U.S. Adjusting Tactics to Intensify Air War Against Islamic State - Tara Copp (Stars and Stripes)
The U.S. will adjust its tactics and risk more civilian casualties when launching airstrikes against high-value targets in Syria and Iraq as part of an effort to increase pressure on Islamic State militants.
The tactical adjustments reflect an intensified effort to cut off Islamic State militants from their ability to fund attacks or move fighters across the battlefield, Gen. Joe Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, told lawmakers on Tuesday.
Fuel convoys were only recently added to the target list, Secretary of Defense Ash Carter said.
Retired Navy Cmdr. Chris Harmer, an analyst at the Institute for the Study of War, said, "We are loathe to strike those [fuel convoys] because we are going to hit civilians. If the counter argument is we cannot hit civilian casualties, there is no way we can hit the Islamic State because they are intermingled."
Russia Adding 2nd Airbase in Syria, Pursuing "Expansion" in Military Campaign - Lucas Tomlinson (FOX News)
Russia has expanded its military operations in Syria to include a second airbase, according to a U.S. official briefed on the latest intelligence from the region.
Moscow's presence has grown to four forward operating bases, including recently added bases in Hama and Tiyas, together with a second airbase in Shayrat, near Homs, in addition to Basel al-Assad airbase in Latakia.
Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Visits Israel as Bilateral Trade Soars - Herb Keinon (Jerusalem Post)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Vietnamese Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai on Wednesday as two-way trade between the two countries rocketed from $200 million in 2009 to almost $1.1 billion in 2014 - higher than Israel's trade with Norway, Austria, Sweden, and Ireland.
Israel exports electronic equipment, machines, tools and fertilizer to Vietnam, while it imports mobile phones, computers, shoes, clothes, seafood, coffee, and nuts.
Saudi Arabia Sanctions 12 Hizbullah Leaders (Saudi Gazette)
Saudi Arabia last Thursday imposed sanctions on at least 12 Hizbullah leaders accused of responsibility for terrorism around the Middle East, the Interior Ministry said.
"As long as Hizbullah continues spreading chaos and instability, carrying out terrorist attacks and practicing criminal and illegal activities around the world, Saudi Arabia would continue classifying activists, leaders and entities belonging to Hizbullah, and accordingly impose sanctions on them."
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- Iran Worked on Nuclear Weapons Before 2009, UN Agency Finds - Laurence Norman and Jay Solomon
The Obama administration said it expects to start lifting sanctions on Iran as early as January after the UN nuclear watchdog on Wednesday found no credible evidence that Tehran has recently engaged in atomic-weapons activity. But the agency reported that Iran had pursued such a program in secret until 2009, longer than previously believed. The report also indicated that Iran showed limited cooperation with investigators. Nonetheless, senior U.S. officials said they expected the International Atomic Energy Agency's board of governors to vote this month to formally close its decade-long probe of Iran's past weapons work.
(Wall Street Journal)
See also Nuclear Agency's Iran Report Inconclusive on Weapons Work - David E. Sanger and William J. Broad (New York Times)
See also Netanyahu: IAEA Report Proves Iran's Secret Nuclear Weapons Program Continued after 2003
In the wake of the IAEA report, Prime Minister Netanyahu said: "The IAEA investigation proves beyond any doubt that Iran's secret program for the development of nuclear weapons continued even after 2003, as Israel has maintained. In addition, the report exposes the methods Iran used to conceal and deceive regarding its nuclear program....Israel expects the international community to continue and expand the IAEA investigation in these areas and to use all means at its disposal to ensure that Iran will not be able to secretly build a nuclear weapon." (Prime Minister's Office)
See also below Commentary: Why It Matters that Iran Lied - Jonathan S. Tobin (Commentary)
- British Parliament Backs Bombing of ISIS, UK Launches Airstrikes in Syria - Ben Brumfield and Carol Jordan
After the British Parliament voted 397 to 223 to approve bombing ISIS strongholds in Syria, four RAF Tornadoes took off from Akrotiri air base in Cyprus, targeting an oil field in eastern Syria, Britain's Ministry of Defense said Thursday.
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- Two Israelis Wounded by Palestinian in West Bank Shooting Attack Thursday - Gili Cohen
An Israeli civilian and a soldier were shot by a Palestinian at the Hizma checkpoint north of Jerusalem on Thursday. The Palestinian assailant was shot and killed at the scene.
- IDF Destroys Home of Hamas Ringleader behind Murder of Jewish Couple - Yaakov Lappin
Israeli security forces on Thursday demolished the home of Hamas terrorist Ahmed Aliwi, 37,
responsible for the murder of Eitam and Na'ama Henkin in the West Bank on Oct. 1, 2015, as they were driving with their four children.
See also Israel Demolishes Home of Palestinian Terrorist Who Killed Two Israelis - Roi Yanovsky and Elior Levy
Israeli security forces on Wednesday demolished the east Jerusalem home of Hamas terrorist Ibrahim al-Akari, who killed two Israelis in a vehicular attack on Nov. 5, 2014. Al-Akari, 38, ran over a Border Police patrol and civilians with his van at a Jerusalem light rail station, then attempted to attack passersby with a metal rod before he was shot to death. After the attack, his son Hamza, 16, told Ynet: "I'm proud of my father. I'm not sad that he died a martyr." (Ynet News)
See also Video: Terrorist's Home Blown Up - Daniel K. Eisenbud (Jerusalem Post)
- Seal Bearing Name of Judean King Found in Jerusalem - Ilan Ben Zion
Archaeologists deciphered a seal impression bearing the name of the 8th century BCE biblical King Hezekiah found during excavations next to the Old City of Jerusalem, the Hebrew University announced Wednesday. The centimeter-long bulla, a stamp seal impression bearing the name "Hezekiah [son of] Ahaz, king of Judah," an 8th century BCE Judean ruler, was one of dozens found in recent years in a royal building in the Ophel situated immediately south of the Temple Mount, excavation leader Dr. Eilat Mazar said. Mazar called the artifact "the closest as ever that we can get to something that was most likely held by King Hezekiah himself."
The bulla was found during excavations in 2009 but its significance was initially overlooked by researchers. Only this year did Hebrew University archaeologist Reut Ben Arieh decipher the inscription on the seal impression and determine its significance.
(Times of Israel)
- Why It Matters that Iran Lied - Jonathan S. Tobin
The IAEA says there is no proof that Iran worked on creating a nuclear explosive device after 2009, although there is no longer the slightest doubt that Iran was working to create a nuclear weapon before 2009. In other words, the Iranian government lied. And it continued to lie throughout the negotiations with the Obama administration and Western allies. If Iran lied for so long, what makes us think the Islamist regime is willing or even capable of telling the truth and abiding by the terms of the pact they've signed?
What happens now is that the deal will go forward, and Iran will get everything it wants including the end of sanctions and vast sums of money that can be spent on aiding its terrorist allies preparing for war against Israel or destabilizing moderate Arab regimes. But it will never have to admit that it lied about its nuclear program or even give the UN or the U.S. information about how much progress it made toward weaponizing its program. The lack of conclusive information about "possible military dimensions"
also means that Western estimates about Iranian "breakout" time to a nuclear weapon are mere guesses, not reliable calculation.
It now appears that the IAEA hasn't the will or the desire to press for truths that might illustrate just how fraudulent Iranian assurances about military research are. That makes it clear that any Iranian cheating will be treated as a minor detail. We now know that the deal isn't likely to be enforced. Unfortunately, so do the Iranians.
- A Successful Middle East Strategy Requires Debunking False Assumptions - Dennis Ross
Israel stands in stark contrast to the rest of the Middle East, and continues to be a natural partner for the U.S. It is not just that Israel is the only democracy in the region. It is that Israel is the only country whose institutions and rule of law - with elections where the loser accepts the outcome - permit it to cope with its problems.
The Eisenhower, Nixon, Carter, Bush 41 and Obama administrations all distanced from Israel, expecting Arab responsiveness. None responded favorably to our distancing. The assumption that cooperation with Israel would cost us with the Arabs was just as off-base. We have consistently misread the priorities of Arab leaders. It is not Israel; it is instead their security and survival against threats from regional rivals that they are preoccupied with. Given that, they will never make their relationship with the U.S. dependent on America's relationship with Israel.
Moreover, most Arab leaders don't see the Palestinian conflict as fundamentally affecting their security. They know that it historically has resonated with their publics, but today it tends to take a backseat to other conflicts - the Syrian civil war and the threats from Islamic State and Iran.
Ironically, today most of the Arab Sunni states see Israel as a bulwark against both the Iranians and Islamic State, and the scope of what Israel is now doing with a number of Arab states on security is unprecedented. Amb. Dennis Ross is a fellow and counselor at The Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
The Boycott Israel Movement Is Driven by Bigotry - Brendan O'Neill (Telegraph-UK)
- It's hard to think of any political movement as ugly, vindictive and packed with prejudice as the Israel-bashing BDS movement. Its backers want every institution, retail outlet and right-minded person to refuse to have anything to do with Israel. They want us to stop buying Israeli produce. To refuse to read books written by Israeli academics. Even to refuse to listen to the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra.
- The ugliness of BDS was thrown into sharp relief when it was revealed that a former Cambridge academic refused to answer a 13-year-old girl's curious questions about horses because the girl is an Israeli. "I'll answer your questions when there is peace and justice for Palestinians," the academic responded.
- It's just cruel to crush a girl's curiosity after she has sent you a sweet, respectful email. And to hold a 13-year-old responsible for what her government does is bizarre. It takes the foul idea of collective guilt to a new, barrel-scraping low. It has exposed the rotten heart of a movement that fancies itself as progressive but is in fact driven by bigotry.
- BDS is a forcefield erected around the chattering classes of the West to protect them from the stuff and thinking of one nation and one nation only. It's a moral purity movement, designed to deflect the products of a people that some have judged to be uniquely evil. Even their kids.
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