Egyptian Gov’t Says ISIS Came from Muslim Brotherhood

Islamic-State-10-IPEgyptian President El-Sisi is forcefully arguing that the U.S. is erring in focusing only on the Islamic State and Al-Qaeda

BY RYAN MAURO:

The Egyptian Minister of Religious Endowments says that the Islamic State terrorist group (also known as ISIS or ISIL) was birthed from the Muslim Brotherhood movement, according to an October 13 report  in an Egyptian newspaper called the Seventh Day.

Other Egyptian leaders have made the case in recent days that the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamist terrorist groups belong in the same category as the Islamic State. The Egyptian government has banned the Muslim Brotherhood and its Palestinian branch, Hamas, as terrorist groups.

According to the report, Dr. Mohamed Mokhtar Gomaa said that the Muslim Brotherhood is the progenitor of the Islamic State and similar terrorist groups. He accused the Brotherhood of disrupting education at Egyptian universities and said the group is harmful to Islam.

The Islamic State used to be Al-Qaeda’s branch in Iraq. Al-Qaeda’s leaders are known to have been influenced by the Brotherhood, but the two groups sparred over the latter’s relative restraint and involvement in elections.

The Islamic State is publicly hostile to the Brotherhood, though the two have nearly identical goals. In a new Islamic State video, the group pledges to overthrow the Turkish government and derided it as the “Caliph of the Muslim Brotherhood.”

In May, Gomaa told a reporter that Egypt’s Al-Azhar University should promote a “centrist form of Islam” that is different from Political Islam, otherwise known as Islamism.

“Islam should not be part of politics because the role of religion should only be about preaching a moral public life and for the betterment of society,” he was quoted as saying.

Last month, Gomaa warned that released Muslim Brotherhood leaders would instigate violence and instability and collaborate with terrorist groups.

“[Muslim Brotherhood will] incite from Qatar, conspire from Libya, mobilize the international organization in Turkey and ally with the Islamic State,” he said.

Read more at Clarion Project

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Egypt’s President Backs Global Campaign Against Islamic State Extremists

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi in New York. Jason Andrew for The Wall Street Journal

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi in New York. Jason Andrew for The Wall Street Journal

By GERARD BAKER and JAY SOLOMON:

NEW YORK—Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi pledged his support for the U.S. war against Islamic State militants, but called on President Barack Obama to widen his campaign against extremism well beyond Iraq and Syria.

The former Egyptian military commander, in his first interview in the U.S. since formally taking power in June, also cautioned the administration against “washing its hands” of the Middle East at a time when the region’s borders are in flux and the threat of militancy is growing with the instability.

Mr. Sisi cited terrorist threats in Libya, Sudan, Yemen and the Sinai Peninsula as mirroring the danger posed to the Middle East and the West by Islamic State, which is also known as ISIS or ISIL.

He also said he is pursuing economic development, education and the promotion of religious tolerance as tools that were just as important for neutralizing Islamic State and other radical groups as military strikes.

“We can’t reduce the danger lurking in the region to ISIL. We have to bear in mind all the pieces of the puzzle,” Mr. Sisi said in a nearly hourlong interview at a Manhattan hotel. “We can’t just limit the confrontation to checking and destroying the Islamic State.”

Mr. Sisi, 59 years old, is attending the annual United Nations General Assembly this week as a sort of coming out party for one of his region’s most important new leaders.

Since taking office, Egypt’s sixth president has cut energy subsidies in a bid to revitalize his country’s economy, continued a broad crackdown on the Muslim Brotherhood movement and worked closely with Israel to broker a tenuous cease-fire with the Palestinian militant group and political party, Hamas.

Leading Arab states, particularly Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, have rallied behind Mr. Sisi as a central part of their effort to contain the political instability that has swept the region since late 2010 and toppled long-standing strongmen such as Egypt’s former President Hosni Mubarak.

The Obama administration, despite stating concerns about Cairo rolling back democratic reforms and the freedom of the press, has also increasingly sought to woo Mr. Sisi as a key ally in the fight against Islamic State.

To support this effort, the U.S. is preparing to deliver 10 Apache helicopters to Egypt that were placed on hold after Mr. Sisi and his military overthrew President Mohammed Morsi, a Muslim Brotherhood politician, in July 2013.

Mr. Sisi said he supports the U.S. military campaign against Islamic State. But he cautioned against his government getting significantly involved militarily. U.S. officials have talked of the possibility of the Egyptian military training Iraqi forces in counterterrorism tactics.

The Egyptian leader said Iraq’s military and countries closer to Iraq and Syria—particularly Turkey, Jordan and Saudi Arabia—should play the most direct role in combating Islamic State.

“The physical assets for a coalition to be formed are there,” Mr. Sisi said. “The symbolism of a united coalition is very important.”

Mr. Sisi also suggested that Egypt will maintain its right to independently combat extremism and other threats to Cairo’s security.

Read more at The Wall Street Journal

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Salafis Return to Egypt’s Mosques and Media

by Raymond Ibrahim:

In a move that has many anti-Islamist Egyptians concerned, the government has again allowed the Salafis to return to preaching in mosques and on television.

They’re back

They’re back

Soon after the June 2013 revolution in Egypt, which saw the ousting (and subsequent imprisonment) of the Muslim Brotherhood, Islamic supremacist groups—chief among them the Salafis—were banned from preaching.Salafis are Muslims who profess to follow as literally as possible the teachings and habits of Islam’s prophet and his companions.

The logic was that they were the primary actors responsible for inciting the nation’s more zealous Muslims to attack government targets, Coptic Christian churches, etc.

Accordingly, their access to mosques and other outlets were severely curtailed.

According to Nabil Zaki, the former spokesman for Assembly Party of Egypt, this new  move allowing the Salafis, particularly the Nour party, to make a comeback

is a major setback that will make it that much harder for the government to combat reactionary thinking—and this, after the Egyptian public had made great strides against such thinking….  Permitting the Salafi sheikhs to ascend to the pulpits again revives the bitter experiences of confronting this form of thinking, bringing us back to square one.

Zaki and others also warned that this decision coincides with parliamentarian elections, meaning that the Salafi clerics will again use their influence and religious rhetoric to sway voters towards a more “reactionary,” that is, Islamic, agenda.

A Mismanage-able Problem

pic_giant_091014_SM_Obama-Manages-ISIS

Obama’s belief that he can “manage” the Islamic State may collide with reality.

National Review, By Andrew C. McCarthy, Sep. 10, 2014:

President Obama says he intends to shrink the al-Qaeda-spawned Islamic State into a “manageable problem.” Perhaps we’ll learn more about how when he speaks to the nation on Wednesday evening. Still, the question presses: Is he the manager for the job?

In answering that question, past performance is more a guarantee of future results than is any statement of newfound purpose from a president whose innate dishonesty has turned his signature phrase “Let me be clear” into notorious self-parody.

In late September 2012, Mr. Obama’s administration quietly approved the transfer of 55 jihadist prisoners out of the Guantanamo Bay detention center. As Tom Joscelyn explained at the time, most of the detainees had previously been categorized as “high risk” because they were deemed “likely to pose a threat to the US, its interests, and allies” if released. Almost all of the rest had been assessed “medium risk” — still posing a threat, albeit one less certain than the “high risk” jihadists.

But Obama officials overruled those judgments. Rife with members of the Lawyer Left vanguard who had stampeded to volunteer their services to al-Qaeda detainees during the Bush years, who had smeared Gitmo as a gulag, and who had fought bitterly against the Bush/Cheney paradigm that regarded al-Qaeda’s jihad as a war rather than a crime wave, the administration determined that the anti-American terrorists were fit to be sprung from American custody.

Wait a second . . . two years ago in September . . . what was going on then? Why yes, the Benghazi massacre — whose second anniversary we mark this Thursday.

The Obama administration would like us to forget that bit of old news since “dude, this was like two years ago.” You may nonetheless recall it as an act of war in which al-Qaeda-affiliated jihadists attacked a sovereign American government compound. The terrorists murdered our ambassador to Libya, killed three other Americans, and wounded many more in an eight-hour siege during which President Obama declined to take any meaningful responsive action. Indeed, agents of the U.S. security team in Benghazi say they were prevented from trying to save Ambassador Stevens.

Among those carrying out the attack were operatives of Ansar al-Sharia. That’s the al-Qaeda affiliate with cells in Eastern Libya’s jihadist hotbeds, Benghazi and Derna.Ansar is led by Sufian Ben Qumu, a former Gitmo detainee who, inexorably, went right back to the jihad.

News of Obama’s approval of the mass transfer of Gitmo detainees came less than two weeks after the Benghazi massacre. Let that sink in: The Obama administration knew that a former Gitmo detainee was complicit in the most humiliating defeat suffered by the United States since the 9/11 attacks that took the nation to war; yet, the president approved the transfer of dozens more Gitmo terrorists. Just as, only a few months ago, he approved the transfer of five top Taliban commanders even as the Taliban was (and is) continuing to conduct terrorist operations against American troops in Afghanistan.

Shocking, yes, but how surprising from Barack Obama? Mind you, this is the president who, though AWOL (and still unaccountable) while terrorists were killing and wounding American personnel in Benghazi, had the temerity not just to fly off to a Vegas fundraiser the very next day but to pick that setting, and that moment, to declare victory: “A day after 9/11, we are reminded that a new tower rises above the New York skyline, but al-Qaeda is on the path to defeat and bin Laden is dead.”

Yes, bin Laden is dead. But the terrorist hordes chanted, “Obama, we’re all Osama!” as they torched our embassies and raised the black flag of jihad — the flag the Islamic State vows to fly over the White House. And just two days after Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” fundraiser, Ansar al-Sharia’s Tunis cell attacked the American embassy there. That al-Qaeda franchise is led by Seifallah ben Hassine, long-time jihadist confidant of bin Laden and his successor, Ayman al-Zawahiri. Some path to defeat.

Of course, the Benghazi massacre would never have happened had Obama not switched sides in Libya, dumping the Qaddafi regime — theretofore an American counterterrorism ally — and partnering with Eastern Libyan jihadists. The president’s strategy ensured that enemies of the United States would acquire much of Qaddafi’s arsenal, empowering jihadist cells throughout North Africa and the Middle East, growing al-Qaeda and what would become the Islamic State. And as we have seen in just the last few weeks, Obama’s “lead the jihad from behind” strategy has resulted in the near complete disintegration of Libya, with Ansar al-Sharia and its allies now controlling much of Tripoli.

Nor is that all. Hours before the Benghazi attack began on September 11, 2012, there had been rioting at the American embassy in Cairo. It was stoked by al-Qaeda leaders — including Zawahiri’s brother, Mohammed. The latter had called for attacks against the United States to avenge the recent killing of the network’s leader in Libya. The al-Qaeda leaders had also been threatening to besiege the embassy to extort the release of the Blind Sheikh, Omar Abdel Rahman, imprisoned in the U.S. on terrorism charges. These jihadists had been enabled in their incitements against America by the Muslim Brotherhood–controlled government — a government the Obama administration had pressured Egypt’s military leaders to make way for.

When the Left says it intends to make the challenge of international terrorism “manageable,” that is usually code for saying it wants to return counterterrorism to the law-enforcement paradigm, in which terrorism is a crime addressed by indictments. Crime — petty theft, graft, racketeering, and the like — is a constant that society manages. National-security threats, on the other hand, cannot be indicted into submission. And they are not “managed” by imagining that if we ignore them they will go away.

President Obama probably does believe the Islamic State could become a manageable problem. Unfortunately, he also believes that when his ideology collides with reality, it is reality that must give. Reality does not see it that way.

— Andrew C. McCarthy is a policy fellow at the National Review Institute. His latest book, Faithless Execution: Building the Political Case for Obama’s Impeachment, was released by Encounter Books on June 3.

Caroline Glick: President Sisi’s Gift

Egyptian Minister of Defense Abdel-Fattah al-SissiBy Caroline Glick:

Something extraordinary has happened.

On August 31, PLO chief and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas told an audience of Fatah members that Egypt had offered to give the PA some 1,600 kilometers of land in Sinai adjacent to Gaza, thus quintupling the size of the Gaza Strip. Egypt even offered to allow all the so-called “Palestinian refugees” to settle in the expanded Gaza Strip.

Then Abbas told his Fatah followers that he rejected the Egyptian offer.

On Monday Army Radio substantiated Abbas’s claim.

According to Army Radio, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi proposed that the Palestinians establish their state in the expanded Gaza Strip and accept limited autonomy over parts of Judea and Samaria.

In exchange for this state, the Palestinians would give up their demand that Israel shrink into the indefensible 1949 armistice lines, surrendering Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria. Sisi argued that the land Egypt is offering in Sinai would more than compensate for the territory that Abbas would concede.

In his speech to Fatah members, Abbas said, “They [the Egyptians] are prepared to receive all the refugees, [and are saying] ‘Let’s end the refugee story.’” “But,” he insisted, “It’s illogical for the problem to be solved at Egypt’s expense. We won’t have it.”

In other words, Sisi offered Abbas a way to end the Palestinians’ suffering and grant them political independence. And Abbas said, “No, forget statehood. Let them suffer.”

Generations of Israeli leaders and strategists have insisted that Israel does not have the ability to satisfy the Palestinian demands by itself without signing its own death warrant. To satisfy the Palestinian demand for statehood, Israel’s neighbors in Egypt and Jordan would have to get involved.

Until Sisi made his proposal, no Arab leader ever seriously considered actually doing what must be done. Indeed, the rejection of this self-evident Israeli claim has been so overwhelming that in recent years, every Israeli suggestion to this effect was met with raised eyebrows and dismissal by Israelis and foreigners alike.

So what is driving Sisi? How do we account for this dramatic shift? In offering the Palestinians a large swathe of the Sinai, Sisi is not acting out of altruism. He is acting out of necessity. From his perspective, and from the perspective of his non-jihadist Sunni allies in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the Palestinian campaign against Israel is dangerous.

Facing the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran, and the rise of jihadist forces from al-Qaida to the Islamic State to the Muslim Brotherhood, the non-jihadist Sunnis no longer believe that the prolongation of the Palestinian jihad against Israel is in their interest.

Egypt and Jordan have already experienced the spillover of the Palestinian jihad. Hamas has carried out attacks in Egypt. The Palestinian jihad nearly destroyed Lebanon and Jordan. Egypt and Saudi Arabia now view Israel as a vital ally in their war against the Sunni jihadists and their struggle against Iran and its hegemonic ambitions. They recognize that Israeli action against Sunni and Shi’ite jihadists in Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran serves the interests of non-jihadi Sunnis. And, especially after the recent conflict in Gaza, they realize that the incessant Palestinian campaign against Israel ultimately strengthens the jihadist enemies of Egypt and Saudi Arabia like Hamas.

Apparently, Sisi’s offer to Abbas is an attempt to help the Palestinian people and take the Palestinian issue out of the hands of Palestinian jihadists.

Unfortunately for Sisi and his fellow non-jihadist Sunnis, Abbas is having none of this.

In rejecting Sisi’s offer Abbas stood true to his own record, to the legacies of every Palestinian leader since Nazi agent Haj Amin el-Husseini, and to the declared strategic goal of his own Fatah party and his coalition partners in Hamas. Since Husseini invented the Palestinians in the late 1920s, their leaders’ primary goals have never been the establishment of a Palestinian state or improving the lives of Palestinians. Their singular goal has always been the destruction of the Jewish state, (or state-in-themaking before 1948).

Sisi offered to end Palestinian suffering and provide the Palestinians with the land they require to establish a demilitarized state. Abbas rejected it because he is only interested hurting Israel. If Israel is not weakened by their good fortune, then the Palestinians should continue to suffer.

For Israel, Sisi’s proposal is a windfall.

Read more at Front Page

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Egypt Strikes Jihadis After Decapitation Video

ansar-bayt-al-maqdis-israel-mossad-beheadingjpg (1)Breitbart, By KATIE GORKA, Sep. 1, 2014:

Within just days of a video surfacing showing the decapitation of four Egyptian nationals, the Cairo government took decisive military action and killed the leader of the Jihadist group alleged to have been responsible

Several sources have reported that on Sunday, August 30, Egyptian forces carried out two successful operations against Islamist militants in Sinai. In Al Arish, a city on the northern coast of Sinai, members of a joint police-military action killed Fayez Abdallah Hamdan Abu-Sheta, believed to be a leader of the terrorist group Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (ABM), thought responsible for the May 2013 kidnapping of 7 police officers and a border guard.

In a separate operation 32 miles away, in the town of Rafah, which borders Gaza, Egyptian forces killed 6 and arrested 10 others, Daily News Egypt reported. It has not yet been revealed whether those killed or arrested are members of Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, but this raid occurred three days after the Jihadi group released a very graphic video of the beheading of four Egyptians in Sinai for allegedly spying on behalf of Israel. The video is similar to that of U.S. journalist James Foley, whose beheading by ISIS on August 19, 2014, was also posted online.

While the world’s attention has been focused on the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and their aggressive sweep across Iraq and Syria, Egypt has been waging its own battle against violent jihadists, particularly in the Sinai.  This is a conflict kindled under the Muslim Brotherhood leadership of Mohamed Morsi and which exploded with his ouster in July 2013. When the Muslim Brotherhood announced at a rally on May 1, 2012 that their candidate for president would be Mohammed Morsi, Egyptian Cleric Safwat Higazi declared the following in his impassioned speech to the crowd of thousands (broadcast on Al-Nas television and translated by MEMRI TV):

We can see how the dream of the Islamic Caliphate is being realized, Allah willing, by Dr. Muhammad Mursi, and his brothers, his supporters, and his political party.  We can see how the great dream—shared by us all—that of the United States of the Arabs…the United States of the Arabs will be restored, Allah willing.  The United States of the Arabs will be restored by this man and his supporters. The capital of the Caliphate—the capital of the United States of the Arabs—will be Jerusalem, Allah willing.  Mursi will liberate Gaza tomorrow….Our capital shall not be Cairo, Mecca or Medina.  It shall be Jerusalem, Allah willing. Our cry shall be: ‘Millions of martyrs march toward Jerusalem.’  Banish the sleep from the eyes of all Jews. Come on, you lovers of martyrdom, you are all Hamas. Forget about the whole world, forget about all the conferences. Brandish your weapons…Say your prayers….And pray to the Lord.

 

 

As Thomas Joscelyn, senior editor of the Long War Journal, testified before Congress in February 2014, with the Muslim Brotherhood’s rise to power in Egypt in January 2011, Al Qaeda and other violent jihadist groups saw an opportunity for proselytizing and rebuilding the ummah, or Muslim community of believers. Not only was the new government of Mohamed Morsi not going to crack down on jihadists, but he greatly aided their cause by releasing many of them from prison, including members of Egyptian Islamic Jihad (EIJ) and Gamaa Islamiyya (IG). Egypt became fertile ground for their activities, and the Sinai took on a particular importance because it was the perfect launching ground for renewed attacks on Israel. This suggests that there is also a strong correlation between the terrorism in the Sinai and the fighting in Gaza. The Muslim Brotherhood promised to free Gaza and to rebuild the Caliphate with Jerusalem as its capital.

Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis, which translates to “Champions of Jerusalem,” began operations in January 2011 with the uprisings that led to the overthrow of the Egyptian government. Initially, they targeted Israel. In July 2012, they blew up a pipeline that served Israel, calling it treason to send Egyptian resources to Israel, according to an article in Egypt News Daily. But following the ouster of the Muslim Brotherhood-led government on July 3, 2013, Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis stepped up their attacks and directed the majority of them against the Egyptian police and military. Their near-daily attacks included the execution of 24 unarmed policemen on August 19, 2013, the attempted assassination of Interior Minister Muhammad Ibrahim in September 2013, an attack on South Sinai’s Security Directorate, and an attack on the military intelligence building in the Suez Canal city of Ismailiya in October 2013.

The attacks by Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis as well as other terrorist groups operating in the Sinai are explicitly carried out in retaliation for the Egyptian military’s role in helping to oust Mohammed Morsi and for their subsequent crackdown by military and police on groups engaging in violence. Indeed, the relationship between groups such as the violent Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis and the “non-violent” Muslim Brotherhood may be more than ancillary. According to the BBC, some have identified Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis as the military wing of the Muslim Brotherhood. Several different sources, including Nabil Naeem, founder of the Islamic Jihad, allege that Khairat al-Shater, the deputy supreme guide of the Brotherhood, directly supports Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis.

Katie Gorka is the president of the Council on Global Security. Follow her on Twitter@katharinegorka.

 

Understanding the Israeli-Egyptian-Saudi alliance

partners-300x191By Caroline Glick:

Hamas’s war with Israel is not a stand-alone event. It is happening in the context of the vast changes that are casting asunder old patterns of behavior and strategic understandings as actors in the region begin to reassess the threats they face.

Hamas was once funded by Saudi Arabia and enabled by Egypt. Now the regimes of these countries view it as part of a larger axis of Sunni jihad that threatens not only Israel, but them.

The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and its state sponsors Qatar and Turkey, are the key members of this alliance structure. Without their support Hamas would have gone down with the Muslim Brotherhood regime in Egypt last summer. As it stands, all view Hamas’s war with Israel as a means of reinstating the Brotherhood to power in that country.

To achieve a Hamas victory, Turkey, Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood are using Western support for Hamas against Israel. If the US and the EU are able to coerce Egypt and Israel to open their borders with Gaza, then the Western powers will hand the jihadist axis a strategic victory.

The implications of such a victory would be dire.

Hamas is ideologically indistinguishable from Islamic State. Like Islamic State, Hamas has developed mass slaughter and psychological terrorization as the primary tools in its military doctrine. If the US and the EU force Israel and Egypt to open Gaza’s borders, they will enable Hamas to achieve strategic and political stability in Gaza. As a consequence, a post-war Gaza will quickly become a local version of Islamic State-controlled Mosul.

In the first instance, such a development will render life in southern Israel too imperiled to sustain. The Western Negev, and perhaps Beersheba, Ashkelon and Ashdod, will become uninhabitable.

Then there is Judea and Samaria. If, as the US demands, Israel allows Gaza to reconnect with Judea and Samaria, in short order Hamas will dominate the areas. Militarily, the transfer of even a few of the thousands of rocket-propelled grenades Hamas has in Gaza will imperil military forces and civilians alike.

IDF armored vehicles and armored civilian buses will be blown to smithereens.

Whereas operating from Gaza, Hamas needed the assistance of the Obama administration and the Federal Aviation Administration to shut down Ben-Gurion Airport, from Judea and Samaria, all Hamas would require are a couple of hand-held mortars.

Jordan will also be directly threatened.

From Egypt’s perspective, a Hamas victory in the war with Israel that connects Gaza to Sinai will strengthen the Muslim Brotherhood and its Islamic State and other allies. Such a development represents a critical threat to the regime.

And this brings us to Islamic State itself. It couldn’t have grown to its current monstrous proportions without the support of Qatar and Turkey.

Read more

Middle East Meltdown: Here’s What’s Happening

Screen-Shot-2012-09-15-at-8.28.27-PMBy Patrick Poole:

The Middle East is in full meltdown and the U.S. is rapidly nearing full retreat in the region. But considering the incompetents running our foreign policy, our absence may be best for the Middle East for the moment.

So here’s what’s happening:

Iraq: Last night Prime Minister Maliki gave a speech accusing new President Fuad Masum of violating the constitution as Golden Dawn militias backing Maliki took up strategic positions around Baghdad, including the Green Zone, in an all-out coup. Remarkably, Maliki is accusing Masum of a coup. Maliki’s issue with Masum is that the new president has not selected Maliki for a third term as prime minister. One report said that U.S. forces had to extricate President Masum from the presidential palace when it came under mortar fire from Maliki’s renegades. Let’s not forget the words of President Obama in December 2011, when he declared that “we’re leaving behind a sovereign, stable and self-reliant Iraq” upon pulling out all remaining U.S. troops.

Islamic State: A coup, of course, is exactly what Iraq needs right now as the terrorist Islamic State continues to push south despite U.S. airstrikes, as the Islamic State conducts ethnic and religious cleansing of Yahzidis and Christians creating a staggering humanitarian crisis. Last week the Islamic State forces captured the dam north of Mosul, the largest dam in Iraq that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers described in 2007 as “the most dangerous dam in the world” because of its instability. This is a key strategic asset that will give the Islamic State control of the Tigris River as they push towards Baghdad. The best hope to stall this push is not the Iraqi Army, which collapsed several weeks ago when the Islamic State began their offensive, but Kurdish forces. The Islamic State is also preparing to target Saudi intelligence officials as they plan to open a front there, despite the fact that much of their funding has come from Saudi Arabia.

Lebanon: Iraq is not the only place where the Islamic State has launched an offensive. Last week they launched an attack on the Lebanese border town of Arsal, overrunning Lebanese Army checkpoints and taking Lebanese soldiers hostage. Arsal is home to a large camp housing refugees from Syria. ISIS took the captives hoping to exchange them for a Syrian Islamist militia commander supported by Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State that had been arrested by Lebanese authorities. Although the terrorist groups eventually agreed to withdraw and release their captives, the New York Times quoted one their commanders that the attack forces included the Islamic State, Jabhat al-Nusra (the Syrian Al-Qaeda affiliate) and the Free Syrian Army – the same Free Syrian Army receiving weapons from the U.S. As I reported here last month, some of those U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army forces have pledged allegiance to the Islamic State. Meanwhile, Lebanon remains without a president as Hezbollah and their March 8 Alliance allies in parliament refuse to elect a president, a position reserved for a Maronite Christian. Syrian refugees now make up one-third of the country’s population, further destabilizing Lebanon.

Syria: The war in Syria drags on as 170,000 people are estimate to have been killed – one-third of those civilians – and many of its largest cities, such as Homs, lie in complete ruin. The Islamic State controls a wide swath of territory in the north, while the Iranian and Russian-backed Assad forces fight to hold onto the coast and Damascus with no end to the war in sight. The recent successes of the Islamic State are prompting many Syrian rebels to join with the terror group.

Turkey: Yesterday’s presidential election saw the Islamist current Prime Minister Recep Erdogan elected.  Last week Erdogan signaled that as president he intended to turn the office from its largely ceremonial role to running the country from this new position. Under Erdogan, the country has grown increasingly authoritarian, with last year’s Gezi protests violently suppressed and the country remaining the largest jailer of journalists in the world. Concerns have been raised about Erdogan’s support for terrorism, particularly financing of Hamas and looking the other way as terrorist groups operate openly on the country’s Syrian border. Recent news reports have directly linked Erdogan to internationally-banned Al-Qaeda financier Yasin al-Qadi, even meeting with him repeatedly despite being on Turkey’s own terrorism list. Despite Erdogan’s dictatorial manner President Obama has hailed the neo-Ottoman Erdogan as one of his top five favorite world leaders, and notwithstanding its support for terrorist groups, Turkey remains as co-chair of the State Department’s Global Counterterrorism Forum.

Israel/Gaza: A new 72-hour truce was announced last night in the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas. While negotiators are headed back to Cairo today for continued talks, there remains a Mexican standoff: Israel has no intention of ending the blockade on Gaza allowing Hamas to resupply itself as it continues to rain down rockets on Israel, and Hamas has made the border openings a pre-condition to any deal. Since the beginning of Israel’s Operation Protection Edge, Hamas and other terrorist groups have launched 3,488 rockets at Israel and casualties in Gaza are approaching 2,000 (though many media outlets and even the UN are expressing long-overdue caution about casualty figures being supplied by Hamas-controlled ministries).

Egypt: One of the chief causes of the current Israel/Hamas conflict is that the Egyptian government has wisely put a stranglehold on the smuggling tunnels between Egypt and Gaza. Since the ouster of Muslim Brotherhood president Mohamed Morsi a year ago, Egypt has shut down and destroyed a reported 80 percent of the Gaza smuggling tunnels, putting a severe crimp in the Hamas finances that netted the terror group $1 million every day and stocked the terror group with material and weapons. Thus, Hamas is eager to have the Rafah border crossing reopened. The Egyptian presidential election in May that saw Abdel Fattah al-Sisi installed as president seemed to definitively resolve the country’s political crisis, but terror attacks in Sinai and around Egypt directed at the new government continue. These same terrorist groups have also used the Sinai to launch rockets towards Israel. This past weekend the Muslim Brotherhood and its allies announced the formation of the “Egyptian Revolutionary Council” in Istanbul, hoping to model itself off the Syrian opposition and portending a continued insurgency against the Egyptian government. Violence could erupt this week as the first anniversary of the dispersal of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Rabaa protests last August 14th, and attacks on Coptic Christians continue in Upper Egypt, where I recently visited.

Read more at PJ Media

Israel’s “Long War”

Israeli Merkava tank leaving Gaza staging area August 5, 2014 Source: The Guardian

Israeli Merkava tank leaving Gaza staging area
August 5, 2014
Source: The Guardian

By Jerry Gordon:

Tom Jocelyn, the American counterterrorism expert and Senior Fellow at the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies is the editor of The Long War Journal. It is a chronicle of the global Islamic jihad in the 21st Century, now in its 13th year. The global jihad was sparked by what the US State Department has taken to calling “core Al Qaeda”, most dramatically with 9/11. Subsequently it has metatisized driven by the Salafist doctrine seeking to replicate the great barbarism of the first jihad that burst out of the Arabian peninsula 14 Centuries ago. In many instances it has been a long war against indigenous populations, both Muslim and not. In the later case, it has witnessed the self-declared Caliphate of the Islamic State, formerly ISIS, confronting non-Muslims with the choice to convert, be subjugated, leave or be killed. It is sacralized barbarity emboldened with arms and advanced military technology abandoned by fleeing armies. It is financed by extortion and billions in booty, money seized in conquered territories and oil resources.

Virtually alone and surrounded by these Jihadist forces is the Jewish nation of Israel. Israel has conducted a long war of its own over the 21 years since the conclusion of the 1993 Oslo Accords with the Palestinian Authority. An agreement orchestrated by former President Clinton between Israeli Prime Minister, the late Yitzhak Rabin and the late Yassir Arafat, first President of the Palestinian Authority. Arafat went on to ignite the Second Intifada in September 2000 using the excuse that the late Israeli PM Ariel Sharon had made an unauthorized visit to the Temple Mount. That intifada saw thousands of Israeli causalities, both dead and wounded,  that morphed into a seemingly unending series of military Operations. It began with Operation Defensive Shield following the bloody Park Hotel Passover suicide bombing in March 2002 that killed many Holocaust survivors. It culminated in the siege of Arafat in the Mukata in 2004 in Ramallah. A brief hiatus following the demise of Arafat saw Israel build a security barrier in the disputed territories that virtually brought to a close the Second Intifada. The late PM Sharon left Likud to found a new coalition party, Kadima, on the strength of a letter in 2004 with former President Bush giving Israel permission to defend itself with US assurances.

That led Sharon in 2005 to order the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza of 9000 settlers and 10,000 IDF personnel under the misguided pretext that it would make Israel more secure. The Bush Administration was preoccupied in the Long War in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It sought to foist the myopic view that the Islamist world could be transformed into budding western style democracies. This despite the rise of anti-democratic Muslim Brotherhood elements in Gaza, Egypt and other adjacent Muslim countries. They had been kept in check by autocracies supplied with both US and Russian military assistance and aid. Thus, the Bush Administration thought it had a willing peace partner in Arafat’s successor, the long serving PA President, Mahmoud Abbas. The Bush Administration prevailed upon Israel to relinquish its control over the strategic Philadelphi corridor along the Egyptian Gaza frontier installing Fatah bureaucrats. 2006 saw the one vote, one time election in Gaza of a Hamas dominated Palestinian Legislative Council. That  lead to the June 2007 ejection and literal defenestration of Fatah from Gaza, leaving Hamas virtually in control. Israel was forced to engage in a series of air assaults that resulted in assassinations of Hamas leaders, co-founder Sheik Yassin and Dr. Rantisi. Hamas took over the Rafah border with Egypt through which arms, rockets and missiles were infiltrated along with huge infusions of cash from foreign Muslim charities and backers, Iran and Qatar.

In 2006 Israel was embroiled in the Second Lebanon War with Iran proxy Hezbollah supplied by the former with thousands of rockets. That conflict was triggered by a kidnapping of two IDF soldiers followed by massive  Hezbollah artillery rocket barrages. The 34 day War with Hezbollah saw more than 4,000 rockets rain on Israel setting a pattern that was copied by Hamas in Gaza in 2009, 2012 and 2014. In that first clash with Hezbollah saw Israel’s population in the north sweltered in crude shelters or displaced to the central Mediterranean shore. It also sparked the development of technical countermeasures to protect the both Israel’s population and IDF defense. Those developments included the now recognized Iron Dome system of batteries equipped with Tamir anti-rocket missiles, and the less well known, Trophy system, used effectively in the most recent 2014 Operation protecting armored vehicles against anti-tank rockets and missiles. Just prior to the Second Lebanon War, a cross border raid by Hamas operatives kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, holding him hostage until released in an October 2011 exchange for 1,027 Palestinian terrorist prisoners held by Israel.

In June 2009, President Obama made a dramatic speech at Cairo University extending outreach, many believed that emboldened Islamist elements in the Muslim ummah. In December,2011 the self-immolation of a fruit vendor in Tunisia sparked the so-called Arab Spring that erupted in North Africa and the Middle East. Autocracies in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt were overturned. The latter witnessed the ousting of strongman Mubarak with rise of the Muslim Brotherhood that saw the election of one if its prominent leaders, Mohammed Morsi as its President in June 2012. Morsi was backed by a National Assembly  composed of dominate Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties. They sought to impose Sharia law on women, secular elements and the country’s ancient minority Coptic Christian community. Virtually, a year later, Morsi and thousands of Muslim Brotherhood leaders were ousted, jailed and killed during a coup by his Defense Minister Gen.Abdel- Fattah El-Sisi. He was engaged in a counterterrorism campaign against Hamas linked Salafist terror groups in the Sinai.

The overthrow of the Libyan strongman Qadaffi, with aid from the US and NATO, spawned chaos with warring tribal and jihadist militias. That culminating in the Benghazi attack that killed the US Ambassador and three other Americans, a communications aide, and two CIA-contractors on 9/11/2012.

Meanwhile, Israel was concerned about security on its southern border with Egypt in the Sinai. Following cross border attacks near the Red Sea resort of Eilat it constructed a 200 mile security barrier seeking to prevent intrusion, only to be left exposed to rocket attacks. On Israel’s north eastern Golan frontier a raging civil war in Syria, now well into its third year, saw the Assad regime forces ranging across the Golan frontier fighting opposition rebel groups. These included al Qaeda affiliates the Al Nusrah front and the extremist Salafist spinoff, the Islamic State, formerly ISIS.

The latest IDF Operation Protective Edge that began on July 8th with barrages from Gaza from both homemade and Iranian supplied long range rockets covered fourth fifths of Israel. It was triggered by a botched kidnapping by Hamas operatives and that resulted in the murder of three Jewish yeshiva students, whose remains were discovered on June 30th. The Palestinian Authority in late April had announced a unity government with Hamas that scuppered any chances of a possible final stage agreement sought by US Secretary of State Kerry. Hamas is a foreign terrorist group so designated by the US, Canada and the EU. Its 1988 Charter, had sought not only the destruction of Israel but the killing of Jews globally. Israeli PM Netanyahu and his coalition cabinet had no choice but to call up what ultimately would be a massed IDF force of 80,000 elite brigades and reservists to conduct the ground phase of Operation Protective Edge. That culminated in the launch of ground operations in Gaza that ended with the seventh truce on August 5th that is holding for the moment. That truce occurred ironically on the Jewish Fast Day of Tish B’Av commemorating historic catastrophes that have befallen the Jewish people over the millennia.

Go to NER to read the rest with commentary from Tom Joscelyn and Jonathan Spyer

Daughter of Gaza, Nonie Darwish explains Islamic Jew-hatred mandates war to conquer Israel

uvs140728-002Democast:

Gaza-born, former Muslima, Nonie Darwish, lectures a group of Israeli-Americans about the bigotry in Islamic culture towards Christianity and especially Judaism which underlies the conflict against Israel and Christian minorities.

Mrs. Darwish authored three books, ‘Now They Call Me Infidel”, “Cruel and Usual Punishment”, and “The Devil We Don’t Know; the dark side of revolutions in the Middle East.”

Nonie holds a Bachelors degree in Sociology and Anthropology and was a journalist at the Middle East News Agency. She founded www.ArabsForIsrael.com, 1994, to promote understanding, peace and a new paradigm for Arabs to view Israel.   Recorded July 20th in Los Angeles, California.

What Obama Really Wants in Gaza

Screen-Shot-2014-07-29-at-1.50.36-PMby :

While Israelis are fighting and dying, families huddling in bomb shelters and soldiers going off to face death, the men and women in suits and power suits moving through the great halls of diplomacy are using them as pawns in a larger game.

During the Cold War, Israel was a pawn in a larger struggle between the US and the USSR. Now it is back to being a counter in a larger game.

Israel’s function within the great halls of diplomacy was always as a lever on the Arab states. It was not an end, but a means of moving them one way or another. When the Arab states drifted into the Soviet orbit, the “Special Relationship” was born. The relationship accomplished its goal once Egypt was pried out of the Soviet orbit. It has lingered on because of the emotional and cultural ties of Israel and the US.

Now Obama is using Israel as a lever to push Egypt back into the Islamist camp. Egypt’s rejection of the Muslim Brotherhood broke the Arab Spring. Political Islam, which seemed to be on the ascendance, is back to being a freak show represented by terrorists and Turkey’s mad mustachioed dictator.

Egypt was where Obama went to begin the Arab Spring. Egypt is still his target. Israel is just the lever.

The reason Israel was never allowed to truly win any wars was because it was being used as a lever. By being a “good lever” during the Cold War, it could damage Egypt enough that the latter would come to the negotiating table overseen by the US and move back into the Western sphere of influence.

Israel couldn’t be allowed to win a big enough victory because then there would nothing to negotiate. Likewise, Israel wouldn’t be allowed to keep what it won because then there would be no reason for Egypt to come to the negotiating table. Sometimes Israel would even be expected to lose, as in the Yom Kippur War, to force it to come to the negotiating table.

Swap Egypt for the PLO and that’s how the disastrous peace process happened. Then swap the PLO for Hamas and that is where we are now.

Obama’s initial support for Israel’s war on Hamas was only to the extent necessary to bring the terrorist group to the negotiating table. And then once Hamas comes to the negotiating table, the White House will back its demands against Israel in exchange for getting the Brotherhood on board with its agenda.

Israel is just the means; the Muslim Brotherhood and political Islam are the objective. That objective may mean the end of the West, but those striding boldly through the halls of diplomacy are not worried.

The real target of the Hamas campaign wasn’t Israel; it was Egypt.

Read more at Front Page

Also see:

Turkish PM Erdogan Top Backer of Hamas

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (Photo: © Reuters)

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan with Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal (Photo: © Reuters)

BY RYAN MAURO:

Turkey, despite officially being a U.S. ally and member of NATO, deserves blame for the latest missile attacks and kidnappings carried by Hamas.  The Erdogan government is sponsoring Hamas, inciting extremist fervor and is even harboring the terrorist leader that oversees kidnappings in the West Bank.

The latest missile attacks by Hamas were preceded by the kidnapping and execution of three Israeli teenagers in the West Bank by Hamas operatives. The Hamas leader urging kidnappings of Israelis in the West Bank is named Saleh al-Arouri, and he operates from Turkey.

The kidnappings were preceded by a concerted effort by al-Arouri to fund and plan such operations. He may or may not have masterminded this specific attack, but it was the fruition of his orders. Hamas officially denies involvement, but Israel has identifiedthe kidnappers as Hamas terrorists that were previously arrested and released.

Israeli intelligence has reportedly concluded that Turkey has been the top financial sponsor of Hamas since 2012, with Erdogan arranging for the transfer of $250 million to the terrorist group annually. Another report puts the figure at $300 million. The funding comes from private sources he is close to and not from the official budget. Turkey is also said to have trained Hamas security forces in Gaza through non-governmental groups.

The report said that Turkey coordinates the fundraising with Qatar, another supposed U.S. ally. Members of Congress have asked Qatar to stop financing Hamas. Khaled Meshaal, the political leader of Hamas, lives in Qatar and even gave an extremist sermon at its Grand Mosque. The U.S. blocked a $400 million aid package from Qatar to pay 44,000 employees of the Hamas government in Gaza.

The Egyptian government is placing the blame on Hamas, Turkey and Qatar for the continuing conflict. When Egypt proposed a ceasefire, Israel accepted it. Hamas did not, responding with rocket fire and making demands it knows will not be met.

“Had Hamas accepted the Egyptian initiative, at least 40 Palestinian souls would have been saved,” said the Egyptian Foreign Minister.

Turkey responded with its own condemnation of Egypt. Erdogan said Egyptian President El-Sisi is an “illegitimate tyrant.”

Read more at Clarion Project

Egyptian TV Accuses Hamas Leaders of Living in Luxury While Their People Die

Front Page, by Daniel Greenfield:

Considering Hamas’ terrorist attacks on Egyptian soldiers and their involvement in the Muslim Brotherhood takeover of Egypt, they’re not exactly that country’s favorite terrorist organization.

And you can see that in these TV clips in which Egyptian hosts accuse Hamas leaders of living in luxury, dining out, sitting at swimming pools with their four wives, while the fighting goes on.

 

They also point out that their rocket squads operate from civilian areas and are bringing a new “Nakba” on their people.

An image of Khaled Mash’al exercising at a gym: You can see how Khaled is waging Jihad in Qatar.

Image of Mash’al eating a lavish meal: This is brother Khaled Mash’al’s version of Jihad. Khaled, the Jihad is in Gaza…

Image of Mash’al watching TV: Or, of course, he is watching their TV channel. This is the Jihad of Khaled Mash’al and his comrades, the honorable and great mujahideen. As they wage this sort of Jihad, they abandon the people to get killed. If you were a real man, you would be back in Gaza first thing tomorrow morning.

Image of Haniya sitting next to a blond young woman: This is his Jihad, Allah be praised… This is the greatest Jihad performed by Isamil Haniya and his brothers in Hamas.

Of course Khaled isn’t going to Gaza.

Why do you, in the Al-Qassam Brigades, [hide] among civilians? Why do you use people’s homes? You should keep your hideouts away from people’s homes. You know full well that when you launch a missile form a home, a missile will land on that home within one minute. You are bringing another nakba upon your people.

Another show was even more explicit about the luxurious Hamas lifestyle.

Talk show host Mazher Shahin: We are not prepared to sacrifice even a single hair from the eyebrow of an Egyptian soldier or civilian, for the sake of Hamas and all the people who wage Jihad, while indulging themselves in all kinds of dishes at the swimming pool…

They goad people into fighting, terrorism, and violence, under the pretext of “Jihad,” while they themselves sit at a hotel, a swimming pool, or a nudist beach, eating a variety of dishes, marrying four wives, and driving the latest model luxury cars. What is this?! What kind of men are you?

You know where the border between Israel and Palestine is. If there is a real man among you, I am willing to drive him in my own car and at my own expense to the Gaza border. I will drop him there and say: “Go. May God be with you. Gaza is there. Jihad awaits you. Go in and show us you’re a real man.”

The more “moderate” suggestions out of Saudi Arabia meanwhile propose that Hamas disaffiliate itself with the Muslim Brotherhood.

Also see:

The Watchman: Jihadists on the March

Published on Jul 8, 2014 by The Christian Broadcasting Network

On this week’s edition of The Watchman, we sit down with Middle East experts Raymond Ibrahim and Tawfik Hamid to discuss the latest developments with the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Iran and what can be done to counter the jihadist.

Egyptians Hoping Israel Will Destroy Hamas

by Khaled Abu Toameh:

Over the past week there are voices coming out of Egypt and some Arab countries — voices that publicly support the Israeli military operation against Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

They see the atrocities and massacres committed by Islamists on a daily basis in Iraq and Syria and are beginning to ask themselves if these serve the interests of the Arabs and Muslims.

“Thank you Netanyahu and may God give us more [people] like you to destroy Hamas!” — Azza Sami of the Egyptian newspaper Al-Ahram.

Isolated and under attack, Hamas now realizes that it has lost the sympathy of many Egyptians and Arabs.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Sisi has thus far turned down appeals from Palestinians and other Arabs to work toward achieving a new ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas telephoned Sisi and urged him to intervene to achieve an “immediate ceasefire” between Israel and Hamas. Abbas later admitted that his appeal to Sisi and (other Arab leaders) had fallen on deaf ears.

Sisi’s decision not to intervene in the current crisis did not come as a surprise. In fact, Sisi and many Egyptians seem to be delighted that Hamas is being badly hurt.

 

An uncomfortable moment during an April 2014 meeting between PA President Abbas and Egyptian President Sisi. (Image source: Video from President Abbas’ Office)

Some Egyptians are even openly expressing hope that Israel will completely destroy Hamas, which they regard as the “armed branch of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist organization.”

Sisi’s Egypt has not forgiven Hamas for its alliance with Muslim Brotherhood and its involvement in terrorist attacks against Egyptian civilians and soldiers over the past year.

The Egyptians today understand that Hamas and other radical Islamist groups pose a serious threat to their national security. That is why the Egyptian authorities have, over the past year, been taking tough security measures not only against Hamas, but also the entire population of the Gaza Strip.

These measures include the destruction of dozens of smuggling tunnels along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt and the designation of Hamas as a terrorist organization.

True, there are still many Egyptians and Arabs who sympathize with Hamas, mainly because it is being targeted by Israel. But over the past week, there are also different voices coming out of Egypt and some other Arab countries — voices that publicly support the Israeli military operation against the Islamist movement in the Gaza Strip.

This is perhaps because a growing number of Arabs and Muslims are fed up with the Islamist terrorists who are imposing a reign of terror and intimidation in the Arab world, particularly in Iraq and Syria. They see the atrocities and massacres committed by Islamists on a daily basis in Iraq and Syria and are beginning to ask themselves if these serve the interests of the Arabs and Muslims.

Sisi and other Arab leaders are now sitting on the fence and hoping that this time Israel will complete the job and get rid of Hamas once and for all. Palestinian Authority officials in Ramallah are certainly not going to shed a tear if Hamas is crushed and removed from power in the Gaza Strip.

The reaction of some Egyptians to the Israeli military operation has shocked Hamas and other Palestinians. As one Hamas spokesman noted: “It’s disgraceful to see that some Egyptians are publicly supporting the Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip while Westerners are expressing solidarity with the Palestinians and condemning Israel.”

Addressing the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, Egyptian actor Amr Mustafa said that they should not expect any help from the Egyptians. “You must get rid of Hamas and we will help you,” he said. He also called on Hamas to stop meddling in the internal affairs of Arab countries. “Pull your men out of Egypt, Syria and Libya,” Mustafa demanded. “In Egypt, we are today fighting poverty that was caused by wars. We have enough of our own problems. Don’t expect the Egyptians to give more than what they have already given. We’ve had enough of what you did to our country.”

Read more at Gatestone Institute