Admiral Warns: Potential for Islamist Raids on European Islands

Chris-Parry-640x480Breitbart, by OLIVER LANE, April 24, 2015:

The security situation in the Mediterranean will continue to deteriorate to the point where we can expect Islamist raids on A, a recently retired Royal Navy Admiral has told Breitbart London.

HMS BULWARK

Rear Admiral Chris Parry CBE, the straight-talking former Director General of the Ministry of Defence Development, Concepts, and Doctrine Centre, the government body tasked with foreseeing future strategic threats, made the comments in an interview this week as European nations gathered to discuss the sudden migrant crisis gripping the Mediterranean.

The Threat of Islam

Parry, who warned in a government paper in 1990 that Islam would replace Communism as the main threat against the West and accurately predicted the collapse of African and Arab nations during the so-called ‘Arab Spring’, told Breitbart London he regretted the government was only taking action now, and had not heeded his warning earlier. The Falklands veteran said his warnings were ignored in 2006 when he wrote a major paper on future threats, as the Labour government of the day deemed speaking about Immigration as racist.

Migrants Italy Reuters Large

Parry remarked:

“When I said these things in 2006, my political masters told me to drop it, that it was racist, but I told them it was just what came out of the analysis of the raw data.

“the government interpreted my report as having a go at immigration which was a ‘verboten’ subject in those days, it was all about multiculturalism. Any mention of immigration was considered to be ideologically incorrect. But I didn’t mention immigration, I merely said the world was heading for a migratory pattern that is on a par with the end of the fifth century”.

A speech given by Parry in 2006 at the Royal United Services Institute was reported by The Times after he said the migratory patterns that would emerge in the coming decade would resemble “the 5th century Roman empire facing the Goths and the Vandals”, as European nations experienced a process of “reverse colonisation”.

Piracy on Europe’s Doorstep

Although Parry said he stood by his comments of moving diasporas and large populations of migrants with no allegiance to their new homes destabilising nations such as the UK, he said the increasingly fragile Mediterranean was more of a threat to Europe. Libya, now an increasingly lawless state after the British-backed toppling of former dictator Colonel Muammar Gaddafi, is fuelling this change in the Mediterranean as it becomes a haven for criminals engaging in people smuggling.

Parry said at first, the switch from people smuggling as a profitable and comparatively risk-free criminal activity to piracy of the sort seen off the lawless Horn of Africa would be driven by a profit motive. He said:

“It is only a matter of time before we get crime and piracy off the North African coast. People will see it as a business opportunity and they will take it.

“People used to call them Barbary pirates, and they will come back when you have a collapse of governance if there isn’t a strong system of international control in the Mediterranean. You can compare it to what Jessie James is reputed to have said when asked ‘why do you rob banks?’ – ‘it’s where the money is’!”.

Mumbai Terror Attacks

During the last Caliphate, ‘Barbary’ pirates from North Africa grew incredibly rich by attacking European and American ships in the Mediterranean, taking the cargoes and holding the crews hostage. Many would be sold into slavery, with young white women and girls being particularly prized, while others were ransomed back at enormous profit, creating an income stream also used by the new Caliphate established by the Islamic State today.

Terror From the Sea

Parry said that isolated attacks on easily overpowered craft such as yachts could be expected soon. At least two coast guard ships have already been fired upon by Libyan people smugglers, as they used AK-47s to recapture impounded smuggling boats.

Pirates Reuters

Citing the 2008 Mumbai terror attack in which Islamist killers used inflatable speedboats to land commandos to kill over 150, Parry said terrorist groups in Northern Africa, a number of which have already sworn allegiance to the Islamic State, could launch raids against southern Europe. Such attacks were common in the 17th and 19th centuries, when Caliphate ships would raid coastal settlements in Italy, Spain, and even as far afeild as Cornwall in England to capture slaves and hostages for ransom. Parry remarked:

“90 per cent of the wealth, both personal and corporate in the Mediterranean is on the northern shore and 10 per cent is on the south. You have a demographic explosion all across North Africa, and an ageing demographic in Europe. That is all the historic ingredients for terror and crime.

“We will soon be experiencing minor hit and run attacks on remote parts of Europe, like Malta and the Greek Islands”.

Message to Policy Makers: How to Avert Disaster

It is possible for Europe and Western civilisation to forestall these attacks, Rear Admiral Parry said, even if the best chance for peace in the Mediterranean had already been lost, as the governments capable of maintaining peace in North Africa and the Levant had already collapsed in the Arab Spring. In his message to policy makers, Parry was unapologetic about the role Britain and other maritime nations like the United States, Canada and Australia had to play:

“Long term, we have to stabilise the whole community around the Mediterranean… we have to be able to hold our maritime borders, because we have very aggressive Islamism which wants to recreate the extent of Islamic lands the Middle Ages.

“If you look at the maps put out by the Islamic State, it is pretty clear what they want back. Italy, Spain. They want back what they once had. Islam is a very territorial religion.

“If there isn’t the political will or military ability to face down threats off the North African littoral, be it migration, criminality, or terrorism, then we will get progressive erosion. We will get raids on coasts, we will get yachts intercepted at sea, we will get merchant ships subject to terrorist, pirate, or criminal attack.

“The Western world needs to have more self belief in its own values, it has to hold its nerve, and we have to rediscover a lot of self-reliance”.

Praising Tony Abbott’s policy of sinking migrant ships with naval gunfire and returning people to their home countries where possible, Parry remained sceptic that the sudden tough talk about sinking smuggler boats in Europe would actually happen, remarking that sending in special forces teams to Libya would be like “putting your fingers in a mangle”.

The United Nation’s International Maritime Organisation (IMO) should be taking the lead in the Mediterranean, but he didn’t hold out much hope for their getting involved in a meaningful way either:

“If this sort of thing was happening on land, the area would be crawling with United Nations blue helmets [peacekeepers], but because it’s at sea, it is ignored. The gutless IMO always go for the low-hanging fruit like climate change and emissions control, collecting their grossly inflated pensions and doing bugger all”.

Also see:

EXCLUSIVE: Michael Rubin: Obama Enabling Iran in Middle East, Economic Coercion Is the Answer

unnamed1-640x480Breitbart’s Adelle Nazarian had the opportunity to speak with renowned Middle East expert and resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) Dr. Michael Rubin recently. Dr. Rubin provided his analysis on U.S.-Iran relations under the Obama Administration and provided a look into the future through the periscope of the past.

He is the author of Dancing With the Devil: The Perils of Engaging Rogue Regimes and a former Pentagon official. With a June 30 deadline for a final nuclear deal swiftly approaching, Rubin draws upon heightened concerns surrounding President Obama’s destructive handling of this most pivotal moment in international relations and national security with regard to U.S.-Iranian relations.

BREITBART NEWS: Do you think President Obama, John Kerry and the American team of negotiators were aware of how the Iranians operated?

RUBIN: No. I honestly think they were in a bubble and they were also blinded by their own personal ambition. Obama is arrogant. He thinks that all the problems with diplomacy were because of his predecessors rather than with his adversaries. Therefore, he has repeatedly gotten us into trouble with dictators and rogue regimes like Russia ad now Iran. They play the United States.

Obama is willfully naive and he doesn’t understand that evil exists in the world and that it wants to destroy the United States.

BREITBART: Considering he has former NIAC employee Sahar Nowrouzzadeh and Valerie Jarrett advising him, wouldn’t you think he would be better prepared to deal with the Iranians?

RUBIN: He surrounds himself with people who tell him what he wants to hear. But a low-level and a c-staffer is hardly someone that you could say advises the president accurately.

BREITBART: Many in the media and on the left have suggested that the conservatives see war and bombing Iran as the only option should the nuclear deal fail. What viable alternatives could you offer?

RUBIN: That’s just such nonsense and what we see is that, when it comes to diplomacy, the only people who you can trust are the conservatives. President Obama likes to credit sanctions — both United Nations sanctions and otherwise — despite the fact that he was consistently against sanctions whenever he had the chance. He’s too busy making John Bolton into a straw cartoon to recognize that John Bolton was the man who crafted the Untied Nations sanctions.

And whether it was John Bolton as under secretary of state or ambassador to the United Nations, it was Bolton who rallied the international community and gave us unanimous or near-unanimous U.N. security council resolutions that ultimately brought Iran to its knees.

BREITBART: So what do we do with Iran?

RUBIN: Economic coercion. When Hillary Clinton came into office as secretary or state she almost lectured Republicans and said, if you’re not going to talk to your enemies, who are you going to talk to? And she cited Ronald Reagan who sat down with Mikhail Gorbachev to end the Cold War. But she didn’t understand the importance of leverage to Reagan.

Reagan had prefaced his diplomacy with Gorbachev with a military buildup in order to negotiate from a position of strength. In order to bring Iran to the table and have them adhere to their international agreements, you have to maximize your leverage. Obama agreed to give Iran $11.9 billion in sanctions relief in unfrozen assets just to sit at the table and talk to the American team.

To put this in perspective, the annual, official budget of the Revolutionary Guard is about $5.6 billion. In order to get the Iranians to sit at the table, Obama gave Iran enough money to pay the salaries of a group responsible for the deaths of hundreds of Americans for two years.

BREITBART: It has been suggested that up to $150 billion in frozen Iranian assets could be released to the Iranian regime. Would this guarantee the regime’s longevity?

RUBIN: Yes. The Soviet Union ultimately fell due to an unstable economy. The analogy would be that, instead of bankrupting the Soviet Union, Ronald Reagan decided to flood them with cash. What Obama is doing with the potential release of those funds, is taking a hateful, racist regime and throwing it a lifeline.

The IRGC dominates the Iranian economy. The revolutionary foundation and what’s called Khatam al-Andia control perhaps 40% of Iran’s economy, including anything involved with import and export. So rather than allowing reformism to flourish inside of Iran, the net impact of the rush to do business inside Iran and to bring Iranian oil into the market will be to empower the Revolutionary Guard even further. It would allow them to consolidate control.

The IRGC is involved with the military aspects of the nuclear program, which of course aren’t included in this framework yet. And they are also in charge of export of revolution. And we see that this isn’t mere rhetoric when we look at what is happening in Gaza and Yemen. Simply put, if Obama and his national security team were to sit down and ask themselves what a strategy to enable Iran’s destabilizing influence in the Middle East would look like– I hate to say it, but it would not look any different from the strategy they are now pursuing.

BREITBART: What are the Iranian mullah’s plans in the region? Now that not only Tehran but Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and even Sanaa are under their control, what is their ultimate goal?

RUBIN: This is something else Obama simply doesn’t understand or he ignores. Iran is not a status quo state. It is an ideological revisionist state. Its goal is to export revolution. Ordinary Iranians may not subscribe to this, but in any dictatorship it’s the guys with the guns that matter. And in this case, the Iranians used to describe themselves as a regional power. Then about four years ago, they began describing themselves as a pan-regional power, meaning the Persian Gulf and the North Indian Ocean.

Well, this past November they started talking about themselves in terms of having strategic boundaries in the Eastern Mediterranean and the Gulf of Aden. And again, we see that this wasn’t mere rhetoric when we look at the weapons shipments to Syria and to Hamas. And when we look at Iranian activities in Yemen.

BREITBART: Is it then safe to say that Iran’s goal is not very different from the goal of ISIS, which is to establish an Islamic Caliphate and regional hegemony, except that they have two different fundamental Islamic ideologies?

RUBIN: Correct.

BREITBART: What do you think will happen when Khamenei passes away?

RUBIN: We only have one example of this happening before and that was when Khomeini died. On paper, you have an 86-member particle body called the Assembly of Experts which decides who replaces him. In reality, from 1989 we know thats not the case. What happened in 1989 with Khomeini’s death was that all the power centers got together and basically came to a consensus. That consensus was Khamenei.

Now who that consensus figure will be, I don’t know. But it is possible to have a council. And that is the Iranian way of kicking the can down the road. But this is what concerns me; and this is also where Obama’s outreach is so short-sighted. Any strategy which empowers the Revolutionary Guard gives the Revolutionary Guard additional powers to impose its will as the next choice. After all, if they’re powerful, they’re not going to subordinate themselves to someone with whom they disagree.

The important thing about this is you have a cycle of radicalization in which the supreme leader picks the most radical, ideologically pure officers to staff the highest levels of the Revolutionary Guard. Those same officers then have predominant influence in choosing the next supreme leader. And so President Obama is not only pursuing a deal which is bad for the United States and Iranians in the short term. He is pursuing a deal which is going to perpetuate this radicalization for at least another generation or two.

King Abdullah II: Jordan Is at War With ‘Outlaws of Islam’

041315_jordanFox News, Aprl 13, 2015:

Bret Baier sat down with Jordanian King Abdullah II, who told the “Special Report” host that Jordan is at war with the “outlaws of Islam.”

Abdullah explained that ISIS is somewhat of a “franchise.” He said that the terror group is an international problem, which means that the international community must deal with it as such.

The king of Jordan stepped up the country’s efforts against ISIS big time after the killing of a Jordanian air force pilot. Abdullah said that Jordan is the only Arab country operating in Syria alongside the U.S., and it’s the only Arab country working alongside the coalition forces in Iraq.

Abdullah said that the relationship between the U.S. and Jordan is “very strong,” but remarked that his country’s relationship with the West has changed. He said he had a wake-up call that made him realize Jordan must stand more on its own two feet and be more “bullish and straightforward” with the West.

“At the end of the day, I think I know what’s best for my country and for the region, and I think a blunt and honest discussion with friends is always much better than being wishy-washy,” he told Baier.

Abdullah said Syria, Jordan’s neighbor to the north, continues to fall apart. He explained that Syria is fighting two wars: one against ISIS on the east and another against the regime on the west.

Further, he explained that Iran is active in Syria, and he said Jordan has seen Iranians not too far from its border, an issue that Abdullah said Jordan has discussed with Iran.

According to Abdullah, the biggest challenge that Jordan faces is the economy. This is due to 1.5 million Syrian refugees, who comprise about 20 percent of Jordan’s population, Abdullah said.

He added that only 28-29 percent of the refugee budget is being covered by the international community – the rest falls on Jordan.

Abdullah told Baier that the supply of weapons from the United States has improved dramatically in recent weeks. He noted that there is still much to be done to fight ISIS in Iraq and Syria.

 

Also see:

The Search for a New Grand Strategy for the United States: The Path to a New NSC 68

us-soldiers-sandstorm-AP-640x480By Virgil, April 4, 2015:

I. The Current Confusion

Newt Gingrich’s piece in National Review, “We’re Losing the War Against Radical Islam,” deserves a wide audience; after all, it’s our country, and our civilization, that’s at risk. As the former Speaker of the House wrote, “After 35 years of conflict, dating back to the Iranian seizure of the American embassy in Tehran and the ensuing hostage crisis, the United States and its allies are losing the long, global war with radical Islamists.”

And so, Gingrich continued, what is needed is a whole new and better approach: “Congress has a duty to pursue the truth and to think through the strategies needed and the structures which will be needed to implement those strategies.”

Meanwhile, for its part, the Obama administration seems to think that things are going fine. Indeed, on March 29, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest taunted one of the leaders of the Republican opposition:

“If John Boehner thinks U.S. troops should be on the ground in Yemen, fighting, or that we should reoccupy Iraq, or that the United States should bomb Iran to keep them from having a nuclear weapon — if he feels that way, he should have the courage of his convictions to say so. The President . . . does not believe it is in the best interest of the United States to commit ground troops.”

Boehner, sitting in Gingrich’s former chair, has not, in fact, said that the US should be fighting in Yemen, or reoccupying Iraq, or bombing Iran. But the Republican response to Obama has been sufficiently diffuse—we might think of the difference between the views of, say, Sen. John McCain and Sen. Rand Paul—so that Democrats such as Earnest can pick and choose which Republican positions they wish to respond to.

Yet beyond the partisan cutting and thrusting, Gingrich has a point: America needs policies that are serious, effective, and sustainable. And historical experience, as well as common sense, tells us that such an effective policy can come only from a robust and far-reaching debate—ratified, of course, by the voters. As we shall see, the annals of American national-security policy provide ample, and encouraging, precedent, not only for systematic deliberation, but, even more importantly, for effective follow-through.

We can further note that a new policy, if there is to be one, will almost certainly come from the next commander-in-chief—the next president. It’s the president who has access to the whole of the executive branch, as well as the bully pulpit.

And so with Gingrich’s point in mind, let’s review what US presidents have been saying heretofore about the threat from radical Islam.

Read more at Breitbart

The diplomatic track to war

Iran negotiations. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Iran negotiations. (photo credit:REUTERS)

Jerusalem Post, by Caroline Glick, April 3, 2015:

The world powers assembled at Lausanne, Switzerland, with the representatives of the Islamic Republic may or may not reach a framework deal regarding Iran’s nuclear program. But succeed or fail, the disaster that their negotiations have unleashed is already unfolding. The damage they have caused is irreversible.
US President Barack Obama, his advisers and media cheerleaders have long presented his nuclear diplomacy with the Iran as the only way to avoid war. Obama and his supporters have castigated as warmongers those who oppose his policy of nuclear appeasement with the world’s most prolific state sponsor of terrorism.

But the opposite is the case. Had their view carried the day, war could have been averted.

Through their nuclear diplomacy, Obama and his comrades started the countdown to war.

In recent weeks we have watched the collapse of the allied powers’ negotiating positions.

They have conceded every position that might have placed a significant obstacle in Iran’s path to developing a nuclear arsenal.

They accepted Iran’s refusal to come clean on the military dimensions of its past nuclear work and so ensured that to the extent UN nuclear inspectors are able to access Iran’s nuclear installations, those inspections will not provide anything approaching a full picture of its nuclear status. By the same token, they bowed before Iran’s demand that inspectors be barred from all installations Iran defines as “military” and so enabled the ayatollahs to prevent the world from knowing anything worth knowing about its nuclear activities.

On the basis of Iran’s agreement to ship its stockpile of enriched uranium to Russia, the US accepted Iran’s demand that it be allowed to maintain and operate more than 6,000 centrifuges.

But when on Monday Iran went back on its word and refused to ship its uranium to Russia, the US didn’t respond by saying Iran couldn’t keep spinning 6,000 centrifuges. The US made excuses for Iran.

The US delegation willingly acceded to Iran’s demand that it be allowed to continue operating its fortified, underground enrichment facility at Fordow. In so doing, the US minimized the effectiveness of a future limited air campaign aimed at significantly reducing Iran’s nuclear capabilities.

With this broad range of great power concessions already in its pocket, the question of whether or not a deal is reached has become a secondary concern. The US and its negotiating partners have agreed to a set of understanding with the Iranians. Whether these understandings become a formal agreement or not is irrelevant because the understandings are already being implemented.

True, the US has not yet agreed to Iran’s demand for an immediate revocation of the economic sanctions now standing against it. But the notion that sanctions alone can pressure Iran into making nuclear concessions has been destroyed by Obama’s nuclear diplomacy in which the major concessions have all been made by the US.

No sanctions legislation that Congress may pass in the coming months will be able to force a change in Iran’s behavior if they are not accompanied by other coercive measures undertaken by the executive branch.

There is nothing new in this reality. For a regime with no qualms about repressing its society, economic sanctions are not an insurmountable challenge. But it is possible that if sanctions were implemented as part of a comprehensive plan to use limited coercive means to block Iran’s nuclear advance, they could have effectively blocked Iran’s progress to nuclear capabilities while preventing war. Such a comprehensive strategy could have included a proxy campaign to destabilize the regime by supporting regime opponents in their quest to overthrow the mullahs. It could have involved air strikes or sabotage of nuclear installations and strategic regime facilities like Revolutionary Guards command and control bases and ballistic missile storage facilities. It could have involved diplomatic isolation of Iran.

Moreover, if sanctions were combined with a stringent policy of blocking Iran’s regional expansion by supporting Iraqi sovereignty, supporting the now deposed government of Yemen and making a concerted effort to weaken Hezbollah and overthrow the Iranian-backed regime in Syria, then the US would have developed a strong deterrent position that would likely have convinced Iran that its interest was best served by curbing its imperialist enthusiasm and setting aside its nuclear ambitions.

In other words, a combination of these steps could have prevented war and prevented a nuclear Iran. But today, the US-led capitulation to Iran has pulled the rug out from any such comprehensive strategy. The administration has no credibility. No one trusts Obama to follow through on his declared commitment to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power.

No one trusts Washington when Obama claims that he is committed to the security of Israel and the US’s Sunni allies in the region.

And so we are now facing the unfolding disaster that Obama has wrought. The disaster is that deal or no deal, the US has just given the Iranians a green light to behave as if they have already built their nuclear umbrella. And they are in fact behaving in this manner.

They may not have a functional arsenal, but they act as though they do, and rightly so, because the US and its partners have just removed all significant obstacles from their path to nuclear capabilities. The Iranians know it. Their proxies know it. Their enemies know it.

As a consequence, all the regional implications of a nuclear armed Iran are already being played out. The surrounding Arab states led by Saudi Arabia are pursuing nuclear weapons. The path to a Middle East where every major and some minor actors have nuclear arsenals is before us.

Iran is working to expand its regional presence as if it were a nuclear state already. It is brazenly using its Yemeni Houthi proxy to gain maritime control over the Bab al-Mandab, which together with Iran’s control over the Straits of Hormuz completes its maritime control over shipping throughout the Middle East.

Israel, Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Eritrea, and their global trading partners will be faced with the fact that their primary maritime shipping route to Asia is controlled by Iran.

With its regional aggression now enjoying the indirect support of its nuclear negotiating partners led by the US, Iran has little to fear from the pan-Arab attempt to dislodge the Houthis from Aden and the Bab al-Mandab. If the Arabs succeed, Iran can regroup and launch a new offensive knowing it will face no repercussions for its aggression and imperialist endeavors.

Then of course there are Iran’s terror proxies.

Hezbollah, whose forces now operate openly in Syria and Lebanon, is reportedly active as well in Iraq and Yemen. These forces behave with a brazenness the likes of which we have never seen.

Hamas too believes that its nuclear-capable Iranian state sponsor ensures that regardless of its combat losses, it will be able to maintain its regime in Gaza and continue using its territory as a launching ground for assaults against Israel and Egypt.

Iran’s Shiite militias in Iraq have reportedly carried out heinous massacres of Sunnis who have fallen under their control and faced no international condemnation for their war crimes, operating as they are under Iran’s protection and sponsorship. And the Houthis, of course, just overthrew a Western-backed government that actively assisted the US and its allies in their campaign against al-Qaida.

For their proxies’ aggression, Iran has been rewarded with effective Western acceptance of its steps toward regional domination and nuclear armament.

Hezbollah’s activities represent an acute and strategic danger to Israel. Not only does Hezbollah now possess precision guided missiles that are capable of taking out strategic installations throughout the country, its arsenal of 100,000 missiles can cause a civilian disaster.

Hezbollah forces have been fighting in varied combat situations continuously for the past three years. Their combat capabilities are incomparably greater than those they fielded in the 2006 Second Lebanon War. There is every reason to believe that these Hezbollah fighters, now perched along Israel’s borders with Lebanon and Syria, can make good their threat to attack and hold fixed targets including border communities.

While Israel faces threats unlike any we have faced in recent decades that all emanate from Western-backed Iranian aggression and expansionism carried out under a Western-sanctioned Iranian nuclear umbrella, Israel is not alone in this reality. The unrolling disaster also threatens the moderate Sunni states including Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates. The now regional war in Yemen is but the first act of the regional war at our doorstep.

There are many reasons this war is now inevitable.

Every state threatened by Iran has been watching the Western collapse in Switzerland.

They have been watching the Iranian advance on the ground. And today all of them are wondering the same thing: When and what should we strike to minimize the threats we are facing.

Everyone recognizes that the situation is only going to get worse. With each passing week, Iran’s power and brazenness will only increase.

Everyone understands this. And this week they learned that with Washington heading the committee welcoming Iran’s regional hegemony and nuclear capabilities, no outside power will stand up to Iran’s rise. The future of every state in the region hangs in the balance. And so, it can be expected that everyone is now working out a means to preempt and prevent a greater disaster.

These preemptive actions will no doubt include three categories of operations: striking Hezbollah’s missile arsenal; striking the Iranian Navy to limit its ability to project its force in the Bab al-Mandab; and conducting limited military operations to destroy a significant portion of Iran’s nuclear installations.

Friday is the eve of Passover. Thirteen years ago, Palestinian terrorists brought home the message of the Exodus when they blew up the Seder at Netanya’s Park Hotel, killing 30, wounding 140, and forcing Israel into war. The message of the Passover Haggada is that there are no shortcuts to freedom. To gain and keep it, you have to be willing to fight for it.

That war was caused by Israel’s embrace of the notion that you can bring peace through concessions that empower an enemy sworn to your destruction. The price of that delusion was thousands of lives lost and families destroyed.

Iran is far more powerful than the PLO. But the Americans apparently believe they are immune from the consequences of their leaders’ policies. This is not the case for Israel or for our neighbors. We lack the luxury of ignoring the fact that Obama’s disastrous diplomacy has brought war upon us. Deal or no deal, we are again about to be forced to pay a price to maintain our freedom.

Saudis Bolster Yemeni Border Attempt to Downplay Likelihood of Ground Invasion

3950970906CSP, by Sean MacCormac, April 1, 2015:

Saudi Arabia’s incursion into Yemen via air strikes may portend a change in the kingdom’s foreign policy. With Washington unwilling to get directly involved further in the Middle East, Saudi Arabia may take it into their own hands to quell the Houthi uprising in the Middle East in order to prevent Iran, the key supporter of the Houthis, from gaining a foothold close to Saudi soil. Previously, Saudi Arabia has been content and dependent on the United States to provide defense, despite a well funded (albeit of dubious competence) military. But with a more confident Iran getting involved in Yemen and Iraq, and the United States more and more on board with Iran concerning the balance of power in the Middle East, the Saudis feel that they cannot count on direct assistance in these harsh times.

With the Houthis capturing a naval base overlooking the strategic Bab el-Mandeb strait on the Red Sea, the Saudis have good reason to be worried. 3.8 million barrels of petroleum and other refined petroleum products pass through the Bab el-Mandeb strait each day, making it the fourth busiest chokepoint in the world.

There has already been significant shelling and exchanged fire over the border by Houthi fighters and Saudi military as of Tuesday. Locals have stated that the combat was the heaviest seen since the beginning of hostilities between Saudi Arabia and the Houthis last week. Saudi Arabia has stated that ground troops will only be used if necessary in Yemen, restricting their current military actions to airstrikes and a blockade of Yemeni ports.Spokesman Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri stated that “limited ground operations” in specific areas were a possibility, but were by no means guaranteed or a first choice of action. Yemeni Foreign Minister Riyadh Yaseen, currently seeking asylum in Saudi Arabia, has however called for an immediate ground intervention in Yemen.

Despite what the official line is over the current Saudi forces on the border being sufficient to hold off the Houthi threat, the Saudis have been moving heavy military equipment down near the Yemeni border, undoubtedly to support these “limited ground operations.” Saudi Arabia can ill afford the conflict in Yemen and its attendant Iranian influence spilling over into its oil-rich, and heavily Shia, Eastern province.

Also see:

The Collapse of Obama’s Geo-Political Equilibrium in the Middle East

Yemen President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, left, meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at Sharm El=Shaik Summit , March 27, 2015. Source: AP/MENA

Yemen President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi, left, meets with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi at Sharm El=Shaik Summit , March 27, 2015. Source: AP/MENA

NER, By Jerry Gordon, March 29, 2015:

This weekend, less than 72 hours before the deadline for P5+1 political framework for Iran’s nuclear program, President Obama’s “offshore balancing” act in the Middle East collapsed. In a January 27, 2014 New Yorkerinterview with editor David Remnick President Obama revealed:

It would be profoundly in the interest of citizens throughout the region if Sunnis and Shiites weren’t intending to kill each other … And although it would not solve the entire problem, if we were able to get Iran to operate in a responsible fashion – not funding terrorist organizations, not trying to stir up sectarian discontent in other countries, and not developing a nuclear weapon – you could see an equilibrium developing between Sunni, or predominantly Sunni, Gulf states and Iran in which there is competition, perhaps suspicion, but not an active or proxy warfare.

His naive  paradigm  of  a geo-political  equilibrium between Shia Iran and Sunni Arabs led by Saudi Arabia foundered with the dramatic intervention by the Saudi Air Force on Wednesday  March 25, 2015 attacking Houthi rebels in northern Yemen , the capital, Sana’a  and targets near Aden.  Operation “determination storm” has begun.  The Saudis gave less than 1 hour notice to the Pentagon and the White House of the launch of the air campaign.  The Administration wasn’t consulted. That effrontery to the leader of the free world was in evidence at the 26th Summit of the Arab League in the Egyptian resort of Sharm El-Shaik. Abed-Rabbo Mansour Hadi, The ousted US- backed President of Yemen, who had fled from Aden to Saudi Arabia, accused the Houthi of being “stooges” for Iran. He refused any offer of a cease fire while the Saudis and Emirati air units continue attacking Houthi forces.  Iran warned the Saudi and Emirate allies of “bloodshed,” if attacks continue.  The Saudi have mobilized 150,000 ground forces for possible action. The US may provide aerial refueling, bombs and air search and rescue for downed pilots as they did for two Saudi pilots on Thursday.

In a statement released today, Secretary General of the Arab League Nabil Al-Araby said   the Arab states would “join ranks and look into taking pre-emptive and defensive arrangements to maintain the Arab national security.”  The Declaration went on to point out:

 the  “conflict between the concept of a modern state and destructive projects that detract the idea of a national state and employ the ethnic, religious and sectarian variation in bloody conflicts, sponsored by external parties.” It cited recent developments in Yemen and the slide the country almost fell into as a flagrant example of these challenges and stressed the dire need for “necessary measures to counter them.”

The Washington Post reported   Arab leaders had effectively announced a “joint military force to intervene in neighboring states grappling with armed insurgencies.”

David P. Goldman in an Asia Times column, “The Middle Eastern Metternichs of Riyadh, noted the stunning assertion of the Saudi leadership in the confrontation with Iran over the US policy collapse in the Middle East and failures in Yemen:

A premise of the “realist” view that American policy in the region should shift towards Iran was that the Saudi monarchy would collapse and Sunni power along with it. All of us underestimated the Saudis.

Now the Saudis have emerged at the top of a Sunni coalition against Iran–limited for the moment to the Houthi insurgency in Yemen, to be sure, but nonetheless the most impressive piece of diplomacy in the Sunni world since Nasser, and perhaps in modern times. That attributes a lot of importance to a coalition assembled for a minor matter in a small country, but it may be the start of something important: the self-assertion of the Sunni world in response to the collapse of American regional power, the threat of Sunni jihadist insurgencies, and the Shi’ite bid for regional hegemony.

There was more drama in Lausanne, Switzerland, when an Iranian journalist Amir Hossein Motaghi, a former election aide to Islamic Republic President Rouhani defected. The UK Telegraph reported Motaghi saying: “The US negotiating team is mainly there to speak on Iran’s behalf with other members of the 5+1 countries and convince them of a deal.” Meanwhile Secretary of State Kerry and the US team are endeavoring to have the P5+1 approve a verbal outline of a political framework with the intransigent Iranians, who demand immediate lifting of financial sanctions while denying compliance with IAEA requests for background information on past military application developments.

These developments gave rise to further criticism by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu who warned  at a Sunday   cabinet meeting that:

 Iran is trying to “conquer the entire Middle East” as the West appears close to signing a pending nuclear deal with Israel’s arch-enemy.

“This deal, as it appears to be emerging, bears out all of our fears, and even more than that,” Netanyahu told his cabinet in Jerusalem, according to Reuters.

Doubtless, Netanyahu will have more to say to US House Speaker John Boehner who travels to Jerusalem this week for a previously arranged meeting with the Israeli Prime Minister in the midst of cobbling together a ruling majority following his victory in the March 17th, Knesset elections.

The failure of a US supported state in Yemen adds to the growing shadow of Iranian Hegemony over four Arab capitals in the Levant; Beirut, Damascus, Baghdad and now Sana’a.  Should the Saudi and Gulf emirates air attacks not succeed in halting the Iran-backed Houthi conquest of the remaining stronghold of Aden, then Iran may control a major international geo-resource choke hold on the Red Sea with significant economic repercussions.  The prospect of a Shia Sunni sectarian war in the Middle East fuels the apocalyptic end time’s vision of chaos of the Iranian Shia Mahdists  are seeking to arouse the moribund Twelfth Imam from his slumber at the bottom of the holy well in the holy city of Qum hard by the underground uranium enrichment cascade hall of Fordow.

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, elected by the Assembly of Experts  to fulfill that  bizarre Islamic obligation, is on the verge of achieving the ultimate symbol of chaos – becoming a nuclear threshold state courtesy of the looming  P5+1 political framework that may be announced on March 31st. With Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, ISIS cells, the vanquishing of US counterterrorism in the region, Iran has achieved its goal of fomenting chaos to bring about end times.   As night follows day, Sectarian war between Sunni Arab states and Shia Mahdmen in Tehran could erupt.  All while the Administration in Washington abandons Israel surrounded by Iranian proxies, Hezbollah, Hamas and Sunni Salafist Islamic State seeking its destruction.  Is this the legacy that President Obama wants to leave behind when he leaves the White House in January 2017?  If it is, then his pursuit of an accommodation with an Iran equipped with a stockpile of nuclear weapons and nuclear warhead tipped Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles amounts to colossal appeasement and “faithless execution” of his oath of office as Commander in Chief to protect America from all enemies, foreign and domestic.

This weekend the President was in Florida playing golf  in Palm City, Florida with a Halliburton Director and the Houston Astros owner while his global equilibrium went up in flames. So much for his feeling the pain of the middle class.   Stay tuned for further developments.

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Fox News Exclusive: Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn (Ret.) Interviewed by Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday

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Israel on Iran deal: “The world has gone crazy…”

Why Yemen Matters

by Daniel Pipes
Washington Times
March 28, 2015

The Middle East witnessed something radically new two days ago, when the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia responded to a plea by Yemen’s president and led a 10-country coalition to intervene in the air and on the ground in the country. “Operation Decisive Storm” prompts many reflections:

Saudi and Egypt in alliance: Half a century ago, Riyadh and Cairo were active in a Yemen war, but then they supported opposing sides, respectively the status-quo forces and the revolutionaries. Their now being allies points to continuity in Saudia along with profound changes in Egypt.

Arabic-speakers getting their act together: Through Israel’s early decades, Arabs dreamt of uniting militarily against it but the realities of infighting and rivalries smashed every such hope. Even on the three occasions (1948-49, 1967, 1973) when they did join forces, they did so at cross purposes and ineffectively. How striking, then that finally they should coalesce not against Israel but against Iran. This implicitly points to their understanding that the Islamic Republic of Iran poses a real threat, whereas anti-Zionism amounts to mere indulgence. It also points to panic and the need to take action resulting from a stark American retreat.

Arab leaders have a long history of meeting but not cooperating. From the right: King Hussein of Jordan, Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, Yasir Arafat of the PLO, and Muammar Qaddafi of Libya in September 1970.

Yemen at the center of attention: Yemen played a peripheral role in the Bible, in the rise of Islam, and in modern times; it’s never been the focus of world concern – until suddenly now. Yemen resembles other once-marginal countries – the Koreas, Cuba, the Vietnams, Afghanistan – which out of nowhere became the focus of global concern.

The Middle East cold war went hot: The Iranian and Saudi regimes have headed dueling blocs for about a decade. They did combat as the U.S. and Soviet governments once did – via contending ideologies, espionage, aid, trade, and covert action. On March 26, that cold war went hot, where it’s likely long to remain.

Can the Saudi-led coalition win? Highly unlikely, as these are rookies taking on Iran’s battle-hardened allies in a forbidding terrain.

Islamists dominate: The leaders of both blocs share much: both aspire universally to apply the sacred law of Islam (the Shari’a), both despise infidels, and both turned faith into ideology. Their falling out confirms Islamism as the Middle East’s only game, permitting its proponents the luxury to fight each other.

The Turkey-Qatar-Muslim Brotherhood alliance in decline: A third alliance of Sunni revisionists somewhere between the Shi’i revolutionaries and the Sunni status-quotians has been active during recent years in many countries – Iraq, Syria, Egypt, Libya. But now, in part thanks to diplomacy initiated by the brand-new King Salman of Saudi Arabia, its members are gravitating toward their Sunni co-religionists.

King Salman of Saudi Arabia has done something unprecedented in putting together a military coalition.

Isolated Iran: Yes, a belligerent Tehran now boasts of dominating four Arab capitals (Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut, Sana’a) but that’s also its problem: abrupt Iranian gains have many in the region (including such previously friendly states as Pakistan and Sudan) fearing Iran.

Sidelining the Arab-Israeli conflict: If the Obama administration and European leaders remain obsessed with Palestinians, seeing them as key to the region, regional players have far more urgent priorities. Not only does Israel hardly concern them but the Jewish state serves as a tacit auxiliary of the Saudi-led bloc. Does this change mark a long-term shift in Arab attitudes toward Israel? Probably not; when the Iran crisis fades, expect attention to return to the Palestinians and Israel, as it always does.

American policy in disarray: Middle East hands rightly scoffed in 2009 when Barack Obama and his fellow naïfs expected that by leaving Iraq, smiling at Tehran, and trying harder at Arab-Israeli negotiations they would fix the region, permitting a “pivot” to East Asia. Instead, the incompetents squatting atop the U.S. government cannot keep up with fast-moving, adverse events, many of its own creation (anarchy in Libya, tensions with traditional allies, a more bellicose Iran).

Impact on a deal with Iran: Although Washington has folded on many positions in negotiations with Iran and done the mullah’s regime many favors (for example, not listing it or its Hizbullah ally as terrorist), it drew a line in Yemen, offering the anti-Iran coalition some support. Will Iran’s Supreme Leader Ali Khamene’i now stomp out of the talks? Highly unlikely, for the deal offered him is too sweet to turn down.

American diplomats meet again with their Iranian counterparts to capitulate on yet another difference.

In sum, Salman’s skilled diplomacy and his readiness to use force in Yemen responds to the deadly combination of Arab anarchy, Iranian aggression, and Obama weakness in a way that will shape the region for years.

Mr. Pipes (DanielPipes.org, @DanielPipes) is president of the Middle East Forum. © 2015 by Daniel Pipes. All rights reserved.

Also see:

Obama’s Mideast ‘free fall’

Barack Obama faces a slew of Middle East crises that some call the worst in a generation, as new chaos from Yemen to Iraq — along with deteriorating U.S.-Israeli relations — is confounding the president’s efforts to stabilize the region and strike a nuclear deal with Iran.

The meltdown has Obama officials defending their management of a region that some call impossible to control, even as critics say U.S. policies there are partly to blame for the spreading anarchy.

“If there’s one lesson this administration has learned, from President Obama’s 2009 Cairo speech through the Arab Spring, it’s that when it comes to this region, nothing happens in a linear way — and precious little is actually about us, which is a hard reality to accept,” said a senior State Department official.

Not everyone is so forgiving. “We’re in a goddamn free fall here,” said James Jeffrey, who served as Obama’s ambassador to Iraq and was a top national security aide in the George W. Bush White House.

For years, members of the Obama team have grappled with the chaotic aftermath of the Arab Spring. But of late they have been repeatedly caught off-guard, raising new questions about America’s ability to manage the dangerous region.

Obama officials were surprised earlier this month, for instance, when the Iraqi government joined with Iranian-backed militias to mount a sudden offensive aimed at freeing the city of Tikrit from the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Nor did they foresee the swift rise of the Iranian-backed rebels who toppled Yemen’s U.S.-friendly government and disrupted a crucial U.S. counterterrorism mission against Al Qaeda there.

Both situations took dramatic new turns this week. The U.S. announced its support for a Saudi-led coalition of 10 Sunni Arab nations that began bombing the Houthis, while Egypt threatened to send ground troops — a move that could initiate the worst intra-Arab war in decades.

Meanwhile, the U.S. launched airstrikes against ISIL in Tikrit after originally insisting it would sit out that offensive. U.S. officials had hoped to avoid coordination with Shiite militias under the direct control of Iranian commanders in the country.

Now the U.S. is in the strange position of fighting ISIL alongside Iran at the same time it backs the Sunni campaign against Iran’s allies in Yemen — even as Secretary of State John Kerry hopes to seal a nuclear deal with Iran in Switzerland within days.

On Thursday, Iran’s foreign minister, who has been meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry in Switzerland to discuss Iran’s nuclear program, demanded an immediate halt to the Yemen incursion.

At the same time, civil war rages on in Syria. On Thursday, Robert Menendez, the ranking Democrat on the Senate Foreign Affairs Committee, sent Obama a letter urging him to respond to charges that the regime of Bashar Assad — a close ally of Tehran — has used chlorine gas against civilians. In late 2013, Obama threatened to punish Assad with airstrikes after his forces deployed nerve gas.

Also in chaos is Libya, home to two dueling governments — and another target of cross-border Arab military action when Egypt and the United Arab Emirates conducted airstrikes against alleged Islamic extremists there in August. That action also reportedly surprised U.S. officials.

It all amounts to a far cry from Obama’s optimistic vision when he came to office suggesting that by withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq and focusing on Israeli-Palestinian peace he could stabilize, if not completely calm, the long-troubled area.

Instead, Obama looks poised to leave an even more dangerous and unpredictable region than the one he inherited in 2009.

“The mood here is that we really are at a crisis point that is unprecedented in recent memory,” said Suzanne Maloney, a senior fellow in the Middle East policy center at the Brookings Institution, who spoke from the Qatari capital of Doha. “This feels more intense and more complicated” than past moments of turmoil, Maloney added.

Read more at Politico

Do read the article Crash Position linked to in the featured graphic…h/t Sundance

Egypt seizes Bab el Mandeb ahead of Iran. Saudis bomb Iran-backed Yemeni Houthis. US launches air strikes over Tikrit

Yemen3_1DEBKAfile Special Report March 26, 2015:

In a surprise step, Egyptian marine naval and marine forces Thursday morning, March 26, seized control of the strategic Bab El-Mandeb Straits to foil Tehran’s plans to grab this important energy shipping gateway between the Red Sea, the Gulf of Aden and the Suez Canal, DEBKAfile’s military sources report from the Gulf. Egypt disguised the raid as a counter-piracy operation. It rounded off the Saudi-led air strikes launched the same morning against Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. These operations signaled the start of a major Sunni Arab revolt against Iran’s approaching takeover of Yemen, through its Houthi proxy, and advances in other strategic positions in the Middle East, with Washington’s support.
Thursday morning too, the US launched the US launched its first air strikes against Islamic State positions in the Iraqi city of Tikrit, rallying to the aid of the Iranian-commanded Iraqi operation, which had failed to dislodge the jihadis in two weeks of fighting.

The separate operations in Yemen and Iraq attested to the widening breach between the Sunni Arab camp and the Obama administration and the former’s resolve to thwart US strategy for buying a nuclear deal with Tehran by empowering Iran to attain the rank of leading Middle East power.
DEBKAfile reported earlier Thursday morning:

Iran’s Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) are now leading war action in four Mid East arenas: Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon,while building Shiite “popular” armies deferring to Tehran in three: Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

The formal announcements coming from Riyadh and Washington attempted to gloss over the open breach. The Saudis Wednesday indicated that their military buildup on the Yemeni was “purely defensive,” while Washington subsequently declared support for the Saudi-Gulf-Egyptian air strikes after they began.

According to our Washington sources, President Obama decided Wednesday to accede to the Iraqi premier Haider al-Abadi’s request for air support to de-stall the Tikrit operation against ISIS. Iran’s Al Qods Brigades chief, Gen. Qassem Soleimani, who commanded the operation from the start has departed the scene.

Nothing has been said to indicate whether the Iranian forces, including Revolutionary Guards officers, remain in the area. It appears that the Obama administration prefers as little as possible to be mentioned about US-Iranian battlefield coordination in Iraq versus the Islamists, especially since it was not exactly a big success. At the same time, US air strikes launched to support ground forces are bound to be coordinated with their commanders, who in this case happen to be mostly Iranian. In the last two weeks of the Tikrit operation, liaison between the US and Iranian military in Iraq was routed through the office of the Iraqi Prime Minister in Baghdad.

Early Thursday, Riyadh reported that the Saudi Royal Air Force had taken out Houthi air defenses, destroyed numerous Houthi fighter planes and were imposing a wide no-fly zone over Yemen.

Egypt is providing political and military support for Saudi-GCC operation against Houthi fighters in Yemen, the Egyptian state news agency said Thursday. Egypt’s Foreign Ministry was quoted as saying this support could involve Egyptian air, naval and ground forces, if necessary.

DEBKAfile’s military sources add: The Saudis declared Yemeni air space a no-fly zone to achieve to goals: (1) To deny the Yemeni forces advancing on the key port city of Aden access to air cover which would undoubtedly have been forthcoming from mutinous elements of the Yemeni air force. Without it, the rebel advance would be severely hobbled, and, (2) to prevent Iranian warplanes from landing at Yemeni air bases with deliveries of military equipment and ammunition  their Houthi proxies.
Gulf sources disclose that Saudi Arabia has placed 100 warplanes and 150,000 troops with heavy weapons at the disposal of the operation against Iran’s Yemeni proxy, the Zaydi Houthis, as well as pressing into service Pakistani, Moroccan and Jordanian military units. This force is a sign that Riyadh intends of following up its air action with a ground invasion across the border into Yemen to crush the revolt in its backyard.

Developing…

Also see:

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Leftist think tank misunderstands reasons for Jihad against Christians

CAP-300x240Religious Freedom Coalition, by Andrew Harrod, Mar 17th, 2015:

Center for American Progress (CAP) Senior Fellow Brian Katulis described at a March 12 CAP panel persecution of Middle East Christians as a topic “near and dear to our hearts” at a CAP that is “strongly supportive of the values of pluralism.”  Yet CAP’s report on this issue presented by the panel revealed that the George Soros-funded CAP still has difficulty jumping over its leftist biases while grappling with Islam’s darker aspects that even CAP can no longer ignore.

“You can’t help but see this issue staring you in the face,” Katulis said of current persecution faced by Middle East Christians before an audience of over 60 filling CAP’s conference hall in Washington, DC.  He described current Middle East Christian tribulations as part of a “longer term trend in the region” of Christian exodus.  The Middle East Institute’s Paul Salem, a Christian from Lebanon, agreed that from the Ottoman Empire’s end until today the “overall trends are worrisome, are negative” for the region’s Christians.  These comments relativized his assessment that the “twentieth century was actually a great leap forward for Christians” after the fall of the Ottoman Empire with its repressive Islamic dhimmi regulations for Christians.  Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy Professor Elizabeth Prodromou described a “century long process…of Christian decline.”

Prodromou explained that regional conditions for Christians “have declined so precipitously” even without actual violence from the Middle East’s Muslim majority.  “Separate and unequal” legal regimes discriminating against Christians in favor of Muslims have afflicted Middle Eastern Christians for over a century.  “Property rights regimes…have been used throughout the twentieth century to disenfranchise Christians.”  Laws required, for example, that religious schools have a minimum number of students, a stipulation increasingly prohibitive for declining Christian populations.

The Plight of Christians in the Middle East, which Katulis had coauthored, reflected panelist comments about pervasive Muslim hostility against Christians throughout Middle Eastern history.  CAP’s report noted the “particularly devastating year” of 1915 and its Ottoman genocides of numerous Christian communities including the Armenians.  CAP referred curiously vaguely to “those events” that “resulted in the death and forced migration of millions of Christians.”

Today “Christians have migrated from the region in increasing numbers,” read the report, as part of a “longer-term exodus related to violence, persecution, and lack of economic opportunities.”  “Islamist groups” such as the Muslim Brotherhood and ISIS as well as “institutional discrimination found in the legal codes and official practices of many Middle Eastern countries” plagued together Christians.  Under blasphemy laws, for example, Christians and others “are often threatened with imprisonment for any perceived negative comments against Islam or proselytizing for other religions.”

Yet CAP determined strangely that “understanding these conflicts as primarily rooted in religious or theological disputes is incorrect.”  The report asserted that “most of what is happening to Christians in the Middle East is the result of wider regional trends related to struggles for power and the use of religion as a tool to build influence.”  Katulis in his panel comments spoke of a “misuse of religion.”  This “use of religion for political purposes is common in many countries in the Middle East,” the report stated, as if no actual religious fervor motivated regimes like the Islamic Republic of Iran or groups like ISIS.

References to Islamic ideology nonetheless appeared in CAP’s report, even as it contradictorily denied Muslim motives for Middle Eastern power struggles.  The report mentioned “Shia-Sunni sectarian struggles” and how groups like ISIS “follow an ultra-orthodox” but somehow “skewed interpretation of Islam.”  The report’s solitary reference to Islamic law or sharia noted that “Christians were faced with stark options from ISIS:  pay a jizya tax or religious levy imposed in previous eras of Islamic rule, convert, or die.”

desecrationThe report made the small concession that the “status of Christians living in Israel is generally better than their counterparts in the occupied territories and conflict-ridden places such as Iraq.”  CAP ignored thereby that Israel is the only Middle Eastern country whose Christian population has grown in recent decades and that Israeli Christians outperform the country’s Jewish majority in education.  Nonetheless, in CAP’s relativizing judgment “Christians living in the West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, and Israel share the concerns about equal citizenship under the law faced by Christians across the Middle East.”CAP noted that the Israeli-Palestinian “lands where Christianity was born have witnessed a substantial dwindling of the presence of the native Christian community over the past century.”  The report mentioned the “rise of Islamist extremists” under Hamas, but related Palestinian Christian suffering more “to the broader factors that affect all Palestinians” like “restrictions on movement” under “Israeli occupation.”  This analysis does not explain why only the Christian population of the Palestinian territories, and not the Muslim, isdeclining.

CAP contradicts here the Christian human rights organization Open Doors, previously praised by CAP panelist and religious freedom expert Nina Shea of the Hudson Institute.  Its 2015 World Watch List (WWL) names the Palestinian territories and all Middle Eastern countries except for Israel among the 50 most oppressive societies worldwide for Christians.  While Open Doors notes Israeli-Palestinian conflict effects upon Palestinian Christians, “Islamic extremism” is the driving force behind the Palestinian territories number 26 spot on the WWL.

The WWL also qualifies CAP’s positive assessment of Jordan as “one of the few safe havens for Christians fleeing conflict and repression in other parts of the region.”  Like Shea previously, CAP praises that the “Hashemite monarchy in Jordan has sent the message of tolerance and inclusivity” with “numerous conferences…promoting interfaith dialogue.”  “Islamic extremism,” the main source of Christian persecution in 40 of 50 WWL countries, however, brings Jordan into the number 30 spot.

CAP’s one-sided praise for Jordan combined with unwarranted criticism of Israel reflects the report’s inadequacies.  The report and insightful comments from Prodromou showed how Islamic animosity towards Christians appeared throughout various historical periods and political regimes.  CAP, however, largely avoided affiliating hostility against Christians with Islamic doctrine, leaving unexplained this phenomenon’s persistence.  CAP also did not investigate whether Islam presents similar hostilities towards Jews, something that would call into question the report’s invocation of a two-state solution for Palestine.  CAP seemed to shun any politically incorrect taint of “Islamophobia,” the subject of past CAP reports (see here and here).  While it is encouraging that even a leftist think tank like CAP has acknowledged rational concerns about Islam, successfully countering them will demand deeper probing of this faith than CAP has provided.

IRAN ASCENDANT

 RezaShrine

Philos Project, by Andrew Harrod, March 17, 2015:

Iran is now the rising power of the Middle East.

That’s what Hudson Institute scholar Michael Doran had to say on a February 20 panel commemorating a decade since the 2005 assassination of Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri. While Sunni atrocities at the hands of ISIS have captured the world’s attention, Doran and his fellow panelists argued that the Iranian-led Shiite alliance now expanding in the region is actually a far greater threat.

Doran’s colleague Lee Smith opened the panel by noting that Hariri’s Hezbollah “murderers still walk free” while the Obama administration cooperates with the Hezbollah’s patron, the Islamic Republic of Iran.  He noted that Persian Iran currently dominates four Arab capitals in Lebanon, Iraq, Syria, and Yemen. Obama’s heavy focus on countering Sunni extremism “left the door open” to Iranian regional domination, Doran observed.

How is Iran making such tremendous gains? Doran described Iran’s “winning formula” of projecting its revolutionary power around the region through its Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), an organization that specializes in a mix of special operations, intelligence gathering, and aid distribution.  While the United States had difficulty channeling America’s “awesome power” during the 2006 Iraq war surge, the IRGC has successfully mounted similar operations all around the region. Doran pointed out that the Iranians “are just smarter than we are” in the Middle East, and are more willing “to kick you in the groin.” Meanwhile, Lebanese journalist Hussain Abdul Hussain recalled that the United States has “always been willing to bail” on allies, especially in his country.

What is the IRGC doing exactly? Foundation for the Defense of Democracies analyst Tony Badran explained that Iran’s export of revolution entails not so much the creation of a wider Islamic republic but the creation of a “militia movement…parallel to the state.”  This movement becomes an interlocutor with the outside world while also infiltrating existing state institutions. Take Hezbollah for example. Mythology notwithstanding, Hezbollah now effectively controls the Lebanese armed forces, once dominated by the country’s Christian population, and ensures that only an Iran-based policy will succeed in the country. The real power in Lebanon, Doran concurred, lies in militias like Hezbollah.

Badran explained how Iran wields Hezbollah, the “crown jewel” of the IRGC, as an “expeditionary force” around the region. Hussain elaborated that in this “Iranian era,” when states are collapsing everywhere, Syria’s dictator Bashir al-Assad has become an “Iranian viceroy” who is “totally dependent” upon Hezbollah.  Doran noted that the security sector in Iraq is now totally under the thumb of the Iranians, making that country’s elected officials almost irrelevant.

But Iran’s growing influence doesn’t stop at the borders of the Middle East. Doran also analyzed how Iranian influence prevented Obama from pursuing regime change in Syria despite consistent urgings from his National Security Council (NSC).  Overthrowing Assad could prompt Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq to turn from fighting ISIS to fighting the Americans.  Iran might also cancel its nuclear nonproliferation agreement with the United States. Thus, it is Iranian red lines, not American ones, that are dictating America’s activity (or non-activity) in Syria.

The view from Israel is a complex one. Badran noted that Israeli policymakers are divided over whether ISIS or the Iranian coalition is the greater threat in Syria.  Therefore, the Israelis have refrained from attempting to shift Syria’s internal power balance. But if the Israelis did ultimately move against Assad, Doran felt “almost certain” that they would find themselves at loggerheads with the Obama administration.

Doran saw “only one choice” of American policy towards Iran — opposition and not accommodation — but worried about finding regional allies who would prove up to the task.  Who would stand against Iran? ISIS?  Talking about confronting Iran, Badran said, means “you really are talking about Israel” since the Gulf States are still too weak and disorganized to be taken seriously.

All hope is not lost, however. Doran emphasized that Americans “are a great power,” even though “we may not feel like it.” At any rate, we’re a “hell of a lot stronger” than Iran. Hussain considered “far-fetched” the prospect of two million Alawites under Assad in Syria and one million Shiites in Lebanon, only one-third the population, controlling these two countries as minorities.  Hezbollah, Badran observed, is “very small” with only about 5,000 fighters, 1,000 of whom are now dead after fighting in Syria.

Hussain considered the 2006 Iraq surge a “brilliant model” that could be applicable to Lebanon and Syria.  Aided by the US, Sunni tribes in these countries, as well as Shiite tribes in Lebanon opposed to Hezbollah, could confront Iranian alliance together. In the meantime, Hussain found Obama’s NSC so incompetent that he advocated abolishing it.

The Hudson Institute panel demonstrated once again that the West has many foes and few friends in the Middle East.  While the  Sunni jihadists of ISIS transfix the world with decapitations, an even more powerful Iranian-led Shiite alliance endangers the delicate balance of the region.  Trying to counter both of these threats at the same time presents numerous dilemmas, and inexperienced outsiders must beware the Middle East’s shifting political sands.

Also see:

American Embassy in Saudi Arabia Closed Amid Rising ISIS Threat

March 14, 2015 / /

The US State Department (DoS) announced the cancellation of all consular services for Sunday and Monday due to “heightened security concerns” that our sources in-country say has to do with an increased threat from the Islamic State (IS) to abduct western oil workers in the eastern part of the country. Specifically, an IS cell operating in the eastern part of the country has become increasingly active since last SEP 14. Much of this is the spillover we discussed in our previous article titled, “Iranian Regime Consolidates Yemeni Gains, Forming Houthi Intel Proxy.” As the IRGC-Qods Force and its proxies increase their OP-Tempo inside Saudi Arabia, so has IS. We are aware of specific threats targeting two oil workers, a French citizen and a US citizen. There’s also a separate VBIED threat targeting either the consulate in Dharhan or the embassy itself (we’re still working to identify the target location).

US shuts down Saudi embassy amid security fears
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-31893070

US Embassy Warns Oil Workers of Saudi Arabia Kidnap Threat
http://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/us-embassy-warns-oil-workers-saudi-arabia-kidnap-29636051

US Embassy in Saudi Arabia halts operations amid ‘heightened security concerns
http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/03/14/us-embassy-in-saudi-arabia-halts-operations-amid-heightened-security-concerns/?intcmp=latestnews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+feedburner%2FidRmZ+%28FOXNews.com%29

Saudi Arabia Travel Warning
http://travel.state.gov/content/passports/english/alertswarnings/saudi-arabia-travel-warning.html

Iranian Regime Consolidates Yemeni Gains, Forming Houthi Intel Proxy
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=5580

Shia Proxy Threat to US ISIS Strategy in Saudi Arabia
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=1837

riyadh

Source: BBC

In our piece titled “The Islamic State’s Arabian Peninsula Campaign,” we discussed how IS was forced into conducting operations inside the Saudi kingdom due to increased targeting by Saudi security forces and the IRGC-Qods Force. We saw that in the early-JAN 15 attack on a Saudi border post along the Iraqi border that IS took responsibility for in a video put out by their Anbar, Iraq-based media outlet. The individuals responsible for the attack were part of the Abdullah bin Sayid al-Sarhan attack network. This same network was also responsible for the deaths of five Shia locals under suspicions of being proxies for the IRGC-Qods Force back in NOV 14. The network was also responsible for a separate attack on two US citizens and a Danish national. This is the same part of Eastern Saudi Arabia that the French and American national IS is planning to abduct are located.

The Islamic State’s Arabian Peninsula Campaign
http://isisstudygroup.com/?p=4558

ISIS Claims Attack On Saudi Arabia Border, Signals Strategy Change In Militant Infiltration
http://www.ibtimes.com/isis-claims-attack-saudi-arabia-border-signals-strategy-change-militant-infiltration-1773754

Masked gunmen kill five in Saudi Arabia
http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/nov/04/masked-gunmen-kill-five-saudi-arabia

saudiborder

IS fighters along the Saudi-Iraq border
Source: International Business Times

The Saudis have detained over 150 IS fighters, facilitators and financiers over the past year. IS has already established a presence along the Iraq-Saudi border despite the ongoing project to erect a wall along the border. That presence enables them to send fighters and weapons across the border to and from the country at will, although Saudi military patrols have increased in recent months to interdict these smuggling operations. There are also elements of AQAP that have defected to the new IS-affiliate in Yemen, which suggests that the areas along the Southern border may be in play as well. Also keep in mind that Baghdadi specifically threatened Saudi Arabia in a NOV 14 video on “the next battlegrounds.” The current IS effort in Yemen, like their Iranian counterparts, appears to be connected to their operations in Saudi Arabia. We expect the threat to our fellow Americans and our country’s interests will continue to be threatened as the violence escalates on the Arabian Peninsula from IS, AQAP and the Iranian regime. We will continue to monitor develops in the country and update accordingly…

Saudi Arabia arrests first ISIS-related terror cell (this article has pics in it)
http://www.aawsat.net/2014/05/article55332025

Islamic State sets sights on Saudi Arabia
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-30061109

ISIS gaining ground in Yemen, competing with al Qaeda
http://www.cnn.com/2015/01/21/politics/isis-gaining-ground-in-yemen/

Links to Other Related Articles:

Filipinos Among Arrested in Saudi Terror Sweep

Large-Scale Saudi Security Sweep Detains 88

Possible Cracks to The AQ Armor.

How Arab Spring Opened the Door to Terrorism’s Ugly March

ISIS Al-Qaeda Militants Fighting Syrian Civil WarDaily Signal, Sharyl Attkisson,  March 12, 2015:

It’s not your imagination. Global terrorism, dominated by Muslim extremist groups, is by far the worst it’s been in modern times.

In the past six years, the United States has added 21 names to its list of foreign terrorist organizations: all but one of them radical Muslim groups. That’s more than the previous 10 years combined.

At the same time, the number of terrorist acts has shattered previous records. Experts predict data for 2014, which is still being compiled, will likely reflect more than 15,000 terrorist attacks: a vast increase over 2013—which was already the deadliest year for global terrorism since data was first collected in 1970.

The Institute for Economics and Peace reported 10,000 terrorist incidents killed 18,000 people in 2013. Nine countries were added to the list of nations where more than 50 lives were lost to terrorist attacks in a single year.

Hundreds of people in the Turkish village of Suruc, near the border town of Kobane in northern Syria, accompany the coffins of three Kurdish fighters who died while battling ISIS militants. (Photo: Barbaros Kayan/Newscom)

Arab Spring Devolves Into Terrorist Winter

Eleven terrorist groups have been added to the U.S. list of foreign terrorist organizations since the Arab Spring.

“Arab Spring” is the popular name given to the democratic wave of civil unrest in the Arab world that began in December 2010 and lasted through mid-2012.

It turns out the revolutionary movement created an ideal environment for terrorism to grow and thrive.

“Terrorists realized they could exploit the confusion and vacuum in power created by the uprisings,” says a U.S. intelligence officer stationed in Libya during the Arab Spring movement. He says terrorists used social media to stoke civil unrest and take advantage of the chaos.

In the Arab Spring’s wake, Egypt and Tunisia disbanded the security structures that had helped keep jihadists in check, and freed many Islamist and jihadist political prisoners. In Libya, parts of the country fell entirely outside government control, providing openings for violent terrorist movements.

“Many of the regimes weakened or deposed by the Arab Spring were among Washington’s most effective counterterrorism partners,” noted Juan Zarate in an analysis written in June 2011.

A senior adviser at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Zarate said the political upheaval created “new space” for al-Qaeda and associated terrorist movements to operate where none existed before.

Graphic: Kelsey Harris

Predictions Fulfilled

The idea that revolutionary uprisings might open the door to terrorists was well-recognized by analysts such as Zarate at the time.

“The chaos and disappointment that follow revolutions will inevitably provide many opportunities for al-Qaeda to spread its influence,” Zarate predicted in an April 17, 2011, analysis. “Al-Qaeda’s leaders … know that this is a strategic moment. They are banking on the disillusionment that inevitably follows revolutions to reassert their prominence in the region.”

Two years later, on Aug. 5, 2013, Zarate warned, “we are now at risk of failing to imagine how the terrorist threat may be changing—well beyond the exclusive al-Qaeda prism.”

Al-Qaeda-Linked Groups: “The Most Lethal”

In the first nine months of 2014, nearly 13,000 terrorist attacks killed more than 31,000 people, according to the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START) at the University of Maryland.

Screen Shot 2015-03-11 at 7.44.03 PM

Far from fading away, al-Qaeda’s legacy has only grown, says START Executive Director William Braniff.

“It is clear that groups generally associated with al-Qaeda remain the most lethal groups in the world, and it is their violence that has driven global increases in activity and lethality,” Braniff reported in congressional testimony Feb. 13.

About half of the terrorist attacks and fatalities occurred in just three countries: Iraq, Pakistan and Afghanistan. Al-Qaeda spinoff ISIS was responsible for more terrorist activity than any other single group.

150310_Terrorists_Sharyl-v2

Today’s Landscape

ISIS has declared itself a “Caliphate,” which refers to an Islamic form of government led by an authoritative power considered a successor to the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Braniff says ISIS sees the growth of its Caliphate as “the means to the end of a final, decisive military confrontation with the West.”

“In countries where terrorism crowds out nonviolent activism, civilians often have little choice but to align with extremist organizations out of concerns for self-preservation,” Braniff says. “This is one mechanism in which extremist ideologies and groups can gain sway over larger swathes of society.”

Zarate, author of “Treasury’s War: The Unleashing of a New Era of Financial Warfare,” says ISIS is “piggy-backing” off the work of al-Qaeda and beginning to advance the global agenda of Sharia rule.

Sharia calls for harsh punishments, such as stoning, amputation or execution, for offenses such as wine drinking and infidelity.

Most Muslim countries do not strictly employ these classic punishments, but the United Nations estimates thousands of women are killed each year in Sharia-justified “honor killings”: victims murdered for bringing “dishonor” to one’s family. ISIS has become known for employing other Sharia measures such as genital cutting, child marriage, stoning and execution by crucifixion.

ISIS fighters holding the Al-Qaeda flag with "Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant" written on it. (Photo: Medyan Dairieh/Newscom)

“I worry about what the strategic implications are if groups like ISIS have physical space, leadership and innovation to bring their wild imaginings to fruition,” says Zarate, a former deputy national security adviser for combating terrorism.

“Anytime we allow terrorist organizations with smart, committed and dedicated groups of individuals to adapt and think strategically about how to pursue their agenda to include attacking the U.S.—that’s a dangerous position to be in.”

Sharyl Attkisson, an Emmy award-winning investigative journalist, is a senior independent contributor to The Daily Signal. She is the author of “Stonewalled.” Send an email to Sharyl. – 

Obama Appoints Special Envoy For Middle East; Robert Malley Worked For Organization With Two Trustees Part Of Global Muslim Brotherhood

icg1By on March 10, 2015:

US media is reporting that President Obama has appointed former International Crisis Group executive as his new special assistant for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region. According to one report:

March 8, 2015 The White House has appointed Robert Malley as a new special assistant to President Barack Obama for the Middle East, North Africa and the Gulf region.

Malley, who now works as Senior Director of National Security Council of the White House (NSC) on Iran, Iraq, Syria and the Gulf countries, will start his work in the new position on April 6, succeeding the retiring Philip Gordon, RIA Novosti reports.

In a statement, Susan Rice said Gordon ‘is leaving the White House to spend more time with his family and to carry out other professional endeavors. A a better replacement for Phil than Rob just cannot be found, he is one of the most respected experts in our country, who from February 2014 played a key role in shaping our policy on Iran, Iraq and the Gulf countries.’

Malley worked for Obama in his first run for president as a foreign policy advisor. He was later fired or meeting with the Palestinian group Hamas, which the U.S. State Department classifies as a terrorist organization. ‘He was one of literally hundreds of informal, outside advisors,’ Obama spokesman Bill Burton told ABC News.

Malley has been a criticized in the past as insufficiently supportive of Israel. In October 1998, he was appointed Special Assistant to President Clinton for Arab-Israeli Affairs, a post he held until the end of the administration in 2001. He participated in the failed 2000 Camp David accords and said that Yasser Arafat was not the only one to blame for those talks breaking down, ABC noted.

In February 2014, the GMBDW reported that President Obama had selected Robert Malley as the senior director at the National Security Council responsible for devising US policy in the Middle East. As that report noted, Mr. Malley was formerly the program director for the Middle East and North Africa at the International Crisis Group (ICG). As we also noted at that time and will repeat here, there are additional serious questions about the influence of the Muslim Brotherhood/Hamas within the ICG, founded in 1995 as “an international non-governmental organization on the initiative of a group of well known transatlantic figures who despaired at the international community’s failure to anticipate and respond effectively to the tragedies in the early 1990s of Somalia, Rwanda and Bosnia. Notable members of the board have included former Carter National Security Advisor Zbigniew Brzezinski, financier George Soros, former Nato commander Wesley Clark, and former German foreign minister Joschka Fischer. In 2008 we reported that the International Crisis Group (ICG) had issued a report recommending that the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood be integrated in Egyptian political life and that Brotherhood posted a statement on its website saying that the group agrees with the recommendations.

The GMBDW has also reported since 2007 on the Muslim Brotherhood and/or Hamas background of two of the ICG Trustees which may help to explain the ICG position on the Brotherhood. Palestinian-born Wadah Khanfar is a current member of the ICG board. In 2003, Khanfar became head of the Al Jazeera Baghdad bureau and shortly thereafter became the station General Manager, serving until his resignation in 2011. A report in the Nation Magazine attributes the support by the Al Jazeera television station for Islamic movements to Khanfar’s influence. According to the Nation report, Al Jazeera coverage changed dramatically to a far more “populist/Islamist approach.” when Khanfar took over in March 2003. This change should not have been surprising given Khanfar’s background in the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. According to a report in a Mideast business publication, Wadah Khanfar was born and educated in Jordan where, consistent with a Muslim Brotherhood background, he was educated as an engineer and where he reportedly was arrested as part of the Brotherhood there. The same report indicates that he also was a student activist, organizing a student union, an activity also consistent with a Muslim Brotherhood background. In a TV interview, Khanfar stated that started his career as a journalist as an analyst on African affairs, mainly on Al Jazeera, while living in South Africa where he was doing graduate study in international politics and African studies at the time. He also described himself in the interview as “a researcher and consultant in Middle Eastern economics and political affairs.”

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