and women and their activity is currently online. While this doesn’t mean that the internet is to be avoided, one should surf the web wisely and remember that it is monitored by Iran’s enemies, who wage a war against Muslim society and the religion of Islam. Iran’s online presence, Abbasi said, is like an operation in enemy territory, and the principles of asymmetrical warfare should also be applied in cyberspace-that is, existing online tools should be used against the enemy.

Abbasi added that the United States intends to carry out a massive September 11-like cyber attack on Iran. He warned that the United States is looking for excuses to instigate wars across the globe to rescue its declining economy. Accordingly, Cyber ​​Hezbollah activists must act cautiously to foil the plots hatched by the enemies and not give them any pretext to take action against Iran. They must also act in the cultural sphere against American websites and spread the message of the Muslim world in cyberspace (Fars, September 23).

Ya Lesarat, a weekly affiliated with the radical conservative organization Ansar Hezbollah, reported the launch of Cyber ​​Hezbollah in early September. According to the report, the organization was established in June 2011 as a spontaneous collaboration of pro-regime activists who worked against regime opponents in cyberspace during the 2009 riots. The organization held its first conference in August 2011. A memorandum released by Cyber ​​Hezbollah after its establishment specified its goals and objectives, which include coordinating between pro-regime activists operating in cyberspace, offering them courses and training, holding meetings aimed to acquaint the activists with cyber warfare tactics, and mobilizing the activists for various online activities (Ya Lesarat, September 1).

Meanwhile, Passive Resistance Organization chief Gholam-Reza Jalali discussed the efforts made by his organization to deal with cyber threats. Speaking at a press conference for Holy Defense Week, Jalali announced that cyberspace is one of the key focus areas of the Passive Resistance Organization in dealing with enemy threats.

Jalali specified the actions taken this past year to improve cyber preparation, including the establishment of a Cyber ​​Defense Headquarters under the Armed Forces General Staff, which works together with the intelligence and telecommunications ministries and the National Security Supreme Council, and the launch of an experimental cyber defense study program in Tehran’s Imam Hossein University. In addition, he said that 500 cyber defense drills are expected to take place this year to identify and correct weak spots in the country’s executive systems (IRNA, September 26).

Iran’s English-language Press TV network recently reported that the first national cyber defense conference is scheduled to take place in Iran on January 25-26, 2012. Sa’id Ghazi Maghrebi, the scientific secretary of the conference, reported that the conference will provide a platform for cyber experts to present articles and give lectures on cyber defense (Press TV, September 15).

Barbie doll continues to anger conservatives as school year begins

As the school year begins in Iran, the popularity of Western characters, particularly the Barbie doll, with Iranian children is once again cause for concern among the country’s conservative circles.

Last weekend the website Eqtesad-e Penhan (“Hidden Economy”), which operates on behalf of the Anti-Smuggling Headquarters, strongly condemned the extensive use of Western culture characters on school bags and stationery used by school children (www.epe.ir , September 21).

According to a report published on the website, most Iranian pupils now purchase school bags and stationery with such characters as Barbie, Spiderman, Shrek, Tom and Jerry, Cinderella, and so forth, even though they are usually expensive.

A stationery business owner said in an interview to the website that nearly 70 percent of all stationery sold on Iranian markets is made in China and features prints of Western characters. The immense popularity such prints enjoy with children has also led Iranian stationery manufacturers to use prints of Western characters on the school bags and stationery they produce. One trader said that even religious families purchase Barbie school bags for their children.

The Hidden Economy website criticized the culture and education authorities for not taking the necessary steps to encourage local manufacturers to produce stationery carrying original Iranian prints. The Barbie doll has forced itself into the lives of Iranian girls and is silently promoting the objectives of Iran’s enemies, the editors of the website complained. It appears on school bags, chocolates, clothes, and watches, and is taking over the souls of Iranian children. In a year declared by the Supreme Leader as the “year of economic jihad”, one could expect that those in charge of cultural activity in the country would collaborate with local manufacturers to improve local products and encourage the use of Iranian and Islamic characters and images to promote Iranian culture and Islamic beliefs among the future generation.

Barbie doll continues to anger conservatives as school year begins

In previous years, conservative circles also complained that school children in Iran still prefer to buy school bags and stationery adorned with characters taken from Western culture.

In an attempt to combat the increasing influence of Ken and Barbie, several years ago Iran developed the dolls Dara and Sara as an original substitute. The design and distribution of the dolls, a modestly-dressed brother and sister pair, was aimed to promote traditional Islamic and Iranian values ​​and better cope with the market penetration of American dolls, viewed as yet another means of introducing perverse and immoral American culture. It soon became clear, however, that these dolls could not capture the hearts of Iran’s children, and that American dolls still dominate the country’s toy market

Pictures of the week: school year begins in Iran

school year begins in Iran

school year begins in Iran

school year begins in Iran

school year begins in Iran

school year begins in Iran

2011/08/23

Popular Resistance Committees – Trained and funded by Hamas

Source Link: IDF

Popular Resistance Committees – Trained and funded by Hamas

Hamas uses PRC as means of continuing “resistance” against Israel

Date: 22/08/2011, 4:27 PM Author: IDF Website

The Popular Resistance Committees was responsible for the terrorist attacks on Thursday (August 18) in which eight Israelis were killed and dozens more wounded.

The PRC is an independent terrorist organization in the Gaza Strip that is supported, subsidized and trained by the Hamas terrorist organization.

The organization was founded in September 2000 following the outbreak of the Second Intifada, during which over 1,000 Israelis were killed. The PRC operates in coordination with Iranian authorities and the Hezbollah terrorist organization and has conducted multiple terrorist activities against Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers.

The PRC carries out direct attacks against Israel from the Gaza Strip, without any clear national, ideological or religious affiliation in the Gaza political arena.

The PRC is directly supported by the Hamas terrorist organization that controls Gaza.

Hamas allows the PRC to act independently. Hamas views the PRC as a means of continuing “resistance” against Israel while being able to claim that it is not involved in the PRC’s terrorist activities. According to intelligence information, Hamas is directly involved in funding and training the PRC terrorists.

In the past few years, the PRC led several terrorist operations against Israel.

In June 2006, the PRC, in cooperation with Hamas, attacked an IDF post in the Kerem Shalom area, during which IDF soldier Gilad Shalit was kidnapped.

Around the same time, the PRC took responsibility for the murder of Israeli civilian Eliyahu Ashri in Judea and Samaria.

Last Thursday (August 18), the PRC led the terrorist attacks on the Israel-Egypt border near Eilat, killing eight Israelis.

A number of PRC terrorists, including senior operatives, were killed in IDF operations since Thursday’s attacks.

The PRC has taken responsibility for dozens of rockets launched at southern Israel over the past few days.

2011/03/30

The Problem with Arming the Libyan Rebels

Source Stratfor

PATRICK BAZ/AFP/Getty Images A Libyan rebel poses next to a destroyed government tank March 26 in Ajdabiya

Summary

As the rebels fail to advance on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s strongholds in the western part of the country, allied powers enforcing the no-fly zone have increasingly floated the idea of providing the opposition fighters with weapons. Arming a rebel force can help level the playing field or nudge a conflict toward a certain conclusion, but taken alone, supplying arms cannot fix the fundamental problems that cause a force to be militarily inept.

Analysis

Related Link

Related Special Topic Page

Talk of arming the rebel fighters in Libya predates the March 17 decision to initiate an air campaign over the country but is again increasing as the rebels fail to show any sign of being able to successfully engage forces loyal to Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi. Before the imposition of the no-fly zone and coalition airstrikes, rebel defensive lines were collapsing in the face of an assault by Gadhafi’s forces, and the advance of the rebels from the contested city of Ajdabiya, just south of the rebel headquarters in Benghazi, to the outskirts of Sirte, Gadhafi’s hometown, was actually just rebels moving into territory from which loyalist forces had already withdrawn. As soon as the rebels encountered prepared defensive positions outside of Sirte, they were forced to beat a hasty retreat. Already there are reports that loyalist forces have retaken the town of Ras Lanuf, a key energy export hub.

The renewed talk of arming the rebels has its roots in the fundamental problems of a limited air campaign against Libya. Coalition airpower is capable of defeating Gadhafi’s air force, crushing his larger, more fixed air defense capabilities as well as taking out known command, control and communications hubs. But the use of airpower to eliminate Gadhafi’s ability to wage war would entail civilian casualties and collateral damage. If minimizing those casualties is a key objective, then it is simply not possible for airpower alone to force loyalist forces already embedded in urban areas to withdraw.


The Problem with Arming the Libyan Rebels
(click here to enlarge image)

If airpower is the wrong tool for the job and no country is willing to provide the right tool in the form of ground combat forces, providing weapons to the Libyan rebels is increasingly appearing to be the best alternative, at least to some of the coalition partners. In theory, this would provide the capability to do what airpower cannot and enable the rebels to provide the required ground presence. However, at no point in the Libyan civil war have the rebel fighters proved to be a competent military force, and their difficulties are not solely linked to their lack of arms. And without coherent organization, leadership, battlefield communications or command and control, as well as the ability to plan and sustain offensives logistically, no quantity of arms is going to solve the problem.

In the early days of unrest, opposition forces broke open Libyan military arsenals and appropriated an enormous quantity of small arms, ammunition, heavy weapons and related materiel, including armored vehicles and rocket artillery. Numerous reports have described rebels expending massive amount of ammunition to no purpose, firing small arms, rockets and recoilless rifles aimlessly into the air. Early on there were reports that a rebel SA-7 shoulder-fired surface-to-air missile was used to shoot down one of the rebels’ own planes, and the rebels have even implicitly acknowledged their limitations by issuing a call for drivers capable of operating a T-55, an archaic Soviet tank and one of the oldest in even the Libyan arsenal.

Indeed, the longer-term problem in Libya is not too few arms, but too many. All of the arms that have been broken out of Libyan stockpiles will not be returned after the conflict ends. Everything from small arms to explosives to man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS) will be proliferating around the region for years. There are also minor concerns that even within the rebel movement there are elements of al Qaeda and Hezbollah seeking to take advantage of the situation, though this is largely reflective of the overall lack of understanding by Western countries of the nature of the eastern opposition movement.

Unconfirmed reports have indicated Egypt and possibly Qatar may be involved in smuggling weapons to the opposition. But what the opposition needs is not more weapons but training that will enable them to be a competent fighting force that could advance with only limited outside support, as the Northern Alliance did against Kabul and the Taliban in 2001. Unfortunately, as recent experience in Iraq and Afghanistan demonstrates, training requires time — usually years, not weeks or months — that neither the coalition forces nor the rebels have.

The necessity that training go along with any arms shipments to the rebel fighters has reportedly complicated the internal debate in Washington over whether this policy is the best course of action. The United States has been explicit in its opposition to deploying ground forces in Libya, fearing that placing even a small number of advisers in eastern Libya could suck the United States into a protracted conflict.

Arming an opposition or insurgent force can work when the group or a collection of groups are already composed of capable fighters and competent leadership. When the United States gave FIM-92 Stinger MANPADS to the Afghan mujahideen during the Soviet occupation of the country, the mujahideen were a bloodied and battle-hardened force capable of planning and executing ambushes and assaults on Soviet positions. They were already slowly bleeding the Red Army in Afghanistan and may well have ultimately prevailed even without the Stingers. But the new missiles helped reduce a key Soviet advantage, their airpower. And when the Soviets and Chinese armed North Vietnam, the North Vietnamese had the basic military competencies not only to incorporate those arms into their operations but also to orchestrate the massive logistical effort to sustain them in combat and conduct large-scale military operations.

Today, the Taliban are winning in Afghanistan with Lee-Enfield rifles dating back to the 19th century and homemade improvised explosive devices, among other weapons. They are an agile and capable insurgent force that may ultimately prevail even without any expansion of limited outside assistance.

Taken alone, the act of supplying arms to a group cannot fundamentally alter the military reality on the ground. Also, rooting out competent forces from prepared defensive positions in fortified urban areas is a profound challenge for the best militaries in the world. Providing a ragtag group of rebels with additional arms and ammunition will not achieve that, though it may well make the conflict bloodier, particularly for civilians. And like the arms already loose in the country, any additional arms inserted into the equation will not be used only against Gadhafi’s forces, but around the region for years to come.

Hostage Taking In Lebanon

Filed under: Hezbollah, Lebanon, National Security, Obama, Terrorism — Tags: , — - @ 12:24 pm

Source Stratfor

Vice President of Intelligence Fred Burton examines the recent abduction of Estonian nationals in the Bekaa Valley in the context of hostage-taking in Lebanon going back to the 1980s.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Hostage-taking is back in Lebanon with the March 23 abduction of seven cyclists from Estonia, who were kidnapped in the Bekaa Valley. This is reminiscent of Lebanon being a hotbed of hostage-taking in the 1980s.

Masked gunmen in a black Mercedes and two white vans kidnapped the seven cyclists on a road in the Bekaa Valley near the Syrian border. The use of the three vehicles tells me there was a degree of premeditation for the abduction, so I would think the kidnappers knew exactly where the cyclists were going to be. The Bekaa Valley is an area that has a high degree of Hezbollah presence, as well as radical Palestinian groups such as the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLPGC). There is going to be a tremendous amount of interest from the various Western intelligence services due to the long history of criminal abductions that have taken place in Lebanon. In the 1980s we had hostages that were kidnapped from France, Germany, the U.S. and even South Korea, so there are going to be many different intelligence services wanting to know what has unfolded and working with the Estonian security services to try to help.

The primary concern from the U.S. perspective of why we would be laser-fixated on this abduction is, again, we want to be able to know who was behind this to try to safeguard Americans in Lebanon, as well as the official diplomats. We have very recent information that two suspects have been arrested linked to the criminal abductions, and the concern is that they may be linked to radical Palestinian groups that are very close to the Libyan regime. The concern would be, as we’ve written about at STRATFOR and discussed, is Libya reverting back to terrorism as a means to strike back at the NATO forces currently engaged in the efforts in Libya?

A lot of people may not know that a common criminal abduction in Lebanon can turn into a political hostage- taking. In many occasions you will have common criminals actually do the initial abduction and then the hostages would be sold to a terrorist organization like Hezbollah or a radical Palestinian group such as the PFLPGC. There is a long history of that specific M.O. utilized in the Bekaa Valley as well as Beirut. Although the verdict’s still out as to who specifically did these abductions, we need to be closely looking at this to see if this is a political act of terrorism which has been Libyan-directed or backed, or is this simple criminal kidnapping for the purposes of paying a ransom.

Why Washington is Reluctant To Arm Libya’s Eastern Rebels

Source Stratfor

NATO Supreme Allied Commander in Europe U.S. Adm. James Stavridis answered questions on the Libyan intervention before the U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee on Tuesday, echoing the refrain voiced in Western capitals of knowing little about the exact nature of the eastern opposition. Though Stavridis labeled the rebel leadership as “responsible men and women” fighting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi, he added that there have been “flickers” of intelligence indicating that elements of al Qaeda and Hezbollah exist among the eastern opposition’s ranks. The question of arming the eastern rebels now, when U.S. military officials have gone on record before Congress with such suspicions of Hezbollah and al Qaeda links, seems politically unpalatable to say the least. Indeed, Stavridis’ testimony came on the same day that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and U.S. President Barack Obama demurred on the notion that Washington is on the verge of sending weapons to Benghazi.

Of the three countries most committed to seeing Gadhafi removed from power – the United States, France and the United Kingdom – none have yet to come up with a clear strategy on how to they intend to see this through. All have been steadfast in the refusal to consider sending ground troops to combat Gadhafi’s forces. Obama drove this point home in his Monday night speech when he drew parallels between the road the United States went down in Iraq and the way things should not be done in Libya. Airstrikes alone, however, are ill equipped to achieve this type of mission. While sanctions are made to be broken and while hope exists that continued international pressure on Tripoli would force Gadhafi to eventually step down, as evidenced by Obama’s words on Tuesday, this creates the possibility for a very long wait. Relying on such an eventuality also increases the chance that the coalition, committed to the enforcement of U.N. Resolution 1973, will splinter and potentially leave Washington to pick up the pieces. What the United States really wants out of the Libyan intervention is an opportunity to transfer responsibility for a multilateral conflict to the Europeans.

If regime change without having to insert Western forces is indeed the end goal, and ground troops are the most expedient way to push Gadhafi out in a somewhat timely manner, it would seem that bolstering the rebel forces in the east with better weapons and training is the next logical step. After all, any doubts that rebel fighters are no match for the Libyan army were erased by the events that unfolded along the coastal stretch between Bin Jawad and Sirte on Tuesday. After several days of steadily gaining ground due to a calculated decision by Gadhafi’s troops to withdraw and dig in more defensible positions, opposition forces were forced to beat a hasty and chaotic retreat from the outskirts of the Libyan leader’s hometown. While arms transfers are believed to have been occurring unofficially, courtesy of Qatar and Egypt, they aren’t going to do the job, and it is not quite clear what level of materiel would. (This is to say nothing of the amount of training that would need to go along with any arms shipments to eastern Libya, as the rebels also have proven themselves to be lacking in command and control, communications and logistics capabilities.)

As Gadhafi’s forces pushed the rebels eastward away from Sirte, an international conference on Libya took place in London, where NATO member states and others that have supported the no-fly zone were attempting to come together and speak with one voice on how to proceed. Included at the conference was a delegation from the Libyan rebel leadership, representing the body known as the Transitional National Council (TNC), or, the “responsible men” fighting Gadhafi that Stavridis referenced in his Senate testimony. One of the TNC officials explicitly requested that fighters be supplied with bigger and better weapons to combat Gadhafi’s forces. This request was rebuffed, ostensibly due to restrictions on such military aid by the U.N. resolution. France suggested that there are ways to get around such restrictions, as did the United States, but neither was willing to go on record as saying that they are on the verge of changing their undecided policy on arming the eastern forces.

For the United States, this is a reflection of what Secretary of Defense Robert Gates was saying over the weekend as he made the rounds on the Sunday talk show circuit. Intervening in Libya is not part of the Americans’ “vital national interests.” It may be in their interests to remove Gadhafi and have the Europeans demonstrate that they are capable of taking a greater role in joint military operations, but it is not absolutely critical. Washington has a history of arming rebel groups first, and asking questions later. The fact that it has allowed a lack of familiarity with whom, exactly, the TNC represents indicates that Libya, while certainly a high priority, is not on par with other recent crises that have spurred Washington into immediate action. Indeed, the United States was not an early proponent of the no-fly zone, and only came around after repeated insistences by the France and the United Kingdom (who have motivations of their own) gave it an opportunity to put the Obama doctrine of multilateralism and limited U.S. involvement on display.

In his Senate testimony, Stavridis also pointed out that if recent history is to be a guide, then a “foreign stabilization force” would likely be needed in Libya should the rebels ever successfully topple Gadhafi. Stavridis cited the examples of Bosnia and Kosovo as precedents. Such an assessment by NATO’S supreme allied commander in Europe might give American politicians even more pause to arming the rebels than the suggestion that some of its members may have links to al Qaeda and Hezbollah.

2011/03/29

Libya: Gadhafi May Leave, ‘Flicker’ Of Al Qaeda – U.S.

‘Flicker’???? Is that anything like, illegitimate,’ not illegal?

Source Stratfor

There is a “more than reasonable chance” Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi will leave because the international community is united against him, NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander Europe and the commander of U.S. European Command, U.S. Adm. James Stavridis, said March 29, Reuters reported. Intelligence on the Libyan rebels revealed “flickers” of al Qaeda or Hezbollah, but there is insufficient detail to suggest a significant presence, Stavridis said. The leaders of the opposition appear to be “responsible men and women,” he said.

Bahrain: Protesters Linked To Hezbollah – Minister

Filed under: Bahrain, Hezbollah, Iran, Shi'ite — - @ 12:26 pm

SourceStratfor

Bahraini Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid bin Abdullah al-Khalifa on March 29 accused the country’s predominantly Shiite protesters of having links to Hezbollah, as evidenced by their methods of demonstration and statements expressing support from Lebanese Shiite groups and Iran, Ya Libnan reported.

2011/03/25

George Friedman on Libya and Israel

Source Link: Stratfor

Click on image below to watch video:

As NATO is taking control of Libya’s no-fly zone, STRATFOR CEO George Friedman discusses a potential stalemate on the battlefield, and he explains why the new attacks by Hamas on soft targets near Tel Aviv enticing Israeli retaliation are a serious concern.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Colin: NATO is taking control of the Libyan no-fly zone, but what happens if there’s a prolonged stalemate down on the battlefield, and probably, not by coincidence, Hamas has picked this time to open up a new conflict with Israel.

Welcome to Agenda with George Friedman, who joins me now to examine both issues. I asked him first about Libya.

George: Well the problem here is basically that a no-fly zone has very little effect on the fighting on the ground. Most of the casualties being inflicted by the Libyan army on the insurgents are inflicted by artillery, some by rocket fire and so on. We’ve had some air attacks on ground forces, which seems to be somewhat different for the mission as originally laid out, but clearly that’s taking place. But it’s always been the belief that somehow a ground force can be destroyed from the air so to such a degree that it can no longer fight. It’s rarely been the case, and I don’t think it’s the case in Libya. If you want to defeat Gadhafi, you’re going to have to go in on the ground. Plus, if you’re going to have airstrikes, you’re going to have collateral damage — in other words, you’re going to kill other people than you intend to. No matter how accurate the weapon is that you fired at a artillery piece or tank, when you blow up a huge piece of metal, shards will fly in all directions and it will hurt and it’ll kill people, and there’s no way out of this.

Now, we have a contradiction. On the one hand, this is a humanitarian intervention. It has put severe limits on what can be done — the French have said that they’re not going in on the ground, the Americans have indicated the same thing. They’re going to try to do this all through the air and they’re going to try to do this without civilian casualties. That’s the impasse. The impasse is not whether the coalition has the ability to get rid of Gadhafi — it does. Whether it can get rid of Gadhafi under the current rules of engagement that appear to be in place is a much more serious question. I’d have to argue that unless there are significant negotiations underway right now to give Gadhafi a safe haven, he’s not going to leave. And given the precedents of Milosevic and others who have been brought to The Hague for war crimes, his motivation to leave is much less than anyone else’s would be.

Colin: There are not many places, George, that would welcome Gadhafi.

George: Well, and even worse, the negotiators that might be able to negotiate a safe haven in some country can’t guarantee that the international court won’t reach out and try to have him extradited and won’t have him extradited. In other words, you’re in a situation where in the negotiation one of things that Gadhafi is going to demand, in return for a cessation of hostilities, is a safe passage. And extraordinarily no one is in a position to give that guarantee, unless I suppose U.N. Security Council would formally give it, and I don’t know that would hold. So you’re in a situation where what you really want is Gadhafi to voluntarily step down and he’s in no position to do so — he’s much safer where he is, fighting the war.

Colin: The Gadhafi stronghold is Tripoli, the main opposition is in and around Benghazi — there could be a long stalemate. Leaving aside humanitarian issues, does that matter geopolitically?

George: I have to say that, since Libya is a country of six million, it does have some substantial energy exports but not an overwhelming impact on the global economy. In many ways, we’ve selected to fight in a place that geopolitically has only marginal interest. Certainly for the United States, it has minimal interest, it has somewhat greater interest for the Europeans, but whether or not this stalemate goes on will have geopolitical significance to the extent that the outside powers decide to insert major force. And it will have that significance because, for the United States for example — stretched as it is by Afghanistan and Iraq and some other conflicts — this is someplace that if you put major force in, you’re really straining the American capability to fight. This is why the United States has insisted this is a European problem, but the Europeans are clearly divided, the French have made it clear that they’re not coming on the ground.

It’s very difficult to see how this ends except in a negotiators’ settlement, and it’s very difficult to see what Gadhafi’s motivation for negotiation is. Possibly, there will be some negotiations with some other members of his faction who will take care of him in return for safe conduct on their part, but a lot of these people have extraordinarily bloody hands, all of them undoubtedly belong in The Hague, and you can’t give them the guarantees they won’t wind up there. So, like people who are cornered, they’ll fight.

Colin: Meanwhile, we have something else to worry about — something quite serious. The attack just south of Tel Aviv, probably Hamas inspired. A big provocation to Israel?

George: Well we have seen in the past few days recounting about 60 attacks with longer range missiles and also with the mortar fire. Those are too many attacks to be lone wolves. They’re coming from Gaza and they’re clearly under the order of Hamas.

Hamas is now stepping up its operations against the Israelis and the interesting question to ask is why. When you think about it, this is a superb moment for Hamas. The Egyptian government has retained its treaty with Israel, but on the other hand there are strong forces there that will want to abrogate it. The Saudis who support them are preoccupied with events in Bahrain and the rest of the Persian Gulf. If they can force the Israelis into a military response in Gaza, this will inflame passions in the region, particularly in Egypt. The possibility of creating a situation where either the current government must abrogate the treaty with Israel or alternatively where a new government comes into place in the coming elections, it is an extraordinary opportunity for Hamas. For Hamas, its future is based on Egypt ending its relationship with Israel, participating in the blockade and becoming hostile toward Israel and friendly toward Hamas. If they can get that, it’s worth a great deal, and if they get the Israelis to attack into Gaza, they may well inflame the passions sufficiently.

Therefore, Hamas has appeared to have decided to move to a more aggressive stance, and particularly in firing, as you put it, toward Tel Aviv. They are pushing the envelope of what the Israelis can tolerate without responding. They haven’t quite gotten as far north as Tel Aviv — it was toward Tel Aviv but south of it. But should they be able to configure a rocket that goes that far, that’s the redline that will force the Israelis to intervene and finding these stockpiles of rockets is not going to be all that easy. If you get another Gaza war, Hamas gets what it wants in Egypt — things can evolve. So, this is very serious and very important.

Colin: Is there any evidence Iran is involved?

George: Well, Iran has been said to be supplying things to Hamas, but there is a difference in supplying things to Hamas and controlling Hamas. Hamas is most dependent on Saudi Arabia, but Hamas, more than anything else, is a self-contained organization pursuing its own interests.

What will be interesting to see, however, is what Hezbollah does up in the north. Hezbollah is dependent on Iran and is highly influenced and even controlled by Iran. And the Iranians very much want the position of being the most dynamic and aggressive force in the region. We have this event going on in Bahrain, we have other events in the western littoral of the Persian Gulf. Iran, showing itself to be more aggressive against Israel rather than other countries, put Saudi Arabia in a very difficult position and potentially undermines other regimes in the region. This is the perfect moment for the Iranians to attack. We see no evidence at the moment of any movement by Hezbollah toward launching an attack, and Israel certainly is not going to unilaterally go into Lebanon at a time when it’s facing Hamas, but the situation has suddenly become enormously difficult. And the things that have been happening in Bahrain and in Egypt suddenly coalesce into the Israeli question I think in a way it hasn’t been there for quite a while.

Libya is a sideshow to this. Now the question is going to be whether Hamas continues these attacks are not, and that’s simply not clear. But we’re watching very carefully to see what’s going to happen with these attacks — whether they escalate and whether Israel is going to decide to respond.

Colin: George, thanks very much. And, of course, STRATFOR will be monitoring this closely. That’s Agenda for this week, for me Colin Chapman, until the next time, goodbye.

Israel: Iron Dome Deployment Confirmed

Filed under: Gaza, Hamas, Hezbollah, Israel, Muslim Brotherhood, Palestine — Tags: — - @ 1:35 pm

Source Link: Stratfor

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave the order March 25 for Israel to deploy its new Iron Dome rocket defense system to shield communities in southern Israel from Palestinian rocket attacks emanating from Gaza, AP reported. The defense system will be operational in a few days, the Israeli military said. Barak said the deployment is an operational experiment.

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Bahrain: Formal Complaint Made To Lebanon Over Hezbollah

Filed under: Bahrain, Hezbollah, Lebanon, Shi'ite, Sunni — - @ 12:11 pm

Source Link: Stratfor

Bahrain made a formal complaint to the Lebanese government over militant group Hezbollah’s offer of support to the mainly Shiite anti-government protesters in Bahrain, Reuters reported March 25, citing Al Arabiya. Bahraini Foreign Minister Sheikh Khaled bin Ahmed al-Khalifa said Manama will not tolerate threats from a militant group and will consider lodging a complaint with international entities if Lebanon does not act, adding the decision was made in consultation with the Gulf Cooperation Council.

Bahrain: Demonstrators Have Foreign Agenda – Official

Filed under: Bahrain, Hezbollah, Shi'ite, Sunni — - @ 12:08 pm

Source Link: Stratfor

Bahraini demonstrators who ran over unarmed policemen and beat up patients in a hospital have a foreign agenda and links to a neighboring country and Hezbollah, Bahraini Social Development Minister Fatima al Beloushi said, Reuters reported March 25. Al Beloushi said the government has direct proof the acts were instigated by a foreign country and Hezbollah provided training for the demonstrators.

The Israeli Dilemma

Source Link: Stratfor

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates met with his Israeli counterpart, Ehud Barak, Thursday. There was no shortage of issues for the defense officials to discuss amid what appears to be an impending Israeli military operation in Gaza; gradually building unrest in Syria; and the fear of an Iranian destabilization campaign spreading from the Persian Gulf to the Levant. Any of these threats developing in isolation would be relatively manageable from the Israeli point of view, but when taken together, they remind Israel that the past 32 years of relative quietude in Israel’s Arab backyard is anything but the norm.

Israel is a small country, demographically outnumbered by its neighbors and thus unable to field an army large enough to sustain long, high-intensity conflicts on multiple fronts. Israeli national security therefore revolves around a core, strategic need to sufficiently neutralize and divide its Arab neighbors so that a 1948, 1967 and 1973 scenario can be avoided at all costs. After 1978, Israel had not resolved, but had greatly alleviated its existential crisis. A peace agreement with Egypt, ensured by a Sinai desert buffer, largely secured the Negev and the southern coastal approaches to Tel Aviv. The formalization in 1994 of a peace pact with Jordan secured Israel’s longest border along the Jordan River. Though Syria remained a threat, by itself it could not seriously threaten Israel and was more concerned with affirming its influence in Lebanon anyway. Conflicts remain with the Palestinians and with Hezbollah in Lebanon along the northern front, but these do not constitute a threat to Israeli survival.

The natural Israeli condition is one of unease, but the past three decades were arguably the most secure in modern Israeli history. That sense of security is now being threatened on multiple fronts.

To its west, Israel risks being drawn into another military campaign in the Gaza Strip. A steady rise in rocket attacks penetrating deep into the Israeli interior over the past week is not something the Israeli leadership can ignore, especially when there exists heavy suspicion that the rocket attacks are being conducted in coordination with other acts of violence against Israeli targets: the murder of five members of an Israeli family in a West Bank settlement less than two weeks ago, and the Wednesday bombing at a bus station in downtown Jerusalem. Further military action will likely be taken, with the full knowledge that it will invite widespread condemnation from much of the international community, especially the Muslim world.

The last time Israel Defense Forces went to war with Palestinian militants, in late 2008/early 2009, the threat to Israel was largely confined to the Gaza Strip, and while Operation Cast Lead certainly was not well received in the Arab world, it never threatened to cause a fundamental rupture in the system of alliances with Arab states that has provided Israel with its overall sense of security for the past three decades. This time, a military confrontation in Gaza would have the potential to jeopardize Israel’s vital alliance with Egypt. Hamas, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) and others are watching Egypt’s military manage a shaky political transition next door. The military men running the government in Cairo are the same men who think that maintaining the peace with Israel and keeping groups like Hamas contained is a smart policy, and one that should be continued in the post-Mubarak era. The Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood, part of an Islamist movement that gave rise to Hamas, may have different ideas about the treaty; it has even indicated as much during the political protests in Egypt. An Israeli military campaign in Gaza under the current conditions would be fodder for the Muslim Brotherhood to rally the Egyptian electorate (both its supporters and people who may otherwise vote for a secular party) and potentially undermine the credibility of the military-led regime. With enough pressure, the Islamists in Egypt and Gaza could shift Cairo’s strategic posture toward Israel. This scenario is not an assured outcome, but it is likely to be on the minds of those orchestrating the current offensive against Israel from the Palestinian territories.

To the north, in Syria, the minority Alawite-Baathist regime is struggling to clamp down on protests in the southwest city of Deraa near the Jordanian border. As Syrian security forces fired on protesters who had gathered in and around the city’s main mosque, Syrian President Bashar al Assad, like many of his beleaguered Arab counterparts, made promises to order a ban on the use of live rounds against demonstrators, consider ending a 48-year state of emergency, open the political system, lift media restrictions and raise living standards – all promises that were promptly rejected by the country’s developing opposition. The protests in Syria have not reached critical mass due to the relative effectiveness of Syrian security forces in snuffing out demonstrations in the key cities of Damascus, Aleppo, Homs and Hama. Moreover, it remains to be seen if the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, which led a violent uprising beginning in 1976 aiming to restore power to the Sunni majority, will overcome its fears and join the demonstrations in full force. The 1982 Hama crackdown, in which some 17,000 to 40,000 people were killed, forced what was left of the Muslim Brotherhood underground and is still fresh in the minds of many.

Though Israel is not particularly keen on the al Assad regime, the virtue of the al Assads, from the Israeli point of view, is their predictability. A Syria more concerned with wealth and exerting influence in Lebanon than provoking military engagements to its south, is far more preferable than the fear of what may follow. Like in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood branch in Syria remains the single largest and most organized opposition in the country, even though it has been severely weakened since the massacre at Hama.

To the east, Jordan’s Hashemite monarchy has a far better handle on its political opposition (the Muslim Brotherhood (MB) in Jordan is often referred to as the “loyal opposition” by many observers in the region,) but protests continue to simmer there and the Hashemite dynasty remains in fear of being overrun by the country’s Palestinian majority. Israeli military action in Gaza could also be used by the Jordanian MB to galvanize protesters already prepared to take to the streets.

Completing the picture is Iran. The wave of protests lapping at Arab regimes across the region has created an historic opportunity for Iran to destabilize its rivals and threaten both Israeli and U.S. national security in one fell swoop. Iranian influence has its limits, but a groundswell of Shiite discontent in eastern Arabia along with an Israeli war on Palestinians that highlights the duplicity of Arab foreign policy toward Israel, provides Iran with the leverage it has been seeking to reshape the political landscape. Remaining quiet thus far is Iran’s primary militant proxy, Hezbollah, in Lebanon. As Israel mobilizes its forces in preparation for another round of fighting with Palestinian militants, it cannot discount the possibility that Hezbollah and its patrons in Iran are biding their time to open a second front to threaten Israel’s northern frontier. It has been some time since a crisis of this magnitude has built on Israel’s borders, but this is not a country unaccustomed to worst case scenarios.

2011/03/24

Lebanon: Arab States Consider Deportation Of Hezbollah, IRGC Linked Shia

Filed under: Arab Nations, France, Hezbollah, Iran, Lebanon, National Security, Obama, Shi'ite, UK — - @ 11:41 am

Source Link: Stratfor

Arab states in the gulf are considering the deportation of suspected Hezbollah- and Iranian Revolutionary Guard-linked Lebanese Shia, AFP reported March 24, citing Al Seyassah. The measure is in response to intelligence reports alleging Lebanese Shia had been involved in protests in both Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, according to London-based Arab diplomats. The United States, France and Britain alleged Hezbollah and the Revolutionary Guards were leading protests in conjunction with local Shiite clerics in Bahrain and the eastern provinces of Saudi Arabia. No Lebanese Shia suspected of being associated with Hezbollah or the Revolutionary Guards will remain in the Gulf, a diplomatic source said, citing Bahraini officials.

2011/03/23

Israel: PIJ, Hezbollah Praise Bus Bombing

The scum of the earth have come out from their snake dens…W

Source Link: Stratfor

A spokesman for Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s (PIJ) military wing, al-Quds Brigades, said that the group welcomed the March 23 bus bombing in Jerusalem but did not claim the attack, Bloomberg reported. PIJ said it “applauds all efforts to repond to the crimes committed daily against our people,” Arutz Sheva reported. Hebollah also praise the attack.

2011/03/03

A Trophy to be proud of

Filed under: Gaza, Hamas, Hezbollah, Israel — Tags: , , , — - @ 4:42 pm

Source Link: J Post

Print Edition
Photo by: Courtesy: IDF
By JPOST EDITORIAL

Tank defense system could radically alter the balance of power on both the Lebanese and Gaza fronts.

It happened so quickly and functioned so flawlessly that the IDF tank crews doing routine duties last Tuesday near the security fence in the southern Gaza Strip frontline didn’t even notice anything unusual.

They didn’t immediately realize that they had just witnessed history in the making and that the lives of a fourman crew had been spared when the miniature Trophy system, fixed onto all tanks in the Gaza sector, recognized that a rocket propelled grenade (RPG) had been launched at one of the tanks.

Trophy intercepted the RPG with a neutralizer and blew up the incoming projectile in mid-air, with no harm wrought to either the tank or to the corpsmen in its belly.

The system quickly reloads in a fully automated process. It’s “smart” enough to hold fire if an RPG is about to miss its target. Moreover, the explosion it sets off is so small that friendly-fire casualties are highly unlikely.

The Trophy’s premiere matters not only for Israel but globally. This was the first time that antitank fire had been successfully intercepted under real combat zone conditions, as distinct from controlled trials. The implications both to Israel and its allies cannot be overestimated.

Rocketry that is easy to carry is a favorite weapon for terrorists and a whole host of irregulars – from Hamas and Hezbollah on our own doorstep to the roadside-ambushers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The Trophy (known locally as Me’il Ruah – windbreaker in Hebrew) could radically alter the balance of power on both the Lebanese and Gaza fronts and it could become crucial for US and allied forces battling al-Qaida and associated insurgents.

The proven effectiveness of the Israeli breakthrough is a game-changer and as such is extremely good news – not only for us.

BUT FOR us it is especially meaningful and gratifying.

The antitank rockets, beginning with the portable Sager, which the Egyptians renamed Fahad in the 1973 Yom Kippur War, had been the bane of the IDF Armored Corps. Until now, the answers had been increasingly thick steel protective plates for the tanks to literally dull the blow. But improved rockets proved essentially able to penetrate any shield and there are limits to how much armor can be piled on a tank without impeding its movement.

Realizing how deadly portable hollow-pipe devices can be, both Hamas and Hezbollah stocked up on them, amassing colossal arsenals. In the Second Lebanon War in 2006, dozens of Israeli tanks were struck, 19 crewmen were killed and others wounded.

But while Israel’s enemies were arming themselves to the teeth, Israel’s scientists – foremost at Raphael – were busy re-accentuating the country’s qualitative military edge, which had sometimes appeared to be fading.

Their success sends a message to Israelis at home and to friends and foes abroad: do not underrate us. We can spring back and we are a force to be reckoned with.

It’s important that Israel’s allies especially appreciate this. There are perennial doubts here and discordant gripes in America about our value as partners. Among the chief factors that demonstrate Israel’s unique importance as a viable democratic mainstay is our technological achievements. We do not only receive – as narrowminded US critics carp. We also give. The newest Israeli contribution to the modern battlefield will eventually not only save more Israeli lives, but the lives of many Americans too.

To be sure, at this stage, the Trophy is pricy, costing NIS 1 million per tank, but it is an eminently worthwhile expense. The Trophy is perceived as the harbinger of the future in ground warfare, being the first operational active defense system, and capable of granting Israel a new strategic advantage.

It is not alone. In the works is the Iron Fist, an antimissile defense that is being custom-designed for armored personnel carriers. Its jamming capabilities can swerve an oncoming rocket off course, or it can detonate it with shock waves.

Lots more is being concocted in Israeli labs, workshops and testing grounds. Despite our proven penchant for fault-finding and self-deprecation, this is a fitting occasion for unstinting collective pride. Our defenses and those who man them are, mercifully, a little more secure today in the face of our enemies.

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