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Monday, September 15, 2014

They Never Learn


There is a saying in my native country "The country is burning and the old lady combs her hair". This is the sense of my recent skepticism I expressed here about the effectiveness of the coalition being put together by the PostWest and the so-called "moderate" Middle-East. While the IS accumulates manpower and millions in resources and destroys and beheads anything that moves in its path, nobody is willing to fight, Obama is "seeking a strategy", NATO's Turkey refuses the use of bases for attacks, Cameron calls the murders "evil", but is still reluctant to commit active participation. No wonder I am not the only one who sees a clear parallel to the 30's:
Historical parallels are never exact. So, looking back to the 1930s may not be relevant to dealing with the Islamic State today. Or perhaps it would be relevant.
...
Today, the Islamic State is still small and weak in comparison to the armed forces, technology, and resources of the United States. A direct confrontation on the ground as well as in the air might lead to the early destruction of the Islamic State. However, the US remains supremely reluctant to contemplate such ground action, due to its negative experiences in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In recent days, Obama, Kerry, and Biden all stated that a condition of any plan to destroy the Islamic State is “No American boots on the ground.” This gut aversion seems to parallel the British and French attitudes about using force in the 1930s. Maybe other boots can be found to do the job, with US air support and indirect assistance. One hopes so.

But perhaps that won’t do it. Maybe the monster that is the Islamic State will absorb its present conquests, attract new adherents from abroad, attack new targets, and, in general, become a more threatening entity during the coming months and years. One nightmare is that we will wake up one day, perhaps after a major attack by the Islamic State in Europe or even in the United States, or perhaps after an attack with unconventional weapons, and realize that the West missed the chance to end this horror at its early stages, much as England and France did with Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s.

But the Islamic State is hardly the only or even the largest threat in the Middle East. The Islamic Republic of Iran is an ideologically-driven country that seeks to expand its regional hegemony, is a sophisticated practitioner of terrorism, is hostile to the West, and threatens Israel. The fear of missed opportunities should hover over US policy decisions on Iran’s nuclear program as well.
--1930s Redux -- The Risk of Missed Opportunities
Here are a few other aspects of reality which parallel the 30's:
Self-destruction indicators:

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Those Who Forget the Past ...

It is said that while Rome burned, Nero played some musical instrument.

Up until recently we only had Rome in the PostWest, now we have the barbarians too: Terror Threat More Complex Than Ever because "the rising power of disparate terrorist groups around globe is serious danger". While Jihadists destroy and kill all in their path, the PostWest is "seeking for a strategy"; don't hold your breath.

I have no reason to expect a different outcome, given the traditional instinctive response of societies in crisis: scapegoat the Jews.
And if that isn't enough
Decay.

The Price of Denial

Debkafile:Israel pulls back from anti-Assad policy, as IDF redeploys against Islamist seizure of Golan 
The Israeli government has radically changed tack on Syria, reversing a policy and military strategy that were longed geared to opposing Syrian President Bashar Assad, debkafile’s exclusive military and intelligence sources report. This reversal has come about in the light of the growing preponderance of radical Islamists in the Syrian rebel force fighting Assad’s army in the Quneitra area since June.
Al Qaeda’s Syrian Nusra front, which calls itself the Front for the Defense of the Levant, is estimated to account by now for 40-50 percent - or roughly, 4,000-5,000 Islamists - of the rebel force deployed just across Israel’s Golan border. No more than around 2,500-3,000 belong to the moderate Syrian militias, who were trained by American and Jordanian instructors in the Hashemite Kingdom and sent back to fight in Syria.
This shift in the ratio of jihadists-to-moderates has evolved in four months. In early June, the pro-Western Syrian Revolutionary Front-SRF, mostly deployed in the southern Syrian town of Deraa on the Jordanian border, was the dominant rebel force and Nusra Front the minority.

The balance shifted due to a number of factors:
  1. Nusra Front jihadis fighting alongside insurgents on the various Syrian battlefronts made a practice of surreptitiously infiltrating their non-Islamist brothers-at-arms, a process which the latter’s foreign allies, the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Jordan, either ignored or were unaware of.
  2. These tactics began to pay off in the past month, when large numbers of moderate rebels suddenly knocked on the Nusra Front’s door and asked to join.
  3. One reason for this was these militias’ defeat and heavy losses of men and ground under the onslaught of the combined forces of Syria, Hizballah and Iran. Nusra Front was less affected. It was also the moderate rebels’ preferred home, rather than the Islamic State in Iraq and Levant, whose atrocities, especially the beheadings of hostages and prisoners, they find repellent.
  4. Nusra deployment on the Syrian Golan further swelled of late as its fighters were pushed out of eastern Syria by IS in its rapid swing through the Syrian towns of Deir a-Zor and Abu Kemal to reach its ultimate goal – one which has so far not rated a mention in Western and Israeli media.
The Islamist extremists are on the way to conquering the Euphrates basin in Syria and Iraq before advancing on the place where the two great rivers of Mesopotamia, the Euphrates and Tigris, are in closest proximity – Mahmoudiya, south of Baghdad.
Nusra fighters moved out of the way of the IS push through eastern Syria and made tracks for Quneitra to join the fight to seize this strategic Golan town and crossing into Israel from Assad’s forces.
The pro-Islamist cast of the Syrian rebel force on Israel’s Golan border is reflected in the turnaround in Israel’s military position and attitude toward the insurgents on the other side of the Golan border fence. The IDF will henceforth be less supportive of the rebel struggle and more inclined to help Syrian troops in fending off rebel attacks.
This calls for a delicate balancing act in Jerusalem.  While definitely not seeking an Assad victory in the long Syrian war, Israel has no desire to see Al Qaeda’s Syrian branch, Al Nusra, seizing control of the Syrian sector of the Golan, including Quneitra.
Israel therefore finds itself in a quandary much like that of US President Barack Obama, who has promised to unveil his strategy for fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Wednesday, Sept. 10.  He too is strongly reluctant to throw US support behind Bashar Assad, but he may find he has no other option.

Monday, September 8, 2014

Qatar's Peace Makers

Israel Matzav:

Here in Israel, the government now believes it knows why the latest 'peace talks' were so biased against Israel. His name is Martin Indyk and he's the director of Brookings and, as noted above, on the payroll (indirectly) of Qatar and Norway (and other countries).
“Qatar has been a major bankroller for Hamas and other terrorist organizations,” one government official said. “The fact that the same Qatari government is also a major provider of funds for a respectable Washington think tank raises a whole series of questions about that think tank’s relationships and impartiality.”

Among the questions this has raised in Jerusalem is the degree to which the institute can impartially draw up papers relating to Qatar, such as its role in the Middle East and the financing of terror organizations.

Qatar is Hamas’s main financial backer.

...

Indyk, who took leave from Brookings to serve as the US special Middle East envoy during the nine months of unsuccessful Israeli-Palestinian negotiations that ended in April, returned to the think tank after the negotiations failed and is currently its vice president and director of the Foreign Policy Program.

...

In a recent interview with Foreign Policy magazine about the Gaza conflict, Indyk said US President Barack Obama became “enraged” with Israeli criticism of US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Indyk said Gaza has had a “very negative” impact on the US-Israel relationship.

“There’s a lot of strain in the relationship now. The personal relationship between the president and the prime minister has been fraught for some time and it’s become more complicated by recent events.”
The Qatar connection might also explain why US Secretary of State John FN Kerry was so anxious to do Qatar's (and Turkey's) bidding during Operation Protective Edge.

Arutz Sheva adds:
Indyk, who served as US negotiator in the failed peace talks, has had his impartiality put into question before due to his position on the executive board of the radical-left New Israel Fund, which funds numerous anti-Israel NGOs. In May, Indyk was accused of engaging in a "nasty" anti-Israel tirade at a bar following an address to the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Qatar has not only funded Hamas, but according to reports pushed the group to reject a ceasefire in the recent Operation Protective Edge and return to its terror war on Israeli citizens, threatening to expel Hamas politburo chief Khaled Mashaal if it didn't do so.
The position of Qatar led Israel's Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor in August to label the oil-state "a Club Med for terrorists," adding that the "hundreds of millions of dollars" Qatar gave Hamas meant "every one of Hamas's tunnels and rockets might as well have had a sign that said 'Made possible through a kind donation of the emir of Qatar.'"
A few more take-aways from this story:

1. Maybe you all now understand why Israel has tried to control or stop foreign government funding of NGO's.

2. The Obama administration touted itself as the 'most transparent administration evah.' Is this what they had in mind? 

3. With all the bellyaching by the likes of Stephen Walt and John Mearsheimer about a supposed 'Israel lobby,' Israel does not appear on the list of countries that have donated money to US think tanks. But nine Arab countries do appear on the list. I'm sure you're all shocked.

Israeli "Occupation": Upside Down and Backwards

Israel Matzav:

USA Today mentions a fact that is usually hidden in its report on Israel's 'land grab' in Gvaot in Gush Etzion.
The Gush Etzion bloc's core communities were founded before Israel's establishment in 1948 on land purchased by Jews in the 1920s and 1930s. Arab soldiers destroyed the communities when they fought against Israel's founding during the 1948 war.
If the entire pretext for forcing Israel to give up all the land that was liberated in 1967 is what the UN calls 'the inadmissibility of conquest by force', then why was it okay when the Arabs forced the Jews out of Gush Etzion in 1948? Why is the UN not advocating undoing that conquest by force?  

And why is it that most of you probably had no idea that Jews owned land in Judea and Samaria before 1948? (I can hear my friend Sunlight shouting 'COUNTIES' but many of these records are likely incapable of reconstruction and many of the documents held by the Arabs are fraudulent. There was never a land registry in Judea and Samaria like there is in most other parts of the West, and it's very difficult to prove anything belonged to anyone before 1967. But it is a fact that Jews owned the land on which the Gush Etzion bloc is situated before 1948).

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Obama’s plan for local armies to fight IS under a “core coalition” is unreal for lack of military muscle


From Debkafile:

Facing pressing demands to do something serious about the brutal Islamic State, US President Barack Obama threw together a mix of US air strikes, strengthening moderate Syrian rebel groups and enlisting friendly regional governments for the fight “to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL” A “core coalition” of nine NATO governments was put together, made up of Britain, France, Australia, Canada, Germany, Turkey, Italy, Poland and Denmark, whose leaders were assured that they were not expected to put boots on the ground.
The US President unveiled this plan at the NATO summit in Wales which ended Friday, Sept. 5.
 
debkafile’s military and counterterrorism sources conclude that his slick recipe lacked the most essential ingredient: Military muscle. No armed force capable of taking on the marching jihadis is to be found in all the vast territory of some 144,000 sq. km seized by the Islamist terrorists, between Raqqa in northrn Syria and the northwestern approaches to Baghdad.

Even in the unlikely event that President Obama was to pour out hundreds of billions of dollars to build such a force, the “core coalition” will hardly find any local governments ready to shoulder the mission, which would be potentially more daunting even that the Al Qaeda and Taliban challenge facing the US-led invasion of Afghanistan in 2001.

The most the US president can hope for in the months remaining to the end of 2014 - and perhaps even much of 2015 - is a string of minor local successes, fought by small forces like the Iraqi Kurdish Peshmerga, with limited US air support.

Such low-intensity warfare will never gain enough traction to reverse or repel the IS onslaught. There is no real chance of an effort, so stripped-down of the basic tools of war, loosening the clutch of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant on a broad domain, or deterring thousands of jihadis from flocking to the vibrant new caliphate rising there from across the Muslim world, especially the Middle East and the Persian Gulf.
Getting to grips with this task would not take months, but much longer – certainly if it rests on the dim hope of rebuilding the Iraqi national army, which never recovered from its humiliating defeat at Islamist hands in May and June. None of its divisions remain intact, and most of them left their weapons on the battlefield in their haste to flee the enemy.

The only combat-trained forces in Iraq are Sunni militias. But they have lost faith in US steps in their country and many have opted to fight under the black SIS flag.

US spokesman hurried to contradict debkafile’s disclosure of Friday, Sept. 5, that the Obama administration and Tehran were fighting ISIS together and sharing intelligence in Iraq and Syria.

But the facts on the ground are undeniable and are pushing Iraqi Sunni leaders and commanders into the arms of the jihadists, roughly 30,000 fighters whose numbers are being swelled by volunteers.

The Kurdish army may not be able to defend its semi-autonomous republic (KRG) and the oilfields of Kirkuk in the north with an army of no more than 20,000 troops, outdated weapons and no air force.

Obama’s reliance on moderate Syrian rebel groups to stand up and fight the Islamists is even less realistic, when they have recently started losing enough spirit to fight their arch enemy, Bashar Assad.

Around the region, too, Saudi King Abdullah and the Emirates will shun any US-led coalition that rests on military and intelligence cooperation with Iran.

President Obama will soon discover his mistake in offering Turkey’s new president Tayyip Erdogan a role in the “core coalition” as the only representative of the Muslim Middle East,  and scorning  to count Egypt and Saudi Arabia into his formula for “degrading and defeating” Al Qaeda.

Erdogan is by and large persona non grata in the Sunni Middle East, excepting only in Qatar. He has won further distrust of late for his avid courtship of Tehran in the footsteps of Barack Obama.

Ankara’s hands are moreover tied by its failure to obtain the release of 46 Turkish citizens including diplomats held hostage since the Islamists overran Mosul in June.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

The Undermining of Western Education

PostWest academic institutions are being infiltrated by Palestinian/Arab/Muslim hires who, together with the leftist faculty already in, are producing young generations of anti-Israel/anti-semitic/ant-West graduates. This is more insidious but not less destructive than the Islamic State, Al-Qaeda, Hamas and the rest of them.

Martin Kramer @Sandbox:
Several hundred Middle East scholars have put out a letter pledging to boycott Israeli institutions of higher education. The organized association of Middle Eastern studies has rejected boycotts in the past, and is likely to do so again if the issue even gets tabled at the next convention. So the boycott of Israel in Middle Eastern studies is being organized along the lines of a personal pledge by individual scholars.
Israeli institutions of higher education (including, presumably, the one over which I preside, Shalem College in Jerusalem), are deemed by these scholars to be “complicit in violating Palestinian rights.” The signatories thus pledge “not to collaborate on projects and events involving Israeli academic institutions, not to teach at or to attend conferences at such institutions, and not to publish in academic journals based in Israel.” The pledge will remain in effect until these institutions call on Israel to end the Gaza “siege,” evacuate all territory “occupied” in 1967, and “promote the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes.” In other words, it’s a boycott until Israel dies.

I looked down the list of signatories, and mostly saw the usual suspects. Columbia, of course, is heavily represented. The boycotters include such tenured Columbia radicals as Rashid Khalidi, Nadia Abu El-Haj, Hamid Dabashi, Gil Anidjar, Mahmood Mamdani, George Saliba, Brinkley Messick, Timothy Mitchell, and Wael Hallaq. In fact, no university has more senior faculty boycotters signed on this letter than Columbia.
But one name in particular caught my eye: Lila Abu-Lughod, professor of anthropology. I remembered that she had become director of Columbia’s Middle East Institute a few years back. Why is that significant? The Institute she directs is a Title VI U.S. Department of Education-supported National Resource Center (NRC) for the Middle East. An NRC is supposed to “maintain linkages with overseas institutions of higher education and other organizations that may contribute to the teaching and research of the Center.”

The question I now have is whether this (taxpayer-subsidized) academic unit of Columbia is boycotting Israeli academe? Or are we to believe that Professor Abu-Lughod is only boycotting Israeli institutions personally, but is prepared to cooperate with them officially? Columbia should issue a clarification, and give a public account of the overseas institutional linkages the Institute does have, so that we can see whether a de facto boycott of Israel is in place at Columbia. You can even pose the question yourself, to Columbia’s Office of Communications and Public Affairs, right here.
Incidentally, Lila Abu-Lughod is the wife of Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, a professor @Northwestern University during my days in the PhD program in political science there, anextremely nice man. I did not attend any of his courses, but at least one of his students told me that she never heard a bad word about Israel. I later found out why: his courses on the ME did not include much on Israel.