Archive for March 3, 2019

Multi-Dimensional Warfare for the US and Israel

March 3, 2019

Thanks to “Smarter Every Day,:”

How modern warfare requires coordination between Army,, Navy,, Air Force,, Space, and Cyber forces.

The documentary is about the US military, but completely applies to the IDF..

 

German government refuses to ban Hezbollah, rebuffs Israel and U.S. 

March 3, 2019

Source: German government refuses to ban Hezbollah, rebuffs Israel and U.S. – International news – Jerusalem Post

The Merkel administration has also banned the website of the extremist left-wing group Indymedia and right-wing extremists entities over the years.

BY BENJAMIN WEINTHAL
 MARCH 2, 2019 20:22
German government refuses to ban Hezbollah, rebuffs Israel and U.S.

After the United Kingdom outlawed all of the terrorist entity Hezbollah last week, Germany’s government refused to ban the political wing of the Lebanese Shi’ite organization.

A spokesman for Germany’s interior ministry (BMI) wrote The Jerusalem Post: “The BMI does not comment on concrete prohibition considerations in general; this applies regardless of whether there is reason to do so in individual cases.”

The BMI has provided the same answer to Post queries since 2008 about whether German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s administration plans to outlaw all of Hezbollah, while the EU has banned its military arm since 2013.

According to 2018 German intelligence reports analyzed by the Post, there are 950 Hezbollah operatives in the federal republic who raise funds, recruit new members and spread Hezbollah’s lethal antisemitic ideology.

“According to the case law of the Federal Administrative Court the entire Hezbollah is against the idea of international understanding in the sense of the Basic Law, because it fights the right of existence of the State of Israel with terrorist means,” the BMI’s spokesman said. “Such an objective is antisemitic in nature.”

The UK government announced on Friday: “An order laid in Parliament on Monday (February 25) to proscribe the terrorist organizations Hezbollah, Ansaroul Islam and Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam Wal-Muslimin (JNIM) has now come into effect, following debates in the Houses of Parliament.”

“Under the Terrorism Act 2000, being a member – or inviting support for – these groups will be a criminal offense, carrying a sentence of up to 10 years’ imprisonment,” the statement continued. “All three groups have been assessed as being concerned in terrorism.”

Germany, like the UK, is within its rights to unilaterally outlaw Hezbollah’s political wing. It is merely a matter of political will from Germany’s interior minister Horst Seehofer, from the Christian Social Union Party, and Merkel, who has described Israel’s security as “non-negotiable” for her government.

The German government has banned radical Islamic associations over the years without waiting for a consensus among the EU member states. Take the example of the The True Religion (Die Wahre Religion), which was banned in 2016. Germany also banned the radical group Tauhid Germany in 2015.

The Merkel administration has also banned the website of the extremist left-wing group Indymedia and right-wing extremists entities over the years.

A US State Department representative told the Post last year when asked about Germany’s refusal to ban all of Hezbollah, “They should designate Hezbollah – in its entirety – as a terrorist organization.”

According to US sources familiar with Germany’s position toward Iran and Hezbollah, Germany rejected the US demand to outlaw all of Hezbollah, because the Lebanese militia “is linked to Israel-Palestinian peace talks.” The sources also told the Post last year that Germany considers the Trump administration as too pro-Israel.

Germany has long been a hot-bed of Hezbollah activity. The Al-Mustafa Community Center, in the northern German city-state of Bremen, is a major hub for raising funds for Hezbollah in Lebanon, according to a German intelligence report reviewed by the Post in 2018.

The Bremen intelligence agency’s report from last June stated, “The Al-Mustafa-Community Center supports Hezbollah in Lebanon, especially by collecting donations.” Berlin’s mayor, Michael Müller, permits the Hezbollah and Iranian-regime sponsored al-Quds Day rally to take place each year in the heart of Berlin’s shopping district. Al-Quds Day calls for the destruction of the Jewish state. Iranian regime institutions in Germany send Hezbollah members to the anti-Israel event.

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan wrote on Twitter: “All who truly wish to combat terror must reject the fake distinction between ‘military’ & ‘political’ wings. Now is the time for the EU to follow suit!”

The EU merely banned Hezbollah’s so-called military wing in 2013 after Hezbollah blew up an Israeli tour bus in 2012 in Bulgaria. The terrorist attack murdered five Israelis, their Bulgarian Muslim bus driver, and injured 32 Israelis.

The Netherlands prescribed the entire Hezbollah a terrorist organization in 2004. The United States, Canada, the Arab League and Israel all classify Hezbollah’s entire organization a terrorist entity.

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, praised the Conservative government’s move to sanction all of Hezbollah because, “the separation between the political and armed wings is a false and artificial separation, because both are controlled and supported by Iran and enable the organization to continue to raise funds on European soil.”

“We will continue to lead the struggle for the Security Council to recognize Hezbollah as a terrorist organization, and mobilize the international community against it, as it serves as an arm of Iran to spread Tehran’s aggression,” Danon said.

 

US-backed fighters advance against Islamic State in its last Syrian territory

March 3, 2019

Source: US-backed fighters advance against Islamic State in its last Syrian territory | The Times of Israel

Syrian Democratic Forces report heavy clashes in area of Baghouz, on the east bank of the Euphrates River; aid group says over 10,000 civilians evacuated since February 20

In this Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 file photo, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces fighters watch as an airstrike hits territory still held by Islamic State in the desert outside Baghouz, Syria (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

In this Tuesday, Feb. 19, 2019 file photo, US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces fighters watch as an airstrike hits territory still held by Islamic State in the desert outside Baghouz, Syria (AP Photo/Felipe Dana, File)

AL-OMAR OIL FIELD BASE, Syria — A spokesman for the US-backed force fighting the Islamic State group in eastern Syria says fighters are waging intense battles with the group, advancing on two fronts in the last area they control.

Mustafa Bali of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces tweeted Saturday that “heavy clashes” are taking place in the area on the east bank of the Euphrates River.

Bali said three SDF fighters were wounded.

The SDF on Friday evening resumed military operations to liberate the last piece of territory held by IS in the province of Deir el-Zour after evacuating thousands of civilians and hostages who had been besieged inside.

Zana Amedi, an SDF commander, told The Associated Press that “an active ground force” is advancing into IS-held territories as the jihadists resort to sniper fire and booby-traps.

A girl waits to be screened by US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) after being evacuated out of the last territory held by Islamic State militants, in the desert outside Baghouz, Syria, Friday, March 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

“Those left inside are fighters who do not wish to surrender,” Bali told The Associated Press.

The military campaign to uproot the militants from the eastern banks of the Euphrates River began in September, pushing them down toward this last corner in the village of Baghouz, near the Iraqi border. The military operation was halted on February 12 as the SDF said a large group of civilians and hostages were holed up in the territory, which sits atop caves and tunnels where they had been hiding.

The remaining speck of IS-controlled land in Baghouz village is also along the Euphrates from one side and the desert near the Iraqi border from the other. Thousands of civilians were living in a tent encampment and houses along the riverside.

Over the last two weeks, thousands of civilians have been evacuated, many of them women and children in desperate conditions. The only aid group at the evacuation site, the Free Burma Rangers, estimated that at least 10,000 civilians have left the IS pocket since February 20, in trips organized by the SDF.

The evacuees, who included IS family members, said food was running low and clean water and medicine were scarce. Despite its demise, many defended what remained of the group’s territorial hold, which once spanned a third of Iraq and Syria.

As they trickled out, SDF and coalition officials screened them. Women and children were transferred to camps miles away. Men suspected of links to the militant group were taken into custody at other facilities.

Women and children exit the back of a truck as they arrive at a US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) screening area after being evacuated out of the last territory held by Islamic State, in the desert outside Baghouz, Syria, Friday, March 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

US President Donald Trump said Thursday that IS has lost “100 percent” of the territory it once controlled in Syria, but officials estimate there are hundreds of militants left in the small patch of territory in Baghouz, and that they will likely fight till the end.

Bali would not speculate on how long the military operation might take but said he expects a “fierce battle.”

He said the battles are expected to take place in a very small area that includes a complex network of tunnels, as well as suicide bombers and land mines.

“The battle to finish off what is left of Daesh has started,” said SDF commander Adnan Afrin, using the Arabic acronym for IS.

Afrin said he expects “resistance” from the remaining fighters who are likely to deploy all their weapons, including suicide bombers.

He said most of the remaining fighters are Europeans, Asians, Iraqis and Arabs from the area.

On Friday, the smallest batch of evacuees, just over 200, came out of the pocket in around six trucks used to transport sheep. About 10 trucks sent to the perimeter of the IS pocket came back empty, and drivers said no more evacuees came out after hours of waiting.

The evacuees Friday included wounded men but were mostly women and children. There were Russians, Indonesians, Bosnians, Dagestani, Kazaks, Egyptians, Syrians and Iraqis. They dragged along few belongings, distraught children and broken spirits.

A woman walks with her children at a US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) screening area after being evacuated out of the last territory held by Islamic State, in the desert outside Baghouz, Syria, Friday, March 1, 2019. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Umm Mohammed — or mother of Mohammed — a 38-year-old Syrian, left Baghouz with her three children Friday but her husband stayed behind in support of IS. “There are many fighters and families inside,” she said. “The Islamic State is weak only in Baghouz but elsewhere it is expanding and growing.”

The capture of the last pocket still held by IS fighters in Baghouz would mark the end of a devastating four-year global campaign to end the group’s hold on territory in Syria and Iraq — their so-called “caliphate” that at the height of the group’s power in 2014 controlled nearly a third of both Iraq and Syria.

It would allow Trump to begin withdrawing the estimated 2,000 US troops from Syria, a decision he accounced in December — though last week he partially reversed course and agreed to keep a residual force of perhaps a few hundred troops as part of an international effort to stabilize northeastern Syria.

The resumption of military operations against IS breaks a dayslong standoff while the civilians were being evacuated. In the last week alone, 13,000 people, most of them women and children, arrived at the al-Hol camp in Hassakeh province which now houses approximately 45,000 people, according to the United Nations.

In a statement Friday, the UN cited reports that more than 84 people, two thirds of them young children under five years of age, have died since December on their way to al-Hol camp after fleeing the group in Syria’s Deir el-Zour province.

“Many of the arrivals are exhausted, hungry and sick,” according to Jens Laerke, spokesman of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, at a news briefing in Geneva.

 

US to merge Jerusalem consulate with embassy on Monday in blow to Palestinians 

March 3, 2019

Source: US to merge Jerusalem consulate with embassy on Monday in blow to Palestinians | The Times of Israel

Ramallah sees move as further strain on relationship with Washington; Palestinian affairs unit will be established within the new compound

View of the US embassy in Jerusalem's Arnona neighborhood, May 13, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

View of the US embassy in Jerusalem’s Arnona neighborhood, May 13, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The United States is expected to move ahead with the downgrade of its mission to the Palestinians on Monday by merging its Jerusalem consulate with the embassy in Israel, a US official said Saturday.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said when announcing the merger in October that it was intended to improve “efficiency and effectiveness” and did not constitute a change in policy.

But Palestinian leaders have seen the decision as another move against them by the Trump administration, which they froze contact with after US President Donald Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.

A date for the merger of the consulate into the embassy had not been announced, but a State Department official told AFP on condition of anonymity that it “is expected to take place on March 4.”

The Jerusalem consulate general, which has acted independently as a de facto embassy to the Palestinians since the Oslo Accords of the 1990s, will be replaced by a new Palestinian affairs unit within the embassy.

The closure of the consulate general means that Palestinian affairs will come under the direction of US ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who has been a supporter of Israeli settlement building in the West Bank. Some Palestinians view Friedman as biased in favor of Israel.

US ambassador to Israel David Friedman speaks at the Jewish federation’s annual General Assembly in Tel Aviv, on October 24, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The State Department official could not confirm reports that the consul general’s residence in Jerusalem would eventually become the home for the US ambassador as part of the embassy’s move to the city, which began last May.

Located near Jerusalem’s Old City, it has been the home of the consul general since 1912, while the US permanent diplomatic presence in the city was established in 1844.

Trump, who is expected to release his long-awaited peace plan in the coming months, has also cut more than $500 million in Palestinian aid in what the Palestinians have said is a bid to pressure them to negotiate.

 

Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu can’t get enough of each other. Here’s why 

March 3, 2019

Source: Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu can’t get enough of each other. Here’s why | The Times of Israel

A week of charges and accusations on either side of the ocean has been less than flattering for both leaders — but the two are hardly running away from each other

US President Donald Trump, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on May 23, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

US President Donald Trump, left, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on May 23, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

JTA — The Trump-Netanyahu alliance that both want you to see can be found in campaign posters in Israel: They feature the president of the United States and the prime minister of Israel in a warm handshake. The slogan reads, “Netanyahu, in a different league.”

But the two are courting comparisons that flatter neither: In the same week that Donald Trump was described as a cheat, con man and racist by his former fixer Michael Cohen, Netanyahu learned that Israel’s attorney general intended to seek his indictment for bribery, fraud and breach of trust.

The week of terrible, horrible, no good, very bad news appears to place the two leaders in a league of their own. But the two are hardly running away from each other.

Asked about the Netanyahu corruption charges at a news conference in Hanoi, during his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump replied, “He’s tough, he’s smart, he’s strong.” Added Trump: “He is very defensive. His military has been built up a lot. They buy a lot of equipment from the United States, and they pay for it.”

Netanyahu in turn seized on Trump’s generous assessment in his own angry, emotional defense Thursday night, delivered live on prime time television: “When I returned to Israel I heard this morning the words of support for me by US President Donald Trump. He praised, and I quote, my strong, intelligent and resolute leadership of the State of Israel. I thank my friend, President Trump, for his remarks.”

Added Netanyahu: “That unique relationship with the leaders of the world powers isn’t a trifling matter. It isn’t self-evident. I’ve been building it for many years, and it has helped me ensure our security and our future. It’s helped me safeguard our country.”

It should also be noted that he also spoke warmly of his “friend,” Russian President Vladimir Putin, with whom he met earlier in the week.

US President Donald Trump walks past Russia’s President Vladimir Putin, left, as they gather for the group photo at the start of the G20 summit in Buenos Aires, Argentina, November 30, 2018. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Americans who disdain both Trump and Putin — and fret the relationship between Trump and Putin — might find it odd that Netanyahu would call the pair as character witnesses. But Netanyahu’s message was meant for an Israeli audience, not a global one. Here’s how David Halbfinger of The New York Times imagined the subtext of Netanyahu’s remarks: “The presidents of the United States and Russia are my friends, and no one running against me can say that. It’s taken me years to build those relationships. Don’t throw them away. I am keeping you safe.”

Likud billboard on the side of the busy Ayalon highway in Tel Aviv. The title reads “Netanyahu, in a different league.” (Courtesy)

Similarly, Trump has strong domestic interests in holding Netanyahu close (besides his own personal tendency to love anyone who loves him back). Peeling pro-Israel voters and donors away from the Democratic Party has become a loud and early theme of the run-up to the 2020 elections among Republicans. The party’s efforts range from parliamentary maneuvering to holding all Democrats responsible for the latest anti-Israel outrages from House backbenchers like Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib.

Longtime Mideast hand Aaron David Miller put it this way in Politico: “Netanyahu — a charismatic native English speaker who is revered on the American right for his fervent opposition to Barack Obama and his nuclear deal with Iran — is all too willing to be a political asset for Trump. And making the Republican Party the champion of Israel, particularly given the divisions among the Democrats, is smart politics.”

Outside of pro-Israel politics and Jewish communal concerns, some saw a silver lining during a week in which the leaders of the United States and Israel were both alleged to have subverted the rule of law. While Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was denouncing Netanyahu for delivering a “cut to the heart of a functioning democracy,” others noted that Cohen’s House testimony and Netanyahu’s pending indictment showed two healthy democracies exercising their abilities to check their executive branches.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., speaks outside her home, Monday, December 31, 2018, in Cambridge, Mass. Warren on Monday took the first major step toward launching a widely anticipated campaign for the presidency, hoping her reputation as a populist fighter can help her navigate a Democratic field that could include nearly two dozen candidates. (AP Photo/Bill Sikes)

“[T]he fact that both countries have major problems doesn’t mean they’re doomed,” Zack Beauchamp wrote in Vox. “The past week has shown that in both the United States and Israel, key parts of the democratic systems are functioning in exactly the way they’re supposed to — as antibodies targeting an anti-democratic infection. Whether this will be enough in the long run is still very much an open question.”

Netanyahu is due in Washington later this month to address the American Israel Public Affairs Committee. It’s a fraught time, and not just because of Netanyahu’s legal woes.

AIPAC implicitly denounced the deal Netanyahu made to pull an extremist right-wing party into his camp ahead of the April elections. He will no doubt meet with Trump while in Washington. AIPAC faithful are happy to celebrate a president and prime minister who can’t seem to get enough of each other. But most American Jews can’t abide Trump, and aren’t exactly on board with Netanyahu.

And just as the most fervently pro-Israel voter is worried about a Democratic drift away from Israel, even centrists worry about the future of US-Israel relations if support for Israel and support for Trump and his party are seen as synonymous.

 

Iranian official: Israel feels threatened as US defense strategy ‘stalls’

March 3, 2019

Source: Iranian official: Israel feels threatened as US defense strategy ‘stalls’ | The Times of Israel

National Security Council secretary Ali Shamkhani says Israel concerned by threats from without and within; adds that ‘humiliated citizens’ of US Mideast allies will rise up

Screen capture from video of Ali Shamkhani, secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council. (YouTube)

A senior Iranian official on Sunday declared that US efforts to secure Israel have stalled and that the Middle Eastern country feels increasingly threatened.

“Despite the great resources that the US has invested in Israel’s security, their strategies have come to a halt,” Secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council Ali Shamkhani said, according to a report from the ISNA news agency.

Shakmani told reporters on the sidelines of a conference in Tehran that Israel “feels more threatened on its borders and even within them.”

Shamkhani also said US allies in the Middle East risk an uprising by their “humiliated citizens” if they continue to rely on Washington.

“Trump and even his underlings ridicule and humiliate Saudi Arabia and the [United Arab] Emirates day and night, saying that you’re nothing without us and cannot last a day without America’s support,” he said.

In October, Trump said that Saudi Arabia’s 83-year-old King Salman “might not be there for two weeks” without US military support. The comments were mostly shrugged off by Riyadh.

US President Donald Trump (C-L) and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud (C-R) arrive for the Arabic Islamic American Summit at the King Abdulaziz Conference Center in Riyadh on May 21, 2017 (AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN)

“Our prediction about America’s allies in the region is that if they continue the policy of relying on Islam’s enemies, they will face the uprising of their humiliated citizens,” said Shamkhani.

Iran’s relations with its Gulf neighbors have soured in recent years and tensions escalated last month when the Islamic Republic accused Riyadh and Abu Dhabi of being complicit in a suicide bombing that killed 27 Iranian troops.

The Islamic Republic’s Revolutionary Guards blasted the “traitorous governments of Saudi Arabia and [the] Emirates” and said Iran will no longer tolerate their “hidden support for anti-Islam thugs and Takfiri [Sunni extremist] groups.”

Mourners a carry flag-draped casket during a mass funeral for those killed in a suicide car bombing that targeted members of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard in Isfahan, killing at least 27 people. (AP Photo/Ebrahim Noroozi)

The February 13 bombing targeted a busload of Guards in the volatile southeastern province of Sistan-Baluchistan and was claimed by Jaish al-Adl, a Pakistan-based extremist group blacklisted by Iran as terrorists.

Last month the deputy commander of Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps said Tehran has plans “to break America, Israel, and their partners and allies” in worldwide attacks.

In a speech aired February 19 on Iran’s IRINN TV, Brig. Gen. Hossein Salami said Iran was preparing to “fight them on the global level, not just in one spot. Our war is not a local war. We have plans to defeat the world powers,” according to a translation published by the Washington-based MEMRI watchdog.

Tehran is also a major supporter of Lebanon’s Hezbollah and its “resistance” against the Islamic Republic’s arch-foe, Israel.

 

Hezbollah, Iran condemn Britain for outlawing terrorist group 

March 3, 2019

Source: Hezbollah, Iran condemn Britain for outlawing terrorist group – Israel Hayom

Hezbollah slams U.K. Parliament’s decision to outlaw it in its entirety, saying it has a political and popular force in Lebanon • Britain’s move means  support for  Hezbollah will be a criminal offense and could carry a 10-year prison sentence.

Associated Press, Reuters and Israel Hayom Staff // published on 03/03/2019
   
Hezbollah forces march in Lebanon 


The Lebanese Shiite organization Hezbollah on Friday strongly rejected the British government’s move to ban it as a terrorist organization, calling the measure an “insult” to the Lebanese people and evidence of subservience to the United States.

The House of Commons approved the government’s motion to outlaw Hezbollah in its entirety on Friday. The legislation passed days after the Home Secretary Sajid Javid determined it was impossible to distinguish between Hezbollah’s political and military activities.

In a statement issued in Beirut in response to the vote, Hezbollah said it is a “resistance” movement against Israeli occupation but also a political and popular force with representatives in the Lebanese parliament and government.

“The British government, by adopting this decision, has insulted the feelings, emotions and will of the Lebanese people which consider Hezbollah to be a significant political and popular force and granted it large representation in parliament and in the new government,” the statement said.

It was the first comment by the Iran-backed group on Britain’s move earlier this week to ban Hezbollah as a terrorist group, accusing it of further destabilizing the Middle East.

The British government’s decision means being a member of, or inviting support for, Hezbollah will be a criminal offense, carrying a sentence of up to 10 years in prison. Until now, the military wing of the Lebanon-based group has been outlawed in Britain, but not its political arm.

Hezbollah – Arabic for Party of God – is a Shiite Muslim movement that emerged during the early 1980s to fight Israel, with financial backing from Iran. The group maintains a formidable military force that rivals the Lebanese army. It is also a powerful political force that participated in elections, has members in parliament and the government, and dominates the country’s politics.

The U.S. and others accuse the group of destabilizing the region through its military intervention in Syria on the side of President Bashar Assad’s government.

The Hezbollah statement added that the U.K. decision is proof that the British government is “merely a puppet” that does the bidding of its American “masters.”

“No country in the world that embraces terrorism, funds and supports it has the right to accuse Hezbollah or any other resistance movement of being terrorist,” it said.

Long the most powerful group in Lebanon, Hezbollah’s influence has expanded at home and in the region. It controls three of 30 ministries in the government led by Western-backed Prime Minister Saad Hariri, the largest number ever.

Iran also criticized Britain over the weekend, saying the decision ignored both the will of a large portion of the Lebanese people and the Tehran-backed group’s role in fighting Islamic State.

“This British measure signifies deliberately ignoring a large part of the Lebanese people and the legitimacy and the legal position of Hezbollah in Lebanon’s administrative and political structure,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi was quoted as saying by state-run Islamic Republic News Agency.

“In addition to … helping preserve Lebanon’s territorial integrity over recent decades, Hezbollah has been one of the pillars of the fight against terrorism and terrorist groups such as Islamic State in the region,” Qasemi added.