|Jonathan Spyer||August 7th 2014|
In recent weeks, far from the attention of the world’s media, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (IS, formerly ISIS) has been fighting its enemies and expanding its borders.
There is mounting evidence that IS has obtained a chemical weapons capacity of some kind, and has utilized it on at least one occasion during intense combat against the Kurdish YPG militia in northern Syria. The organization has achieved signal successes against regime forces in Raqqa and Hasakeh provinces that culminated in the capture of the Division 17 base, and the subsequent gruesome execution of over 200 members of the garrison.
There is also clear evidence of Palestinians, specifically Gazans, fighting in Syria in an organized unit under the IS banner, and of at least one clearly IS-linked group operating in northern Sinai and in Gaza itself. The overall picture is one of a vigorous, capable and savagely brutal Islamist entity, but one which nevertheless has clear limitations on its capabilities.
Lets take a look: Following its lighting capture of Mosul on June 10, many observers expected the jihadi group to continue to push on into Iraq, and perhaps make a bid for the capital city, Baghdad.
This has not happened. IS has set about implementing its brutal version of Shari’a in the city, but has made no serious effort to push further east. Read more ..
Afghanistan on Edge
|Kristina Wong||August 6th 2014|
The two-star U.S. Army general who was fatally shot by an Afghan soldier in Kabul Tuesday died at the military academy where he was attacked, according to the Army.
"Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene of Schenectady, New York, died Aug. 5, at Marshal Fahim National Defense University in Kabul City, Afghanistan, from wounds suffered when his unit was attacked by small arms fire," the Army announced Wednesday.
"Words cannot express the sadness we feel at the senseless loss of Maj. Gen. Harold J. Greene," said Secretary of the Army John McHugh on Wednesday.
Greene, 55, is the highest-ranking U.S. officer to be killed in combat since 1970, with the exception of a three-star Army general who was killed in the Sept. 11, 2001, attack on the Pentagon. Army Chief of Staff Raymond Odierno said Tuesday that the Army would stick to its task in Afghanistan, despite the attack.
"We remain committed to our mission in Afghanistan and will continue to work with our Afghan partners to ensure the safety and security of all coalition soldiers and civilians," Odierno said. He said that other soldiers were injured, but an Army spokesman said a definitive number of the wounded had not been confirmed. There were at least 12 individuals injured, "some more severely than others," the spokesman said. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Sreenivasan Jain||August 5th 2014|
In the minutes before the ceasefire kicked in at Gaza this morning, Hamas fired a flurry of rockets towards Israel - 30 according to some counts.
see video here
Israel has argued that that these rockets are fired from civilian areas, and this is why its retaliatory strikes can result in civilian casualties.
But this morning, NDTV witnessed one such rocket silo being created under a tent right next to the hotel where our team was staying. Minutes later, we saw the rocket being fired, just before the 72-hour ceasefire came into effect. See video here.
It began with a mysterious tent with a blue canopy that bobbed up yesterday (August 4) at 6:30 am in an open patch of land next to our window. We saw three men making a multitude of journeys in and out of the tent, sometimes with wires.
An hour later, they emerged, dismantled the tent, changed their clothes and walked away.
The next morning - today - we woke to news of the 72-hour ceasefire but just before it was to take effect, the rocket next to our hotel was fired. There was a loud explosion and a whooshing sound. The cloud of smoke that rose was captured by our cameraperson. Read more ..
The Battle for Baghdad
|Martin Barillas||August 4th 2014|
Cutting Edge Contributor
The armies of the Islamic State seized control of Iraq's biggest dam, as well as an oilfield and three more towns near Mosul on August 3. This was the first major defeat of Kurdish forces since the fighting over control of Iraq began in June. Fears have peaked that the Sunni militants of IS now have the ability to flood major Iraqi cities, and shut off electric power. According to a report by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction, if the dam were to fail, it could release a 65-foot high wave across northern Iraq and potentially flood and kill many in several surrounding towns.
Besides the hydroelectric dam on the Tigris River that supplies Mosul, the IS militants seized the Ain Zalah oil field, in the triangular border area of Iraq, Syria and Turkey, while adding to the four others they already control. The Iraqi government under Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki's Shi'ite-led government appears even more shaky. Read more ..
|Martin Barillas||August 3rd 2014|
Cutting Edge Contributor
An American physician who was stricken with the Ebola virus while helping victims in Liberia has returned to the United States, becoming the first known Ebola patient on U.S. soil. Dr. Kent Brantly was flown from Liberia to Atlanta GA on August 2 on a specially equipped chartered medical plane.
After arriving at a Georgia military base, he was transferred to an ambulance that become part of a convoy that traveled to Emory University Hospital, a medical facility in the city of Atlanta.
Television video from the hospital showed two people emerging from the ambulance in white, full-body protective suits and entering the facility. Dr. Brantly could be seen emerging from an ambulance, walking with the help of medical personnel. The Emory University Hospital is one of only four in the U.S. that is equipped to handle such cases. Dr. Brantly will be treated in an isolation unit that is separate from the other patient areas. Read more ..
The Battle for Ukraine
|Kristina Wong||August 2nd 2014|
The Pentagon announced Friday that the U.S. wants to send troops to train Ukrainian forces next year as the country faces continued aggression from pro-Russia separatists.
According to the plan, which must be approved by Congress, soldiers stationed in Europe or from the California National Guard would train and equip four companies and one tactical headquarters of the Ukrainian national guar
The effort would help "build their capacity for internal defense," said Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby. The training would take place inside Ukraine at an international peacekeeping and security center, he said.
"It's an area where we do multilateral exercises. It's an area that we're familiar with," said Kirby, though he did not specify how many troops would be going. "Our intent is to use $19 million in Global Security [Contingency] Fund authority. That's what the authority's for," Kirby said, referring to a fund shared by the Defense and State departments for security and counterterrorism training programs. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
Below are the findings of a preliminary, partial list of Palestinians killed in Operation Protective Edge. The goal is to ascertain the identity of terrorist operatives and non-involved citizens, and to examine the ratio between them.
We have examined the first 150 names of Palestinians killed between July 7 and July 12, 2014, which appeared on the list of those killed issued by the Palestinian Health Ministry in Gaza. To this list the ITIC added the names of six terrorist operatives who were killed on those dates but were not included on the Health Ministry's list, or who were killed and whose names were added later. Conversely, we removed the names of three dead, whose identity is still unknown, and the name of a terrorist operative who, it turned out, was wounded and whose name appeared on the mortality list by mistake. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Aryeh Savir||July 31st 2014|
The IDF is continuing to dismantle the terror tunnels in Gaza, while deepening its hold on the Gaza Strip. For the first time in the operation the IDF entered the Jabaliya refugee camp. Israel has reportedly stepped up its military strikes on Hamas targets as well.
In one incident, Givati forces shot and killed a gunman who fired an anti-tank missile at troops in the southern Gaza Strip overnight. In the course of house searches in the central Gaza Strip, IDF soldiers uncovered sensitive intelligence gathered by Hamas on the IDF, numerous weapons, and a large number of tunnels used as bunkers linking a string of houses. A joint IDF task force further uncovered a tunnel entrance on the ground floor of a mosque that had been used by Hamas terrorists to attack Israeli soldiers. See video here. Read more ..
|Alexander Bolton||July 31st 2014|
An emergency border spending package backed by the House GOP leadership appeared to be in trouble Wednesday evening after Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) met with a group of House conservatives.
House conservatives emerging from a late evening meeting in Cruz’s office said they would oppose the $659 million legislation and warned it might fail on the House floor, an embarrassing prospect for the new GOP leadership team.
“It doesn’t sound like the Granger bill has the votes to pass,” said Rep. John Fleming (R-La.), who plans to vote against the border package endorsed by his leadership. House leaders scrambled Wednesday evening to save the bill by promising conservatives a chance to vote on separate language curtailing President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.
They are also discussing legislation that would prevent Obama from easing deportations through executive action. Read more ..
The Digital Edge
Yesterday, the House of Representatives placed four cybersecurity bills – all pieces of a larger cybersecurity legislative puzzle – on the House suspension calendar. The core bill, sponsored by House Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-TX), would establish the National Cybersecurity and Communications Integration Center, a coordination point for civil information sharing between sector-specific coordination groups and federal, state, and local government agencies. This multi-layered approach is meant to manage current cyber incidents and eventually reach the goal of proactively managing cyber risks through collaborative efforts. Should the bill pass, will its provisions be enough to bring cybersecurity to the top of the agenda in corporate America? Read more ..
|Theodore Shoebat and Walid Shoebat||July 28th 2014|
After the ISIS defeated the Raqqa base manned by Division 17 of the Syrian army, the countless POWs were then beheaded and their heads were displayed for public view in the city square.
STRONG WARNING ON VIDEO
Shoebat.com also translated what the ISIS spokesperson said during the filming:
In the name of Allah, most gracious, most merciful
He had fulfilled his promise and defeated the enemy by himself.
Your brothers here, the soldiers of the Islamic Caliphate,
Allah had blessed us a great blessing from him. He had allowed us to defeat Division 17. This is a victory from Allah. We thank Allah for our strength and power, and our armament. Today, and till the day of judgement, devils who Allah had allowed us to defeat, and to be hung in this place, and we ask Allah to complete this victory the great victory of your brothers in the Islamic Caliphate. Allah had promised the believers that they will dominate the land as it was dominated previously. And will strengthen the religion to be acceptable to him. Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Yaakov Lappin||July 27th 2014|
Operating behind enemy lines in Gaza during the conflict with Hamas, the elite Maglan unit has attacked dozens of terrorist cells that fired on the IDF, destroyed areas used to launch rockets and killed and injured 40 terrorists in the last few days.
A senior source from the unit revealed that its members targeted Hamas gunmen waiting in ambush for the IDF’s ground forces, striking the threats before the soldiers passed by the would-be attackers.
The Maglan unit has detected and destroyed forward Hamas posts and rocket launchers. It detected a cross-border underground attack tunnel leading into Israel from Gaza, and found 20 bomb-laden, booby-trapped Gazan homes. The unit also uncovered a large quantity of weapons in raids. The source said the company is operating in a heavily built up area, characterized by residential buildings, orchards surrounded by buildings, and tunnels. Hamas planted its military assets deep inside the very fabric of Gazan civilian life, he said.
“Hamas operatives and area commanders, as well as their rocket cell members, keep one part of their home for normal family life. A second part of the home is the command center, or the start of a tunnel. Daily life and military infrastructure are totally interwoven,” the source said. Read more ..
Air Travel on Edge
|Mark B. Tauger ||July 26th 2014|
The tragic shoot-down over Ukraine of the Malaysian Airlines MH17 Boeing 777 that killed 298 people on board revives gruesome memories of similar events during the last phase of the Cold War in the 1980s. But the comparisons are not quite what we might expect.
The best explanation of the MH17 disaster is on a strangely-titled website, Scallywag and Vagabond, which draws from a variety of sources including the UK’s Daily Mail and the Kiev Post, and cites Dr. Igor Sutyagin, a Research Fellow in Russian Studies at the Royal United Services Institute, the Security Service of Ukraine [SBU], and other Ukrainian officials.
This article presents evidence that Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine in late June bragged about obtaining a BUK missile launcher, and just before the shoot-down of MH17 had placed it in a civilian area with the goal of shooting down Ukrainian military planes. The article includes images that it suggests might be the missile launcher in transit and in placement. The BUK can hit objects up to 25 km or 75,000 feet in altitude, well above the altitude of commercial airliners. Read more ..
The Weapon's Edge
|Christopher P. Cavas||July 26th 2014|
Powerful forces in Congress are working to buy the US Navy an extra amphibious ship, and lawmakers in both the House and Senate have added between $650 million and $800 million to the proposed 2015 shipbuilding budget to begin construction.
But, even if the money is approved and signed into law, it won’t be enough to cover the more than $2 billion needed to buy the ship, the Navy’s top acquisition official told Congress Friday. With no guarantee the rest of the bill would be funded in the 2016 request, the Navy can’t begin work at all, he said.
“That billion-plus has to enter into a budget process where we've got other bills that are, frankly, a higher priority,” Sean Stackley told the House Seapower subcommittee.
“We've got competition to go into the budget and add these priorities, at the same time we've got all of the risk associated with sequestration on the back end,” Stackley added. “So I cannot look at you today and give you a sense of confidence that the Navy is going to be able to budget that additional billion- plus in 16. The challenges are huge, in terms of being able to fund the balance.” Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
|Martin Barillas||July 25th 2014|
A network of tunnels dug by Islamist militants from the Gaza to Strip to Israel has been dubbed "lower Gaza" by the Israeli military. It has become a strategic weapon used by the Hamas terrorist organization against Israel as it continues to unleash rocket attacks against civilian targets. Hamas utilize the tunnels as a possible game-changer in their ongoing struggle with Israel. The tunnels, say Israel’s defense forces, pose a serious threat against the country.
In some cases, when the IDF or Israeli police were alerted to the excavation of tunnels, concerned citizens were ignored. However, former Israeli general Shlomo Brom told ABC News, "Israel knew there was a problem with the tunnels, but it didn't internalize their significance," adding "At any given moment, Hamas could send dozens of militants through separate tunnels to attack communities in Israel." Until now, Israel has had no effective method of contending with the tunnels. Dan Murphy, who reports for The Christian Science Monitor, said Hamas justifies the tunnels as an “existential issue for the movement.” Read more ..
Obama's Second Term
|Amie Parnes||July 25th 2014|
President Obama on Thursday said the downing of a Malaysia Airlines flight last week "may stiffen the spine of our Europeans partners moving forward” as the U.S. pushes for tougher sanctions on Russia.
In an interview on CNBC, Obama said the United States is seeing Europe "move with us" behind additional penalties on Moscow.
Obama, though, acknowledged that many European counties are "concerned about a robust response to the violations of sovereignty and territorial integrity that Russia's been conducting." Read more ..
Operation Protective Edge
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
|George Friedman||July 23rd 2014|
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
|Jeffery Young||July 22nd 2014|
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
|Cecily Hilleary ||July 21st 2014|
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
|Frud Bezhan||July 19th 2014|
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.
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.
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
|Jill Bellamy||July 18th 2014|
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
|George Friedman||July 17th 2014|
Read more ..
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.
Bordering on Crisis
|Mario Trujillo||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
|Kristina Wong||July 15th 2014|
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
|Avi Jorisch||July 14th 2014|
The Journal of International Security Affairs
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. "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."
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
|Aryeh Savir||July 14th 2014|
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
|Aryeh Savir and Yaniv Hassidoff||July 13th 2014|
Tazpit News Agency
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
|Gabe Joselow ||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
|Julian Hattem||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
|Martin Barillas||July 9th 2014|
Cutting Edge Contributor
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
|Kyle Balluck ||July 7th 2014|
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
|Michael Auslin||July 6th 2014|
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
|Kyle Balluck||July 6th 2014|
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 ..
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 ..
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
|Tony Capaccio||July 3rd 2014|
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
|Gabe Joselow||July 1st 2014|
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
|Mackenzie Eaglen||June 30th 2014|
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
|Erick Stakelbeck||June 27th 2014|
Obama administration officials have praised Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas as someone with whom Israel can do business.
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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.
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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 ..
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