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Operation Protective Edge

Hamas and Other Terrorists Groups in Gaza Use Medical Facilities and Ambulances for Military-Terrorist Purposes

July 24th 2014

Rocket Damage

Hamas and the other terrorist organizations have frequently made use of hospitals and other medical facilities for various military purposes. That is because they know the IDF does not attack medical facilities, and using a medical facility provides their terrorist operatives located there with a kind of immunity. For the same reason they use ambulances to move terrorist operatives and weapons from place to place in combat zones. They repeat the modus operandi in Operation Protective Edge.

William Booth wrote in the Washington Post on July 15, 2014, that "At the Shifa Hospital in Gaza City, crowds gathered to throw shoes and eggs at the Palestinian Authority's health minister, who represents the crumbling 'unity government' in the West Bank city of Ramallah. The minister was turned away before he reached the hospital, which has become a de facto headquarters for Hamas leaders, who can be seen in the hallways and offices" (ITIC emphasis). Washington Post correspondent Nick Casey Tweeted that Hamas used the Al-Shifa'a Hospital as a "safe place" to meet with the media.

Al-Shifa'a Hospital, located in the western part of Gaza City, is the largest and most important hospital in the Gaza Strip. Hamas used it for military-terrorist purposes in Operation Cast Lead as well, when senior Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives located themselves at the hospital, closing off some of the wings (See below). Read more ..


Russia on Edge

Can Vladimir Putin Survive the Malaysian Airlines Disaster?

July 23rd 2014

Click to select Image

There is a general view that Vladimir Putin governs the Russian Federation as a dictator, that he has defeated and intimidated his opponents and that he has marshaled a powerful threat to surrounding countries. This is a reasonable view, but perhaps it should be re-evaluated in the context of recent events.

Ukraine and the Bid to Reverse Russia's Decline

Ukraine is, of course, the place to start. The country is vital to Russia as a buffer against the West and as a route for delivering energy to Europe, which is the foundation of the Russian economy. On Jan. 1, Ukraine's president was Viktor Yanukovich, generally regarded as favorably inclined to Russia. Given the complexity of Ukrainian society and politics, it would be unreasonable to say Ukraine under him was merely a Russian puppet. But it is fair to say that under Yanukovich and his supporters, fundamental Russian interests in Ukraine were secure. Read more ..


The Battle Iraq

Kurdish Peshmerga Force Secures Kirkuk, Its Oil

July 22nd 2014

PKK (Kurdish Worker's Party) Fighter

The Kurdistan regional government has sent its Peshmerga troops into the adjacent province of Kirkuk to drive out insurgents, and to secure the area's rich oil fields. By doing this, the regional government has added a fourth province to the three it officially controls. The oil also provides revenue that could make an independent Kurdistan economically strong.

Kirkuk, in northern Iraq, has fabulous oil wealth. It is an ethnically divided city. For years, Kurdish, Arab and Turkmen factions fought each other. Then, insurgents including the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant - or ISIL - unleased their terror.

In June, Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) Peshmerga troops, reputed to be some of the toughest fighters in this region, moved into Kirkuk to restore stability, and to protect the oil beneath it.A monument in Kirkuk, a well-head surrounded by swords, is highly symbolic of both the value of the province’s oil, as well as the fight to control it. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

Is Iron Dome Everything Israel Says It is?

July 21st 2014

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A U.S. Senate defense subcommittee has voted to double funding for Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system. The Pentagon originally requested $175 million for Iron Dome, but if the new bill passes, Israel would receive more than $350 million.

That’s good news for Israel—and for American defense contractors slated to receive more than half those funds to co-produce more Iron Dome units. But critics question such big spending on a system they say doesn’t live up to its glowing reputation.

A clever system
Iron Dome was developed after Israel’s second war with Lebanon in 2006, when about 4,000 rockets were fired from southern Lebanon. “What is special about Iron Dome is that it’s the only one of its kind,” said Jeremy Binnie, Middle East/Africa editor for IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly. Read more ..


The Battle for Ukraine

Charting Separatists' Use Of Increasingly Sophisticated Weaponry In Ukraine

July 19th 2014

Russian Tanks Invade Georgia

Just a few short months ago, separatist sentiment in eastern Ukraine was underscored by fisticuffs and the occasional appearance of small arms. As unrest rose, Kalashnikovs and Molotov cocktails entered the scene.

And in recent weeks, the separatists have deployed much more sophisticated weapons in their fight against Ukrainian forces amid rising accusations that Russia is the supplier.

APCs
Armored personnel carriers (APCs) first came into the control of separatists in April. This YouTube video shows Ukrainian troops peacefully abandoning their vehicles to rebels in the town of Kramatorsk, in eastern Ukraine.

T-64 Tanks
The U.S. State Department said in early June that Russia had sent tanks to separatists in Ukraine. It said NATO satellite photographs showed that three T-64 tanks crossed the border near the Ukrainian town of Snizhne. The T-64 has been phased out of service in the Russian Army, though they are believed to be stored in southwest Russia. The Ukrainian Army's arsenal includes T-64s, leaving open the possibility that separatists could commandeer them. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syria's Silent Weapons

July 18th 2014

Corpses in Homs

The decommissioning of Syria’s vast chemical weapon arsenal has brought its weapons of mass destruction into the media spotlight. Far less attention has been paid to Syria’s admitted biological warfare program, one of the largest in the Middle East today.

While Asad’s chemical weapons have been monitored for decades, biological weapons are silent weapons. There are no identifying heat signatures, no activities such as mixing precursor materials for loading into conventional warheads, which could be indicative of a chemical weapon facilities and few observable activities by which to identify a biological weapons laboratory. Biological weapons usually exhibit a combination of selected characteristics: they are highly infective, highly transmissible, have lengthy incubation periods and are untreatable (no vaccines or medical counter-measures available), among other desired attributes. Above all, they are silent weapons, in some instances deniable until noted epidemics and pandemics occur. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

The Military Reality of Israel's Operation in Gaza Sets In

July 17th 2014

Rocket Fajr-5

Hamas and affiliate militant factions out of the Gaza Strip are so far rejecting an Egyptian-proposed cease-fire, having launched far more than 100 rockets since the cease-fire proposal. In exposing Israel's inability to stem the rocket flow, Hamas is trying to claim a symbolic victory over Israel. Hamas' spin aside, the military reality paints a very different picture.

Palestinian militants have launched more than 1,200 rockets, but their limited range and accuracy combined with Israeli defensive capabilities have led to only one civilian death, less than 100 further casualties and disruptions to daily life over the past week. Conversely, Israel Defense Forces have struck more than 1,500 targets in Gaza, inflicting much heavier destruction on the militants. On the surface, the exchange of fire might seem balanced, but conflicts are measured by more than aggregate numbers of casualties and explosions.

Read more ..

Bordering on Crisis

Nebraska Governor Accuses Obama Administration of Secret Operations involving Immigrant Minors

July 15th 2014

Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman (R) pressed the Obama administration Monday to give him the names of nearly 200 children in his state who had been apprehended entering the country illegally.

"We want to know the names of those individuals, who their sponsor is, is their sponsor legal, what communities did you send them to," Heineman said. "Why are they conducting a secret operation essentially — transporting them all over the country, and now we learn to Nebraska, and the federal government won't tell us what is going on."

The governor said on "Fox and Friends" that he learned from Nebraska Sen. Mike Johanns (R) that the federal government had moved the children to the state amid the large influx being apprehended crossing over the Texas-Mexico border — mainly originating from Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador.
"I'm concerned, it is 200 today, how many is it tomorrow?" Heineman asked. Read more ..


Bordering on Crisis

U.S. Military Feels the Pinch Due to Immigrant Surge on U.S./Mexico Border

July 15th 2014

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Lawmakers warn President Obama is shortchanging the military by calling it into action at the U.S. border without providing a boost in funding.

“President Barack Obama has already decimated the military with budget cuts and the lack of overall strategy; now he’s asking them to do more,” said Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.) in an op-ed published Monday.

Obama last week requested $3.7 billion from Congress to respond to the flow of children crossing the border but that did not include additional funding for the military, which is housing thousands of immigrant children and trying to contain the violent drug trade. Military officials say there’s a direct link between drug traffickers and the influx of immigrants from Central America, but that they lack the resources they need to combat the problem at the source. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

A Stalled War on Terror Finance

July 14th 2014

Rials

Only two weeks after the attacks of September 11th, President George W. Bush addressed the media in the White House Rose Garden and declared "war" on terrorism financing. "Money is the lifeblood of terrorist operations," he told reporters.[1] "Today, we are asking the world to stop payment." A few weeks later, the Treasury Department—the agency that would become the weapon of choice of the White House in this new economic conflict—boasted in a press release, "The same talent pool and expertise that brought down Al Capone will now be dedicated to investigating Usama bin Laden and his terrorist network."[2]

Unfortunately, more than a decade after these pronouncements, it is obvious that the war on terror financing and money laundering has stalled. This is clear even through the lens of the government's own bottom-line metrics: assets seized and forfeited, successful investigations and prosecutions, and effective sanctions. In fact, the situation has gotten considerably worse of late, as political considerations have progressively displaced or rolled back serious work that has been done to date on draining the financial "swamp" in which terrorists and terror-supporting regimes operate. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

Netanyahu to World Media: "We're Using Missile Defense to Protect Our Civilians and They're Using Their Civilians to Protect Their Missiles"

July 14th 2014

Binyamin Netanyahu and flag

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was interviewed yesterday (Jul. 13) on CBS's 'Face the Nation' and Fox News' 'Sunday'. Netanyahu's primary objective was to strengthen the legitimacy of Operation 'Protective Edge' in the international realm. He stressed the difference between the IDF's actions and Hamas' targeting of civilians, while using their own civilians as shields and their homes as centers for terror.  

 "Here's a difference between us. We're using missile defense to protect our civilians and they're using their civilians to protect their missiles. That's basically the difference. They're embedding these rockets that they're firing wholesale into our cities, terrorist rocketing, trying to kill as many as they can," said Netanyahu. "

"They're not succeeding because of two reasons. One is because we've developed this incredible missile defense system, which I think is a stark development in the history of defensive warfare, with US help and I want to thank the American people, President Obama, the US Congress, for helping us fund this amazing development. But the other reason we're succeeding – you have to understand some of the rockets do pierce through this shield and the reason we're succeeding is also because we're targeting the terrorists. Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

Palestinian Envoy Admits on Television to UN Agency: "Israelis Warn Civilians Before Attacks, We Don't"

July 13th 2014

Hamas leader Khaled Meshal

Palestinian Envoy to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) Ibrahim Khreisheh admitted in an interview, translated by MEMRI (The Middle East Media Research Institute), that the Palestinian Authority and Hamas do not abide by international law and commit war crimes. 

Responding to a question presented to him on PA TV last week about the Palestinians' demand to appeal to the International Criminal Court at The Hague (ICC) against Israel, Khreisheh responded: "The missiles that are now being launched against Israel, each and every missile constitutes a crime against humanity, whether it hits or missed, because it is directed at civilian targets...Therefore, targeting civilians, be it one civilian or a thousand, is considered a crime against humanity." Read more ..


Operation Protective Edge

As Death Toll Rises in Gaza, U.N. Calls for Cease-Fire

July 12th 2014

The Israeli air force struck targets inside Gaza for the fifth day Saturday, as rockets fired from the Palestinian territory set off alarms across southern Israel.

Officials in Gaza say about 130 people have been killed in Israeli military strikes since operations began in response to weeks of Palestinian rocket fire into Israel.

A mosque in central Gaza was among the targets struck Saturday.

Israeli Defense Forces spokesperson Lieutenant Libby Weiss says the building was being used by Hamas militants.

"It's important to note that this was a mosque that was used almost entirely for Hamas operations. Meaning as a structure perhaps yes it was a mosque but it was very clear that it was being used, and I would say almost hijacked by Hamas for terror purposes," Weiss said.

The United Nations humanitarian affairs office has said the majority of Palestinians killed in Israeli strikes since operations began have been civilians. Read more ..


Obama's Second Term

Obama's Relations with Germany Reach New Low

July 10th 2014

German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Thursday expelled the top American intelligence official from her country.

The retaliatory action comes on the heels of German investigations into two people suspected of covertly spying for the U.S., allegations that have stirred new tensions between the two nations.

In a statement, German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said that the “representative of the U.S. intelligence services at the Embassy of the United States of America was asked to leave Germany.”

Seibert added that the expulsion came “in light of the ongoing investigation” into the suspected spies as well as months of “unsolved questions on the activities of U.S. intelligence agencies in Germany,” which the German Parliament has begun to investigate. Read more ..


The Battle for Baghdad

Iraq: Iran and Russia Go Where Obama Fears to Tread

July 9th 2014

Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov said on July 8 that his country proposes to organize an international forum on terrorist threats in Iraq in the hope of enlisting support. "We hope this idea would win support, since, as far as we understand, all are worried over the developments in Iraq," he said to Russian journalists, adding that Iraq was "really facing a threat of disintegration."

Gatilov said, "There is understanding in the international community that it is high time to do something. I think this support will only grow to create a platform for the organization of such forum," while adding that discussions about the forum are "are at the initial stage." Read more ..


Nigeria on Edge

Nigerian Girls Escape Boko Haram Islamist Captors

July 7th 2014

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Approximately 60 women and children abducted by Islamic extremists in Nigeria have escaped, sources told Agence France-Presse late Sunday.

A vigilante told the news service that he had heard from colleagues who said the women and children, who were captured by Boko Haram last month, “had it made it back home.”
A high-level security source confirmed the escape, AFP reported.

More than 60 women and girls, and 31 schoolboys were reported missing after a three-day siege in June in the northern part of the country. Boko Haram, whose name loosely translates to “Western education is sin,” also snatched more than 250 girls from a state-owned school in northern Nigeria in April. Read more ..


Japan on Edge

Japan's Military Is Not About to March Through Asia

July 6th 2014

Japnese destroyer at Guandong China

When Japanese prime minister Shinzo Abe announced this week that he would be asking the parliament to pass laws revoking the country's ban on engaging in collective self-defense, it resulted in a predictable gnashing of teeth and wailing both in Japan and abroad. The move, which has been mooted since Abe was first in office, in 2006, simply allows Japanese military forces to come to the aid of allies or innocent parties under attack. Put in the context of Japan's gradual security evolution over the past several decades, it is neither a radical move nor one that threatens peace in Asia.

Abe has been attacked for his decision from two fronts. At home, large protests have demanded that Japan not become a militarist state that gets sucked into foreign wars. Meanwhile, protestors in South Korea and official voices in China darkly warn that Tokyo is changing the law so as to have a pretext for more aggressive action overseas. Read more ..


Obama's Second Term

Texas Governor Says Obama is 'Inept' or Doesn't Care for Border Issues

July 6th 2014

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Texas Governor Rick Perry (R) on Sunday said the Obama administration is either “inept” or doesn’t care about the influx of unaccompanied minors at the border with Mexico.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Perry pointed to a letter he sent in May, 2012, that raised concerns about the flow unaccompanied minors. Perry said there was no response from the administration.
“They either are inept or don’t care,” Perry said. “I have to believe that when you do not respond in any way, that you are either inept or you have some ulterior motive.”

“This is a failure of diplomacy, this is a failure of leadership,” he added.

Perry said he does not believe that President Obama “cares whether or not the border of the United States is secure,” adding that “we are paying a huge price.” Perry said Obama’s comments urging Central American parents not to send their children to the U.S. are coming “about five years too late.” Read more ..


The Caliphate

ISIS Poses Threat Beyond Iraq

July 6th 2014

Muslims destroy antiquities 2014

Any traveler to the Middle East today can feel the tidal wave sweeping the area. The Arab Awakening is now a distant memory, and the hopes for democracy have been replaced by the black flags of al-Qaeda. In their pickup trucks, they sweep into broader areas of northern and western Iraq, remove the border posts separating Iraq and Syria, threaten the transit areas that ship Iraqi oil to Jordan, and potentially endanger the Hashemite Kingdom and Saudi Arabia.

Now they declare themselves not the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), but just the Islamic State, and proclaim their leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, "caliph" over all Muslims. Read more ..


The Caliphate

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, 'Caliph' of Islamic State, Finally Appears in Video

July 5th 2014

Abu Bakir

A video posted online on Saturday purports to show the leader of the Islamic State extremist group that has overrun much of Syria and Iraq delivering a sermon at a mosque in Iraq, in what would be a rare — if not the first — public appearance by the shadowy militant.

The video was released on at least two websites known to be used by the group, but it was not possible to independently verify whether the person shown was indeed the group's leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. It bore the logo of al-Furqan, the group's media arm. Through brute force and guile, the Islamic State group has seized control of a vast swath of land straddling Syria and Iraq, and has declared the establishment of an Islamic state, or caliphate, in those territories. It proclaimed al-Baghdadi the leader of its state and demanded that all Muslims pledge allegiance to him.

"The mujahedeen have been rewarded victory by God after years of jihad, and they were able to achieve their aim and hurried to announce the caliphate and choose the Imam," he says in the video, referring to the leader. Read more ..


The Battle for Iraq

Sale of 4,000 U.S. Missiles to Iraq Is Readied

July 3rd 2014

Darkly ominous missiles

The State Department has told lawmakers informally that the Obama administration wants to sell Iraq more than 4,000 additional Hellfire missiles for the government’s fight against Islamic insurgents, according to people familiar with the plan.

Sale of the laser-guided missiles made by Lockheed Martin Corp. (LMT) would be in addition to 500 previously purchased, of which about 400 have been delivered.

The U.S. has pledged military aid to Iraq in its fight against the Islamic State, an extremist Sunni group that’s seized a swath of territory north and west of Baghdad. Iraq’s ambassador to the U.S., Lukman Faily, said yesterday in Washington that weapons have been too slow in coming and “further delay only benefits the terrorists.” Read more ..


South Sudan on Edge

MSF Reveals Details of Hospital Attacks in South Sudan

July 1st 2014

South Sudan soldier

The international medical aid agency Doctors Without Borders says at least 58 people have been killed on hospital grounds in South Sudan since a conflict broke out late last year.  The aid agency, better known by its French initials MSF, released a report Tuesday documenting repeated attacks on its facilities across the country.

MSF has released details of attacks on hospitals and health care workers since December, when a political dispute in South Sudan first spiraled into inter-ethnic violence. According to the report, MSF facilities have been ransacked, patients and health care staff killed, and vehicles, including ambulances, have been destroyed or stolen.

Speaking to reporters in Nairobi, MSF Program Manager for South Sudan William Robertson said the violence represented an “inversion” of the role of health care facilities as places of safety. "Indeed the violence carried out against the wounded and sick and those seeking shelter are not only violations of international law, but they are an affront to human dignity. The damage has far-reaching consequences beyond the act of violence itself as hundreds of thousands of people become cut off from health care at a time when they need it the most," he said. Read more ..


Defense on Edge

Why America's Military Dominance is Fading

June 30th 2014

U.S. Naval Carrier

It is often said Congress hates to cut or cancel weapons systems, usually for reasons relating to jobs and elections back home. But the record shows that Congress is much more likely to curtail new equipment purchases for the military rather than get rid of or retire the old stuff.

This tendency is increasingly problematic for the U.S. military. In many capability sets and domains, the traditional margins of U.S. military technological supremacy are declining across the services. Too often, policy makers think of this as an emerging challenge that can be dealt with in the coming years. But, as has been documented previously and stated by many senior Pentagon officials over the past year, America’s declining military superiority is now a “here-now” problem.

Frank Kendall, undersecretary for acquisition, technology and logistics, recently said, “I’m very concerned about eroding technological superiority and where we’re headed. […] We’ve had 20 years since the end of the Cold War [and] sort of a presumption in the United States that we are technologically superior militarily. I don’t think that that’s a safe assumption. In fact, I think that we’ve gotten complacent about that and we’ve been distracted for the last ten years fighting counterinsurgencies.” Read more ..


Financing the Flames

US Funding Palestinian Terrorists

June 27th 2014

Financing the Flames

Obama administration officials have praised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as someone with whom Israel can do business.

See the Video Report

Yet he recently chose to do business with those committed to Israel's destruction, Abbas struck a deal with Hamas making the U.S.-designated terror group part of a united Palestinian government.

Buy Financing the Flames
Learn More About Financing the Flames

Although that unity deal may soon be dead following Hamas's alleged kidnapping of three Israeli teenagers, Abbas's initial embrace of the terror outfit raised serious questions about his commitment to peace.

Financing the Flames

"Peace doesn't have a chance because peace doesn't pay," said award-winning investigative journalist Edwin Black. "Because anytime that they want some income, all they've got to do is commit an act of terrorism."

In his latest book, Financing the Flames, the New York Times bestselling author details how the Palestinian Authority rewards terrorists who have killed Israelis.

"As soon as a terrorist commits an act of terrorism against an innocent civilian in Israel -- whether that's cutting the throat of a child or stabbing a man standing at a bus or blowing up a building," Black said. "As soon as that man does that, he goes on a special salary from the Palestinian Authority, under Palestinian law -- a law known as the Law of the Prisoner."

The more Israelis killed, the bigger the financial reward.

"He gets a graduated salary depending on how heinous the crime is," Black continued. "If he kills five people and gets five years, he gets one salary. If he kills double that number and gets double the sentence, he gets double the salary. And so this actually incentivizes the misery, mayhem, and carnage that the terrorists commit." Read more ..


The Battle for Baghdad

Kerry Goes Hat in Hand to Saudi Arabia

June 27th 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry meets today with Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah to discuss how to confront Sunni extremists that have taken over large parts of Iraq and Syria. Kerry met in Paris with the foreign ministers of Saudi Arabia, Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, on June 26 in an effort to rally regional unity against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIL.

Kerry has sought to secure the cooperation of Gulf states to bolster the Iraqi government, rather than fund its opponents, who consist of disaffected Sunni Muslims. In Paris, Kerry said on June 26 “The move of [ISIS] concerns every single country here.” Read more ..


Defense on Edge

A-10 vs. Fighters and Bombers

June 26th 2014

B-2-Refueling

It's a time-honored tradition inside the Beltway to "kick the can" on really hard decisions while making sure immediate "solutions" to defer pain only cost more and create bigger problems later. Congress is set to do it again.

But the jig is up for these cut-off-the-nose-to-spite-the-face answers. Thanks to the defense drawdown underway, the military can no longer avoid political pain for the politicians in charge.

One high profile example of this is the Pentagon proposal to retire the fleet of A-10 Warthog aircraft. Members of Congress are set to pat themselves on the proverbial back for rejecting the president's proposal once the defense bills are finalized. But the cost of saving the A-10 fleet will be much larger numbers of fighters and bombers that will be on the chopping block instead. If the outcry was loud from the A-10 proposal, just wait until next year's budget lands with a thud on Capitol Hill. Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

Background on the 'Possible Military Dimensions' of Iran's Nuclear Program

June 25th 2014

Iran Nuclear Equipment centrifuges

As senior officials from Iran and the P5+1 -- China, France, Russia, Britain, and the United States, plus Germany -- prepare for another round of nuclear talks in Vienna on June 16-20, one major issue that cannot be left unresolved regards the suspected military aspects of Iran's nuclear program. The so-called possible military dimensions (PMD) are being investigated by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) as part of a Framework for Cooperation with Iran, but the issue is unlikely to be resolved before the July 20 target deadline set by the Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) for negotiation of a comprehensive nuclear agreement between Iran and the P5+1.

Although the negotiations are aimed primarily at reaching a comprehensive agreement that limits the scope and level of Iran's uranium enrichment and plutonium production capabilities, the resolution of PMD issues has been left to the IAEA, which is working with Iran to implement a series of transparency measures to verify the exclusively peaceful nature of Iran's nuclear program. Accordingly, the JPOA states that a joint commission consisting of Iran and the European Union/P5+1 "will work with the IAEA to facilitate resolution of past and present issues of concern" -- an apparent reference to the PMD file. Yet President Hassan Rouhani and his nuclear negotiating team may be unable or unwilling to satisfactorily address questions about a possible parallel military nuclear program given an entrenched bureaucracy and fears of covert sabotage.   Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

British Jihadist Was Prayer Caller At Mosque

June 25th 2014

Rebel fighters

As a teenager he attended the Aberdeen Mosque and Islamic Centre, where he volunteered as a "mu'adhdhin", someone who calls worshippers to prayer. Sources at the mosque have told Sky News that Amin "never, ever" showed radical tendencies. They say that if he had he would have been immediately reported to the police, with whom the mosque has a close relationship. Read more ..


Islam on Edge

Christians Remain the Most Persecuted People on Earth

June 23rd 2014

"This is not a mosque for prayers but a base for recruiting Muslim youths to engage in terrorist activities." — Police official, Mombasa, Kenya

A new law appeared in the Indonesian province of Aceh saying that Islamic laws (Sharia) be extended to non-Muslims, the majority of whom are Christian.

"Over the last few years, religious minorities have been targeted, their villages burned, accused in false cases of blasphemy, victims of intimidation, forced marriages, and forced conversions. When a Christian is accused of blasphemy, the people of a neighborhood gather to punish the culprit, burning him alive or lynching him. The police and the government have never punished such acts." — The Anglican Bishop of Karachi, Pakistan Read more ..


The Battle for Iraq

ISIS, Iraq, and the War in Syria: A Military Outlook

June 22nd 2014

Oil fields near Ramadi

The stunning advance of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) in northern and western Iraq over the past week has significant military implications for the war in Syria. The jihadist group's forces and operations in Syria have already been affected positively and negatively by its commitments in Iraq. Going forward, Syrian rebel factions may take advantage of the ISIS campaign in Iraq to move against the group's positions in Syria, especially in Raqqa province. They may also be able to capitalize on the withdrawal of Iraqi Shiite militants who had previously been fighting on behalf of the Assad regime. For the regime, the situation will require more effort by its native forces and perhaps by its Hezbollah ally, which may need to pick up the slack caused by the departure of Iraqi elements. Bashar al-Assad's forces may have increased military operations against ISIS since the latest crisis emerged, putting further pressure on the regime's limited and stretched military assets. Read more ..


The Battle for Iraq

ISIL Control Key Border Town on Iraq-Syria Border

June 21st 2014

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Sunni fighters have seized an Iraqi town that borders Syria, allowing the militants to pass freely along with their weapons between the two countries, security officials said Saturday.

Fighters with the al-Qaida breakaway group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, took the border town of Qaim overnight after a day of heavy fighting on Friday. The Associated Press quoted officials speaking on the condition of anonymity saying people are now crossing back and forth freely.

Volunteers of the newly formed "Peace Brigades" participated in a parade in the Shiite stronghold of Sadr City, Baghdad, on June 21. 

The border breach could result in yet more fighters and weaponry flooding into Iraq, as the militants expand their battlefields and pose a growing threat to the capital, Baghdad. Read more ..


Ukraine on Edge

Russia vs. Ukraine: A Gas War Like No Other

June 19th 2014

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Russia has halted gas supplies to Ukraine -- a major escalation of a dispute in which Russia's state-owned gas giant Gazprom is demanding that Kyiv settle its huge gas debt. But in many ways, what many have dubbed the third "gas war" between the two countries is different than previous disputes in 2006 and 2009. Here's why.

This gas row is a lot more political: The gas conflict is taking place against the backdrop of deadly fighting in eastern Ukraine between government troops and separatist insurgents widely believed to be supported by Moscow. Relations between Moscow and Kyiv are at rock bottom; there have been suggestions on both sides to sever diplomatic ties. Read more ..


The Battle for Syria

Syrian Conflict Carries Threat of Regional War

June 17th 2014

Bomb Damage

U.N. investigators are warning the Syrian conflict is threatening the entire region.  The four-member Commission of Inquiry on Syria says a regional war in the Middle East draws ever closer.

The latest report documents the extent and violence of the abuse and suffering being endured by the Syrian people after more than three years of war.  It also warns what had been a localized state war can no longer be contained.

The U.N. Commission of Inquiry says the most dangerous aspect of these developments is the rise of the sectarian threat.  It considers this a direct consequence of the dominance of extremist groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. Commission member Vitit Muntarbhorn saif the Commission predicted a long time ago the dangers of a spillover of the Syrian conflict from its borders into those of its regional neighbors.     Read more ..


Israel on Edge

Israel Prepares for Major Actions

June 16th 2014

Soldiers-vehicles

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz put the world on notice Monday that Israel is "heading towards an extensive operation" against Hamas in order to recover three Israeli teenagers kidnapped on Friday.

"We have one objective," Gantz said in an IDF briefing, "find the three teens, bring them home, crack down on Hamas as hard as possible and move forward."

The IDF has already deployed in force across the West Bank, closing down the city of Hebron, calling up reserves, and doing house-to-house searches in many Palestinian towns. It is the largest IDF operation in the West Bank in years, and now appears set to become much larger.

"We are looking ahead at increasing the activity against Hamas, with an emphasis on the Hebron area," an anonymous source told YNet. Another source said that deporting Hamas officials to Gaza is also being seriously considered. Read more ..


The Battle for Iraq

Senate Republican Leader Demands Obama to Take Action in Iraq

June 14th 2014

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Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) has called on President Obama to provide immediate assistance to Iraq Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who is battling Sunni extremists threatening to topple his government.

McConnell warned the gains made by the United States and a coalition of partners to transition Iraq from a dictatorship to a democracy, at the cost of more than 4,000 American lives and trillions of dollars, risk evaporating.

He said if the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIS), an off shoot of al-Qaeda, takes over Iraq it would pose a “grave threat” to U.S. national security. He stopped short of calling for the redeployment of American ground troops. Obama rejected Maliki’s pleas for airstrikes last month, according to The New York Times, but opened the door to some kind of intervention in remarks Friday. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

China's Jihadists

June 14th 2014

Soldiers

On March 2, 2014, a train station in Kunming, in western China's Yunnan province, witnessed a horrific slashing attack by black-clad Uighurs wielding large knives and machetes.  The attack left 29 dead and 143 wounded. At least 9 Uighurs, members of the East Turkestan [separatists] Islamic Movement (ETIM), which have committed more than 200 terrorist attacks over the past 12 months, were identified as the attackers.

The Uighurs are Turkic-speaking Muslim minority from the country's northwestern region Xinjang that borders Afghanistan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Laos, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia and Tajikistan. Xinjiang is also known as East Turkestan. It is unlikely that the machete-wielding Uighurs, who traveled 900 miles away from home, could have planed the massacre without help from a few of the very small number of Kuming's Uighur residents. 

The Chinese authorities blame inflammatory videos and social media sites that have managed to evade China's Internet censorship as the instigators of the Uighur jihad movement. They also blame outside support from Sunni radicals from the 5 post-Soviet Central Asian states for growing terrorist attacks. Others claim the attack was orchestrated by al Qaeda in Xinjang. Read more ..


Defense on Edge

The Scope of the Challenge

June 14th 2014

U.S. Naval Carrier

In November 2013, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) embarked on an effort to reform what is universally recognized as a broken acquisition system within the Department of Defense. Representative Mac Thornberry (R-Tex), the HASC Vice Chairman, and Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-WA) were tasked with leading the charge on what will likely be a multi-year reform effort.

The task is daunting and has skewered many previous efforts at improvement. To understand the magnitude of the challenge, it may be helpful to view DOD as first and foremost a people-centric enterprise supporting an economy the size of a small nation. Together, military service members, civilians, and contractors (oftentimes performing interchangeable functions) use an installed capital base of machines, equipment and land to meet the national security missions of the United States. To operate this economy, DOD bought $308 billion in goods and services in 2013. How contractors are used is critical to the productivity and readiness of the Armed Services that translates into the ability to fight and deter potential enemies abroad. Read more ..


The Battle for Baghdad

Iran May Have Already Entered the War in Iran

June 13th 2014

Iranian government officials including President Hassan Rohani have expressed readiness to help the government of their Iraqi ally, Nuri al-Maliki, fight the militants of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) amid Western media reports that the country's powerful Revolutionary Guard has already dispatched forces to Iraq.

Rohani warned that Tehran is not ready to stand by and tolerate the recent violence in Iraq. He did not elaborate on the time and measures Iran could take to assist Maliki. Iran's police chief, Esmail Ahmadi Moghadam, was quoted as saying that Tehran could intervene to protect Shi'ite shrines and cities. Read more ..


The Battel for Iraq

ISIS Annual Reports Reveal a Metrics-Driven Military Command

June 13th 2014

Iraqi Militia

On March 31, 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) published a new edition of “al-Naba” [The Report], its “annual report” covering the period of November 2012 to November 2013. The Arabic language report, over 400 pages long, was first published by the I’tisaam Media Foundation, ISIS’s main media arm, and then re-posted online by secondary sources. This report is the second known ISIS report publicizing the results of their military campaign in Iraq. In August 2013, ISIS published a similar report covering the period of November 2011 – November 2012. This report was posted to the al-Shumukh jihadist forum, one of al-Qaeda’s primary information outlets. Although the covers of the report refer to them as the “fifth” and “fourth” years, respectively, no previous editions appear to be available online. Possibly these years refer to an organizational milestone, rather than a first edition, given that the quantity of military operations between 2009 – 2011 was not as significant. The repeated publication of consecutive annual reports indicates that the ISIS military command in Iraq has exercised command and control over a national theater since at least early 2012. ISIS in Iraq is willing and able to organize centralized reporting procedures and to publish the results of its performance to achieve organizational effects. Such organizational effects might include attracting the attention of potential donors to ISIS’s cause and also showing off an increasingly structured organization capable of more than just attacking haphazardly.
 
There are many reasons why a military organization would collect and publish attack metrics. First, metrics effectively demonstrate the use of centrally distributed resources, such as suicide bombers. Second, metrics provide a higher command with a means to compare subordinate commands and to control main efforts. Third, attack metrics provide a means to communicate organizational efficacy to outside parties, such as donors, al-Qaeda groups, and adversaries. While the contents of the annual report are more significant as a message than as a measurement of actual attacks, it is important to understand what ISIS is reporting about its own performance in order to understand its own narrative about the war in Iraq.
 
This essay will examine the statistics provided by ISIS in its two consecutive annual reports. Where possible, this report will compare the attack statistics reported by ISIS to other sources of information, such as local news and previous ISW assessments. This verification will not be possible in every instance; therefore, this report will not attempt a full quantitative or content analysis. Rather, this report is a preliminary summary in order to point out that ISIS is claiming credit for significant battlefield effects, including some that are not readily observable in open source reporting. In particular, ISIS describes its campaign for Ninewa as a main effort, which is only incidentally apparent from local news because ISIS has silenced journalists in that area through intimidation since January 2014.
 
It is important to remember that the number of attacks reported by ISIS may be exaggerated or irregularly reported; for example, it is unclear from their reported numbers how ISIS categorizes complex attacks that include more than one attack type (a raid of a building preceded by a suicide vest attack, for example). A more intensive analysis of the Arabic report content may identify monthly trends and other significant insights into how ISIS interprets data. ISIS reporting about its campaign in Ninewa makes these documents an important resource. Further analysis may also explain how ISIS in Iraq conceptualizes phased operations; how operations are resourced; and how subordinate commands operate.
- See more at: http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/ISIS-Annual-Reports-Reveal-Military-Organization#sthash.L3qXRD43.dpuf
On March 31, 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) published a new edition of “al-Naba” [The Report], its “annual report” covering the period of November 2012 to November 2013. The Arabic language report, over 400 pages long, was first published by the I’tisaam Media Foundation, ISIS’s main media arm, and then re-posted online by secondary sources. This report is the second known ISIS report publicizing the results of their military campaign in Iraq. In August 2013, ISIS published a similar report covering the period of November 2011 – November 2012. This report was posted to the al-Shumukh jihadist forum, one of al-Qaeda’s primary information outlets. Although the covers of the report refer to them as the “fifth” and “fourth” years, respectively, no previous editions appear to be available online. Possibly these years refer to an organizational milestone, rather than a first edition, given that the quantity of military operations between 2009 – 2011 was not as significant. The repeated publication of consecutive annual reports indicates that the ISIS military command in Iraq has exercised command and control over a national theater since at least early 2012. ISIS in Iraq is willing and able to organize centralized reporting procedures and to publish the results of its performance to achieve organizational effects. Such organizational effects might include attracting the attention of potential donors to ISIS’s cause and also showing off an increasingly structured organization capable of more than just attacking haphazardly.
 
There are many reasons why a military organization would collect and publish attack metrics. First, metrics effectively demonstrate the use of centrally distributed resources, such as suicide bombers. Second, metrics provide a higher command with a means to compare subordinate commands and to control main efforts. Third, attack metrics provide a means to communicate organizational efficacy to outside parties, such as donors, al-Qaeda groups, and adversaries. While the contents of the annual report are more significant as a message than as a measurement of actual attacks, it is important to understand what ISIS is reporting about its own performance in order to understand its own narrative about the war in Iraq.
 
This essay will examine the statistics provided by ISIS in its two consecutive annual reports. Where possible, this report will compare the attack statistics reported by ISIS to other sources of information, such as local news and previous ISW assessments. This verification will not be possible in every instance; therefore, this report will not attempt a full quantitative or content analysis. Rather, this report is a preliminary summary in order to point out that ISIS is claiming credit for significant battlefield effects, including some that are not readily observable in open source reporting. In particular, ISIS describes its campaign for Ninewa as a main effort, which is only incidentally apparent from local news because ISIS has silenced journalists in that area through intimidation since January 2014.
 
It is important to remember that the number of attacks reported by ISIS may be exaggerated or irregularly reported; for example, it is unclear from their reported numbers how ISIS categorizes complex attacks that include more than one attack type (a raid of a building preceded by a suicide vest attack, for example). A more intensive analysis of the Arabic report content may identify monthly trends and other significant insights into how ISIS interprets data. ISIS reporting about its campaign in Ninewa makes these documents an important resource. Further analysis may also explain how ISIS in Iraq conceptualizes phased operations; how operations are resourced; and how subordinate commands operate.
- See more at: http://www.understandingwar.org/backgrounder/ISIS-Annual-Reports-Reveal-Military-Organization#sthash.L3qXRD43.dpuf

On March 31, 2014, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) published a new edition of “al-Naba” [The Report], its “annual report” covering the period of November 2012 to November 2013. The Arabic language report, over 400 pages long, was first published by the I’tisaam Media Foundation, ISIS’s main media arm, and then re-posted online by secondary sources. This report is the second known ISIS report publicizing the results of their military campaign in Iraq.

In August 2013, ISIS published a similar report covering the period of November 2011 – November 2012. This report was posted to the al-Shumukh jihadist forum, one of al-Qaeda’s primary information outlets. Although the covers of the report refer to them as the “fifth” and “fourth” years, respectively, no previous editions appear to be available online. Read more ..


Jordan on Edge

Iraqi Jihadists Threaten to Kill Jordan's King and Envelope the Mideast

June 13th 2014

Click to select Image

The recent victories in Iraq and Syria by the terrorists of ISIS -- said to be an offshoot of al-Qaeda -- have emboldened the group and its followers throughout the Middle East. Now the terrorists are planning to move their jihad not only to Jordan, but also to the Gaza Strip, Sinai and Lebanon.

Failure to act will result in the establishment in the Middle East of a dangerous extremist Islamic empire that will pose a threat to American and Western interests.

"The danger is getting closer to our bedrooms." — Oraib al-Rantawi, Jordanian political analyst.

Islamist terrorists in Iraq and Syria have begun creeping toward neighboring countries, sources close to the Islamic fundamentalists revealed this week. Read more ..



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