Archive for the 'Palestine' Category



Is That A Threat Or A Promise? Saudis Warn Against U.S. Veto of Terror State

BY Glen Tschirgi
2 years, 7 months ago

This opinion piece seems almost too good to be true.

Former Saudi ambassador and Saudi intelligence director Turki al-Faisal writes in The New York Times op-ed page (on September 11th no less!) that a United States veto in the U.N. of an anticipated proposal for a “Palestinian” state could result in the loss of Saudi Arabia as an ally in the Middle East as well as other unpleasantness.

There are so many great come-backs here, I am just going to list them and let readers vote in the comments section on the one that best summarizes their feelings (or suggest their own).

Lose Saudi Arabia as an ally if we veto a Palestinian State?

A) Can we get that in writing?

B) We should be so lucky.

C) So… what’s the bad news?

D) Is that a threat or a promise?

E) Wait, you mean to say that Saudi Arabia has been our ally all this time?

F) With allies like this, who needs enemies?

Al-Faisal’s piece is such a target-rich environment that it is almost too easy.  Where to begin?

How about his argument that failure to support the creation of yet another terror-supporting State by the name of “Palestine” (a term, by the way, that was only revived by the British colonial rulers in 1917 and was never appropriated by the locals until after the revival of Israel in 1948) will further undermine Israel’s security?  Sure, it is possible that the veto of the resolution might lead to yet another intifada (as al-Faisal warns), but this sort of talk sounds like the practiced art of an extortionist:  Sure would be a shame if you didn’t go along with the new, palestinian state and then something happened to your family.   (Come to think of it, this talk sounds like the kind of thing we hear from labor unions these days.  I wonder if al-Faisal has been reading the SEIU manual?).

At any rate, it is difficult to imagine that Israel’s security could get much worse short of open warfare.   Afterall, Israel is already getting rocketed from the Gaza Strip, infiltrated by terrorists from the supposedly demilitarized Sinai peninsula, the aim point for tens of thousands of medium range, Hezbollah missiles in southern Lebanon and literally ringed by neighbors who are all committed to her annihilation.  Other than that, it’s all just peachy, eh Mr. Faisal?

I also like the bit about the border of the State of Palestine being based upon the pre-1967 War borders.   Now where do you think al-Faisal got that idea?  Yeah, thanks Barack Hussein.   Last time I checked, the 1967 borders were about the width of the Washington, D.C. beltway and utterly indefensible.

Here are some, other gems from the former Saudi ambassador (and now, presumably, getting a regular time slot on Comedy Central):

Saudi Arabia would no longer be able to cooperate with America in the same way it historically has. With most of the Arab world in upheaval, the “special relationship” between Saudi Arabia and the United States would increasingly be seen as toxic by the vast majority of Arabs and Muslims, who demand justice for the Palestinian people.

Again, the Saudi idea of “cooperation” is funding Sunni terrorists in Iraq who target Americans, spending billions of dollars on Islamic schools all over the world (including the U.S.) which teach militant Wahhabi doctrines, spending billions more supporting mosques and imams who preach violent jihad against the U.S. and actively seeking to undermine democratic institutions in the U.S.

Saudi leaders would be forced by domestic and regional pressures to adopt a far more independent and assertive foreign policy. Like our recent military support for Bahrain’s monarchy, which America opposed, Saudi Arabia would pursue other policies at odds with those of the United States, including opposing the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki in Iraq and refusing to open an embassy there despite American pressure to do so. The Saudi government might part ways with Washington in Afghanistan and Yemen as well.

A “far more independent and assertive foreign policy” ?  Example Bahrain? Assuming that the Obama Administration was sincere in its public protests over the tanks and troops sent by Saudi Arabia into Bahrain to quell Iranian-inspired protests, the last thing that any thinking American wanted was another, major oil producing state in civil war.   Go ahead and send in tanks, O Sultan.

And “opposing the government of…al-Maliki” in Iraq?  Puh-leeeze.  The U.S. can barely stand the guy either.  He is leading his country down the tubes with the Iranians.  Very few people in the U.S. would mourn the loss of Maliki.   The U.S. gave him a perfect opportunity to establish a strong and independent Iraq and he blew it with a short-sighted Status of Forces Agreement in 2008 that gives away Iraqi security at the end of this year.

Does the Obama administration care that the Saudis will not establish an embassy in Iraq?  That’s good.  No one else here does.  A Saudi embassy is just another, little piece of hell on earth for women, infidels and those who love bacon.

In fact, in case you have not noticed, Al, Americans are none too happy with Obama these days, so making threats of non-cooperation with Obama’s foreign policy is actually a way to get drafted by Democrats to run against Obama for re-election in 2012.  (And, considering how Democrats these days seem to love authoritarians– see the Tom Friedman man crush for China’s communist leadership– a Saudi candidate might just be their dream guy).

At the end of the day, Saudi Arabia naturally pursues its own, national interests and does not shrink from doing so even when it involves the death of U.S. servicemembers  (as TCJ pointed out in the past with regard to its role in supporting Sunni terrorism in Iraq, for instance).  It is comic, however, when someone like al-Faisal tries to pretend that the Saudis are America’s closest ally in the Middle East and the damage (or even loss) of that relationship is something that most Americans would grieve over.  No matter how they  dress it up, the notion of a state for the Arabs that formerly resided in Israel (aka “Palestinians”) is simply a cynical means to the ultimate end that they desire: the obliteration of Israel.

Israel, Petraeus and Iran

BY Herschel Smith
4 years ago

Andrew McCarthy at NRO takes on both Petraeus and Max Boot in a recent commentary.

In January, after canvassing opinion from Muslim governments in his area of responsibility, Petraeus sent a team of CENTCOM officials to brief the Joint Chiefs of Staff. As reported by Mark Perry of Foreign Policy, the purpose of that briefing was to underline Petraeus’s “growing worries at the lack of progress in resolving” the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The general was doing politics, not combat strategy — and we don’t owe him any deference on politics. In a 33-slide, 45-minute PowerPoint presentation, Petraeus’s briefers reported, among other things, “that there was a growing perception among Arab leaders that the U.S. was incapable of standing up to Israel, that CENTCOM’s mostly Arab constituency was losing faith in American promises, [and] that Israeli intransigence on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict was jeopardizing U.S. standing in the region.”

The general repeated this political theme in testimony before the Senate Armed Services Committee on March 16. Specifically, he averred in a written statement (p. 12) that the “… enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to advance our interest in the AOR (Area of Responsibility). Israeli-Palestinian tensions often flare into violence and large scale armed confrontations. The conflict foments anti-American sentiment, due to a perception of U.S. favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of U.S. partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile Al-Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hizbollah and Hamas.”

Max Boot briefly responded that Petraeus doesn’t blame Israel for our problems and it’s incorrect for McCarthy to say that he does.  McCarthy’s commentary is insightful, and I won’t weigh in on Boot’s specific response concerning whether Pertraeus believes that Israel is the root of America’s problems.  General Petraeus could (and should) weigh in himself (although his testimony seemed pretty clear to me).

However, on the issue of being a so-called “honest broker,” some sort of neutral party which can hold both sides accountable and thereby effect change in behavior or attitude, this is worse than wishful thinking.  Leaving aside the issue of whether the U.S. should be biased towards Israel and assessing the situation from a purely clinical perspective, the belief that “honest brokering” with Israel will change the calculus is naive to the point of being childish and even dangerous (and here I am not necessarily commenting on the Petraeus testimony).

The radical rulers in Iran will not be mollified, and the covert and overt operations of their surrogates in the Middle East will not be attenuated one iota by playing “honest broker” and pressing Israel to make more concessions.  The Palestinians are increasingly rejecting the idea of a two-state solution.  Short of regime change, Iran will obtain nuclear weapons within a few years or less, excepting military action by Israel (which has the unlikely affect of being successful in the long term).  Not even the most robust sanctions will stop Iran, much less political pressure on Israel.

We must remove the radical Mullahs or support those who would in order to avoid a regional conflagration in the near term.  Everyone in the State Department already knows this, or if they don’t, they aren’t qualified to be in the employ of the government.  I’m not quite sure which group is larger.  One year and four months ago I forecasted that “the State Department will begin the administration with high hopes, excitement and grand ambitions for the role of diplomacy, negotiations and multi-lateral talks. By the end of the administration, a general malaise and confusion will have descended upon the entire State Department, and yet there will still be sparse and shallow understanding of why negotiations have so miserably failed to prevent or ameliorate the various calamities for which they were targeted.”

What the USS San Antonio Can Teach Us About Iran

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 2 months ago

The Amphibious Dock USS San Antonio has something to teach us about Iran and its intentions.

But before learning from the USS San Antonio, a framework must be constructed within which to view this information.  David Ignatius authored an article for the Washington Post on the A-Team for Iran.  Ignatius likes Zbigniew Brzezinski and Brent Scowcroft because of their ability to help American foreign policy “turn a page,” so to speak.  Ignatius asks the two how they would begin negotiations with Iran.

Scowcroft replied that his brief to the Iranians would begin this way: “First, that we’re aware you live in a dangerous region, and we’re prepared to discuss a regional security framework. . . . Second, whether or not you want nuclear weapons, you’re proceeding on a course that psychologically destabilizes the whole region. It is dangerous. It will bring about a counterreaction. And let’s work on this security framework. You don’t need nuclear weapons.”

Brzezinski said he agreed and added: “The only way we can accomplish [mutual security] is by sitting together and figuring out some mechanism whereby you achieve what you say you want, which is a peaceful nuclear program, and we achieve what we need, which is a real sense of security that it’s not going to go any further.”

The obvious but unstated presupposition is that Iran is pursuing a nuclear program, and indeed, behaves as it does, because of its fear and need for survival, or in their own words, “mutual security” in a dangerous region.  That no nation has threatened them, and that no nation in the region would even be able seriously to threaten them, doesn’t weigh in on the axiom.  It is simply irreducible, the notion that Iran would live in peace with its neighbors if only it could assure its own security.

All mathematics and in fact all philosophy begins with presuppositions, propositions that are unproven because they cannot be proven.  But the investigation doesn’t end here.  When a system of thought based on these presuppositions yields conclusions, results, observations and consequences that are radically inconsistent with what would be expected given the presuppositions, then something is wrong with the starting point.  Under these conditions, one must be willing to relinquish his presuppositions.

That Iranian weapons, special groups, IRG, Quds and other rogue forces supported by Iran (Ansar al Sunna) created havoc inside of Iraq hasn’t been enough to convince the two A-Team members that Iran doesn’t intend on having peace in the region.  Neither, for that matter, does the fact that General Petraeus had to appeal to Iranian General Qassem Suleimani to stop the shelling of the Green Zone in the summer of 2008 (at which point it stopped) convince the A-Team that their ideas of a docile Persia just may not be panning out.

But this unwillingness to revisit presuppositions isn’t baggage carried by the Arab states.  In fact, the Arab states never started with these ideas.  They are uniquely Western.  With Iran’s push towards going nuclear, the balance of the Middle East is thinking the same way, and not because they need the energy.

The outstanding Middle East journalist Michael Totten has an important article on how the Sunni Arabs see Iran, and the role Israel is playing in regional resistance.

Most Arab governments, aside from Syria’s and possibly Qatar’s, are far more worried about Iranian regional dominance than they are about anything coming out of Tel Aviv or Jerusalem. They know perfectly well that the State of Israel is not going to undermine or overthrow them, while radical Iranian-sponsored Islamists just might.

Egypt and Saudi Arabia are threatening Iran with a nuclear arms race. Surely they weren’t happy when Israel developed nuclear weapons, but they never retaliated with programs of their own. Bombastic anti-Zionist rhetoric to the contrary, they know Israel isn’t really a threat. Nor are they a serious threat to Israel anymore.

While the Arab states fear for their very existence, the A-Team wants to convince the radical Mullahs that they aren’t in any danger.  They wish to tell the regime that it doesn’t need nuclear weapons for its defense, while the regime has flatly told them that negotiations and dialogue will only succeed if the U.S. accepts the Iranian nuclear program.  It isn’t just the evidence of Iraq, Hezbollah, Hamas, trouble in Iraq, and threats against the state of Israel that is available to convince the A-Team that they must revisit their fundamental axioms about Iran.  In fact, it’s not even the conservatives in America (who have mostly given up).  The Iranian regime itself is trying to convince the U.S. that what they believe about Iran is fundamentally wrong by dictating a starting point for negotiations that ensures that the end game is diametrically opposed to what the U.S. wishes.

And now to the USS San Antonio.

The U.S. Navy has assigned an amphibious transport dock ship, the USS San Antonio, to track Iranian weapons shipments to the Gaza Strip.

Officials said the San Antonio, flagship of Combined Task Force 151, intercepted and searched an Iranian-owned cargo ship in mid-January found to contain artillery, missiles and rockets. The ship was released and expected to arrive in Syria on Jan. 28.

Adm. Michael Mullen, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said the weapons ship intercepted in the Red Sea was determined to have been destined for Syria, a leading supplier of Hamas and Hizbullah. Mullen said the United States could not legally hold the Cypriot-flagged ship, owned by Iran.

“The United States did as much as we could do legally,” Mullen told a briefing on Jan. 27.

“There are authorities, limitations in complying with this particular UN resolution, and we basically went right up to the edge of that and we couldn’t do anything else. And we think those weapons are headed to Syria, which is obviously not a great outcome …shipping weapons to Syria that we think, quite frankly, are going to end up in Gaza.”

We learn many things about our own struggle with lawfare versus warfare with this example.  But saving this for another time, the U.S. has interdicted a ship bound for Syria with artillery, missiles and rockets.  Whether these weapons end up with Hezbollah or Hamas is not relevant.  They will end up destabilizing the region over nation-states which are not a threat to its own existence.  The weapons will end up contributing to the regional hegemony that Iran has pursued for twenty five years.

While the A-Team is confused about presuppositions, they don’t hold the exclusive right to dreary stubbornness regarding Persian intentions.  This has been going on for twenty five years now, and thus, the same page that has been read for twenty five years is being recited once again.

The Context of the Gaza Military Operations

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 3 months ago

Israel is increasing the pressure after Hamas sent rockets into Israel for three weeks or more.

Israel launched air strikes on Gaza for a second successive day on Sunday, piling pressure on Hamas after 229 people were killed in one of the bloodiest 24 hours for Palestinians in 60 years of conflict with the Jewish state …

Black smoke billowed over Gaza City after Israel bombed more than 40 security compounds, and uniformed bodies lay in a pile and the wounded writhed in pain at a graduation ceremony for new recruits hosted by Hamas.

There are three points to note in placing this operation in context.  First, the violence is the latest in a cycle in which two peoples are in war over the same land.  With regards to the “occupation,” the Hamas position is clever and has befuddled even the brightest of U.S. negotiators sent to quell the violence in this region.

A Hamas spokesman on Saturday vowed the group would not surrender in the face of IDF attacks in the Gaza Strip, and that Israel would not break its “resistance to the occupation.”  The spokesman added that Hamas would not “raise a white flag” of surrender and would respond with all means available at its disposal.

Why would the Hamas spokesman use the term “surrender” when referring to this conflict over the “occupation?”  Because it isn’t about Israel occupation of Gaza, but rather, Israeli occupation of Israel to which Hamas objects.  And this is the crux of the issue that so many negotiators of the “two-state solution” seem to miss.  Israel wants a two-state solution.  The U.S. wants a two-state solution.  Hamas doesn’t.

Second, Hamas Political Leader in Damascus Khaled Meshal has vowed a third intifada concerning his “Zionist enemy.”  The Olmert administration has pursued a strategy of appeasement, and this stand-down has allowed Hamas to arm, organize, enhance ties with Iran, and in learn lessons from the Israel-Hezbollah war of 2006.

Hamas, once known for its suicide attacks inside Israeli cities, is no longer a small-time terrorist group, but a large guerrilla army that has well-trained forces deployed throughout the entire Gaza Strip.

Were the IDF to embark on a ground operation in Gaza, it would face an army of close to 20,000 armed men, among them at least 15,000 Hamas operatives. The rest are from Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Popular Resistance Committees.

Since the cease-fire went into effect in Gaza in June, Hamas has used the lull in action to fortify its military posts in the Strip and dig tunnel systems as well as underground bunkers for its forces. IDF estimates put the length of the tunnels at over 50 kilometers.

Hamas has also dug foxholes throughout the Strip to accommodate anti-tank missile units, and prepared massive bombs, which have been placed on the main access roads into Gaza.

In addition to its homemade Kassam rockets, Hamas has smuggled into Gaza a number of anti-aircraft cannons and several shoulder-to-air missiles. It also a large number of anti-tank missiles that, if used correctly, could wreak havoc on Israeli armor in the event of a ground operation involving tanks and armored personnel carriers.

It also has Special Forces – commando forces and units with expertise in rocket fire, mortar attacks and roadside bombs.

“Hamas has learned a lot from Hizbullah and has adopted many of the Lebanese group’s tactics which were used successfully against the IDF in the Second Lebanon War,” one IDF official said.

Since Israel’s unilateral disengagement from the Gaza Strip in the summer of 2005, Hamas has created a military with a clear hierarchy, led by Hamas “chief” Ahmed Ja’abri …

Hamas has split the Gaza Strip into five sections corresponding to five different brigades in the north, center, Gaza City, and two brigades in the south. Each brigade has a commander as well as several battalions under its command.

The third point is the most important, as it explains the root rather than the proximate causes.  Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has charged that Hamas could have prevented the bloodshed.  “We spoke to them and told them ‘Please, we ask you not to end the cease-fire. Let it continue,’” Abbas said during a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit. “We want to protect the Gaza Strip. We don’t want it to be destroyed.”

True enough, this analysis misses the final and most important point.  Hamas was either going to be supplanted and subsumed into a larger Salafist movement within Palestine or evolve into a sort of symbiosis with that movement.  Hamas has come to be rivaled by a radical Salafist movement within Palestine that is financially supported by oil-rich sheikhs in Saudi Arabia, and movement against Israel was a necessity given the predispositions to armed violence within the new evolved organization.

Only an organization committed to violence will place ordnance in the same locations as residences and schools in total disregard for the safety of women and children.  When the media value of the deaths of children has become more important than their protection, the evolution to a Hezbollah-like viciousness and totalitarianism is complete.

Israel is attacking Gaza because there is no other choice.  As for the incoming Obama administration and Clinton State Department, our prediction that Hamas will begin its attacks on Israel again appear to be spot-on but a bit late, with Hamas rudely not even waiting until Clinton took the reins at State.  It remains to be seen if the incoming administration still believes in the two-state solution.  Radicalism is all that is left in Palestine due to the politics of appeasement for so many years.

The Globalization of Jihad in Palestine

BY Herschel Smith
5 years, 8 months ago

The danger in Pakistan negotiating with Tehrik-i-Taliban is the presumption that they’re interested in accommodation, local or national politics. We have previously pointed out regarding the internet interview of Ayman al-Zawahiri that “Over the past year, Zawahiri and other senior al-Qa’ida figures have been waging a vigorous propaganda campaign against the Palestinian organization HAMAS. Although Jihadists unanimously denounce Israel they continue to disagree over whether HAMAS should be considered a legitimate Islamic movement. For Zawahiri, HAMAS’ embrace of nationalism, democracy, and its legacy in the Muslim Brotherhood — arguably the three things al-Qa’ida hates most — delegitimizes the group.”

We also observed that “What we see as a transnational insurgency is to the jihadists simply a world wide struggle. They don’t recognize nation-states as legitimate.” In recent Internet postings we have now learned that:

Sheikh Hamid al-Ali, based in Kuwait, is a leading Islamist ideologue whose teachings are often posted on Islamist Web sites.

“Lebanon is a vivid example of the Iranian expansionist scheme at the expense of real Arab causes, which are exploited by Shi’ite sects,” Ali said in a recently posted message on an al-Qaida affiliated Web forum. “The jihadi movement has to be aware of the reality of the size of Iran’s influence, and must not allow Iran to exploit legitimate causes.”

Al-Qaida ideologues have also expressed deep disappointment with Hamas, which they accuse of being too nationalist and provincial. Al-Qaida members routinely condemn Hamas for failing to declare an Islamic emirate in Gaza, an entity they say could link up with other pockets of Islamist rule in a future caliphate state.

One message, posted on the jihadi al-Firdaws forum several months ago by a user who identified himself as Palestinian, read, “When Hamas took over Gaza, we eagerly anticipated their announcement of the establishment of an Islamic emirate, as was the case in Afghanistan and in Somalia. But this did not happen.”

There is the recurring theme of condemnations of Hamas (to which we have pointed), but in reality the situation is far more dire for this region of the world.

The Hamas regime has been alarmed by a new Islamic revivalist movement that eschews politics.

The movement, known as Salafis, was said to receive funds from the Gulf as well as sources within the Gaza Strip. The Salafis, who appear to resemble the Taliban and Al Qaida, have established a mosque and religious school and were believed to number up to 50,000.

“They have become the new rival of Hamas and are supported by very powerful sheiks in the Gulf,” a Palestinian security source said.

The source said the Salafis have become established in every major town in the Gaza Strip. Salafi members, dressed in robes and long beards, spend their evenings going from door to door in efforts to recruit Muslims to attend mosque on a daily basis. The Salafis have their own mosque, A-Sahabah, as well as an elementary and high school in Gaza City, Middle East Newsline reported.

The Salafis have urged Gazans to live a modesty lifestyle and throw away their television, alcohol, pictures and cosmetics. Recruits to the movement have been encouraged to spread these principles and influence mosques, schools and the work place.

Hamas has sought to limit the Salafi influence. Palestinian sources said Hamas security forces raided mosques under the influence of the Salafis.

Several militias have derived their inspiration from the Salafis. They include the Army of Islam and the Army of the Nation — the former sponsored by the Dughmoush clan and the latter comprised of former members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Palestinian sources said the Salafis were said to have participated in or inspired a series of strikes on Internet cafes and cellular phone stores around Gaza City. They said Salafis were also involved in a grenade strike at a United Nations-sponsored festival in Rafah in 2007.

“Hamas has been very careful in dealing with the Salfis, fearing that any crackdown will anger its supporters in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates,” the source said.

There’s that same theme: eschewing politics for transnational interests and global aspirations. The Captain’s Journal predicts that within short order Hamas will either be completely absorbed within the Salafist movement in Palestine or disappear.

In the mean time this also points to another, perhaps much larger, problem. Not only are radicals in Palestine being supported by oil-engorged sheiks, the Taliban and al Qaeda are similarly recipients of oil wealth. Whether there is any concerted effort – financial pressure, black operations, or covert warfare – to dry up these funds and take out the leaders is not currently known to us. What is clear, however, is that one of the quickest ways to kill the evil progeny is to dry up the support.


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