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May 29, 2015 / 11 Sivan, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Hezbollah’

Cheat Sheet on Who’s Doing What to Whom in the Middle East

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan (and a few quiet others) have been urging U.S. President Barack Obama to climb down from his tree and listen to Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. There’s a reason for that.

A new radical Islamic axis is forming, one that is cuddling up to the Muslim Brotherhood. The once-scattered Iranian-backed terror groups dedicated to annihilating the State of Israel are coalescing into a second axis while threatening to form an alliance with Daesh, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria also known as ISIS, as well as Al Qaeda and other global jihad organizations.

Because part-time pundits don’t have time to study the fine details of where things are happening on the political chessboard of the Middle East, here’s a cheat sheet to help you keep score on the latest realities in the region.

For a lot of Western political analysts, the Arab Spring was confusing and a real pain in the neck — but that was a walk in the park compared to the nightmare now facing foreign affairs policy makers trying to stay abreast on current terrorist ties and the tangled web they are spinning in the ‘hood.

U.S. President Barack Obama is looking for a way to nurse his salty wounds over having to spend his final tenure swallowing bile while chatting civilly, if not with good manners, during phone calls with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

But here’s what’s happening right now — and what the leader of the greatest country on earth has to grapple with — while he continues to search for ways to pick a fight with Israel’s most popular leader since the Israel was founded by its first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion.

In Africa:
Two terror organizations in Nigeria and Somalia, Boko Haram and Al Shaba’ab respectively, have both pledged allegiance to Daesh, also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. Both groups have slaughtered thousands and wounded more, committed numerous atrocities and are continuing to carry out murderous terror attacks to prove their mettle as “jihadists,” or holy warriors for Islam.

The moderate Arab nation of Tunisia suffered its first public terrorist attack by ISIS this weekend in a massacre that left 20 dead and dozens of others wounded in the iconic Bardo museum in Tunis, including many foreign tourists. At least 3,000 Tunisians have flown to Syria to join the ISIS terror organization; it’s no surprise those chickens are beginning to come home to roost in North Africa.

Tunisia is one of the few Arab nations left that can claim to be home to one of the most ancient Jewish communities in Africa, and which has enjoyed a healthy international tourism trade. It now faces severe damage to its tourist industry, which was just beginning to recover from the ravages of the Arab Spring. Ominously, the threat level facing Tunisia’s Jewish community on the country’s island of Djerba is also not clear.

Libya, which borders Tunisia — and where an American Ambassador and three U.S. diplomats were murdered in an Al Qaeda attack in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 — has been entirely swallowed by Al Qaeda and allied terrorist groups. ISIS has also joined the party, spreading cells throughout the country as well. Earlier this month, ISIS made its “debut” appearance in the oil-rich nation with a public seaside beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian laborers taken captive by the terror organization.

In the Middle East:
Egypt is facing one of the toughest fights of its life in the Sinai Peninsula as it battles a budding invasion by ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Iranian proxy groups. Homegrown terror cells and disgruntled Bedouin tribes are aiding and abetting this effort, having always looked for greener pastures and a better deal regardless of who’s in power in Cairo.

Gaza has been controlled since 2007 by Iran‘s proxies who include Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and in a consultant position, Hezbollah. All maintain contentious but cooperative relationships with the Salafi, global jihad Army of Islam terror group which is linked to Al Qaeda. ISIS is also now represented in the region as well.

Jordan is facing an existential threat on its borders with Iraq and Syria due to ISIS having captured border crossings on both, and the presence of Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards along the border with Syria. So far, its only remaining friendly borders are with Israel, and with Egypt. In addition, the Palestinian citizens within Jordan are not as friendly to the Hashemite regime as one might believe; moreover, they are wont to align with the Muslim Brotherhood which also operates within the kingdom and which can be seen as a fifth column.

Lebanon has been swallowed by ISIS, Palestinian Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades linked to Fatah, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, all of whom vie for power in the nation. Hezbollah holds the lion’s share of the political clout in the government since the terrorist group long ago expanded to include parliament members and actual ministers in the government cabinet as well.

Iraq was the first to fall to ISIS; its border crossings with Syria and Jordan were easy prey for the terror group. Iran easily persuaded the government that its was better off allowing its Islamic neighbor to “help” it fight off the Sunni threat than to place its trust in the American administration that had abandoned its ally when it was still to weak to fend off terrorist and tribal challenges to the power of the central government. So now Iran has now entered the picture there as well, to “assist” Iraqi forces in fighting ISIS, which Iran perceives as a threat to its own interests, for the time being at least.

It is likely that when the power struggle ends, one way or the other, Iran will be the force to divide the spoils and cut a deal with ISIS in order to ultimately divide up the region between the two emerging empires. However, Iran will ultimately be the one to rule because ISIS does not have the self-discipline, nor the structural underpinnings necessary to create and maintain an administration to rule an empire. This is quite separate and apart from Iran’s booming weapons production industry, not to mention its galloping race to develop nuclear arms.

Watch it happen – you read it here first on Jewish Press.com.

Syria was the little ticking time bomb that appeared to have set off this entire conflagration – but if one looks closely, it is clear that ISIS does not attack the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. Nor does Assad bother much with the ISIS terrorists. Both have bigger fish to fry.

Assad is an Alawite — a sect that is linked to Shia, hence his close ties with Shiite Iran and that nation’s support of his struggle. Iran sent Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps units and Hezbollah guerrillas to fight alongside his troops. Russia also supplemented Assad for quite some time — right up to the point that Assad began to lose and Russian citizens were endangered. Then Russian “consultants” were evacuated, funding slowed down to a crawl but weapons shipments continued to arrive.

ISIS meanwhile wants to expand its reach throughout the entire Middle East — and that’s just for starters. Its ultimate stated goal is simply to establish a worldwide caliphate — an “Islamic State” — and nothing less. Think ‘Hitler’ with a 21st century media team and you’re headed in the right direction.

In any case, Syria is no longer really Syria; it is now divided up into cantons, each of which is governed separately by various emirs and such. Many report to ISIS already. Some report to Al Qaeda. Others still are loyal to the “moderate” Syrian National Council and its Free Syrian Army. A few are hanging on to Syria’s government, or what’s left of it – mostly around Damascus.

And now there’s Yemen, bits of it left currently on the chopping block and most already nearly to the mop-up stage by Al Qaeda, ISIS and their Houthi opponents, soon probably to be allies as well. Of course, Al Qaeda had laid the groundwork for the takeover of the country to a great extent, having infiltrated and permeated the territory over the past several years. Al Qaeda promotes the image of being at odds with ISIS, although the latter began as a freak offshoot of the terror mothership, but it is more likely all a bluff. We will yet see the day the two will re-unite as one, or return as allies.

In the meantime, Saudi Arabia is starting to move its military forces towards the border with Yemen. The last time Saudi Arabia did that was in March 2011, when it “helped” its neighbor Bahrain fend off a surreptitious move by Iran to foment unrest in the Sunni-ruled country (which has a Shia majority) under cover of the Arab Spring.  It took one day for 1,000 Saudi troops and 500 troops from United Arab Emirates to clear protesters from around the iconic Pearl Roundabout in Manama, and then to destroy the statue on what became known locally as “Bloody Thursday.”

The U.S. Embassy in Yemen has been closed due to the escalating attacks. Embassy staff and families of diplomats were evacuated from the country, just in time. The last group of 100 American special forces who were there to consult and help the Yemen military fight off the takeover in the first place were evacuated from the country last weekend due to the ‘rising danger.’

Houthi rebels seized the airport and control of the entire city of Taiz as well as the surrounding province over the weekend as well – about 240 miles south of the Yemeni capital of Sana’a — according to Taiz provincial government officials who spoke with international media.

As early as January, Yemen’s president and his cabinet resigned after the Houthis surrounded the presidential palace, and in fact the entire capital city of Sana’a was captured by the Houthi rebels. Last week ISIS suicide terrorists arrived in Sana’a and bombed two mosques, killing 137 Yemenis and wounding hundreds more, making it clear that supremacy over the city is still up for grabs.

The United Nations Security Council met Sunday (March 22, 2015) to discuss Yemen’s deteriorating situation, with its UN envoy to Yemen reporting the country is “at the edge of civil war.” Meanwhile, Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi remains in exile in the southern port city of Aden, maintaining that he is still the nation’s leader. Last week, the Houthi war against Hadi pursued him all the way south to Aden, with an air strike aimed at the palace where he is housed. That day, Houthi rebels on the ground battled Hadi loyalists in Aden leaving 13 dead.

Finally, there is Turkey.

It’s odd how few actually discuss what’s happening in Turkey, a NATO member who has provided free passage to literally every single terrorist group that has requested safe passage through its country, even into Syria to reach the ISIS capital of Raqqa. If you travel through Istanbul airport on an average day, it becomes amazingly clear that whoever wishes to, can travel through Istanbul from Iran, Russia, or anywhere else.

Turkey is the ultimate Casablanca of today’s Middle East.

Muslim Brotherhood officials are warmly greeted by their supporters there. Hamas has a new international headquarters in the country, Fatah and other Palestinian officials are always welcome, and ISIS operatives move across the border to bring imports (brides and other ‘items’) to Raqqa with no trouble at all. Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps members – you name it, and you can make that meeting happen in Turkey, if you know the right buttons to push. Even United States officials are welcome.

Just be wary if you’re Jewish, or Israeli, of course.

Only a U.S. reject deported back home via Cairo to make a good showing to the Americans was turned back. Turkish authorities didn’t bother with that performance when it came to ignoring three young Muslim school girls from the UK whose frantic parents begged the Ankara government to block them from crossing the border into ISIS Land.

One wonders how Turkey is able to square its relationship with NATO with all that going on.

But managing delicate, intricate relationships are a peerless skill practiced by Turks since ancient times. There are few who can match a Turkish diplomat in anything, let alone the multi-lateral negotiations involving events so complex that one would need a nuclear microscope just to see past the surface, let alone begin to address it.

No wonder President Obama feels so disgruntled, so out of sorts, so … over his head.

This is not his neighborhood. He doesn’t know the language, diplomatically, behaviorally, gramatically or culturally. Nor has he yet learned the basic regional sport of bargaining in the souk. Worse, he probably would never enjoy it. You have to really love it to survive it.

But if you don’t live in the neighborhood, or you never come to visit, how on earth can you work out a two-state “solution” — let alone PEACE? More to the point, if you really dislike it so much why bother?

Mr. President, at least relax a little before you really hurt someone, and let those who actually like the region deal with it and with the Israelis too.

By the way – just as for your information — you may not realize it, but in Israel the appliance stores are still doing a really brisk business selling those terrific home appliances that are made in Turkey. Now, how do you suppose that could be, given all that hostile anti-Israel ranting from Ankara?

US Removes Iran, Hezbollah from National Intelligence Terrorist List

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Both Iran and its Lebanon-based proxy, Hezbollah, have been removed from the National Intelligence list of terrorism threats – the most authoritative document produced by the National Intelligence Agency.

Fox NewsOn The Record with Greta Susteren reported late Tuesday on information found in the unclassified version of the report, the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Communities 2015 (PDF), dated February 26, 2015. An annual report, this one was delivered recently to the U.S. Senate by National Intelligence Director Lt.-Gen. (ret.) James Clapper.

The document noted Iran’s “intentions to dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners and de-escalate tensions with Saudi Arabia.” Also noted was the fact that “Iranian leaders – particularly within the security services – are pursuing policies with negative secondary consequences for regional stability and potentially for Iran… Iran’s actions to protect and empower Shia communities are fueling growing fears and sectarian responses…”

The intelligence report added that Tehran’s “overarching strategic goals of enhancing its security, prestige and regional influence” have led it to “pursue capabilities to meet its civilian goals and give it the ability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so.”

Whether or not Iran would choose to do so it still not clear, according to the U.S. intelligence assessment. However, if the Iranian government decides to go ahead, there exist no “insurmountable technical barriers to producing a nuclear weapon,” American intelligence experts concluded, most likely to be delivered via intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told Fox News journalist Greta Susteren that he believes the removal of Iran and Hezbollah from the terrorist list was not a simple “format change” as reporters were told at a briefing, but rather a deliberate attempt by the Obama administration to deceive the American public.

“What we’re having now is an Orwellian example of disappearing references to Iran and its proxy Hezbollah from the terrorism report,” Bolton said, during an exchange with Susteren on Fox. “This was a concession, I think, by the administration relating to the nuclear negotiation. You will not find it in the signed deal.

“How many other concessions has the administration made that are not in the deal — that may not even be related to the nuclear program — in this desperate effort to get a deal?”

Meanwhile, Iran is moving to widen its sphere of influence in South America, where its diplomatic ties are already strong with Argentina and even warmer with Venezuela, which has the largest reserves of uranium in the Western hemisphere, outside of Canada.

Photos that flashed across Fox News during a report by Susteren showed a heavily guarded facility that was set up in Bolivia in 2011, allegedly with Iranian backing.

“There are elements of that facility which is supposed to be some type of military academy,” Susteren reported, “but is very heavily fortified. And the suspicion is that it’s being used by Iran as a way to have a footprint in Bolivia” which she described as “not a friend of the United States.”

Despite the disappearance of Iran from the terror map in the 2015 National Intelligence assessment, Fox journalist Cathern Herridge also noted that “the documents, the photos and Congressional testimony show that Iran is really effectively expanding its influence into South America, into our neighbor.”

In effect, Herridge said, Iran is “creating a launching pad into North America.”

Bolton concurred in his own remarks. “Look, Iran has terrorist networks all over this hemisphere,” he pointed out. “Remember, three years ago, the Justice Department indicted senior officials of the Revolutionary Guards Corps for conspiring to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States in Washington by infiltrating through the Mexican border.

“I think this is just another example of Iran’s activities.”

Lebanon Still Without a President

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Lebanese MPs failed to agree on a president Wednesday, continuing the longest period without a president since the 1990 civil war.

The vote Wednesday was the 20th the parliament has held to elect a president. Only 55 of Lebanon’s 128 MPs were present for the vote.

The vote was boycotted by Hezbollah and the allied Change and Reform bloc. According to the Lebanese news outlet Ya Libnan, Hezbollah is blocking the appointment of a new president at the request of its sponsor Iran, in an attempt to pressure the West to reach a nuclear deal with Iranian leaders.

Lebanon has been without a president for nine months, since the term of former president Michel Suleiman expired. Prime Minister Tammam Salam’s government has assumed the responsibilities of the presidency in the meantime.

The ongoing stalemate in parliament over the Lebanese presidency reflects the rift in Lebanon over the civil war in neighboring Syria. Some Lebanese factions support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, while others support those who are attempting to overthrow Assad.

Hezbollah and its allies are strongly pro-Assad. Hezbollah is fighting alongside Assad’s forces in Syria.

Hundreds of Lebanese citizens, most of them Hezbollah members, have died in the Syrian war. The country has also taken in many Syrians fleeing the fighting; currently an estimated one in five people in Lebanon is a Syrian refugee.

Netanyahu’s Map of Iranian Terror Network Sets Stage for THE Speech

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2015

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pulled out a map at his address to AIPAC Monday to show how the Iranian-backed Hezbollah terrorist network is threatening the world.

The display gives a hint of what may be the thread of the Prime Minister’s speech in Congress today – that Iran cannot be trusted with any nuclear program because it funds a worldwide terrorist network.

The map was not as cute as Netanyahu’s diagram at his United Nations speech three years ago, when he showed a red line with a cartoon bomb to illustrate Israel’s limits of tolerance to threats to be wiped off the map.

The map showed lines reaching from Iran to the point of terrorist attacks in five continents.

For some reason, he left out Argentine, the site of the Hezbollah bombing in 1994 of the AIMA center, but the map included Peru, the United States, India, Thailand, Georgia, Azerbaijan, Kenya, South Africa, Nigeria, Turkey, Egypt, Greece, Cyprus, Bulgaria, France, Germany and, of course, Israel.

 

 

IDF to Begin Tunnel Warfare Training

Friday, February 27th, 2015

IDF training and resources in 2015 will be concentrating on strengthening two primary threat assessment areas, protecting Israel’s external borders and tunnel fighting.

The army believes that Israel’s biggest threats will be emanating from across the borders where the various radical Islamic terror groups have taken over, or will be taking over. The IDF will be allocating three times the amount of reserve unit resources to concentrate on protecting Israel’s borders.

The tunnel related training will revolve around underground fighting, as well as destroying the tunnels and the terrorists inside, from above without entering the tunnel.

A new training ground will be built with an underground tunnel systems for the purpose of training the IDF troops, and in particular elite units who will specialize in tunnel fighting.

The IDF also expects a new round of violence in Judea and Samaria this year as the Palestinian Authority’s budgetary problems escalate.

Israeli Ambassador ‘Awards Oscars’ and Teaches UN its Principles [video]

Tuesday, February 24th, 2015

On Tuesday, Feb. 23, Israeli Ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor addressed the U.N. Security Council, which was meeting to congratulate itself and “reaffirm” its international commitment to the principles outlined in the UN Charter.

Prosor could not permit the occasion to pass without drawing attention to the ways in which the institution falls far short of the grand ideals which, 70 years ago, drove representatives of 50 nations to draw up the Charter upon which the U.N. was created.

The U.N. Charter enshrined several fundamental principles:

first, to maintain international peace and security and take effective measures for the prevention and removal of threats to peace; second, to advance relations among nations based on respect for the principle of equal rights; third, to promote and encourage respect for human rights; and fourth, to be a center for harmonizing the actions of nations. Prosor deftly excised the verbiage to reveal the myriad ways in which the U.N. undermines those lofty ideals, replacing them, instead, with cowardice and appeasement towards those who most betray the U.N. principles, and discrimination and vilification of at least one nation committed to upholding those principles: Israel.

The Israeli ambassador explained that the greatest threat to global security comes from the terrorist radical Islamist groups such as Hamas, Hezbollah, Al-Qaeda, ISIS and Boko Haram. He described their battle against the civilized world as one “between civility and barbarism, between pluralistic and totalitarian society, between tyranny and freedom.”

Those extremists are destabilizing communities, nations and entire regions of the world, yet the U.N. has “been reluctant to take decisive action,” Prosor said, and on occasion, the U.N. has “surrendered to those nations that harbor, fund and support terrorist groups.”

Hezbollah, in particular, was held out by Prosor as an example of the U.N.’s inclination to coddle, not curb, terrorism, pointing out that the Iranian-sponsored terrorist group has held Lebanon hostage for nearly three decades, while it continues its “reign of terror.”

The U.N. has also failed in its stated dedication to the principle of equal rights, with member nations that impose the death penalty for loving the “wrong” people or believing in the “wrong” faiths. Prosor pointed to the recent beheadings by ISIS of 21 Coptic Christians as merely the latest in a decades-long process of badgering and discriminating against Middle Eastern Christians, until their number has dwindled to small minorities.

Prosor also pointed an accusatory finger at various member nations who sit on the U.N.’s Human Rights Council, such as Venezuela, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Algeria. The lack of a free judiciary and a free press in those countries makes their membership a mockery of the Council.

Last year Iran was elected to serve as Vice Chair of the U.N.’s legal committee. Prosor pointed out the absurdity of making such a choice when Iranian citizens are denied due process and fair trials, and they are not even permitted to participate in Iranian national affairs.

Prosor told the Council:

The fact of the matter is that this institution has been hijacked. The ruthless autocracies that jail journalists rush to lecture us on the virtues of a free press. The repressive dictatorships that persecute political opponents filibuster on the sanctity of free and fair elections. And the mass-murdering tyrannical regimes preach to us about human rights.

Finally the Israeli ambassador addressed the treatment of the tiny country he represents at the hands of the U.N. Prosor patiently recounted just some of the ways in which Israel has been treated as a pariah nation by the U.N.

For example, last year alone the General Assembly adopted 20 resolutions singling out Israel for condemnation. All other nations were reprimanded by punitive resolutions a total of three times. In 2014, the Syrian civil war raged with chemical weapons and barrel bombs directed at its own citizens, Boko Haram slaughtered thousands, Russia invaded Crimea, North Korea continued its totalitarian regime oppressing its citizens, and Saudi Arabia executed dozens of its citizens, yet Israel was singled out for criticism time and again.

Since 2006, more than half of all resolutions adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council in criticism of a particular country have been directed at Israel. This isn’t logical, it isn’t moral – it is simply prejudice.

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 4.51.29 PM

media credit: Israel Mission to the UN, New York

Prosor then took the occasion to link the proceedings in the U.N. with last night’s Academy Awards. He suggested what would happen if the U.N. decided to give out Oscars for “Maintenance of International Peace and Security.”

Screen Shot 2015-02-24 at 4.51.42 PM

Media Credit: Israel Mission to the UN, New York

The U.N. would give the Best Actor award “for acting like a peace loving country while developing nuclear capabilities, denying the Holocaust, and threatening the destruction of another member state to…..Iran.”

Prosor suggested the U.N. would give the Best Supporting Actor award to Hezbollah for its “unrelenting support to the Assad Regime in killing hundreds of thousands of civilians.”

The Israeli ambassador had several other predictions for winners in the U.N.’s version of the Academy awards. To watch him deliver them, watch the video of his speech, below.

Netanyahu Says It Is ‘Astonishing’ that West still Talks with Iran

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu told the Cabinet Sunday morning, “It is astonishing that even after the recent IAEA report determined that Iran is continuing to hide the military components of its nuclear program, the nuclear talks are with it are proceeding.”

He is trying to keep security at the top of the agenda in the election campaign and briefed ministers on “Iran’s attempt to increase its foothold on Israel’s borders even as it works to arm itself with nuclear weapons.”

Netanyahu added, “Iran is trying to also to develop a third front on the Golan Heights via the thousands of Hezbollah fighters who are in southern Syria and over which Iran holds direct command…..

The coming month is critical for the nuclear talks between Iran and the major powers because a framework agreement is liable to be signed that will allow Iran to develop the nuclear capabilities that threaten our existence.

“The agreement that is being formulated between Iran and the major powers is dangerous for Israel and therefore I will go to the US next week in order to explain to the American Congress, which could influence the fate of the agreement, why this agreement is dangerous for Israel, the region and the entire world.”

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahu-says-it-is-astonishing-that-west-still-talks-with-iran/2015/02/22/

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