Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Writings on 'Inspired/Homegrown' Terrorists

My linked writings (please click here) on Salafi-Jihadist groups and their pursuit of 'inspired/homegrown' attacks against the west. This is a particularly serious concern for EU security services. If interested in reading my other writings on Middle Eastern politics, please click here.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

ISIS in Iraq, Syria/Terrorist in Sydney

Two pieces at National Review yesterday.
Regarding the situation in the Middle East: No Cause for Optimism on ISIS
Regarding the situation in Sydney: Terror in Sydney
National Review Online

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Ain al-Asad air base

Ain al-Asad air base, which ISIS again threatens. Note critical strategic location in between Freeway 1 and Highway 12. US advisors have been stationed at the base since November. My related links here.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

CIA Report

My latest discussion with Sun News: CIA Report

Bombs with hidden messages: A strategic translation of Israel’s raid on Syria

When it comes to Syria, Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has been keen to shelter Israel from the civil war’s chaos.

On occasion, however, he has taken military action to address urgent threats.

This weekend, it appears, he has done so again.

According to reports from Syrian state media (Israel has refused to comment), on Sunday, Israeli fighter jets bombed targets in Al-Dimass and Damascus. Located along Syria’s route 1 highway, and a few miles from both Damascus and the Lebanese border, Al-Dimass offers an opportune smuggling position for Iranian weapons supplies to Hezbollah. The attacked locations might also have stored Russian military equipment.

Regardless, while this military action sought to protect Israel’s qualitative military advantage over its enemies, it also likely had other, more psychological, objectives.

First off, by striking Assad in his capital, Israel is sending a message to other regional powers. Having successfully penetrated Assad’s capable air defense network around Damascus, Israel is showing its capability to employ surprise attacks with relative impunity. To be sure, while striking Iran would be far more complex, by again hitting an array of targets, Israel has visibly flexed its military muscles. Crucially, Netanyahu wants Iran to understand that he isn’t bound by the nuclear diplomatic track, and that the IDF remains on high readiness alert. Today, this Israeli messaging-objective has never had more impetus. As Iran grows more confident in its nuclear negotiations with the P5+1 and continues covert weaponization activities, Israel is desperate to keep Khamenei off balance.

By extension, these strikes were also likely intended as a message to President Obama. With relations between the US and Israeli administrations now toxic, Netanyahu wants Obama to understand that he’s openly ignoring the US demand to avoid any action that risks a greater conflagration. By rolling the dice with these strikes, Netanyahu also hopes he can persuade Obama to inject harder-line urgency in his diplomacy with Iran. ‘If you don’t’, Netanyahu is implicitly threatening, ‘I may end up doing what you most fear’ – taking action against Iran anyway.

These strikes are also intended to warn Russia. With President Putin growing more aggressive and increasing his military support for Assad – including by providing advanced anti-aircraft platforms –Israel wants Putin to fear that his escalation will meet reciprocal aggression. Indeed, with Russia’s deputy foreign minister having met Hezbollah’s leader in Beirut on Saturday, Netanyahu wants Putin to know that he’s watching. This stated observance has a power of its own. After all, in its cultivated reputation for unpredictable aggression, Israel’s security apparatus commands respect.

Ultimately, reflecting Clausewitz’s theory that military action is the continuation of political activity by other means, these strikes are about more than destroying some weapons. Seeking consolidation in an increasingly unstable Middle East, and with his governing coalition broken, Netanyahu wants to broadcast strength. By taking this action, Israel’s leader is thus sending a unitary message to allies and foes alike: I will act aggressively, and if necessary, alone.

Monday, December 8, 2014