April, 2016 Security-Intelligence

Ian Black Middle East editor
Bombs hitting hospitals, doctors and rescue workers killed, civilians starving, scores of dead and injured every day – the raw, bleeding statistics of Syria’s unending war are making a nonsense of an already fragile truce and destroying the slim hopes that peace talks can even carry on.

BURAK BEKDİL, hurriyetdailynews
Tragically, and in his own words, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan thinks (or pretends to think) that “the primary reason behind terror in Turkey is to prevent Turkey from getting into the world’s top 10 economies.”

 

DEBKAfile Special Report 

The US withdrew its forces from the Sinai Peninsula last weekend in retaliation for Egypt's transfer of sovereignty over Tiran and Sanafir islands to Saudi Arabia, according to DEBKAfile's military and intelligence sources. They also report that the move came after Washington protested to Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi over its exclusion from the consultations and military coordination between Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Israel regarding the islands.

 

Central Asia Caucasus Analyst, Eduard Abrahamyan
The recent unprecedented escalation around Nagorno-Karabakh highlighted deep systemic shortcomings in existing international mediation initiatives. The OSCE Minsk Group, dedicated to settling the conflict between Azerbaijan and Armenia, has become largely irrelevant in the new operational situation.


Author Adnan Abu Amer
Translator Cynthia Milan

Israel and Hamas have been escalating their war of words, which observers on both sides fear could turn into violence.

 

Dave Majumdar
Russian electronic-warfare powerhouse KRET—Concern Radio-Electronic Technologies—has started testing a powerful new ground-based jamming system that could cut the crucial data-links that enable the United States military to conduct operations around the world. The system is designed to be used in conjunction with advanced Russian-built air defense systems like the S-300V4 and S-400 to disrupt air operations.

Richard Norton-Taylor, theguardian
More than 33,000 civilians were killed or injured by explosive weapons in 2015, an increase of more than 50% in five years, according to a wide-ranging survey passed to the Guardian.


By ERIC SCHMITT and ALISSA J. RUBIN

James R. Clapper Jr., the director of national intelligence, in February in Washington. When asked on Monday if the Islamic State was engaging in secret activities in in Britain, Germany and Italy, he said, “Yes, they do. That is a concern, obviously, of ours and our European allies.” Credit Drew Angerer for The New York Times


By Paul Craig Roberts

"Information Clearing House" - The Third World War is currently being fought. How long before it moves into its hot stage? Washington is currently conducting economic and propaganda warfare against four members of the five bloc group of countries known as BRICS—Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa.

MaSu, cc Flickr  Maersk Line, modified, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Omar Mawji

The Arab Spring uprising left Egypt with an assortment of leaders and an uncertain future. After the ousting of President Hosni Mubarak in February 2011, the Egyptian economy fell into a sustained decline. Soon after the Mubarak era ended, Mohamed Morsi began a short-lived reign that ended with his ousting in July 2013.


by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi
Abstract: Internal Islamic State documents, including documents obtained by the author and published here for the first time, shed new light on how the Islamic State has come under strain as it is degraded by coalition air strikes and loses territory.


Analysis 
Summary

Since Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, tension with the West has been high, affecting eastern Ukraine, Syria and hot spots across the former Soviet sphere. Less overtly, Moscow has been working to protect areas vital to Russian interests by raising the stakes of U.S. operations there. This has manifested in numerous aggressive interceptions of U.S. military aircraft in flight, especially over the Black and Baltic seas. The interceptions, which are reportedly occurring more frequently, aim to dissuade Washington from operating in that airspace.

 The Fourth Jihadist Wave
Project Syndicate, Carl Bildt

STOCKHOLM – Muscular language has become increasingly prevalent in the debate about how to counter the threat of jihadist terrorism. Television talk-show hosts speculate about when control of Raqqa in Syria or Mosul in Iraq might be wrested from the Islamic State (ISIS), implying that these cities’ liberation will mark, at the very least, the beginning of the end of the problem. And in December, Ted Cruz, a Republican contender in the US presidential race, went so far as to raise the specter of nuclear strikes: “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out,” he said.

A view of the the Israeli-Syrian border in the occupied Golan Heights, near the village of Majdal Shams, Israel [EPA]

Geoffrey Aronson 

As the beginning of the endgame on Syria commences, Israel is signaling its intention to join in the feasting on Syria's decaying sovereignty - demanding international recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights captured from Syria in the June 1967 war.

Philip Oltermann in Berlin and Patrick Wintour, Diplomatic editor
US president Barack Obama said Angela Merkel was on the right side of history with her management of the refugee crisis and praised the German chancellor as a steady and trustworthy ally with a really good sense of humour, as he embarked on the final phase of the last official European tour of his presidency.


Tyler Durden 

Europe is planning on recolonizing Libya, and so it will send in armed forces in the coming months to restore order and stem the flow of migrants coming from Africa. If this expedition army succeeds in securing parts of the country and restoring law and order, Italian and German engineers from ENI and Wintershall will follow suit to help resume the country’s oil production, which will add 1.3 million barrels per day (Libya produced 1.7 million barrels per day before Muammar Gaddafi was toppled in 2011) to the world oil glut.


by Daniel Pipes, Miami Herald
I predict that the ISIS state in Syria and Iraq will collapse as fast as it arose. Indeed, I will go out on a limb and say I expect it to be gone by the end of 2016.

 By Nathan Halverson

Secret conversations between American diplomats show how a growing water crisis in the Middle East destabilized the region, helping spark civil wars in Syria and Yemen, and how those water shortages are spreading to the United States.

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JAMES LACEY
Several years ago, as a new professor at the Marine Corps War College, I spent a huge amount of time putting together the best presentation on Thucydides and the Peloponnesian War ever presented at any war college at any time. After accounting for the 125-page a night reading limit, I had selected the perfect set of readings.

By Joel Wuthnow
The Brahmaputra is the next test for Beijing and New Delhi.
On April 18–19, the Chinese and Indian defense ministers will meet in Beijing to discuss border issues. At the top of the agenda will be how to improve stability along the border, where both countries have overlapping sovereignty claims.

 

By Paul Rogers
Summary
In an attempt to understand the psychology of the West’s adversaries in Syria, Iraq and elsewhere, this briefing asks the question, what does the wider world look like when seen from within the Islamic State group? Setting to one side the enormous political and economic deficiencies of the ‘host’ countries of the Middle East, it examines some of the contemporary and historic perceptions of the West’s relations with the Islamic and Arab worlds, and how these may have influenced IS strategy, particularly its 2015 shift from territorial expansion to attacks on and within Western states.


Author Mohammed A. Salih
NINEVAH, Iraq — At times, Kurdish Gen. ZiryanShekhwasani accompanied Iraqi army Gen. Najim al-Jabouri to survey through binoculars the battlefield on top of al-Nasr village just a couple of kilometers away. At other times, Shekhwasani stood with his peshmerga troops looking with an air of exasperation at how his Iraqi counterparts were conducting the bloody fight against the Islamic State (IS) militants.

Photo Gallery: An IS Stronghold in the Balkans

By Walter Mayr

Almost nothing remains of Ibro. There is just a single childhood photo remaining, an image of a flaxen-haired five-year-old that Ibro's father scanned so he could always carry it with him on his mobile phone. But no recent pictures are available. Before Ibro left Bosnia to join Islamic State (IS) in 2014, he tore up all the images of himself he could find. His interpretation of Sharia included the belief that images of people were haram -- forbidden.

By Matt Purple
The stage is set for a reawakening.
In Islamic State, the world has encountered the most brutal jihad syndicate it’s ever faced. But brutality has its limits.

David Wearing, theguardian
In the House of Commons debate on intervention in Syria last December, one message rang out loud and clear: Britain will not tolerate indiscriminate violence committed by extremists, and will act decisively to counter any threat to our national security.


Author Uri Savir
Given the total political stalemate regarding a two-state solution, some in the Palestinian leadership have begun reflecting on “out of the box” ideas for policy initiatives leading to Palestinian independence. One such person is professor Sari Nusseibeh, former president of Al-Quds University in Abu Dis in the West Bank. According to a source working with Nusseibeh on the policy proposals, Nusseibeh today supports the establishment of a Jordanian-Palestinian confederation based on two independent states with strong institutional links between them.

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Column: Politics Region: Caucasus Country: Georgia
George Soros is a very successful man, at least where money and power are concerned. The reach of the hedge fund legend through his Open Society Foundations leverages governments and ideas across the breadth of 40 nations now. Here is a look at how Soros’ “New World Lebensraum Idealism” is reshaping reality in the Republic of Georgia.

DEBKAfile Exclusive Report
The Israeli cabinet holds its weekly session Sunday April 17, on the Golan. Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu will visit Moscow on Thursday, April 21 to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin and to launch the most important battle of his political career, and one of Israel's most decisive contests of the last 10 years: the battle over the future of the Golan Heights.

Ian Black in Geneva
UN-sponsored Syrian peace talks are facing a new crisis after opposition negotiators decided to delay their participation in the formal process until officials representing President Bashar al-Assad start to discuss the creation of a transitional government in Damascus – which they have so far refused to do.

Central Asia Caucasus Analyst, Armen Grigoryan
Tensions along the line of contact in Nagorno-Karabakh between April 2 and 5 resulted in the heaviest exchanges of fire since 1994. Even though the use of some types of weapons was quite unexpected, the general logic of developments in the conflict in recent years has made the recent fighting rather predictable. Concerning further hostilities, the question is not if, but when they will happen. While this danger needs to be addressed by means of international mediation, so far only Russia demonstrates substantial activity in this regard. Russia’s unilateral involvement will pursue its own particular regional interests rather than producing a lasting solution to the conflict.


Project Syndicate, Olusegun Obasanjo, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Wolfgang Ishinger
ADDIS ABABA – The list of places in Europe and Africa that have suffered from jihadist terrorism is rapidly growing: the seaside town of Grand-Bassam in Côte d’Ivoire, nightspots in Paris, and transport hubs in Brussels, to name just a few.

Article illustrative image

Stefan Aust, Michael Behrendt, Manuel Bewarder and Claus Christian Malzahn*

Top German security officials say criminals and violent Islamists are using the asylum crisis to recruit refugees. They especially target minors traveling alone.

BERLIN — Germany's top domestic security official is warning that ISIS is actively recruiting among the new waves of refugees arriving in the country.

By Salman Rafi
While Russian troops have partially withdrawn from Syria, peace talks continue between U.S.- and Russian-led camps and also between countries at bilateral level as in the case of Russia and Israel.On March 15, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin visited Moscow to hold talks with President Vladimir Putin on Syria and the circumstances that led to Russian pull-out. According to Israeli media, the two leaders also discussed continued military coordination between Jerusalem and Moscow in Syria.


by Raheem Kassam 
Trevor Phillips, who commissioned an infamous 1997 report on "Islamophobia," says he "got almost everything wrong" on Muslim immigration.
The former head of Britain's Equalities and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), Trevor Phillips, has admitted he "got almost everything wrong" on Muslim immigration in a damning new report on integration, segregation, and how the followers of Islam are creating "nations within nations" in the West.


Author Metin Gurcan
This year, the coming of spring has not brightened the lives of people in Turkey's southeastern towns, where violence continues. The coming of spring means heavy winter conditions and melting snow are replaced by green trees and many rainy, foggy days. It also means a probable increase and expansion of clashes.

Image: Flickr/Al Jazeera English - Omar Chatriwala. CC BY-SA 2.0.

By Mohammed Nuruzzaman

The 'Salman Doctrine' can't back up its tough talk.
Analysts from the Gulf Arab states are generally upbeat about Saudi Arabia’s possible military dominance in the Gulf neighborhood and the Middle East region. A Saudi commentator has recently argued in an online feature published by the National Interest that Riyadh, in collaboration with Sunni Arab and Muslim allies, stands poised to fill the strategic void created by America’s move to disengage from the Middle East.


By John Dyer

The German magazine Der Spiegel recently reported that the Islamic State is finding fertile ground for its ideology in rural Bosnia. Der Spiegel reports that in some tiny, remote villages in the country's north, residents practice Sharia law and fly the militant group's black flag.

Image: Wikimedia Commons/Stratfor. Public Domain.

By Michael J. Ard

A former intelligence officer shares twelve points about a manageable danger.
Politicians and terrorism experts have a vested interest in focusing on the worst-case scenarios about terrorism and putting the direst spin possible on recent events. With the near irrelevance of core Al Qaeda, Islamic State (ISIS) is the latest fixation.

Azerbaijan-Nagorno-Karabakh-Districts-111315-4

RUSSIA & CENTRAL ASIA
by Dmitriy Frolovskiy

The recent fighting outbreak in Nagorno-Karabakh, the worst in a twenty years period, reveals a sweeping complexity of the longstanding geopolitical chessboard that is the South Caucuses. Over the years, the frozen status of the ethnic Azeri-Armenian conflict has become a trump card for powers on both sides of the demarcation line. However, the augmenting rivalry between Moscow and Ankara, due to Russia’s involvement in the Syrian conflict and Erdogan-Putin rift over the downed Russian Su-2, threatens to dismantle the pragmatic state of affairs and fuel ethnic jingoism once again.

Explain this
Elisabeth Eaves
There are few scarier pairs of words: “nuclear,” evoking the great 20th century fear of atomic annihilation, and “terrorism,” the bogeyman of the 21st. Put them together and you’ve got a frightening specter. Since European authorities revealed that the group behind the November 2015 Paris terrorist attacks was also spying on a senior nuclear official in Belgium, many news sources have reported that the threat of “nuclear terrorism” is upon us.

Geopolitical Monitor, Gareth Evans
MELBOURNE – There are important lessons to be learned from what went wrong with the NATO-led military intervention in Libya in 2011. US President Barack Obama was right about that in his recent wonderfully frank interview in The Atlantic. But if we are not to compound the world’s misery, we have to take away the right lessons from that intervention.

Karabakh conflict update

By Alexis Coleman

The most serious fighting since 1996, with dozens of victims, has erupted between Azeris and Armenians, in Nagorno-Karabakh.The Karabakh conflict was “frozen” for many years, which make many observers wonder if there is a link with East-West tensions and with events in the Middle East.


DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 

ISIS raider hangs flag on MFO lookout post in North Sinai
The first visit to Cairo by Saudi King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Thursday, March 7,heralded a new chapter in the war on the Islamic State in Sinai, one to be fought with petrodollars versus the jihadis’ war chest. The monarch brought President Abdel-Fattteh El-Sisi two large checks: a $20bn guarantee to cover the oil needs of 90 million Egyptians for the next five years, and another $1.5bn listed euphemistically under the heading of “Sinai development.”


Pavel Koshkin, Ksenia Zubacheva, Olga Pylova 
Experts weigh in on President Vladimir Putin’s establishment of a National Guard in Russia, with a focus on what it might mean for the Kremlin’s approach to domestic security.
When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced the creation of a new National Guard on Apr. 5, it immediately raised questions about Russia’s approach to domestic security in the run-up to parliamentary elections in September 2016. Ostensibly, the new security body will focus on fighting terrorism and organized crime, including illegal drug trafficking. However, as some experts point out, the creation of the National Guard could indicate that Putin is concerned with his political future.

Jonathan Freedland, theguardian
The contrast was not a happy one. For much of the last week, I’ve been travelling across Israel speaking to those involved in what they see as their country’s finest hour, an event whose 40th anniversary falls this July: the 1976 operation that rescued 102 hostages from Entebbe airport in Uganda. At the time, the sheer audacity and ingenuity of the raid – flying an elite unit of commandos into a faraway airport in the dead of night, killing the hijackers and freeing their captives – captured the imagination of the world. It spawned not one but two Hollywood movies and remained a byword for thrilling derring-do. Those involved – the soldiers, the military planners, the rescued families – look back on that moment still with unalloyed pride.

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By Daniel Koehler for ISN
How should policymakers and researchers conceptualize the process of violent radicalization? Today, Daniel Koehler proposes a model that treats it as a form of intellectual ‘de-pluralization’ which deliberately occurs outside of mainstream political culture.

By Christopher A. Preble

ISIS continues to hold vast swathes of territory in Iraq and Syria. A civil war rages in Yemen. Turks fight Kurds. A new UN-sponsored unity government struggles to assert its authority in Libya. A military dictatorship controls Egypt. Refugees fleeing chaos in Syria are flooding into Europe, and beyond. The Taliban is still in Afghanistan, and also terrorizing Pakistan.

While arming proxies in Syria and Iraq help roll back ISIL gains, the long-term consequences of this policy are unknown, writes Schwartz [Getty]

Kevin Schwartz

When Henry Kissinger's name was cited in a recent debate between Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders, the reference immediately reopened cleavages of generations past. As she mentioned Kissinger among many voices she consults on foreign policy issues, Sanders emphatically riposted "he's no friend of mine", referencing Kissinger's role in the illegal bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War.

Kob, cc Flickr Karl-Ludwig Poggemann, modified, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Geopolitical Monitor
The eastern borders of the Islamic State (ISIS) statelet are shrinking as the Iraqi army makes its push toward the city whose fall started the current crisis: Mosul.The village of al-Nasr, located along the Tigris River south of Mosul, fell to Iraqi troops after days of fierce fighting earlier this week. The success shows that Iraqi security forces are making progress in their push towards the large northern city.

 AZERI SOLDIERS crowd around a pot to get some hot tea on the front line between Nagorno-Karabakh gue

By SETH J. FRANTZMAN 
Like many conflicts, it shows the weakness of the current international system that obsesses over arbitrary borders that date back a hundred years.
Over the weekend, fighting erupted in the Caucasus between Armenia and Azerbaijan in the region of Nagorno-Karabakh. As many as 30 soldiers were killed on both sides and there were also civilian casualties.