May, 2016 Security-Intelligence


Author Uri Savir
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s surprising turn in appointing Avigdor Liberman, head of the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu party, as defense minister May 25 caught the international community off-guard. In the days before the appointment, intense deliberations took place about the upcoming Quartet report on obstacles in the way of a two-state solution and the Paris conference to relaunch a two-state process.


By Paul Craig Roberts

"Information Clearing House" - The Saker reports that Russia is preparing for World War III, not because Russia intends to initiate aggression but because Russia is alarmed by the hubris and arrogance of the West, by the demonization of Russia, by provocative military actions by the West, by American interference in the Russian province of Chechnya and in former Russian provinces of Ukraine and Georgia, and by the absence of any restraint from Western Europe on Washington’s ability to foment war.

Summary

The battle for Raqqa, the Islamic State's self-declared capital in Syria, has begun. The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) are advancing toward the city, engaging the jihadist group in the villages of al-Hisha, Tal Samen and Mutamshirij along the way. Because of Raqqa's strategic importance, the Islamic State will do everything in its power to keep the city within its grasp. Driving the militants from their stronghold will not be easy or cheap, but if the SDF is successful, it will greatly accelerate the Islamic State's defeat in Syria.


A Manufactured War Against An Independent Country

By Caleb T. Maupin

The people of the world should ask Western leaders and their allies: Why are you prolonging this war? Why do you continue funding and enabling the terrorists? Isn’t five years of civil war enough? Is overthrowing the Syrian government really worth so much suffering and death?

Selcan Hacaoglu 

As President Erdogan consolidates power in Ankara, separatists 1,000 kilometers away test the limits of his reach.
The curfew in this former Roman and Persian imperial outpost was announced the modern way, online, but word quickly spread like it has here for three millennia. By dawn, tens of thousands of people were gone.
For separatist Kurds in Turkey, curfew is code for crackdown. So when one was declared in Nusaybin on the Syrian border in March, most of its 90,000 residents ran with whatever they could carry.

Russia's Mariinsky Theatre orchestra performs at the amphitheatre in the Syria's historic city of Palmyra [Reuters]

James Denselow
A good means of predicting what Moscow's next steps in the Syria conflict is to listen to what Russian political and military leaders say and prepare for the opposite. While other actors on this most bloody of stages have been characterised by their preference for short-term tactics, the Russians have long had a strategy for their involvement in the country.


by Gregg Roman, The Forward
Avigdor Lieberman believes Israel must end the cycle of Palestinian incitement and violence, not manage it.
Peaceniks may be up in arms about the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as Israel's next minister of defense, but the country's enemies are worried — and rightly so.

 Binali Yildirim greets party members during a meeting in Ankara, Turkey, May 19, 2016

Among twelve reshuffled and eight new ministers in new Turkey’s cabinet, two appointments are particularly revealing. On Tuesday, Turkey's president Recep Tayyip Erdogan approved a new cabinet, proposed by new Prime Minister Binali Yildirim, who took the position vacated by Ahmet Davutoglu. Journalists note that many key figures retained their positions in the cabinet, though as many as twelve have new responsibilities.



 

Michaela Whitton
(ANTIMEDIA) United Kingdom — New research has shown the U.K. is providing military training and support to over half the countries named on its own watchlist of human rights abusers. An investigation by Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) and The Independent has revealed U.K. armed forces have trained security and armed forces personnel from 16 of 30 regimes who are on a Foreign Office (FCO) watch list for use of torture and violence.

 Gaza Strip

By JOSH LIPOWSKY
Hamas’s entry to Palestinian politics could have been a watershed moment. Hamas swept into power in the Palestinian Authority via the ballot box in 2006 by promising to root out corruption and secure Palestinian rights. A year later, Hamas violently expelled the Palestinian Authority from Gaza, which the terrorist group has illegitimately – and disastrously – ruled since. A decade of Hamas’s aggression and mismanagement has plunged Gazans into misery and hurled the dream of Palestinian statehood backward.

Cherno, cc Flickr Simon Smith, modified, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/

Geopolitical Monitor, Petra Posega
Nuclear security is seemingly in the vanguard of global attention, but the large framework of international provisions is increasingly perceived as a toothless tiger. In the contemporary age where asymmetric threats to security are one of the most dangerous ones, the time is high to mitigate the risk of rogue actors having potential access to the materials necessary to develop nuclear weapons.


Geopolitical Weekly , By Omar Lamrani

Space is becoming more congested, contested and competitive. Since the Soviet Union put the first satellite, Sputnik I, into space in 1957, no nation has deliberately destroyed another's satellite in orbit. But there is a growing possibility that battles may soon be waged in space.


By Pepe Escobar

 "Information Clearing House" - "RT" - So foreign ministers from the 28 NATO member-nations met in Brussels for a two-day summit, while mighty military power Montenegro was inducted as a new member.


By RONEN BERGMAN

TEL AVIV — IN most countries, the political class supervises the defense establishment and restrains its leaders from violating human rights or pursuing dangerous, aggressive policies. In Israel, the opposite is happening. Here, politicians blatantly trample the state’s values and laws and seek belligerent solutions, while the chiefs of the Israel Defense Forces and the heads of the intelligence agencies try to calm and restrain them.

Portraits of Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and late president Gamal Abdel Nasser are seen on a wall in Cairo [Getty]

 

Khaled Diab

"I am not pharaoh … After two revolutions, nobody who occupies this chair can become a pharaoh," Egypt's president Abdel Fattah el-Sisi reportedly told a select group of intellectuals and thinkers a few weeks ago, insisting that he accepted and respected criticism.


By Roderick Parkes
As an international actor, the EU can expect to win enemies as well as admirers. Two recent terrorist attacks in close succession – the first targeting an EU military mission in Bamako, the second in the ‘EU quarter’ in Brussels – seemingly confirm this. They also lend weight to the argument that if member states want the EU to be a robust international actor, they must give it the counterterrorist powers to protect itself. But is the EU facing a classic terrorist logic of action-and-reprisal and, if not, what exactly is the EU’s risk profile?

Federica Mogherini

By GEORGE JAHN and MATTHEW LEE
VIENNA (AP) — In a move fraught with risk, the United States and other world powers said Monday they would supply Libya's internationally recognized government with weapons to counter the Islamic State and other militant groups gaining footholds in the chaos-wracked country's lawless regions.


Project Syndicate, Ana Palacio
MADRID – Even by European Union standards, the response to the so-called refugee crisis is a mess. This seems to defy logic: While the crisis is certainly a challenge, human rights – and, indeed, refugee protection – are embedded in Europe’s DNA. Moreover, the EU’s aging and demographically challenged member states need immigrants. Yet, instead of spurring solutions, the current crisis has been bringing out all that is ugly, feckless, and dysfunctional about the European project. What happened?

By Pål Steigan

Psychological operations are spreading information to a population or a target group to influence their emotions, their motivation, their way of thinking and, finally; how they act. Psychological operations target foreign governments, organizations, groups and individuals. In psychological operations disinformation and deceit is routine. This is included in the standard arsenal of for instance the US military forces.


Accommodations are plentiful in the kingdom for Sunni Muslim migrants
by Daniel Pipes, Washington Times

As European governments slam the gates shut on illegal Middle Eastern immigrants, where can Syrians and others go to, not far from their homelands, for safety and employment? The answer is obvious but surprisingly neglected: to Saudi Arabia and the other rich Arab sheikhdoms.


DEBKAfile Special Report
The battle on May 6 in the village of Khan Touman, located southwest of Aleppo near Route 5, the main highway leading to Damascus, will go down in the annals of the Syrian war as the biggest defeat suffered by the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and Hizballah, as well as the battle that changed the face of the war.


by Raymond Ibrahim, The Gatestone Institute

Of all the reasons a majority of Americans support the plan of businessman and U.S. presidential candidate Donald Trump to "build a wall" along the U.S.-Mexico border, perhaps the most critical is to avoid letting terrorists into the country. Drugs enter, the victims of traffickers enter, but the most imminent danger comes from operatives of the Islamic State (ISIS) and like-minded groups that are trying to use this porous border as a way to smuggle weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) into the United States and launch terror attacks that could make 9/11 seem like a morning in May.

A cheap way to avoid costly strategic mistakes.
Michael Peck

It’s a great time to be a Pentagon game nerd.
Long dismissed as the geekier side of the military, war gaming is suddenly in demand, after the Department of Defense realized that if it wants to devise a strategy to beat China and Russia, it needs to play games.

Only four years ago, some Washington Middle East “experts” were promoting the “Turkish Model” for the future of political Islam in the Middle East. Now, their silence is deafening. After all, the Model proved not to be a good model. Now, all tricks to float the theory of a democratic rule by political Islam seem to have reached their utter and complete failure. It is hard to imagine that there would be any more ingenious tricks in the future, but who knows.

Dangerous drugs

By Paul Rexton Kan
In 1834, the British Government could not have sent a worse person with the worst set of instructions to China. The British Parliament chose William Napier, a Scottish lord, to be the Chief Superintendent of Trade in East Asia. Lord Napier had no experience with Chinese culture or traditions, but was nonetheless sent to Canton to take-up residence as the King’s representative and to ensure unfettered access to the Chinese market.


Mark Abadi
It's no surprise the United States pours more money into its military than any other country in the world.In 2015, the US had a defense budget of about $597 billion, according to the International Institute for Strategic Studies' most recent World Military Balance report, released earlier this year.

A boy rides a bicycle near damaged buildings in the rebel held area of Old Aleppo, Syria [REUTERS]

Marwan Bishara

"The most dangerous place here is the hospital. You arrive, and it's the first thing they tell you: if you want to feel safe, stay at the front," wrote the Italian journalist Francesca Borri in the opening of her book, Syrian Dust, reporting from the heart of the battle for Aleppo.

arm-troops

Central Asia Caucasus Analyst, Tomáš Baranec and Beskid Juraj
A new wave of escalation hit Nagorno-Karabakh in early April. In the course of what was probably Azerbaijani reconnaissance by force, claiming dozens of dead on both sides, Baku managed to secure several heights controlled by Armenian forces. Immediate hostilities have receded for now, but the question remains how the military strength of both sides has changed in recent years, what this means for the future of the peace process, and the role of Russian arms in the resurrection of this conflict.

Sadr City market attack by isis

Ranj Alaaldin
If today’s atrocity in Baghdad draws Shia militias into reprisals against Sunnis, it would kill off hopes for the democratic restoration of the Iraqi state and society
“Isis is an idea, not the first of its kind and not the last of its kind,” said a powerful security official when I visited Iraq last month. Indeed, as the international community boasts of Isis’s demise, the jihadists struck a Shia district in Baghdad today, killing at least 63 people and wounding 80 in a series of devastating market bombings.

Stratfor Analysis
For the first time in more than 35 years, North Korea is preparing to hold a full Congress of the Workers' Party of Korea (WPK). Originally intended to be a regular occurrence for the WPK, party congresses convened only sporadically until 1980, when Kim Jong Il was named as Kim Il Sung's successor, and juche (loosely translated as self-reliance) was formalized as the government's official guiding philosophy.


DEBKAfile Exclusive Report 

The last 48 hours (May 7-8) have seen a major escalation of the ISIS threats against Israel, DEBKAfile's intelligence and counterterrorism sources report. In a coordinated maneuver by all of the ISIS commands in the Middle East, the terrorist organization simultaneously released at least 10 videos that it said showed ISIS forces on their way to attack targets in Israel.

 Kurdish YPG fighters gather after taking control of an area from ISIL militants in Hasaka province, Syria, in November 2015. [Reuters]

Seth J Frantzman

When protesters stormed Iraq's parliament on September 30, a Kurdish news team from Rudaw found themselves reporting live in the midst of the chaos. A Kurdish Peshmerga soldier outside the parliament told them that protesters "had kissed [him] and given [him] flowers. It's very peaceful." It was a momentary gesture in a region that has become increasingly fractured along sectarian lines.

IDF exposes Hamas tunnel. (Photo: IDF Spokesperson)

 Ron Ben-Yishai
Analysis: Hamas's political and military wings are finally appreciating Israel's prowess at tunnel-detection; 
Something's clicked apparently with Hamas's military wing. Its members and leader, Mohammed Deif—the father of the tunnels project—have begun to understand that the IDF has finally developed a way to locate the attack tunnels that they dug underneath the border from Gaza into Israel. Thanks to this method, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades' leaders have understood, the IDF is undertaking intensive and accelerated operations and has already discovered at least two tunnels.

AlBash, cc Flickr Sebastian Baryli, modified, https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/

Geopolitical Monitor, Andre Ishii
The brief success of the Mahdist state in 19th century Sudan inspired a great deal of hope for the Islamist philosopher-activists who wished to abrogate Western-backed regimes and establish Islamist/Caliphate rule in their own territories. Sudan was once again to become a hotbed of Islamist activities, imported from abroad. Islamist ideologies were reintroduced, especially from Egypt and the Arabian Peninsula, regions both tied to its geopolitical history.


by Efraim Inbar, BESA Center Perspectives
Israelis have gradually come to accept that the Palestinians are neither interested in real peace nor capable of establishing a viable state.
Ever since the Palestinian terrorist wave began in September 2000, the Israeli body politic increasingly has resigned itself to the probability that there is no partner on the Palestinian side with which to reach a historic compromise with the Jewish national (Zionist) movement. The hopes for peace that were generated by the Oslo process in 1993 have been replaced by the stark realization that violent conflict will not end soon.

Ian Cobain, Alice Ross, Rob Evans and Mona Mahmood
The British government is waging information warfare in Syria by funding media operations for some rebel fighting groups, in the foreign front of what David Cameron has called “the propaganda war” against Islamic State.

fourdayw

Central Asia Caucasus Analyst, Zaur Shiriyev
In early April, the escalation of hostilities between Armenia and Azerbaijan resulted in a so-called “four-day war”, which was ended by a truce reached under Russia’s auspices. The expectation was that after the end of this short war, international engagement would increase, with the re-energizing of the Minsk Group. But so far, Moscow is the only active party. The Russian Foreign Minister, Sergey Lavrov, is conducting “shuttle diplomacy” between Yerevan and Baku, the results of which will become clear in the coming weeks.


by Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi
The Syrian Sunni Islamist Liwa Shuhada' al-Yarmouk (Yarmouk Martyrs Brigade–LSY) is the subject of several articles by Aymenn Jawed al-Tamimi this month.
Aymenn Jawad al-Tamimi, a research fellow at the Middle East Forum's Jihad Intel project, writes extensively about the Islamic State (also known as ISIS) and other armed groups in Syria and Iraq.

MURAT YETKİN, hurriyetdailynews
Most countries, especially in the West, had no awareness of a terrorism threat on their territory until al-Qaeda’s shocking acts on Sept. 11, 2001. In a sense, 9/11 was the opening act of a wave of global guerilla warfare.


by Burak Bekdil, The Gatestone Institute

Although nominally participating in the international coalition fighting the Islamic State, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has covertly aided its advance.
In theory, Turkey is part of the international coalition that fights the Islamic State (IS). Since it joined the fight last year, it has arrested scores of IS militants, made some efforts to seal its porous border with Syria and tagged IS as a terrorist organization. Turkish police have raided homes of suspected IS operatives.

Sinai border

Last week, Hamas deployed several hundred fighters along the Gaza-Sinai border together with Egypt to prevent ISIS fighters in the region from breaching the coastal enclave.
Israel, Hamas, and Egypt have aligned their strategies and formed an unlikely alliance against the Islamic State in Sinai, who are planning increasingly sophisticated and daring attacks in the region, The Washington Post reported on Sunday.


Omar Ashour

"[Multinational Force and Observers soldiers] are outgunned by the terrorists [Sinai Province or SP] right now, and it's a dangerous mission," said retired Lieutenant General Mark Hertling. "They [SP insurgents] have mortars and artillery that they have been firing on the base camps."

Constanze Letsch in Istanbul, theguardian
Two police officers have been killed and 18 people wounded in a car bomb attack in the city of Gaziantep, in south-east Turkey.