With all eyes on the Islamic State group’s onslaught in Iraq and Syria, a less conspicuous but potentially just as explosive front line with the extremists is emerging in Lebanon, where Lebanese soldiers and Shiite Hezbollah guerrillas are increasingly pulled into deadly fighting with the Sunni militants along the country’s border with Syria.
The US has been speeding up delivery of small ammunition to shore up Lebanon’s army, but recent cross-border attacks and beheading of Lebanese soldiers by Islamic State fighters — and the defection of four others to the extremists — has sent shockwaves across this Mediterranean country, eliciting fear of a potential slide into the kind of militant, sectarian violence afflicting both Syria and Iraq, and increasingly prompting minorities to take up arms
The crisis was slow in coming.
For long, Lebanon managed to miraculously avoid the all-out chaos gripping neighboring countries — despite sporadic street clashes and car bombings, and despite being awash with weapons and taking in an endless stream of refugees from Syria who now constitute a staggering one third of its population of 4.5 million people.
Unlike in Syria or Iraq, the al-Qaeda-breakaway Islamic State group does not hold territory in Lebanon. But along with Syria’s al-Qaeda affiliate, the Nusra Front, it has established footholds in remote mountains along Lebanon’s remote eastern border, from where it launches almost daily incursions further afield.
Jihadi recruitment in impoverished Sunni areas of northern Lebanon is on the rise, and black Islamic State group flags fly freely in some areas, reflecting pockets of growing support for the radical group.
“Lebanon is in the eye of the storm,” said Fadia Kiwan, a political science professor at Beirut’s St. Joseph University.
Lebanese army commander Jean Kahwaji said in comments published this week that the militants from Syria want to ignite civil war and create a passage to Lebanon’s coastline by linking the Syrian Qalamoun mountains with Arsal on the border and the northern Lebanese town of Akkar, an impoverished Sunni area.
Analysts agree that in Lebanon, the Islamic State group fighters also see an opportunity to strike at Hezbollah’s patron, the Shiite powerhouse Iran but that they are not too eager to immediately embark on yet another war.
“The territory of Lebanon is a longer-term goal,” said David Schenker, director of the program on Arab politics at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
We were the first and only website that understood the ramifications of the white house arms embrago on Israel during the recent war with Obama’s Muslim Brotherhood in Gaza, andpredicted that the solution will be a gradual shift to local production of sensitive weapon systems. It’s now confirmed that the Israelis will also cancel joint ventures with US contractors in order to reduce dependence and retain local production capabilities. The US will now pay the price for Obama’s imbecillic policy stunts by losing conseiderable portions of a major customer and by losing political prestige as a super power capable of dictating policy to its clients by regulating arms sales. The Egyptians have already overcome this problem by simply buying Russian systems (with Saudi funding) and the Israelis will do so by producing those systems on their own. This is the best way to let globalist beurocrats choke on their pathetic embargos.
Pursuant to developments during Operation Protective Edge, the Israeli defense establishment will reduce the production of weapon systems in the USA in the context of joint Israeli-American projects, and will rely more heavily on Israeli-made products.
Here is another unfamiliar result of Operation Protective Edge: the Israeli defense establishment will reduce the production of weapon systems in the USA in the context of joint Israeli-American projects, and will rely more heavily on Israeli-made products. Under a veil of secrecy, a decision has already been made at IMOD not to enable the production of at least one highly sensitive weapon system on US soil, despite the fact that the manufacture of said system in the USA may be funded through US defense aid instead of being paid for in NIS with Israeli taxpayer money.
The Israeli defense establishment will also intensify the manufacture of Israeli missiles that can substitute US-made munitions. The decision, in itself, will not have a substantial effect on Israel’s security status, but it represents a major trauma in US-Israeli defense relations: things that had been taken for granted until Operation Protective Edge, like the fact that Israel could always count on a US airlift of ammunition in a time of trouble, are no longer certain at all.
The cause of this trauma was, naturally, the decision by the USA not to enable the shipping of ammunition to Israel during Operation Protective Edge. The story was revealed for the first time by Wall Street Journal, which reported that a shipment of Hellfire missiles for helicopters was withheld, based on US sources.
The full truth, revealed here for the first time, is much more severe: apparently, during Operation Protective Edge, the USA had completely stopped all connections with Israel’s defense procurement delegation based in the USA. For days, no item whatsoever could be shipped. The expected airlift of US ammunition had never even arrived at its point of departure.
The crisis began about ten days into Operation Protective Edge, pursuant to allegations that the percentage of uninvolved civilian deaths in the Gaza Strip was extremely high (IDF admitted that about one half of all Palestinian deaths were probably civilians who had not been involved in the fighting).
At that stage, the Israeli defense establishment submitted to the USA a request for various types of munitions, including Hellfire missiles, to replenish the dwindling inventories of IDF.The order to stop the processing of all Israeli requests came from a senior echelon – probably the White House, among other reasons, because Israel had ignored the initiatives of Secretary of State John Kerry and preferred to end the operation through a direct channel with the Egyptians. The State Department had been annoyed with Israel for several months, since it was revealed that Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon had referred to Kerry as ‘Messianic’ in closed sessions.
Israel can hardly be said to hold a balance of power with super-powerful Russia. But there are certain understandings in the eastern Mediterranean, where Israel remains a regional power, economically and militarily. And those understandings, carefully calibrated yet shifting during the course of the Syrian civil war, may have been rattled – despite the lack of official comment – by last week’s discovery of a Russian intelligence base in Tel el-Hara, Syria.
The Free Syrian Army revealed in an October 5 video that the Russian Main Intelligence Directorate’s OSNAC unit – its signals intelligence unit, much like the American NSA or Unit 8200 in Israel – had been operating from within a Syrian regime base near the border with Israel.
“Russians are Russians,” Zvi Magen, a former head of the semi-clandestine Nativ Liaison Bureau within the Prime Minister’s Office and a former ambassador to Russia, currently working as a senior researcher at the INSS think tank in Tel Aviv, said of the disclosure. “So this is not entirely surprising.” But both the nature of the intelligence being collected and the fact that the Russian officers left traces, he said, were rather unexpected.
Russia, as befits a former superpower and an intelligence powerhouse, has deep intelligence penetration into Israel, including other signals intelligence collection posts, likely on Russian navy boats in the Mediterranean Sea.
Russia is careful not to explicitly cross certain lines. Aware that Israel could topple the Assad regime if it deems it necessary, Russia has taken pains to demonstrate an unflappable allegiance to its client in Damascus, but has not, and likely will not, supply Assad’s regime with balance-of-power-altering weapons like the S-300 air defense system, which could threaten planes in Israeli air space and severely limit Israel’s ability to fly over Lebanon or Syria.
Nor did Russia openly criticize Israeli actions in Gaza during the 50-day war this summer, he noted, while Israel, for its part, kept very silent about Russian actions in Ukraine.
“The two parties usually take precautions with one another,” he said.
The discovery of the intelligence collection facility at Tel el-Hara, therefore, was a bit like “walking in on someone in an embarrassing position.”
In other words, the facts had been basically known but the evidence, publicly presented, is damaging.
“Generally, Russia walks between the mines,” he said, “not on them.”
After calling church sermons “fair game” for subpoena, Houston Mayor Annise Parker backed down Wednesday from the city’s effort to force local pastors to turn over speeches and papers related to a hotly contested transgender rights ordinance.
The city had asked five pastors for “all speeches, presentations, or sermons” on a variety of topics, including the mayor, and “gender identity.”
The pastors and their allies called the city’s broad demand a threat to religious freedom and proof that gay and transgender rights bills can be used as weapons to demonize Christianity.
“The government has no business asking pastors to turn over their sermons,” said Sen. Ted Cruz, Texas Republican.
Ms. Parker’s office initially doubled down in the face of such criticism but issued a statement late Wednesday saying the mayor “agrees with those who are concerned about the city legal department’s subpoenas for pastors’ sermons.”
In an exclusive interview with The Brody File, Senator Ted Cruz says pastors being hauled off to jail by the government for preaching against homosexuality is a “real risk” in the future. ““I think that is a real risk,” Cruz tells me. “Some in the media ridicule that threat saying there is no danger of the government coming after pastors. That is the usual response.” But he adds: “The specter of government trying to determine if what pastors preach from the pulpit meets with the policy views or political correctness of the governing authorities, that prospect is real and happening now.”
Senator Ted Cruz: “When you subpoena one pastor, you subpoena every pastor. If government has the power to force the pulpit to knuckle under, if government has the power to insist that pastors hand over their sermons for government approval then we’ve lost the very first freedom that begins our bill of rights. We’ve lost the freedom that this country was built on. That’s what this fight is and I very much hope that this serves as a wake-up call to Christians, to people of faith, I hope it serves as a wake-up call to pastors to speak out and make abundantly clear that we will not give up our religious liberty. We will not go quietly into the night but we will stand and fight for principles that are right and true and will speak the truth and the pastors of this country will not be muzzled.
“The specter of government trying to determine if what pastors preach from the pulpit meets with the policy views or political correctness of the governing authorities, that prospect is real and happening now.”
I haven't come here in a few years but I notice that you haven't been covering the October Synod of the Catholic church and the apparent changes that seem to be forthcoming.
Staggering and Shocking are the two words I would use and it looks like we may be very close to a day when a billion Catholics will be changing their views on homosexuality, co-habitation, divorce and perhaps even abortion.
Francis seems to be removing all opposition to this (see Cardinal Burke's soon-to-be removal) within the ranks and I believe there will be inestimable changes in our society when Francis implements everything he appears to be trying to change. Burke has been arguing against these changes as a defender of God's Law (which is his primary role as Cardinal Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura. Think Supreme Court Chief Justice of the Catholic Church who's primary job is to defend God's Law within the church.
The official document calls on Catholics to welcome homosexuals and to value homosexuals' sexual orientation--language that was strongly opposed by Cardinal Burke and a multitude of other conservative cardinals and bishops. Burke's removal appears to be clearing the way to put a "progressive" in his place...
I am surprised you aren't following this line of prophecy as we appear to be nearing the largest "Church" on earth with over a billion members moving toward overt apostasy and everyone embracing this Pope as none I've ever seen.
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