|Ben Cohen||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
|Adriano Bosconi||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 ..
|Martin Barillas||November 1st 2014|
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 ..
The Defense Edge
|Stew Magnuson||October 29th 2014|
Networks are said to be one of the U.S. military’s Achilles’ heels. Cutting off communications through jamming or the destruction of infrastructure could be devastating to battlefield commanders. Peer and near-peer competitors such as China, Russia and Iran are reportedly boosting their electronic warfare capabilities.
Laser communications, also known as free space opticals, hold the promise of giving the military a means to transmit high amounts of data and voice that is hard to detect and an alternative to traditional radio frequencies.
Proponents say it is ready for prime time and mature enough for it to proliferate in the military realm more widely. Interest in the technology is also growing in the private sector, which may bring down costs for end users. Read more ..
|Sam Orez||October 27th 2014|
Islamic State militants in northern Iraq have modern portable air defense systems that are capable of shooting down a passenger plane, Germany’s Bild am Sonntag newspaper reported citing the country’s foreign intelligence agency.
According to the media report published on Sunday, the Bundesnachrichtendienst (BND) informed the German Bundestag of the threat at a closed session last week. The German intelligence agency said that the Islamic State(IS, formerly ISIS) militants located in northern Iraq have obtained air-defense systems from the captured military arsenal of the Syrian Army, according to the report. The IS militants have obtained the 1970s models as well as modern man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS). These light-weight surface-to-air missile systems can be fired from the shoulder and operated by one person. Read more ..
The Future of Warfare
|Scott Stewart||October 23rd 2014|
Over the past few weeks, I've had people at speaking engagements ask me if I thought the Islamic State or some other militant group is using Ebola as a biological weapon, or if such a group could do so in the future. Such questions and concerns are not surprising given the intense media hype that surrounds the disease, even though only one person has died from Ebola out of the three confirmed cases in the United States. The media hype about the threat posed by the Islamic State to the United States and the West is almost as bad. Both subjects of all this hype were combined into a tidy package on Oct. 20, when the Washington Post published an editorial by columnist Mark Thiessen in which he claimed it would be easy for a group such as the Islamic State to use Ebola in a terrorist attack. Despite Thiessen's claims, using Ebola as a biological warfare agent is much more difficult than it might appear at first blush. Read more ..
|Jamie Dettmer||October 22nd 2014|
While U.S. warplanes strike at the militants of the so-called Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq, truckloads of U.S. and Western aid has been flowing into territory controlled by the jihadists, assisting them to build their terror-inspiring “caliphate.”
The aid—mainly food and medical equipment—is meant for Syrians displaced from their hometowns, and for hungry civilians. It is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development, European donors, and the United Nations. Whether it continues is now the subject of anguished debate among officials in Washington and European. The fear is that stopping aid would hurt innocent civilians and would be used for propaganda purposes by the militants, who would likely blame the West for added hardship. Read more ..
|Joanna Paraszczuk||October 15th 2014|
A former Iranian minister of intelligence, Heydar Moslehi, has added his voice to the growing number of hard-line critics of the U.S.-led coalition against the Islamic State militant group (IS) in Syria and Iraq.
In an interview with Fars News, a news outlet affiliated with Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), Moslehi said the coalition was a "bazeecheh" -- a Persian word meaning a "plaything" or a "trifling amusement." Islamic State, Moslehi said, was created by "the triangle of Mossad, MI6, and the CIA," a reference to the Israeli, British, and U.S. intelligence agencies.
Moslehi's remarks come a day after Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei accused the United States and Britain of creating IS. Khamenei charged on October 13 that Washington and "the wicked government of Britain" created both IS and Al-Qaeda "to create divisions and to fight against the Islamic Republic [of Iran]" but that the militant groups have turned against them. Read more ..
|Sam Orez||October 13th 2014|
Sixteen military transport planes bought by the United States government for the Afghan Air Force (AAF) at a cost of nearly $500 million were recently destroyed by the Afghan military and sold for scrap parts at around six cents per pound, prompting a government inquiry to determine why millions of taxpayer dollars were wasted on the ill-fated program.
The Department of Defense purchased for the AAF a total of 20 Italian-made G222 military transport planes at a cost of $486 million. However, the fleet was grounded in March 2013 “after sustained, serious performance, maintenance, and spare parts problems” were discovered, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR). Read more ..
|Kristina Wong||October 8th 2014|
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta knocked President Obama for sending mixed signals to America's enemies during a wide-ranging Fox News interview Tuesday evening.
Panetta said the U.S.'s credibility is suffering due to actions the president has taken, and that enemies of the United States are "getting a mixed message as to whether the United States will stand by its word."
"It's very important that when the president says something that we do it," he said, in reference to Obama threatening to conduct airstrikes against Syrian leader Bashar Assad if he used chemical weapons and then changing his mind.
Panetta's appearance on Fox News' "The O'Reilly Factor" capped a day of TV appearances to discuss his new book, Worthy Fights, which was released Tuesday and contains pointed criticism of the president, including his handling of the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Raz Zimmt||October 3rd 2014|
The Hamas-affiliated media recently reported that the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades was planning to establish what it called a "popular army." According to the reports, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades was recruiting as many civilian volunteers as possible, regardless of age. They will be given basic military training, especially how to fire various types of weapons. The objective is to train them to act as an auxiliary force for Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades operatives in a future confrontation with Israel.
To that end, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades posted an announcement in the Abdallah Azzam mosque in the Al-Sabra neighborhood of Gaza City, and apparently in other mosques as well. It requested all Gazan civilians to train as part of a "popular army" and to register with Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades representatives (Qudspress.com, September 25, 2014). The Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades intend to hold training camps for the "popular army" throughout the Gaza Strip with the slogan "We all [fight for] the resistance." Rounds of basic training are supposed to be held in weekly sessions and will be open to volunteers throughout the year. According to Abu Mujahad, the Izz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades' training commander, civilian volunteers will be trained in the use of all types of weapons, from light arms to hand grenades. He claimed that thousands of young Gazans had already signed up in the mosques for training. He added that the "popular army" would have a designated role in a future confrontation with Israel (Paltimes.net, September 27, 2014). Read more ..
|Scott Stewart||October 2nd 2014|
When the United States began its campaign of airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Syria on Sept. 22, it also used Tomahawk cruise missiles to attack a series of al Qaeda-related facilities in the Aleppo area. The strikes targeted al Qaeda's regional franchise in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra, as well as personnel belonging to the al Qaeda core who were in Syria working with Jabhat al-Nusra and other jihadists. The U.S. government has referred to the al Qaeda personnel it attacked in Syria as the "Khorasan Group," but they are clearly personnel from the al Qaeda core who have been dispatched to Syria and not from some other organization.
It appears the strikes caught the al Qaeda militants by surprise, and there are reports that al Qaeda operative Muhsin al-Fadhli, reported to be Ayman al-Zawahiri's senior operative in Syria, was killed in the strikes. The United States also claimed that al-Fadhli and his fellow al Qaeda members were working on plots to strike the United States and Europe from their base in Syria. The group reportedly was the reason for an alert issued on July 2 warning that al Qaeda elements in Syria were working with bombmakers from al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in a new plot to smuggle concealed explosive devices onto U.S.-bound aircraft. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Holly Watt||October 1st 2014|
Extremists will have to get posts on Facebook and Twitter approved in advance by the police under sweeping rules planned by the Conservatives.
They will also be barred from speaking at public events if they represent a threat to “the functioning of democracy”, under the new Extremist Disruption Orders.
Theresa May, the Home Secretary, will lay out plans to allow judges to ban people from broadcasting or protesting in certain places, as well as associating with specific people.
Read more ..
The plans — to be brought in if the Conservatives win the election in May — are part of a wide-ranging set of rules to strengthen the Government’s counter-terrorism strategy.
|Jonathan Spyer||September 29th 2014|
This week witnessed the second determined attempt by Islamic State forces to destroy the Kurdish enclave around Kobani (Ayn al-Arab) city in northern Syria. Kobani is one of three autonomous enclaves maintained by the Kurds in Syria.
As of now, it appears that after initial lightning advances, the progress of the jihadis has been halted; they have not moved forward in the last 24 hours. The arrival of Kurdish forces from across the Turkish border is the key element in freezing the advance.
Yet Islamic State has captured around 60 Kurdish villages in this latest assault, and its advanced positions remain perilously close – around 14.5 km. – from Kobani city. Around 100,000 people have fled Kobani for Turkey, from the enclave’s total population of around 400,0000. Read more ..
|Valerie Plame||September 28th 2014|
As discussions of terrorism and foreign fighters come to a close this week at the United Nations, President Obama can be sure of one thing: his opportunity to add the single greatest safeguard to global security is slipping away. If he wants to cement his legacy as the president who faced what he himself identified as “the most immediate and extreme threat to global security,” he needs to double down on his vision for a world without nuclear weapons in order to prevent terrorists from getting their hands on them.
Today – the first-ever International Day for the Elimination of Nuclear Weapons – is as good a day as any to get rolling. Achieving the elimination of nuclear weapons is one of the U.N.’s longstanding objectives, one it has failed to prioritize. It’s no surprise that the security discussions this year were overshadowed by the plans of 10 member states to dismantle and defeat the Islamic State group, especially as their assault on radical Sunni resistance and aggression toward U.S. and British journalists continues to grow. Read more ..
|Bernard Banks||September 26th 2014|
The United States and its partners launched a new round of strikes against Islamic State militants in Syria on Wednesday, only hours after President Barack Obama called on the world to help end the extremist group’s reign of terror in the Middle East.
“I can confirm that US military and Arab partner forces are undertaking additional strikes today against ISIL terrorists in Syria,” Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby said on Wednesday, using the Obama-administration's preferred language for the group formerly known as ISIS that today identifies as the Islamic State. “These operations are ongoing, so we will not provide additional details at this time. We will do so later as operationally appropriate.”
Later, the Pentagon confirmed that less than a dozen aircraft are involved in the latest attack. US Central Command (CENTCOM), meanwhile, confirmed that Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates also participated. Read more ..
|Rebecca Shabad||September 25th 2014|
The United States launched nearly 50 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Islamic militant targets in Syria on Tuesday, each of which cost about $1.5 million to replace.
The military also used F-22s, F-16s and B-1 bombers to pound Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) positions, which cost between $20,000 and $65,000 per flying hour.
The figures highlight how President Obama’s campaign against the terrorist network will have high fiscal costs for the nation, even as the bills from the Iraq and Afghanistan Wars fade from memory. The fight against ISIS looks to be much less expensive than those other wars, which sent hundreds of thousands of combat troops to those countries. President Obama has repeatedly insisted that no ground troops will be used in the new campaign.
Still, more than 1,600 military advisers have been authorized to go to Iraq. While nearly 800 of those advisers will provide diplomatic security, military leaders have suggested more troops on the ground could be necessary. “My guess is we’re going to have a lot of ground troops waging this war,” predicted Stephen Biddle, an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who worked on assessment teams for Gen. Stanley McChrystal in Kabul in 2009 and Gen. David Petraeus in Baghdad in 2007. Read more ..
|Samuel Westrop||September 23rd 2014|
British politicians seem to be trapped in an endless debate over how to curb both violent and non-violent extremism within the Muslim community.
A truly useful measure might be to end the provision of state funding and legitimacy to terror-linked extremist charities.
The British government is, incredibly, still continuing to fund charitable UK-based organizations with links to the Muslim Brotherhood, terrorist groups and domestic extremism. Simultaneously, lawmakers seem to be having trouble thinking of ways to tackle extremism and terrorist incitement within Britain's Muslim communities. Read more ..
|Justin Sink ||September 22nd 2014|
The White House does not have an estimate on how much the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) will cost.
Pressed on that point Monday, press secretary Josh Earnest wouldn't give a ballpark figure for how much the administration expected military operations to cost.
“I don’t have an estimate on that,” Earnest said. “I know that we’re interested in having an open dialogue with Congress to ensure that our military has the resources necessary to carry out the mission that the president has laid out.” Read more ..
|George Friedman||September 22nd 2014|
U.S. President Barack Obama said recently that he had no strategy as yet toward the Islamic State but that he would present a plan on Wednesday. It is important for a president to know when he has no strategy. It is not necessarily wise to announce it, as friends will be frightened and enemies delighted. A president must know what it is he does not know, and he should remain calm in pursuit of it, but there is no obligation to be honest about it.
This is particularly true because, in a certain sense, Obama has a strategy, though it is not necessarily one he likes. Strategy is something that emerges from reality, while tactics might be chosen. Given the situation, the United States has an unavoidable strategy. There are options and uncertainties for employing it. Let us consider some of the things that Obama does know. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Charles Recknagel||September 17th 2014|
Coalition Of One: Iran Leads Own Fight Against Islamic State Militants
The United States is putting together the first international coalition to try to roll back the Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq and Syria.
But when the nearly 40-state strong alliance starts operations, it will find that there is already another coalition on the ground whose presence could complicate the U.S.-led effort in unpredictable ways. That is a coalition that includes just one state, Iran. But it comprises multiple Tehran-backed regional Shi'ite militias which are already combating the IS jihadists and other Sunni militant groups in Syria and Iraq.
In Syria, the Iranian-backed Lebanese-Shi'ite Hizballah militia is fighting alongside Syrian government troops against rebel groups. That puts the powerful militia on the opposite side of the new U.S.-led coalition, which will back moderate rebels seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a Tehran ally. Read more ..
United Kingdom on Edge
|Dave Bender||September 16th 2014|
Scotland's only local-born rabbi, and the creator of the only official Jewish tartan pattern, believes that, “From the Jewish perspective, we’re hoping for a ‘no vote,’ in the vote for independence,” from the United Kingdom on Thursday. “From my understanding, a majority of the Jewish community, or 'the' majority of the Jewish community wants a 'no' vote,” Rabbi Mendel Jacobs, told The Algemeiner Tuesday. “I don’t think a nationalist country has ever been good for Jews,” Jacobs said of fears within the 10,000-member community, and stressed “that if [the vote] went yes, anti-Jewish sentiments would increase.” Noting that, unlike some Scottish Jews who have succeeded in resettling elsewhere, including in Israel, “some can’t leave – they’re stuck,” either due to age or infirmities. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Charles Recknagel||September 15th 2014|
As Washington vows to put together a broad coalition to fight Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, the outlines of the new alliance are beginning to take shape.
Much of the emphasis has been upon finding partners among the Arab states. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, on September 11 that 10 Arab states had agreed to "do their share" in the fight. They are Iraq, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, and six Gulf states: Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Oman, and Qatar.
Saudi Arabia would take the most prominent role in supporting the counter-offensive against the extremist group. While Washington conducts air strikes but has not committed troops on the ground, Riyadh is expected to host training camps for the moderate Syrian rebel groups which would do the fighting inside Syria. Read more ..
The War on Terror
|Alexander Bolton ||September 14th 2014|
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is coming under sharp criticism for making decisions that may have undermined the effectiveness of his police department’s counter-terrorism operations.
Thirteen years after the 9/11 attacks on Manhattan, prominent security experts say de Blasio has made fighting terrorism a lower priority in order to appease the communities that helped elect him.
“A classic case of taking your eye off the ball at the worst possible time is Mayor de Blasio in New York,” said John Lehman, a former member of the 9/11 Commission. Read more ..
The War on Terror
|Diego DiGhero||September 14th 2014|
Ugandan authorities have foiled a planned imminent attack by the Somali militant Islamist terror group al-Shabab, the U.S. Embassy in Uganda said September 13. In statements on Twitter and its website, the embassy said Ugandan forces had conducted operations against members of the terror group in the capital, Kampala.
"We are continuing our engagement with Ugandan authorities as we seek to assess the scope of the disrupted al-Shabab terrorist plot and whether there are members of the cell still at large."
The embassy urged all U.S. citizens to continue to "shelter in place" through the evening hours.
"At this point we are not aware of specific targets, and the Ugandan authorities have increased security at key sites, including Entebbe International Airport," the embassy said. Read more ..
The War on Terror
|George Friedman||September 11th 2014|
The rise of the Islamic State will inspire other jihadist groups to claim their own caliphates and emirates. In the long run, the extremism of these contrived dominions and the competition among them will undermine the jihadist movement. However, before that happens, the world will witness much upheaval.
In a 52-minute video that surfaced in late August, Abubakar Shekau, the head of Nigerian jihadist group Boko Haram, spoke of an Islamic State in northeastern Nigeria. The statement came two months after Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the chief of the transnational jihadist movement in Syria and Iraq, declared the re-establishment of the caliphate, renaming the group the Islamic State. Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Aru Pande||September 8th 2014|
U.S. President Barack Obama says he will soon outline his "game plan" for dealing with the threat posed by Islamic State militants.
In an interview with NBC's Meet the Press, Obama said in a speech later this week he will lay out to the American people the need to "go on the offense" against the extremist group that has taken control of parts of Iraq and Syria.
Obama made clear in the NBC interview that aired Sunday that the United States would not act alone but would be part of an international coalition to carry out airstrikes and support Iraqi and Kurdish troops fighting Islamic State (also known as ISIL) militants on the ground.
"We are going to be able to not just blunt the momentum of ISIL, we are going to systematically degrade their capabilities. We're going to shrink the territory that they control. And ultimately we are going to defeat them," said Obama. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Sharon Behn||September 7th 2014|
Along with its fast moving and brutal militant conquest of land in eastern Syria and northwestern Iraq, the Islamic State extremist group has a phenomenal virtual capacity through social media.
According to Staffan Truve, an analyst with Recorded Future, a group that monitors Twitter and other social media, this summer there were more than 60,000 accounts talking about the Islamic State extremists in a positive way.
Multiply that by an average account’s retweets, and the group’s use of other social media including an Android app, and hundreds of thousands of people are receiving the Islamic State message, Truve says.
The numbers are indicative of the extremists’ carefully tailored global outreach and recruitment efforts. And they are hard to shut down. Every time a pro-IS Twitter account is closed, another one almost immediately takes its place, says Truve. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Shaikh Azizur Rahman||September 6th 2014|
Al-Qaida leader Ayman al-Zawahiri’s announcement that a newly launched wing would “liberate Muslims from injustice and oppression” in India has triggered a furious response from Indian Muslim community leaders.
While some Indian Muslims called al-Qaida a “terrorist outfit” and criticized it for killing innocent people and threatening peace, others said that any action by al-Qaida would be detrimental to the interests of Indian Muslims and urged communities to ignore the group.
In a video statement released Wednesday, al-Qaida chief Ayman al-Zawahiri announced formation of a new wing called "Qaedat al-Jihad fi’shibhi al-qarrat al-Hindiya” or al-Qaida in the Indian Subcontinent [AQIS], which would launch jihadist activities in India, Bangladesh and Myanmar. The statement said AQIS would fight for Muslims who are allegedly “suffering” in India’s Assam, an eastern state bordering Bangladesh; Gujarat, the home state of India's prime minister; and Kashmir, a flashpoint for hostilities with Pakistan. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Kristina Wong||September 5th 2014|
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A U.S. strike earlier this week killed Ahmed Godane, the co-founder of al-Shabaab, al Qaeda’s affiliate in Somalia.
"We have confirmed that Ahmed Godane, the co-founder of al-Shabaab, has been killed," Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby announced on Friday. "The U.S. military undertook operations against Godane on Sept. 1, which led to his death," he added. The strike was conducted by U.S. special operations using manned and unmanned aircraft to drop Hellfire missiles and other munitions, officials said earlier this week. The strikes had destroyed a vehicle and an encampment.
The White House touted Godane’s death as a major blow to the terror group. "Godane’s removal is a major symbolic and operational loss to the largest al-Qaeda affiliate in Africa and reflects years of painstaking work by our intelligence, military and law enforcement professionals," said White House press secretary Josh Earnest in a statement.
The Edge of Terrorism
|Ashley Collman||September 3rd 2014|
U.S. officials fear Islamic militants have stolen nearly a dozen commercial planes in Libya which could be used to carry out 9/11-style terrorist attacks in the region. Eleven commercial jets operated by two state-owned airlines went missing last month, after militant group Libyan Dawn overtook the international airport in the capital city of Tripoli.
In the past two weeks, the U.S. government has been issuing warnings about the deteriorating state in Libya, drawing attention to the fact that the planes could be used in attacks to mark the anniversary of 9/11 later this month, sources who read the briefs told the Washington Free-Beacon.
'There are a number of commercial airliners in Libya that are missing,' one official told the Free-Beacon. 'We found out on September 11 what can happen with hijacked planes.'
Read more ..
The Battle for Ukraine
|George Friedman||September 2nd 2014|
The United States is, at the moment, off balance. It faces challenges in the Syria-Iraq theater as well as challenges in Ukraine. It does not have a clear response to either. It does not know what success in either theater would look like, what resources it is prepared to devote to either, nor whether the consequences of defeat would be manageable.
A dilemma of this sort is not unusual for a global power. Its very breadth of interests and the extent of power create opportunities for unexpected events, and these events, particularly simultaneous challenges in different areas, create uncertainty and confusion. U.S. geography and power permit a degree of uncertainty without leading to disaster, but generating a coherent and integrated strategy is necessary, even if that strategy is simply to walk away and let events run their course. I am not suggesting the latter strategy but arguing that at a certain point, confusion must run its course and clear intentions must emerge. When they do, the result will be the coherence of a new strategic map that encompasses both conflicts. Read more ..
|Douglas Birch||September 1st 2014|
Center for Public Integrity
Read more ..
Never mind that the vehicle is a boxy, lumbering, second-hand set of wheels with a top speed of just 60 mph. To some of the fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, the U.S. M1117, aka the Guardian Armored Security Vehicle, has become their favorite ride. Or so says Jeremy Binnie , editor of Jane’s Terrorism and Security Monitor, who has monitored propaganda sites for reports of jihadis toting, towing or tooling around in some of the millions of dollars’ worth of U.S.- and other foreign-built military equipment that ISIS captured after it swept into northern Iraq in early June.
A promotional video by the manufacturer, Textron Marine and Land Systems, touts the four-wheel-drive, amphibious vehicle as “survivable,” due to its armor, and “lethal,” with its mounted grenade launcher and heavy machine gun. The vehicles, which can cost more than $600,000 each, are everything, apparently, that the modern militant could ask for.
Christians on Edge
|Mohamed Elishinnawi||August 31st 2014|
According to a study by the Pew Research Center the number of Middle Eastern countries experiencing sectarian violence between religious groups has doubled from five to 10 since 2011.
The research finds an increase in faith-based hostilities and that Christians faced persecution in growing number of countries in the region.
In this climate of religious intolerance, experts say nearly one million Christians have been displaced from Iraq, half a million have left Syria, and Egypt’s Copts have lost scores of their churches to arsons. In Jerusalem, the cradle of Christianity, the number of Christians has been dwindling for decades.
“At one time, it was estimated that 25 percent of the citizens of East Jerusalem were Christians, now they are less than 2 percent,” said Yvonne Haddad, professor of the history of Islam and Christian-Muslim relations at Georgetown University. Read more ..
The Battle for Ukraine
Eighteen years after the signing of the Khasavyurt Accord that ended the 1994-96 Chechen war, a veteran Chechen field commander has issued a timely reminder that there are still three sides to the ongoing struggle for the hearts and minds of the Chechen people.
In a statement dated August 28, Isa Munayev appeals to the United States and "the countries of the democratic world" to provide "comprehensive military assistance" to the Ukrainian people, whom Munayev describes as victims of Russian imperial aggression, just as the Chechens were 20 years ago.
Munayev identified himself in that statement as commander of the Dzhokhar Dudayev international volunteer peacekeeping battalion and a brigadier general of the armed forces of the Chechen Republic Ichkeria (ChRI) of which Dudayev was the first president. He spoke to RFE/RL's Radio Marsho a week ago, shortly before he travelled to Ukraine to show "international support for the Ukrainian people." The strength of his battalion, and who is bankrolling it, is not known. Read more ..
|Al Pessin||August 30th 2014|
Britain has raised its terrorism alert level in response to the rise of Islamic extremist groups in Iraq and Syria, and the belief that British citizens fighting with such groups could bring terror home. The new British terror threat level is called “severe,” which means an attack is “highly likely,” but there is no information about a specific terrorist plan.
This is the first time in three years that the level has been so high, just one notch below the top of the scale ['critical']. Prime Minister David Cameron said the decision was made by an independent government commission because the rise of the group in Iraq and Syria once called ISIL or ISIS, which now calls itself the Islamic State, poses a threat to Britain. “What we’re facing in Iraq now with ISIL is a greater and deeper threat to our security than we have known before," said Cameron. Read more ..
The Edge of Terrorism
|Lisa Daftari||August 29th 2014|
A new English-language Al Qaeda magazine features a how-to article on making car bombs and suggests terror targets in the United States, including casinos in Las Vegas, oil tankers and military colleges, and implies that an attack is imminent.
The online publication, called “Palestine-Betrayal of the Guilty Conscience Al-Malahem” and put out by the media arm of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, calls for Muslims around the world to follow “the recipe” provided to set off car bombs in crowded venues. It includes a timeline of "selected jihadi operations" that the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI), which first flagged the slickly-produced latest edition of the terror publication, finds chilling. Read more ..
The Battle for Baghdad
|Victor Beattie||August 28th 2014|
The United States Wednesday said it is seeking to build an international coalition to confront the threat posed by Islamic State (IS) militants in Syria and Iraq. U.S. officials are also trying to determine whether a second American fighting alongside jihadists in Syria has been killed.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the United States is working to put together a coalition of countries in Europe, the Arab world and beyond who might contribute to taking on the threat posed by IS Sunni militants. She said there are many ways for nations to contribute. Read more ..
The Battle for Iraq
|Mohamed Elshinnawi||August 27th 2014|
The Sunni-Shi’ite divide playing out in violence in parts of the Middle East is an ancient dispute that traces back to the dawn of Islam.
It started some 1,400 years ago with a dispute over leadership for the Muslim community following the death of the Prophet Mohammad.
“There were those who felt that the leadership should fall upon the most able individual,” said Gregory Gause, a professor at the International Affairs Department at Texas A&M University. “These people came to be known as Sunnis because they followed the Sunna, or the way of the prophet.
“There were those who felt that the leadership should remain within the blood relatives of the prophet,” he said. “These people focused on Ali; the prophet’s cousin and they became known as the Shi’ite or ‘partisans of Ali.”’
Through the centuries, there have been periods when Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims managed to live peacefully together despite their ancient religious divide. But rivalries persisted and shaped the Middle East. Read more ..
The Battle for Damascus
|Diego DiGhero||August 27th 2014|
The United Nations says the war in Syria has become a conflict with "countless actors and front lines" with both government forces and various anti-government fighters committing crimes against humanity. In an August 27 report, the U.N. commission of inquiry on Syria highlights the effect the conflict is having on the region, saying the impact is "no longer confined to Syrian territory."
Commission chairman Paulo Pinheiro called attention to the Islamic State militants who have taken over large areas in eastern Syria as well as northern and western Iraq, saying the group "poses a clear and present danger to civilians" in areas it controls. The report says the Islamic State's gains in Iraq have boosted its military capabilities, and that the militants are increasingly fighting other anti-government groups in Syria instead of Syrian forces. Read more ..
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