Iran on Israel's Borders - Kamal Khalaf (Rai al-Youm-Mideast Mirror, 13Feb2015)
According to a source on the ground, Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) al-Qods Brigade Commander Qassem Sulaimani has arrived in the western countryside of Daraa Province in southern Syria.
The Syrian army and its allies have just launched a large-scale offensive in an attempt to regain that area.
This is the first time we have a public operational intervention by IRGC forces and the Qods Brigade in the conflict.
Another notable aspect of this Iranian intervention is that it is occurring near the Syrian border with Israel.
In other words, the IRGC is now confronting Israel face-to-face. This public presence is a major Iranian message of defiance to the U.S. and Israel.
See also Hizbullah Fights on the Syrian Golan Heights - Avi Issacharoff (Times of Israel)
The week-old offensive waged by Hizbullah, along with thousands of Syrian army troops and members of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards against the opposition militias on the Syrian Golan Heights places thousands of Hizbullah soldiers near the Syrian-Israeli border.
President Assad's forces in Syria and Hizbullah in Lebanon are now seen as a single entity that enables Iran to control parts of Syria and most of Lebanon.
Iran Refutes Claim Supreme Leader Wrote U.S. President (AP-Washington Post)
Iran has denied a report that its supreme leader wrote a letter to U.S. President Obama, the Islamic Republic's official news agency reported.
The Wall Street Journal reported Saturday that Ayatollah Ali Khamenei wrote Obama in response to a letter by the U.S. president asking Iran to work with an American-led coalition fighting the extremist Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria.
Palestinians Want Role in Probing "Terrorist" Killings of Chapel Hill Muslims (Reuters)
The Palestinian government on Saturday condemned as "terrorism" the killings of three young Palestinian-Americans in North Carolina and called on U.S. authorities to include its investigators in the probe.
Police have charged a neighbor with Tuesday's shooting in Chapel Hill, saying the incident followed a dispute over parking.
The Palestinian Foreign Ministry called for "a serious investigation and the involvement of Palestinian investigators to clarify the circumstances of these assassinations and premeditated murders."
Abbas' Fatah Threatens Rocket Attacks and "the End of Israel" - Itamar Marcus and Nan Jacques Zilberdik (Palestinian Media Watch)
Last week, PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah party posted images glorifying the use of violence against Israel on its official Facebook page.
One showed rockets being launched, another showed a Fatah fighter with a rocket and others firing weapons, while a third showed a man firing an automatic rifle, with the text: "The end of Israel, the liberation of Palestine."
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- Gunman Kills Synagogue Security Guard in Denmark - Andrew Higgins and Melissa Eddy
Omar el-Hussein, 22, the Danish-born son of Muslim immigrants, killed Danish film director Finn Norgaard, 55, in a Saturday attack on a freedom of speech meeting in Copenhagen featuring a Swedish cartoonist, and then Dan Uzan, 37, a Jewish security guard at a synagogue, before he was killed by police. Five policemen were wounded in the attacks.
(New York Times)
See also Two "Accomplices" Charged over Copenhagen Shootings - David Chazan and Julian Isherwood
Two men were charged on Monday as accomplices of Omar el-Hussein, of Palestinian descent, who shot dead two people in a double attack in Copenhagen. "The two men are charged with helping the perpetrator through advice and deeds," the police said.
In the second attack, on a girl's bat mitzvah celebration at a synagogue, el-Hussein pretended to be a drunken member of the party to get past a police cordon, but was stopped by a Jewish economist acting as a volunteer security guard, whom he shot dead. El-Hussein was released two weeks ago after serving a two-year sentence for stabbing a man at a railway station. Police believe he was radicalized in prison.
Denmark, a nation of 5.6 million people, has an estimated 600,000 immigrants or citizens of foreign descent, many of whom are Muslims.
See also Copenhagen Attacks Raise Fears of Anti-Semitism around Europe - Angelique Chrisafis and Nadia Khomami (Guardian-UK)
- New ISIS Video Shows Mass Beheading of Egyptian Christians in Libya - Hasani Gittens and M. Alex Johnson
A video Sunday showed 21 Egyptian Christians, kidnapped in Libya by ISIS and dressed in orange jump suits, as they were beheaded on a beach near Tripoli. "The group...challenges the Western nations to intervene and save the Christians as it intervened to save the Yazidis and others," Flashpoint Intelligence, a global security firm, reported.
See also Egypt Bombs IS in Libya after Beheadings
Egyptian state TV said Egypt has bombed Islamic State camps, training sites and weapons storage areas in Libya, hours after the group published video showing the beheadings of 21 Egyptian Christians.
Egypt's military said Monday's air strikes were "to avenge the bloodshed and to seek retribution from the killers." (BBC News)
See also The Islamic State's Expansion in Libya - Andrew Engel (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)
- Islamic State Tries to Attack Base Where Hundreds of U.S. Troops Are Stationed - Loveday Morris
Disguised as Iraqi army soldiers, a squad of Islamic State militants attempted Friday to bomb a base in western Iraq where hundreds of U.S. troops are stationed. Iraqi security forces killed eight would-be suicide bombers who tried to carry out a "direct attack" on the Ayn al-Asad airbase in Iraq's Anbar province. (Washington Post)
- Report: Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda Planned Attacks in Egypt - Abdul Sattar Hatita
Egypt's outlawed Muslim Brotherhood appealed to Al-Qaeda chief Ayman Al-Zawahiri to send 3,000 Islamist volunteers to fight government forces in the Sinai Peninsula, an Egyptian security report claims, based on intercepted phone calls.
The report also reveals that the Islamist group established an operations room in an unidentified country where Brotherhood members hold regular meetings with other radical groups. New restrictions on the Brotherhood prompted several of its members to flee to Sinai and Libya, setting up training camps and preparing attacks. (Asharq Al-Awsat-UK)
- UN Security Council Passes Resolution Demanding Yemen Rebels Give Up Power
The UN Security Council on Sunday unanimously adopted a resolution demanding that Houthi Shia rebels immediately relinquish control of Yemen's government, but the resolution was not adopted under Chapter 7 of the UN charter, which would allow it to be militarily enforced.
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- Egypt's Army Shifts Strategy in Sinai with Preemptive Attacks - Ahmed Eleiba
On Feb. 1, the Egyptian army began a series of intensive strikes against terrorist hideouts around the Sinai town of Sheikh Zuweid, killing 57 suspected terrorists. Maj.-Gen. Talaat Moussa said there has been a shift in strategy in northern Sinai towards preemptive strikes. In central Sinai the army has succeeded in securing the area and cooperation with local tribes is high.
The Sinai Province of the Islamic State (SPIS) posted a video showing members carrying weapons and performing training exercises.
The footage showed terrorists in open-backed vehicles, similar to those used by the Libyan branch of IS, carrying a portable anti-aircraft missile launcher and wearing camouflage uniforms resembling those worn by Hizbullah fighters.
- IDF Paramedics Aid Thousands of Wounded Syrians - Yoav Zitun
IDF paramedics in the Golan Heights provide first aid to people wounded in Syria's civil war. One soldier who served in the past year as a medic in the sector says, "You will have to carry out authorization checks (procedures in which you make sure the wounded are not terrorists) on dozens of severely wounded people who will be waiting for you at the security fence."
Another IDF paramedic said, "An unbelievable amount of wounded people from enemy countries pass through here." Some are "children who you know were not involved in any kind of fighting."
One paratrooper said, "The advantage of the work is the operational experience we received in treating the wounded, [that served] us during Operation Protective Edge. It improved the quality of our medical care more than any training exercise, and helped us not suffer from shock when we were inside Gaza, treating wounded soldiers." (Ynet News)
- Europe's New Terrorist Normal - Editorial
Homegrown or immigrant Muslim terrorists targeting innocents and the Western way of life are becoming a feature of Continental life. The 8,000-strong Danish Jewish community has been besieged by anti-Semitism from the country's Muslim quarters. In 2012 Israel's Ambassador to Denmark warned visiting Israelis not to wear kippahs and other visible religious symbols.
The Danish government has disbursed millions of kroner to anti-Israel activists and agitprop campaigns in recent years, according to NGO Monitor. Perhaps Danish officials will now spend less time henpecking Jerusalem about efforts to prevent terrorism and devote more energy to protecting their own citizens from the same forces.
(Wall Street Journal)
- Can the West Rely on Iran? - Dore Gold
The U.S. outreach to Iran on the nuclear issue has been accompanied by an assumption in parts of the American foreign policy establishment that the two countries were on the verge of establishing a new political partnership covering the Middle East.
Would Iran really become a dependable partner for the U.S. in fighting Islamic State in Iraq, allowing Washington to reconsider its older Middle Eastern alliances with Israel and Saudi Arabia?
While Iran and Islamic State are today at war, their hostility toward one another is not inevitable; the two parties have been able to closely coordinate at certain times in the past. Indeed, Abu Musab Zarqawi, the former commander of al-Qaeda in Iraq who was killed in a U.S. airstrike in 2006, spent four months under the protection of the Iranian regime. The commander of the Quds Force of the Revolutionary Guards, Qassem Sulaimani, admitted that Zarqawi had spent time in a Revolutionary Guards training camp and that he had provided military assistance to Zarqawi.
After Zarqawi's death, the organization changed its name to the Islamic State in Iraq and later to ISIS.
Islamic State spokesman Abu Muhammad al-Adani admitted in 2014 that the group had not attacked the Iranians since the organization was established.
The U.S. would be making a terrible mistake if it believes that it can replace its old Middle Eastern partners with a revolutionary Iranian regime. Tehran's purpose since 1979 has been to reduce American influence in order to pave the way for its own military domination of the region. The writer is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Israel Hayom)
Iran and the International Community: Moving toward a Comprehensive Deal? - Emily B. Landau and Shimon Stein (Strategic Survey for Israel 2014-15 - Institute for National Security Studies)
- The strategic concessions that have been made so far have come primarily, if
not solely, from the direction of the P5+1.
- Some claim that
President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif are willing to accept the P5+1
offer on the table, but Supreme Leader Khamenei objects. At the end of the
day, however, it is clear that the Supreme Leader makes the decisions, so
whether the leadership is united or divided is less relevant than the fact that Khamenei in any case remains defiant.
- Whatever the
outcome, the unfortunate reality is that any deal with Iran will almost certainly
focus solely on physically keeping Iran at a distance from breakout rather than on Iran's intentions.
- Since there is no indication that Iran's intentions in the nuclear realm have changed, it is nearly certain that it is only a matter of
time before Iran resumes its efforts to
acquire a military nuclear capability, even with the best comprehensive deal.
Emily Landau directs the Arms Control and Regional Security Project at INSS, where former Israeli ambassador Shimon Stein is a senior research fellow.
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