Archive for the ‘Israel’ category

Fatah Official: We Should Launch Popular Resistance Against Israel Because What Unites Us Is The Struggle Against It, Not Dialogue With It

March 22, 2017

Fatah Official: We Should Launch Popular Resistance Against Israel Because What Unites Us Is The Struggle Against It, Not Dialogue With It, MEMRI, March 22, 2017

In a March 21, 2017 article in the Palestinian daily Al-Quds, Fatah Central Committee member ‘Abbas Zaki wrote that nothing has changed since the 1967 defeat. Therefore, he said, Fatah must mobilize its tens of thousands of members and launch a popular resistance campaign against Israel, which all the other Palestinian factions will then join. He claimed that Fatah already did this in the past, after 1967, when its resistance operations “restored the Arab nation’s hope and realized the Palestinian legitimacy,” because “the sword is ever aimed [at the enemy] and the rifle comes before the olive branch.” He called on the Palestinian officials to continue pursuing Israel in international courts and to put the good of the homeland before their personal interests, as the “generation of pioneers” did.

The following are excerpts from his article:[1]

‘Abbas Zaki (image: Al-Quds, Jerusalem)

“How similar our current time is to yesteryear. In the June 1967 [war] we suffered defeat, and the [West] Bank, Sinai, and the Golan fell into Israeli hands. The leader of the [Arab] ummah, [Gamal] ‘Abd Al-Nasser, [felt] compelled to resign from his position and become a private citizen, [but] the public came out and stopped him from doing this. He had a high measure of national honor and people like him do not accept defeat, in accordance with his eternal slogan: What was taken by force cannot be restored by anything other than force, and therefore he decided on a war of attrition [against Israel].

“At the time, a message was sent to Fatah in Damascus that read: Oh, boys of Fatah, mobilize and fight, even by starting fires. If you don’t do this, Arab banners will never be raised [in these lands]. The leader of our path and the commander of our revolution, Yasser Arafat, took the hint and left for the occupied lands immediately – crossing the Syria-Jordan border and reaching the [Jordan] valley. The [deputy] commander of [Fatah’s] Al-‘Asifa unit, Abu Sabri Saidam, also followed suit. From there they crossed the Jordan River to the place their hearts yearned for – to Palestine, which is suffering the wound of the occupation and the disappointments of defeat…

“Fatah restored the nation’s hope and realized the Palestinian legitimacy by [creating] the PLO framework and with other achievements that cannot be downplayed. Despite the ups and downs, the sword remains aimed [at the enemy] and the rifle comes before the olive branch, while [Fatah] is showing the entire world that the Palestinian people are heroes who will never surrender or bend; that the smallest geographic region [can] occupy the world’s decision-makers; and that the Palestinian issue is the strongest card in the equation of Middle East conflicts…

“[We] require the awakening and practical action of tens of thousands of Fatah activists, [who must] join the civil popular resistance against the settlers and occupation forces, and their number will double once they are joined by national and Islamic parties and organizations, and by the entire public of our mighty people. For what unites the Palestinians is the struggle rather than the dialogue [with Israel], [a dialogue] which has already lost its effectiveness on all tracks. If the sweeping [masses] block the bypass roads [leading to the Israeli settlements in the West bank], Israel and the settlers will not remain [in the West Bank] because their presence there is motivated by their freedom [of movement] and an absence of resistance to their presence there as imperialists who occupy our Palestinian land.

“The government and the [PLO] Executive Committee need to pursue Israel in international courts for its ongoing crimes, presenting everything related to these issues: the settlements; the prisoners; the destruction of the foundations of Palestinian life; the crimes of arson, murder and demolition of homes, and the denial of our people’s freedom. [All this in order] to place Israel on the list [of countries that practice] apartheid, as the report of the [UN’s] Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia [ESCWA] stated – and we cherish the role played by [the commission’s former head,] Rima Khalaf, in this – and in order to place Jerusalem… at the top of the priority list of Palestinian missions on the economic level, and support the steadfast position and all needs of life in a manner befitting [Jerusalem’s] status as the eternal capital of Palestine and its spiritual status in the world.

“In order to belong to the generation of pioneers at this difficult phase, we must be loyal to the oath of devoting our time, money, and spirit to the homeland… and make sure that those who are concerned with the Palestinian cause will win out over those who seek privileges at the expense of the homeland… [All this] in order to fulfill our national dream of return and the establishment of an independent state with Jerusalem as its capital and our people’s right to self-determination. Each of us should ask himself what proof he can give that we are following in the footsteps of the great ones in order to rally our public – which is water and life, and the recipient of future rights. Long live the memory, the glory of the martyrs, and the freedom for prisoners.”

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[1] Al-Quds (Jerusalem), March 21, 2017.

Palestinians: Abbas’s Empty Promises

March 20, 2017

Palestinians: Abbas’s Empty Promises, Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh, March 20, 2017

Abbas’s modus operandi is to flee from his problems at home by presenting himself to the international community as a leader who seeks peace. With every lick of the flames that threaten to engulf his palace of deception, the 82-year-old Abbas runs to seek sympathy among world leaders and international public opinion. Abbas’s promises of peace are as empty as the political sway he parades to his Western donors.

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Notably, these calls in favor of an armed struggle against Israel were coming from the streets of Ramallah and not the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Abbas can make all the promises in the world to the new US envoy. Fulfillment of any of them, however, is a different story altogether.

Abbas knows anyhow that he would never be able to win the support of a majority of Palestinians for any peace agreement he signs with Israel. No Palestinian leader is authorized to offer any concessions to Israel in return for peace.

On the eve of US envoy Jason Greenblatt’s visit to Ramallah last week, hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in the city, calling on Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to resign. The protesters also condemned the ongoing security cooperation between the PA and Israel.

“Listen, listen to us, Abbas; collect your dogs and leave us alone,” the Palestinian protesters chanted during what has been described as the largest anti-Abbas demonstration in Ramallah in recent years. They also called for the abrogation of the Oslo Accords with Israel, and denounced Abbas as a “coward” and an agent of the Americans.

It is not clear if Greenblatt had been aware of the large anti-Abbas demonstration, which came in protest against PA security forces’ violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators in Ramallah a few days earlier.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right) meets with US envoy Jason Greenblatt (left), in Ramallah, on March 14, 2017. (Image source: NTDTV video screenshot)

At that protest, PA security officers used excessive force to disperse Palestinians who were demonstrating against the PA’s decision to prosecute four Palestinians for illegal possession of weapons. PA security forces arrested — and later released — the four suspects, although they had reportedly planned to carry out an attack against Israelis. One of the suspects, Basel Al-Araj, was killed in an armed clash with Israeli soldiers. (Al-Araj was wanted by Israel for planning an attack on Israelis. When Israeli soldiers surrounded the house where he was hiding, he opened fire from at them before he was killed.)

The killing of Al-Araj and the PA’s decision to prosecute his friends triggered the first protest that was brutally suppressed by the PA security forces. The second demonstration in Ramallah, a few days later, came in response to the excessive use of force by the PA security forces against the protesters.

The protests in Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinians, are yet another sign of growing discontent among Palestinians with Abbas and his autocratic regime. The Palestinians are particularly enraged over the Palestinian Authority’s security coordination with Israel, which is primarily aimed at combating terrorism and preventing Hamas from seizing control over the West Bank.

Yet this was far from a simple a protest against Abbas and his security forces. It was also a rallying cry for pursuing with further vigor the armed struggle against Israel.

“No to peace and no to all the nonsense, we want bullets and rockets,” some of the protesters chanted. Notably, these calls in favor of an armed struggle against Israel were coming from the streets of Ramallah and not the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The protests also reflect Palestinians’ rejection of the so-called peace process with Israel. In addition to the calls on Abbas to step down, the protesters demanded as well that the PA leadership cancel all agreements with Israel, first and foremost the Oslo Accords.

In other words, Palestinians are trying extremely hard to get their message across: Israel is our enemy, not our peace partner.

In a desperate bid to contain the growing resentment on the Palestinian street, Abbas ordered an inquiry into the police violence against the Ramallah protesters. In that episode, journalists and lawyers, too, were among those who were brutally beaten by Abbas’s security officers.

Still, many Palestinians voiced skepticism about Abbas’s intentions, and pointed out that previous commissions of inquiry into police violence have rarely led to punitive measures against those responsible. “The formation of a commission of inquiry into the police violence is another attempt by Abbas to contain the anger of the Palestinian street and avoid an intifada against his regime,” remarked a Palestinian journalist in Ramallah. “Abbas’s Zionist Palestinian Authority poses a threat to the Palestinian cause.”

As Abbas was meeting with the US envoy, a public opinion poll published in Ramallah showed that a majority of 64% of Palestinians would like to see their president resign. Another 61% of Palestinians expressed dissatisfaction with Abbas’s performance. The poll also found that if presidential elections were held in the West Bank and Gaza Strip today, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would receive the same percentage of votes as Abbas.

None of this — not the protests of rage and not the Palestinians’ expressions of disgust — appears to bother Abbas.

This is a president who seems utterly unconnected to reality — namely that a large number of Palestinians are disillusioned with him and see him as a puppet in the hands of Israel and the US. For now, he does not seem to care what his people think about him. But in the long run, he would never be able to deliver on any peace process with Israel without the backing of his people. Like his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, he does not want to go down in history as a “traitor” who sold out to Israel and the Jews.

Abbas, whose four-year-term term in office expired back in January 2009, is reported to have told the US envoy that a “historic” peace deal with Israel is possible. According to a statement released by the US Consulate in Jerusalem, Abbas also “committed to preventing inflammatory rhetoric and incitement (against Israel).”

So here is a Palestinian leader mouthing off about a “historic” deal with Israel, while only a few hundred meters away his people have made their message of rejection — of him and of peace — clear as a bell.

In a further irony, here is a Palestinian leader talking about preventing incitement while he and his media outlets and senior officials still spearhead a campaign to delegitimize and isolate Israel.

Just this week, Abbas decided to decorate for “bravery” senior UN official Rima Khalaf for publishing a controversial report that accuses Israel of “apartheid.” Khalaf has become a hero in the eyes of many Palestinians because of her report and subsequent resignation.

Abbas’s foreign minister, Riad Malki, has meanwhile voiced outrage over the UN secretary-general’s decision to drop the “apartheid” report (the reason Khalaf resigned). Malki said that the PA leadership has instructed all its embassies and representatives around the world to distribute the report as evidence of Israeli “crimes” against the Palestinians.

Abbas’s pledge to prevent inflammatory rhetoric against Israel seems to have missed his editors and journalists.

Take, for example, the Palestinian Authority-controlled media’s response to last week’s Jerusalem marathon. In the PA media, the sports event is depicted as part of Israel’s scheme to “Judaize” Jerusalem and change the “Arab and Islamic character” of the city.

In addition, Abbas’s media continues to portray visits by Jews to the Temple Mount as “provocative invasions” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Jewish visitors are described as “settler gangs” who carry out “suspicious tours” of Islamic religious sites. It is precisely this kind of terminology that is driving many Palestinians to carry out stabbings and car-rammings against Israelis.

Abbas can make all the promises in the world to the new US envoy. Fulfillment of any of them, however, is a different story altogether.

Abbas has had multiple opportunities to reach a “historic” deal with Israel, yet he has never delivered. Quite the contrary: he has repeatedly rejected offers for holding direct talks with Israel, insisting instead on pursuing his campaign to internationalize the conflict with the hope of imposing a solution on Israel.

Abbas knows anyhow that he would never be able to win the support of a majority of Palestinians for any peace agreement he signs with Israel. No Palestinian leader is authorized to offer any concessions to Israel in return for peace.

The “cordial” and “positive” meeting with the new US envoy will change nothing — certainly not Abbas’s stripes.

Abbas’s modus operandi is to flee from his problems at home by presenting himself to the international community as a leader who seeks peace. With every lick of the flames that threaten to engulf his palace of deception, the 82-year-old Abbas runs to seek sympathy among world leaders and international public opinion. Abbas’s promises of peace are as empty as the political sway he parades to his Western donors.

Opposition Builds Against Mattis Pick Who Met With Muslim Brotherhood

March 13, 2017

Opposition Builds Against Mattis Pick Who Met With Muslim Brotherhood, Washington Free Beacon, March 13, 2017

(Why and for what purpose does General Mattis want her at the Department of Defense? What do her views on the Muslim Brotherhood and anything else have to do with Department of Defense activities? The article does not indicate. — DM)

WASHINGTON, DC – NOVEMBER 04: Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs, Anne Patterson testifies during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill, November 4, 2015 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Opposition is mounting on Capitol Hill and in conservative foreign policy circles over Defense Secretary James Mattis’s efforts to hire a former Obama administration official who lobbied in favor of engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood and spearheaded efforts to criticize Israeli counter-terrorism efforts, according to multiple sources close to the Trump administration.

Mattis is lobbying to hire former diplomat Anne Patterson as undersecretary of defense for policy, according to multiple reports, a position that would make her the third most powerful voice at the Defense Department.

Multiple sources on Capitol Hill and those close to the Trump foreign policy teams are voicing concerns about the pick, warning that Patterson would seek to continue some of the former Obama administration’s most controversial foreign policies, such as conducting outreach to the Muslim Brotherhood.

Patterson, who served as U.S. ambassador to Egypt when the Muslim Brotherhood rose to power, advocated in favor of negotiating with the terror group. Her efforts drew outrage in the Egyptian reformist community, which still views Patterson as working to legitimize the Muslim Brotherhood.

As assistant secretary of state for near east affairs in the Obama administration, Patterson also led efforts to criticize Israeli authorities after they killed a Palestinian-American terrorist who was attempting to stab civilians.

Patterson’s record under the Obama administration has raised concerns on Capitol Hill, where she would require Senate confirmation in order to assume the Defense Department post.

Multiple sources who spoke to the Washington Free Beacon about the matter expressed opposition to the pick and outlined larger concerns about efforts by Mattis to hire former Obama administration officials who conservatives view as responsible for multiple failures in U.S. foreign policy.

These sources also expressed concern about the Trump administration’s failure to remove former Obama officials from the administration, citing the efforts by some to kneecap President Donald Trump’s foreign policy team and preserve Obama-era policies.

“This would be a disastrous choice,” one senior congressional aide tracking the matter told the Free Beacon. “Patterson has a well-documented track record of sticking up for extremist groups at every turn. Her selection would mean elevating someone whose views not only run counter to the president’s, but U.S. national security as well. The administration should seriously reconsider.”

A second senior Republican Senate aide expressed similar concerns. Patterson’s views run counter to the foreign policy outlook expressed by Trump on the campaign trail, the source noted.

There is mounting concern over the promotion of Patterson to such a senior role, according to the source, who said this would “would send the wrong message given her background in Egypt, in particular her sympathies to the Muslim Brotherhood.”

Insiders close to Trump’s national security team described mounting concern over Mattis’s efforts to hire Patterson.

“People concerned about the U.S.-Egypt relationship don’t know what to make of Mattis’s support for Anne Patterson,” said one source, who explained that Patterson’s record on Egypt is vastly different that Mattis’ own comments about recalibrating relations with the country.

“Egyptians I have spoken to, both in and outside government, are extremely worried right now,” the source added. “First, they can’t believe they might have to contend with Patterson’s pro-Brotherhood polices; and second, it’s causing them to re-evaluate who they thought Secretary Mattis is.”

As the Trump administration looks to reset years of strained relations with Cairo, the selection of Patterson could draw outrage from secular leaders who are still angered by her engagement with the Muslim Brotherhood, sources explained.

One Egyptian opposition leader who spoke to the Free Beacon during the 2013 revolution in Egypt described Patterson as “the first enemy of the revolution,” claiming “she is hated even more than [former Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed] Morsi.”

Patterson met in 2012 with Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie, who has been extremely critical of the United States.

Patterson still has strained relations with current Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. Reports in Middle Eastern publications indicated that Patterson pressured al-Sisi to release imprisoned Muslim Brotherhood members and later threatened him when he refused to do so.

Sources also raised questions about Patterson’s commitment to Trump’s foreign policy, which seeks to isolate fanatical religious organizations such as the Brotherhood and Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC.

Patterson cast doubt during a 2015 Senate hearing on efforts to designate the IRGC as a terrorist group, efforts that are likely to be revisited by Trump’s team.

One senior Republican foreign policy adviser who has close ties to the White House told the Free Beacon that Patterson would represent a continuation of the Obama administration’s failed engagement in the Middle East.

“Anne Patterson is the embodiment of the Obama administration’s failed approach to the Middle East, which focused on crowding out our traditional Arab allies with radical Islamists from Iran and the Muslim Brotherhood,” said the source, who requested anonymity to speak freely about the administration.

“As the post-Kerry State Department becomes less and less relevant, and the White House and Defense Department take over foreign policy strategy, it’s beyond irresponsible to put her in charge of the Pentagon’s policy apparatus,” the source said.

Living in Sderot: Ten seconds to save your life

March 13, 2017

Living in Sderot: Ten seconds to save your life, Rebel Media via YouTube. March 13, 2017

The blurb beneath the video states,

Less than 1 km from Gaza and the target of over 10,000 rockets, Mayor of Sderot, Alon Davidi, tells Sheila Gunn Reid why he stays in what he describes as “the front line in the battle against evil”.

The Turkish-Dutch culture clash

March 13, 2017

The Turkish-Dutch culture clash, Israel Hayom, Ariel Bolstein, March 13, 2017

How ironic that the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland (and you can be sure that others in the Old World will follow) suddenly praise sovereignty and protest against attempts by the dictator in Ankara to interfere in their affairs. Indeed, the actions of a variety of European bodies in regard to Israel are no different from those of Erdogan. He is trying to influence Europe’s internal affairs, funding organizations and communities that suit his outlook, and that is exactly what the EU is trying to do with us. At least Erdogan has an excuse in that he is to a great extent communicating with his citizens on the continent. But the Europeans interfere in Israel’s affairs with the aim of influencing its democratic elections, and without even the slightest justification for doing so.

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The recent confrontation between Turkey and the Netherlands is indicative of the significant change underway in both countries. It all began when the Netherlands prevented Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu from entering the country. Cavusoglu was scheduled to attend a rally in support of Turkish constitutional reforms that would increase presidential powers in the country. Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded to the move by calling the Dutch fascists and Nazis. Turkey has further threatened the Netherlands with sanctions.

For close to two decades, Turkey has put increasing emphasis on its Muslim identity and imperialist mission. Erdogan has succeeded relatively quickly in erasing much of the legacy of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder and first president of the Turkish republic. Instead of a secular and pro-Western republic, Turkey, now a regional power far from extolling liberal values, aspires to return to the days of the Ottoman sultanate. Erdogan might still be called a president, and Ankara might still be the capital, but in all other aspects, the country is more reminiscent of days of yore. A strong autocracy based on Islam that purports to force its positions on its citizens, neighboring countries and now even distant countries.

On the other side of the this diplomatic feud is the Netherlands, which has experimented with liberal democracy and extreme multiculturalism, and is only now beginning to understand that in certain precarious situations, neither will be their salvation. A large Muslim minority has taken root in several European countries that has not only refused to adopt Western values, but does not hesitate to confront those around it to impose its imported Islamic lifestyle. European weakness is primarily responsible, but there are other factors, such as countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Iran, which stir up the Muslim enclaves in Western Europe and fund, incite and guide them. In quite a few of the cities’ largest suburbs, the imams, selected by foreign, not local authorities, are effectively in control. The change is the willingness of the traditional European population to regain sovereignty at home.

How ironic that the Netherlands, Germany and Switzerland (and you can be sure that others in the Old World will follow) suddenly praise sovereignty and protest against attempts by the dictator in Ankara to interfere in their affairs. Indeed, the actions of a variety of European bodies in regard to Israel are no different from those of Erdogan. He is trying to influence Europe’s internal affairs, funding organizations and communities that suit his outlook, and that is exactly what the EU is trying to do with us. At least Erdogan has an excuse in that he is to a great extent communicating with his citizens on the continent. But the Europeans interfere in Israel’s affairs with the aim of influencing its democratic elections, and without even the slightest justification for doing so.

The current crisis between the Turks and the Europeans will eventually subside, one way or another, but a resolution to the imminent clash between the two cultures is nowhere in sight. Moreover, the points of friction between them will only multiply. Erdogan, who is used to galloping ahead and trampling his opponents at home and abroad, is not used to folding to anyone who is not equally as determined. And in Europe, they are sick of past capitulations, which only served to whet the appetites of Muslim immigrants o change the face of the continent and demand sovereignty. There will be no calm there.

IRGC-controlled Iraqi militia forms ‘Golan Liberation Brigade’

March 13, 2017

IRGC-controlled Iraqi militia forms ‘Golan Liberation Brigade’, Long War Journal, , March 12, 2017

(Please see also, Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards now opposite Israeli troops on 1967 ceasefire line in Golan Heights — DM)

Photo 1: Harakat al Nujaba Golan Liberation Brigade, as portrayed in propaganda video.

The IRGC’s goals in southern Syria are to crush Syrian opposition forces, and build the capability to open another front against Israel. The IRGC hopes a viable Golan foothold would serve as deterrence against Israel and US, and that it could activate in a future conflict, such as another Israel-Hezbollah war. For now, the IDF’s fortified posture in the Golan remains a difficult, if not futile, target for the Guard and its allies. The IRGC nevertheless intends to project steadfast commitment to ideological principles and defiance of adversaries.

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The Iranian-controlled Iraqi militia Harakat al Nujaba this week announced the formation of its “Golan Liberation Brigade.” While it is not uncommon for entities to name themselves after areas they aim to “liberate,” the militia’s spokesman has said that the unit could assist the Syrian regime in taking the Golan Heights, a region in the Levant that has been controlled by Israel since the 1967 Six-Day War.

If true, the unit would likely participate in a future offensive to capture territory from Syrian opposition in the part of the Golan Heights still controlled by Syria, before moving on to the much taller order of dislodging the Israelis across the border. This week’s announcement reflects Tehran’s priorities in southern Syria since finally taking the fiercely contested city of Aleppo late last year: crush Syrian opposition, and pose military threat to Israel from the Golan Heights. While the Islamic Republic is incapable of credibly challenging the Jewish state’s fortress in the Golan, reaffirming ideological commitment to fighting Israel signals defiance to a global audience amid a reportedly converging American-Arab-Israeli military alliance against Tehran.

Harakat al Nujaba, or Movement of the Noble, has sustained operations in the Syrian and Iraqi combat zones. An offshoot of the Iranian-backed militias Asaib Ahl al Haq and the Hezbollah Brigades, Harakat al Nujaba was formed in 2013 to fight in the Syrian Civil War as part of Iranian-led Iraqi expeditionary forces. The militia joined the Popular Mobilization Forces, the umbrella organization of Iraqi militia, the following year, after the Islamic State incursion into Iraq. Operating as one of the largest Iraqi-Shiite militia contingents in Syria, the militia has claimed to field 10,000 forces. Harakat al Nujaba played an important role in assisting Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) and pro-Syrian regime forces conquer Aleppo late last year.

The Iraqi militia functions as an extension of the Islamic Republic. Having sworn full allegiance to Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the militia promotes velayat-e faqih (guardianship of jurisprudence), the Islamic Republic’s founding ideology. Harakat al Nujaba takes direct orders from Major General Qassem Soleimani, the chief of the IRGC extraterritorial branch the Qods Force. Last year, the Iraqi militia, which is also known as Harakat Hezbollah al Nujaba, proclaimed that it and Lebanese Hezbollah, Iran’s most powerful foreign militia, were “the twins of resistance.”

The militia leader Akram al Kabi is close to the top Iranian leadership, including the supreme leader. A co-founder of the Asaib Ahl al Haq – itself an offshoot of the Mahdi Army – Kabi was designated in September 2008 by the US Treasury as a terrorist for aiding Iraqi insurgents. In 2015, he openly said he would depose the Iraqi government if Khamenei issued the order. Last year, top Iranian officials close to Khamenei gave Kabi a highly publicized reception in Tehran, unprecedented in scope and scale for a militia leader. This past December, Harakat al Nujaba publicized Kabi’s meeting with Khamenei on the sidelines of a conference in Tehran.

Harakat al Nujaba has divulged some details about the Golan Liberation Brigade. The commander of the militia’s forces in Syria released a statement declaring the unit to be a synthesis of combat experiences gained in Lebanon, Syria and Iraq. The militia’s official spokesman confirmed the event as a press conference March 8 in Tehran at the IRGC-affiliated Tasnim News Agency, saying the unit was formed following “recent victories” (an implicit reference to Aleppo). He claimed the Golan unit is comprised of “special” forces.

“Should the Syrian government make the request, we are ready to participate in the liberation of occupied Golan with our allies,” the spokesman said. “We will not permit the soil of Arab countries to remain in the grasps of occupiers.”

Harakat al Nujaba also released a video promoting the Golan unit that showed fighters marching in columns and carrying a banner reading, “Israel will be destroyed.”

(The video is at the link. — DM)

Tehran’s goal of establishing a foothold in the Golan Heights is not a secret. Last year, the head of the Israeli foreign and defense legislative committee revealed without divulging details that Israel had repelled several Iran-directed attempts to move forces into Syrian Golan Heights.

Senior Iranian military commanders are known to operate in Syrian Golan. Last July, the then-commander of the IRGC Basij paramilitary publicized an inspection of Quneitra by the Israel border. In January 2015, an Israeli strike in the area killed several high-value targets including IRGC Brigadier General Mohammad Ali Allah-Dadi and multiple Hezbollah operatives.

A chasm remains between the capabilities and ambitions of Harakat al Nujaba and the IRGC to retake the Golan from Israel. The combined forces of the Syrian regime and IRGC-led militias are no match for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), and this disparity is expected to hold for the foreseeable future. Israel could also adopt a more proactive approach in Syria to foil IRGC encroachment by the Golan, for example coordinating with Syrian rebels positioned in the area. Syrian Golan’s flat geography furthermore denies the IRGC suitable terrain to replicate the southern Lebanon model of concealing rocket launch sites dispersed across a widespread area, making it easier for the IDF to search and destroy weapons systems. For years, the IDF has been fortifying positions in the rocky plateau of Golan to face greater capabilities than the IRGC and its allies can muster.

Yet the claim to retake Israeli Golan underscores Harakat al Nujaba’s ideological commitment to the IRGC’s and Khamenei’s declared goal of destroying Israel. Khamenei and his top Guard generals have frequently spoken that that the divine hand would aid the faithful who take steps towards “divine-inspired” ideological principles.

Brandishing the formation of the Golan unit also challenges Arab countries on the Palestinian issue, as the Tehran has accused them of abandoning the cause in service of Israel. The Islamic Republic has slammed reported Arab-Israeli rapprochement and talks to form a US-brokered military coalition with the goal of countering Tehran, as covered in The Wall Street Journal. Last month, top Iranian government officials hosted another round of the Support of Palestinian Intifada Conference in a show of unity and defiance. This past week, Tehran’s interim Friday prayer leader this week excoriated “some leaders in Islamic countries who are with Zionists,” calling them “not human.” Suffering from loss of legitimacy over support of Syrian President Bashar al Assad against a Sunni-Arab uprising and nervous over a converging Israeli-Arab alliance, the Islamic Republic is projecting to the globe and “sell-out”Arab leaders a defiant commitment to fighting Israel.

The Iraqi militia’s Golan unit and IRGC-led expeditionary forces could help pro-Syrian regime forces take opposition-held areas in the south. In February 2015, IRGC-led forces launched a failed campaign in the Daraa and Quneitra in the south. Since conquering Aleppo last year, the IRGC-led expeditionary forces and other pro-Syrian regime forces have been able to redirect their dwindling assets to several fronts in north, central, and south Syria. Pro-regime forces backed by Russian air power have been pounding Daraa in the south for more than a month to slow an opposition offensive, and have recently launched a new bid to capture it. An IRGC colonel was also killed last month in the area. A pro-Syrian regime propaganda outlet late last month reaffirmed the government’s intention to retake all of Daraa and open a major border crossing with Jordan. Meanwhile, pro-regime forces have made progress in the northern pocket of Quneitra Governorate, located in the Syrian-controlled part of the Golan.

Map 1: southern Syria front, March 2017. Red: pro-Syrian regime forces. Green: rebel forces including Free Syrian Army and al Qaeda-affiliate Jabhat Fath al Sham. Black: Islamic State affiliates. Credit: Liveuamap.

The IRGC’s goals in southern Syria are to crush Syrian opposition forces, and build the capability to open another front against Israel. The IRGC hopes a viable Golan foothold would serve as deterrence against Israel and US, and that it could activate in a future conflict, such as another Israel-Hezbollah war. For now, the IDF’s fortified posture in the Golan remains a difficult, if not futile, target for the Guard and its allies. The IRGC nevertheless intends to  project steadfast commitment to ideological principles and defiance of adversaries.

Photo 2.
Photo 3: Harakat al Nujaba Golan Liberation Brigade flag at front, and “Israel will burn” banner in the back.

Amir Toumaj is a Research Analyst at Foundation for Defense of Democracies.

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards now opposite Israeli troops on 1967 ceasefire line in Golan Heights

March 12, 2017

Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guards now opposite Israeli troops on 1967 ceasefire line in Golan Heights, Jihad Watch

(Please see also, Iranians at the gate. — DM)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has stated:

The threat of Shia Islamic terror is directed not only against us, but against the region and the entire world.

Perhaps Israel, more than any other nation, fully understands what “radical Islamic terrorism” is, and its primary goal of obliterating Israel.

“We do not want to see Shia Islamic terrorism led by Iran step in to replace Sunni Islamic terrorism,” Mr Netanyahu told the Russian President.

Iran continues attempts to destroy the Jewish state. They speak of this openly and write this in black and white in their newspapers.

Iran is now in a strategic position to try to destroy Israel directly (instead of through its proxies) as it expands its Shia base into Iraq and Syria.

Netanyahu could also not be clearer in his message that replacing Sunni terrorism with Shia terrorism is counterintuitive. Netanyahu is right about the global danger of mainstream Shia and Sunni terrorism, which is normalized in all too many Islamic states, not just in the Islamic State.

Netanyahu also once stated:

Islamic terrorism is inundating the world and inciting millions in many countries, from Jakarta to Africa to California.

“Iranian Revolutionary Guards opposite Israeli troops on 1967 ceasefire line in Golan Heights as tensions mount,” by Lizzie Dearden, Independent, March 10, 2017:

Benjamin Netanyahu has accused Iran of using the Syrian civil war to “gain a foothold to fight Israel” amid fears over Iranian troops stationed along the border with the occupied Golan Heights.

Tehran is supporting Bashar al-Assad with deployments of the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), Basij militia and funding to allied militias including Hezbollah.

The IRGC are now reported to be present in Syrian-government controlled territory along the 1967 ceasefire line in the Golan Heights, which has seen months of Israeli air strikes met with rockets fired towards the Israel Defence Forces (IDF).

Brigadier General Mohammad-Reza Naghdi, a commander in Iran’s Basij force, was pictured surveying the border, while a Shia paramilitary group has formed a “Golan Liberation Brigade”.

Harakat Hezbollah al-Nujaba, an Iraqi force backed by Iran, is “ready to take action to liberate Golan” from Israeli occupation, according to spokesman quoted by Iranian state media this week.

The deployments have made the Iranian government a major power broker in the Syrian civil war, meeting with Russian and Turkish representatives at ceasefire talks in Astana, Kazakhstan.

In a meeting with Vladimir Putin on Thursday, the Israeli Prime Minister said that any truce must not allow the continued presence of Iranian forces in Syria.

“We do not want to see Shia Islamic terrorism led by Iran step in to replace Sunni Islamic terrorism,” Mr Netanyahu told the Russian President.

“Iran continues attempts to destroy the Jewish state. They speak of this openly and write this in black and white in their newspapers.

“Today, we have our own country and our army, and we can defend ourselves. But I want to say that the threat of Shia Islamic terror is directed not only against us, but against the region and the entire world.”

He told reporters Iran was “arming itself and its forces against Israel including from Syria territory and is, in fact, gaining a foothold to continue the fight against Israel”.

After the meeting, the Israeli Prime Minister said the removal of Iranian forces from Syria were vital to “prevent misunderstandings”.

“I made it clear that regarding Syria, while Israel is not opposed that there should be an agreement there, we strongly oppose the possibility that Iran and its proxies will be left with a military presence in Syria under such an agreement,” Mr Netanyahu added.

A statement released by the Kremlin said he and Mr Putin discussed “joint efforts to combat international terrorism” and examined areas of bilateral cooperation.

Two years ago, Israel and Russia agreed to coordinate military actions over Syria in order to avoid accidentally trading fire but the risk of skirmishes is increasing as pro-Assad forces fight for more territory in the Golan Heights….