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Geopolitical Edge

The Future of the American Empire

April 14th 2015

"Empire" is a dirty word. Considering the behavior of many empires, that is not unreasonable. But empire is also simply a description of a condition, many times unplanned and rarely intended. It is a condition that arises from a massive imbalance of power. Indeed, the empires created on purpose, such as Napoleonic France and Nazi Germany, have rarely lasted. Most empires do not plan to become one. They become one and then realize what they are. Sometimes they do not realize what they are for a long time, and that failure to see reality can have massive consequences.

World War II and the Birth of an Empire

The United States became an empire in 1945. It is true that in the Spanish-American War, the United States intentionally took control of the Philippines and Cuba. It is also true that it began thinking of itself as an empire, but it really was not. Cuba and the Philippines were the fantasy of empire, and this illusion dissolved during World War I, the subsequent period of isolationism and the Great Depression. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

U.S. Unprepared for Biological Threats

April 10th 2015

NYPD and flag

In a recent report to Congressional Committees on Biological Defense, the General Accountability Office (GAO) revealed that the Defense Department has not followed its own directive to update its list of biological agents that pose the greatest threat to the military. The DoD list on new biological threats serves as a guideline for the government's investments in countermeasures such as vaccines and new drugs. Yet, it has only been updated twice since its creation in 2000. The GAO reports that Pentagon officials stated they were under the impression that the DoD directive was no longer in effect.

Billions of of dollars were spent by the DoD from 2001 to 2013 on research and development of medical countermeasures.  However, without updated lists, GAO was not able to determine whether DoD was dealing with the latest deadly biological agents.  Even in the years that DoD did update the list, the GAO audit found that it didn't reach out to  the department's Chemical and Biological Defense Program and other concerned agencies. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

French TV5Monde Hit by Islamic State Hackers

April 9th 2015

IS with Missile

French television network TV5Monde said Thursday that it had been hacked by individuals claiming to belong to the Islamic State group, who brought television broadcasts to a halt and and hijacked its websites and social networks. The Paris-based company was able to partially resume television broadcasts by 1:00 am (2300 GMT) after a three-hour blackout, the network's director-general Yves Bigot told AFP, but added its systems had been "severely damaged" by an "unprecedented attack".

The hackers posted documents on TV5Monde's Facebook page purporting to be the identity cards and CVs of relatives of French soldiers involved in anti-IS operations, along with threats against the troops.

Read more ..

Iran's Nukes

Arab States Roundly Reject Obama's Bad Deal with Iran

April 5th 2015

"This is a dangerous agreement... [it] provides Iran with what it needs most to pursue its wars and expansionism against the Arabs: funds." — Salah al-Mukhtar, Ammon News.

"Iran has tried to intervene in Iraq, Lebanon and Syria and it is seeing that it's not paying any price... There is also a feeling in Tehran that the U.S. is avoiding a military confrontation with the Iranians." — Hassan al-Barari, Al-Sharq.

According to Hani al-Jamal, an Egyptian political and regional researcher, the deal means that the international community has accepted Iran as a nuclear power.

Many Arabs have expressed deep concern over the nuclear deal that was reached this week between Iran and the world powers, including the US. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Iran Transferred Million of Dollars for Hamas Tunnel reconstruction

April 5th 2015

Tunnel  Access Point

Iran has transferred tens of millions of dollars for the reconstruction of the tunnel system that was destroyed by IDF during Operation Protective Edge – the British Sunday Telegraph reported last night. Intelligence sources quoted in the report assess that this cooperation is a sign that the two old allies are putting behind them a rift caused by the conflict in Syria.

The sources told the newspaper that in addition to the funds for the tunnels reconstruction, Teheran is also funding new missile supplies to replenish stocks, meant to hit cities and communities in Israeli territory.

The Iranian aid to Hamas can be seen at part of its involvement in other conflicts in the Middle East, like the civil war in Syria and the battle over the control of Yemen. “Iran’s Shiite leaders are trying very hard to increase their influence throughout the region at the expense of the Sunni regimes,” a senior Western security official told the newspaper. Read more ..


Mideast on Edge

The Middle Eastern Balance of Power Matures

March 31st 2015

Saudi princes

Last week, a coalition of predominantly Sunni Arab countries, primarily from the Arabian Peninsula and organized by Saudi Arabia, launched airstrikes in Yemen that have continued into this week. The airstrikes target Yemeni al-Houthis, a Shiite sect supported by Iran, and their Sunni partners, which include the majority of military forces loyal to former President Ali Abdullah Saleh. What made the strikes particularly interesting was what was lacking: U.S. aircraft. Although the United States provided intelligence and other support, it was a coalition of Arab states that launched the extended air campaign against the al-Houthis.

Three things make this important. First, it shows the United States' new regional strategy in operation. Washington is moving away from the strategy it has followed since the early 2000s — of being the prime military force in regional conflicts — and is shifting the primary burden of fighting to regional powers while playing a secondary role. Second, after years of buying advanced weaponry, the Saudis and the Gulf Cooperation Council countries are capable of carrying out a fairly sophisticated campaign, at least in Yemen. Read more ..


The War at Home

U.S. Air Force Veteran Charged with Trying to Join Islamic State terrorists

March 17th 2015

An Air Force veteran has been charged with trying to join the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Federal authorities say Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, who trained as an airplane mechanic, traveled to Turkey from Egypt to try to cross the border into Syria.

He was found to have searched online for information about the borders controlled by the militant group and for ISIS propaganda. “Born and raised in the United States, Pugh allegedly turned his back on his country and attempted to travel to Syria in order to join a terrorist organization,” said U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of New York Loretta Lynch, who President Obama has nominated to be U.S. attorney general. “We will continue to vigorously prosecute extremists, whether based here or abroad, to stop them before they are able to threaten the United States and its allies." Read more ..


Edge of Terrorism

Boko Haram Reverts to Old Tactics Amid Setbacks

March 13th 2015

Nigeria - Jos Unrest

At least 34 people were killed during an attack in the capital of Nigeria's Borno State on Tuesday when, according to witnesses, a female suicide bomber detonated her explosives in a crowded marketplace. While no group claimed responsibility for the incident in Maiduguri, the bombing bore the hallmarks of killings committed by Boko Haram in northwestern Nigeria.

Earlier in the day, 20 insurgents in cars and on horseback opened fire in the village of Ngamdu about 60 miles away, killing eight people. Military officials confirmed the deaths and noted that soldiers had been deployed to the area to deter attacks. A similar shooting last week also killed 45 people in the Borno town of Njaba; and five coordinated bombs targeted the same Maiduguri marketplace on Saturday, killing more than 100 civilians. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

A Look Back at the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing Investigation

February 26th 2015

NYSkyline

On the morning of Feb. 26, 1993, a massive truck bomb ripped a hole almost 100 feet across the B-2 level of the parking garage beneath the World Trade Center's North Tower. The blast wave was so powerful that it penetrated five stories of the reinforced concrete building. In addition to causing structural damage, the explosion destroyed or heavily damaged hundreds of vehicles parked in the garage. That such a powerful explosion killed only six people is nothing short of miracle, for the attackers had a goal much more grandiose.

They wanted to topple the North Tower onto the South Tower to destroy them both and kill thousands. Had a device of the same magnitude been detonated at street level during rush hour, it would have likely killed scores if not hundreds of people and wounded perhaps thousands more. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

A Look Back at the 1993 World Trade Center Bombing Investigation

February 26th 2015

NYSkyline

On the morning of Feb. 26, 1993, a massive truck bomb ripped a hole almost 100 feet across the B-2 level of the parking garage beneath the World Trade Center's North Tower. The blast wave was so powerful that it penetrated five stories of the reinforced concrete building. In addition to causing structural damage, the explosion destroyed or heavily damaged hundreds of vehicles parked in the garage. That such a powerful explosion killed only six people is nothing short of miracle, for the attackers had a goal much more grandiose.

They wanted to topple the North Tower onto the South Tower to destroy them both and kill thousands. Had a device of the same magnitude been detonated at street level during rush hour, it would have likely killed scores if not hundreds of people and wounded perhaps thousands more. Read more ..


The War on Terror

Obama is "the Neville Chamberlain of Our Day"

February 23rd 2015

With more than a week to go before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech to Congress, two Republican representatives visited Israel last week to demonstrate their support of the Jewish state. Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-NC) and Rep. Dennis Ross (R-FL) spent time in Israel visiting with the IDF, meeting local Arab and Israeli politicians as well as Prime Minister Netanyahu in a trip sponsored by Proclaiming Justice to the Nations (PJTN) and Yes! Israel Missions.

“We are here to pay tribute to this great country,” said Pittenger, who noted it was his third time meeting the Israeli prime minister in 18 months in an interview with Tazpit News Agency. “Prime Minister Netanyahu is a remarkable man; one of the great leaders of our day,” he told Tazpit News Agency.

The Israeli prime minister is set to speak before Congress on March 3 to address the dangers of easing economic sanctions against Iran by the international community under the terms of an emerging deal between the West and the Islamic Republic. Read more ..


The Caliphate

ISIS Plans-- First Libya, then Italy

February 19th 2015

Vatican-Palazzo Apostolico

Almost six centuries after the last remnants of the Islamic empire were defeated, the forces of radical Islam are planning a second invasion of Europe.

YNet reports that the barbaric terrorist group ISIS has made major advances in a campaign to conquer a large swath of Libyan territory on the coast of North Africa. Should it succeed, ISIS plans to send terrorist savages "across the Mediterranean posing as refugees on people-trafficking vessels."

Since Libya collapsed into chaos following the overthrow of dictator Muammar Qaddafi, "Libyans fleeing their country's chaos regularly try to cross" the short distance between the Libyan coast and southern Italy. This allows ISIS a perfect opportunity to conceal its operatives. Read more ..


Argentina on Edge

Cry for Me, Argentina

February 16th 2015

Argentine President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner

The assassination of Argentine prosecutor Alberto Nisman reflects the endemic corruption of the Kirchner regime and focuses the spotlight on the devil’s pact consummated by President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner in 2013 with Iran, whose leaders inflicted the worst ever act of terrorism on her own citizens.

Today there are approximately 250,000 Jews in Argentina. Since the days of Juan Peron the government’s attitude to Jews has been ambivalent. Peron displayed friendship to the Jewish community but enabled Argentina to serve as a haven for the most evil of Nazi war criminals – including Adolf Eichmann.

In March 1992, the Israeli Embassy in Buenos Aires was the target of a terrorist bomb attack that killed 29 and wounded 242 people. Two years later, in July 1994, a second bombing was directed at the Jewish community center (AMIA), killing 85 and injuring hundreds. Read more ..


The War on Terror

Islamic State Terrorists Raise Cash with Virtual Digital Money

February 12th 2015

Online appeals from the so-called Islamic State to wage jihad are nothing new. But now they're suggesting a very new tactic.

Virtual digital money is increasingly being promoted as a way for money-needy jihadists to support their efforts, according to intelligence agency and media reports.

Also known as crypto-currency, the trading method has rapidly grown in popularity since the introduction of Bitcoin in 2009. There are over 500 different currencies with an estimated total market capitalization of over $3.7 billion dollars.

But a portion of that growth, perhaps even a majority of it, has come from individuals using the digital dollars for questionable or illegal purposes and by groups who want to keep their activities out of view of governments.

And with the technological skills demonstrated by the so-called Islamic State, Boko Haram, al-Qaida and other groups, there are new worries that crypto-currencies may become a new, hidden way to funnel money to fund terror. Read more ..


Financing the Flames

Documents Prove Palestinian Authority Studied Details Of Each Terrorist Act Before Issuing Salaries

February 7th 2015

Edwin Black

Congressional legislators were astonished last year to learn that the Palestinian Authority was issuing monthly payouts totaling $3-7 million as salaries and other financial rewards to specific terrorists and their families. The money was channeled, in part, through the Ministry of Prisoners pursuant to the Law of the Prisoner. The law set forth a graduated scale, pegging monthly salaries to the length of Israeli jail sentences, which generally reflects the severity of the crime and the number of people killed and/or injured.

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Thousands of documents, newly obtained by this reporter through a lawsuit to unseal court-protected files, demonstrate that these payouts are not blind automated payments. Rather, senior Palestinian Authority officials as high as President Mahmoud Abbas scrutinize the details of each case, the specific carnage caused, and the personal details of each terrorist act before approving salaries and awarding honorary ranks in either the PA government or the military. Ministry of Prisoners spokesman Amr Nasser has explained, “We are very proud of this program and we have nothing to hide.” Nonetheless, in response to the international furor, the Palestinian Authority announced it would replace the Ministry of Prisoners with an outside PLO commission known as the Higher National Commission for Prisoners and Detainees Affairs.

The PA is dependent upon foreign donor countries to supply much of its budget, which now exceeds $4.2 billion annually. About ten percent of the PA budget, more than $400 million, is contributed annually by United States foreign aid. The US and many other countries have enacted laws forbidding any payments when the monies directly or indirectly support or encourage terrorism. The interdepartmental bureaucratic notations the Palestinian Authority has recorded on each terrorist before approving the level of salaried compensation is extensive. For example, one prominent case involved Ahmad Talab Mustafa Barghouti, who personally coordinated numerous terrorist acts. These included a January 2002 shooting spree on Jaffa Street in Jerusalem, killing two and wounding 37; a March 2002 shooting spree at a Tel Aviv restaurant, killing three and wounding 31; and finally a March 27, 2002 attempt to smuggle an explosive suicide belt in an ambulance. The Israel Defense Forces arrested Ahmad. On July 30, 2002, a military court concluded that he was responsible for murdering 12 Israelis, and Barghouti was sentenced to 13 life sentences. Read more ..


The War on Drugs

Tiny Belize Struggles with Onslaught of Narco-Trafficking

February 5th 2015

Currently, Belize is struggling with an onslaught of drug trafficking, a common theme experienced by many Latin American countries, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada. You can now add Belize to the list that is now caught up in the “War on Drugs.” Geographically, Belize shares a northern border with Mexico, a western one with Guatemala, and access to the Gulf and several Caribbean countries. Its physical location and the increasing violence in Mexico and Guatemala make Belize an ideal transshipment point to the U.S. market.

To counter the drug trafficking threat, Belize has followed the U.S.’s policy by adopting a hardline approach and cracking-down on drugs. Belize has looked to its allies- the U.S., Canada and the U.K. – to help strengthen its military, called the Belize Defense Force, and the country’s police force. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

Guantanamo Bay's Place in U.S. Strategy in the Caribbean

February 3rd 2015

gitmo camp sign

Last week, the Cuban government declared that for the United States and Cuba to normalize relations, the United States would have to return the territory occupied by a U.S. naval base at Guantanamo Bay. Washington clearly responded that returning the base is not on the table right now. This response makes sense, since quite a bit of politicking goes into the status of the base. However, the Guantanamo Bay issue highlights a notable aspect to the U.S.-Cuban negotiations â€” one that is rooted in the history of the U.S. ascension to superpower status as it challenged European powers in the Western Hemisphere.

U.S. Expansion in the Western Hemisphere

Cuba, the largest island in the Caribbean, has a prominent position at the mouth of the Gulf of Mexico, separating access to the gulf into two choke points: the Yucatan Channel and the Straits of Florida. It is also situated on the sea-lanes between the U.S. East Coast and the Panama Canal, the shortest route for naval traffic between the two coasts of the United States. Cuba thus has been pivotal to the U.S. strategy to safeguard economic activity in the Gulf of Mexico and naval transport routes beyond that. The evolution of U.S. naval capabilities, however, has changed the part that Cuba, and thus the base at Guantanamo, has played. Read more ..


The War on Terror

The Ten Lessons Hezbollah Learned from the Summer War in Gaza

January 29th 2015

Rockets

It seems like an eternity ago that fighting raged in Gaza between Israel and Hamas, dubbed by the IDF as Operation Protective Edge. Nonstop coverage of that conflict clogged the airwaves for weeks, only to be drowned out by new headlines: ISIS. Ebola. Ferguson. But with activities now heating up between Israel and Hezbollah on the Lebanese, Syrian and Israeli borders, it is worth exploring what lessons Hezbollah took away from this past summer’s conflict, and what one might find as a result, both on and off the battlefield with Israel.

Highlighted by recent skirmishes on the Israeli-Lebanese and Israeli-Syrian borders, tensions between Israel and Hezbollah are high, and the possibility of a more sustained outbreak of violence, intentional or not, is becoming increasingly likely.

Below is a list of the top ten lessons Hezbollah likely learned from Operation Protective Edge, as well as what can be expected from them as a result, in a future conflict with Israel. Hezbollah is now significantly more battle hardened as its fighters have been engaged in deadly fighting in Syria for years. Pre-occupied with fighting in Syria, Lebanon and Iraq, it is not interested in another conflict with Israel at the moment. Read more ..


Cyber-Terror

The Florida Connection in the War on Cyber-Terror

January 22nd 2015

The two U.S. military social media accounts that were hacked last week had major accounts in Florida. Is there something about Florida?

On January 12, a person, or persons, calling him and/or themselves CyberCaliphate hacked the Twitter and YouTube social network accounts of the headquarters of U.S. Central Command (or USCC; also known as CentCom). MacDill Air Force Base, in Tampa, is the base headquarters for USCC.

The first of the hacks occurred on Twitter and stated “ISIS (the international terrorist group) is already here, we are in your PC’s, in each military base.” The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) immediately began an investigation into the matter. As of press time, the FBI was still investigating the case. Read more ..


The War on Terror

European and American Officials Warn of Severe Terror Threat

January 19th 2015

Click to select Image

British Prime Minister David Cameron said Britain faces a “severe” threat of terrorist attack, while a European law enforcement official describes the security environment as "difficult". A U.S. lawmaker also warns of a growing threat of “homegrown violent extremism.”

Appearing on the CBS program "Face the Nation" on Sunday, Cameron said Britain faces a “severe threat” and that an attack is “highly likely.”

"This threat keeps morphing because it’s the same fundamental problem, extremist Islamist terror. The threat has changed and altered, but still based on the fundamental problem of a poisonous death cult narrative, which is a perversion of one of the world’s major religions," said Cameron.

Cameron said the struggle against these extremists will take a long time and require international cooperation.

"If we take the issue of Islamic extremist terrorism coming out of Iraq and Syria, it is going to take a very long time to deal with this. While we’ll have to show a great deal of perseverance, we cannot do this on our own as Western countries. We need a functioning government in Iraq, a functioning government in Syria to be the legitimate authorities that with us help to stamp out this perversion of the Islamic religion," said Cameron.

Rob Wainwright, the director of the European Union law enforcement agency Europol, said a determined police response is underway in the wake of the January 7 and 9 terrorist attacks in France that killed 17 people.

"We’ve seen action now in Belgium, in Greece, Berlin and other locations as well, and it shows the nature of the threat we’re facing right now. It’s spread across so many European countries, perpetrated by a community of perhaps thousands of people who have been radicalized on the Internet, by their conflict experience in Syria and Iraq, and many of them have returned to European society with perhaps some of them with the intent and capability to carry out the attack," said Wainwright. Read more ..


The War on Terror

Democrat Condemns 'shocking' Comments about Muslim Lawmaker

January 16th 2015

Click to select Image

A top House Democrat on Thursday condemned suggestions from conservative websites that Rep. Andre Carson (D-Ind.), a Muslim, should not have been appointed to the House Intelligence Committee.

It has “come to my attention that there have been a shocking amount of comments made in conservative publications and on social media to the effect that Rep. Carson's integrity is somehow in question as a result of his religion,” Rep. Joseph Crowley (N.Y.), vice chairman of the Democratic caucus, said in a letter to members.

“These comments deeply offend me, as I'm sure they offend all of you, which is why I hope all of us will take every opportunity to renounce these kinds of comments and discourage this kind of harmful talk,” he added. Read more ..


The Weapon's Edge

Non-Lethal Smart Bullets Introduced

January 14th 2015

DC Capitol police officer

SmartRounds Technology LLC (Brighton, Colorado) has developed what it describes as the as world's first smart, less-than-lethal bullet. It includes both a MEMS accelerometer and a CMOS image sensor that operates as it nears the target. SmartRounds Technology LLC (Brighton, Colorado) has developed what it describes as the as world's first smart, less-than-lethal bullet. It includes both a MEMS accelerometer and a CMOS image sensor that operates as it nears the target.

The accelerometer in the round is used to turn the bullet on and the image sensor is used to detect distance to the target and set off the payload milliseconds before it would otherwise impact the target. These18mm non-impact rounds will initially be made available in two forms, a "flash-bang" and nitrogen gas shock round and a pepper-spray round.

These projectiles are designed to be fired from a standard 12 gauge shotgun at 450 feet per second and have a range of 100 yards. The ShockRound produces a flash-bang and nitrogen gas shock wave that disables the assailant. The PepperRound produces a flash-bang and a capsaicin cloud that causes a burning sensation to the eyes and throat rendering the target unable to continue.

"Our smart bullets will forever change the landscape for the use of non-lethal weapons by military forces, law enforcement and others worldwide," said Nick Verini, CEO of SmartRounds Technology. Read more ..


The War on Terror

Germany Braces for Muslim Terrorism

January 13th 2015

German police have evidence "that key European cities could be attacked at any time." — Der Spiegel.

"This is a serious situation." — German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere.

"You will pay the price as you walk on your streets, turning right and left, fearing the Muslims. We will conquer your Rome, break your crosses, and enslave your women, by the permission of Allah." — Jihadist video threatening Italy.

"The Islamists... showed France that they are incapable of democracy and rather look to violence and death as an answer! Our politicians want us to believe the opposite. Must such a tragedy happen here in Germany first???" — Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the West [PEGIDA]. Read more ..


The Edge of Terrorism

New Safeguards Protect Troops from Roadside IEDs

January 7th 2015

Click to select Image

A U.S. Army vehicle with five soldiers aboard maneuvers along a barren stretch in southern Afghanistan.

As the vehicle approaches a small village, a roadside bomb triggers underneath the military vehicle and sends it toppling over, severely injuring its occupants.

The scenario is no anomaly, as U.S. Department of Defense records reveal that roadside bombs wounded more than 8,700 American troops in Afghanistan from 2010 to 2012.

Those figures don’t sit well with Matthew P. Reed, a University of Michigan researcher who has devoted much of his recent efforts to improving safety measures for military personnel. Read more ..


Saudia Arabia on Edge

Saudi Arabia Faces Challenges in the New Year

January 6th 2015

Saudi Prince in Meeting

The Middle East is one of the most volatile regions in the world — it is no stranger to upheaval. The 2009 uprisings in Iran and the brinksmanship of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's government were followed by the chaos of the Arab Spring, the spillover of the Syrian conflict into Iraq and a potential realignment of the U.S.-Iranian relationship. Unlike recent years, however, 2015 is likely to see regional Sunni Arab interests realign toward a broader acceptance of moderate political Islam.

The region is emerging from the uncertainty of the past half-decade, and the foundations of its future are taking shape. This process will not be neat or orderly, but changes are clearly taking place surrounding the Syrian and Libyan conflicts, as well as the region's anticipation of a strengthened Iran. Read more ..


The Caliphate

Islamic State Fighters are Moving Ever Closer Towards Israel

December 28th 2014

IS with Missile

Islamic State has suffered severe losses as a result of coalition air strikes in the last months. Over 1,000 of its fighters have been killed, and Kurdish peshmerga forces have driven the jihadists back on a wide front between the cities of Erbil and Mosul.

The terror movement has also failed to conquer the symbolic town of Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) close to the Syrian-Turkish border (further south, Islamic State losses have been more modest and at least partially reversed).

Yet despite these setbacks, there are no indications that Islamic State is anywhere close to collapse. And while American bombers and Kurdish fighters are preventing its advance further east, there are many indications the jihadists are continuing to advance their presence in a south and westerly direction – from the borders of their entity towards Damascus and Lebanon, and incidentally, in the direction of Israel. Read more ..


The Caliphate

DoD confirms ISIS has Captured a Jordanian Pilot

December 24th 2014

The Pentagon confirmed Wednesday that a Jordanian F-16 jet crashed in Syria and that the pilot has been taken captive by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

"A Jordanian F-16 aircraft crashed in the vicinity of the northern Syrian city of Ar-Raqqah on Wednesday and the pilot has been taken captive by ISIL forces," U.S. Central Command said in a statement, using an alternate name for the terrorist group.

"The Jordanians are highly-respected and valued partners and their pilots and crews have performed exceptionally well over the course of this campaign," Centcom's commander Army Gen. Lloyd J. Austin III said in the statement.

Jordan has been participating in the U.S.-led coalition's airstrikes against ISIS in Syria since September. Read more ..


Obama's Second Term

The Geopolitics of Obama's Opening to Cuba

December 23rd 2014

Last week, U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raul Castro agreed to an exchange of prisoners being held on espionage charges. In addition, Washington and Havana agreed to hold discussions with the goal of establishing diplomatic relations between the two countries. No agreement was reached on ending the U.S. embargo on Cuba, a step that requires congressional approval.

It was a modest agreement, striking only because there was any agreement at all. U.S.-Cuba relations had been frozen for decades, with neither side prepared to make significant concessions or even first moves. The cause was partly the domestic politics of each country that made it easier to leave the relationship frozen. On the American side, a coalition of Cuban-Americans, conservatives and human rights advocates decrying Cuba's record of human rights violations blocked the effort. Read more ..


The Caliphate

Iraqi Ministry of Human Rights Reports One Militant Shoots and Beheads Pregnant Women En Masse

December 18th 2014

ISIS Shooters

At least 150 women, most of whom Yazidi, who refused to marry militants of the Islamic State were executed in the western Iraqi province of Al-Anbar, Iraq's Ministry of Human Rights said on Tuesday.

"At least 150 females, including pregnant women, were executed in Fallujah by a militant named Abu Anas Al-Libi after they refused to accept jihad marriage," the statement said.

"Many families were also forced to migrate from the province’s northern town of Al-Wafa after hundreds of residents received death threats." Read more ..


The Caliphate

Thousands of Germans Take to the Streets to Protest Islamization

December 13th 2014

Thousands of German citizens have been taking to the streets to protest the growing "Islamization" of their country.

The protests are part of a burgeoning grassroots movement made up of ordinary citizens who are calling for an end to runaway immigration and the spread of Islamic Sharia law in Germany.

The guardians of German multiculturalism are fighting back: they are seeking to delegitimize the protesters by branding them as "neo-Nazis" and by claiming that the Islamization of Germany is a myth contrived by misinformed citizens.

But there is a mounting public backlash over what many perceive as the government's indifference to the growing influence of Islam in German society. This backlash represents a potentially significant turning point—one that implies that the days of unrestrained German multiculturalism may be coming to an end. Read more ..


The Way We Are

Lessons from WW2 for the War on Terror

December 12th 2014

Sherwood Moran interrogating a Japanese prisoner

This week’s Senate committee report on the involvement of the CIA in torture and mistreatment of detainees has exposed a bitter debate between human-rights-first interrogators and battle-hardened interrogators.

Former US Air Force Col. Steven Kleinman represents the human-right-first group. “As a career interrogator, I know that the lawful, humane methods for acquiring intelligence are also the most effective,” he says. “Today’s report only reinforces this fact and makes it publicly available to the American people. There is no need to debate this any longer. Now it’s time to chart a new course for the future, one that will not only respect human rights, but will also keep America safe.”

Now working as Director of Strategic Research at The Soufan Group, Kleinman backs his claims up with psychological research published in academic journals. Read more ..


The Americas on Edge

Are the Imperialist Roots of the Organization of American States too Deep to Extirpate?

December 8th 2014

Fidel Castro and Argentine President Cristina Kirchner

Through an analysis of the relationship between the Organization of American States (OAS) and the government of Cuba, as well as the review of the importance of democratic values being upheld in the Inter-American system, this article details how the U.S. imperialism is at the roots of the political hemispheric organization. Because of the efforts of the U.S. hegemonic participation in the OAS, most Latin American governments reject the OAS as the most important forum for political discussion in the hemisphere which led to an uncertain future of the OAS. This is illustrated by Cuba’s reluctance to reintegrate into the OAS and the difficulties the OAS has had to reestablish the democratic identity that it was once known for. These difficulties have led to the creation of a set of regional forums and calls for a deep political reform of the Inter-American system.

The OAS: A Peacekeeper and a Hemispheric Organization Offering Reciprocal Assistance

The OAS was conceived in 1948 as an organization destined to promote peace and the settlement of disputes among member states. The OAS Charter titled Pact of Bogotá signed in 1948 obliges the contracting parties to settle controversies by peaceful means such as mediation, investigation and conciliation, good offices, and arbitration.

By the end of the 1940s, U.S. foreign policy began focusing on the Third World, as these peripheral countries were the new battleground of the Cold War. This shift in U.S. foreign policy is best exemplified through the Chinese Revolution and the Korean War. Read more ..


European Dis-Union

December 4th 2014

Europe's economic crisis is slowly but steadily eroding the political systems of many countries on the Continent. New actors are emerging and threatening the supremacy of the traditional players. Alliances and events that seemed impossible only a few years ago are now being openly discussed across Europe.

On Dec. 3, for example, Sweden announced it would hold early elections, partially because of political moves from the far right. In Spain, the ruling center-right party is openly discussing the possibility of entering an alliance with its traditional center-left rivals to prevent a protest party from taking over. Read more ..


The Caliphate

The Moral Dilemma Within Islam

December 2nd 2014

Recently I saw a series of colored photos of the execution, beheading, crucifixion, or shooting in the head of numerous Christians in Iraq or Syria by members of the Islamic State. I have seldom seen anything so gruesome. It was so revolting that I had to stop looking at them. But that reaction was probably exactly what those photos were designed to accomplish. “These are the things that will happen to you soon enough” was the implied message. The Archbishop of Mosul warned pretty much the same thing of the West after he helplessly watched his people and church destroyed.

We are told that such “incidents” are works of “extremists” and “terrorists”, as if people do these things just for the sake of doing them. Yet, they have a clearly thought-out purpose, based on a known principle seen to be of the highest worth, in this sense, in the name of Allah. For many, the only way to cope with such realities is to deny their immediate possibility or even their fact. Read more ..


Europe on Edge

Europe's North-South Corridor Remains Incomplete

November 29th 2014

Click to select Image

Twenty-five years after Poland's Solidarity and other dissident movements brought about the collapse of the Berlin Wall and promised a reunified Europe, the continent's political map suggests that this vision has been largely fulfilled. Nations that once lived behind the Wall’s ideological divide have joined the European Union to help build a secure, prosperous region from the Atlantic Ocean to the Baltic and Black seas.

But economic and infrastructure maps portray a different picture. Europe integration remains dangerously incomplete. A glaring problem is in Central Europe, where national networks of railroads, power lines, communications links—and notably oil and gas pipelines—remain largely disconnected from each other and from Western Europe. Nations from Estonia and Poland to the Balkans lack the connections running north-south and east-west essential to making them fully part of a single European market. Read more ..


The Caliphate

The Islamic State Reshapes the Middle East

November 27th 2014

IS Caliphate victory parade

Nuclear talks with Iran have failed to yield an agreement, but the deadline for a deal has been extended without a hitch. What would have been a significant crisis a year ago, replete with threats and anxiety, has been handled without drama or difficulty. This new response to yet another failure to reach an accord marks a shift in the relationship between the United States and Iran, a shift that can’t be understood without first considering the massive geopolitical shifts that have taken place in the Middle East, redefining the urgency of the nuclear issue.

These shifts are rooted in the emergence of the Islamic State. Ideologically, there is little difference between the Islamic State and other radical Islamic jihadist movements. But in terms of geographical presence, the Islamic State has set itself apart from the rest. While al Qaeda might have longed to take control of a significant nation-state, it primarily remained a sparse, if widespread, terrorist organization. It held no significant territory permanently; it was a movement, not a place. Read more ..


Supreme Leader says Iran will continue Support for Hamas, Hezbollah, and Islamic Jihad

November 26th 2014

Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Tuesday that his country will continue to support the Islamic Jihad terror group in Gaza as well as rival Hamas and Lebanon-based Hezbollah.

The three terror organizations have collectively fired many thousands of rockets at Israel.

“We are not bound by religious differences; we equally supported Shiite #Hezbollah along w/#Hamas & #IslamicJihad and will keep doing that,” he posted on a Twitter account widely believed to be operated by his office, adding, “We strengthened our Palestinian brothers’ fist in #Gaza & other areas & will do so. As I already said #WestBank should also be armed like Gaza.” Read more ..


Iran's Nukes

GOP Pushes Against Obama's Compromising with Iran

November 15th 2014

Fresh from their decisive victory in the 2014 midterm elections, Republican legislators have begun an offensive against the Obama Administration’s drive to achieve a deal with Iran over its nuclear program by November 24 – the deadline for a final agreement.

Republican Senators tried to push through a bill yesterday that would impose tough new sanctions on Iran in the event that a satisfactory deal is not concluded. Reuters reported that U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham and Bob Corker asked for unanimous consent to allow a vote, but Democratic Senator Chris Murphy objected. “It would send a message that Congress does not stand with the president as the negotiations continue,” Murphy said.

The proposed “Iran Nuclear Negotiations Act of 2014″ would re-impose sanctions on Iran waived during the negotiating process if there is no deal by the deadline. Read more ..


The Way We Are

Travels Through the Multiple Europes

November 6th 2014

Europe is overcrowded with people and with nations. Six decades ago, the need to suppress the dangerous forces of nationalism led to the unprecedented political, economic and social experiment now known as the European Union. The hundreds of thousands of EU citizens working across the Continent and the lack of border controls between member states show that the experiment has been successful in many ways. However, rising nationalism, pervasively high unemployment and a growing sense of frustration with governing elites also highlight the serious limitations of the European project. Over the past 12 months, I have traveled extensively throughout Europe, observing firsthand how the global economic crisis is reawakening dormant trends along the Continent's traditional fault lines. Read more ..


The Caliphate

Youngest Briton Yet Dies Fighting for Islamic State

November 1st 2014

Syrian Jihadis

Westerners fighting for the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq continue to die at the front. One of the latest is sixteen-year-old Jaffar Deghayes, who hailed from England’s resort city, Brighton. Young Jaffar paid with his life at Aleppo for his devotion to extremist Islam. His father, Abukaber Deghayes said of the loss, “His death is a testament to his faith.” Jaffar is one of several residents of Great Britain who have died in the sustained fighting by the Islamic State to oust Syrian dictator Bashr al-Assad and to impose Islamic control over Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and elsewhere. At least 25 British nationals have died this year in Syria and Iraq.
 
Omar Deghayes, Jaffar’s uncle, wrote on his Facebook page, “As you grieve know that we are remembering you and honoring [sic] the memory of a sincere and truthful young man (deceased). May the peace which comes from Allah accept yours.” Uncle Omar spent nearly six years incarcerated at the U.S. prison at Guantánamo but was later released because he was found to be a victim of mistaken identity.
Read more ..


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