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Posts Tagged ‘Hizbollah’

Noxious Nominations: The Four Horsemen of the American Foreign Policy Apocalypse

Wednesday, January 9th, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

I did a lot of soul-searching before writing yesterday’s article, “After the Fall: What Do You Do When You Conclude America is (Temporarily or Permanently) Kaput?” Of course, I believed every word of it and have done so for a while. But would it depress readers too much? Would it just be too grim?

Maybe U.S. policy will just muddle through the next four years and beyond without any disasters. Perhaps the world will be spared big crises. Possibly the fact that there isn’t some single big superpower enemy seeking world domination will keep things contained.

Perhaps that is true. Yet within hours after its publication I concluded that I hadn’t been too pessimistic. The cause of that reaction is the breaking story that not only will Senator John Kerry be the new secretary of state; that not only will the equally reprehensible former Senator Chuck Hagel be secretary of defense, but that John Brennan, the president’s counterterrorism advisor, will become CIA chief.

About two years ago I joked that if Kerry would become secretary of state it was time to think about heading for that fallout shelter in New Zealand. This trio in power—which along with Obama himself could be called the four horseman of the Apocalypse for U.S. foreign policy—might require an inter-stellar journey.

Let me stress that this is not really about Israel. At the end of Obama’s second term, U.S.-Israel relations will probably be roughly where they are now. Palestinian strategy–both by the Palestinian Authority and Hamas–has left the United States no diplomatic or “peace process” option on that front. The problem is one of U.S. interests, especially the American position in the Middle East but also in other parts of the world.

You can read elsewhere details about these three guys. Here I will merely summarize the two basic problems:

–Their ideas and views are horrible. This is especially so on Middle Eastern issues but how good are they on anything else? True, they are all hostile to Israel but this isn’t the first time people who think that way held high office. Far worse is that they are pro-Islamist as well as being dim-witted about U.S. interests in a way no foreign policy team has been in the century since America walked onto the world stage.

Brennan is no less than the father of the pro-Islamist policy. What Obama is saying is this: My policy of backing Islamists has worked so well, including in Egypt, that we need to do even more! All those analogies to 1930s’ appeasement are an understatement. Nobody in the British leadership said, “I have a great idea. Let’s help fascist regimes take power and then they’ll be our friends and become more moderate! That’s the equivalent of what Brennan does.

–They are all stupid people. Some friends said I shouldn’t write this because it is a subjective judgment and sounds mean-spirited. But honest, it’s true. Nobody would ever say that their predecessors—Hillary Clinton, Robert Gates, and David Petraeus—were not intelligent and accomplished. But these guys are simply not in that category. Smart people can make bad judgments; regular people with common sense often make bad judgments less often. But stupid, arrogant people with terrible ideas are a disaster.

Brennan’s only life accomplishment has been to propose backing radical Islamists. As a reward he isn’t just being made head of intelligence for the Middle East but for the whole world! Has Brennan any proven administrative skill? Any knowledge of other parts of the world? No. All he has is a proximity to Obama and a very bad policy concept. What’s especially ironic here is that by now the Islamist policy has clearly failed and a lot of people are having second thoughts.

With Brennan running the CIA, though, do you think there will be critical intelligence evaluations of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hizballah, or even Hamas? Is the CIA going to warn U.S. leaders about the repression against women, Christians, and moderates? Will there be warnings that Islamists are taking over Syria or reports on Islamist involvement in killing Americans in Benghazi? Can we have confidence about U.S. policy toward Iran?

To get some insight into his thinking, consider the incident in which a left-wing reporter, forgetting there were people listening, reminded Brennan that in an earlier private conversation he admitted favoring engagement not only with the Lebanese terrorist group Hizballah but also the Palestinian terrorist group Hamas. Ask yourself this question: when an American intelligence chief told Congress that the Muslim Brotherhood was a moderate, secular group who approved that line of argument?

Israel’s US Ambassador: We’ll Act to Stop Chemical Weapons Reaching Hezbollah (Video)

Monday, December 10th, 2012

Israel’s ambassador to the United States Michael Oren said on Sunday night that Israel has been monitoring the situation in Syria for a long time and is worried about the possibility of Syrian chemical weapons coming to Hezbollah’s possession.

“If these weapons fall into the wrong hands, it will be a game changer for us,” Oren stated in an interview with Fox News.

Oren told the interviewer, Chris Wallas:”You can imagine the Hezbollah, with its thousands of missiles, having chemical weapons? It could kill thousands of people.”

The Sunday Times has reported that Israeli special forces are operating in Syria as spotters to track the regime’s stocks of chemical and biological weapons. The cross-border operation is part of a secret war to trail Syria’s non-conventional armaments and sabotage their development.

“For years we’ve known the exact location of Syria’s chemical and biological munitions,” an Israeli source told the Sunday Times, referring to Israel’s spy satellites and drones. “But in the past week we’ve got signs that munitions have been moved to new locations.”

New Head of Hamas Military Wing Takes Jabari’s Place

Thursday, November 15th, 2012

Marwan Issa has been named the new commander of Hamas’s military wing. Issa was the deputy of Ahmed Jabari who was killed yesterday in an Israeli air strike and buried after public mourning rituals in Gaza.

Issa headed  the Hamas military delegation that traveled to Tehran and Beirut last September and signed secret mutual defense pacts with Iran and Hizbollah.

Questions Outnumber Answers on Downed Drone, for Now

Sunday, October 7th, 2012

The official statement by the IDF is laconic:

An unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was identified penetrating Israeli airspace this morning, and was intercepted by the IAF at approximately 10:00 AM. IDF soldiers are currently searching the area where the drone was downed, in open areas in the northern Negev, to locate and identify the drone.

That’s the whole report.

News agencies add additional minor details but the large questions remain unanswered for the moment. China’s Xinhua news service says the unidentified drone flew over settlements and military bases in southern Israel briefly before being brought down by IDF fire over an open unpopulated area. It was spotted entering Israel’s airspace from the Mediterranean sea heading from the west to the east. But there is no word on where the UAV originated.

The Daily Mail‘s website, published in the UK says this is not the first incident in which Israel has shot down drones entering its airspace:

The Iran-backed Lebanese militia Hezbollah has launched several such aircraft into Israel over the past few years. In the 2006 war, Hezbollah launched an Iranian-made drone capable of carrying explosives into Israel that was shot down. Another one launched two years earlier crashed in the Mediterranean.

The Mail also quotes the IDF’s military spokesperson, Lt. Col. Avital Leibovich, saying no one was injured in the process of bringing down this morning’s drone, and that Israeli ground systems alerted the air force to its presence, as a result of which IDF jets were given the order to scramble and intercept it. The Israeli air force “was in control throughout… We had monitoring contact from the ground and from the air.” She said the drone flew over the Gaza Strip but did not originate there and declined to give more details. But Israel media reports have suggested this was an intelligence gathering drone and was not carrying explosives.

Times of Israel publishes video footage of the IDF bringing down the drone, and says the army is considering “the possibility that it originated in Lebanon. Hezbollah has flown drones into Israeli airspace a few times in the past, though not for several years“.

Back in April 2012, the daily Yediot Aharonot reported that the terrorists of Lebanon’s Hezbollah have

been allocating increased resources towards bolstering its drone unit… The Shiite terror groups reportedly plans to use its unmanned aerial vehicle to attack Israel in case it mounts a military strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities. Hezbollah is equipped with Ababil (“Swallow”) drones, which are manufactured and provided by Iran.The Ababil has several models, including one that can carry a warhead packed with several dozens of kilograms of explosives. Defense establishment officials expressed concern that Hezbollah would be able to send multiple drones into Israel’s airspace and have them crash into targets in the country’s north. “Hezbollah is making a specific effort to acquire such (weapons) as part of its offensive lineup against Israel,” a security source told Yedioth Ahronoth.

The Lebanon Daily Star reported that a Hezbollah drone crash-landed inside Lebanon in July. As far back as 2006, the IDF brought one of those Ababil drones down in the sea off the northern Israeli city of Akko [report].

A website called Arkenstone ["a comprehensive, open source, English-language database on the Iranian armed forces"] gives more background about Iranian drones. Keep in mind we still don’t know the source of today’s drone. And for the moment (it’s 7:45 pm Saturday night here in Jerusalem) there are no reports about this that we can see in the online Iranian media.

Finally, a reminder from the BBC World Service that

Iran has unveiled what it says is a new “indigenous” long-range unmanned drone capable of flying over most of the Middle East, state media report. The Shahed (Witness) 129 had a range of 2,000km (1,240 miles) and could be equipped with bombs and missiles, the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps said. It is reportedly capable of carrying out reconnaissance and combat missions.

There are certain to be more details in the coming hours.

Visit This Ongoing War.

Israel Should Pre-empt Hizbollah Now

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

As Israel comes closer to a confrontation with Iran, we should note that Iran’s primary strategy is unlikely to be direct conflict with Israel. Iran’s air and missile forces, despite their bragging, are not sufficiently well-developed to support such a conflict.

Instead, I expect that they will depend on their main proxy, Hizbollah. Hizbollah can be expected to attack with its considerable missile forces and even to attempt ground incursions into Israeli territory. At the same time, Iran will try to leverage Western fears of terrorism and oil-supply disruption into pressure on Israel; so we can also expect to see terrorist attacks against Western targets.

The difficulty of destroying or seriously damaging Iran’s nuclear capability is much-discussed, but I think the neutralization of Hizbollah will also be a major task, and one of more immediate importance. In the short term, the number of Israeli casualties and the amount of damage to the home front in a conflict with Iran will be proportional to the time it takes the IDF to end Hizbollah’s ability to fight.

Hizbollah is also an essential component of Iran’s long-term strategy, whether or not she succeeds in building a bomb. A nuclear Iran is more likely to pursue her interests in the region by threats and low-intensity conventional conflict under a nuclear umbrella than by actual use of atomic weapons, which would expose her to devastating retaliation.

In 2006, the Bush Administration gave Israel a month to finish Hizbollah. Israel did not make use of the opportunity because of the incompetence of the government and top military commanders, complacency, lack of planning, poor intelligence, etc. I believe that these problems have been fixed to a great extent.

Although one might expect Obama to be less cooperative, it’s possible that the administration’s closeness with conservative Sunni interests — primarily Saudi Arabia, Turkey, or even Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood — which are natural enemies of Hizbollah, might lead it to wait before lowering the boom.

On the other hand, if Hizbollah terrorists are car-bombing buildings in New York, Los Angeles or Washington, there will be enormous pressure on Israel to end the conflict (yes, it’s irrational, but we’ve seen this response before). I don’t think that Israel can count on getting a month this time.

If I were an Israeli planner I would think about a preemptive attack on Hizbollah — separately from and before attacking Iran’s nuclear facilities, for the following reasons:

*Hizbollah is the most immediate threat to Israel;
*Hizbollah will be Iran’s major weapon of retaliation if Israel strikes Iran;
*By not attacking Iran, Israel does not give the regime an excuse to disrupt oil supplies;
*The IDF can concentrate on defeating Hizballah;
*It’s always better to initiate than to respond; and
*The chaos in Syria makes it easier to isolate Hizballah from its source of supply and keeps the Syrian military too busy to intervene.

I would stress the importance of a short campaign, which will probably mean the use of massive force. Hizbollah is very well dug-in in southern Lebanon, and an operation aborted by international pressure could be disastrous.

If Israel can be successful in removing Hizbollah from the equation, Iran will be greatly weakened, Israel’s security and posture of deterrence will be strengthened, and the chances for future military action (or even diplomacy) to keep Iran from getting the bomb will improve.

Visit the Fresno Zionism blog.

Sic Transit Gloria Mundi: Thus Passes the Glory of the World

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

In the past, the United States was the “glory of the world”, mainly after it came to the aid of Europe in the Second World War, the victory over Germany and Japan in 1945, and the American success in establishing a democratic state in South Korea (1953) following the war against the communists, who were allied with China and the USSR. However, the glory of the U.S. has faded during the last generation. Historians point to Vietnam as the beginning of the process of decline; the war lasted 16 years (1959-1975), cost the lives of almost 60,000 American soldiers and ended in a disastrous American rout and Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam, falling to the Vietcong, the militia of communist North Vietnam.

The Vietnam War left parts of American society with a lack of will to fight for the values of freedom and democracy, especially if it’s a question of fighting in countries outside of the U.S. The U.S. military took part in several wars since 1975, but in the Middle East its performances were not always satisfactory. As a result of this, the military strength of the U.S. does not make much of an impression in the Arab and Islamic world, and even back in September of 1970 the terrorists of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine did not hesitate to hijack American and British jets to Jordan and blow them up for all the world to see.

In 1973 the American ambassador, his deputy and the deputy ambassador of Belgium were kidnapped in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan by the Palestinian organization “Black September,” and were executed on the personally telephoned orders of Yasir Arafat. Despite the fact that the Americans recorded the discussion and knew all of the details in real-time, the humiliation by the terrorist silenced them and Arafat subsequently became (with the help of a few bleeding-heart Israelis who were taken in by his charisma and his lies) a “darling of the peace groupies.” He mocked the Americans, fooled them without blinking an eye, and they believed him.

The Iranian audacity towards the U.S. knows no bounds: In October 2011, Iran attempted to assassinate the Saudi Arabian ambassador in Washington, no less than the capital of the U.S. The Iranians have no problem calling the U.S. “the Great Satan,” which has only one meaning: that holy war must be waged against the U.S. – a jihad for the sake of Allah, which will only end with the destruction of the U.S. government and the conversion of its citizens to Shi’ite Islam.

In April 1983 Hizb’Allah – the long arm of Iran in Lebanon – blew up the U.S. embassy in another breach of its sovereignty and killed 63 people. In October of that same year, Hizb’allah demolished Marine headquarters in Beirut killing 241 American soldiers and citizens. The American reaction was to flee from Lebanon, which very much encouraged Hizb’Allah and its patrons in Iran and Syria, and caused the United States to appear as a country without a backbone. A month before this, in March of 1983, Hizb’Allah attacked the U.S. embassy in Kuwait, and in June, 1985 Hizb’Allah organized the hijacking of an American passenger jet of TWA. In June, 1996 Hizb’Allah carried out an attack on an American military base in Saudi Arabia. All of these attacks, carried out by Shi’ite Hizb’Allah with Iranian inspiration, were left unanswered by the Americans.

Qadhaffi’s Libya also contributed its part to aggression against the U.S. with the attack on the disco in Berlin where a number of American soldiers were killed as they were enjoying a night out in 1986. The aggression was answered with an attack on Qadhaffi’s palace, and although his adopted daughter was killed, he did not stand down: In 1988, he organized a revenge attack on a Pan Am jet over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing almost 300 people. What was his punishment? Nothing, until 2011, when the United States was dragged into attacking Libya, almost reluctantly.

On the Sunni side of the Islamic equation, they saw the American weakness toward Iran and Hizb’Allah, and also decided to increase the pressure on the U.S.: in August, 1990, Saddam Hussein disregarded U.S. warnings and invaded Kuwait, one of the West’s main suppliers of oil, claiming that Kuwait is a province of Iraq. The West was outraged, and led by the U.S., in January, 1991, it entered a war that successfully liberated Kuwait, but did not liberate Iraq and the world from Saddam Hussein. This war caused the detractors of the U.S. to draw two conclusions: One is that the West goes out to war not for idealism but rather for interests, and in the case of Kuwait, oil was the causative factor. The second conclusion is that the West is afraid of causing regime change, no matter how bad the regime may be, because of the fear that the successor will be even worse. However, in this war there was an additional American failure. There were Americans, perhaps CIA operatives, who hinted to the Shi’ites in Southern Iraq that if they rebel against Saddam, the U.S. will support them and overthrow him. In March 1991 the Shi’ite rebellion against Saddam (who had been vanquished in Kuwait) began, but he put down the rebellion with great cruelty, costing the lives of tens of thousands of Shi’ites, and the U.S. did not lift a finger. The effect of the American betrayal of the Shi’ites of Iraq at that time continues until today to influence the way the Shi’ites in Iraq relate to the U.S.

Sinai Becoming Terror Stronghold

Thursday, September 13th, 2012

Rocket attacks continue to plague the south of Israel, the last one occurring a few days ago.

Only a few weeks ago the IDF deployed an Iron Dome rocket defense battery near Eilat to deal with the incoming rockets.

These latest strikes follow the massive attack which took place on August 5th, which claimed the lives of sixteen Egyptian soldiers and which was finally blocked by the IDF on Israel’s southern border.

These events are not recent developments. Hosni Mubarak, Egypt’s former president, was ousted from his position in disgrace in February of 2011. Since that time, the balance of power in the Sinai Peninsula has changed dramatically, and it seems that the change is to the detriment of all parties in the region, excluding the terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip: Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees and other minor organizations.

Since the deposing of Mubarak, terror organizations originating in the Gaza Strip have taken control of the Sinai Peninsula, along with other terrorist organizations like Hezbollah, which develop their infrastructure of terror everywhere they can, and especially in areas that suffer from lack of government and neglect, such as the Sinai region.

In recent months, they have operated an industry of terrorism at an unprecedented magnitude, including weapons experiments, weapons smuggling, and terrorist attacks.

Since February 2011, the IDF has received several reports on events of weapons experiments in open areas throughout the Sinai. Palestinians terrorists from the Gaza Strip are taking advantage of the lawlessness in the Sinai in order to perform experimentations with weapons of varying grades by firing to areas in Sinai, and receiving way points of the strikes from local collaborators. Through these experiments, the terrorist organizations can improve the weapons’ shooting angles, amount of explosives and projectiles, depending on where the rockets fall.

In addition, the tunnel routes between Gaza and Sinai have developed immensely since the fall of Mubarak’s regime. The tunnel owners have known difficult periods when concentrated joint efforts were made by Israel and the Mubarak regime to create obstacles for these tunnels. They are currently experiencing a profitable period as both their civilian businesses and their collaboration with the terrorist’s industry in Gaza do not encounter any difficulties on the Egyptians part. Some of tunnels are big enough that entire vehicles can be transported through them.

This reality has severely hampered the security on Israel’s southern border. Sinai of the post-Mubarak era has become a focal point for active and brutal terrorism, due to the vacuum created in the region, as the Egyptians do not take responsibility for their sovereign territory and the waste lands are utilized by the terrorist organizations to the outmost.

Member of Knesset Benyamin Ben-Eliezer, an expert on the Egyptian scene stated after the attack: “I hear president Morsi’s statements and I understand he has come to a conclusion that if he does not gain control of the Sinai soon, he will be sitting on a nuclear bomb. Sinai, with all its components – including the Global Jihad, Al – Qaida and other terrorist organizations – is going to become a place that could shake the entire of Egypt.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/israel/sinai-becoming-terror-stronghold/2012/09/13/

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