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April 19, 2015 / 30 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘NATO’

Taliban Suicide Bombers Attack US Base in Afghanistan

Monday, September 2nd, 2013

Taliban suicide terrorists attacked the second largest U.S. base in Afghanistan, near the border with Pakistan, Monday morning. No American deaths were reported, but the number of those wounded and the extent of injuries are not known because U.S. Army policy does not issue details on injuries.

The attack, marked by explosions that apparently were caused a team of suicide bombers, forced the closure of a major highway that NATO uses as a supply route between Pakistani and Afghanistan.

The U.S. Army confirmed the attack. Taliban took responsibility for the strike and claimed ti destroyed several tanks.

President Barack Obama is planning to pull American soldiers out of Afghanistan by the end of 2014, and Taliban may be trying to examine the strength of the Afghanistan government, the BBC reported.

Monday morning’s attack comes at a bad time for President Obama, who is fighting opinion polls that show American to be dead-set against an American military operation in Syria aimed at stopping chemical and biological warfare by the Assad regime.

Another U.S. soldier was killed on Saturday in Afghanistan, Staff Sgt. Joshua J. Bowden of Georgia died from wounded suffered when terrorists attacked his patrol. More than 120 NATO soldiers, most of them Americans, have been killed in fighting in Afghanistan this year.

Russian FM Condemns ‘Hysteria’ around Chemical Attack

Tuesday, August 27th, 2013

Following last week’s chemical attack, the West has engineered a media campaign to facilitate a military incursion, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in “an emergency press conference” Monday, RT reported. The minister also cast doubts on the American and European charges regarding President Assad’s being behind the chemical attacks on his own citizens.

“Official Washington, London and Paris say they have incontrovertible evidence that the Syrian government is behind the chemical attack in Damascus, but they have not yet presented this evidence. Yet, they keep saying that the ‘red line’ has been crossed,” Lavrov told reporters. “Now, we are hearing calls for a military campaign against Bashar Assad.”

Lavrov said that the U.S., Britain and others have assembled a “powerful force” and are “readying their ships and planes” for an invasion o Syria.

He cautioned that the development is setting the world on a “perilous path” and warned that “repeating the Iraqi and Libyan scenario” by bringing in outside forces would be a “terrible mistake that will lead to more blood being spilled.”

Minister Lavrov expressed outrage over the possibility of a NATO strike on Syrian chemical storage facilities without a mandate from the UN.

Asked if Russia was going to join in the potential conflict on either side, Lavrov said “We have no plans to go to war, but we hope that others think of long-term interests.”

Lavrov also questioned the rebel version of events: “There is information that videos were posted on the Internet hours before the purported attack, and [there are] other reasons to doubt the rebel narrative.”

“Those involved with the incident wanted to sabotage the upcoming Geneva peace talks,” Lavrov charged. “Maybe that was the motivation of those who created this story. The opposition obviously does not want to negotiate peacefully.”

Lavrov reminded reporters that the UN expert team currently investigating the attack sites in Syria “does not have the mandate” to produce an official ruling on who was responsible for the chemical release.

Of course, the FM did not add the fact that it was the Russian and Chinese delegation to the Security Council who fought to clip the talons on that eagle.

“The experts in Syria have the mandate to determine if chemical weapons were used, and if so, which ones, but not who unleashed this attack” Lavrov told the gathered media—in a manner reminiscent of the guy who killed both his parents and asked for the court’s leniency on account of his being an orphan.

“The UN security council will make the final decision about the perpetrator based on this evidence and all the analytical and factual materials available on the internet and in other media.”

Or, in Russian Newspeak: we’re planning to keep this puppy underwater until it stops breathing.

Now, that’s three metaphors for one Russian foreign policy. The NATO bombs are starting to drop in 3… 2…

Kerry Refuses Israeli Intel on Assad’s Use of Chemical Weapons

Wednesday, April 24th, 2013

Israel’s senior intelligence analyst  said on Tuesday that Syrian President Bashar Assad has used chemical weapons against the rebels, but U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry insisted there is no proof.

“To the best of our understanding, there was use of lethal chemical weapons. Which chemical weapons? Probably sarin,” Brigadier-General Itai Brun told a Tel Aviv security conference.

President Barack Obama has said that he would order military action in Syria if chemical weapons are used.

Videos of Syrian civilians, many of them children, suffering from the effects of chemical weapons have surfaced at least three times this year. Britain and France also have said that they have been used.

But the American government wants documented proof and whatever else they can come up with to get out of acting on its word. Obama talked himself not a corner because it has become clear that no matter what happens in Syria, everyone loses in  the nears-term.

Kerry not only rejected Israeli intelligence but also tried to throw the responsibility on NATO.

“We should also carefully and collectively consider how NATO is prepared to respond to protect its members from a Syrian threat, including any potential chemical weapons threat,” Kerry said at a meeting of NATO foreign ministers.

That is a clever way of taking the monkey off of Obama’s back, but it is pretty nervy to reject Israeli intelligence. First of all, Israel and Syria are next –door neighbors. Secondly, you can bet your bottom shekel that Israel has more intelligent agents than the United States who know Syrian turf and speak the language.

Thirdly, the United States has a history of making itself look silly by rejecting Israeli intelligence. Several years ago, Israel warned American officials that Iran was secretly working on its nuclear power program, but Washington categorically rejected the information. Its own bright-eyed experts knew 100 percent that Iran had dropped its plans for making a nuclear weapon.

Around two years ago, the U.S. government said, well, y’know, it looks like the Israelis are right again. And now the world is paying the price.

But just to be sure, how does General Brun know for a fact that Assad’s forces have unleashed the unthinkable?

He showed previously published pictures of a child, either dead or wounded, and said foam seemed to be coming out of the mouth.

But that still is not the hard proof the United States is demanding.

Brun is certain he is right. “The very fact that they have used chemical weapons without any appropriate reaction is a very worrying development, because it might signal that this is legitimate” he said.

Enter John Kerry. He knows that Israel has no proof of the use of chemical weapons because he talked with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who “was not in a position to confirm that in the conversation that I had.”

“I don’t know yet what the facts are,” Kerry added. “I don’t think anybody knows what they are.” Not even Gen. Brun?

No one knows what the context of the Prime Minister’s remarks were. Nor does anyone know if Prime Minister Netanyahu would prefer not to fall into a trap of telling the Secreatru of State and than being told to keep quiet. Or perhaps Netanyahu does not want to put Obama in a corner right now, despite Gen. Brun’s comments.

Meanwhile, the White House keeps pounding the podium that the use of chemical weapons is unacceptable and continues to wag fingers, saying woe to Assad if he is proven to have deployed them.

Back in the State Department, reporters are siding with Israel’s version.

At Tuesday’s daily media briefing, reporters peppered acting spokesman Patrick Ventrell with questions.

Asked about General Brun’s statements and about British and French claims of the use of chemical weapons, Ventrell said, “The bottom line is [to] continue to support an investigation of all credible allegations of chemical weapons used to establish the facts of exactly what did or didn’t happen. ”

The reporter shot back, “You are saying that we are supporting these investigations, but we all know the Syrian regime has been refusing UN team. How you are going to able to investigate it if the regime is not allowing you to do that? Or how long you are going to use this rhetoric even though nothing is happening on the ground?”

Is Turkey Leaving the West?

Tuesday, February 12th, 2013

Recent steps taken by the Government of Turkey suggest it may be ready to ditch the NATO club of democracies for a Russian and Chinese gang of authoritarian states.

Here is the evidence:

Starting in 2007, Ankara applied three times unsuccessfully to join as a Guest Member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (or SCO, informally known as the Shanghai Five). Founded in 1996 by the Russian and Chinese governments, along with three (and in 2001 a fourth) former Soviet Central Asian states, the SCO has received minimal attention in the West, although it has grand security and other aspirations, including the possible creation of a gas cartel. More, it offers an alternative to the Western model, from NATO, to democracy, to displacing the U.S. dollar as reserve currency. After those three rejections, Ankara applied for “Dialogue Partner” status in 2011. In June 2012, it won approval.

One month later, Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reported about his saying to Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, “Come, accept us into the Shanghai Five [as a full member] and we will reconsider the European Union.” Erdoğan reiterated this idea on Jan. 25, noting stalled Turkish efforts to join the European Union (E.U.): “As the prime minister of 75 million people,” he explained, “you start looking around for alternatives. That is why I told Mr. Putin the other day, ‘Take us into the Shanghai Five; do it, and we will say goodbye to the E.U.’ What’s the point of stalling?” He added that the SCO “is much better, it is much more powerful [than the E.U.], and we share values with its members.”

On Jan. 31, the Foreign Ministry announced plans for an upgrade to “Observer State” at the SCO. On Feb. 3 Erdoğan reiterated his earlier point, saying “We will search for alternatives,” and praised the Shanghai group’s “democratization process” while disparaging European “Islamophobia.” On Feb. 4, President Abdullah Gül pushed back, declaring that “The SCO is not an alternative to the E.U. … Turkey wants to adopt and implement E.U. criteria.”

What does this all amount to?

The SCO feint faces significant obstacles: If Ankara leads the effort to overthrow Bashar al-Assad, the SCO firmly supports the beleaguered Syrian leader. NATO troops have just arrived in Turkey to man Patriot batteries protecting that country from Syria’s Russian-made missiles. More profoundly, all six SCO members strongly oppose the Islamism that Erdoğan espouses. Perhaps, therefore, Erdoğan mentioned SCO membership only to pressure the E.U.; or to offer symbolic rhetoric for his supporters.

Both are possible. But I take the half-year long flirtation seriously for three reasons. First, Erdoğan has established a record of straight talk, leading one key columnist, Sedat Ergin, to call the Jan. 25 statement perhaps his “most important” foreign policy proclamation ever.

Second, as Turkish columnist Kadri Gürsel points out, “The E.U. criteria demand democracyhuman rights, union rights, minority rights, gender equality, equitable distribution of income, participation and pluralism for Turkey. SCO as a union of countries ruled by dictators and autocrats will not demand any of those criteria for joining.” Unlike the European Union, Shanghai members will not press Erdoğan to liberalize but will encourage the dictatorial tendencies in him that so many Turks already fear.

Third, the SCO fits his Islamist impulse to defy the West and to dream of an alternative to it. The SCO, with Russian and Chinese as official languages, has a deeply anti-Western DNA and its meetings bristle with anti-Western sentiments. For example, when Iran’s President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad addressed the group in 2011, no one refused his conspiracy theory about 9/11 being a U.S. government inside job used “as an excuse for invading Afghanistan and Iraq and for killing and wounding over a million people.” Many backers echo Egyptian analyst Galal Nassar in his hope that ultimately the SCO “will have a chance of settling the international contest in its favor.” Conversely, as a Japanese official has noted, “The SCO is becoming a rival block to the U.S. alliance. It does not share our values.”

Turkish steps toward joining the Shanghai group highlights Ankara’s now-ambivalent membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, starkly symbolized by the unprecedented joint Turkish-Chinese air exercise of 2010. Given this reality, Erdoğan’s Turkey is no longer a trustworthy partner for the West but more like a mole in its inner sanctum. If not expelled, it should at least be suspended from NATO.

Judgement Day in Africa

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

Ten months ago, in March of 2012, I wrote about the awakening of radical Islam in Africa. We noted at the time that in the countries of North Africa – Morocco, Algeria, Libya and Tunisia – the organization called “al-Qaeda of the Maghreb” operates, and from time to time kidnaps and murders tourists and professionals such as  engineers who come to these countries as tourists or to perform specific functions. My conclusion at that time was:

The population of Africa is involved in a series of disputes with a tribal background, and in which the Islamist and ethnic components play an important, and sometimes critical part. The combination of Saudi Arabian money, Wahhabi propaganda, the presence of terror organizations and wide distribution of weapons (some of which disappeared from weapons storehouses of the Libyan army as a result of the fall of Qadhaffi), does not contribute to the easing of relations between various groups of the African population, and developing trends also do not indicate a tendency toward calm. Recent events in Algeria are the proof of what was already apparent: an area that is neglected by the government will become a hothouse for terror. Most of the territory of Algeria, which is more than ten times the size of Israel, is located in the vast, largely unpopulated Sahara Desert. There are  small concentrations of population situated near sources of livelihood such as  a spring or a well, and recently, mines and sources of energy – oil and gas. These clusters are isolated and exposed to armed groups that roam the area freely, propounding slogans and messages characteristic of al-Qaeda.

One of these groups, which calls itself the “Signed-in-Blood,” under the command of Mukhtar Belmukhtar, and numbering about forty fighters, carried out the attack on the gas drilling installation in ‘Ayn Aminas, abducted about 700 workers, some of whom were European, and held them as hostages. The subsequent attack of the Algerian army on the gas installation caused 55 fatalities: 32 terrorists and 23 hostages, and freed 685 Algerian workers and 107 foreign workers. The attackers, who arrived in several all-terrain vehicles, used heavy machine guns, rocket launchers, grenades and personal weapons, and a number of Algerian soldiers were killed and wounded in the course of the battle with them.

The world, especially the European countries, severely criticized the clumsy and unprofessional way that the Algerians dealt with the matter. In response, the government of Algeria defends itself with the claim that if they had not acted quickly and decisively, the number of victims would have been far greater.

The natural question is why a gas production facility was attacked, and what motivates the terror organizations to harm especially Algeria. The answer has to do with the developments of recent years in North Africa. The dictators of these states rule their oppressed peoples by the use of force. When Libya fell, along with it fell the doctrine that guided the West, according to which these dictators will deal in the accepted way in Africa (with determination and ruthlessness) with terrorist elements such as al-Qaeda of the Maghreb, who roam the area, threatening to overthrow the fragile regimes and establish upon their ruins Islamic states that will then export terrorism to the more affluent parts of the world.

Radical Islamic agents are involved up to their necks in the wars of Mali and Somalia and in battles that are being waged in Libya, Tunisia, Niger, Nigeria and in Kenya. The murder of the American ambassador in Libya last September was only one example of these groups’ activities. The governmental chaos that reigns in these countries creates a situation that allows the jihadi organizations to control vast territories, which serve them  as a base for organization, storage of armaments and training, so that they can continue their efforts to bring down African states, whose illegitimate boundaries were demarcated by colonialism, with the aim of dismantling the nation of Islam into small, weak units.

European workers who come to the African countries are perceived as an offshoot of colonialism, because their whole task – in the eyes of the jihadists – is to strengthen Western  hegemony over the peoples of Africa, on their habitat and their natural resources, to employ and exploit them and turn them again into slaves of the smug and arrogant West. That is why these organizations abduct European workers; it is to discourage other Europeans from coming. And the ransom money paid by the companies greases the wheels of these jihadi organizations. They spend the infidels’ money on acquisition of weapons, ammunition, communications equipment, navigation equipment and vehicles, and the money also allows the organizations to purchase collaborative activity from other groups among the population, and to bribe governmental officials and military and intelligence personnel.

Erdoğan at War

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Why does the Turkish government act so aggressively against the Assad regime of Syria?

Perhaps Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hopes that lobbing artillery shells into Syria will help bring a satellite government to power in Damascus. Maybe he expects that sending a Turkish war plane into Syrian air space or forcing down a Syrian civilian plane en route from Russia will win him favor in the West and bring in NATO. Conceivably, it’s all a grand diversion from imminent economic crisis due to borrowing too much.

Erdoğan’s actions fit into a context going back a half-century. During the Cold War, Ankara stood with Washington as a member of NATO even as Damascus served as Moscow’s Cuba of the Middle East, an arch-reliable client state. Bad Turkish-Syrian relations also had local sources, including a border dispute, disagreement over water resources, and Syrian backing of the PKK, a Kurdish terrorist group. The two states reached the brink of war in 1998, when the Assad government’s timely capitulation averted armed conflict.

A new era began in November 2002 when Erdoğan’s AKP, a clever Islamist party that avoids terrorism and rants about a global caliphate, replaced the center-right and -left parties that long had dominated Ankara. Governing competently and overseeing an unprecedented economic boom, the AKP’s share of the electorate grew from one-third in 2002 to one-half in 2011. It was on track to achieving Erdoğan’s presumed goal of undoing the Atatürk revolution and bringing Shari’a to Turkey.

Feeling its oats, the AKP abandoned Washington’s protective umbrella and struck out on an independent neo-Ottoman course, aiming to be a regional power as in centuries past. With regard to Syria, this meant ending decades-old hostilities and winning influence through good trade and other relations, symbolized by joint military exercises, Erdoğan and Bashar al-Assad vacationing together, and a bevy of their ministers literally raising the barrier that had closed their mutual border.

Starting in January 2011, these plans unraveled, as the Syrian people woke from forty years of Assad despotism and agitated, at first non-violently, then violently, for the overthrow of their tyrant. Erdoğan initially offered constructive political advice to Assad, which the latter rebuffed in favor of violent repression. In response, the Sunni Erdoğan emotionally denounced the Alawi Assad and began assisting the largely Sunni rebel force. As the conflict became more ruthless, sectarian, and Islamist, effectively becoming a Sunni-Alawi civil war, with 30,000 dead, many times that injured, and even more displaced, Turkish refuge and aid became indispensible to the rebels.

What initially seemed like a masterstroke has turned into Erdoğan’s first major misstep. The outlandish conspiracy theories he used to jail and cow the military leadership left him with a less-than-effective fighting force. Unwelcome Syrian refugees crowded into Turkish border towns and beyond. Turks overwhelmingly oppose the war policy vis-à-vis Syria, with special opposition coming from ‘Alevis, a religious community making up 15-20 percent of Turkey’s population, distinct from Syria’s Alawis but sharing a Shiite heritage with them. Assad took revenge by reviving support for the PKK, whose escalating violence creates a major domestic problem for Erdoğan. Indeed, Kurds – who missed their chance when the Middle East was carved up after World War I – may be the major winners from current hostilities; for the first time, theoutlines of a Kurdish state with Turkish, Syrian, Iraqi and even Iranian components can be imagined.

Damascus still has a great power patron in Moscow, where the government of Vladimir Putin offers its assistance via armaments and United Nations vetoes. Plus, Assad benefits from unstinting, brutal Iranian aid, which continues despite the mullah regime’s deep economic problems. In contrast, Ankara may still belong, formally, to NATO and enjoy the theoretical privilege of its famous Article 5, which promises that a military attack on one member country will lead to “such action as …necessary, including the use of armed force,” but NATO heavyweights show no intention of intervening in Syria.

A decade of success went to Erdoğan’s head, tempting him into a Syrian misadventure that could undermine his popularity. He might yet learn from his mistakes and backtrack, but the padishah of Ankara is doubling down on his jihad against the Assad regime, driving hard for its collapse and his salvation.

Libya Fast Becoming the New Iraq

Sunday, September 9th, 2012

In Benghazi, a car bomb aimed at Libyan intelligence officials shook a crowded street. It’s not the first car bomb to strike Libya after the fall of Gaddafi. Benghazi has its own insurgency and remains a flashpoint for the looming civil war that no one is talking about.

Postwar Libya has not received the same scrutiny that postwar Iraq did. The reasons for that revolve around partisan politics and differences in commitment. American soldiers are not patrolling the streets of Benghazi the way that they did in Baghdad, and that translates into a lack of public engagement. Unlike Iraq, Libya is a back-burner issue, even if the oil-rich country is beginning to look a lot like Iraq.

The fall of Gaddafi, like the fall of Saddam, unleashed simmering tribal and religious tensions. While Libya does not have the sharp indigenous split between Sunnis and Shiites that Iraq does, the Arab Spring opened the door to Salafi violence across North Africa from Mali to Tunisia and east through Libya and as far as Egypt.

The Arab Spring uprisings have been used by the Islamists as a pretext for purging Christians in Egypt and Syria, as well as Sufis in Mali and Libya. Despite a recent election in Libya that was widely hailed as a signpost of stability, the country is in no way stable and its central authority is an illusion. Tribal warfare, even of the kind taking place in Zitan, 90 miles from Tripoli, is however a lesser evil compared to the revelation that the Libyan government either cannot stop the Salafi violence or is unwilling to do so.

Both possibilities are present and plausible. The Libyan military under Gaddafi was a patchwork of expensive equipment and incompetent troops. The loss of much of that expensive equipment in Gaddafi’s earlier wars and NATO bombing raids that targeted whatever was left over leaves the Libyan government with limited security capabilities.

The loose coalition against Gaddafi has been splintered by its own differing agendas. One of the few things that everyone agrees on is the necessity of using Islam and Islamic law to fill the gap left by Gaddafi and his charade of Libyan nationalism. If one of Gaddafi’s kin were to try and reclaim Libya, enough factions might unite together to put a stop to his efforts, but no similar coalition can be assembled to protect Libya’s Sufis or its women, the other group being targeted by the Salafis.

Libyan Interior Minister Fawzi Abdel A’al has made it clear that the Salafis have a free hand to do as they please. “If all shrines in Libya are destroyed so we can avoid the death of one person,” he said, “then that is a price we are ready to pay.”

Libyan security forces have stood aside or even helped the Salafis do to Libya what the Taliban did to Afghanistan. But that is only to be expected when many members of those security forces, patched together out of bands of ambitious Jihadi fighters, are Salafis. The Interior Minister may have unilaterally ceded all of Libya’s Sufi shrines to the Salafis, but the Salafis won’t stop at destroying graves. Not when they can fill them as well.

In Tunisia and Egypt, Salafi violence has been met with similar inaction or delayed reactions from the security forces. The Muslim Brotherhood and some other Islamists distance themselves from Salafi attacks on non-Muslims or on variant Muslim groups to maintain plausible deniability while the Salafis rid them of people they consider infidels and heretics. The Salafis have foreign backing and no shortage of recruits eager to kill and maim for the cause, and the Post-Arab Spring governments are staying out of their way.

“To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and -– more profoundly -– our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are,” Obama said, in his speech defending the Libyan intervention. But what does the current state of Libya say about who we are?

The Libyan intervention handed over the country to rule by armed militias and car bombs go off in major cities. As religious, political and tribal violence reaches a boiling point; what has become of that responsibility?

Originally published by the Gatestone Institute.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/libya-fast-becoming-the-new-iraq/2012/09/09/

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