Crossroads Afghanistan: Alternatives to a Forlorn Deal
By Karl Nicolas Lindenlaub, Strategy Bridge: “In Afghanistan, the United States has reached a strategic crossroads."
Alex Vatanka writes: Whether or not it will be the regime’s “Chernobyl moment” remains to be seen but some realities are irrefutable. Khamenei’s instinct so far has not been to engage in any discernible introspection. Instead, he has simply overseen the regime’s effort to do whatever is necessary to escape blame. Khamenei is no Gorbachev and is not yet ready or able to accept the inevitability of political reform. – Middle East Institute
Oula A. Alrifai writes: Since mid-January, shop owners, government employees, students, and even children have been gathering in the streets of various Syrian communities to express their frustration with the Assad regime’s economic policies and untruths. Although the protests remain small for now, the fact that they have persistently carried on in the middle of regime-controlled territory highlights Bashar al-Assad’s potential vulnerability on these issues. – Washington Institute
Iran’s Tasnim media emphasized an explosion it says targeted a “US military vehicle south of Baghdad.” It used an image of the Popular Mobilization Units or Shi’ite militias in Iraq to emphasize an Iranian connection to the attack. The PMU are part of Iraq’s paramilitary forces and have opposed the US presence in Iraq. – Jerusalem Post
Protesters rally against Iraq's new prime minister
Iraqi President Barham Salih nominated a new prime minister on Saturday after squabbling rival parties failed to find a successor for Adel Abdul Mahdi since his resignation in November. Mohammed Tawfiq Allawi, a former communications minister in the pro-Shiite government of Nouri al-Maliki, pledged in a televised address to help create a “state of freedom and justice.” But anti-government protesters gathered by the thousands in Baghdad and southern cities to reject him for his ties to the ruling elite. Hours before Allawi's appointment, supporters of populist cleric Muqtada al-Sadr attacked protesters and demanded quick action on setting up a new government. Sadr later said Allawi had been “chosen by the people” and that his appointment was a “good step” for Iraq.
Pletka recommends that the US increase pressure on Iran politically, militarily, and diplomatically. Warning that Iran will employ proxies to retaliate against the US and its allies, the US needs a more consistent Middle East policy that works with Iranian opponents and dissidents. Read the full testimony here.
Before the killing of Iranian Quds Force commander Qassem Soleimani, most Americans, and even many politicians, probably never even heard his name. But the events leading the US and Iran to this point were decades in the making. In a new Washington Examiner Magazine article, Michael Rubin notes the rise of Soleimani and debunks critics who claim that his death destroyed any possibility of détente with Tehran. Vowing to stop “endless war” is a noble goal, but it was not the US that was waging a unilateral goal against Iran, but rather Iran, in the guise of Gen. Soleimani, that was waging an endless war against the US. Read it here.
Occupied Elsewhere: Selective Policies on Occupations, Protracted Conflicts, and Territorial Disputes
Svante Cornell and Brenda Shaffer — FDD Report
Setting policies toward territories involved in protracted conflicts poses an ongoing challenge for governments, companies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). Since there are multiple zones of disputed territories and occupation around the globe, setting policy toward one conflict raises the question of whether similar policies will be enacted toward others. Where different policies are implemented, the question arises: On what principle or toward what goal are the differences based? Read More
Iran is increasingly using missiles in its military operations — that’s a problem
Behnam Ben Taleblu — The Hill
“More important than a military strike, it was a serious blow to dignity, a blow to the dignity of the U.S. as a superpower.” That’s how Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s supreme leader, described recent missile strikes against bases in Iraq housing American troops during a rare Friday prayer sermon in Tehran last week. Earlier, Khamenei likened the strikes to a “slap” against America. While Iranian officials are no stranger to bombast and invective against the U.S., Iran’s broadcasting of the missile strike, and Khamenei’s repeated touting of it, does not neatly comport with Tehran’s long-established preference for proxy warfare and deniability. Read More
Iran can obtain nuclear weapons far quicker than widely recognized
Andrea Stricker — Al Arabiya
Hafsa Halawa writes: The region is no stranger to social movements, nor is Iraq immune from instability. […]But whether this social change can morph into a coherent political movement that can prove itself ready and able to take on power is a question that remains unanswered. It is a question for the movement, but also for those current leaders that can find the political courage to stand up from within. In supporting the movement to develop a more egalitarian, transparent, and accountable political system, they can avert another conflict in the country and begin building a durable and strong society that governs its people in a fair, just, and equitable manner. – Middle East Institute
R. David Harden writes: The Middle East will remain a strategic interest for the indefinite future. Yet, there is a growing demand for a foreign policy reset where the U.S. minimizes the blood and treasure of war but projects power through economic diplomacy and statecraft. In this reset, the U.S. will be better positioned to seize the enormous opportunities in energy, water, agriculture, and health technologies that will re-shape society. As a less militarized but more robust economic power, America can support the aspirations of the next generation by leveraging capital and technology to drive enduring hope. – The Hill
Eric R. Mandel writes: Since the elimination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani, leader of its Quds Force, the U.S. has regained leverage with its sanctions campaign against Iran. Iran might not agree to make any significant concessions, but America needs to continue the pressure. The Iranian strategy has a set date: November 2020. If Trump wins a second term, the negotiations begin. – The Hill
Seth J. Frantzman writes: In this view, Iran is the great leader of a mass of fighters across the regional all arrayed against the US, Israel, Saudi Arabia and some other states. Iran’s rhetoric seeks to instill in a new generation this imperial impulse to dominate the Middle East via these factions and see them all as not only allies but directed from Tehran. – Jerusalem Post
Giorgio Cafiero writes: Looking ahead, there is a high probability that China and the West’s divergent positions on the Syrian conflict and questions regarding Assad’s (il)legitimacy will make Syria — in addition to other files ranging from Hong Kong and human rights to trade and technology — more of a hot-button issue in Sino-Western relations against the backdrop of a strengthening Beijing-Damascus partnership. – Middle East Institute
Michael Rubin writes: Perhaps the latest Kurdish tragedy, then, is that Kurds are saddled with a leadership that rather speak about justice for the Yezidis and buy mansions, apartments, and luxury cars, rather than spend a fraction of that cost on affecting freedom for those who still suffer under their kidnappers and tormentors. – 1001 Iraqi Thoughts
The Classicist: Time To Leave The Middle East?
interview with Victor Davis Hanson via The Classicist
Would America be better off ignoring t
Escalation in Syria and Libya tests limits of Erdogan-Putin ties
The recent escalation in Libya and Syria has put on display the limits of the relationship between the Turkish and Russian presidents.
What brought Iranian forces to Idlib front?
A number of developments, including Turkey's greater involvement in Syria and the US assassination of Iranian Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani, may be driving Iran's move to get more involved in Idlib battlefield operations.
Escalation in Syria and Libya tests limits of Erdogan-Putin ties
The recent escalation in Libya and Syria has put on display the limits of the relationship between the Turkish and Russian presidents.
Syrian mercenaries fight Turkey’s battles in Libya
Though the Free Syrian Army denies it has sent fighters to Libya, hundreds of Syrian fighters are now in Libya after being lured by high salaries.
Iraqi protests swell despite clash with Sadrist supporters
When their tents were burned, Iraqi protesters replaced them with concrete structures. And when influential cleric Muqtada al-Sadr withdrew his support, even more protesters turned out despite fears of a crackdown by security forces.
The Genesis of the Trump Plan Lies in the Israeli Left |
An Interview with Efraim Inbarby Neri Zilber
Democrats, Experts, and Peace Plans by Alex Joffe
BESA Center Perspectives
February 4, 2020
Two Palestinian dreams The Trump plan is meant to foreclose one and facilitate the other
TUNISIA, HOME OF ARAB SPRING GETS ANOTHER GOVERNMENT, TRUMP'S TARGET MISS IN YEMEN & ERDOGAN'S MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD MOVEMENT GROWS WHILE IRAN FINDS A SUCCESSOR FOR SOLEIMANI
Tunisia’s largest party rejects proposed government
Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party rejected on Monday a proposal to form a government that excludes other parties and said it was ready to contest new elections. The remarks risk upending a second attempt to create a coalition government since October elections in which Ennahda came in first but failed to impose its candidate for prime minister. Tunisian President Kais Saied instead named former Finance Minister Elyes Fakhfakh to the post last week. Fakhfakh has said he wants to replace recent unity coalitions with a Cabinet of parties “aligned with the values of the revolution,” including Ennahda.
Tunisia names ex-finance minister as new prime minister
Tunisian President Kais Saied named former Finance Minister Elyes Fakhfakh as prime minister on Monday in a bid to end political deadlock in the country. Fakhfakh is tasked with forming a government “as soon as possible,” according to the presidency. Tunisia’s parliament rejected Prime Minister-designate Habib Jemli's proposed government earlier this month. Tunisia’s moderate Islamist Ennahda party had nominated Jemli after coming in first in the Oct. 6 elections.
Iran’s man in Yemen and the al Houthis
Katherine Zimmerman | AEIdeas
The Washington Post’s revelation of a second US military operation targeting an Iranian commander in Yemen the same night as the air strike that killed Qassem Soleimani has received far less attention than the spectacular Soleimani strike. But Abdul Reza Shahlai deserves some media love.
Erdoğan's 'Make-Turkey-More-Islamic' Campaign Is a Failure by Burak Bekdil
The Gatestone Institute
January 15, 2020
From Russia with love: Turkish and Syrian spymasters meet in Moscow
The Moscow meeting between the Turkish and Syrian intelligence chiefs could suggest that a normalization process has finally kicked off between Ankara and Damascus.
Mehdi Khalaji writes: The danger of concentrating so much power in Khamenei’s hands is obvious: what happens when he is gone? Soleimani was an unparalleled alternative authority, someone who likely gave Khamenei peace of mind that the regime could remain stable when the time for transition came around. Even authoritarian regimes benefit from having such safety valves—figures who can offer guidance during times of crisis and expect it to be followed without resorting to coercive measures. Now the prospect of succession likely seems more unnerving to Tehran, and the regime’s future less certain. – Washington Institute
Amin Mohseni-Cheraghlou writes: Thus, it seems that the only real effective strategy in Iran’s “harsh revenge” campaign is to increase the human and financial costs of the U.S. presence in the Gulf. To this end, Iran will likely leverage its extensive network of sympathizers and proxies in neighboring countries and beyond to carry out attacks against U.S.-only targets. Not only would this approach be in line with the regime’s ultimate objective, it would also allow the Iranian leadership to make good on its threats incrementally, at the time and location of its choosing. – Middle East Institute
Ali Alfoneh writes: On January 20, Maj. Gen. Hossein Salami, chief commander of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), appointed Brig. Gen. Mohammad Hossein-Zadeh Hejazi as deputy chief of the Qods Force following Brig. Gen. Esmail Qaani’s elevation to the top post. Who is Hejazi, and what was his background prior to his relatively recent involvement with the Qods Force? – Washington Institute
Alexa Santry writes: Today looks remarkably similar to that pivotal Obama moment. ISIS’s territorial caliphate is gone and al Qaeda is quiet. So we’re back to the “not worth it” arguments. But a US abandonment of the region would be catastrophic for American allies, credibility, and power. […]Looking back on US involvement in the Middle East over the past several decades, has American policy been flawed? Yes. Have US presidents been “incapable of mustering a consensus or pursuing a consistent policy” in the region? Also yes. But to argue that “few vital interests of the US continue to be at stake” is a misconception that Americans must not accept. – American Enterprise Institute
Anthony H. Cordesman writes: After all, almost all current U.S. and other international peace efforts lack a clear strategy that goes beyond military victory or conflict termination. […]There is no clear effort or plan to produce a stable peace and create both a workable and lasting structure in any country’s governance, security, or economy. Looking for a hidden motive in the lack of a meaningful peace strategy for Afghanistan can easily end in discovering that a motive does not even exist. – Center for Strategic and International Studies
Baghdad. DaqDuk: visiting Nasrallah in Lebanon. [Ali Mussa Daqduq (علي موسى دقدوق) is a senior Hezbollah leader and senior advisor to Asa'ib Ahl al-Haq leader Qais al-Khazali.] DaqDuk is afraid now that he knows he’s a target; is hiding hither and yon. A slew of upper Iraqis are trying to blame ISIS or Ba'athist remnants for the rocket attack on the US embassy compound. DaqDuq is keeping all the militia leaders & Nasrallah from killing each other. Mohandas had primacy over Iraqi operations, but with him gone, you see sporadic attacks around Iraq.
The Middle East is still worth it
Alexa Santry | AEIdeas
America needs the Middle East to grow
Karen E. Young | NationalReview.com
It is an unpopular view in Washington now to say that the Middle East matters, but it does. Not only does the Middle East sit in the middle of a global market that secures our global energy supply, but the region also facilitates the transit of the goods that we and other countries use to grow.
The Turkish-Qatari Axis Challenges Washington
Turkey and Qatar have become brothers in arms, pursuing joint ventures in illicit finance and promoting extremist ideologies. Washington needs to develop a multipronged response to compel Ankara and Doha to curb their malign conduct.
COULD NETANYAHU’S CORRUPTION CASE SCUPPER HIS RE-ELECTION CHANCES?By EPPC Fellow Luma Simms
The Israeli prime minister has shown tremendous political skill over the years. Read More
Sovereign risk: Gulf sovereign wealth funds as engines of growth and political resource
Karen E. Young | British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies
Israel: A Thriving First-World Economy in a Third-World Sea
By Frank Musmar, January 22, 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Israel possesses assets and innovations that can solve many of the problems that plague its Arab neighbors. If peace can possibly be achieved between Israel and the Arab world, the potential for mutually beneficial practical and economic relationships is astronomical.
Continue to full article -
Beware The Fool's Gold Of Diplomacy
by Bruce Thornton via FrontPage Mag.com
Negotiation only gives the Mullahs time.
Behnam Ben Taleblu is a senior fellow at FDD where he focuses on Iranian security and political issues. Behnam previously served as a research fellow and senior Iran analyst at FDD. Prior to his time at FDD, Behnam worked on non-proliferation issues at an arms control think-tank in Washington. Leveraging his subject-matter expertise and native Farsi skills, Behnam has closely tracked a wide range of Iran-related topics including: nuclear non-proliferation, ballistic missiles, sanctions, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, the foreign and security policy of the Islamic Republic, and internal Iranian politics.
Denial of Citizenship as a Weapon of Repression in the Arab World
By Dr. Edy Cohen, January 23, 2020
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Kuwait and Saudi Arabia recently announced that they were revoking the citizenship of individuals whose “sin” was a connection to Judaism and a pro-Israeli attitude. Apart from the institutional antisemitism these measures reflect, they are a blunt reminder that these are tyrannical states and regimes in which the legal system is little more than a fig leaf.
Continue to full article ->
Erdogan's Bold Plan for a New Muslim Brotherhood Regime in Libya by Con Coughlin
Dr. Aykan Erdemir, senior director of FDD’s Turkey program, is a former member of the Turkish Parliament (2011 to 2015) who served in the EU-Turkey Joint Parliamentary Committee, EU Harmonization Committee, and the Ad Hoc Parliamentary Committee on the IT Sector and the Internet. As an outspoken defender of pluralism, minority rights, and religious freedoms in the Middle East, Aykan has been at the forefront of the struggle against religious persecution, hate crimes, and hate speech in Turkey.
Joseph M. Humire is a global security expert, specializing on trans-regional threats in the Western Hemisphere. Mr. Humire provides regular briefings and lectures on international terrorism, transnational organized crime, Islamism and Iran and Hezbollah’s influence in the Americas to various entities within the U.S. national security community, as well as prominent think tanks and universities worldwide.
HOW IS FRANCES' COUNTER-TERROR POLICY IN AFRIA DOING? WHAT'S THE MIDDLE EAST GOOD FOR? VICTOR DAVIS HANSEN ANSWERS
France's Counterterrorism Efforts in West Africa and the Sahel with Michael Shurkin
Is the Trump Administration trying to find an exit, or rather to change our posture in the Middle East? It’s trying to collapse all the reasons we’ve been there for 70 years down to a smaller footprint. Those currently dependent on Middle Eastern oil are primarily China and the EU. Why do we still have troops there? Because we don't want the oil wealth to accumulate in hands that will create a nuclear bomb; and we don't want to create a platform for the likes of Black September, or the later al Q and ISIS.
Soleimani had one great gift: he understood the Obama Administration . . . China takes about 40% of the oil that goes through the Strait of Hormuz.
Anticipating Pakistan’s Next Move in Kashmir by Nishank Motwani
Algeria appoints new government
Algerian Prime Minister Abdelaziz Djerad formed his government on Thursday after being appointed Saturday by newly elected President Abdelmadjid Tebboune. Several key posts remained unchanged, however, seemingly signaling unchanged state policies. Algeria is facing its biggest political crisis in decades while it grapples with declining energy revenues. In a separate development, Algeria on Thursday released Lakhdar Bouregaa, a prominent opposition activist who was detained last June for allegedly insulting the army, along with dozens of others arrested in a crackdown on the mass protests that toppled President Abdelaziz Bouteflika.
Tunisian president says parliament to vote on Cabinet lineup
Tunisian President Kais Saied approved on Thursday a proposed new Cabinet lineup made up of independent members and passed it to parliament for a vote to be scheduled by Speaker Rachid Ghannouchi, leader of the moderate Islamist Ennahda party. Designated Prime Minister Habib Jemli said his government would focus on the weak economy. According to Jemli, his proposed lineup will win majority support in the deeply divided parliament that was elected about three months ago. Read More
Sistani: The (Not-So) Hidden Hand Behind Iraqi Politics
By Lydia Khalil, the interpreter: "The influential Shiite cleric has avoided formal participation in government, but what he does now could be critical."
Jonathan S. Tobin: Iran's Regime Will Fall if U.S. "Keeps Pressure On"by Gary C. Gambill and Marilyn Stern
Middle East Forum Radio
December 11, 2019
Tunisia’s new president commemorates Arab Spring uprising
Tunisia’s President Kais Saied on Tuesday vowed to meet the demands of the 2011 revolution that toppled autocrat Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. “I will work despite manipulations … and plots … to honor your demands,” he said during a gathering commemorating the start of the uprising in Sidi Bouzid. The central province has been the scene of regular protests against unemployment and poverty ever since street vendor Mohammed Bouazizi's immolation in December 2010 ignited the Arab Spring. Ben Ali died in September while in exile in Saudi Arabia.
Algerians protest new president
Thousands of people took to the streets of Algiers on Tuesday against Algeria’s newly elected president. Former Prime Minister Abdelmadjid Tebboune won last week's presidential election with 58% of the vote despite widespread public opposition that led to a low turnout. Algeria's high court confirmed his election on Monday, paving the way for his inauguration on Thursday. Tebboune said he was ready to hold talks to “build a new Algeria.” But protesters rejected the call, with many questioning the legitimacy of elections they see as a tool for ruling elites to keep their hold on the country.
More Distractions Loom for the US in 202
By Emil Avdaliani, December 22, 2019
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Impeachment hearings in the US have overshadowed important geopolitical developments in Eurasia that will affect Washington’s position in 2020 and beyond. The US’s failure to improve relations with Seoul and Tokyo strengthens China’s position in the Asia-Pacific. Similar processes are unfolding around Ukraine, where Kyiv might—in the absence of US support—be pressured into accepting Russian demands on Donbas.
Continue to full article ->
Japan’s Indo-Pacific Strategy: Shaping a Hybrid Regional Order by Céline Pajon
ISRAEL: THE SPECIAL RELATIONSHIP EXAMINED, HOW THE IRANIAN'S ARE WINNING WHILE IMPLODING & qatar turkish alliance grows
Trump reelection likely despite impeachment, buoying defense industry outlook
(Forbes) The share prices of the nation’s top three defense pure-plays (Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Raytheon) are all up about 50% since Trump’s inauguration, thanks to a demand environment in which military contractors don’t need to take market share in order to grow revenues and returns.
Blue and White's nightmare scenario: Saar defeating Netanyahu
The Blue and White party needs Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as a rival, or else it would loose its energy.
Trump’s Iran strategy is working. Here’s why
Saeed Ghasseminejad — Fox News
President Trump’s “maximum pressure” strategy against Iran is working, despite warnings of a backlash against the U.S. for the economic sanctions he has imposed on the Islamic Republic. As protests continue in Iran, security forces may have killed over 1,000 people who are calling for an end to the country’s dictatorship, U.S. Special Envoy for Iran Brian Hook told reporters recently. The continuing protests show that the Iranian people are directing their anger at Tehran’s corrupt and oppressive regime, even though American sanctions helped push Iran into a deep recession. Read More
Democratic Frontrunners Are Wrong About Aid for Israel
Putting America’s annual $3.8 billion of military assistance to Israel on the chopping block makes for good politics. But it makes no sense for U.S. national security.
Saudi Arabia and Israel: Who Needs Whom?
By Frank Musmar, December 12, 2019
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Extreme instability and mistrust are heightening tensions in the Persian Gulf, especially between Shiite Iran and Sunni Saudi Arabia. America’s appetite for military engagement has waned after nearly two decades of war and the region lacks any form of collective security framework, leaving a considerable security vacuum. The Gulf states’ overtures to Israel are part of an effort to salvage America’s security commitment to the area while shoring up a relationship that can mitigate Tehran’s rising influence.
Continue to full article ->
Iran fills the Vacuum Created by Trump's Withdrawal by Con Coughlin •
Brothers in Arms
Aykan Erdemir and Varsha Koduvayur — FDD Report
On June 5, 2017, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) severed diplomatic ties with Qatar, enacting a land, sea, and air blockade. Qatar’s neighbors charged the country with supporting terrorists, collaborating with Iran, and sowing the seeds of chaos around the Middle East. The sudden move closed Qatar’s only road link to foreign markets, through which it received nearly 40 percent of its food requirements. Qatari residents panicked, picking clean supermarket shelves. But the panic subsided less than 48 hours later, as Turkey began sending cargo planes with food and other goods. Read Mor
Netanyahu’s plan for winning an outright majority in the Knesset
If he wants his right-wing ultra-Orthodox bloc to win 61 seats so he can form an immunity coalition, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will need Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked to run as part of the New Right list and pass the electoral threshold.
The ultra-Orthodox dilemma on slamming Liberman
Ultra-Orthodox politicians fear that any attacks against Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman would actually reinforce him within secular electorate.
Netanyahu’s relations with Likud members: The ultimate test
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has nurtured his relationship with Likud members for more than three decades. Now he's not sure that they will continue to follow him.
Iraq's Ninevah province turns back on Shiite forces
The Ninevah provincial council has voted to replace a governor who was close to Iran-backed forces.
Who is responsible for the new wave of killings in Aden?
It's hard to determine which side or sides are behind the latest wave of killings as a new round of military escalation looms in Yemen’s south, which has seen skirmishes in Abyan province between the two partners of the Saudi-led coalition.
Afghanistan is not Vietnam
Frederick W. Kagan | AEIdeas
Afghanistan isn’t Vietnam. It isn’t even Iraq. George W. Bush did not lie America into this war. The “revelations” in The Washington Post are only new to people who have forgotten front-page news from a few years ago
US-India declaration has a Sino subtext
(The Sunday Guardian) Mutual concern regarding multi-faceted authoritarian challenge posed by Beijing is manifest throughout it.
By Paul Morris, Strategy Bridge: "Airpower and Afghanistan have been linked intrinsically since before the nation became independent from British control in 1921."
Musharraf Sentenced to Death in Absentia for Treason with Sameer Lalwani
Analysis: How the US arrived at this critical crossroads in Afghanistan
The decades of mistakes and deceit has led us to the brink of a major foreign policy failure. A peace deal will absolve the Taliban for its decades of steadfast alliance with al Qaeda.
The Mullahs' Losing Game by Amir Taheri •
U.S. Officials: Iran Is Secretly Moving Missiles Into Iraq
By Seth J. Frantzman, The Jerusalem Post: “Iraq is suffering from protests, ISIS threats and the need to find a new prime minister after Adel Abdul Mahdi resigned earlier this week, and Iran wants to exploit the power vacuum in Iraq."
THE ISLAMIC STATE PENETRATES PAKISTAN, IRAQI P.M. RESIGNS & WOLFOWITZ COMMENTS ON US ALIGNMENT IN NEAR EAST
As protests in Iran become more frequent, Iran's top leaders and security forces fear that popular unrest threatens the future of the Islamic Republic. In a new National Interest op-ed, Michael Rubin analyzes the protests of 1999, 2001, 2009, and 2017 and concludes that a regime crackdown may lead to a civil war. The result? A military dictatorship that eliminates the enforcement of Islamic law. Continue here.
As anti-government protests in Iran escalate, AEI’s Danielle Pletka took to Twitter to ask colleagues and close observers whether the regime is at risk. Experts provided their feedback, detailing events on the ground, the nature of Iran’s police state, the risks a collapsing economy poses to the system of the Islamic Republic, and the stakes for the United States and, ultimately, for the people of Iran. View the responses here.
Two months after the US abandoned its allies in Syria, Paul Wolfowitz in The New York Times reflected on alternative ways to limit American involvement in the still-critical region of the Middle East. Wolfowitz discusses the success of the Gulf War, in which America's mission to protect the Kurds was a model for low-cost and low-risk intervention, as a prototype for President Donald Trump's future operations in Syria. Finish here.
The second battle of Fallujah: 15 years later
(Marine Corps Times) The dust and grime were finally starting to settle as the sun set in Iraq.
Netanyahu’s rival accelerates campaign for party leadership
Gideon Saar wants to replace Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: He’s more hawkish than Netanyahu; he campaigns for a new status quo with the ultra-Orthodox; and he stresses the importance of engaging Israel’s Arab citizens in dialogue.
Israeli opposition leader rejects defense pact with US
The leader of Israel's main opposition Blue and White party on Monday opposed the prospect of a mutual defense pact with the United States, warning it would endanger the Israeli army's freedom of action and break with decades of defense policy. “Blue and White under my leadership will not support an international agreement that will limit Israel’s actions and the IDF’s [Israel Defense Forces] ability to protect the country from the threats it faces,” Benny Gantz tweeted. The remarks come after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he briefly broached the subject with US President Donald Trump ahead of the September elections.
How Palestinian Leaders Sabotage Palestinians' Interests by Khaled Abu Toameh •
Israel Will Only Attain Peace through Victory by Nave Dromi
November 24, 2019
Liberman, Lapid miscalculate about Likud rebellion
Both Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman and Blue and White co-leader Yair Lapid mistakenly assumed that some Likud members would break ranks and join a Gantz-led unity coalition.
Israel Comes Down With the American Disease
Editorial of The New York Sun | November 23, 2019
Netanyahu at war with legal system
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu might be standing now with his back against the wall, but he still succeeds in keeping his supporters on his side.
Avigdor Liberman drives Israeli politics crazy
Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman had promised that he would not accept any other solution than a "liberal unity government," and so far, he has kept every last letter of that promise, even if driving all politicians crazy.
Why Liberman ends alliance with ultra-Orthodox
After he prevented the formation of a right, ultra-Orthodox government following the April and September elections, Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Liberman has sharpened his statements toward the ultra-Orthodox.
ISLAM: THE RISING NATION STATE IN THE MIDDLE EAST & INDIA'S TRIANGULATION AGAINST IRAN REMAINS RIYADH
"So long as Iran dominates the Middle East, a new Baghdadi will rise," Tzvi Kahn, The Hill
Jennifer Cafarella and Jason Zhou write: The U.S. is pursuing the wrong diplomatic goal. American policymakers are biased toward viewing a cessation of hostilities as the most important sign of diplomatic progress in Syria and thus overlook opportunities to shape Syria’s long-term trajectory. The U.S. must widen its aperture for what diplomacy in Syria can and must achieve. The U.S. should set as its overarching goal keeping space open for political competition within Syria and reinvigorating and relegitimizing a stale and discredited diplomatic process. – Institute for the Study of War
Neil Hauer writes: It is of course impossible to predict the future here, but it seems very likely that Moscow has finally bitten off more than it can chew in its Syria ceasefire-keeping operations. Separating regime and rebel soldiers, or even patrolling an inactive Turkish-Kurdish frontline is one thing; pacifying an active war zone and preventing the outbreak of a full-blown insurgency is another. […]Whatever comes next, it is certain that Russia’s military police have their work cut out for them in north Syria. – Middle East Institute
"Uranium Particles Found in Iran: Why it Matters," Andrea Stricker and Tzvi Kahn, FDD Policy Brief
JPost’s Seth J. Frantzman: Syria is an increasingly dangerous chessboard for Iran in the Middle East
A new public report, Iran’s Military Power, produced by the Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency, details how the 40-year-old Islamic regime boosts its relatively weak conventional forces with “a hybrid approach to warfare” that relies on missiles, naval forces, and proxies to threaten its neighbors. – Washington Examiner
Iran is building space capabilities that could be a launching pad to developing intercontinental ballistic missiles and has made progress in its efforts to disrupt GPS and communication satellites, according to a new report from the Defense Intelligence Agency. – C4ISRNET
Seth J. Frantzman writes: Now Iran must decide its next step in Syria. The role of its IRGC Quds Force has been key to supporting the Assad regime while also benefiting on the side. But Iran understands that its role is entangled with the regime and also with Russia. Its presence must not undermine either of these two. In addition, the Syrian regime and Russians are focused more on the north today, while there are questions about what the US is doing in the east. […]Towards that end, it has invested in new missiles, drones and other technology which it has transferred to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. While those transfers have made Iran’s role in Syria even more dangerous, any seasoned chess player knows that pieces spread too thinly across the chessboard may result in checkmate. – Jerusalem Post
John Dunford writes: Russia also likely intends to deploy new air defense systems to Qamishli, allowing it to constrain further the freedom of movement of the U.S. in Eastern Syria. Meanwhile, the U.S. expanded its ground patrol routes to villages west of Qamishli. The U.S. will thus likely come into closer contact with the growing number of pro-regime forces – including Russians – based in and around Qamishli. – Institute for the Study of War
Earl Anthony Wayne and Christopher D. Kolenda write: The U.S. approach needs to test credibility and build trust via a step-by-step process, and, if successful, work toward reductions in violence and toward Afghan political negotiations. Efforts may best advance by initially pursuing simple measures that do not require large concessions and building from there. These could include coordinated statements of peace principles, shared disaster hotlines, joint civilian casualty investigations, etc. If the Taliban fail to partake in such steps, then the futility of additional efforts will be clear. – The Hill
INDIA AND THE US HOLD HANDS WHILE RUSSIA TAKES LIBYA & WHY IMRAN KHAN'S TIME WITH PAKISTAN IS FINISHED
Congress Moves to Sanction Russians for Mercenary Surge in Libya
By Jack Detsch, Al-Monitor: " Congress is preparing bipartisan sanctions on Russian mercenaries and other suspected human rights violators in Libya, Al-Monitor has learned, as the Donald Trump administration looks to use the recent entry of Moscow-linked paramilitaries into the conflict to reinvigorate a long-dormant American strategy in the war-torn country."
The Classicist: Defending The Trump Doctrine
interview with Victor Davis Hanson via The Classicist
The president’s approach to foreign policy is unconventional — but might be the best approach for a changing global environment.
Russia is intervening in Libya. Should we care?
(RealClear Defense) The U.S. has abandoned its partners in the fight against ISIS, and the Russians are capitalizing on the void.
China’s lead in the AI war won’t last forever
(Bloomberg) Artificial intelligence will be very useful in controlling a police state. But a police state may not be very good at controlling artificial intelligence.
US, India bolster their military partnership in Tiger Triumph exercise
(Defense News) The U.S. and India are set to kick off this week a major joint military exercise: Tiger Triumph.
Caliph Incognito: The Ridicule Of Abu Ibrahim Al-Hashimi
by Cole Bunzel via Jihadica
The last week of October 2019 was an eventful one in the history of the Islamic State. On October 25, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, its leader and caliph, blew himself up during a U.S. special forces raid on his compound in Idlib Province, Syria. The next day, official spokesman Abu al-Hasan al-Muhajir, a potential successor to al-Baghdadi, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in nearby Aleppo Province. On October 31, the Islamic State confirmed the fatalities in an audio statement read by al-Muhajir’s replacement, Abu Hamza al-Qurashi, who went on to announce the appointment of a certain Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurashi as the new “commander of the believers and caliph of the Muslims.” The adjective Qurashi in their names denotes descent from the Prophet Muhammad’s tribe of Quraysh, one of the traditional qualifications of being caliph.
The Road to an Iranian Attack on Israel
By Prof. Eytan Gilboa, November 15, 2019
EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Israeli political and military leaders have warned against the possibility of a major military confrontation with Iran, which wants to deter Israel from disrupting its attempts to build military bases in Syria and Iraq and to construct factories in which Hezbollah can convert its huge arsenal of rockets into accurate missiles. This threat is more acute in light of the American failure to respond to recent Iranian provocations in the Gulf. Israel should adopt an aggressive new strategic approach to meet this threat, in coordination with the US and in consultation with Russia.
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Bill Roggio, Long War Journal and FDD; in re: Taliban overruns district HQ in Zabul. Eleven districts in the province, three have come under Taliban control since July. Grinding down the Afghan forces. One of the biggest problems in the entire war is that no one’s telling us why we’re there. No explanation that we have an enemy committed to ending the Western way of life, and it starts in a [region like this]. Successor to al-Baghadi, the Emir of the Faithful (Amir al-Muminin): Abu Ibrahim al-Hashimi al-Qurayshi. They still have a network and a robust media operation. “That both the group’s emir and spokesman have adopted al-Qurayshi in their jihadist names is significant, because it means they are claiming descent from the tribe of the Prophet Muhammad.”
The al Qaeda component in Afghanistan: remains a vital network for Taliban. Al Q provides expertise, training, and support; Talban give al Q safe haven, freedom of movement. As one succeeds in operations, so does the other. Al Qaeda will stay there irrespective of what the US does. There are thousands and thousands of al Q fighters n Afghanistan, and not leaving. A Saudi in Syria connected to al Q network put out a vid blaming al-Baghdadi for errors. Al Q helped birth ISIS in the first place. A key issue: al Q does not advertise what it’s doing in Afghanistan, stays under the Taliban banner, whereas ISIS advertises every little thing it does.
Iranian Protests Were Not about the Price of Gas by A.J. Caschetta
December 2, 2019
The real reason for the Iran hostage crisis, 40 years later
Michael Rubin | Washington Examiner
Perhaps it is time for liberals and European diplomats who lament the fact that US-Iran relations seemingly continue to deteriorate to stop blaming Washington. Instead, the fact that Iran not only attacked America’s embassy but also continues to occupy it suggests that its antipathy to international norms and the framework of diplomacy remains unreformed.
Danielle Pletka took to the pages of The Washington Post to analyze the protests occurring in Lebanon, Iraq, and Egypt. She argues that Western governments must demand that the region’s leaders answer to their own people before we face another wave of refugees, the next iteration of the Islamic State, and Baghdadi’s successor. Keep reading here.
Katherine Zimmerman explains that eliminating a leader of a Salafi-jihadi group does nothing to fill the gaps in security and governance that drive vulnerable communities into the arms of Salafi-jihadists. Instead, the US should shift to a civilian-led strategic approach that uses foreign assistance and soft power to strengthen communities at risk of Salafi-jihadi penetration.
Read more here.
Giselle Donnelly analyzes the dramatization of Trump’s announcement and contrasts it to President Barack Obama’s announcement of Osama bin Laden’s death. Rather than being a formal announcement of America’s success, Trump’s statements served as a stream-of-consciousness performance for the president’s commitment to a reduced presence in the Middle East.
Michael Rubin points out that while Iraqis have had enough, Iran’s proxies would rather kill than accept democratic will. For Iraqis, the current battle is about government accountability and fighting corruption. For the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, what is going on in Baghdad, Karbala, and Basra may be a dry run. Learn more here.
The Delusional One-State Solution by Matthew Mainen
The Jerusalem Post
November 4, 2019
November 4 marked the 40-year anniversary of the Iranian hostage crisis when a group of Iranian students seized the US Embassy in Tehran and held 52 Americans captive for 444 days. Four decades later, has the Islamic Republic of Iran changed its ways? This week, Danielle Pletka and Marc Thiessen sat down with AEI’s Kenneth Pollack to discuss exactly what happened on that day 40 years ago, how the hostage crisis set Iran on a course of enmity with the US, and whether President Trump's Iran approach differs from those of his predecessors. Listen here.
How Could the Turks Not Know Where Baghdadi Was Hiding? by Seth Frantzman
The Jerusalem Post
November 3, 2019
The Battle of Baghdadi
Clifford D. May — The Washington Times
The elimination of Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi is a battle won. But it is not, by any stretch of the imagination, the end of the “endless war.” Islamism, in all its fury and diversity, goes marching on. Five years ago, Mr. Baghdadi was proclaimed (by his followers) the caliph — successor to the Prophet Mohammed. Even Osama bin Laden was never so audacious. The Islamic State in Iraq, a splinter from al Qaeda, had been organized in 2006. Read More
Afghanistan on the Edge? Elections, Elites, and Ethnic Tensions by Andrew Watkins
AI and Irregular Warfare: An Evolution, Not a Revolution
Edit by Daniel Egel, Eric Robinson, Lt. Gen. (Ret.) Charles T. Cleveland, and Christopher (CJ) Oates
U.S. Deterrence in the Middle East is Collapsing
John Hannah — Foreign Policy
As welcome as was the U.S. raid that lead to the death of Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi over the weekend, it can’t erase the damage done to U.S. interests in the Middle East over the past few months. Whatever explanations U.S. President Donald Trump and his supporters put forward to justify his impulsive decision to withdraw U.S. forces from northeastern Syria earlier this month, the searing images that followed told a far different tale. Read More
Syria: United States Seeks Strengthen Coalition Against ISIS. The United States on Monday said they want to increase the presence of coalition forces combating the Islamic State in northeastern Syria. “There was never an idea that we would abandon the mission of going after ISIS ... This is a major effort that is continuing,” a senior State Department official said. The announcement comes following a U.S. operation which killed ISIS leader al-Baghdadi over the weekend and amid the Turkish incursion into the region. The United States will convene a meeting with coalition leaders on November 14. Reuters
American commando raid to kill al-Baghdadi was launched from al-Asad airbase, rehearsals conducted in Erbil
(Military Times) The American commando raid that bagged Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi was launched from the sprawling al-Asad airbase in Anbar province Iraq, according to a source on the ground with direct knowledge of the operation.
Kurdish informant provided key intel in operation that killed ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi
(NBC News) Kurdish-led forces allied with the United States provided information — including used underwear for a DNA analysis — that was key to the operation that killed the Islamic State group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the leader of the Kurdish forces in Syria said Monday.
US Afghanistan peace envoy takes efforts to Pakistan
(The Associated Press) A U.S. peace envoy remained in Pakistan on Tuesday as part of efforts to find a negotiated end to Afghanistan’s 18 -year war, even though President Donald Trump has not expressed any interest in resuming talks with the Taliban.
Al-Baghdadi’s ‘number one replacement’ is dead, Trump says
(Military Times) U.S. troops have successfully taken down the top replacement for Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, according to President Donald Trump.