Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu used a visit to a secretive Israeli atomic reactor on Wednesday to warn the country’s enemies that it has the means to destroy them, in what appeared to be a veiled reference to its assumed nuclear arsenal. - Reuters
Israel Wrestles With Nationalism And Freedom
by Peter Berkowitz via Real Clear Politics
In mid-July, by a vote of 62-55, with two abstentions, the Knesset passed the Basic Law on Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People. The legislation — Basic Laws in Israel enjoy constitutional status although only a simple parliamentary majority is needed to pass or repeal them — reaffirmed principles set forth in the country’s May 1948 Declaration of Independence.
New IDF strategy to focus on missiles
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman intends to establish a new military corps dedicated to missiles and rockets to counter growing threats from Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Syrian army.
Analysis: Losing a War
The Trump administration is desperately trying to negotiate with the Taliban's senior leadership. The Obama administration did as well, with the effort ending in a diplomatic fiasco.
Analysis: Losing a War
(The Weekly Standard) President Donald Trump opposes his own policy in Afghanistan. It shows.
China is helping Afghanistan set up mountain brigade to fight terrorism
(South China Morning Post) Sources close to the Chinese military earlier told the Post that China had funded and started building a training camp for Afghan troops in Afghanistan’s isolated Wakhan Corridor – a narrow strip of inhospitable and barely accessible land extending about 350km from the northern Afghan province of Badakhshan to China’s Muslim region of Xinjiang.
To stabilize Afghanistan, US needs to review its China-Pakistan policy
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is scheduled to arrive in Pakistan on September 5 to meet newly elected Prime Minister Imran Khan. He will then proceed to India for the first India-US 2+2 dialogue among Pompeo, US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Indian External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj and Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman. With his military background and having held the post of director of the Central Intelligence Agency from January 2017 to April 2018,...
More than seven years after Tunisians overthrew their country’s dictatorship in a revolution that spawned the Arab Spring, the country’s economy is in crisis and thousands of people are sneaking into Europe, as part of a new wave of clandestine migration from what had been a North African success story. - Wall Street Journal
AL-QAEDA INSERTS ITSELF INTO THE TALIBAN, FRENCH HIT MALI TERRORISTS WHILE CENTCOM HITS TARGETS IN LIBYA; TRUMP NEEDS TO SANCTION IRANIAN AGENTS
Bound to fail: Transnational jihadism and the aggregation problem
(War On The Rocks) On Aug. 22, ISIL’s leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi issued his first message to his followers in nearly a year, calling on them to carry out lone-wolf attacks in the West. The message should alarm policymakers about a potential new wave of terrorist attacks, but it also serves as a reminder of how far the group has fallen and, more broadly, of a longstanding problem with jihadist grand strategies that ISIL has not been able to solve.
US airstrike kills Islamic State terrorist in northern Libya
This is the first strike since early June, when the United States targeted both the Islamic State and Al Qaeda in separate strikes in Bani Walid.
France kills top Islamic State in the Greater Sahara commander in northern Mali
In a military operation yesterday, the French reportedly killed a top Tuareg commander for the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara in Mali's northern Menaka region.
Vinay Kaura writes: With the U.S. opening a direct channel of communication with the Taliban, Washington now has the option of circumventing Islamabad. In the renewed diplomatic push for a negotiated end to the conflict, if the U.S. shows some flexibility on a power-sharing formula, the Taliban may also offer a pragmatic concession—acquiescence to the continued presence of some U.S. troops in Afghanistan. - Middle East Institute
No Matter Who Wins the Syrian Civil War, Israel Loses
// David Kenner
Assad is Iran's most important Arab ally; his would-be successors are Sunni militias and jihadists. Netanyahu's overtures to Putin can't change that.
Saudi Arabia's ambitious Vision 2030 plan in trouble
The future of Saudi Arabia's plan to reduce its dependency on oil income is in question after the king scrapped the kingdom's plans to take the national oil company public.
Saudi Arabia, Iran battle for influence in Pakistan
As Iran and Saudi Arabia compete for influence in the Islamic world, Pakistan represents a crucial sphere of influence, but the country's new prime minister has been a critic of the Saudi-led war on Yemen.
Don't Be Deluded - Our Saudi 'Partners' Are Masters Of Repression
quoting Ayaan Hirsi Ali via The Guardian
The persecution of activists at home and war in Yemen show talk of reform is a charade.
Trump Forcing New Tack In 'War for Return'
By BENNY AVNI, Special to the Sun | August 27, 2018
EXAMINING THE RIGHT OF RETURN: Read more...
TRUMP FOLLOWS OBAMA INTO SYRIA & HOW TO RECONCILE THE TALIBAN'S EMIRATE AS A CALIPHATE & HOW IS THE TALIBAN WINNING
The US missed its chance in Afghanistan
Michael Rubin | Washington Examiner
Al Qaeda leader argues Taliban’s ‘blessed emirate’ a core part of new caliphate
Al Qaeda has released a new message from its emir, Ayman al Zawahiri, who argues that the Taliban's Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan is a core part of a new, imagined caliphate.
U.S., AFGHANISTAN: The Taliban Takes on Islamic State
By Waliullah Rahmani, Terrorism Monitor: “Russia has been uncompromising in its stance toward Islamic State, and Moscow is doubtless concerned about the emergence of IS-K in Afghanistan.”
Saudi Arabia ‘committed’ to Aramco IPO: energy minister
BY ALISON TAHMIZIAN MEUSE
The kingdom sought to quash reports the long-anticipated listing was off for good
Saudis want Imran Khan to back ‘anti-terror alliance’
BY KUNWAR KHULDUNE SHAHID
Saudi Arabia is keen to ensure the new Pakistani Prime Minister, who badly needs funding support, is fully on board their Islamic Military Coalition, a body which is seen by some as anti-Iran
Simon Henderson writes: The prince’s determination to bring the kingdom into the twenty-first century has won him admiration internationally and among young Saudis, who now make up a majority of the population. Yet the adverse publicity adds to the widespread perception that he is relying on instincts that are difficult to predict, and perhaps even destabilizing across the decisionmaking spectrum. - Washington Institute
Head of Saudi Arabia’s defense industry umbrella org talks Vision 2030
(Defense News) In spring 2016, Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman unveiled a plan to reduce the country’s dependence on oil and to diversify the economy. The goal of Saudi Vision 2030, as that plan is known, is to make Saudi Arabia “the heart of the Arab and Islamic worlds, the investment powerhouse, and the hub connecting three continents.”
White House national security adviser John Bolton says Hezbollah, an Iranian-backed terror organization, must be kicked out of Syria in addition to other Iranian forces. [...]The U.S. and Israel's position on Syria has been that Iranian forces must be removed from Syria. When asked during an interview, Bolton said this position also includes Hezbollah. - Washington Examiner
The IDF’s Golani Brigade has completed a week-long drill, simulating fighting against Hezbollah, just weeks after Israel’s military carried out the most extensive training exercises conducted by the Ground Forces’ 36th Armored Division. - Jerusalem Post
Caroline B. Glick writes: On the face of things, the US-Israeli demand that Iran remove its forces from Syria seems to ignore the elephant in the room. Hezbollah is the second-most powerful military force in the Middle East – second only to the Israel Defense Forces, and the most daunting conventional threat Israel faces. This week, the IDF carried out a massive war exercise in the Golan Heights to prepare its forces for a war with Hezbollah. - Jerusalem Post
Russia is “stuck” in Syria and looking for others to fund its post-war reconstruction, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said, describing this as an opportunity for Washington to press for Iranian forces to quit the civil war-wracked country. - Reuters
The U.S. soldier who died of injuries in a helicopter crash in Iraq this week was a member of an elite special operations unit and had deployed nine times in support of the U.S. conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, officials said Tuesday. - Associated Press
Geoffrey Aronson writes: There are numerous, unmistakable signs that the crisis in Syria is moving to a new phase, one that will push Washington further to the sidelines. [...]The challenge for Washington is to understand that both the means and ends of Syria policy need to account for the failure of U.S. policy beyond the defeat of ISIS, and to plan for the future informed but unburdened by past failures. - Middle East Institute
How Trump Can Avoid Falling Into Iran's 'Yap Trap'
via New York Post
President Trump recently offered to meet Iranian President Hassan Rouhani without any preconditions to discuss issues of common concern. Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei seemingly rejected this appeal, professing, “There will be no war nor will we negotiate with the US.” In typical fashion for this ayatollah, however, he left the door open: “The Islamic Republic can negotiate with America whenever it achieves the power to resist America’s pressure and blackmail. Today this is not the case.”
What If the U.S. 'Pulls the Plug' on Afghanistan?
By Dan Gouré, RealClearDefense: “The U.S. may be approaching a crucial decision concerning its military involvement in Afghanistan. Secretary of Defense James Mattis says U.S. activity there won’t end anytime soon. The question is, will President Trump stick with a plan that does not promise victory?”
Sarah Bast writes: With the shift in national security priorities to near-peer competitors like China and Russia, and with the Islamic State’s (IS) loss of most of its territory in Iraq and Syria, policymakers do not discuss terrorism as frequently as they once did. While there has been a change of emphasis, there are a few conversations on terrorism that policymakers still should have with the public. This commentary suggests four topics for those necessary conversations. - Center for Strategic and International Studies
New CENTCOM, SOCOM leadership named
(Military Times) Two seasoned Iraq and Afghanistan generals have been named to the top posts at U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. officials confirmed to Military Times.
Two seasoned Iraq and Afghanistan generals have been named to the top posts at U.S. Central Command and U.S. Special Operations Command, U.S. officials confirmed to Military Times. - Defense News
KURDISH FIGHTERS TAKE ON IRAN & GERMAN-RUSSIAN ALLIANCE SEEKS TO SUBVERT S.W.I.F.T. INTERNATIONAL PAYMENT SYSTEM TO IRAN
Can we pursue a victory strategy against Iran?
Frederick W. Kagan | Commentary Magazine
A variant of the strategy used against the Soviet Union in the Cold War may be the correct policy to pursue against Iran today. But important factors distinguish the conditions today from those at the end of the Cold War.
Veterans and ‘turncoats’ form bulk of Imran Khan’s cabinet
BY KUNWAR KHULDUNE SHAHID
A number of ministers sworn into Khan's cabinet are defectors from traditional political parties PPP and PML (N), which has raised doubts over his vow to create a 'new Pakistan'
A Year On, Pakistan Still the Weak Link in US South Asia Strategy
// Alyssa Ayres
The Trump administration's strategy has produced no definitive improvements along its pillars. Pakistan remains a safe haven for terrorist groups.
Pakistan's newly elected members of the National Assembly have taken their oath in the Parliament. Imran Khan has become the next Prime Minister.
Imran has promised a "Naya" Pakistan. How new is the Naya Parliament?
An edited version of the above analysis was first published in the Hindu BusinessLine. Click here.
US special ops helicopter crashes in Iraq
(Newsweek) It is unclear why the MH-60 Blackhawk went down, but U.S. military sources with knowledge of the crash said the helicopter was returning to base after conducting a small-scale raid in an undisclosed region.
The meeting with the world’s most wanted man took place at a secret location in the barren hinterland of eastern Syria, at the heart of Islamic State’s shrinking realm. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the then 45-year-old leader of Islamic State, raised a hand and greeted his confidants. - Wall Street Journal
Neil Hauer writes: While Moscow may be ready for the Syrian conflict to wind down, Tehran and Damascus are not. [...]The Kremlin’s premature withdrawal of military police may prove detrimental, in that Moscow will have that many fewer assets with which to influence its allies on the ground. Russia will likely soon find that its will alone is not sufficient to end the Syrian conflict. - Middle East Institute
Meet Jim Jeffrey, a great pick to lead US strategy on Syria
(Washington Examiner) You should welcome the Trump administration's appointment of James "Jim" Jeffrey as U.S. special representative to Syria. A former U.S. ambassador to Albania, Turkey, and Iraq, Jeffrey has the experience to push the Syrian civil war towards a best-case conclusion.
Taliban fighters loot district center in Ghazni
In what has become an all too familiar scene in Afghanistan, Taliban fighters celebrated their victory and looted a district center in broad daylight, without fear of reprisal.
Taliban leader demands US withdraw from Afghanistan, blasts government as ‘corrupt regime’
The Taliban has released a new statement attributed to its emir, Hibatullah Akhundzada, who says there will only be "peace" when America leaves Afghanistan. Akhundzada blasts the current Afghan government as a "corrupt regime" and portrays the Taliban's Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan as the only legitimate authority.
Ioannis Koskinas writes: The current government, a Western experiment in state-building, is struggling to cope with a growing insurgency. [...]The latest venture on the horizon is a push for a hasty peace deal with the Taliban. [...]Unfortunately, those peddling the art of the deal with the Taliban rely on wishful thinking, overstate the group’s appetite for reconciliation, and fail to lay out a comprehensive strategy that achieve results in Afghanistan. - War on the Rocks
General David Petraeus (Ret.) and the Long War Against Extremism in Afghanistan
Nearly two and a half years ago, General David Petraeus (ret.) wrote an opinion piece published in The Washington Post, titled, ‘5 ‘big ideas’ to guide us in the Long War against Islamic extremism’.
James Schwemlein writes: Watching China’s behavior toward Pakistan will be a revealing test of Beijing’s global intent through the Belt and Road Initiative. If it wants Pakistan to succeed, it will purchase more Pakistani goods, reduce the trade imbalance, and work with the government and international institutions like the IMF to promote meaningful reform. If its intention is somehow to leverage Pakistan to acquire assets or to build a new military platform, it could continue walking Pakistan right into a debt trap. - Foreign Policy