March, 2016 Security-Intelligence

Author Mahmut Bozarslan
DIYARBAKIR, Turkey — Turkey has been debating the trench and barricade warfare the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) has launched in towns in southeast Turkey. Many couldn’t understand why the organization chose that method of warfare. But there are widespread allegations in the southeast that the organization’s leadership was deceived by reports sent by the PKK rank and file that the people were ready to join a popular uprising.

By Nawaf Obaid
Obama abandoned the Arab world. Riyadh is picking up the slack.
Following a thorough explication of Obama’s foreign policy doctrine in a recent Jeffrey Goldberg article, it is now clearer than ever that America and Saudi Arabia are on a collision course over strategic decisions in the Middle East. This is because the “Obama Doctrine” is diametrically opposed to the emerging “Salman Doctrine,” which the Kingdom is developing in order to restore peace and a modicum of stability to the region.

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report

Russia has deployed its most advanced tactical missile system, the Iskander-M, in Syria in the last few days, DEBKAfile reports exclusively from its military and intelligence sources. The Russian Iskander is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and has never been made available to any foreign army for operational use.

by Jonathan Spyer, The Jerusalem Report

The cold numbers are the first thing that hit you. Figures telling of a human catastrophe on a scale hard to compute. Suffering on a level to which any rational response seems inadequate – 470,000 people killed, according to the latest estimates; 11.5 percent of the population injured; 45 percent of a country of 22 million made homeless; 4 million refugees and 6.36 million internally displaced persons. Life expectancy is down from 70.5 years in 2010 to an estimated 55.4 years in 2015. Welcome to the Syrian civil war.

Author Fehim Taştekin
Many analysts are busy trying to understand the motivation that led to the unexpected declaration recently of a federal system by Syrian Kurds, who until then were promoting a cantonal model that would incorporate divergent ethnic and religious groups.

Peter Beaumont in Jerusalem
Six months after it began, a deadly wave of violence between Palestinians and Israelis that has been referred to as the “knife intifada” shows no sign of ending, despite a drop in incidents from a high point last autumn.


DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis
Vladimir Putin after all took the momentous decision for Russian carpet bombing to level the Islamic State forces holding Palmyra since last May, and so clear the way for Bashar Assad’s troops and allied forces to enter the heritage city Saturday and Sunday, March 26-27 and take control of several districts.

Author Mohammed A. Salih
ERBIL, Iraq — The recent declaration of a federal structure in northern Syria by the local Kurdish administration and its Arab and Assyrian allies is likely to put the Syrian Kurds further at odds with neighboring Turkey, as it will pose serious challenges to Ankara amid renewed conflict with its own Kurds..


by Raheem Kassam, Breitbart
Teddy bears, tears, candles, cartoons, murals, mosaics, flowers, flags, projections, hashtags, balloons, wreaths, lights, vigils, scarves, and more. These are the best solutions the Western world seems to come up with every few months when we are slammed by another Islamist terrorist attack. We are our own sickness.


In the wake of any shocking event, national governments and officials of the European Union invariably call for more cooperation between member states to prevent anything similar happening in the future. The response to the March 22 terrorist attacks in Brussels has been no different.

by Raheem Kassam
According to a 2006 survey, 20 percent of British Muslims sympathised with the 7/7 bombers who brought terror to the streets of London.
On the back of the Brussels terror attack it is worthwhile remembering that while a majority of Muslims in the West appear to have no truck with terrorism or extremism, there are a significant number who sympathise with terrorism and repeatedly attempt to justify attacks on the West.

The arrest of Reza Zarrab, the flamboyant, well-connected and controversial Iranian-Turkish gold trader, in US recently over a fraudulent scheme to help the Iranian government launder hundreds of millions of dollars and evade economic sanctions, has shaken the Turkish government and may reopen a 2013 corruption case that Ankara was trying to project as an attempted coup against President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.


Andre Colling
This article was originally published by the IPI Global Observatory on 11 March 2016.

It seems clear that pro-government forces in Iraq are preparing to retake Mosul, Iraq’s second largest city. The Islamic State (ISIS), a Sunni extremist group, captured Mosul following a series of assaults in June 2014, an offensive that ultimately resulted in an embarrassing collapse of the Iraqi Army in northern Iraq. Since then, the Iraqi government has made the recapture of Mosul a key domestic goal in its fight to reclaim its territory and reassert its control over a restive minority Sunni population.

Strategic Engineered Migration as Weapon of War

After reading the title, you may think it is describing the phenomenon that Europe has recently been facing: the hundreds of thousands of refugees, both victims of the hardships of civil wars and opportunists, who are invading the Balkans by land and by sea and then making their way further, trying to reach richer countries like Germany, France and Scandinavia by any means possible.


 By George Friedman
The recent attacks strike at the heart of two potential threats to IS.
The attacks in Belgium and Turkey must be considered together. They are attacks in the symbolic heartlands of two potential enemies of the Islamic State, Europe and Turkey. The attacks are meant to destabilize each country and recruit potential operatives from each country’s pool of possible jihadists.
There have been two attacks this week, both apparently by the Islamic State, first in Turkey on March 19 and then today in Belgium.

Author Metin Gurcan
Following spectacular combat gains for two years, the Islamic State (IS) is on the defensive in Iraq and Syria. In 2015, IS lost 14% of the territory it once controlled. It has lost another 8% in just the first three months of this year, according to a new study from IHS Jane's 360.

Molly Crabapple, theguardian
On Saturday Isis bombed Istiklal Caddesi, the central street of Istanbul’s Beyoglu neighbourhood. Many complain about its chain stores and gentrification, but for me, it will always be the grand boulevard all others aspire to. Istiklal made Broadway look like a neon bauble, and the Champs Élysée seem insipid.

The asymmetrical but rewarding relationship between two Middle East minority nations.
Over the past few years, Israeli politicians—from Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu to President Shimon Peres to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman—have been publicly advocating the establishment of a Kurdish state. Most recent to weigh in is Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who called this past January for the formation of an independent Kurdistan and urged enhanced policy cooperation between Israel and the Kurds.


Olga Pylova
Debates: A number of Russian and foreign experts describe how the West currently views the situation in Ukraine two years after Crimea’s incorporation into Russia.On the eve of the second anniversary of Crimea’s incorporation into Russia, several symbolic events took place, including a visit by former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to Kiev and the decision by the EU to prolong sanctions on Russia. Both events hint at the changing tenor of the conversation over Ukraine.

Author Fadi Shafei
RAFAH, Gaza Strip — Many questions are circulating in Gaza about Al-Sabireen Movement for Supporting Palestine - HESN (Movement of Those Who Endure with Patience), whose activities and slogans have been increasing in the Gaza Strip. The movement is mainly concentrated in northern and central Gaza and in al-Shujaiyya neighborhood. Al-Sabireen’s activities are mainly security-oriented due to constant concerns about Israel targeting the movement’s members composed of youth who have split from the Islamic Jihad movement.

Fehim Işık on the news site Haberdar writes that political Islam, represented by AKP and Erdoğan has succeeded in bringing Kemalist nationalism, represented by Baykal (the former CHP leader) and the Turkic nationalism of MHP together on the shared ground of enmity against the Kurds.


Are recent Russian maneuvers signs of increasing hostilities or just part of a long-term plan? It’s no secret that the relationship between Russia and Turkey is dismal, with the countries clashing over their respective roles in the Syrian civil war. Russia backs the Syrian regime. Turkey backs the regime’s opponents.

Natalie Nougayrède, theguardian
While European leaders believe they are edging towards a solution to the refugee crisis after securing a deal with Turkey, another power watches closely from afar: Russia.

As the departure of Russian forces from Syria announced March 14 continues, evidence of construction at Russia's main air base in the country demonstrates Moscow’s intention to maintain a military presence there. Imagery dated March 17 acquired by Stratfor of the Bassel al Assad air base in Latakia province and the naval base at Tartus highlights the ongoing Russian drawdown of its forces in Syria that Moscow contends will be largely completed by March 20.

by Burak Bekdil, The Gatestone Institute
Columnist Seyfi Sahin wrote on January 31, "I believe that the gorillas and chimps living today in the forests of North Africa are cursed Jews. They are perverted humans that have mutated."
The 74th anniversary of an embarrassing tragedy took place in Turkey on February 24, 2016.

Author Ufuk Sanli
The Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), denounced as a terrorist group by Turkey, last month inaugurated its first representative office abroad — in Moscow. A Kurdish speaker at the ceremony hailed the event as “a historic moment for the Kurdish people” before lauding his hosts: “Russia is a big power and a prominent actor in the Middle East. In fact, it’s not only an actor, but also a scriptwriter.”

Geopolitical Monitor, Alessandro Bruno
Five years after the start of the revolution that would lead to war against Gaddafi, Libya is in chaos. Libya remains divided between two governments, which are fighting for what remains of oil revenues. A given Libyan militia, one of hundreds that have mushroomed in the country since it was ‘liberated’ – no thanks to NATO forces – controls some oil-producing facilities.

Nikolay Pakhomov
When the Russian bombing campaign started in Syria last fall, one could assume that Moscow's actions would begin to reveal more about the country’s foreign policy. This assumption is proving to be correct now, after President Putin announced the withdrawal of Russia's main forces. Moscow’s actions in Syria over the last half year have clarified both the guidelines of Russian foreign policy and how they help in dealing with very complicated problems of the Middle East.

SEMİH İDİZ, hurriyetdailynews
Turkey and Russia have been locked in an angry dispute over Syria ever since the Turkish Air Force downed a Russian fighter jet in November 2015. That move by Turkey backfired by pushing Moscow into supporting Syrian Kurdish fighters who Ankara considers to be terrorists.


KANEOHE, HAWAII – The South China Sea contretemps has taken a decided turn for the worse. The United States has upped the ante in its contest of wills with China by deploying an aircraft carrier strike group to the South China Sea. This came on the heels of a warning from U.S. Secretary of Defense Ash Carter of “specific consequences” for China’s continued “aggressive” actions in the Sea.

Author Shlomi Eldar
The current intifada will not yield substantial change for the Palestinians or bring about a diplomatic breakthrough. This is the belief of Fatah activists who served as field leaders in the first and second intifadas.

By David P. Goldman
During the Cold War, the assumption that nations are rational actors dominated foreign policy research, and with good reason: the United States and the Soviet Union pursued their rivalry by rational means. Mathematical simulation provided baseline scenarios for conflict management. Today, the emergence of militant Islam as a major (and perhaps the most important) strategic threat to the United States challenges the old assumption of rationality. Where this assumption prevails, as in the effort to bring Iran into the strategic architecture of Western Asia, it is deeply controversial.

Jonathan Steele, theguardian
Vladimir Putin’s dramatic decision to cut his military intervention in Syria has flatfooted everyone from the White House to Bashar al-Assad, and yielded predictably cynical reaction. “It’s a pretty brilliant tactical move,” says the independent military analyst Alexander Golts. Putin has “reaped a positive return” from his intervention, according to the former US assistant secretary of state PJ Crowley. But there is a more nuanced view.

SEMİH İDİZ, hurriyetdailynews
Less than a month after the last terrorist attack, which left 28 dead and scores injured in the Turkish capital, Ankara witnessed a new terrorist atrocity on Sunday evening that instantly killed 30 people and was followed by a mounting death toll due to the large number of seriously injured.


Last month, the Obama administration released its 2017 budget proposal, including thousands of pages on the nearly $600 billion request for the Pentagon. That money is earmarked for a wide array of projects—$1.8 billion in procurement of equipment for the Special Operations Command, for instance, and $1.2 billion for the chemical and biological weapons defense program. In each case, the administration carefully explains the rationale and purpose for the budget request.



Following Russia’s annexation of Crimea, hybrid warfare has become conversational short form in the West for describing Moscow’s sneaky ways of fighting war. If there’s one thing you’ve learned over the past two years about Russia, it’s that it uses hybrid warfare, a dangerous Kremlin innovation the West must learn to grapple with.

Author Metin Gurcan
According to the official website of the Turkish Armed Forces (TSK), Turkey has the second-largest army in NATO. As of March 1, the TSK has 610,095 personnel. Of this number, 315,229 (52%) are civilians conscripted for stints of either six or 12 months. When more than half of its personnel are conscripts, it is difficult to say that the TSK is made up of volunteers and professional personnel.

People fish at the coastline of al-Manara during a sunny day in Beirut, Lebanon [EPA]

James Denselow

It's been a pretty busy month for Lebanese-Saudi relations. The slashing of billion dollars' worth of aid - mainly for the Lebanese security forces - the issuing of travel warnings for Saudi citizens to avoid the country and the declaration that Hezbollah is a "terrorist" group, mark a significant new direction of travel from Riyadh.


Published in Articles, By Lars Haugom

The Turkish military has no known intention to intervene in the political decision-making process. However, the military has retained a capacity to do so - both by means of its continued role in security policy making and its relative institutional autonomy. The extent of any military involvement in politics will largely depend on how the Kurdish issue is handled by the government. But it is still highly unlikely that any such involvement will take the form of a direct intervention.

A new multiple launch rocket system is test fired in Pyongyang [REUTERS]
Andrei Lankov
Last Monday the North Korean government told the world that we should ready ourselves for a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula. According to the official statement, North Korean armed forces "have a military operation plan of our style to liberate south Korea and strike the US mainland".

By Moon Of Alabama

 "Information Clearing House" - "Moon Of Alabama" - There seems to be some progress in the regional "games" around the conflict in Syria. The Turkish Prime minister Davutoglu currently visits Iran. The Iranians let some lucrative economic projects dangle in front of his eyes. But the main points were about Syria. According to this Turkish source Davutoglu said these issues were agreed upon:

Author Mahmut Bozarslan
In the middle of heavy clashes Feb. 19 between Turkish security forces and groups affiliated with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) in Diyarbakir’s Sur district came news that a building had collapsed. Three special forces soldiers in the building were killed. Official statements did not make clear what happened.

A white gun painted on a wall in Northern Ireland

 Anna Simons for Foreign Policy Research Institute (FPRI)

Does the kinder, gentler form of warfare that the West has been pursuing over the last twenty-five years actually work? Maybe, says Anna Simons, but those who would reorient their militaries towards a predominantly “soft war” footing are making two big mistakes – they’re misreading 21st century realities and human nature. 

 Turkish military helicopter shot down by PKK fighters

By the Inside Syria Media Center:
The Inside Syria Media Center reports from Iraq that the Turkish armed forces suffered heavy losses in a battle against the Kurds on 16 February 2016. The Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK) fighters downed a Turkish S-70 Black Hawk helicopter with heavy machine gun fire. The helicopter crashed in an Iraqi region near the border with the Turkish province of Hakkari to the north-west of Erbil. Six Turkish military men died in the crash.

DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis 
Turkey and Saudi Arabia have taken separate steps to break free from Washington's dictates on the Syrian issue and show their resistance to Russia's highhanded intervention in Syria. They are moving on separate tracks to signal their defiance and frustration with the exclusive pact between Presidents Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin which ostracizes Riyadh and Ankara on the Syrian question.

Rachida Dati, theguardian
At a time when the challenges for Europe are multiplying daily, never has politics been so disconnected from reality. Europe tries to lock itself down and EU member countries are at loggerheads over migrants. The reintroduction of borders, announced by many countries, is doomed to fail for lack of resources. Worse, it tramples on the very principle of solidarity. Europe is on the verge of collapse, yet we can’t even see what’s happening.

Simon Tisdall, theguardian
It may be a coincidence that apocalyptic American warnings that Mosul’s giant dam could imminently collapse, potentially killing 1 million Iraqis, come at the very moment when US and Iraqi forces are preparing an all-out assault on the city, the main stronghold of Islamic State (Isis) terrorists in the country.

Luke Coffey

Last November a small amount of iridium-192, a radioactive isotope, went missing from a facility in Zubair, a town in southern Iraq. After a lot of unsubstantiated - and in some cases wild - speculation by the media that the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) had stolen the material and was going to use it for a dirty bomb, the radioactive material turned up intact not far from where it went missing.

Yaşar Yakış

The Syrian cease-fire -- or “cessation of hostilities,” as it is officially called by the parties that negotiated it -- began at the end of last week.
The first question is whether it will remain in place.

Today's Zaman
Deputy Prime Minister Yalçın Akdoğan has said that Turkey has been in discussion with Greek authorities to open a Turkish Cooperation and Development Agency(TİKA) office in Greece.
Speaking in Parliament on Sunday, Akdoğan said a bilateral agreement is required for TİKA to open a liaison office in a foreign country and maintained that Turkey has discussed the opening of a TİKA office in Greece with Greek officials.