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9/11 Memorial Phone Seminar

September 12, 2018 On the seventeenth anniversary of the horrific events of September 11, 2001, the United States and the Western world face the same threat by genocidal Islamic terrorists that were responsible for the death of 3,000 Americans on U.S. soil.

Since 9/11, al-Qaeda and other Islamist terror groups have struck the U.S. multiple times, in Boston, MA, San Bernardino, CA, and in Orlando, FL, among other places. Some of the terrorists involved in these attacks first became radicalized through the efforts of the Islamist group called the Muslim Brotherhood (MB). The MB, which originated in Egypt, seeks to establish a worldwide Islamic Caliphate, and advocates for violent terrorism. It has spread its tentacles throughout the world, including to the U.S., where it has a number of front groups including CAIR, ISNA, MAS, and MPAC among others. These groups pose as moderate Muslim civil rights groups and often interact with federal, state, and local governments, spreading disinformation and propaganda to the authorities. Yet many leaders and members of these MB groups have ties to U.S.-designated terrorist organizations and perpetuate their radical ideologies here in the U.S.

How can the U.S. stop the spread of radical Islamic ideology that inspires homegrown terrorists? Can Western Muslim leaders counter radicalization within their communities? And what steps should the United States take to safeguard our homeland and prevent future attacks on U.S. soil? To discuss these questions and more, EMET held a phone seminar with Dr. Zuhdi Jasser and Kyle Shideler.

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Don’t Fall for Iran’s Propaganda on 1953 Removal of Mossadegh

It has become conventional wisdom that in 1953, the United States’ CIA led a coup to overthrow the then-Prime Minister of Iran, Mossadegh, for nationalizing the Iranian oil industry, and that many of the U.S.’s problems with the current Iranian government stem from this coup. Former President Barack Obama believes this conventional wisdom. So does much of Hollywood, as demonstrated by the popular film “Argo.”

The latest media outlet to echo this popular notion is the Associated Press.

According to the AP, “more and more officials across Iran’s political spectrum are reevaluating and invoking Mossadegh’s stand as they oppose Trump.” The article then quotes two of those officials — Iranian President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif. Rouhani has asserted that “The U.S. owes the Iranian nation for its intervention in Iran,” while Zarif has complained on Twitter that “The US overthrew the popularly elected democratic government of Dr. Mossadegh, restoring the dictatorship & subjugating Iranians for the next 25 years.”

The only problem with this conventional wisdom is that it is all wrong.

First of all, technically, there was no coup.

Mossadegh was the Prime Minister of Iran, and as such, under the constitution then in place, he could constitutionally be removed by the Iranian Shah. And the Shah did, indeed, dismiss Mossadegh. In fact, the only unconstitutional behavior came from Mossadegh, who refused to step down, and ordered the arrest of the officers who tried to deliver the Shah’s notice of dismissal. This prompted the Shah to flee Iran. Opponents to Mossadegh then organized protests against the Prime Minister. When Mossadegh called out the army to restore order, the army instead ousted him.

Second, the CIA was not really the driving force behind the removal of Mossadegh. One CIA agent, in his biography, took credit for the protests that eventually led to the removal of Mossadegh. But declassified documents from the CIA demonstrate just the opposite. During the crisis, the CIA station in Tehran reported the anti-Mossadegh protests “contained a large element of spontaneity and there seemed to have been a genuine reaction of shock and dismay on part of the Tehran populace when the Shah left Iran for Iraq.” They also admitted that the “CIA cut out of military preparations by [General Nader] Batmangeliche and Zahedi.” And CIA acting director Charles Cabell briefed President Eisenhower that “an unexpected strong upsurge of popular and military reaction to Prime Minister Mossadeq’s government has resulted according to late dispatches from Tehran in the virtual occupation of that city by forces proclaiming their loyalty to the Shah, and to his appointed Prime Minister Zahedi.”

Third, as I have written before, it is beyond hypocritical for officials from the Islamic Regime to claim to be offended by the Mossadegh’s removal. This is because the Iranian regime’s founding father, the Ayatollah Khomeini, and indeed, much of the Shia clergy of Iran in the 1950’s, opposed Mossadegh and/or participated in his removal.

Khomeini himself was not actually involved in the 1953 protests. However, he was a strong opponent of the Prime Minister. Years later, Khomeini was interviewed about Mossadegh, and he “famously remarked that Mossadegh deserved to be slapped” because “‘had he survived, he would have slapped Islam.’” Khomeini’s criticism was in reference to Mossadegh’s secular left background, and Mossadegh’s plans to remove the ban on alcohol and enfranchise women.

But that is not all. The leading Shia clerics of that period, including Ayatollah Borujerdi and Ayatollah Kashani, played an active role in the plotting against Mossadegh. Both men are revered in the Islamic Republic. Initially, the clerics organized a religious faction in opposition to the prime minister in the parliament. Later, they sponsored some of the protests against him. By the end, and right before Mossadegh’s removal, the CIA station was reporting, “Religious leaders now desperate. Will attempt anything. Will try [to] save Islam and Shah of Iran.”

Rouhani or Zarif are almost certainly aware of these facts. Rouhani is himself a cleric; but both men must be religious to have attained high office in the Islamic Republic. They know who Mossadegh was, and what he tried to do, and how the Islamic Regime really feels about this secular leftist.

But these officials are also familiar with the guilt many Americans have about the “1953 Iranian coup.” And how they can use this guilt to benefit their own regime.

Once again, officials of the Iranian regime are trolling the gullible Americans.

Originally published at: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/coup-mossadegh-shah-iran/2018/08/31/id/879738/

Photo: STF/AFP/Getty Image

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Reducing the Malevolent Impact of UNRWA

U.S. President Donald Trump gave the Jewish people a gift of historic proportions by taking the issue of Jerusalem off the table back in December. On Aug. 25, President Trump gave a gift that is arguably of equal or greater value to the Jewish nation by significantly reducing by $200 million the aid that the United States gives to UNRWA, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine.

PLO Secretary General Saeb Erekat predictably called the decision “disgraceful,” and said that President Trump was “meddling in the internal affairs of other people in an attempt to impact their national options.”

Since when is it that an American president deciding how to spend U.S. taxpayer dollars is considered “meddling in the affairs of other people”?

Beyond that, according to an Aug. 25 report on Israeli Channel 2 news, the Trump administration announced that it will oppose the Palestinian claim for the “right of return” for the descendants of the original Palestinian refugees displaced by the 1948 war.

If true, this would be a historic development—not just to the American taxpayer, the Jewish people and the State of Israel, but to the Palestinians themselves.

UNRWA was formed in 1949, in the aftermath of the 1948 War for Palestinian refugees. These refugees, fleeing from the war (Dec. 1, 1947 to June 1, 1948), originally numbered 550,000 to 600,000. Because the Palestinians have inflated the number—and because they count multiple generations of descendants—the figure that Palestinians and their advocates now invoke is 5 million.

The U.N. High Commission of Refugees defines a “refugee” as “someone who has been forced to flee his or her country because of persecution, war or violence.” Only in the case of the Palestinians is this status passed down for generations.

And only in the case of the UNRWA is there a refugee agency exclusively for one particular refugee group. In 1950, in the aftermath of World War II, the United Nations High Commission of Refugees (UNHCR) was established to deal with the millions of displaced refugees. However, the Arab League refused to allow the Palestinian refugees to go under that rubric.

Why? Because the mandate of UNHCR is for the refugees to be settled and integrated into their host country as soon as possible. The Arab League, however, wanted to keep the Palestinian refugees in a perpetual state of limbo in order to use the Palestinian refugee issue as a thorn in the side of Israel.

The Arab world seems have no concern over their Palestinian brethren, apparently preferring to keep generations of Palestinians in a perpetual state of victimhood, squalor and conflict.

According to David Bedein of the Center for Near East Policy Research, “the right of return is the focus of the entire life … to take back their homes that were abandoned in 1948. … The children are taught you have to go back to these homes and kill the people who live there.”

Upon entering the Aida UNRWA camp, for example, one immediately sees a gate adorned by an oversized key, symbolic of their ancestor’s house left behind in Israel. The symbol of the key is used constantly in pageants that UNRWA schools put on, where the message is constantly drummed in that they will someday return to their ancestor’s orchards and vineyard in pre-1948 Israel.

Throughout the camp—and particularly, inside the schools—pictures hang on walls glorifying  Palestinian shahids (“martyrs”), with messages encouraging youngsters to follow in their “noble” footsteps. Prominently displayed is the ubiquitous map of Israel, of course labeled “Palestine.”

During the summer, young children attend a camp where they engage in military exercises, replete with walls they are taught to crawl under and firewalls they are taught to jump over, dressed in in military fatigues.

Recently, Sen. James Risch (R-Idaho), asked for a General Accounting Office report of what is being taught in the UNRWA schools, but for some inexplicable reason, that office insists on keeping the report “classified.”

Perhaps because the results are too damaging to UNRWA.

According to a recent study conducted by CNEPR together with the Simon Wiesenthal Center, in which 150 textbooks from kindergarten through 12th grade were examined, researchers found Israel and Jews depicted as “demonic,” with violent liberation emphasized. A 2017 text even includes a disturbing text by describing a Molotov cocktail attack on an Israeli bus as a “barbeque party,” while another extols the virtues of Dalal Mughrabi, the female Palestinian terrorist who was responsible for the massacre of 38 Israeli civilians.

All of this stands in stark contrast to the United Nations’ Declaration of the Rights of the Child, which proclaims, among other things, that “the child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions.”

Kids who are unfortunate enough to be educated in UNRWA camps enjoy none of the benefits of a normal childhood. Instead, they are indoctrinated to become nothing more than bullets in a war machine—in a war that they will inevitably lose.

Originally published at: https://www.jns.org/opinion/reducing-the-malevolent-impact-of-unrwa/

Photo: terrorism-info.org.il

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Time to Recognize Israeli Sovereignty on the Golan

Following the seizure of the Syrian Golan Heights by the Syrian military loyal to leader Bashar Assad, the IDF was recently forced to shut down the Mazor Ladach field hospital. The hospital had treated approximately 6,800 casualties of the brutal seven-year Syria civil war as part of Israel’s Good Neighbor program.

The first losers here are, of course, the Syrian people in need of medical care.

Israel had also been providing sorely needed medical equipment, baby formula, food and fuel to the Syrian refugees amassed along Israel’s northeastern border. The proximity of over 100,000 Iranian-backed troops as far south as Quneitra makes the delivery of these life-sustaining materials even more treacherous.

Now Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps have become increasingly entrenched in the area, making this region, which has been relatively stable for 45 years, a potential line of confrontation.

This constitutes just one more chapter in the rapidly expanding book of Iran’s pernicious influence in the Middle East. They aim to create an uninterrupted land bridge stretching from Tehran through Damascus and Beirut to the Mediterranean Sea.

Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights creates an important roadblock in that land bridge.

The Golan Heights is an area of approximately 500 square miles that was captured by Israel in its defensive war of 1967 and was successfully retained, once again, in its defensive war of 1973 from attacking Syrian forces.

Since 1974, when a Separation of Forces Agreement was negotiated, the Golan Heights has remained relatively peaceful.

The U.N. Disengagement Observer Force oversees the 50-mile-long buffer zone between the two sides. However, it has occasionally been attacked by Fatah al-Sham Front (formerly known as the Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaida). Thus, the 1,000-man force, tellingly, prefers to remain on the Israeli side.

The Golan Heights has served as the demarcation line between the chaotic, feuding forces of radical Islam and the liberal, Western-oriented State of Israel. It creates the definitive dividing line between authoritarian rule and a vibrant, thriving democracy.

The Golan affords Israel a unique topographical vantage point for defensive and intelligence strategy from which its military can peer directly into Damascus and Beirut. It affords the population of Israel a unique defensive shield.

In 1981, the Israeli government voted to extend Israeli civil law to the Golan Heights.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly met with Russian President Vladamir Putin to request that he use his influence to remove Iranian troops from Syria. However, although Moscow has offered assurances, the Russians have already demonstrated that they are unwilling to do anything to remove Iranian forces. The IRGC and Hezbollah forces have been deeply intermingled with Syrian army forces, and have even been given Syrian military uniforms to conceal their activities.

There are no surprises here. The Syrian regime has been kept on life support through Putin’s Russia and the Iranian ayatollahs. Russia is only concerned about flexing its power on the world’s stage and sees the failed state of Syria as an opportunity to do so. And Iran is on a march to establish its own Shiite caliphate.

Earlier this summer, Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei repeated his exhortation that “Israel is a cancerous tumor that must be eliminated.” IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami said, “I am awaiting orders to eradicate the evil regime [Israel]” and “Israel has no strategic depth and therefore this can be easily achieved.”

The inherent instability of Syria has created fertile territory for Russia and Iran, as well as for a whole scorpion pit of terrorist groups such as ISIS, Fatah al-Sham Front, Hezbollah and the IRGC to dig in.

Israel’s presence on the border of the Golan Heights offers the United States valuable eyes and ears into all of these pernicious forces. It has been a force of stability in the region for 45 years and offers a protective shield for all of us in the West. Many of these same forces that hate Israel also vehemently despise the United States.

As long as the Golan Heights is perceived as being “in play” as part of the “occupied territories,” the illusion that it might someday be captured by Syrian or Iranian forces is perpetuated, which in turn perpetuates a potential state of war.

The simplest way to put an end to this dangerous illusion and to Iran’s voracious appetite is for the United States to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights. That would send a strong, clear, unequivocal message to America’s foes in the region without putting a single boot on the ground.

Originally published: http://www.israelhayom.com/opinions/time-to-recognize-israeli-sovereignty-on-the-golan/

Photo: Cpl. Gal Ashuach, IDF

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Israel, Turkey and the Kurdish Question

“I am not used to receiving lectures about morality from a leader who bombs Kurdish villagers in his native Turkey, who jails journalists, who helps Iran get around international sanctions,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in response to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s comments on the US relocating its embassy to Jerusalem.

Are these genuine comments from the Israeli side? Many Kurds feel bitter at Israel, rightly so despite many common interests. The Kurdish sentiment is legitimate. They feel the Israeli government only speaks out when it benefits its own national interests and does not really care about the Kurdish cause. Whatever the motive may be for the Israeli government to speak up, it is certainly time to alter its policy toward Turkey, as Ankara is gradually adjusting its policy toward the Jewish state.

Erdogan’s harsh rhetoric against Israel went as far as comparing the Jewish State’s response to recent Gaza protests to that of Nazi Germany.

“There is no difference at all between the persecution inflicted on the Jews in Europe 75 years ago and the brutality faced by our brothers in Gaza.”

He further added, “the children of people who were tortured in concentration camps in every way during World War II unfortunately today resort to methods against innocent Palestinians that are in no way inferior to those of the Nazis.”

But do these words mean anything to the governments on both sides? Economic ties say otherwise.

Turkey was in fact the first Muslim country to recognize Israel as an independent state in 1948. What followed was a series of gradual economic agreements, which still dominate the relationship between the two states today. Economist Hatice Karahan said Turkish exports to Israel have continued to grow over the last several years. They were at about $2.5 billion in 2016, and in the first 10 months of 2017, Turkish exports to Israel went up another 14%. Turkey’s state air carrier, Turkish Airlines, is also the second most popular airline out of Tel Aviv after El Al, Joseph Dana reported in an opinion piece written for The National.

Due to the lack of hydrocarbon resources in Turkey, the Turkish government has heavily relied on Iraqi Kurdistan for its supplies, and of course is working with Israel to build a pipeline through Cypriot waters. From 1995 to 2015, Turkey’s exports to Israel was on average 4.26 times of its share in the world export, as described in the International Journal of Commerce and Management. Furthermore, chairman of the Turkish Exporters Assembly Mehmet Buyukeksi called for a tripling of trade volume between the two countries in the next five years. This is after in 2017, Turkish exports to Israel increased by 20% and Israeli exports to Turkey rose by 45%, and trade volume was set to grow to $10b. from $3.9b., wrote Sharon Udasin.

Israel was the only country to recognize the Kurdish independence referendum held in September 2017, which failed miserably due to the lack of strategy on the Kurdish side and the absence of hard support from the international community.

It seems Israeli support for the Kurds does not have teeth similar to Turkish support for Palestinians. The Palestinians are surrounded by 22 Arab states that all call for an independent Palestinian state in addition to Turkey and Iran. The Kurds on the other hand are left to find partners anywhere they can to push ahead with their aspirations for self-determination, even if it means resorting to Israel’s tiptoeing statements.

If the Israeli government is firm about supporting the Kurds, and truly envisions the Kurdish people as a common ally with common interests in a Middle East rapidly shifting toward Islamist authoritarian governments, it must act quickly.

This can be done by supporting the Kurds in Iraq, dominated by Iranian influence, and in Syria, a fractured state that continues to be dictated by President Bashar Assad and his brutal allies, which include Hezbollah and Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and holds over 3 million Kurds who have been the only successful force fighting Islamic State while facing a military campaign from Erdogan’s army.

The more than 20 million Kurds living under the Islamist Erdogan regime in Turkey, and the 12 million Kurds being governed by the dangerous Iranian regime for nearly four decades, are key to Israel’s security in the region. But if Israel continues to accommodate Erdogan’s regime through trade ties, then it may risk losing Kurdish support too.

Originally published at: https://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Israel-Turkey-and-the-Kurdish-question-559446

Photo: Al Jazeera

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Sign the Golan Heights Petition!

Please Sign Our Petition for the United States to Finally Recognize Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan Heights!

The Golan Heights is a region that had been captured by Israel in its defensive war of 1967. It was retained, once again, in its defensive war of 1973, when the Israelis successfully repelled invading Syrian forces.

The Israeli government formally annexed the Golan Heights in 1981. Since then, the Israeli side of the Golan Heights has been relatively peaceful.

The annexation of the Golan Heights is an issue that almost every Israeli, right, left and center, agrees with.

However, as of late, because of the seven-year brutal Syrian civil war, the Islamic Republic of Iran has taken advantage of the chaos of the situation, and Iranian-backed Hezbollah forces have penetrated as far south as the Syrian town of Quneitra.

Iran is on the march, and is determined to build a land bridge stretching from Tehran to Beirut to Damascus and to the Mediterranean Sea.

A United States recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights would send a strong message to Tehran that their hegemonic aspirations must not go on, unchallenged.

By keeping the Golan Heights in the lexicon of “Occupied Territories,” the U.S. is sending a mixed message to the Iranian-Syrian axis that this region is still in play, and is keeping Israel’s northern front as a potential area of conflict.

U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights would put an end to this dangerous delusion. And when Iran constitutes the greatest menace to the region, and one of the greatest menaces to the world, it would constitute a potent form of “reality therapy.”

Please sign this petition now to call on the administration to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.

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What Will US Do About Turkey’s Bad Behavior?

Recently, Turkey released imprisoned U.S. citizen Andrew Brunson, an evangelical pastor of a small church in Turkey with about 25 congregants, to house arrest.

Brunson however, is still on trial on charges of aiding terror groups and engaging in espionage. Brunson was grabbed by the Turkish authorities about two years ago, right after an attempted coup against the Turkish President and quasi-dictator Recep Tayyip Erdogan. He has spent the past two years in a Turkish prison. Turkey claimed that Brunson has illegal links to the outlawed Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), and to Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, both of which are bitter enemies of Erdogan. If he is convicted of his “crimes,” Brunson may be imprisoned for a term of 35 years.

Brunson is clearly being railroaded by the Turks.

An expose of the charges against the pastor revealed that among them are that:

  • Brunson received a picture of a dish that is the signature dish of a terrorist organization in Turkey;
  • Brunson appeared in a photo with a man with a yellow, red, and green scarf, which are the PKK colors;
  • Brunson published Bibles in the Kurdish language.

In other words, this is nothing more than a kangaroo court trial. Which shouldn’t be too surprising, considering that in Turkey, insulting the president is a crime punishable by up to four years in prison, and even school children have been prosecuted.

Then again, the Turkish President has made it clear that Brunson is not really an accused criminal at all; he is a political hostage. Erdogan has offered to trade Brunson for Fethullah Gulen, who currently lives in Pennsylvania. Erdogan has accused Gulen, Erdogan’s former ally, of being the instigator of the attempted Turkish coup. But he has produced no convincing evidence for the U.S. to mandate an extradition of Gulen.

Needless to say, allied nations don’t take as hostage citizens of their allies. For that matter, civilized nations don’t take hostages, period.

President Erdogan is not really a U.S. ally, however. He has been in power since 2003, and in those fifteen years, he has aided the Shia Islamist regime of Iran in evading international sanctions; facilitated ISIS’ expansion through oil smuggling and being a conduit for new ISIS recruits and supplies; and threatened U.S. troops with violence for their assistance to the Kurds. Under his leadership, as noted by the former U.S. National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, Turkey has taken on a “new role” as a main sponsor of funding for radical Islamist ideology. Included in this is that Turkey has developed good relationships with federally designated terror organizations such as Hamas, and the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda.

Erdogan has also demonstrated his lack of trustworthiness as an ally by purchasing the S-400 missile system from Russia, which is a violation of Turkey’s duties as a NATO member. The missile system cannot be made interoperable with NATO and U.S. assets deployed in Turkish territory. It also conflicts with Turkey’s purchase of 100 F-35 fighter jets. These jets, which are the latest in NATO technology, would have to be connected to the S-400 system. But this would compromise the jet’s security, as any data collected by the S-400 system and obtained by Russia could help expose the joint strike fighter’s vulnerabilities. To make things even worse, Erdogan has proposed that Turkey and Russia work together on the S-500 missile system.

President Trump and other U.S. officials lobbied Turkish officials for months to release Brunson, and Trump himself tweeted about it, saying that the situation was a “total disgrace,” and threatened sanctions if Brunson was not released. Congress, in a provision in the final National Defense Authorization Act, also called on Turkey “to release wrongfully detained U.S. citizens including Andrew Brunson and Serkan Golge.”

Finally, a deal was made at the NATO summit, which would pair the release of Brunson (from all legal jeopardy) with the release of a Turkish terrorist in Israel. But then Erdogan reneged on that deal. (Although Erdogan claims there was no deal).

So, the question is, what is the U.S. planning to do about Turkey’s hostage taking and other bad behavior?

There needs to be real consequences to Turkey’s persecution of Andrew Brunson, and any other American unfairly held in a Turkish prison. Both the Trump administration and Congress are considering sanctioning Turkey if Brunson is not released. They should do so, immediately.

At some point, however, the U.S. is going to have to address the elephant in the room — Turkey’s continued membership in NATO. Unfortunately, the NATO Treaty has no way to remove any members, unless the nation in question is willing to leave (as France once did).

But NATO allies don’t behave like Turkey has, under Erdogan.

Just ask Andrew Brunson.

Originally published at: https://www.newsmax.com/adamturner/turkey-erdogan-nato/2018/08/01/id/874925/

Photo: Mike Hutchings/AFP/Getty Images

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Time for Some Reality Therapy on the Golan Heights

As I write these words, news just broke that ISIS launched its first major attack in Syria, targeting a town occupied by Druze, on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, killing 100 innocent civilians. Israel shot down a Syrian fighter jet last week that entered Israeli airspace, and two mortar shells launched from the Syrian side of the Golan landed near the Sea of Galilee (miraculously resulting in no injuries).

And this is just within the past 24 hours.

After the seven-year civil war, Syria is failed state. It has been given oxygen to survive from Iran and Russia.

Its inherent instability provides fertile territory for an entire array of terrorist groups from Jabhat al Nussra and ISIS on the Sunni side, to Hezbollah, the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps and the “Al Quds Force” on the Shi’ite side.

Syria depicts the Hobbesian state of war of man against man. The tragic events in Syria have led to at least a half-a-million casualties, approximately 6 million refugees and at least that many internally displaced people.

Iran, with its hegemonic aspirations, has taken advantage of the situation as a pretext for entrenching its military infrastructure into Syria. Syrian President Bashar Assad has enabled this by giving the Iranian terrorist proxies Syrian military uniforms.

It is determined to build a land bridge stretching from Tehran to Beirut to Damascus to the Mediterranean Coast.

Earlier this month, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei repeated his ominous exhortation that Israel is “a cancerous tumor that must be removed.”  And Hossein Salami, the deputy Commander of the IRGC in Syria, said he is “awaiting orders to eradicate the evil regime of Israel,” and that Israel has “no strategic depth”; therefore, “this can easily be achieved.”

Contrast this with the Israeli side of the Golan Heights, which provides an island of stability in a sea of chaos.

The Golan Heights—an area that Israel captured during its defensive 1967 Six-Day War and then retained from invading Syrian forces again in its defensive war of 1973—affords Israel a unique topographical and intelligence, affording it the eyes and ears to stare down into Syria and Lebanon.

All of this intelligence is shared readily with the United States.

There is a 1974 agreement mandating the separation of Syrian and Israel forces, which thins out the forces on both sides of the disengagement line.

In 1981, the Israeli government formally annexed the region. The annexation of the Golan Heights is a consensus issue that almost every Israeli, whether politically on the left, right or center agrees with.

As Major Gen. (ret.) Giroa Eiland of the Israel Defense Forces has recently written, “Israel does not possess a plausible solution to its security needs without the Golan Heights.”

The demarcation line of the Golan Heights represents the demarcation of freedom against tyranny—of a failed authoritarian regime against a vibrant, healthy state based on Western democratic values.

That is why tens of thousands of Syrians would love to flee into Israel, if given the opportunity.

That is why 422 Syrians who are part of the White Helmet Groups, a humanitarian volunteer organization, were rescued by the Israelis and given safe passage way into Jordan.

That is why the IDF was able to provide tons of truckloads of supplies to the Syrian refugees, including medicines, baby formula, food, feel and shoes.

And that is what enabled the IDF to clandestinely arrange for approximately 4,000 Syrians wounded in Syria’s protracted civil war to be treated in Israeli hospitals, without asking which side they were fighting for or why.  And then, the healed were clandestinely delivered back to the Syrian side of the border.

It is in America’s best national security interests to recognize the annexation of the Golan Heights as part of Israel’s sovereign territory. Israel provides an island of tranquility in the chaotic world of the Middle East, and the line between chaos and stability cuts right through the demarcation line.

After all, after Friday prayers throughout Tehran, the chant is not only “Death to Israel,” but “Death to America.”

By keeping the Golan Heights as part of the lexicon of “occupied territories,” the international community simply perpetuates the conflict and the Syrian-Iran-Russians axis the pernicious delusion that this area is still in play. It keeps Israel’s northern front as a possible area of conflict that can flare up at any point.

American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights will finally put an end to these dangerous delusions. In an age when Iran constitutes the greatest menace to the region and one of the greatest to the world, it would constitute an effective and potent form of “reality therapy.”

Originally posted at: https://www.jns.org/opinion/time-for-some-reality-therapy-on-the-golan-heights/

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Potential Israeli Sovereignty over the Golan Heights

Syria claimed to capture a key position overlooking the Golan Heights – an area in the northeastern part of Israel that was taken by the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) during the 1967 Six-Day War. In May, Iranian forces fired rockets from Syria targeting the Golan Heights, and Iran and its proxy Shi’ite militia groups are expanding their presence in southwestern Syria, attempting to establish military bases on the border.

The Iranian expansion-backed by the Assad Regime- could be catastrophic; the Golan Heights provides Israel with a strategic advantage, and if Israel was attacked from Syria, the Golan Heights would give the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) the ability to withstand ground offensives.

Israel annexed the territory in 1981, and the US has previously assured Israel that it supports the annexation, but has not fully recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan. But members of Congress are now encouraging the Trump Administration to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, in order to counter the presence of terrorist groups in the region, and prevent Iran from taking over the territory.

What are the strategic interests of the U.S. in recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights? How would recognition of Israeli sovereignty potentially help stabilize the region? Our expert panel of Sarah Stern, Zvi Hauser, and Michael Doran explores these questions and more.

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America Cannot Afford to Lose the Kurds

Kurds have a saying, ‘no friends but the mountains.’ This stems from a sense of betrayal by the international community since the end of World War I and a promise that saw no traction in creating an independent state called Kurdistan. In the 21st century the Kurds once again fear they will be given the cold shoulder in Iraq and Syria, this time by the United States.

The US has developed a historical relationship with the Kurds in Iraq, following the first Gulf War. Under President George Bush, the US set up a no-fly zone which allowed the Kurds a space to govern themselves protecting them from Saddam Hussein. Soon after, in 1992 the Kurds established the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) which set the stage for self-determination, from the Kurdish perspective at least. Fast forward to the 2003 Iraq War, the KRG became the most important and reliable ally of the US inside Iraq. Let’s not forget that not one American life was lost in the Kurdistan Region during the entirety of the war.

On September 25, 2017 the Kurdish government decided to make a unilateral decision and pushed forward a referendum calling for independence. As warned prior to holding the vote, the entire international community, and the US included took a hard stance against the Kurdish decision. Perhaps the Kurdish decision stemmed from the idea that the US and the rest of the world would finally reward them with a state after successfully disintegrating the Islamic State (IS) while the Iraqi army collapsed. But this hope was short lived and what followed was a disaster. The Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corp (IRCG) general Qassim Soleimani visited Sulaimania province to warn the Kurds against calling for independence. Iranian backed Shiite militias, specifically the Popular Mobilization force (PMU) overran Kurdish held oil rich Kirkuk, a disputed territory under the Iraqi constitution. Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdogan threatened military action. Iraqi Prime Minster Haidar Abadi warned of consequences, and he kept to his word.

With all this, in the eyes of the Kurdish regional government, the US was nowhere to be found. The Kurds found themselves isolated and alone.

In Syria, the Kurds in the northeast sense betrayal is looming, again from the United States. Prior to the rise of IS, the Kurds in Syria played a defensive role as Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad pounded his opponents. The Kurds neither took the side of the “Free Syrian Army” (FSA) (which today is fractured, unreliable and fighting Turkey’s war against the Kurds), or the Assad regime. The Kurds were simply protecting their historical territories in the north of the country. As IS rose and declared Raqqa to be its capital, the tides turned against the Kurds. IS saw all as its enemy, including the secular and “atheist” Kurds. Despite the push from the terror organization, the Kurds successfully organized fighters both men (People’s Protection Unit YPG) and women (Women’s Protection Unit YPJ). In alliance with the United States which later established the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), a military force made up of the YPG, YPJ and Arab populations of north Syria. The SDF swiftly brought IS to its knees, liberated Raqqa and the rest of its territories east of the Euphrates River with less than 5% territory remaining.

Today there are about 2,200 US troops in northern Syria aligned with the SDF. The US plays many pivotal roles with its presence, which include but not limited to training and equipping the SDF, continue the fight against IS, prevent Russia, Iran and Assad forces from crossing the Euphrates river, help in reconstruction efforts in liberated areas and to patrol the Turkish-Syrian border to prevent Turkey from triggering a war against the Kurds, in what President Erdogan views as terrorists. However, President Donald Trump is adamant about withdrawing from Syria, a move if implemented, would be parallel to President Obama’s premature withdrawal from Iraq in 2011.

A hasty US withdrawal from Syria would leave a giant gap for Russia, Iran and Turkey to fill and would ultimately leave the Kurds abandoned forcing them to make amends with Assad. This would undermine all progress made by US forces with the SDF and would further legitimize Assad’s dictatorship over all of Syria. The withdrawal is unnecessary as the Americans are welcomed by Syrians east of the Euphrates.

In Iraq, the United States risks losing the Kurds to Russia and Iran following the independence referendum due to lack of reliable US backing. US presence in the Kurdistan Region is critical as Iraq finds itself deeper in Iranian regimes sphere of influence.

The Kurds have proven to be reliable, honest partners time and time again both on the battle field and in the political arena. It is long overdue for the United States to distance itself from the status quo policy of keeping failed states of Iraq and Syrian intact. The US must implement a policy in the interest of our Kurdish partners so that we don’t lose them to the dangerous regimes in the unforgivable neighborhood that is the Middle East.

Originally published at: https://securitystudies.org/guest-opinion-america-cannot-afford-lose-kurds/

Photo: James Gordon

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