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June 26, 2016 / 20 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

IDF Begins Military Drills in Northern Israel

Wednesday, April 13th, 2016

Residents in northern Israel may hear explosions or see military vehicles passing by in the next few days.

The IDF Northern Command is conducting military drills in the Galilee and Golan Heights, beginning Wednesday and continuing through the rest of this week.

The sound of artillery and other ordnance is to be expected.

Last week the Da’esh (ISIS) terrorist organization abducted 300 cement workers and contractors from the Al-Badia company in Dumeir, about 28 miles from Damascus, according to the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

A new round of peace talks between opposition forces and the Syrian government were scheduled to start Wednesday (April 13), but were not to include Da’esh (ISIS), Al Qaeda, Army of Islam or any other radical Islamist group such as the Al Qaeda-linked Jabhat Al Nusra (Al Nusra Front) group.

Da’esh and related terror groups are largely in control of Syrian territory close to the border with Israel.

Syrian sources said Tuesday that Da’esh now controls 90 percent of the Yarmouk refugee camp on the outskirts of Damascus, home to Arabs from the Palestinian Authority.

The camp is also a major base for the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) terrorist organization, which has ties to the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Hana Levi Julian

US Deploys B-52 Bombers to Attack ISIS in Syria, Iraq

Saturday, April 9th, 2016

For the first time in 25 years, America has sent B-52 bombers to the Middle East to fight the war on terror: this time, against Da’esh (ISIS) in Syria and Iraq.

The U.S. Air Force based the massive, deadly aircraft at Udeid Air Base in Qatar on Saturday.

It appears the U.S. is finally serious about deploying a heavy military effort into fighting Da’esh (ISIS) forces in Iraq and Syria just as President Barack Obama reaches the last stretch in his final term, with him facing few political risks. But his Democratic party faces an uphill race to win his place in the White House for another four-year term, and the Republican party is equally challenged as it faces a possible split at its upcoming nominating convention.

The U.S.-led coalition’s Combined Air and Space Operations Center (CAOC) which is responsible for running the air campaign against the terror group also based there.

The American B-52 bombers were last seen in the Middle East when they were deployed against Iraq from Saudi Arabia, in Operation Desert Storm, the 1991 Gulf War.

B-52 bombers are long-range aircraft. They were last used operationally in a U.S.-led military drill with Jordan in May 2015.

Prior to that, they were used in May 2006 during the war in Afghanistan, according to the U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

“The B-52 demonstrates our continued resolve to apply persistent pressure on Da’esh (ISIS) and defend the region in any future contingency,” said Air Force Lieutenant General Charles Brown, commander of U.S. Air Forces Central Command.

The bombers will enable U.S. forces to drop precision weapons, according to Brown. In addition, it will enable a range of other missions, including strategic attack, close-air support, air interdiction, and maritime operations.

The B-52 will also allow the U.S. forces to avoid carpet bombing, which spokesperson Lieutenant Colonel Chris Karns told Reuters would not be “effective” because “Da’esh doesn’t mass as large groups. Often, they blend into population centers. We always look to minimize civilian casualties.”

Brown added the B-52 bombers could be ready to bomb “elsewhere” in the region, if needed.

The B-52s, although older, also have more stamina on the battlefield than the B-1 bombers they are replacing. The B-1 bombers are supersonic and can hang over a battlefield for up to 10 hours at a time – those aircraft dropped nearly 40 percent of all the bombs in the strike missions against Da’esh in Iraq and Syria, according to Fox News.

The B-1 Lancer “swing-wing” bombers left the Middle East in January for maintenance and a series of upgrades, according to the U.S. Army’s Stars and Stripes.

But the B-52 bombers can hang over a battlefield for nearly 12 hours and can carry more than a dozen satellite precision-guided bombs – or up to 50 500-pound bombs.

More to the point, if necessary, the B-52 bomber can carry nuclear weapons. It was a B-52 bomber that dropped one of the first hydrogen bombs in the South Pacific in 1956.

It’s been more than 60 years since the first B-52 bombers were built during the Eisenhower administration but they still comprise the bulk of the U.S. Air Force long-range bomber fleet.

Hana Levi Julian

Rejuvenation: The Convulsions of Islamic Civilization [audio]

Wednesday, April 6th, 2016

Journalist Jonathan Spyer shares with Eve Harow his professional analysis of current Mid East conflicts, specifically regarding the area formerly known as Syria. Marked by ruthlessness, an absolute unwillingness to countenance the ‘other’ and intra Muslim hatreds, this maelstrom isn’t ending soon. The West can learn from Israel how to ensure security, defeat threats and thrive while “not wasting blood and treasure”. Why? Because it’s now out of the regional box and low level insurgency is already in Europe and North America. Brilliant analyst, chilling conclusions. Listen and learn.

The Land of Israel

Hezbollah Chief Nasrallah Rules Out War With Israel, For Now

Tuesday, March 22nd, 2016

Hezbollah terrorist chief Hassan Nasrallah ruled out a war with Israel, at least imminently, in an interview Monday on al-Mayadeen television.

“I rule out an Israeli attack or war against Lebanon in the near future,” he said.

“Through its readiness, expertise, military skills and stance, the resistance has made the Israelis realize that any war on Lebanon will be very costly,” he warned. Hezbollah possesses a “full list of targets in occupied Palestine, including nuclear reactors and biological research centers.

“Some think that Hezbollah is preoccupied in Syria, but we have a team that is dedicated to the Israeli issue and everything the Israelis say,” he said.

“If anyone in the enemy’s entity is thinking of waging a limited military operation, I tell them that they are mistaken … We will not allow the Israelis to impose a new equation and any step by them will be an uncalculated adventure. We will respond to any attack in a manner that protects our country and the Israelis must expect anything from us,” Nasrallah warned.

However, he added, Israel “weighs its interest and seeks U.S. approval” for any military venture it might consider.

Nasrallah added that Hezbollah would not withdraw from Syria in the near future. “Our presence there is linked to a goal. We are contributing to preventing the fall of Syria into the hands of Da’esh (ISIS), al-Nusra (Al Qaeda) and the takfiri groups,” he said.

The Hezbollah chief also denied claims the group armed, trained or formed any terrorist cells in Bahrain. “All accusations against Hezbollah are baseless and if the Arab League’s decision was based on this issue then it is invalid,” he said. “I call on the Arab foreign and interior ministers to reevaluate these accusations.”

Hana Levi Julian

Prime Paris Attack Mastermind Abdeslam Salah is Caught

Sunday, March 20th, 2016

Prime ISIS Paris terror mastermind Salah Abdeslam, arrested in Brussels last Friday, was charged on Saturday with terrorism offenses in connection with the attacks on November 13.

Abdelslam has been connected with the attack as a key member of the ISIS terror organization that attacked the French capital in a multi-site operation whose ripple effect still reaches out.

Abdeslam told police during questioning he was supposed to blow himself up – as did others – at the Stade de France.

But at the last minute, he told interrogators he had second thoughts and backed out.

The French national, born to Moroccan parents in Belgium, once ran a bar with his brother Brahim in Molenbeek, who also helped in the attacks. But it was Abdeslam who rented the cars involved in the attacks and booked the hotel rooms used by the operatives.

French prosecutor Francois Molins said at a news conference in Paris on Saturday the would-be bomber’s claims raise further questions about the scope of the operation.

Suicide bombers blew themselves near the national stadium, operatives opened fire on bars and restaurants, and terrorists were firing Kalashnikov assault rifles into a rock concert at the Bataclan concert hall that night.

He was shot and injured in a raid by anti-terrorism police in the Molenbeek area of Brussels last year, where he grew up. But Abdeslam still managed to stay hidden, according to the British Guardian newspaper.

Three suspects were arrested altogether, but Abdeslam would be extradited to France. The probe is wide and ongoing because the network is “very large in Belgium, France and other European countries,” French President Francois Hollande told reporters on Friday.

“We know there are links which always lead us to Syria, where the Da’esh (ISIS) extremists planned these attacks.”

Hana Levi Julian

Ya’alon’s Assessment of Obama’s Middle East Policies: Not Good

Wednesday, March 16th, 2016

It seems a very long time ago that President Obama dismissed ISIS as a gaggle of “junior varsity” terrorists who couldn’t present a serious threat anywhere. But it’s becoming increasingly clear that the middle schooler at the table when the wars of the world are being fought is none other than President Obama himself. Obama’s lack of comprehension came in for some serious, if indirect, criticism earlier this week by Israel’s Minister of Defense, Moshe Ya’alon.

Yaalon was speaking Monday afternoon at the Woodrow Wilson International Center in Washington, D.C. about the surprise announcement earlier that day by Russian President Vladimir Putin that Russia was withdrawing the bulk of its military commitment from Syria because it has now “largely” accomplished its objectives.

Putin was careful to say that Russia would not be leaving completely, but would leave a significant force behind. Presumably Putin has learned a lesson from the complete abandonment of Iraq by the U.S. That abandonment resulted in the loss of virtually everything the US gained by conquering that country under Obama’s predecessor, President George W. Bush.

Speaking as he was in the U.S. President’s back yard, Yaalon had little to say about the US abandonment of Iraq. But he had a lot to say about Syria – a country that borders Israel and with which Israel is still nominally at war. A Syria controlled by Islamists is a serious threat to the safety of the Jewish state. And he had some equally blunt warnings about Iran.

Vladimir Putin entered Syria with both feet back in September of 2015, over President Obama’s objection. No-one has been able to identify any negative consequences experienced by Russia, or its leader, from thus ignoring the red line painted in the sand by President Obama. Ditto for consequences to Syria’s Assad, who has been left completely unscathed even though he crossed another, very bold, red line drawn by President Obama.

Many will recall that, back in 2013, Obama explicitly and categorically demanded that Syria give up its chemical weapons or face the wrath of the U.S. Assad refused to comply. The silence from President Obama was deafening.

The Russians promised to take control over all chemical weapons. But Assad was accused of continuing to use such weapons only two days ago by the Syrian-American Medical Society, which recently issued a report on the subject, discussing the wide variety of chemical weapons and delivery systems used by Assad and by all of the numerous other, non-state fighters supporting and opposing him over the last five years.

As much as Israel might prefer stability in its neighbors, Yaalon said categorically that there would be no stability any time soon on the territory of what was, until 2011, the sovereign and undivided nation of Syria.

THERE IS NO WAY TO PUT HUMPTY-SYRIA TOGETHER AGAIN

Rather, as first reported yesterday by The Washington Times, Ya’alon opined that the nation of Syria no longer exists and won’t be coming back: “there is no way to unify Syria,” Yaalon explained. Putin claimed that Russia is leaving because his ally Bashar Assad again sits safely in power. But Ya’alon made clear that that was, at best, a fantasy. The country has been divided up into numerous enclaves each run by a different tribe, religion or warlord.

And at this point, after five years of intense, urban combat that has killed over a quarter of a million people and created many hundreds of thousands of refugees, “there is no way to unify” the country. The best that Assad and the Russians can hope for, Ya’alon explained, is an Alawistan, a Druzistan and other semi-autonomous areas that might, to a greater or lesser extent, leave each other alone.

Notwithstanding recent fitful efforts by Israel and Turkey to get along better, Ya’alon also predicted, or perhaps even called for, an autonomous region for Kurds — even though such a development would be anathema to the leaders of Turkey, who have fought the Kurds for decades to prevent them from attaining independence and escaping the Turkish boot.

IRAN AS A PRIMARY DESTABILIZING FORCE

Ya’alon also explained that the U.S.-driven Nuclear Iran deal has further destabilized the Middle East and created a threat not only to Israel but also to the Sunni-dominated countries in the region. Iran is over 80% Shia and has been run by Shia mullah-dictators since the Shah’s overthrow in 1979. Obama’s gift to the mullahs of $150 billion in cash is now being spent on terror, and ballistic missile construction and testing. No country in the Middle East except Iran and its proxy states can actually be happy about those developments.

Ya’alon explained that Iran and its clients are now “exploiting the [U.S. Iran] deal now to gain hegemony.” He continued: “for sure they are hegemonic in Tehran. In a way they are hegemonic in Baghdad through the Shiite government [there]. They are hegemonic in Beirut regarding Hezbollah, and now they are going to be hegemonic in Damascus.”

Ya’alon reminded his listeners that Iran has been supporting Houthi rebels in power in of Sa’ana, the capital of Yemen, and he explained the danger of Washington’s willingness to allow Iran to participate as an important negotiator in the talks over Syria.

“To leave us with an Iranian-dominated Syria — we can’t agree with it,” he said.

The hardheaded leaders of Israel and Russia, Ya’alon made clear, are facing the realities on the ground in light of the force structures, and tribal loyalties, that are actually motivating the actors there.

Ya’alon’s discussion of those realities was pessimistic. But it was based on facts and reflected the clear sight and deep knowledge of the neighborhood that Israel’s leaders absolutely must display. It was in stark contrast with President Obama’s opinions, ladled out to Jeffrey Goldberg and printed without much challenge in the Atlantic a few days before. There President Obama explained that his Middle East policies would work well “if only everyone could be like the Scandinavians.”

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

U.S. VP Joe Biden On His Way to Middle East

Sunday, March 6th, 2016

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden left Washington Saturday night for a five day trip to the Middle East.

Biden’s itinerary includes stops in the United Arab Emirates, Israel, the Palestinian Authority and Jordan.

He is set to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) in Ramallah, and Jordan’s King Abdullah II in Amman.

A senior White House official told reporters Friday that no major breakthroughs are expected in the Israel-Palestinian Authority conflict on this trip, however.

Nor will Biden make any major recommendations on the issue, according to the official. Instead, he is expected to focus on increasing cooperation between the U.S. and allies on the fight against Da’esh (ISIS), and the Syrian crisis.

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/u-s-vp-joe-biden-on-his-way-to-middle-east/2016/03/06/

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