October 3, 2018

In-Depth Issues:

U.S.: Last Pocket of ISIS Fighters Surrounded in Syria - Jamie McIntyre (Washington Examiner)
    U.S.-backed fighters are closing in on the "last pocket of ISIS resistance" in Syria, and remaining ISIS fighters are becoming increasingly desperate, the U.S. military said Tuesday.
    The final offensive against ISIS in Syria was started three weeks ago by the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a coalition of Arab and Kurdish fighters trained, equipped, and advised by the U.S.
    U.S. military spokesman Col. Sean Ryan said that ISIS fighters are "in the final throes of their evil ambitions."

Monitor: Russian Airstrikes in Syria Killed 8,000 Civilians in 3 Years - Chase Winter (Deutsche Welle-Germany)
    The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said Sunday that Russian airstrikes have killed 7,988 civilians, including 1,936 children and 1,199 women, over the past three years.

Israel Thwarts Planned Hamas Terror Attacks - Anna Ahronheim (Jerusalem Post)
    The Israel Security Agency announced Wednesday that it foiled efforts by Hamas to carry out terrorist attacks against Israeli targets under the direction of operatives from Gaza.
    Issa Shalaldeh, 21, and Omar Mas'ud, 20, were arrested on suspicion of being recruited by Hamas to carry out terror attacks against Israelis and also for aiding in the transfer of terror funds.
    The two, activists in the Hamas student group at Bir Zeit University, are also suspected of undergoing military training.

Israel to Provide British Army with Battle Management Application (Globes)
    Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems has been awarded a contract with a potential maximum value of $52 million from the UK Ministry of Defense to provide the British army with its operationally proven Morpheus battle management application for both headquarters and tactical units.
    Versions of Elbit's command and control platform have been delivered to many customers worldwide, including to the Australian Defense Forces.

Number of Women in Senior IDF Roles Continues to Climb - Lilach Shoval (Israel Hayom)
    A record number of women are reaching senior ranks in the Israel Defense Forces.
    There are currently 7 women serving at the rank of brigadier general - the third-highest rank in the Israeli military - up from 3 in 2013.
    There are 36 female colonels, up from 24 in 2013, while 326 women hold the rank of lieutenant colonel.
    Some 90% of all positions in the IDF are now open to women and the remaining 10% are mostly combat positions in elite units.

Florida University Teams with Israeli Medical Center for Emergency Response Training - Sergio Carmona (Florida Jewish Journal)
    Florida Atlantic University's International Center for Emergency Management and the Sheba Medical Center in Israel have signed an agreement to provide training programs for emergency response professionals in Florida.

News Resources - North America, Europe, and Asia:
  • France Says Iran's Intelligence Ministry behind Bomb Plot near Paris - John Irish and Richard Lough
    France said on Tuesday that, "without any doubt," Iran's intelligence ministry was behind a June plot to attack an exiled opposition group's rally outside Paris, and it seized assets belonging to Tehran's intelligence services and two Iranian nationals.
        A French diplomatic source said Iranian deputy minister and director general of intelligence Saeid Hashemi Moghadam had ordered the attack, and Assadollah Asadi, a Vienna-based diplomat held by German authorities, had put it into action. The intelligence ministry is under control of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. (Reuters)
        See also Israel's Mossad Helped Foil Iranian Terror Attack in France - Chaim Levinson
    Israel's Mossad gave Germany, France and Belgium crucial intelligence information to thwart an Iranian plot to attack a gathering of Iranian dissidents in a Paris suburb in June. (Ha'aretz-19July2018)
  • Jihadist Terror Cells Uncovered in Denmark and Holland - Borzou Daragahi
    Two men were arrested in Copenhagen last Wednesday and charged on Thursday with "participating in attempts at terrorism." The accusations included trying to send cash and drones from Denmark to ISIS.
        On Thursday, Dutch security forces arrested seven men in Arnhem and Weert suspected of plotting a large-scale terrorist attack at a public event. They were accused of attempting to procure assault rifles, grenades and bomb-making material, and training in the use of suicide vests.
        None of those arrested in Denmark or the Netherlands had ever fought in Syria or Iraq, but many appeared to have family or other ties to ISIS and the former al-Qaeda affiliate in Syria. Officials say nearly all of those arrested had Middle Eastern or South Asian roots. The Danish suspects were reportedly tied to Basil Hassan, a Danish jihadi who was charged in absentia. The Netherlands plot included Dutch Muslims who grew up in the country.
        The terror plots on European soil, months after ISIS defeats in Iraq and Syria, show the persistent dangers of jihadi groups. "The cells that persist are based on these small, informal networks with people who grew up in the same neighborhoods and came up at the same mosques," one Danish official involved in counter-terror efforts said. (Independent-UK)
News Resources - Israel and the Mideast:
  • Israel: IAEA Must Dispatch Monitors with Geiger Counters to Inspect Iranian Site
    Responding to the International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA) claim Tuesday that it had examined Iran's nuclear sites, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said: "The IAEA relates to inspections that it has carried out in various places in Iran but it does not relate to the specific site in Turquzabad which Prime Minister Netanyahu referred to in his UN speech. There is no reason to wait. The IAEA must inspect the site and immediately dispatch monitors with Geiger counters and the prime minister's words will be seen as verifiably true."  (Prime Minister's Office)
  • Famed Egyptian Islamic Scholar: Muslim Claims about al-Aqsa Mosque Are Baseless - Juliane Helmhold
    Prominent Egyptian philosopher Dr. Youssef Ziedan told Israel's Army Radio on Tuesday he wants to lecture in Israel "where they are more interested in [my] views than in Egypt." Winner of the International Prize for Arabic Fiction, Ziedan said it was "in Egypt's interest to enter a genuine dialogue with Israel."
        The Islamic studies expert told Egyptian TV in 2015 that Muslim claims about the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem were baseless. "Al-Aqsa Mosque didn't exist back then [when Muhammad lived]. There was no city named 'al-Quds' and modern teachings claiming this are disastrous." Instead, "al-Aqsa" refers to a mosque on the outskirts of Ta'if, west of Mecca. He bases this on the teachings of the ancient Muslim historian Al-Waqidi, who was born 100 years after the appearance of Muhammad. (Jerusalem Post)
Global Commentary and Think-Tank Analysis:
  • Shadows on the Peace Process - Chuck Freilich
    All those who truly wish peace know that the Palestinians really do need a strong reality check. Rather than considering where they might possibly have gone wrong after changes in U.S. policy regarding Jerusalem and refugees, the Palestinians responded by digging in their heels even further, casting mud at the administration and severing all contact with it. Ties with the U.S. had been one of the Palestinians' primary achievements following Oslo.
        It is highly doubtful whether a Palestinian state will be any more moderate, stable, prosperous and peaceful than any of its Arab brethren. To the contrary, bitter experience with the corrupt dictatorship in the West Bank and murderous theocracy in Gaza indicate that a Palestinian state is far more likely to be another failed, authoritarian, unstable, irredentist and violent Arab state, even after peace is signed.
        The Oslo Accords never predetermined the nature of a final agreement. Israel's willingness to consider the option of an independent Palestinian state was thus contingent, correctly, on the Palestinians' ability to meet two critical tests: A proven ability to govern effectively and to prevent terrorism against Israel. Their resounding failure to do so has cast a heavy shadow on the entire peace process. The writer, a senior fellow at Harvard's Belfer Center, is a former Israeli deputy national security adviser. (Ha'aretz)
  • The Kurdish Presidential Candidate's "Jewish Wife" - Col. (ret.) Dr. Jacques Neriah
    The 35 million Kurds live a tragedy: they are dispersed throughout Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, Iran, and Iraq, unable to secure their right of self-determination. Their inability to unite has been the cause of their political weakness. Sometimes rival factions would prefer to cooperate with the local power rather than accepting a compromise with the other Kurdish faction.
        The Kurds in Iraq suffered from a chronic struggle between the two main tribes - the Barzanis and the Talabani. While the Barzanis favored independence, the Talabanis were more inclined toward a united Iraq. In 2017, Iraqi troops rolled into Kurdish territory with the active assistance of the Talabanis to crush the Kurdish autonomy and retake possession of the oil fields.
        According to the Iraqi Constitution, the president of Iraq must be a Kurd. The Barzanis founded the KDP while the Talibanis established the PUK. When the KDP announced that their candidate for president of Iraq would be Fuad Hussein, a prominent Talabani claimed that Hussein was married to a Jewish woman. Jewish wives/mothers have always been a source of defamation in the Arab imagination. In fact, Hussein's wife was a Protestant of Dutch origin.
        The writer, a special analyst for the Middle East at the Jerusalem Center, was Deputy Head for Assessment of Israeli Military Intelligence. (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)
        See also Kurdish PUK's Barham Salih Elected Iraqi President, Defeating KDP Candidate
    Kurdish politician Barham Salih of the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) was elected by parliament as president of Iraq on Tuesday, beating Fuad Hussein of the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) by 219 to 22, AFP reported. (BBC News)

  • Syrian forces launched an invasion of northern Israel across the Golan Heights in June 1948. After the 1949 armistice, there were years of sporadic attacks against Israel from the Golan Heights, including cross-border raids by Fatah and shelling of civilian communities by the Syrian Army. Syria intensified its artillery fire against Israel on the outbreak of the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel then seized a major area of the Golan Heights to protect its citizens and its territory.
  • It is a commonly held view that Israel's possession of the Golan Heights is illegal under international law. But this position is not tenable. It is illegal to hold onto territory acquired through wars of aggression, but Israel gained the Golan Heights during its defense against aggression launched from the Golan. Under the UN Charter, defensive war is not illegal and throughout history countries have retained territory gained in their own defense.
  • Returning the Golan Heights to Syria would not only endanger Israel, but it would also send the message that an aggressor has nothing to lose as there is no territorial price to pay for its violent actions.
  • Western support for Israel's sovereignty over the Golan Heights would equally extract a price from Assad - albeit a comparatively small one - for the monstrous war crimes he has committed, in which millions have suffered and perhaps half a million died. The events of the last seven years have proven beyond all doubt that he is a murderous despot who must not be given any opportunity for further aggression.
  • Syria is now and will remain for the foreseeable future under the domination of Iran. We know the Iranian ayatollahs are intent on aggression against the Jewish state.
  • It is time for the international community to recognize Israel's possession of the Golan Heights as legitimate and necessary. Such a move would also advance peace and regional stability.

    Col. (ret.) Richard Kemp was Commander of British Forces in Afghanistan. Rafael Bardaji was National Security Adviser to the President of Spain.