Saturday, September 13, 2014

War On ISIS Deterred By U.S. Ambiguity, Hamas: Will Never Give Up Weapons

'Coalition War' On ISIS Deterred By U.S. Ambiguities

“We’re going to build the kind of coalition that allows us to lead, but also isn’t entirely dependent on what we do,” said US President Barack Obama at a fundraiser at the home of former AIPAC head Howard Friedman in Baltimore Friday, Sept. 12. One wag translated this as meaning that the Middle East could go its own way so long as it retained a “US flavor.”

That was one way of defining the turbulent cross-currents set off in the Middle East by the US president’s launch last Wednesday of his strategy for defeating the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant with a broad coalition.

That was also exactly the kind of ambiguous comment, which the governments America is wooing to join the coalition, find so off-putting. The response of 10 Arab and Muslim leaders to Secretary of State John Kerry’s recruitment bid in Jeddah last Thursday, Sept.11, was therefore just as equivocal.

Iraq has no army left to speak of after ISIS's rampage, and its small air force can hardly make a difference in the battle against the Islamists’ territorial sweep.
Turkey has opted out – and not just out of military operations against jihadists. Ankara has closed its territory and air bases to the transit of US and coalition forces for striking the Islamists in northern Iraq.
Jordan has renounced any part in the military operations against the Islamic State - and so has Egypt, as Kerry learned before he landed in Cairo Saturday, Sept. 13.

Germany, while sending arms to the Kurdish army fighting in the front line against the Islamists, refuses to take part in combat action in Iraq or Syria.Britain, which sent a shipment of heavy machine guns and half a ton of ammunition to Irbil for the Kurdish Peshmerga, refuses to join the US in air strikes over IS targets in Syria.

Friday, Obama appointed Gen. John R. Allen, former commander in Afghanistan and western Iraq, to lead the coalition forces in the war on the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levan.
It is hard to see what combat forces he will lead, in view of the mixed international responses so far to Washington’s appeals for a global coalition to combat terror.

Iraq’s Sunni leaders have learned not to trust anyone.
Today, they are hedging their bets, their tribal leaders split into two opposing camps between Saudi Arabia, on the one hand, and the Islamic State, on the other. For the first time since the US invasion of Iraq to topple Saddam Hussein 11 years ago, Iraq’s Sunni leaders feel they are in the saddle and in a position to set a high price for their support.
All this leaves President Obama and Gen. Allen on the threshold of a war on Islamist terrorists, which everyone agrees needs to fought without delay, but without enough political leverage for going forward or much chance of mustering the right troops to lead – even into the first battle.

Hamas will never give up its weapons or agree to Gaza’s demilitarization, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Saturday.

“Israel is attempting to tie the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip with various things, such as the weapons of Hamas or impairing its capabilities,” Haniyeh said at an event commemorating journalists killed during the 50-day conflict with Israel. “I would like to make something clear: The weapons of the resistance cannot be tied to the reconstruction of Gaza or to any other issue to do with Gaza.”

Haniyeh said Hamas’s military capabilities were legitimate and would remain so until Palestine was freed from Israel.
“Reconstruction is an obligation placed upon us, and we must rebuild Gaza after the destruction sown by Israel,” he said. “But the weapons of the resistance and its capabilities are a red line that cannot be crossed, and which no one can touch.”

Haniyeh backed statements made by Hamas political leader Khaled Mashaal on Friday, who said the group would not consider any direct negotiations with Israel.

Hamas “will not agree to direct negotiations with the Zionist enemy,” Haniyeh said.

Mashaal’s deputy Moussa Abu Marzouk had said Thursday that the group could be forced to negotiate directly with Israel — something it has never done before.
But Mashaal refuted this, saying “direct negotiations with the Israeli occupier is not on the agenda of Hamas; if negotiations are necessary they must be indirect.”

Former Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh vowed on Saturday that Hamas would not disarm. Speaking at a news conference in Gaza City, he said disarmament was non-negotiable, "not for the rehabilitation of Gaza" and not "for anything." 

The armed resistance was legitimate, he said, and would continue "until Palestine is set free." He assured the Palestinian people that weapons were raised only against the "Zionist occupation."

Taking his cue from Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal, who on Friday said that face-to-face talks with Israel are not on the agenda, Haniyeh stated there would be "no direct negotiations with the Zionist enemy." 

He also called on the Palestinian Authority to reexamine its policy towards negotiations with Israel.

Syrian rebels are in control of almost the entire Syrian border with Israel, a monitoring group and the Al-Arabiya news network reported Saturday.

According to the report quoted by Israel’s Channel 10, rebel forces on Friday gained control of two additional villages near Quneitra, the war-torn nation’s solitary border crossing with Israel, leaving only one village in the Syrian army’s hands

The report added that the towns of Rawadi and Hamidiyah were taken after heavy fighting between the rebels and the army, loyal to President Bashar Assad.
“The regime is on the retreat before the advancing rebels,” Syrian Observatory for Human Rights director Rami Abdel Rahman told AFP. “The regime has now lost control of about 80 percent of towns and villages in Quneitra province.”

On Friday night a mortar shell exploded on the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, in what authorities believe was a stray from fighting across the border. There were no reports of injuries or damage.

Meanwhile Israel Radio reported that UN peacekeepers were evacuating the equipment from Camp Faouar, their main headquarters in Syria, to Israel. UN troops were bringing their gear over the border via special gates opened for them by the IDF, according to the report, and not through Quneitra which is now under rebel control. Only a small Fijian force is expected to remain at the base in a few days.

“The most important thing for them was Sharia” — and wherever Sharia is implemented, it looks the same: women can’t leave home without a male guardian, accused thieves have their hands amputated, women are stoned to death for adultery, shops close five times a day for prayer. In all this, the Islamic State looks just like Sharia Arabia, another Sharia state, and just like Iran, yet another Sharia state.
And remember: this is the same Sharia that the Hamas-linked Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) and its accomplices have fought for in the U.S., by working to block and repeal anti-Sharia measures wherever they have been approved.

Yet, one day in April, a woman named Raheb, a 26-year-old recent medical school graduate, arrived at Raqqa National Hospital. Though she was horrified by the brutality of the Islamic State militants, who had made life in her hometown “worse than anything I could have imagined,” she wanted to practice as a doctor and help the people of her war-torn city.

Some people in Raqqa resisted the transformation of their city, and even tried to protest against the Islamic State. But over time they were silenced through terror and fear. The jihadi militants had controlled the city for months, enforcing public whippings and leaving decapitated bodies in the street as warnings.
Raheb — like everyone in Raqqa — understood the risk of disobeying their brutal rule.

Fighting flared near an airport in eastern Ukraine on Saturday in breach of a fragile eight-day ceasefire as the prime minister accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of planning to destroy his country.
Prime Minister Arseny Yatseniuk said only membership of NATO would enable Ukraine to defend itself from external aggression.
Kiev and its Western backers accuse Moscow of sending troops and tanks into eastern Ukraine in support of pro-Russian separatists battling Ukrainian forces in a conflict that has killed more than 3,000 people. Russia denies the accusations.

A ceasefire negotiated by envoys from Ukraine, Russia, the separatists and Europe's OSCE security watchdog, has been in place in eastern Ukraine since Sept. 5 and is broadly holding despite regular but sporadic violations, especially in key flashpoints such as Donetsk.
On Saturday afternoon, a Reuters reporter heard heavy artillery fire in northern districts of Donetsk, the largest city of the region with a pre-war population of about one million. He saw plumes of black smoke above the airport, which is in government hands. The city is controlled by the rebels.
Speaking at a conference in Kiev attended by Ukrainian and European lawmakers and business leaders on Saturday, Yatseniuk made clear he did not view the ceasefire as the start of a sustainable peace process because of Putin's ambitions.
"We are still in a stage of war and the key aggressor is the Russian Federation ... Putin wants another frozen conflict (in eastern Ukraine)," said Yatseniuk, a longtime fierce critic of Moscow and a supporter of Ukraine's eventual NATO membership.
Yatseniuk said Putin would not be content only with Crimea - annexed by Moscow in March - and with Ukraine's mainly Russian-speaking eastern region.
"His goal is to take all of Ukraine ... Russia is a threat to the global order and to the security of the whole of Europe."

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