Friday, May 20, 2016

Rumors Of War In Abundance

Islamic State threatens Israel in an article in its weekly newsletter this week, saying that unlike Hamas, the “war on Israel will not be limited by geographical boundaries or by international norms.”
According to the article in the Al-Naba newsletter identified by the Jihad and Terrorism Threat Monitor of MEMRI (the Middle East Media Research Institute) and shared with The Jerusalem Post, Israel feels threatened by ISIS because of the “collapse” of neighboring states and the Sunni terrorist group’s advance toward the borders of the Jewish state.
For this reason, Israel has started to fight against Islamic State in Sinai and Syria, it says, adding that the entire world is now an arena for the fight against all the “polytheist combatants, including the Jews,” who are legitimate targets. Israel is using jets to attack Islamic State in Sinai, the article claims.
“The collapse of the Sykes-Picot statelets, which were tasked with protecting the Jewish state; the approach of ISIS mujahideen toward its borders; [Israel’s] fear of the spread of its [ISIS’s] methodology among the oppressed Muslims inside those borders [i.e. fear that ISIS ideology is spreading among Israeli Arabs]; and the manifest failure of the Crusader states who protect the Jews to win the battle against it [ISIS] – all these are factors that caused the Jewish state to not sit idly by in face of this danger,” it says.
Islamic State also says Israel is using drones and spies to collect intelligence against it, adding that this will lead to further Israeli “entanglement” with the group.
This war is not going to be like those waged by secular, nationalist or communist movements, or by those that “falsely attribute themselves to Islam [referring to Hamas], since those battles were fought within the framework of the international order, the article says.
However, it continues, Islamic State “rejects this ‘international order,’” and its war against its enemies “has no boundaries other than those which Allah prescribed on the Muslims in their jihad to make the polytheists submit to Islam’s rule – the entire world is an arena for its jihad; all the Muslims are potential soldiers in its army; and all polytheist combatants on earth, and the Jews among them, are legitimate targets for it.”
It continues, “Any threat its leaders [issue against] the Jews emanates from the [promise] from Allah that He will enable them to carry it out. As the [Islamic State of Iraq leader] Sheikh Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi said in the past, he and those that are with him fight in Iraq while their eyes are on Jerusalem.”
The article also claims that the group is more capable than others have been in the past of attacking Israel since it is closer to Israel.

Islamic State ideology does not view Israel as its primary target, but rather as one to be fought later, after the organization conquers the Arab countries surrounding it.

“Let the Jews bomb with their planes, they are not harsher on us than the Crusaders’ planes and Allah enabled us to persevere [against] those.... With Allah’s permission they will be overpowered, and then they will be taken to hell,” the ISIS article concludes.

Speaking to a small group of reporters in Beijing on Thursday, a high-ranking Chinese official made his warning clear: The United States should not provoke China in the South China Sea without expecting retaliation.
"The Chinese people do not want to have war, so we will be opposed to [the] U.S. if it stirs up any conflict," said Liu Zhenmin, vice minister of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. "Of course, if the Korean War or Vietnam War are replayed, then we will have to defend ourselves."

"We rely heavily on the South China Sea [for] transportation of resources and energy and the South China Sea is an important trading group for us. We attach great importance to peace and stability in the South China Sea," said Liu, who warned the United States that it "cannot circle China by building military bases — we cannot do so 30 years ago, or even now."

"Chinese people and the government feel like we haven't been treated fairly because the U.S. is blaming China for rising tensions in the South China Sea," said Liu, who added that "what matters is that the U.S. government has recognized that times have changed, [and the U.S.] can gain much more through cooperation than going to war."
China is party to the U.N. Convention on the Law of the Sea, and that framework provides "no legal basis" for China to claim its "nine-dash" area, said Alessio Patalano, senior lecturer in Naval History and East Asian Security at King's College London.

Two Chinese fighter jets have come within 50ft of a U.S. spy plane over the South China Sea, leading the Pentagon to accuse Beijing of an 'unsafe' intercept.

A U.S. Navy EP-3 Aries reconnaissance plane was forced to take evasive action as the Chinese J-11 fighters closed in on the aircraft on Tuesday, defense officials said.
The Pentagon claimed its spy plane was carrying out a routine exercise near the South China Sea island of Hainan when the fighter jets closed in.

Two Chinese fighter jets have come within 50ft of a U.S. spy plane over the South China Sea, leading the Pentagon to accuse Beijing of an 'unsafe' intercept (file picture of Chinese J-11 fighter near Hainan)

The J-11s came within 50ft of the U.S. plane, forcing the American pilot to descend sharply to avoid a collision, the Pentagon said.
The diplomatic row escalated on Thursday morning as Beijing rejected the Pentagon's claims and demanded the U.S. stop flying close to Chinese territory.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said the fighters monitored the U.S. plane from a safe distance. 
'According to the related Chinese authorities, the U.S. allegation is not true,' Hong said.
He said American surveillance missions 'jeopardize China's sea and air safety' as he urged the U.S. military to back off.
The U.S. has vowed to continue with missions over the South China Sea as it challenges Beijing's view that its newly-created artificial islands enjoy legal rights to territorial seas and airspace.

China says it is entitled to defend these areas, but the Pentagon disagrees.
Hainan is not an artificial island and is the southernmost province of China.  
China has long been irked by U.S. reconnaissance missions off the island, which sits at the northern end of the South China Sea and is home to a number of highly sensitive naval and air installations.
The U.S. has sought to prevent confrontations such as the one on Tuesday through frequent communication and the signing of an agreement on handling unexpected encounters at sea and in the air. 
But Senator Chris Murphy, who sits on the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations, told CNN that that the Chinese would look to cause further confrontation with the U.S..
'This is potentially part of a disturbing trend line as the Chinese try to push their military envelope into greater parts of the sea surrounding their mainland.
'What the Chinese and the Russians are trying to do is to provoke us into some kind of action that will feed into their domestic narratives, both in China and in Russia'.

As the US accuses two Chinese fighter jets of conducting "unsafe" maneuvers near an American spy plane over the South China Sea, Radio Sputnik speaks with Asia-region strategist Andrew Leung, to discuss Beijing’s growing influence.

"We have to understand that claims over a large part of the South China Sea date back a long, long, time ago," Leung says.
These are claims that the United States and its Pacific allies continuously chose to ignore as they criticized Beijing’s construction of artificial islands in the Spratly archipelago.
"China had been a relatively weak country for a long time," he says. "But now China is much more influential, much more powerful. Because of the rise of nationalism, China is able to defend these claims rather robustly."
While the US maintains that territories within the South China Sea should be considered international waters, Washington treats the waterway as its own military terrain, as demonstrated by the aggressive freedom of navigation operations conducted within the territorial limit of the Spratlys.

A highly-contested region, nearly $5 trillion in trade passes through the South China Sea annually. The US has accused of Beijing of attempting to establish an air defense zone in the region with its land reclamation projects. China maintains it has every right to build within its own territory and that the islands will be used for primarily humanitarian purposes.

China’s about to join an exclusive club for nuclear powers. After decades of development, 2016 could be the year the Chinese navy finally sends its ballistic-missile submarines—“SSBN” is the Pentagon’s designation—to sea for the first time for operational patrols with live, nuclear-tipped rockets.
If indeed the Jin-class subs head to sea this year, China will achieve a level of nuclear strike capability that, at present, just two countries—the United States and Russia—can match or exceed.
“China will probably conduct its first SSBN nuclear deterrence patrol sometime in 2016,” the Pentagon warned in the latest edition of its annual report on the Chinese military, published in mid-May (PDF). Once the Jins set sail, Beijing will command a nuclear “triad” composed of ground-, air-, and sea-launched nuclear weapons.
That’s a big deal, according to the dominant theory of nuclear warfare. “The theory is that a diverse array of delivery systems creates survivability by complicating a first strike,” Jeffrey Lewis, an expert on nuclear geopolitics with the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, told The Daily Beast.
In other words, if a country possesses all three kinds of nukes, it’s harder for an enemy to wipe them all out in a surprise attack. And if you can’t destroy your enemy’s entire atomic arsenal, he can nuke you back—so you’d better not attack at all.

Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman Mahmoud Abbas called on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Tuesday to accept a French initiative to revive peace talks between the two parties, Breitbart reported. Speaking to a delegation from Israel’s left-wing Meretz party in Ramallah, Abbas warned that not doing so would bring the Islamic State (ISIS) to Israel.
“If we don’t revive the peace process, the violence and radicalism from Syria will come here,” Abbas said. “The Islamic State and the Al-Nusra Front will reach Israel and the West Bank.”
Abbas acknowledged that Palestinian education is replete with messages inciting hatred of Israel and Jews. “Yes, there is incitement in our textbooks and on television.”
This problem, however, is surmountable. “Let’s solve the problem and revive the incitement commission that was agreed upon [between Israel and the PA] 16 years ago.”
“The commission [which is chaired by the United States] will determine what needs to be corrected,” Abbas said.
“The Israeli government is building settlements on Palestinian land,” Abbas said. “We will not agree to a situation whereby a new settlement and a new checkpoint are cropping up all the time.
“The entire world is against settlements. This is the position taken by the Americans and the Europeans. There have been 12 Security Council resolutions against settlements. Stop them,” he continued.
While Netanyahu has opposed the proposed peace conference in Paris, telling French Foreign Minister Jean-Marc Ayrault the only way forward is direct negotiations, Abbas praised the plan.
“The French plan is a good one since we want the international community to take responsibility for this endless conflict,” Abbas said. “We want the whole word by our side. We are one of the last remaining nations that suffer under military occupation. How much longer will this go on? How much longer will the world permit one people to control another?”

The situation in Turkey keeps getting worse. Private debt is out of control, the tourism sector is in free-fall and the decline in the currency has impacted every citizen’s buying power. Because of increasing pressures on the central bank and political storms, Turkey's annual growth rate has already slowed.
The 2013 Gezi protests and corruption charges against the government, the 2014 presidential election and two general elections in 2015 have put the Turkish economy under stress. Turkey's annual growth rate, which for 50 years had averaged 4.5%, remained at an average 3% in the past four years. Economists are warning that delays in structural reforms and Erdogan's economic views could push the growth rate even lower, triggering a crisis.
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan seems to be out of control. He is cracking down on opposition, imprisoning opponents and seizing media outlets. Not once the Turkish leader has threatened to dissolve the constitutional court. It is taking place at the time the security problems have deteriorated amidst a wave of terrorism.

The events make the Turkish military emerge on political landscape again after many years of marginalization during «Sultan» Erdogan’s rule. The divisions between the Turkish military and Erdogan have a long history, but today it is amplified by tumultuous events in and outside the country. For instance, the plans to create a buffer zone in Northern Syria and send the Turkish troops to Syria and Iraq are opposed by military brass.  

Michael Rubin, a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute and a former Pentagon official, predicts an imminent military coup in Turkey. According to the expert, «Turks – and the Turkish military – increasingly recognize that Erdogan is taking Turkey to the precipice». Rubin believes that «he [Erdogan] has taken Turkey down a path in which there is no chance of victory and a high chance of de facto partition». According to him, «If the Turkish military moves to oust Erdogan and place his inner circle behind bars, could they get away with it? In the realm of analysis rather than advocacy, the answer is yes». Rubin writes, it is doubtful that the Obama administration would do more than castigate any coup leaders, especially if they immediately laid out a clear path to the restoration of democracy. Neither Turkey nor Greece lost their NATO membership after coups.
The Turkish military has long seen itself as the «guardian of Turkish democracy», which it defines as the staunchly secular state created by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish republic. It directly intervened three times (1960, 1971 and 1980) in Turkish politics. In 1997 the military carried out what some scholars describe as a «postmodern coup». Back then the military issued a series of «recommendations», which the government had no choice but to accept.

No comments: