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The time has come for Israel to show Mahmoud Abbas the door

by Speranza ( 106 Comments › )
Filed under Egypt, Fatah, Hamas, Israel, John Kerry, Lebanon, Palestinians, Syria at May 21st, 2014 - 7:00 am

I like her idea of telling Abbas  (the president who is in his 9th year of a 4 year term)  to just go to some warm place and count his stolen money.

by Caroline Glick

What makes PLO chief and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas tick?

In 2008, when Abbas rejected then prime minister Ehud Olmert’s expansive offer of Palestinian statehood, he did so for the same reason that Yassir Arafat rejected then prime minister Ehud Barak’s expansive offer of Palestinian statehood at Camp David in 2000.

In both cases, the PLO chiefs believed that if they waited, they could get everything they demanded from Israel – and more – without giving anything away.

As Abbas and Arafat both saw it, eventually either the Israeli Left would successfully erode Israel’s national will to exist, or the Europeans and the US would join forces to coerce Israel into giving up the store.  [......]

To get everything in exchange for nothing all they had to do was continuously escalate the PLO’s political warfare against the legitimacy of Israel internationally, and escalate its subversion of Israeli society through political intrigue and terrorism.

Back then, Abbas and Arafat looked forward to the day when they could frame Israel’s unconditional surrender and nail it to their wall.

But things have changed.

The rise of the revolutionary forces in the Islamic world since December 2010 has transformed the political landscape.

The Syrian civil war, the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt, the resurgence of al Qaeda franchises, the US’s abandonment of its traditional Arab allies in favor of the Muslim Brotherhood and President Barack Obama’s aspiration to reach a meeting of the minds with the Iranian regime have completely upended the political calculus of all regional actors, including the PLO and Abbas.

As Palestinian affairs expert Reuven Berko wrote in an article published by the Investigative Project on Terrorism last week, if in the past Abbas wouldn’t make a deal with Israel because he could get more by saying no, today Abbas cannot make a deal with Israel.

Any deal he concludes will lead to his overthrow.

Noting that Abbas was recently threatened by al Qaeda chief Ayman Zawahiri who called him, “a traitor who is selling Palestine,” Berko explained, “The threats, veiled or not, by radical Islamists… and a quick look at [the] Arab-Muslim world, especially Syria, have made it clear to the Palestinians what the future has in store for them, and it now appears that in the meantime, they prefer the status quo to the establishment of an independent Palestinian state.”

As Berko sees it, Abbas’s primary problem is the residents of the UN refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and beyond. Israel’s unwillingness to accept a so-called “right of return,” which would enable millions of foreign Arabs residing in terrorist-controlled UN-run refugee camps to immigrate to a post-peace agreement Israel, means that in an era of peace, they will move to the newly created state of Palestine.

Berko rightly notes that these immigrants will not regard Abbas as their savior, to the contrary.

“The Palestinian leadership knows that if their demand for Palestinian control of the Jordan Valley crossings were accepted, the operative result would be floods of people seeking entrance into ‘liberated Palestine.’ They know that among them would be operatives of all the Palestinian terrorist organizations, to say nothing of the armed jihadists currently active in the Arab-Muslim world, especially in Syria, Iraq and Lebanon, who would stream in ‘to liberate all Palestine.’ [........]

The new immigrants would overwhelm Abbas and his comrades, making the Hamas ouster of Fatah forces from Gaza in 2007 look like a walk in the park.

Berko limited his discussion to a scenario in which these foreign Arabs are confined to “Palestine.” But if Israel were to agree to his demand that they move into its sovereign territory, Abbas’s future would be no different.

If Israel were to publicly renounce its right to exist, cancel the Declaration of Independence and adopt the PLO Charter as its new constitution, Abbas would be no better off than if he conceded Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state, compromised on the so-called “right of return,” and accepted the settlements.

In both cases, he would end up like Libyan dictator Muammar Gadhafi.

[......]

Some Israelis are pleased with Abbas’s stand. As they see it, his position enables Israel and the Palestinians to operate under the status quo more or less unchallenged for the foreseeable future.

There are two problems with this view. First, neither the Americans nor the Israeli Left are willing to let the peace process go. US Secretary of State John Kerry’s decision to devote two hours to yet another meeting with Abbas last week, despite Abbas’s unity deal with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, shows that Kerry is constitutionally incapable of disengaging.

Likewise, Justice Minister Tzipi Livni’s wildcat diplomacy, which involved an unauthorized meeting with Abbas in London last week, demonstrates that like the Americans, Israel’s Left cannot relent.

Livni and her comrades have no issue other than the Palestinian issue. Their political survival is tied to the peace process.

The second problem is Abbas. Whereas he needs to prevent a settlement to keep the jihadists at bay, he needs to escalate the conflict to keep the local Palestinians at bay and maintain the support of the Europeans and the American Left.

Only by scapegoating and criminalizing Israel worldwide can Abbas maintain his relevance to the international Left.

[.........]

The two-state model is his life preserver. The policy paradigm is based entirely on the false claim that the cause of all the region’s ills is the absence of a Palestinian state. That state, it is believed, would exist save for Israel’s land greed.

Those who uphold Abbas and the status quo ignore the consequences of Abbas’s own imperatives. In the international arena, preserving the status quo requires Israel to maintain its allegiance to the two-state paradigm’s inherent and malicious slander of the Jewish state. This allegiance in turn makes it impossible for Israel to defend itself effectively against the Palestinian led campaign to deny its right to exist.

In its internal affairs, maintaining faith in the two-state model and in Abbas as a legitimate and moderate Palestinian leader makes it almost impossible for Israel to take effective measures to defend against the Palestinian terror infrastructure.

[........].

The time has come for Israel to show Abbas the door. It would be best if we can do it quietly – offering him the opportunity to relocate to somewhere warm and retain all the loot that he and his cronies have siphoned off for their personal use.

Once Abbas is gone, Israel will have to choose between applying its laws to parts of Judea and Samaria and offering the Palestinians outside those areas a limited form of autonomy, or applying its laws to the entire region, conferring permanent residency status on the Palestinians and offering them the right to apply for Israeli citizenship.

Alarmists argue that without Abbas, Israel will go broke having to finance the Palestinian budget. But this is ridiculous. Once you subtract the hundreds of millions of dollars that go missing every year, and you take into account that Israel managed to govern the areas for 24 years, you realize that this is just one more empty threat – like the demographic threat — made by people who have no political existence without the facade of a peace process.

Abbas is not an asset. He is a liability. It is time to move past him.

Read the rest – Letting go of Abbas

Israeli strikes Hezbollah targets in Lebanon

by Rodan ( 5 Comments › )
Filed under Headlines, Hezballah, IDF, Islamists, Israel, Lebanon at February 24th, 2014 - 7:03 pm

Israeli warplanes struck Hezbollah targets in the Bekka valley today.

Israeli warplanes have struck Hezbollah targets near the Lebanese-Syria border, the Lebanese press reported late Monday evening. 

The hits were reportedly near the Lebanese towns of Janta and Yahfoufa, and were carried out by multiple planes on multiple targets.  

According to the Lebanese newspaper Daily Star, IAF jets flew two bombing sorties against a Hezbollah post in the Nabi Sheet area on the border between Lebanon.

Hezbollah has not even admitted they were attacked. They have their hands full fighting Nusra in Yabroud and will not retaliate.

Nusra Front to take war to Lebanon to Hezbollah

by Rodan ( 3 Comments › )
Filed under Al Qaeda, Headlines, Hezballah, Islam, Lebanon at January 2nd, 2014 - 4:52 pm

Although there has been some terror attacks on Hezbollah targets in Lebanon, there has not that many military attacks. That now seems to about to change. According to the leader of Jordanian Salafists, Nusra Front leader al-Golani has decided that his militia will enter Lebanon to confront Hezbollah.

A leader in the Salafist Jihadist movement in Jordan announced on Thursday that the al-Qaida-affiliated Al-Nusra Front in Syria and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant have officially decided to militarily enter Lebanon.

“Al-Nusra leader Abu Mohammad al-Golani and ISIS chief Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi took the decision to officially and openly enter Lebanon,” the leader told the Washington-based United Press International.

Stay tuned, Nusra Front does not bluff and back up their words with actions. Hezbollah is facing an enemy more ruthless and fanatical than them. The Hezzies have made their bed and will now sleep.

Samir Geagea points out Assad is no protector of Christians

by Rodan ( 116 Comments › )
Filed under Al Qaeda, Hezballah, Islamists, Lebanon, Syria at December 23rd, 2013 - 2:00 pm

The Pro-Assad propaganda being pushed is not just confined to the Progressive machine. Sadly some on the Right have fallen for the lie that Assad is protecting Christians in Syria. This lie is being pushed by Iran and Hezbollah’s lackeys in the West and sadly some Conservative websites are falling for this.

Samir Geagea who is the leader of the Lebanese Forces, which is one of the prominent Maronite parties in Lebanon exposes this lie. He points out that the whole Assad as protector of Christians is pure propaganda. He should know, Geagea has had relatives killed by the Syrians and The Assad clan killed thousands of Christians during Syria’s occupation of Lebanon which was supported by the West.

BEIRUT: Lebanese Forces leader Samir Geagea Friday criticized portrayals of the Syrian crisis as a war targeting Christians and said they should continue to support the uprising in Lebanon’s neighbor.

“There is some chaos in the Syrian revolution, but this does not mean that it is not a democratic revolution for the sake of [achieving] a democratic state in Syria,” Geagea said during a conference titled “The Christians in Lebanon and the Middle East: Challenges and Prospects.”

“We as Christians cannot be but with the Syrian revolution,” he said.

[....]

We realized that some figures or Lebanese Christian groups, whenever something happens in Maaloula, try to portray the conflict in Syria as anti-Christian and this is a big hoax,” he said.Geagea said this scheme aimed at portraying Assad as the protector of minorities “in an effort make sure the regime stays in power.”

The attacks on Christians in Syria were done either by Hezbollah to make the Syrian rebels appear anti-Christian to feed Assad propaganda. Or they are done by the real al-Qaeda faction the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham. Sadly many in the West are falling for Assad’s lies.

In another interesting development, the leader of Nusra Front; Abu Mohammad Golani was interviewed by al-Jazzeera, In the interview he accuses the US of backing Iran and Hezbollah’s agenda in the region.

BEIRUT: A rare television appearance by the leader of the hard-line jihadist Nusra Front has enraged supporters of the mainstream opposition and highlighted how the two Al-Qaeda affiliates active in Syria are locked in a struggle for influence in the war-torn country.

Late last week, Al-Jazeera television aired teaser excerpts and then a full, 30-minute interview with Abu Mohammad Golani, the leader of the Nusra Front, conducted by Taysir Allouni.

[....]

Golani appears with his back to the camera throughout the interview and repeatedly describes the war raging in Syria as being part of a broader sectarian struggle pitting Sunnis against Shiites, rather than a popular struggle against a repressive regime.

Throughout the interview, Golani offers sweeping descriptions of the forces battling over Syria. He argues that the United States and Iran have been in league for years to weaken the region’s Sunnis, backed by examples such as Washington’s intervention in Iraq led to pro-Tehran government of Nouri al-Maliki, and the recent talks between American and Iranian officials that produced an interim agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program.

Golani also mentions a struggle that is “3,000 years old,” and has seen everyone from the Byzantines to Iran’s Safavids struggle to dominate the Arab, and later, Islamic region.

Seeing how Obama and the the American media love Iran, Golani may not be far off. This does not make him a good guy, just a blind squirrel who found a nut.

 

Report: Suicide bomber targets Hezbollah operatives in eastern Lebanon

by Speranza ( 2 Comments › )
Filed under Al Qaeda, Headlines, Islamic Terrorism, Lebanon, Syria at December 17th, 2013 - 11:02 am

Payback’s a bitch!

A suicide bomber drove an apparently explosives-laden vehicle into two vans carrying Hezbollah operatives in eastern Lebanon early Tuesday morning, causing a number of casualties, Lebanon’s Daily Star quoted security sources as saying.

A 4X4 vehicle exploded in the Baalbek region, in the Bekaa Valley, some 2 kilometers from a “Hezbollah center,” according to Lebanon’s National News Agency.

The area was cordoned off and multiple ambulances were seen entering the area to deal with the casualties.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the incident.

The sources said Hezbollah officials, alerted to a suspicious car soon after 3 a.m. (0100 GMT), began to follow it in two vehicles. The car then exploded.

Footage broadcast by Hezbollah’s Al Manar television showed at least two damaged vehicles, one of them overturned, and several piles of blackened, twisted metal scattered over a muddy and partially snow-covered plain.

Al Manar’s correspondent said the suspect car had been carrying about 50 kg (110 pounds) of explosives and its intended target was a Hezbollah base. He said there had been casualties and that villagers in the area also reported hearing gunfire.

The incident occurred about 20 km (13 miles) from the border with Syria, whose 33-month-old conflict has fueled sectarian violence in Lebanon, including a series of car bombings which have killed scores of Sunni and Shi’ite Muslims.

Many Lebanese Sunni Muslims support the rebels fighting to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, whose Alawite faith is an offshoot of Shi’ite Islam. Shi’ite Hezbollah has sent thousands of fighters to support Assad, while many Sunni jihadis have flocked to Syria to join the rebels.

The conflict has seeped back into Lebanon. Twin blasts struck the embassy of Iran – Hezbollah’s patron – in Beirut last month. Bombs have also targeted Shi’ite districts of the capital and Sunni mosques in the northern city of Tripoli.

On Tuesday evening, four missiles from Syria landed near the Shi’ite town of Hermel in the northern Bekaa, wounding two Lebanese army soldiers, a security source said. Sunni Syrian rebels have fired into the town several times this year.

Hezbollah has been increasingly subject to attacks in Lebanon as its involvement in Syria’s conflict on the side of President Bashar Assad has caused tensions with Sunni groups.

In August, a car bomb killed 20 people in the southern suburbs of Beirut, a stronghold of the Shi’ite terrorist group.

Nusra video shows intense urban fighting in Deir ez Zor

by Rodan ( 1 Comment › )
Filed under Al Qaeda, Headlines, Hezballah, Iran, Iraq, Islam, Islamists, Lebanon, Syria at November 24th, 2013 - 2:18 pm

I saw this video on Twitter today by al-Nusra Front and was amazed of the intensity of urban combat showed in it. The video which was filmed in Deir ez Zor in Eastern Syria shows Nusra fighters taking on the Syrian Army, Hezbollah and Iraqi Shias in urban combat.

This shows how deadly and difficult an urban combat environment can be.

al-Qaeda hits Iranian embassy in Beirut

by Rodan ( 2 Comments › )
Filed under Al Qaeda, Headlines, Iran, Islam, Islamic hypocrisy, Islamic Terrorism, Lebanon at November 19th, 2013 - 10:06 am

For years Iran supported al-Qaeda’s terror acts throughout the world. Now becasue of their death match in Syria, they have become mortal enemies. The Iranian embassy in Beirut was the target of 2 suicide bombers. Al-Qaeda’s Lebanese affiliate the Abdullah Azzam Brigades has claimed responsibility.

BEIRUT, Lebanon — Two explosions rocked the Iranian Embassy compound in Beirut on Tuesday killing at least 23 people and injuring scores, according to the Lebanese Health Ministry. The Iranian ambassador, Ghazanfar Roknabadi, confirmed on Al Manar television that the cultural attaché, identified as Sheikh Ibrahim Ansari, was among the dead.

The attack seemed to fit a pattern of deepening political and sectarian division across the region inspired by the civil war in Syria. Syria’s conflict has drawn in fighters from neighboring Lebanon on both sides, with Sunni militants flocking to fight alongside rebels and Hezbollah, the powerful Shiite organization allied with Iran, sending its militiamen to support President Bashar al-Assad.

[....]

Lebanese media reported that responsibility for the embassy attack was claimed by the Abdullah Azzam Brigades, an offshoot of Al Qaeda with branches in several countries in the region, including Lebanon. The claim could not immediately be confirmed.

The Iranian ambassador appeared on news channels blaming Israel for the blast, which Israeli officials denied. More broadly, though, Lebanese officials and residents alike placed the bombing in the context of the Syrian war, which Lebanon’s political factions have fueled even as they call on citizens to keep the fighting outside of Lebanon.

The Iranians blame Israel while clearly it was al-Qaeda. Let them keep blaming Israel, while al-Qaeda who is the real culprit keeps bombing them.

(Hat Tip: Rain of Lead)

Israel attacks Hezbollah-bound convoy at Syrian Border

by Speranza Comments Off
Filed under Headlines, Hezballah, Israel, Lebanon, Syria at October 23rd, 2013 - 9:26 am
Published: October 23rd, 2013
The Kuwaiti publication Al Jarida quoted “a senior source in Jerusalem” who said on Wednesday that Israeli fighter aircraft two days ago bombed a truck carrying missiles along the Lebanon-Syria border. The truck was en route to the Lebanese, Shiite terror organization Hezbollah. The report is yet to be confirmed by other sources. In a discussion yesterday, Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon said that “we are monitoring the handling of the Syrian regime and what is being referred to as the dismantling of the chemical weapons – a process already accompanied by global supervision. As of now, the regime is meeting its obligations. However, the true test will be the end result. Will it eventually attempt to conceal or keep some sort of capability, or will it really dismantle everything? Only time will tell. “On the matter of activity in Syria in general, we are still keeping our red lines. We will not allow the transfer of qualitative weapons from Syria to terrorist organizations, with emphasis on Hezbollah. We will not allow the transfer of chemical weapons to any hostile entity, and of course we will not allow the violation of our sovereignty in the Golan Heights. There has yet to be any attempt with regards to the chemical issue so far, and with the other things, every such attempt was met with our activity.”

Just when you thought the Syrian civil war couldn’t get any worse, it does; and “super tunnel” leading from Gaza to Israel is discovered

by Speranza ( 64 Comments › )
Filed under Al Qaeda, Gaza, Hamas, Hezballah, IDF, Islamists, Israel, Lebanon, Middle East, Syria at October 14th, 2013 - 7:00 am

Those folks are just naturally brutal and vicious killers.  It comes from their culture.

by Peter Bergen and Jenifer Rowland

(CNN) — A gruesome snuff video that has garnered more than 180,000 views on YouTube underlines just how grim the Syrian conflict has become.

This video appears to document one of the worst kinds of war crimes: The summary executions of wounded men. (Warning: The scenes are extremely graphic.)

Several paramilitaries in battle fatigues armed with automatic weapons — some speaking Arabic in distinctive Lebanese accents — pull wounded men out of the back of a van and drop them on to the ground, then shoot them in their heads at point-blank range.

As they shoot their victims, some of the paramilitaries seem almost giddy with excitement.

A man who appears to be their commander admonishes his men, “Come on guys, we are here to carry out our duties not to seek revenge on our own. This is unacceptable.”

[.........]

The wounded men lying on the ground awaiting their deaths repeat religious phrases that are commonly said just before death. They all appear to be civilians.

There has been much analysis of the al Qaeda-aligned groups in Syria fighting the Assad regime that have recruited thousands of foreign fighters from around the Arab world and a smaller number from the West, but there has been far less discussion of the Shiite militias in Syria that have recruited foreign fighters from Iraq as well as from Lebanese Hezbollah, all of whom are fighting to support Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Barak Barfi, an American journalist who is a fellow at the New America Foundation and who has reported inside Syria for many months, says that one of the executioners in the videotape is wearing a distinctive yellow armband that Hezbollah fighters wear. Barfi says, “This appears to be a Hezbollah video, though we cannot conclude this with high confidence.”

Similarly, Augustus Richard Norton, professor of international relations at Boston University and the author of an authoritative study of Hezbollah, says, “The only identifying marks on the uniforms are yellow ribbons, which, in theory, would identify them as Hezbollahis.”

[.........]

Slim cautions, however, that the paramilitaries conducting the executions could well be members of an Alawite militia made up mostly of Syrians who have been trained by Hezbollah, but that are not part of Hezbollah itself.

Phillip Smyth, a researcher at the University of Maryland who specializes in Shiite militias operating in Syria, says that the fighters are likely from Hezbollah as they speak in a Lebanese accent and when they perform the executions they mention a religious edict handed down by a key Hezbollah religious guide.

[..........]

Shahbandar has been tracking Hezbollah since 2007 and he asserts that the executioners in the video are definitely from Hezbollah and that the video itself was shot in Homs province in western Syria.

An analysis done by CNN’s International desk confirms that the dialect spoken by the executioners in the videotape is Lebanese Arabic and they can be heard shouting “Fi Sabil Allah,” an Arabic phrase that means “in God’s cause,” an expression commonly used by Hezbollah fighters on the battlefield. The international desk’s analysis points out that the yellow and green ribbons tied to the fighters’ uniforms appear to mark them as Hezbollah fighters.

As is now well known, many of the players in the Syrian conflict, including most prominently the Assad regime itself, have committed war crimes against civilians.

On Friday, Human Rights Watch released a report documenting a massacre on August 4 that was perpetrated by two al Qaeda-aligned Sunni militant groups, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham and Jabhat al-Nusra.

The massacre took place in the coastal region of Latakia in a number of Alawite villages supportive of the Assad regime. According to the report “Eight survivors and witnesses described how opposition forces executed residents and opened fire on civilians, sometimes killing or attempting to kill entire families who were either in their homes unarmed or fleeing from the attack, and at other times killing adult male family members, and holding the female relatives and children hostage. ”

Human Rights Watch collected the names of 190 civilians who were killed in these attacks, including 57 women and at least 18 children and 14 elderly men.

While the world in the past few weeks has been distracted by the U.S. government shutdown and the brutal attack on the mall in Kenya by an al Qaeda affiliate that left at least 67 dead, the Syrian war has ground on.

It is a war that has now claimed as many as 120,000 lives.

Four of those deaths are documented in the appalling videotape of the Shiite paramilitaries gleefully executing wounded men who appear to be civilians. And the deaths of 190 civilians killed by Sunni militias in August are documented in great detail in the Human Rights Watch report that was released Friday.

Just when you thought the Syrian civil war couldn’t get any worse, it does.

Read the rest – Syrian wars brutality isn’t going away

There is a reason why Israel does not allow cement  be shipped to Gaza.

by Gavriel Fiske  and Mitch Ginsburg

An extensive subterranean passageway leading from Gaza into Israeli territory was the work of Hamas, which used some 500 tons of cement earmarked for civilian building in the Strip in the tunnel’s construction, the IDF said Sunday.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon responded immediately with a halt on the transfer of construction materials into the Strip.

Security forces last week discovered the terminus of the tunnel some 300 meters inside Israel proper, near Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha in the western Negev, and took several days to render the passage unusable. The IDF said it had been aware of the tunnel effort for some time, but had not previously found its exit point.

Brig. Gen. Shlomo Turgeman, the Southern Command head, said the tunnel, “a violation of our sovereignty,” had been built using around 500 tons of cement that “Israel allowed in [to Gaza] for civilian well-being.”

The tunnel, which began in Abbasan al-Saghira, a farming village near Khan Yunis, was described by officials as being 18 meters deep and 1,700 meters long. Officials estimate it took around a year to construct.

Section of the tunnel discovered running from the Gaza Strip to Israel, October 13, 2013. (photo credit: Times of Israel/Mitch Ginsburg)

Contrary to initial media reports, the IDF said, the tunnel did not end near an Israeli kindergarten, nor was it filled with explosives.

The tunnel is a “gross violation of the ceasefire, [and is] against Israel and against the Palestinians,” said Brig. Gen. Michael Edelstein, Gaza Division commander.

The passageway was “definitely the work of Hamas,” Edelstein added. “Hamas is clearly in difficulty, and chooses the path of terrorism. We are dealing with the same threat as the Egyptians. We act on behalf of our people and they [act] for their people,” he said.

Edelstein went on to say that the IDF was aware of exactly from which backyard the tunnel originated, and “the man who enabled it should know that he has put himself in danger.”

Abu Ubaida, a nom de guerre for the spokesperson of Hamas’s armed wing, wrote on Twitter in Arabic that “the will engraved in the hearts and minds of the men of resistance is much more important than the tunnels dug in the mud. The former will create thousands of the latter.”

The tunnel end was found on October 7, military officials said, but the discovery was only publicized a week later, on Sunday, because a search for explosives was underway. The army said an elite engineering corps was sent into the tunnel, but no explosives were found.

Eshkol Regional Council head Haim Jelin described the tunnel as “like a New York subway.” Jelin said attacks from the tunnels could prove to be more psychologically damaging to Israeli children living on the Gaza periphery because they could occur without warning, unlike Kassam rockets fired from the Strip, for which advance warning is given via air defense sirens.

“The tunnel was discovered in time, and disaster was averted,” Jelin told Ynet News earlier on Sunday.

Brig. Gen. Michael Edelstein, Gaza Division commander inside a tunnel dug from the Gaza Strip to Israel, October 13, 2013. (photo credit: Times of Israel/Mitch Ginsburg)

Army spokesman Maj. Guy Inbar said a halt on all construction material to Gaza, announced Sunday, was enacted due to security considerations and was not meant as a punishing measure.

For years, Israel prevented the transfer of construction materials into Gaza because it said militants could use the materials to build crude rockets and explosives for attacks against Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday the discovery and neutralization of the tunnel was part of “an aggressive policy against terror… [that includes] prevention, intelligence activities, preventative measures, actions in response [to attacks] and, of course, Operation Pillar of Defense,” referring to the November 2012 mini-war between Israel and Hamas.

Last Tuesday, IDF Chief Benny Gantz warned that the next war could be sparked by a “tunnel packed with explosives that reaches a  kindergarten.”

[.........]

Netanyahu said Sunday that 2013 so far has been “the quietest [year] in more than a decade,” but noted that “we have seen an increase in terrorist activity in recent weeks.”

Equipment found inside a tunnel dug from the Gaza Strip to Israel, October 13, 2013. (photo credit: Times of Israel/Mitch Ginsburg)

This was the third tunnel discovered this year. The previous two were packed with explosives, the IDF said.

[.......]

Former national security adviser Giora Eiland, who investigated the Shalit kidnapping, said Gazan tunnels were no less a threat than the territory’s arsenal of homemade weapons.

“They have surprised us in the past with their capability of digging deep and fast,” he told Army Radio.

Tensions between Israel and Gaza have remained mostly calm since an informal ceasefire after Israel launched Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012 to stem rocket fire.

[........]

Analysts have noted that Gaza’s Hamas rulers, feeling the squeeze from a massive Egyptian operation to destroy smuggling tunnels into the Sinai, may seek to ignite tensions with Israel.

Read the rest –  IDF  blames Hamas for ‘terror tunnel’ from Gaza to Israel

The Ike-Obama analogy is based on false premises

by Speranza ( 127 Comments › )
Filed under Barack Obama, Cold War, Egypt, History, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Lebanon, Libya, Middle East, Saudi Arabia, Syria at September 25th, 2013 - 12:00 pm

Far from being the”amiable dolt” (the same term used on Ronald Reagan) that the Democrats liked to refer to him as, Dwight D. Eisenhower was a shrewd president with a  great grasp of foreign situations (although I felt that he handled Suez and the Hungarian Uprising – both in October 1956 badly). There is absolutely no resemblance whatsoever to Barack Obama’s  feckless and clueless foreign policy. Eisenhower did not have the overweening ego and self regard that Obama clearly possesses, and Eisenhower had developed great administrative and diplomatic skills through his military career as Allied commander-in-chief, commander of NATO and Columbia University President. In fact, I think that Eisenhower was a far better president than he was a battlefield manager, most military men make poor presidents but not Eisenhower.

by Michael Doran

“I remember some of the speeches of Eisenhower,” Hillary Clinton said during a joint interview with President Obama in January. “You know, you’ve got to be careful, you have to be thoughtful, you can’t rush in.” It seems likely her memories were jogged by the reviews of Evan Thomas’s recent book, Ike’s Bluff, which argued that Eisenhower’s experience as a soldier and general taught him the limitations of exercising power. That book and a spate of other recent studies have established Ike firmly in the public mind as the very embodiment of presidential prudence.

They have also turned him into a posthumous adviser to the Obama administration. Before becoming secretary of defense, Chuck Hagel bought three dozen copies of David A. Nichols’s study of the Suez Crisis and distributed them to (among others) the president, Hillary Clinton, and Leon Panetta, his predecessor as secretary of defense. At Suez, Ike refused to support Britain and France when they (in collusion with Israel) invaded Egypt, and he effectively killed the intervention. Hagel’s lesson was clear: Don’t let allies drag you into ill-advised military adventures.

In an influential essay published last year in Time entitled “On Foreign Policy, Why Barack Is Like Ike,” Fareed Zakaria argued that when the president showed a wariness to intervene in places like Syria, he was displaying an uncanny resemblance to Eisenhower. The key quality that the two share, Zakaria argued, is “strategic restraint.” In his recent book, Presidential Leadership and the Creation of the American Era (Princeton University Press, 200 pages), Joseph S. Nye of Harvard takes the argument even one step further. Nye claims Eisenhower was actually an early practitioner of what an Obama aide, speaking of the administration’s role in the ouster of the Muammar Gaddafi regime in Libya, notoriously called “leading from behind.”

A cursory examination of Eisenhower’s actual Middle East policies reveals the hollowness of both this thesis and the notion that Eisenhower, as president, followed a strategy of restraint—especially as regards the Middle East. To be sure, he frequently exercised prudence in military affairs. He ended the war in Korea and did not intervene in 1956 when the Hungarians rose in revolt against their Soviet masters. Most notable of all, he refrained from intervention in Vietnam. But military prudence should not be confused with global strategy. Modern-day “restraintists” are quick to cite Eisenhower’s warning, in his farewell address, regarding the dangers of “the military industrial complex.” They typically forget, however, to quote his justification for it: “We face a hostile ideology—global in scope, atheistic in character, ruthless in purpose, and insidious in method. Unhappily the danger it poses promises to be of indefinite duration.” Eisenhower, in other words, zealously prosecuted the Cold War. Indeed, contemporary critics diagnosed his administration as suffering from “pactomania,” an irresistible urge to organize alliances against Communism. Many historians now regard his reliance on the CIA, which toppled regimes in Iran and Guatemala, as anything but restrained. And there are also more public examples of Eisenhower flexing his presidential muscles.

There was Syria, for one. Then, as now, the country was at the center of a regional power struggle. In the summer of 1956, when the Syrian government began to drift toward the Soviet Union, Eisenhower instructed the CIA to topple it. By summer 1957, the spy agency had attempted to stage two coups, both of which failed. No sooner had Syrian counterintelligence rolled up the second plot than Eisenhower formulated another plan: fomenting jihad. He instructed the CIA to position itself in order to stir up violent disturbances along Syria’s borders.  [........]

The trickiest part of the plan was convincing the Arab states to invade. In the hope that Saudi Arabia would help, Eisenhower wrote to King Saud. The letter expressed alarm over the “serious danger that Syria will become a Soviet Communist satellite.” It affirmed that “any country that was attacked by a Syria which was itself dominated by International Communism” could count on the United States for support. And then it closed with an appeal to Islam: “In view of the special position of Your Majesty as Keeper of the Holy Places of Islam, I trust that you will exert your great influence to the end that the atheistic creed of Communism will not become entrenched at a key position in the Moslem world.” The letter missed its mark. “Saud,” as the historian Salim Yaqub wrote, “had little interest in Eisenhower’s jihad.”

In praise of Ike’s pacific record, Zakaria notes that “from the end of the Korean War to the end of his presidency, not one American soldier died in combat.” The statistic is striking, but it creates a misleading impression. In truth, Eisenhower had the one quality all successful leaders have: He was lucky. Any number of his policies could easily have backfired, producing a much less impressive statistic. The Syrian crisis of 1957 is a case in point. While Eisenhower was attempting to generate a jihad, the Turkish government amassed 50,000 troops on the Syrian border. The move provoked the Soviets. In an interview with the New York Times, Nikita Khrushchev, then the Soviet premier, publicly accused the United States of fomenting the crisis and issued a warning to the Turks: “If the rifles fire,” he said bluntly, “the rockets will start flying.” Secretary of State John Foster Dulles immediately came to the aid of the Turks: “If there is an attack on Turkey by the Soviet Union,” he said, “it would not mean a purely defensive operation by the United States, with the Soviet Union a privileged sanctuary from which to attack Turkey.” [........]

Zakaria also happens to be factually wrong. A number of soldiers did die on Eisenhower’s watch—three, to be exact. One fell to an enemy sniper; the other two to friendly fire. All of them died in Lebanon during the 1958 intervention. Zero or three—either way the record is remarkable, but the fallen Marines should remind us of an important fact: Eisenhower, when the situation required, did not shrink from entering a messy conflict.

In the first half of 1958, Camille Chamoun, the Lebanese president, was battling an insurgency and strongly urged Eisenhower to come to his assistance. The insurgents were receiving support from Syria, which by this time had merged with Gamal Abdel Nasser’s Egypt to form the United Arab Republic. Eisenhower feared a quagmire and resisted calls to intervene. But overnight, his calculus changed.

When Eisenhower went to bed on Sunday, July 13, Iraq was an ally—“the country,” he wrote in his memoirs, “that we were counting on heavily as a bulwark of stability and progress in the region.” By the time he woke on Monday, the bulwark had collapsed. In the early morning hours, renegade army officers staged a successful coup, destroying Iraq’s Hashemite monarchy and replacing it with an Arab nationalist republic that Eisenhower feared might align with the United Arab Republic and its Soviet patron. In a mere instant, a Cold War ally had disappeared.

Fearing a push by Nasser and the Soviet Union against all Western-leaning states of the region, a number of American allies—including the Lebanese, Saudis, and Jordanians—called for immediate intervention by the United States. Cairo and Moscow, they argued, must be put on notice that the Americans would not let their remaining friends go the way of the Iraqi monarchy. If the United States failed to intervene, the Saudi king informed Eisenhower, it would be “finished” as a power in the region. [.......]

Almost immediately, Eisenhower invited a bipartisan group of congressional leaders to the White House for a briefing. Sam Rayburn, the speaker of the House, expressed concerns: “If we go in and intervene and our operation does not succeed, what do we do then?” He also worried that “the Russians would threaten general war.” Eisenhower replied that it was impossible “to prophesy the exact course of events. If we do or if we don’t go in, the consequences will be bad.” He calculated, however, that it was crucial to take “a strong position rather than a Munich-type position, if we are to avoid the crumbling of our whole security structure.” [........]

The Lebanon intervention, we now know, went as cleanly as any such operation in history. At the moment of decision, however, Eisenhower regarded the venture as highly risky—so dangerous, in fact, that it reminded him of giving the go order on D-Day, the most momentous event of his life. “Despite the disparity in the size of the two operations,” he wrote in his memoirs, “the possible consequences in each case, if things went wrong, were chilling.”  [.........]

Over the last year, a parade of America’s Middle Eastern allies have made their way through the White House, raising the alarm of Syria, and urging Obama to organize a more robust international response. Unlike Ike, Obama calculated that doing nothing was preferable to taking actions that have uncertain outcomes. As a result, when Obama finally decided that some response to Assad’s use of chemical weapons was necessary, he found himself almost bereft of allies.

And what about Nye’s favorable comparison of Obama’s foreign policy with Eisenhower’s? “An incautious comment by a midlevel White House official characterized the Libya policy as ‘leading from behind,’ and this became a target for political criticism,” Nye writes, but adds that “Eisenhower was a great exemplar of knowing that sometimes it is most effective to keep a low profile and to lead from behind.”

This is an act of rhetorical legerdemain. Nye’s use of the term gives the impression that two very different things are actually one and the same. With respect to Obama, “leading from behind” describes his administration’s policytoward Libyan intervention. With respect to Ike, it describes his management style, which Fred Greenstein famously called “the hidden-hand presidency.”

In Eisenhower’s day, intellectuals almost universally regarded him as an amiable dolt, more golfer than strategist. Before Greenstein (together with Stephen Ambrose and others) set the record straight in the 1980s, it was widely assumed that John Foster Dulles was the man who actually ran American foreign policy. Using declassified documents, Greenstein and his cohort showed that Eisenhower was resolutely in charge, a master of detail, fully in command of strategy and tactics. Eisenhower might have put Dulles out front and center stage, but he was always guiding him with a “hidden hand.”

The diary of Jock Colville, Winston Churchill’s right-hand man, provides a vivid example of Eisenhower’s skills at “gentle persuasion,” to use Nye’s phrase. After Stalin died in March 1953, Churchill, then in his final term as prime minister, perceived signs of moderation in Moscow. He began a campaign to convince Eisenhower to convene a summit with the USSR on the model of the great wartime conferences. Ike repeatedly rebuffed Churchill, who eventually made his differences with Eisenhower publicly known. Tensions came to a head in Bermuda in December 1953 at a conference attended by the leaders of the United States, Britain, and France.  [.........]

Now consider: The Islamic Republic of Iran recently elected a new president, Hassan Rouhani, whom many observers regard as a moderate. Those observers have been urging Obama to engage with him directly, just as Churchill urged Ike. Imagine a conference between Obama and a delegation of European leaders who argue eloquently for reaching out to Rouhani. Obama springs up, enraged. The veins in his forehead pop out, throbbing. He launches into a profanity-laced tirade. “Iran,” he thunders, “is a whore and we are going to drive her off the streets of the Middle East.”

[.......]

The popular association of the Eisenhower administration with “strategic restraint” is itself he product of historical revisionism. It was not the contemporary view. Until the 1980s, most pundits believed the opposite. Their view was perfectly distilled in Townsend Hoopes’s The Devil and John Foster Dulles (1973). The unstated goal of the book was to saddle the Republicans with responsibility for the Vietnam War—no mean feat, given that Democrats Kennedy and Johnson had made the key decisions to intervene. Nevertheless, Hoopes found an ingenious method to lay the responsibility squarely on Eisenhower’s shoulders—or, more precisely, on the shoulders of his secretary of state.

John Foster Dulles’s influence, Hoopes explains, was so immense that it extended beyond the Republican Party. Dulles managed to shape the zeitgeist by establishing in the broad culture the unassailable sanctity of “America’s posture of categorical anti-Communism and limitless strategic concern.” Once he successfully stamped the culture with anti-Communist zealotry, the Democrats had no choice but to follow its inexorable logic, which led to imperial overreach in Vietnam. “In early 1968,” Hoopes writes, “when the Tet offensive and Lyndon Johnson’s withdrawal from further political combat tore away the final veil hiding the misperception and failure of America’s freedom-defending and nation-building in South Vietnam, I faced, along with many others, the dawning of the realization that an era in American foreign policy had ended.”

This was hysterically overwrought, obviously, but in its day, intellectuals took the argument seriously. It’s worth considering why. Caricature, of course, exaggerates recognizable aspects of reality. In the 1970s, the very real anti-Communism of the Eisenhower era was still a part of living memory. “Mutual Assured Destruction,” “the domino theory,” “brinkmanship”—these 1950s catchphrases reverberated, testifying to the fact that Ike, even while steering clear of military adventures, took the fight to the enemy. By contrast, contemporary audiences know Ike only from history books such as Greenstein’s, which emphasizes Eisenhower’s pragmatism precisely in order to supplant the prevailing caricature of his stupidity.

[........]

Zakaria sees Ike and Obama as uncannily similar for exhibiting “strategic restraint” in their Middle East policies. That Obama has been restrained is undeniable. In what way, however, is his reluctance to use military force “strategic”? What larger plan does the policy serve? The best answer came last March from Tom Donilon, his former national-security adviser. The Obama administration, he explained in an interview, had determined that the United States was “over-invested in our military efforts in South Asia and in the Middle East.” At the same time, it was “dramatically under-invested” in Asia, which was “the most economically dynamic region in the world.” Therefore, it was “rebalancing” to Asia.

[........]

In May 2011, a few months after the Arab Spring first broke out, Obama identified a powerful movement toward freedom and democracy and reached out his hand in partnership. “The question before us,” Obama said at the time “is what role America will play as this story unfolds.” He answered with clarity: “There must be no doubt that the United States of America welcomes change that advances self-determination and opportunity.” Only two years later, he struck a less hopeful note. In the Middle East, he said, “there are ancient sectarian differences, and the hopes of the Arab Spring have unleashed forces of change that are going to take many years to resolve. And that’s why we’re not contemplating putting our troops in the middle of someone else’s war.”

[.........]

That was not true of Eisenhower’s policies. His eight years in office also coincided with a revolutionary wave. The old imperial and colonial order was crumbling. A new one, dominated by secular pan-Arab nationalism, was taking its place. Eisenhower saw it plainly and formulated a strategy to deal with it. His goal was to channel the nationalism of the region away from the Soviet bloc and toward the West by offering security and economic assistance. The United States was engaged in a delicate balancing act, supporting its European allies against the Soviet Union while simultaneously facilitating the rise of the independent nations of the Middle East, which were hostile to the Europeans.

It is impossible to understand any of Ike’s major moves without reference to this vision. Take, for instance, the Suez Crisis, which Zakaria cites as a prime example of “strategic restraint” and which Hagel holds up as a model for Obama. When Eisenhower turned against his allies, he did not do so out of any overarching commitment to “restraint.” He simply believed Britain and France were alienating Arab nationalists and destroying the prospect for a strategic accommodation between the Arab states and the West. He therefore shunted the Europeans aside—in what was actually the most dramatic assertion of American primacy of the Cold War.

In the midst of the crisis, he announced the Eisenhower Doctrine, a unilateral American commitment to defend the entire Middle East. His doctrine put the world on formal notice that the United States was replacing Britain as the dominant power in the region. The result of Ike’s “strategic restraint” was a massive increase in the global responsibilities of the United States. Obama’s restraint represents an attempt to shed those responsibilities.

The Ike–Obama analogy creates an illusion of commonality and historic continuity where none exists. It is bad history, because it depicts Eisenhower as a two-dimensional figure, entirely detached from his key associates and their core beliefs. At the same time, the analogy presents us with a distorted view of Obama. The Eisenhower Doctrine asserted American primacy in the Middle East, and every president since has regarded it a vital American interest to shape the international order of the region. Every president, that is, except the present one.

The old order in the Middle East is crumbling. The enemies and rivals of the United States—Russia, Iran, Syria, Hezbollah, and al-Qaeda—are working assiduously to mold the new order that benefits them. Their efforts, which are often in conflict, have ignited a great fire. Unlike his predecessors, Barack Obama has determined that the United States is best served by hanging back. This is a sharp break with the past—especially with Eisenhower. Those desperately looking to burnish Obama’s reputation when it comes to foreign policy by associating it with that of a successful presidency will have to look elsewhere.

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