The likelihood of an all-out regional war in the Middle East
is increasing, the head of the IDF Home Front Command said on Monday, Channel 10
Speaking to the Institute for National Security Studies,
Major General Eyal Eisenberg said that such a conflict could potentially include
the use of weapons of mass destruction.
Eisenberg cautioned that the Arab Spring could turn into the
“Radical Islamic Winter.”
Eisenberg also noted that a new weapon was used by Gaza
militants in the recent round of escalation in the south, which led the Home
Front Command to instruct the public to seek shelter under two roofs, rather
than one. †
Christian Science Monitor (Link)
- Ariel Zirulnick (September 2, 2011)
Turkey-Israel relations dipped to a new low today over a
long-awaited United Nations report on the Gaza flotilla debacle, freezing a key
regional alliance despite more than a year of attempts to resuscitate ties.
Turkey announced today that it is expelling Israel’s
ambassador and suspending all joint military agreements after failing to secure
a formal apology from Israel for the deaths of eight Turks and one
Turkish-American on May 31, 2010, when Israeli commandos boarded the Mavi
Marmara, the flagship of the flotilla.
The convoy of ships had been seeking to break Israel’s naval
blockade of Gaza, which Israel said was necessary to prevent the Islamist
militant group Hamas from obtaining weapons but which many in the international
community had objected to on humanitarian grounds.
The UN report, due to be formally released today but
leaked yesterday by The New York Times, surprised many by declaring
Israel’s blockade of Gaza as legal. While it criticized Israeli commandos for
using “excessive and unreasonable” force in halting the mainly Turkish flotilla,
it requested merely that
Israel “express regret” for the deaths and pay unspecified reparations to
the families, the Times reported.
The Telegraph (Link)
- Barney Henderson (August
Syria’s attorney-general has resigned after witnessing a mass
execution of 72 prisoners in one day and over four hundred bodies being buried
in public parks, according to a video statement posted online on Wednesday
In the video, the man, thought to be Adnan Bakkour, the
country’s leading legal official, said he was resigning because of the “al-Assad
regime and his gangs.”
The state news agency reported on Monday that Mr Bakkour had
been kidnapped by rebel gunmen in the village of Karnaz on his way to work in
the central city of Hama.
Mr Bakkour says in the video that he saw the killing of 72
prisoners at Hama’s central prison on July 31, including peaceful protesters.
He says 420 bodies were buried in mass graves in public
parks, that 10,000 peaceful protesters are being held in prisons and that 320
prisoners died after being tortured.
He claims that troops loyal to President Bashar al-Assad
buried people alive by demolishing homes in Hama with people inside. He then
named “criminals” who had assassinated unarmed protesters.
YNet News (Link)
- Dudi Cohen, AP and AFP (August 30, 2011)
The Israeli Navy (INF) has decided to boost its presence and
patrols near Israel’s maritime border with Egypt due to a viable terror threat
in the area, as Iran announced it was set to send its 15th fleet to the Red Sea
as well to “convey message of peace and friendship to all countries.”
Israeli security sources told the Associated Press on
Tuesday that two additional warships have been dispatched to Israel’s Red Sea
border with Egypt. Another source said that the operation was routine, telling
Reuters that “two naval craft have been sent to the Red Sea. This is not
On Monday, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz ordered
that deployment across the entire southern sector be bolstered, especially in
the area near the Israel-Egypt border, following intelligence indicating an
Daily Mail (Link)
- John R. Bradley (August
As Tripoli fell to anti-Gaddafi rebel forces, the euphoria
that erupted in some parts of the city was matched only by that which broke out
among Middle East pundits in the West.
The fall of the Libyan capital represents a clear victory for
freedom over tyranny, they tell us, and a new country — defined by an
enthusiastic embrace of democracy, pluralism and representative government —
However, we have been here twice before in the Middle East in
recent months. First, when Tunisia’s strongman, Zine El-Abidene Ben Ali, fled
Tunis, and then when Egypt’s dictator Hosni Mubarak vacated the presidential
palace in Cairo.
Seven months on, both countries are as authoritarian as ever.
The Islamists have hijacked the popular uprisings there. And little evidence of
a popular thirst for democracy can be found.
In Tunisia, a paltry 16 per cent of eligible voters had
bothered to register before an initial deadline for doing so passed last month.
Stratfor Global Intelligence (Link)
- George Friedman (August 22, 2011)
In September, the U.N. General Assembly will vote on whether
to recognize Palestine as an independent and sovereign state with full rights in
the United Nations. In many ways, this would appear to be a reasonable and
logical step. Whatever the Palestinians once were, they are clearly a nation in
the simplest and most important sense — namely, they think of themselves as a
nation. Nations are created by historical circumstances, and those circumstances
have given rise to a
Palestinian nation. Under the principle of the United Nations and the theory
of the right to national self-determination, which is the moral foundation of
the modern theory of nationalism, a nation has a right to a state, and that
state has a place in the family of nations. In this sense, the U.N. vote will be
However, when the United Nations votes on Palestinian
statehood, it will intersect with other realities and other historical
processes. First, it is one thing to declare a Palestinian state; it is quite
another thing to create one. The Palestinians are deeply divided between two
views of what the Palestinian nation ought to be, a division not easily
overcome. Second, this vote will come at a time when two of Israel’s neighbors
are coping with their own internal issues.
Syria is in chaos, with an extended and significant resistance against the
regime having emerged. Meanwhile, Egypt is struggling with internal tension over
the fall of President Hosni Mubarak and the future of the military junta that
replaced him. Add to this the
U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and the potential rise of Iranian power, and the
potential recognition of a Palestinian state — while perfectly logical in an
abstract sense — becomes an event that can force a regional crisis in the midst
of ongoing regional crises. It thus is a vote that could have significant
Last year, an international crisis exploded when Israel
stopped a flotilla of ships from breaking its naval blockade of the Gaza Strip.
The incident left Israel feeling more isolated, but some Jews
saw the pages of scripture coming alive through the crisis.
When Israeli commandos stormed the Turkish-owned flagship,
Mavi Mamara, leading the flotilla, things quickly turned deadly. Pro-Palestinian
activists attacked the soldiers, who then defended themselves. Nine activists
died in the melee.
Israel acted to keep weapons out of Hamas-controlled Gaza,
but that didn’t stop an international rush to judgment.
The U.N. Security Council condemned Israel and called for an
Sweden, Ireland and other nations planned boycotts against
the Jewish state.
Hudson New York (Link)
- Soeren Kern (August
Islamic extremists are stepping up the creation of “no-go”
areas in European cities that are off-limits to non-Muslims.
Many of the “no-go” zones function as microstates governed by
Islamic Sharia law. Host-country authorities effectively have lost control in
these areas and in many instances are unable to provide even basic public aid
such as police, fire fighting and ambulance services.
The “no-go” areas are the by-product of decades of
multicultural policies that have encouraged Muslim immigrants to create parallel
societies and remain segregated rather than become integrated into their
European host nations.
WorldNet Daily (Link)
- Aaron Klein (August 21, 2011)
Syrian President Bashar Assad is taking military measures to
prepare for a possible U.S.-NATO campaign against his regime, WND has learned.
While Assad struck a conciliatory tone in an interview today
with his state-run television network, he also instructed the Syrian military to
be prepared for an air or ground campaign if the international community
determines his pledges of reform are not enough.
WND first reported Turkey secretly passed a message to Damascus that if it
does not implement major democratic reforms, NATO may attack Assad’s regime,
according to Egyptian security officials.
The Egyptian security officials said the message was
coordinated with NATO members, specifically with the U.S. and European Union.
Gaza terrorists launched an incessant rocket and mortar
offensive at southern Israel Saturday, wounding at least 11 people across the
The barrages followed a declaration by the Izz al-Din al-Qassam
Brigades – Hamas’ military wing – saying that its armistice with Israel was
Saturday morning, the Color Red alert sounded in the greater
Beersheba area. A subsequent explosion was reported in the city around 9 am. The
projectile landed in an open area just outside Israel’s largest southern city,
injuring one person lightly. Magen David Adom paramedics attended to both.
Seven other people suffered light injuries while running to a
nearby shelter. They arrived at the Soroka University Medical Center in
As the propagation of non-Islamic faiths is forbidden under
Islamic law, missionary work is banned. But that won’t stop the mullahs from
being paranoid about it, and taking the opportunity to remind the unbelievers of
their place in the Islamic Republic of Iran. “Iran Seizes 6,500 Bibles to Stop
‘Deceiving’ Christian Missionaries,” by Fionna Agomuoh for the
Post, August 17:
Iran has seized 6,500 copies of the Bible in northwest
Iran in what appears to be the latest crackdown by Iranian authorities
against Christianity in the country.
Few details are known about the seizure, however,
Christian news agency, Mohabat News, reports that Dr. Majid Abhari, adviser
to the social issues committee of the parliament in Iran stated, “These
missionaries with reliance on huge money and propaganda are trying to
deviate our youth.”
FrontPage Magazine (Link)
- Frank Crimi (August 19, 2011)
The Islamist terrorist group al Shabab is intentionally
starving Somali Christians in territory it controls. It’s just the latest
incident in the terror group’s systematic efforts to eradicate all of Somalia’s
According to the International Christian Concern (ICC), al Shabab’s
intentional denial of humanitarian aid has resulted in the deliberate starvation
of 18 Christians in the Somali cities of Afgoye, Baidawa, and Kismayo. As ICC
spokesman Jonathan Racho said, “Any Somali that is suspected of being a
Christian, or a friend of a Christian, does not receive any food aid.”
Unfortunately, the ongoing and purposeful elimination of the
small Somali Christian community at the hands of al Shabab has gone largely
unrecognized and unreported, eclipsed by the other horrors of rape, torture and
murder perpetrated upon most of Somalia’s Muslim population by the Islamist
It goes without saying that al Shabab’s brutality has been
well documented, most recently in a
report issued by Human Rights Watch, which found the terror group continuing
to carry out public beheadings and floggings; forced recruitment of children
into its forces; and the denial of humanitarian assistance to the 2.2 million
starving Somalis in al Shabab-controlled territory.
The Jerusalem Post (Link)
- Lahav Harkov (August 18, 2011)
Opposition leader Tzipi Livni (Kadima) called on the
government to retaliate following Thursday’s terrorist attacks near Eilat.
“The terrorist attack requires Israeli action, which Kadima
will support,” she said at a meeting of Kadima mayors.
“The attack in the South completely changes the equation,”
Livni added. “We need a new way of thinking about closing the border between
Israel and Egypt.”
National Union MKs also called for border security to be
“This government failed at sealing the southern border before
tens of thousands of illegal immigrants, signaling to all the terrorist
organizations in the area that there is no problem penetrating the Israeli
border,” MK Arye Eldad (National Union) said.
He added: “Only a dramatic change in instructions to open
fire and targeted killings of the heads of Beduin gangs in the Sinai and the
Negev will successfully close our border.”
- Itamar Marcus & Nan Jacques Zilberdik (August 17, 2011)
Official Palestinian Authority TV broadcast a documentary
which stated that the PA plans to build an Arab residential area in place of the
Western Wall Plaza in Jerusalem, “when they [Israelis] disappear from the
picture, like a forgotten chapter in the pages of our city’s history.”
The Western Wall, a remnant of the Temple Mount, is Judaism’s
holiest and most important prayer site.
The PA TV documentary further rejected the Jewish connection
to Jerusalem, referring to Jewish history as “their false history,” while the
Jews’ praying at the Western Wall was called “sin and filth.”
YNet News (Link)
- Attila Somfalvi (August 17, 2011)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Wednesday that
Israel will not apologize to Turkey over the 2010 flotilla incident, despite an
earlier demand by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to do so.
Clinton spoke with Netanyahu, asking Israel to apologize to
Turkey for killing nine of its citizens aboard the Gaza-bound Mavi Marmara ship
in May 2010. However, Netanyahu made it clear that given the current situation
in the Middle East, Israel will not issue an apology.
Later on Wednesay, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan said
it would be impossible for Turkish-Israeli ties to improve unless Israel
apologised and paid compensation for the killing of the nine Turks.
Turkey’s Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told a news
conference in Istanbul that “if the Palmer Report does not contain an apology,
both sides and the United States know what we will do.” He did not elaborate.
“Israel is facing a choice: deeper relations with Turkey or
open a gap with the Turkish state that will not be overcome very easily,” he
Stratfor Global Intelligence (Link)
- George Friedman (August 15, 2011)
On Dec. 17, 2010, Mohammed Bouazizi, a Tunisian street
vendor, set himself on fire in a show of public protest. The self-immolation
triggered unrest in Tunisia and ultimately the
resignation of President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali. This was followed by
in a number of Arab countries that the global press dubbed the “Arab Spring.”
The standard analysis of the situation was that oppressive regimes had been
sitting on a volcano of liberal democratic discontent. The belief was that the
Arab Spring was a political uprising by masses demanding liberal democratic
reform and that this uprising, supported by Western democracies, would generate
sweeping political change across the Arab world.
It is now more than six months since the beginning of the
Arab Spring, and it is important to take stock of what has happened and what has
not happened. The reasons for the widespread unrest go beyond the Arab world,
although, obviously, the dynamics within that world are important in and of
themselves. However, the belief in an Arab Spring helped shape European and
American policies in the region and the world. If the assumptions of this past
January and February prove insufficient or even wrong, then there will be
regional and global consequences.
The Jerusalem Post (Link)
- Gil Shefler (August 13, 2011)
The Palestinians set September 20th as the date for the
much-anticipated vote over Palestinian statehood at the United Nations,
according to AFP.
Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki informed UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas
will ask the international community to recognize Palestine as a sovereign state
on the first day of the annual opening gathering at UN headquarters in New York.
“Abbas will personally present the request to UN Secretary
General Ban Ki-moon... at the opening of the sixty-sixth session,” he was quoted
as saying by the French news wire. “[Abbas] will insist on this historic
initiative and Ban Ki-moon will present the request to the Security Council.”
The announcement cast aside speculation that the Palestinians
might quietly step back from their bid for statehood in response to mounting
international pressure against it.
Thousands of Egyptians have already signed a petition
circulating on Facebook that calls for the expulsion of the Syrian ambassador
from their country. For once, it is not an Israeli ambassador who receives such
attention. The initiators of the petition hope to have over one million
Egyptians sign the appeal, which may push the current Egyptian military
government to publicly condemn Syrian President Bashar Assad.
New Syrian Facebook pages have decided to use humor to
recruit people to the opposition, ironically describing the recent events in
Syria as if they happened in Britain. Turkey, however, does not find the
situation in Syria so funny.
In recent days, the Turkish army summoned hundreds of
officers for reserve duty, placing them in bases near the border with Syria.
Turkish sources report that the military has been on high alert along the border
to prepare for a massive flight of Syrian refugees into the country, as well as
for the possibility of NATO strikes in Syria. Only hours after Turkey’s foreign
minister visited Damascus did the government understand that Prime Minister
Erdrogan’s ultimatum to Assad fell on deaf ears, after news broke that the city
of Homs was being battered by Syrian security forces.
“OF COURSE they say nice things these days,” says a Lebanese
woman, a sophisticated Sunni Muslim in her 50s, gliding between English, French
and Arabic. “They know who they’re talking to. But you cannot trust
them—absolutely not.” Again and again, in secular and liberal circles in Beirut,
Cairo, Rabat, Tunis and even Ramallah, the seat of the Palestinian Authority,
you hear almost identical dark warnings against the Islamist movements that are
gaining ground across the Arab world as dictators are toppled, tackled or forced
Islamist spokesmen and leaders of the revived Islamist
mainstream, in particular the Muslim Brotherhood and groups akin to it, are
bending over backwards to give reassurances that they will promote a peaceful,
pluralistic and tolerant version of Islam. The rights of women and religious and
ethnic minorities will be respected, they say, and the people’s democratic
verdict will be accepted if they lose elections.
Whatever their doubts, most democrats in the Arab world
reckon that Islamists who say they will abide peacefully by the rules of the
game must be allowed—indeed encouraged—to participate in mainstream politics:
far better than forcing them into a violent, conspiratorial underground. All the
same, the well of mistrust on both sides runs deep.
The Brookings Institution (Link)
- Khaled Elgindy (August 4, 2011)
Last month, I traveled to Cairo to gain a better
understanding of the political transition now underway following the Egyptian
people’s historic uprising that ousted Hosni Mubarak from power six months ago.
While the situation remains rather fluid today, several important observations
can be made about the state of Egypt’s turbulent transition.
One of the more striking features of the current transition
is the extraordinary diversity and dynamism of Egypt’s burgeoning political
landscape. Since the removal of Mubarak, whose historic trial began in Cairo,
Egypt has seen an explosion in civic and political activity across the country
and in all areas of life, including the proliferation of dozens of new political
parties, movements, and groupings of all stripes. Previously apolitical actors
like the youth movements that led the January uprising and the ultra-orthodox
Salafists have now entered the political fray for the first time. Even
established powers like the Muslim Brotherhood are undergoing major
transformations with defections and splits along generational and philosophical
lines. Competition, debate, and shifting alliances among the various youth,
liberal, leftist, and Islamist forces unleashed by the revolution (including
those who had opposed it) have brought Egypt’s once comatose political culture
back to life - but not without a price.
The Trumpet (Link)
- Robert Morley (August 2, 2011)
When the United States government and al Qaeda agree on
something, you know that can’t be a good thing.
In this case, they both want Syrian President Bashir Assad to
step down. Bizarrely, that’s not all they agree on. On July 11, U.S. Secretary
Hillary Clinton said, “President Assad is not indispensable. … Our goal is
to see that the will of the Syrian people for a democratic transformation
occurs” (emphasis added throughout).
Responding to America’s overtures to the anti-government protesters, al
Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri warned the pro-democracy activists not to deal
with America. America would only corrupt them, he said. He called Assad,
however, a “leader of criminal gangs,” an “aggressor,” an “oppressor,” and a
“traitor” to his people. He applauded the pro-democracy activists’
efforts to teach Assad a “lesson.” And he hailed Syrian protesters as “mujahideen,”
or holy warriors.
Both America and al Qaeda are pushing for democracy in Syria.
Yet for all the talk, that is mostly all it is. Neither group has much influence
The Telegraph UK (Link)
- Adrian Blomfield (August 1, 2011)
The offer, which emerged tonight appeared to represent a
major climb-down by Mr Netanyahu, who has consistently refused to discuss
specific borders of a future state.
A government official in Jerusalem told The Daily Telegraph
the offer was dependent on the Palestinians dropping their campaign for
statehood at the United Nations next month and accepting Israel as a Jewish
The offer appears to cross Palestinian red lines, and it
seemed likely to be rejected — although the onus is now likely to be placed on
the Palestinians to present a counter offer.
Mr Netanyahu reacted angrily when the 1967 proposal was made
by Barack Obama in May but was now said to be offering to trade Israeli
territory on its side of the line for West Bank land where its main settlements
UNIFIL said Monday that Lebanese fire on IDF troops earlier
in the day was uncalled for, and that the latter had not crossed into Lebanese
territory, as the country’s army had claimed. The facts did not stop the
Lebanese president from rebuking Israel for “provocation,” however.
On Monday morning Lebanese soldiers opened fire on Israeli
soldiers patrolling the border, who returned fire. Lebanese news agencies
reported at first that a Lebanese soldier was hurt during the exchanges of fire,
but UNIFIL Spokesman Neeraj Singh later refuted the claims.
Lebanese President Michel Suleiman praised the army for its
conduct. Suleiman blamed Israel for repeated aggression and provocation against
his country. “The Israeli enemy tried again to revert back to attacks and
provocations in the Wazani region, but you stood guard,” he told the troops.
A preliminary investigation by UNIFIL, which was forwarded to
the IDF, shows that Lebanese forces opened fire because they thought the IDF
soldiers had crossed the border.
But IDF sources are insisting that the Israeli troops
remained on their side. They say a Paratroopers force was on vehicular patrol
when suddenly they were fired upon, and returned fire with their rifles.
A team of Iranian Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) officers has
just finished setting up Hamas’ first commando unit especially trained to combat
any Israel military force entering the Gaza Strip, DEBKAfile’s military
sources report. The new “Al Qods Brigades” unit of 400 men is to be the first of
three. A week ago, July 23, the first unit held a passing-out parade and
leave-taking ceremony from its two Iranian instructors.
DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report that the pair
arrived in the Gaza Strip in the latter half of May on Iranian passports which
gave their cover names as Morteza Rahban and Hojjat Safar-Zadeh.
Their journey took them from Sudan through Egypt and Sinai
where they were led by Bedouin smugglers to the contraband tunnels accessing the
Gaza Strip. They went back to Tehran by the same route.
The two officers were members of the IRGC’s notorious Al Qods
Brigades which undertakes overseas terrorist and covert activities on behalf of
the Iranian regime. For the Al Qods commander Gen. Qassem Suleimaini, setting up
a Hamas commando force in Gaza was a high and immediate priority.
Israel National News (Link)
- David ben Yacov (July 28, 2011)
On the 90th anniversary of the fall of the Ottoman Empire,
the vast Islamic Caliphate regime which fell in 1921 after WWI, thousands of
members of the Radical Islamist organization Hizb ut-Tahrir rallied on the
Temple Mount in Jerusalem. They called for Muslims to unite and embrace the
Caliphate rulership once more.
The rally took place in early July. Demonstrators flew
banners bearing inscriptions such as “The Ummah (Muslims) Want Muslim
Caliphates.” A giant banner was put up in the Al Aksa mosque courtyard on the
Temple Mount. Other banners said “No to Democracy, Yes to Caliphates.” The crowd
controller, using a microphone, soon had the crowd chanting over and over, “O
Muslim armies, awaken to help Muslims.”
The Hizb ut-Tahrir (‘Party of Liberation’) website calls for
the Muslim armies to forcefully lift the Gaza IDF naval blockade with military
action, making it serve “as a tight noose” around Israel.
Caliphates were a totalitarian system of Muslim government
established by Mohammed, who made himself the first Caliph, reigning until 632
C.E. The Caliph was a religious and political leader, who made the Koran’s
prescriptions, now developed into the legal body known as Sharia law, the law of
the land. The Ottoman Empire embraced the idea of a caliphate, and was governed
this way until its dissolution.
The New York Times (Link)
- Mark Landler (July 20, 2011)
It is a truism of Middle East peacemaking that the United
States is the pivotal player — the most credible broker between the Israelis and
the Palestinians. But with talks at a standstill, the Obama administration now
finds itself on the sidelines, and Europe is emerging as the key diplomatic
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and the
Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, have crisscrossed the Continent in recent
weeks, trying to woo leaders who are weighing whether to support a Palestinian
bid for statehood at the United Nations in September. Neither man has visited
Washington since the spring.
That may suit the administration just fine. The White House,
several officials said, has deliberately kept a low profile since President
Obama’s speech on the Middle East in May, in which he tried unsuccessfully to
break the stalemate by
proposing a starting point for negotiating the contours of a Palestinian
Europe’s rising role stems not only from American fatigue
with a seemingly intractable problem, but also from the peculiar dynamics of the
Palestinian campaign at the United Nations. With more than 100 countries, most
in the developing world, expected to support Palestinian recognition — and the
United States almost certain to oppose it — Britain, France and Germany are
viewed as influential swing votes.