Beyond the Cusp

July 9, 2016

President Museveni Speech at Entebbe and Netanyahu’s Speech Commemorating Entebbe Raid

 

Remembering Yoni Netanyahu and the Entebbe Raid of July 4, 1976 Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni

 

These speeches speak entirely for themselves and need no comment from us, enjoy.

Benjamin Netanyahu gives speech at Entebbe on 40th Anniversary of Entebbe raid

Thank you for viewing.

Beyond the Cusp

June 5, 2016

Final Weeds in the MENA Garden, Syria, Yemen, Iraq and Iran

 

In a nutshell Syria has a fair measure of the powers in play in the Middle East and into North Africa. In addition we will also need to mention areas centered on Nigeria where Boko Haram is centrally located making war on Nigeria and all her neighboring states. Then there is Yemen and two straits, Bab el-Mandeb and finally the Strait of Hormuz which are all parts of the Iranian designs which start with the Shiite Crescent from the Indian Ocean to the Mediterranean Sea and control of the two most important waterway choke points in the Middle East affecting everything from the eastern tip of Asia to the Western tip of Europe including the British Isles. But it all starts with Syria and the last block to the Shiite Crescent.

 

Iran sits conveniently at the eastern edge just beyond the Arab Muslim Empire and as such is mostly a different peoples east of the Zagros Mountains which have served as a defensive barrier thousands of years. This was the secret of the Persians and why despite falling to Islam they remained separate and distinct. Still, if Iran was ever to claim the right as the head of a Caliphate they were going to need to establish two things, a connection unobstructed to the Mediterranean Sea and thus full access to North Africa and South Europe and a mass alteration of Islam making Shia Islam dominant over Sunni Islam. The first is a major step towards the second. The hope was once Iran had access to the Mediterranean cutting across the Middle East gaining direct or implied control over much of Iraq, Syria and Lebanon they would appear, as Islam claims to be the superior, the strong horse and thus could influence many that Sunni Islam was weak and Shia Islam was dominant and thus start the conversion of Sunni Muslims to Shia Islam and thus become the dominant force reestablishing both the historic Persian Empire and taking over the new Caliphate and the lead position over nearly two-billion Muslims.

 

Iran had taken control of Lebanon when they took sponsorship of Hezballah which initially was a universally recognized terror group which was fighting the Christian militias and had also fought against the IDF using terrorist strikes in an attempt to wear Israel down and force their capitulation and return to south of the recognized international border known as the Blue Line. Eventually a left leaning government bent to the protests and declared an end to what they called a tragic period in Israeli history completely forgetting the reasons, the valid reason that brought Israel into southern Lebanon. Israel replied to the hue and cry of the Christians of southern Lebanon as Syrian troops invaded Lebanon aiding Hezballah who were facing being slaughtered and Israel responded to an intense threat of a human disaster in the making as had already been committed to the initial Christian communities near the Syrian border. Israel, Ariel Sharon in particular, was blamed for a revenge strike on Sabra and Shatila massacring the Muslims which were carried out by the Christian militias and not the IDF. Still the world could not blame the Christian militias as they were irregular fighters and as such were not sufficiently organized with a command structure and as such their silence made finding those responsible became impossible so the work picked the next best thing, Israel. Europe had what seems like a default setting that if it happens in the Middle East, then when in doubt, blame Israel.

 

Once Israel retreated from southern Lebanon the Lebanese military was supposed to move in with United Nations oversight. Neither occurred and in many instances the United Nations aided Hezballah in their efforts to set up a series of tunnels as well as arms caches and command and control bunkers. This eventually led to another Israeli incursion into Lebanon after Hezballah kidnapped, and subsequently murdered three Israeli soldiers and killed five other soldiers at the point of the ambush inside Israel when they caught a patrol vehicle off guard and unsuspecting any incursion across the border from Lebanon. Iran uses Hezballah as their threat against Israel and has armed them to a point which is truly frightening as Iran has stocked Hezballah with at least one-hundred plus long range missiles and uncountable limited range rockets which have as much as a fifty kilometer range. Amongst the longer range missiles are stores of Zilzal-2 and Fateh-110 provided by Iran bringing them into Damascus and shipping them over land often on their own mobile vehicles. This is the threat Iran would threaten to unleash on Israel had Israel actually struck at Iranian nuclear sites and likely will be the first strike against Israel whenever Iran decides that they will attack the Jewish homeland. The total is well over two-hundred-thousand rockets and missiles from ten to twenty kilometer Grads, Fajr series, Shahab series and Ghadr missiles. Then there are the mid-range Scud series of ballistic rockets and then the more advanced guided missiles which the most advanced has two stages and Iran can strike Israel from Iran with these longer range Missiles so Lebanon can not only strike Israel but also northern Saudi Arabia and Egypt as well as all of Turkey and anywhere within Syria or Jordan and much of Iraq. With these longest range missiles stationed in Iran and Lebanon the range brings them to command coverage over the entire Middle East and beyond, a definite threat to the heart of Sunni Islam, exactly what Iran envisioned as their way to claim command over all of Israel. Their problem, Syria collapsed and nobody can claim complete control over Syria as well as over Iraq, the two breaking Iran’s Shiite Crescent in two.

 

Iran is not the only outside power with an interest in Syria. The most straight forward national interest belongs to the Russians who have one main port at Latakia and potential other locations along the Mediterranean shoreline which provides them a warm water port with easy access to the Atlantic Ocean. The Russian plan is likely to reposition a fair share of their Black Sea naval forces to the Syrian ports thus placing them beyond the Bosphorus which could easily be closed any time that Turkey might decide they are upset with the Russians. The teetering of the relationship between Turkey and Russia became very evident a few months ago when Turkey shot down a Russian fighter jet claiming it had flown into Turkish air space, something very likely as Russia has been bombing locations in support of Bashir al-Assad who has lost control over much of the nation he once ruled unchallenged. Now there are a number of militias and terror groups each commanding their own parts with Assad, the Kurds and Islamic State have the largest locations under their control. Other areas are controlled by the al-Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda offshoot, Free Syrian Army, Jaish al-Izzah, Levant Front, Alotfecat Brigades, and offshoots divided into Syrian Opposition-al-Qaeda network, Federation of Northern Syria, Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant or Islamic State. Each of these groups have so many offshoots that it becomes cumbersome to even begin to list them but for those who desire a detailed list one can be found here With al-Assad opposing these groups are the remains of the Syrian Army, Russian Naval and air support, Hezballah and some Druze militias are fighting in support of Bashir al-Assad whose control is limited to the westernmost areas of Syria including Damascus and the port cities which the Russians are defending with occasional air attacks flown against the terror forces but usually avoiding the Kurds and Islamic State and striking the weaker forces which al-Assad might be better poised to defeat.

 

Military Situation in the Syrian Civil War Areas of Control  by Major Force Divisions as of June 3, 2016.

Military Situation in the Syrian Civil War Areas of Control
by Major Force Divisions as of June 3, 2016.

 

The Kurdish Militias are holding the northernmost areas largely against the Islamic State. Turkey has provided bombing targets used for the United States air strikes as President Obama micromanaging their actions by putting their orders for strikes to Turkish intelligence. This has resulted in many of these strikes instead of targeting the Islamic State side of the conflict line are instead striking the Kurdish side making the situation more favorable for the Islamic State. The saving grace was that the Russians protested the NATO air strikes as interfering with Russian air strikes and set where the United States and Turkish fighter jets are restricted to a corridor which has actually favored the Kurdish forces. This became serious after Turkey shot down the Russian Fighter Jet. What is not discussed publically is the agreement between Russia and another air force in the area allowing for Israel to conduct tactical strikes in response to any attacks against Israeli forces on the Golan Heights. This was negotiated between President Putin and Prime Minister Netanyahu in Moscow early in the Russian intervention. This has proven necessary a number of times as the different forces have intentionally fired on IDF troops damaging vehicles and causing some injuries which required at times a more serious response than a couple of artillery or tank shells as a position required removal. These strikes barely make comment even within Israel but there have been some reports in a few of the smaller nationalist and Zionist sources online and in print.

 

Likely the most notable forces have been those of the Islamic State due to their early success largely in Iraq. They took control of the Sunni northern and central areas bordering southern Syria as the mostly Shiite Iraqi army forces simply fled or attempted to melt into the public. Their difficulty was that many of the Sunni civilians who these troops had tormented got their revenge turning over those Shiite soldiers who were guilty of such inter faction fighting. The Islamic State after their fast conquest of largely open areas and a few key cities in Iraq have now settled into defensive posture as they were close to overextension which had allowed for some key cities and towns being reclaimed. The Islamic State holds large open areas in Syria which are mostly desert and open scrublands which were sparsely populated. Their supposed massive victories were somewhat overblown in the hyperventilating Western media as they were hungry for a big story so every gain of the Islamic State, even those which were made in areas where they were unopposed were claimed to be grand expansion of their military control. The main story they should have never strayed from was the Islamic State’s brutality. This alone is the reason that the Islamic State deserves being liquidated by whatever means are necessary and this fight should be carried out largely by indigenous troops. Any support by Western forces should be limited to providing air support and precision strikes on such targets as command and control facilities and fixed positions as well as taking out the Western armor and other Western equipment. Other than such air support and potential cruise missile or drone strikes the Western ground forces should not be placed in harm’s way as such assistance is more often not appreciated and often used as reasons for protests and resentment. They should not risk being dragged into what may prove to be a prolonged number of operations in order to clear out pockets of resistance. As far as Syria, that too should not require any Western ground forces and be left to indigenous forces with support from Turkey, Jordan, Iraq, Iran and potential financing from Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States.

 

Yemen Battle Map

Yemen Battle Map

 

The other front that needs addressing also has an Iranian contingent in Yemen. Iran is also attempting to gain the ability to completely disrupt all maritime trade by holding military threat over two of the most sensitive straights in all of the Middle East, Bab el-Mandeb and finally the Strait of Hormuz. The Bab el-Mandeb cuts off Israeli maritime access from the Red Sea on the way to the Indian Ocean and on to the rest of Asia and the Pacific as well as blocking any use of the Suez Canal by cutting off its southern access. The Strait of Hormuz has a large portion of the world’s crude oil shipping. Iran already holds threat over the Strait of Hormuz as one side of the entire Persian Gulf borders Iran (a huge ‘no duh’). This threat Iran has had and used since the Islamic takeover in 1979 requiring the United States to intervene as well as to bring in minesweepers to clear mines which Iran had strewn as part of their cutting off of the Strait of Hormuz. The Bab el-Mandeb sits off the southwestern most border of Yemen which borders the southernmost Red Sea. This is the other choke point other than the Suez Canal itself. The Suez Canal is safely within the borders of Egypt between the Sinai Peninsula and main body of Egypt which has only faced a force other than Egyptian when Israel held the Sinai briefly in 1956 and for a number of years after the Six Day War in 1967 until Egypt and Israel made peace in 1979. Israel never threatened to close the Suez Canal though it may have been risky using the Suez Canal during the 1973 Yom Kippur War as initially Egyptian troops were pouring across into the Sinai and within a few days after Israel mobilized and struck back were crossing the Suez Canal and for a while held both shores but withdrew back across the Canal into the Sinai after the world demanded Israel cease winning the war and immediately stop advancing on Alexandria and Cairo. Funny, there was no call for Egypt to stop their advance across the Sinai intending to strike into Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. I guess Egypt advancing and defeating Israeli defenders is completely different than Israel advancing and defeating Egyptian forces. Should Iranian Houthi rebels take control over sufficient areas of Yemen and a peace leave the areas in the southeastern end of Yemen then Iran would have access to blocking the Bab el-Mandeb and blocking the Suez Canal which would end all oil and maritime trade with Europe forcing those hardy enough to try having to circle the south end of the African Continent. That used to be a difficult and dangerous route before the canal and the main reason the Suez Canal was built. Iran desires to hold a stranglehold over maritime trade and oil trade thus being able to threaten the world and especially threaten Europe. That is why Egypt is assisting in Yemen and the West had best have an interest in what happens in Yemen, even if not as much in Syria.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

June 3, 2016

Weeds in the MENA Garden

 

 

If one were to ask the European Union, the United States, the United Nations and the world media who is responsible for the unrest throughout the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) the resounding echoes would continue to scream Israel for likely the rest of eternity, but is that an honest assessment or simply a knee jerk automatic programed response spurred by anti-Israel, anti-Zionist, anti-Semitic hatreds? The easiest way to tell would be to take a quick whirl around the MENA nations and see what the truth is. Let us start our excursion at the western edge and head to the east and see what we will see.

 

A map of MENA nations is almost up to date and is only missing the Sudan, and as the Sudan was split after years of tribal and religious violence, South Sudan; and some go so far as to include Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Djibouti, Eretria, and Somalia.

A map of MENA nations is almost up to date and is only missing the Sudan, and as the Sudan was split after years of tribal and religious violence, South Sudan; and some go so far as to include Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Djibouti, Eretria, and Somalia.

 

Coming into the North of Africa from the Atlantic Ocean the first country we would visit would be Western Sahara where we would find Morocco has occupied Western Sahara since 1975 in violation of resolutions by the United Nations Security Council and International Court of Justice ruling. Any efforts to dislodge Morocco from Western Sahara have been blocked directly by the United States whose full support of the Moroccan occupation shows no sign of relenting. The conflict reemerged as the “Independence Intifada” in 2005 which has remained as depicted in map below. Despite numerous efforts to defuse the situation the standoff remains.

 

Occupied Western Sahara  by Morocco Shaded Area  and Western Sahara Unshaded

Occupied Western Sahara
by Morocco Shaded Area
and Western Sahara Unshaded

 

Continuing on from the Morocco-Western Sahara conflict we next visit Mauritania which has had a rocky recent history including two military coups, the first was in 2005 followed eventually by elections for a new president in 2007 followed by the second coup in 2008. General Abdul Aziz took power after the coup but found the nation had few supporters amongst them predominantly were Morocco, Libya and Iran while the United States and European nations rejected the legitimacy of the coup continuing to refer to Abdallahi as the legitimate president of Mauritania. After the resignation of Abdallahi there were elections which allowed Abdel Aziz to become the civilian president. In February 2011 there were waves of unrest as the Arab Spring spread to Mauritania demanding President Mohamed Abdel Aziz institute political, economic, and legal reforms. The unrest culminated in April of 2012 as thousands of people in Mauritania attended demonstrations in the capital calling for President Mohamed Abdel Aziz to resign. Currently the nation is under military rule with the legal system based on Islam and Sharia.

 

Heading across the southern end the picture in Mali, Niger and Chad is the constant internal strife between Christian governments and Islamic uprisings with much of the major horrific attacks conducted by the terrorist group Boko Haram which literally means Western education is forbidden. Boko Haram follows Saudi Wahhabism and has pledged their loyalty to the Islamic State. Along the north there has been steady unrest in Algeria and especially Libya since the NATO backed coup where President Obama declared that the United States was leading from behind in the ouster of and eventual execution (murder) of Colonel Muammar Gaddafi. In Libya the nation is in fractious rule of numerous terror groups and tribal armies with some having declared alliance with the Islamic State. In the south east there is the Sudan which bled in the south especially in the Darfur area. Eventually the Sudan was force to divide allowing South Sudan to become independent. In October of 2015, South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir issued a decree establishing twenty-eight states in place of the ten constitutionally established states. The decree established the new states largely along ethnic lines. He took it to the parliament for approval as a constitutional amendment in November and the South Sudanese parliament empowered President Kiir to create new states.

 

This brings us to Egypt where the recent history has played out live and large in the Western media. The Arab Spring riots led to the removal of President and military strongman Mubarak. The elections were held fairly soon after Mubarak was forced to step down largely by the United States backing of the Muslim Brotherhood. These elections overwhelmingly approved Muslim Brotherhood candidate Morsi to the presidency and a large Muslim Brotherhood majority in the parliament. Within the year new rioting broke out protesting the implementation of Sharia despite warnings from Turkish President Erdogan to the Morsi government to slow their radical changes or face resistance. This led to the military removing Morsi and arresting him for election fraud. New election instated former General of the Army Sisi as President though he still had an Islamist and presumed Muslim Brotherhood controlled parliament. The Obama administration refused to recognize Sisi and demanded that Morsi be reinstated; a request which was roundly ignored. Unrest still exists between Egypt and the United States which will be resolved by the Presidential election this November in the United States. As to what either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump might choose to do is a complete mystery at the present time as neither has addressed foreign policy beyond Hillary’s claim to deep knowledge claiming her time as a Senator of New York and a stint as Secretary of State under President Obama which included the Benghazi, Libya fiasco amongst other miscues and Trump claiming to have conducted business deals with numerous foreign governments and met many world leaders though particulars remain largely unconfirmed. Egypt has also faced unrest largely from the Muslim Brotherhood and the Islamic State where both are vying for control of the Sinai from where they would presumably unseat Sisi and retake the presidency. Hamas in Gaza was seen as providing assistance to these and some Iranian backed groups in the Sinai thus earning themselves a complete sea and land embargo enforced by Egypt from their waters and land borders with Gaza. The Egyptian blockade is often ignored with the large amount of attention paid to the Israeli “blockade” which is actually an inspection of goods before allowing their delivery to Gaza usually within one or two days done to assure that weapons are not being imported by Hamas and the other terror groups which rule Gaza. Egypt too is a work in progress.

 

We will return to Israel subsequently but meanwhile on to Lebanon where the terror groups Hezballah runs the government with an opposition often afraid to act to remove the terror group as previous attempts have resulted in untimely deaths. Lebanon cannot be addressed without discussing Syria and the state of war which has more facets than hewn crystals. The main three forces are Syrian dictator Bashir al Assad who has retreated to the Alawite tribal areas along the Mediterranean coast and Lebanese border. Assad is backed by Iran and their proxy, Hezballah, out of Lebanon. These are the Shiite forces which also receive tactical support largely in the form of air strikes by the Russians who are protecting their port area along the Mediterranean coast. Inland there are Sunni groups, oft referred to as terror groups, supported largely by Saudi Arabia and Turkey. Finally there are the forces of the Islamic State which stretch into Iraq where they face the Iraqi Army backed by Iran who uses mostly IRGC (Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps) placing Iran at either end of the Islamic State. The Islamic State has been largely self-financed though there have been rumored support from Qatar. There is another group in northern Iraq and extending into northeastern Syria which is controlled by Kurdish Militias which are opposed strongly by Turkey. The Kurdish forces were at one time rumored to be receiving training by Israeli trainers on a clandestine mission though many have refuted that this was just a means of explaining the Kurdish forces resilience and holding their own against Islamist forces considered to be better equipped.

 

This takes us to the Saudi Peninsula and Jordan which we can count as a single unit of the GCC (Gulf Coordination Council) which is a group backed mostly by Saudi Arabia which includes Kuwait and the Gulf States and to a lesser extent, Jordan. Saudi Arabia has a close working relationship with the Egyptian government of President Sisi who are jointly facing terror groups including those supported or aligned with Islamic State as well as Iranian backed terrorists and the Houthi Tribes in the Yemen civil war, a front where Iran backed and Saudi Arabian backed forces are in direct confrontation. The United States has opposed and presumably attempted to prevent, though with little success, arms shipments to the Houthis by Iran and also opposed the bombing sorties from Saudi Arabia with equal lack of success and the belligerents continue to fight on. In the southernmost areas of Yemen, the prized areas which overlook the narrow passage from the Red Sea into the Arabian Sea, called Bab el-Mandeb Strait are a group of fighters originally claiming alliance with al-Qaeda but recently changing their alliance to presumably the Islamic State. These groups have benefited directly from Saudi raids as has the currently recognized Hadi-led government.

 

Yemen Battle Map

Yemen Battle Map

 

Lastly let us finally look at Israel. On the Golan Heights IDF (Israeli Defense Forces) have returned fire when fired upon by intention and otherwise has unofficial drop points for wounded individuals, civilian and combatant though no difference is noted, wounded and in need of treatment. IDF soldiers take these wounded and treat them in their field facility with the more serious cases transferred to Israeli hospitals for treatment. After treatment the individuals once sufficiently recovered are returned from whence they came at same drop points. All sides can view the individual drop points and all points are respected by other fighting factions in an unarranged agreement as all sides use this treatment method and no one side wishes to risk being cut-off from Israeli treatment and have to rely on whatever resources they have available. We have no information as to whether any Iranian forces have received treatment from the Israelis though if placed in civilian clothing they would receive the same treatment as any other individual. The Israeli border with Lebanon is currently quiet as Hezballah has sufficient on their plate with forces in the Syrian conflict and rumored even to have some fighting with IRGC or Houthis in Yemen. Intelligence believed to be accurate estimated that Hezballah has stores of rockets of varying size and capable of striking Tel Aviv, Bathsheva and even Ashkelon as well as guided missiles from Iran capable of striking anywhere in Israel including the southernmost port city of Eilat carrying warhead as large as two kilos and potentially five or ten up to one-hundred kilos warheads on their short and medium ranged rockets of which they possess as many as one-hundred-seventy-five-thousand. On their larger missiles they have warheads of as much as seven-hundred-fifty kilos on modified Zilzal-2 with a four-hundred km range and which they possess an estimated one thousand. Their Fateh-110 missile has a range three-hundred km range striking at Mach 3.5 carrying a four to seven-hundred kg warhead of which Hezballah possess more than twenty-thousand and lastly there is the Shaheen-II two stage missile which has a range of two-thousand km making able to strike anywhere in Israel and into Egypt. Each missile is capable of flight altitude of up to three-hundred km, is GPS guided, and varies a one-thousand plus kg warhead making it potentially capable of carrying a nuclear warhead and retaining it guidance hardware. It is doubtful that Iran has, let alone provided Hezballah with a deliverable nuclear warhead. Such is not far from the horizon for Iran but their providing Hezballah with such a weapon is doubtful.

 

The remaining fronts for Israel are with Jordan and Egypt which are both peaceful and with the Palestinian Authority (PA) in Judea and Samaria as well as with Hamas and ally Islamic Jihad and other terror and criminal groups in Gaza. The front with the PA is largely one where there are terror strikes which can be planned by Abbas and the his PLO terror groups or the less planned but instigated through calls for violence from PA figures, PLO figures or any of a litany of groups most of which are either headed by Mahmoud Abbas or are willful practitioners at his beck and call. The most recent round were stabbings carried out largely by Palestinian Arab and some Israeli Arab youths as well as car rammings along with rock and Molotov cocktail throwing with rioting which are carried out routinely by PA controlled terror groups, the Tamini family instigators who work closely with European Union and other European NGOs whose main aims are to cause any violent response by Israel which is filmed and the instigation causing the defensive act is edited and with careful editing and juxtaposition of stock footage, prerecorded footage or actual footage with any questionable instigations by the Arabs edited over or out completely compiled into the final product which is then transmitted throughout European news agencies within a matter of a couple of hours and they run with it unedited as if it were an actual news story followed by their governments and the European union then condemning Israel for use of disproportional force or the commission of war crimes and crimes against humanity. The Gaza front is another area where Iran attempts with some success to smuggle arms mostly containing rocket motors and rocket parts and technology. Funding for Hamas comes from UNRWA as well as from the PA making the European Union, United States, United Nations and individual European nations as well as numerous Arab countries direct or indirect financiers of Hamas terrorism and rocket attacks as well as Arab instigations and propaganda which permeates their entire society from their media to the schools, summer camps soccer leagues and every aspect of childhood and raising the children to hate Jews as well as Israel. The Hamas Charter calls not only for the annihilation of Israel but of Jews worldwide. Similar language is found in Islamic Jihad and Hezballah pamphlets and charters or constitutions. The hatred goes well beyond Israel and includes Jews everywhere as well as Western culture and societies. Hamas and their allies as well as Hezballah desire a world caliphate under Sharia and openly claim so. The main difference is whether the caliphate would be Shiite or Sunni, for the rest of us that is a minor comfort.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

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