July 24, 2014

Qatar/ Hamas’s collateral damage

jonathan-spyer

PJMedia, 22/7 The fight between Israel and Hamas in Gaza is presented in the global media as a local conflict featuring a well organized state with its army, against a small Islamist organization. This picture is misleading. Hamas is not an isolated or even an entirely independent player. Rather, it is a member of a broader regional alliance, which is seeking to benefit from the current situation. This is the alliance of Muslim Brotherhood forces in the Middle East. Qatar is the main … [Read more...]

The Fire This Time

Israel Defense Forces - Gaza Strip smuggling tunnel found near Egyptian border.

New York Daily News, 14/7 In recent years, even as the constant threat of terrorism from Hamas and Hezbollah loomed, Israelis would note the political conflagrations burning up the region all around them and would contrast these with the relative tranquility and normality in their own immediate neighborhood. These observations were made nervously, not with arrogance. Behind them was the assumption that it couldn’t last. Sooner or later, the wave of political fury sweeping the region … [Read more...]

Fractured States

Massoud Barzani, President of the Iraqi Kurdistan Region

Jerusalem Post, 4/7 In the latest evidence of ongoing fragmentation in what was once Iraq and Syria, Massoud Barzani, president of the Kurdish Regional Government in northern Iraq, this week announced his intention to hold a referendum in the coming months to decide the question of Kurdish independence. “I have said many times that independence is the natural right of the people of Kurdistan,” Barzani told the BBC in an interview. “All these developments [in Iraq] reaffirm that, and … [Read more...]

Kurdish Advances

A Kurdish Peshmerga (COBRA special forces) officer fires a PKM in Mosul, (iraqi) Kurdistan.

Jerusalem Post, 21/6 The stunning collapse of the Iraqi army in Mosul, and the rapid advance of the fighters of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) through Tikrit and toward Baghdad has created a new reality in Iraq. ISIS advances have continued this week; the organization has now taken the town of Tel Afar, with its 200,000 inhabitants, located west of Mosul. Iraq is now divided on a de facto basis into a Shi’ite south and center, including Baghdad, a Sunni, ISIS-dominated … [Read more...]

Second Front Opens in the Sunni-Shia War

A Syrian soldier manning a checkpoint near Damascus

The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) organization swept into the city of Mosul in western Iraq last week.  No one has any right to be surprised. ‬ ISIL has held a large swath of western Iraq since January – including the city of Fallujah.  The organization was clearly planning a larger scale offensive action into Iraq. ‬ In January it had carried out a strategic withdrawal from large swaths of Idleb and Aleppo provinces in Syria. This was intended to consolidate its … [Read more...]

ISIS’ ‘Islamic State’ is Born

AP photo via militant website

Jerusalem Post, 13/6 In a stunning and deeply significant development, the fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) organization this week captured the city of Mosul. They then moved on to take Tikrit unopposed and according to reports yesterday were headed toward the capital, Baghdad. Five-hundred thousand people have fled Mosul in the wake of its conquest by the jihadis. The city, which has an Arab majority population along with large Kurdish and Turkmen minorities, is … [Read more...]

No Excuse for Western Surprise Re ISIS Advances

Car bombings are a frequently used tactic by insurgents in Iraq.

  At the risk of sounding arrogant, I would like to say that western policymakers have no excuse for being surprised regarding the ISIS advance into western Iraq, and the fragmentation of that country.  I and a number of colleagues have been writing about the rise of the ISIS organization and other putative ‘successor authorities’ in Iraq and Syria and Lebanon, and the ongoing fragmentation of these countries on ethnic and sectarian lines, and the single sectarian war taking … [Read more...]

Written in Gratitude, on the 70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings of 1944.

Soldiers under fire on Queen sector of Sword Beach

A few years after I made aliyah, my parents sold the house that my sister and I had grown up in and moved to a sheltered housing facility for elderly people in north London. My mum and dad are warm and friendly people and they soon made friends with many of the other couples on the estate. Among these were a family by the name of Lamb – Ken Lamb and his wife Meeda. Ken Lamb was Devon-born, and Meeda was Welsh. Ken had worked for many years in the construction trade in London, and he and my … [Read more...]

Disaster in the Levant: the Syrian Civil War in its Fourth Year

Rebel fighters prepare to launch an anti-tank missile towards forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad in Maaret al-Naaman village, in Idlib April 30, 2014.

Fathom Magazine, 2/6  The Syrian Civil War is now grinding on into its fourth year. Over 150,000 people have died, and tens more are being killed every day in the ongoing fighting. Millions have lost their homes. Many will almost certainly never return to them. This is by far the greatest disaster to have hit the Levant in a generation. It has impacted not only Syria itself, but also its neighbours – with most profound implications for Iraq and Lebanon. Syria today has in many ways ceased to … [Read more...]

A Most Discreet Intervention

IDF soldiers prepare near Israeli-Syrian border

Jerusalem Post, 30/5 Israel offering limited assistance to rebels in southern Syria Since the outbreak of the civil war in Syria in 2011, Israeli officials have observed events to the north with caution and concern.  The concern has derived from the presence of anti-Israel paramilitary and terrorist elements on both sides of the fighting lines in Syria. The caution, meanwhile, relates to the very deep aversion felt in the Israeli system toward the possibility of Israel’s being sucked … [Read more...]