التقرير الأسبوعي 11-10-2017

هل أضحى الأنقلاب العسكري وشيكاً 
في السعودية وما هو الموقف الأميركي

الأزماتوالصراعاتترافقالرئيسالأميركيمنذبدءولايتهالرئاسية،وكانيتطلعبنظرةالواثقلفترةهدوءوأخذقسطمنالراحةبالابتعادعنهاخلالجولتهالآسيويةالطويلة. ولميخرجعنطورهفي “عدمالاكتراثأوتحملالمسؤولية” فيحادثالقتلالجماعيفيكنيسةبولايةتكساس. أماجمهورمناصريهفلميشذعنالقاعدةالمعهودةوالمطالبةبعدمتقييداقتناءوحملالسلاح.

فيالقضاياالدوليةالملتهبةأظهرترامببعضالتعديلفيلهجتهالتصاعديةولغةالتهديد،فيمايخصكورياالشمالية،وانتقلمركزالثقلالإعلاميالىصحبتهفيالجولةوترقبماقديصدرعنهمن “مبادرات” لتبريدوعيدولهيبترامب.

بالمقابل،شدالرئيسالروسيفلاديميربوتينالرحالفيزيارةرسميةلإيران،الأولمنالشهرالجاري،رافقهاتكهناتأميركيةبـ “احتمال” عقدلقاءبينالرئيسينالأميركيوالروسي؛بينماوسائلالإعلامالروسيةأكدتمسبقاً،أناللقاءتمالاعدادلهبينهمالينضجلقاءقمةبينالعظميينفيفييتنامالتيتستضيف “منتدىالتعاونالاقتصاديلدولآسياوالمحيطالهادي (إيبك،(” 9 تشرين2 الجاري.

تكهناتالمؤسساتالأميركيةأناللقاءسيتمنظراًلنضججملةمنالأمورالتيتهمالطرفين،منهاسوريا.

لدى كتابة هذه السطور صدر بيان مشترك عن لقاء بوتين وترامب يؤكد اتفاق اولي حول سوريا ويرجح تملص ترامب من عقدة التعامل الواقعي مع روسيا في الملفات الساخنة وحالة الحصار والإتهام المفروضة عليه من معسكر  العداء لروسيا في واشنطن، كما يشكل مؤشر على بداية تيليرسون في تفعيل دور غائب للخارجية.

برزتمسألةالمصيرالغامضلرئيسالوزراءاللبنانيبعدتوجههللرياض،بطلبمنها،الىصدارةالاحداثوالاهتمامات،واكبهااعتقالوليالعهدالسعوديلمجموعةكبيرةمنالأمراءوالأثرياءومالكيوسائلالإعلامبلوبعضرجالاتالدينتحتواجهة “محاربةالفساد.” بيدأنالتدقيقفيآلياتالمعالجةالأميركيةلماجرىتكشفعنجملةقضاياجوهرهاالعلاقةالوثيقةالتينسجهاالرئيسترامببالعاهلالسعوديونجله،وماترتبعليهامنتعهداتباستمرارضخالأموالمنالسعوديةباتجاهأميركا.

بداية،ينبغيالتطرقلبعضردودالأفعالالأميركيةحولتصريحاتوزيرالدولةالسعوديثامرالسبهانالخاصةبلبنان،فيالآونةالأخيرةوتهديدهبشنحربعليه؛نظراًلمايحتلهلبنانمنمكانةجيو-سياسيةفيالقرارالأميركي.

أحد ضباط الاستخبارات الأميركية السابق، دون بيكون، أعرب عن قلقه من “التحولات الجيوسياسية” في المنطقة، والتي “تسير بعكس ما تشتهيه الرياض .. (تصريحات) السبهان تشي بأن أعمالاً سرية أنجزت ستستهدف حزب الله في لبنان.” (الأول من الشهر الجاري).

وأضافأنأهميةومركزية “ايرانوحزباللهتضاعفت (اقليمياً) وأدتلخسارةإضافيةللولاياتالمتحدةفيالشرقالأوسط،بدءاًبالعراقوالآنسوريا ..” ومضىموضحاًأن “الحربآتيةإلىلبنان،” رأسحربتهاسيكون “التنظيمالجديدللقاعدةبعدتهيئتهكتنظيممعتدل.”

انقلاب القصرلماذا؟

التوقفعندحيثياتماجرىفيوعلىرأسهرمالسلطةالملكيةفيالسعودية،فيالأيامالقليلةالماضية،ينطويعلىسرديةطويلةمنالتفاصيل. بيدأنمايهمناهوتسليطالضوءعلىالزواياالأميركيةفيكيفيةتعاطيها،بلتمهيدهالماجرىمناعتقالاتومصادرةثرواتومقتلأحدالأمراء،منصوربنمقرن،باسقاططائرتهالمروحيةبصاروخحربيمنمقاتلةسعودية.

الصحافيالأميركيالمخضرمفي واشنطن بوست والمقرب من دوائر صنع القرار السياسي، ديفيد أغناطيوس، أرسى عناصر الرواية المتداولة بالقول إن الأمير محمد بن سلمان “يقوم بعمل قوي جدا ومحفوف بالمخاطر ..  (هو) يفكك نظام حكم تقليدي، لكنه متواصل. لقد خرج الأمير الشاب بعيداً عن تقاليد الحكم السعودي …”  (7 نوفمبر الجاري). واستطرد في تبرير دوافعه مؤكداً أن “الفساد في السعودية حقيقة واقعية .. يبدو أن إبن سلمان سيسعى لكسب شعبيته من خلال إستهداف كبار الأثرياء.”

الصحيفةالأكبرفياميركانيويورك تايمز، ذات النفوذ البارز، اصطفت لجانب بن سلمان أيضاَ، 7 نوفمبر، لتبرير “حملة تطهير الفساد .. فالاختلاس والسرقات متفشية لن يوقفها إلا اجراء قريب من التغيير الثوري ..”

على الشاطيء الأطلسي المقابل، اعتبرت الصحيفة البريطانية ذي غارديان أن ما يجري في السعودية هو بمثابة “ثورة.” (7 نوفمبر).

وكالةبلومبيرغ للأنباء، 25 نيسان 2016، أشادت بالأمير محمد بن سلمان وقدرته على مواصلة “العمل المضني لستة عشر ساعة يوميا؛” والذي جاء بالتطابق مع وصف المعلق الشهير في صحيفة نيويورك تايمز، توماس فريدمان، قائلاً “أمضيت أمسية مع محمد بن سلمان في مكتبه، وقد أتعبني برشقات طاقته النارية المتقطعة.” (20 نوفمبر 2015).

باختصار،أنصارالسعوديةفيوسائلالإعلامالأميركية،المقروءةوالمرئية،اتخذواقضيةالفسادكمنبرللتدليلعلى “عصرية” الأميرالشابونزوعهللإصلاحوتجاوبهمعماتمثلهظاهرةالفسادالملازمةللتخمةالماليةكأكبرهاجسبينالمواطنين.

الموقفالأميركيالرسميتفادىالاشارةلإبنسلمان،سلباًأوايجاباً،لحينمغيبيومالخميس، 9 نوفمبر. الناطقالرسميباسموزارةالخارجية،هذرناويرت،اكتفتبسرديةلقاءالقائمبالأعمالالأميركيفيالرياض،كريسهينزل،بسعدالحريريرافضةتوضيحمكاناللقاءوأحالتالاستفساراتالتفصيليةالى “الحكومةالسعوديةومكتبالسيدالحريري.”

فيالعاشرمنالشهرالجاري،أصدروزيرالخارجيةالأميركيةريكستيلرسونبياناًيشددفيهعلى “تأييدأميركالاستقلاللبنانوتحترمرئيسحكومتهسعدالحريري،” ويحذرمنتحويل “لبنانإلىساحةحرببالوكالة،” ممااعتبربأنهصيغةديبلوماسيةلمطالبةبنسلمانإنهاءالأزمةالناجمةعناحتجازهالحريري.

الرئيسدونالدترامبأثنىعلىالإجراءاتالتيقامبهابنسلمانكمؤشر “يستهدفالفساد .. وباءاستنزفمواردالبلادلسنوات.” كماحثوليالعهدالسعوديالاعتمادعلىاسواقالأسهمالأميركيةفينيويوركعندإطلاقهبيعأسهمشركةأرامكوالعملاقة.

يشارالىأنإحدىركائزخطةإبنسلمانالتنموية، 2030،تستدعيبيعجزءمنأصولشركةأرامكوواكتتابهافيأسواقالأسهمالعالميةلتوفيرسيولةماليةعاجلة. الرئيسترامبحرصعلىدعوةالأميرالشابلطرحالإكتتابفيسوقبورصاتنيويورك،بيدأنقانون “جاستا” المسلطعلىالسعوديةعلىخلفيةالمتضررينمنهجمات 11 أيلول 2001 يحولدونالمضيقدماً،مماحدابالحكومةالبريطانيةتقديم “قرضقيمته 2 ملياردولار،” لتسهيلدخولأرامكوسوقالأسهمالبريطانية(فاينانشال تايمز 9 نوفمبر الجاري).

المفاصلالنافذةفيالقرارالأميركيتبنتتقييمجهازالمخابراتالألمانية،بيأندي،للأميرالشابباعتباره “مقامرمتهوريحيطنفسهبفائضمنالقوة.” لكنهذالميحولدونالتعاملالمباشرمعهنظراًللعلاقةالخاصةالتيأضحتتربطهبالرئيسترامبوأفرادعائلته،لاسيمافيتشاطررؤاهمافيالعداءالصارخضدإيران.

منذبروزمحمدبنسلمان،فيظلوالدهومنثمتجاوزه،اعتقدأنباستطاعةبلادهتسخيرعلاقاتهاالتاريخيةمعالولاياتالمتحدةلتثمرتوكيلهادوراًأكبرفيالملفاتالإقليمية،وتمضيفيوضعقدراتهاالعسكريةتحتتصرفالاستراتيجيةالأميركية.

مراكزالأبحاثالأميركيةالتيلاتتلقىمساعداتوهباتسعوديةاعتبرتمسارالأميرالشاببأنه “يشكلنقطةانعطافكبرىفيدولةقيدالتفكك .. وتجاوزهللبنيةالقبليةالتقليدية،” فيطموحهللانتقالالىمرحلة “المملكةالرابعة.”

البعد الاقتصادي

فيلغةالاقتصادالصرفة،تنتجالسعوديةسلعةوحيدة،النفط،وماتبقىمنتركيبةاقتصاديةمهيأةللاستهلاكوليسللانتاج،رغمبعضالمحاولاتالتيتمالالتفافعليهامنقبل “مجموعة  10 % عمولة” منكباررجالاتآلسعود.

ما يهم مراكز المال العالمية إنجاز “خصخصة القطاع العام – اينما وجد؛ رفع يد الدولة عن التحكم وادارة السوق؛ رفع الدعم عن السلع الأساسية” و”تطوير” المملكة الرابعة من هيكلية و”بنية ريعية” الى دولة مستهلكة ودمجها بالكامل في نظام العولمة والمضاربات المالية.

البنية الريعية يعرّفها الاقتصاد السياسي بأنها “نمط اقتصادي يعتمد على استغلال الموارد الطبيعية دون الحاجة الى الأهتمام بتطويرها – المعادن، المياه، النفط والغاز.” الايرادات الناجمة عن تلك المبادلة تذهب لنزعة استهلاكية مرتبطة بالاستيراد. ونزيد بأن هذا النموذج لا يعير إهتماماً للزراعة أو الصناعات التحويلية.

معهد كارنيغي المرموق وصف الاقتصاد الريعي في السعودية بأنه “منح الامتيازات والخدمات وفرص العمل لصالح فئة معيّنة من دون مراعاة أي اعتبارات ترتبط بالمنافسة والكفاءة الاقتصادية. وتكمن خطورة الريع، مقارنةً بالفساد أو سوء استخدام المال العام، في أنه يكتسب طابعاً “قانونياً” إذ أن الأحكام التي ترعاه عادة ما تكون مكرّسةً في القوانين والمراسيم.”

اتضحت مؤشرات مستقبل المملكة الرابعة في الانتقال من الاعتماد على سلعة النفط الى الاعتماد على الاستثمارات المالية والمضاربات في اسواق الأسهم —  بيع الشركات الكبرى ارامكو وسابك (تقدر قيمتها بعد تسييلها ببضعة عشرات تريليون من الدولارات) وتحويلها الى سيولة مالية تتحكم بها رؤوس الأموال العالمية.

مراكز القوى السياسية والمالية العالمية تدرك حقيقة الأزمة البنيوية التي تعانيها السعودية، لا سيما وأن إحتياطيها من النقد الأجنبي انخفض بشكل ملحوظ الى 487 مليار دولار (رويترز 28 آب 2017)، واكبه ارتفاع في حجم الديون الداخلية والخارجية التي بلغت 200 مليار دولار (31 ديسمبر 2016 (Indexmundi).

وعليه،تمتشجيعورعايةتوجهاتإبنسلمانمنقبلمفاصلالقرارالسياسيوالاقتصاديالدوليتصفيةمراكزالقوىالسياسيةوأضحىيسيطربالكاملعلى “مثلثالسلطةوالمالوالإعلام.” الأمرالذييعززه “الزيارةغيرالمقررة” لصهرالرئيسترامب،جاريدكوشنر،للرياضأعقبها “ليلةالسكاكينالطويلة،” والصمتالأميركيالرسميلبضعةأيام.

بناءًعلىتلكالمعطيات،يمكنللمرءالقولأنالرئيسترامبأوكلصهرهكوشنربالإشرافعلىتصفيةمفاصلالنظامالسعوديوالإعداد “للملكةالرابعة” أهمميزاتهانقلالسلطةليدفرددونمشاركةمنالأمراءالآخرين – “عموديةالسلطة.”

الانقلاب العسكري على إبن سلمان هل هو ممكن؟

توصيفماجرىبأنه “انقلاب” فيرأسالسلطةوبنيتهاالتقليديةأضحىمسلمبه،لاسيماوأنالمتضررينهمكبارالأمراءوالأثرياءوالإعلاميينوالأجهزةالعسكريةوالأمنية،أعمدةالنفوذالسعوديلحينليلةالسكاكين.

جديربالذكرأنإبنسلمانركزمفاصلالقوةالعسكريةبينيديهوتهميشالبنىالأخرىمن “حرسوطني” ووزارةالداخليةوالاستخبارات. منالطبيعيأنيلجأالطرفالمتضررلاستعادةهيبتهممايمهدالأرضيةالموضوعيةلاصطفافاتجديدةيجمعهاالعداءلإبنسلمانوالقضاءعليه.

كماأنالبعدالقبليالذي “كان” يشكلأبرزأعمدةالسلطةوأجهزتهاالمتخمةمنأبناءالقبائلوالعشائرقدأضحىمنبينالمتضررينفيزمنالأميرالشاب،وهوينصتلنصائحمستشاريهالأجانببتقويضالبنيةالقبليةوالاعتمادعلىمستشارينوقوى “محترفة” لحمايتهووضعهاعلىرأسالأجهزةالتابعة.

المغامرةبانقلابضدإبنسلمانيستندالىالقوةالعسكريةغيرمضمونالنتائج،ضمنالمعطياتالراهنة،لاسيماوأنالسعودية “حاولت” الإطاحةبأميرقطرعبرالبوابةالعسكريةوفشلت؛فضلاًعنأعادةالاصطفافاتوالولاءاتداخلمراكزالقوىالسابقة.

فيهذاالسياقأيضا،لايجوزإغفالالدور “المعنوي” الذييمثلهالملكسلمانفيمعادلةالتوازنالعائليوهوالمدينلهابتسلمهالسلطة،فضلاًعنمصيرالقواتالعسكريةوالحرسالوطني.

منبينمراكزالقوىالمناوئةلإبنسلمانيلمسالمرءأبرزها: عائلةالملكالسابقعبدالله؛عائلةالملكالأسبقفهد؛وعائلةوليالعهدالسابقمحمدبننايف. بيدأناستهدافشخصالملكسلمانمنقبلتكتلمنهؤلاءغيرمضمونالنتائجنظراًلمكانتهونفوذهبصرفالنظرعنصلاحيتهالذهنية.

العاهلالسعوديمنجانبهيمضيقدماًلتهيئةالأرضيةلتولينجلهالسلطةوهوعلىقيدالحياة،وأيعارضقديصيبهأويبعدهفيالأيامالمقبلةسيعقدقليلاطموحنجلهبتسلمالسلطة. ويجدالمرءبعضالصدقيةلأنباءغيرالمؤكدةبأنسلمانيسلمسلطاتهتدريجيالنجلهوالتصديلمناوئيهالآخرينوهوعلىقيدالحياة.

عندالعودةلفرضيةتسلمالأميرالشابمقاليدالأمور،وغيابوالده،ستنهضالأطرافالمتضررةللتحركعلىأرضيةالولاءالقبليوتشاركالسلطةلاسيمابينالجناحالسديري،بعدإقصاءبنسلمانمنه،وقبيلةشمّرموطنالملكعبداللهالراحل.

رموز الجناحين المذكورين يمثلهما الأمير محمد بن نايف (السديريين) ومتعب بن عبد الله (الشمريين)، قد يكافئون تجاوزات إبن سلمان بانقلاب أبيض دون إسالة الدماء. ما عدا ذلك، خاصة إصرار الملك سلمان البقاء في منصبه، فأن اللجوء لاستخدام القوة العسكرية قد يبرز الى الواجهة.

نجاح أي محاولة إنقلاب يستدعي تضافر جملة من العوامل، منها تواجد القوة الفاعلة بالقرب من مراكز السلطة المفصلية وهذا يحتم عليها الاستيلاء على الرياض غير عابئة بانتشار القوات العسكرية على الحدود الجنوبية مع اليمن، والتي يتطلب نقلها لمؤازرة القصر الملكي تعقيدات لوجستية ومغامرة الانسحاب من جبهات عسكرية مفتوحة.

في هذا الصدد، يحتل فوج الحرس الملكي مكانة مركزية للمهام المنوطة به بتوفير الحماية للملك وولي العهد، بالدرجة الاولى. يتكون الفوج الملكي من ثلاث كتائب مشاة خفيفة، ويخضع لإمرة الملك ولديه شبكة إتصالات متطورة ومستقلة عن نظيرته في القوات العسكرية الأخرى، لتعزيز فرص الحماية ووقاية الملك من انقلاب محتمل.

أما قوات “الحرس الوطني،” التي أسسها ورعاها الملك عبد الله، فحجمها الفعلي لا يعادل نصف عدد القوات العسكرية، ترابط بعض وحداتها بالقرب من الرياض وتعاني من نقص في الاسلحة المتطورة؛ بيد أنها منوطة بتوفير الحماية ضد أي محاولة انقلاب.

تتشكلقواتالحرسالوطنيمنلواءميكانيكييخضعلإمرتهأربعةكتائبوكتيبةمدفعيةولواءالأميرسعدالميكانيكيالذييضمتحتإمرتهمامجموعهأربعةكتائبمسلحةترابطفيالرياض،ولايمتلكأيمدرعاتعوضهابعرباتمسلحةخفيفة. وعليهليسمناليسيرقيامالحرسالوطنيبتصدرمحاولةانقلابية،إلافيحالحدوثانشقاقداخلقواتالحرسالملكيوعصيانالأوامرالعليا.

جديربالذكرأنأقربحلفاءلإبنسلمانهووليعهدالإمارات،محمدبنزايد،الذيلديهعلاقةوثيقةبقواتمرتزقة “بلاكووتر،” سابقاًومنغيرالمستبعدأنيتمنقلهاالىالرياضلتعزيزحمايةإبنسلمانوالملك. كماأنسلمانونجلهيسيطرانبالكاملعلىشبكةالاتصالاتاالعسكريةولديهمافائضمنالقوةالعسكريةوباستطاعتهماالصمودلفترةأطولمقابلالخصوم.

لايلمسالمرءوالمراقبعلىالسواءتوفرقيادةأوهيكليةموحدةمهيأةلتنفيذانقلابوعليهاالاعتمادالتامعلىالوحداتالتيبإمرتهالتنفيذمهامالهجومعلىالمرافقالحيويةوالقصرالملكي. كماأنالعقيدةالعسكريةالتيتسيطرعلىالقواتالسعوديةالمختلفةجرىاعدادهاوفقالعقيدةالأميركيةبتراتبيةشديدةتنطويعلىعقباتعمليةأمامتنفيذانقلابناجز – الأإذاحصلتعلىدعمورضىأميركي،وهوأمرمستبعدفياللحظةالراهنة.

فيظلهذهالمعطيات،نجدمنالمنطقيالتريثممنيرغبأويحاولالسعيلتنفيذانقلابلحينحلولالأميرالشابمحلوالدهمماسيجذرحجمالاعتراضوالامتعاضداخلالأطرالقبليةوالعسكريةضدهوالبناءعليهلاستثمارهفيمرحلةلاحقةتتوفرفيهانضوجعواملضرورية.

فوزإبنسلمانبالعرشلايعنيبالضرورةأنباستطاعتهالحفاظعليهوالاستمرارفيالحكموفقالوصفةالمعدة.

Week of November 10, 2017

The Saudi Crisis as Seen From America

Although there is a major crisis brewing in Saudi Arabia and the whole region, it is hardly registering in America and amongst its voters. Even “news literate” voters are unaware of the events in Saudi Arabia and the repercussions in Lebanon and elsewhere.

If Americans are focused on anything, they are looking at Trump and his major trip to Asia. They are also focused on North Korea and the three aircraft carrier task forces around that nation.

Domestically, there is the usual fuss about a mass shooting in a church in Texas and gun control.

The Middle East isn’t registering now that ISIS is being defeated on the battlefield. In fact, the major Middle Eastern concern for Americans is if someone inspired by ISIS will carry out a suicide attack.

The average American is unaware and unconcerned so far…

This will impact America’s response to the events as politicians will be unwilling to address the issue. It will be then being left up to the Washington bureaucracy and the Trump Administration to decide policy – something that they will be unable to do as they disagree on what steps to take.

The Trump Administration is focused on the total defeat of ISIS and curtailing Iranian influence in the region and their alleged development of a nuclear bomb. Although the US and Saudis have been on differing sides in the past few years, it appears that Trump and Saudi King Salman (or more accurately Crown Prince MBS) are in agreement now.

Under Crown Prince MBS, Saudi Arabia has become a more active regional power – moving from using its financial power to attempts of employing its military muscle.

Although Trump likes this Saudi policy, it finds little support amongst parts of the Washington bureaucracy. Former Crown Prince Nayef was close to the Washington bureaucracy and extremely popular in the CIA and other counter terrorism agencies due to his anti-terrorism activities. His arrest earlier this year angered the CIA and quite a few factions of the House of Saud – as it was interpreted as Crown Prince MBS forcing his hand in the power struggle.

According to a source speaking to the Asia Times, “he [Crown Prince] might have gotten away with the arrest of CIA favorite Mohammed bin Nayef if he smoothed it over but MBS has now crossed the Rubicon though he is no Caesar. The CIA regards him as totally worthless.”

But, Crown Prince MBS also has other key support in the US. The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman wrote, “I spent an evening with Mohammed bin Salman at his office, and he wore me out. With staccato energy bursts, he laid out in detail his plans. His main projects are an online government dashboard that will transparently display the goals of each ministry, with monthly KPIs – key performance indicators – for which each minister will be held accountable. His idea is to get the whole country engaged in government performance. Ministers tell you: Since Mohammed arrived, big decisions that took two years to make now happen in two weeks.”

However, the Washington foreign policy and anti-terrorism bureaucracy will respond by saying that the German intelligence agency, the BND, issued a candid one-and-a-half-page memo in December 2015 portraying the Crown Prince as a reckless gambler with too much power. It stated that financial circles in the European Union are afraid that his geopolitical gambles may end up spending millions of retirement accounts into the dust.

This difference in opinions means that American policy towards Saudi Arabia will be somewhat schizophrenic. President Trump will likely continue his support of the King and Crown Prince, while the bureaucracy in Washington and at the US Embassy in Riyadh, may be reluctant or slow to follow such approach.

 

Is a Coup Possible?

Some observers maintain that a coup was already attempted. Caught up in the purge was Prince Miteb bin Abdullah, the last of the late King Abdullah’s sons to hold a position of real power. Until last weekend, he was head of Saudi Arabia’s National Guard, which accounts for about one third of the country’s military manpower (and less than that in terms of equipment). Obviously, a rumored coup attempt would have led to Prince Miteb’s ouster.

But, it’s important to remember that the rest of the military answers directly Crown Prince MBS.

With dozens of influential Saudi princes, ministers and billionaires “imprisoned” in the Riyadh Ritz-Carlton, a coup staged by dissatisfied factions of the Saudi Royal family is a distinct possibility at some time in the future.

However, successful coups aren’t easy.  A Saudi backed military coup was staged against the regime of Qatari Emir Sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa al-Thani with no success.

There are two factors standing in the way of a potential coup in Saudi Arabia. The first is King Salman. The second is who controls the military (Saudi Army and the Saudi National Guard).

There are three major royal family groups aligning against the Crown Prince: the family of former King Abdullah, the family of former King Fahd, and the family of former Crown Prince Nayef. However, King Salman is well regarded and is a unifying factor.

If the King were to die, or withdraw his support for his son, or otherwise become incapacitated (by whatever means), Crown Prince MBS might be facing some political isolation, which is why there are rumors that the King will try to avoid this by passing all his powers to the Crown Prince in the near future.

If the Crown Prince is politically isolated in a post-King Salmon period, then there is likely to be an attempt to project some form of power sharing between the Sudairis (without Crown Prince) and the Chamars (the tribe of deceased King Abdullah). Some of the power would probably then be entrusted to the other Prince Mohammed Nayef and Prince Miteb or their supporters.

The result would probably be relatively bloodless.

The problem is if the King remains in power and continues to support his son. Then military action if to take place, a bloodbath may occur.

Rumors have been swirling for months about a coup against Crown Prince in the making and the arrests of major figures in the Saudi military and National Guard is seen as an attempt by the Crown Prince to counter a coup attempt.

However, that hasn’t quieted unrest in the military and National Guard. One unknown person said that Crown Prince would have to arrest the whole Saudi Army to feel secure.

But, for a coup to succeed, it depends not on who doesn’t like the Crown Prince, but where they are located. Riyadh is the key city to control and forces elsewhere, especially near Yemen will not have any impact.

The key unit is The Saudi Arabian Royal Guard Regiment, which is stationed in and around Riyadh. Although part of the Saudi Army, the Royal Guards are tasked with protecting the King and Crown Prince. The Royal Guard Regiment consists of three light infantry battalions. The Royal Guards report directly to the king and maintain a separate communications network from the regular Army in order to prevent their being used against the King in a coup.

The most likely armed forces to oppose Crown Prince are the Saudi National Guard. However, they are half the size of the Saudi regular military and don’t have the same military equipment as the regular army.

Since the National Guard is tasked with stopping a coup, there are some units near Riyadh. They include the Imam Muhammad bin Saud Mechanized Brigade, which controls four battalions as well as the 1st Artillery Battalion and Prince Saad Abdulrahman Mechanized Brigade, which controls four combined-armed battalions, and is based in Riyadh.

One problem is that the National Guard doesn’t have any tanks – just lighter armored fighting vehicles. If this is a case of a coup backed by the National Guard, with the Saudi armed forces backing the King, the better equipped Saudi armed forces should prevail, unless there is active, widespread refusal to obey the King and his commanders.

Another factor could be the UAE and its close relationship with the “Blackwater” mercenaries. Given the UAE’s close relationship with Crown Prince MBS, it isn’t out of the realm of possibility that trained mercenaries could be moved into Riyadh to protect the King and Crown Prince.

Even if the coup backers have military forces to support them, the King and Crown Prince hold the key targets in Riyadh with loyal forces. They are also at a heightened state of alert against a coup. They also control the military communications system and have greater firepower to bring to bear if fighting continues around the capital and other loyal army units head to Riyadh.

Coup supporters have no unified command structure and will have to rely upon coup units acting according to a plan. They will also have to rely upon their forces actually carrying out attacks on critical installations like the Royal Palace. However, the history of coups shows that military units are loath to carry out such attacks unless they are assured of eventual victory. Any hitch in the plans usually means some coup commanders will hesitate, refuse to attack, or try to leave the country to save their own skin.

If Crown Prince MBS does become king, he will be a dramatic change from the Saudi kings who have usually been very old and in poor health. He could rule for decades, which means that those who oppose him may have a better opportunity to challenge him or overthrow him at a later date.

Given Crown Prince aggressive foreign policy, military operations, and spending, there may be a better time, when there is greater unrest to challenge him.

In other words, just because MBS gains the crown doesn’t mean that he will continue to keep it easily as it looks currently.

التحليل 11-03-2017

التحليل:

تخاذل الكونغرس عن إعادة النظر بقرار 

“التفويض بالحرب” لاستمرار الحروب الأميركية

عندكلمنعطفيهزهيبةأميركاونفوذهاالكونيتتجددالدعواتالداخليةلإعادةالروحلاستصدارقرارجديدمنالكونغرس،أوتعديلالقانونالراهن،يضفيشرعيةعلىصلاحياتالسلطةالتنفيذيةبشنحروبخارجحدودالولاياتالمتحدة،أينماومتىشاءت،دونالحاجةللتوجهإلىالكونغرسأوطلبمخصصاتماليةإضافيةلتنفيذالمهامالمطلوبة؛فتلكمتضمنةفيالقرارالراهنالصادرعام 2001.

بعدفترةوجيزةمنتنفيذهجمات 11 أيلول/سبتمبر 2001،قامتالمؤسسةالأميركيةالحاكمة،ممثلةبالأذرعالعسكريةوالأمنيةوالاستخباراتيةوالإعلامية،بإرسالطواقمعسكرية “صغيرةومحدودة” لمناطقمتعددةمنالعالمللعملسوياًمعالقوىالمحلية،لاسيمافيعدةدولإفريقية. عمادالقواتالأميركيةكانتالقواتالخاصةوصفوتها “القبعاتالخضراء،” أنيطتبهامهامروجتهاالوسائلالإعلاميةبأنهاضرورية “لمكافحةالإرهاب،”

ستة عشر عاماً والحروب مستمرة دون أفق زمني، والرؤساء الأميركيون المتعاقبون يستغلون “سلطاتهم الواسعة” والمكتسبة لنشر قوات ومعدات عسكرية  في ساحات اشتباك متجددة وفق رؤى متطابقة “لملاحقة القاعدة وتنظيمات وجماعات مرتبطة بها.”

صادقالرئيسدونالدترامب،أيلول / سبتمبرالمنصرم،علىوثيقة “تفويضسرية” يمنحبموجبها “وكالةالاستخباراتالمركزيةوقياداتالقواتالعسكريةتنفيذمهاموهجماتواسعةلمكافحةالإرهاب،” دونوضعقيودميدانيةأوالرجوعللمراتبالأعلىلاتخاذالقرارالمناسبتشملاستخدامطائراتالدرونزوشنغاراتونصبكمائنوتنفيذعملياتسريةحولالعالم.

أقدمترامبعلىفعلتهمستنداًالىالتفويضسالفالذكر، 2001،والذيسرىمفعولهعلىسلفيه،الرئيسجورجبوشالإبنوالرئيسباراكأوباما،وجرىتطبيقهعلىمختلفالساحاتالعالميةمعظمهافيالوطنالعربيومحيطه.

مطلعشهرتشرين1 / اكتوبر الماضي أفاق المجتمع الأميركي على “صدمة مقتل عدد من جنود وحدات القبعات الخضراء على أراضي النيجر؛” مما دفع وسائل الإعلام وأعضاء الكونغرس على التساؤل لناحية طبيعة مهام القوات الأميركية وتواجدها هناك.

معتضاربالسردياتالرسميةالأميركيةلحقيقةماجرىفيالنيجرواتهاماتقياداتميدانيةبالتقصيروالفوضىبرزالكونغرسوالرئيسترامبفيصدارةالجدلوتبادلالمطالبةالحذرةبحصرصلاحياتالسلطة “التشريعية” إعلانالحرب،كماينصالدستور،وسعيالأخيرللإبقاءعلى “الوضعالراهن،” كصيغةحظيتباجماعفريقيالحزبين.

محورتحفظاتالفريقين،الكونغرسوالرئيس،هو “تلكؤ” الكونغرسفياعلانالحرببصورةرسميةواكتفىبمنحالسلطةالرئاسيةصلاحياتغيرمقيدة “لإرسالقواتومعداتعسكرية” اينماتراهضروريدونالحاجةللمرورعلىالكونغرس.

عددمحدودمنقياداتالحزبيناعربمراراًعنتحفظهعلىمضمونالصلاحياتالرئاسيةغيرالمقيدة،مؤكدينأنالمسألةتكمنفيتحقيقتوافقسياسيبينالتياراتالمختلفةمنأقرانهم.

المرشحلمنصبنائبالرئيسالسابقعنالحزبالديموقراطي،تيمكين،صرحبعدحضورهاستعراضاً “سرياً” لعددمحدودمنأعضاءالكونغرسأوضحأن “مايحدثفيالنيجروإفريقياعلىنطاقواسعيشيرإلىحاجتناالماسةإلى (استصدار) تفويضجديد.”

السيناتورالجمهوريراندبولسعىمبكراًلتبنيمبادرةتفضيلتعديلالتفويضالرئاسيالراهن،فيشهرأيلول / سبتمبرالماضي،بيدأنمراكزالقوىالمتنفذةفيالحزبينأسقطتهفيالتصويتبنسبة 61 صوتاًمقابل 36 مؤيداً.

رئيسلجنةالقواتالمسلحةفيمجلسالشيوخ،جونماكين،أشارإلىنيتهلبحث “إصدارمذكرةإستدعاءللبيتالأبيضلأنهلميلتزمالصراحةفيمايخصهجومالنيجر.”

بيدأنمايخشاهقادةالحزبالجمهوريتحديداًصدورتفويضجديديفرضقيودعلىحركةالبنتاغونوينبغيأن “يتركالأمرللقادةالعسكريينالذينعليهمتحديدأفضلالسبللمحاربةأعداءالبلاد.”

رئيسلجنةالعلاقاتالخارجية،بوبكوركر،أعربعننيتهاستحضارمشروعقرارسابققدمهالسيناتورتيمكين،المرشحالسابقلنائبالرئيس،والذييقضيبتجديدالكونغرسالتفويضالرئاسيمرةكلخمسسنوات،ومطالبةالإدارةإخطارالكونغرسحينتنويإرسالقواتأميركية “لبلدانلمتذكرنصاًفيالتفويضالسابق.”

اماردفعلالرئيسترامبعلىماجرىفيالنيجرفجاءمطابقاًلمسلكياتهالسابقةبالتنصلمنالمسؤولية. وقال “حسناً،تدركونأنالجنرالاتهممناتخذالقراربنشرالقواتهناك.” ولميعلقأحدبأنالرئيس،دستورياً،هوالقائدالأعلىللقواتبصرفالنظرعنتفاصيلايحدث.

وزيريالخارجيةوالدفاع،ريكستيلرسونوجونكيلي،تباعا،حضراأماملجنةالعلاقاتالخارجيةفيالكونغرس،منتصفالأسبوعالجاريعلىضوءحادثةالنيجر،لشرحوجهةنظرالإدارةالمتمثلبرفضالثنائيأيقيودقدينظرفيفرضهاالكونغرسعلىالقانونالجاري.

أوضح تيلرسون أن أي قانون جديد “لا ينبغي أن يتضمن قيودا على جغرافيا الحركة .. والإدارة تحتفظ بحقها في الصلاحيات المنصوص عليها” في التفويض الحالي. أما وزير الدفاع فشدد على الإلتزام بالنصوص السارية “في التفويض لعامي 2001 و 2002 لاستخدام القوات العسكرية الأميركية ضد تهديد متبدّل .. ليس بوسعنا تحديد فترة زمنية لمسار أزمة ضد عدو باستطاعته التكيف مع المتغيرات.”

يشار في هذا الصدد أن التفويض الرئاسي يخلو من ذكر سوريا أو ليبيا اللتين شنت عليهما الولايات المتحدة سلسلة غارات جوية ونشرت قواتها البرية على أراضيهما. وبرزت المسألة مراراً بمطالبة الادارة توضيح مبرر تدخلها قانونياً.

في الشأن السوري، أوضح البيت الأبيض مراراً انه استند الى المادة الثانية من التفويض، بيد أن الكونغرس لم يسن أي قانون يخول السلطة التنفيذية استخدام القوة العسكرية ضد سوريا. بيد أن مساعي الرئيس السابق باراك اوباما للفوز بتفويض من الكونغرس، عام 2013، لاستخدام القوة العسكرية ضد سوريا باء بالفشل.

خبراء القانون الدولي يؤكدون على أن الرئيس ترامب “لا يحظى بتفويض صريح لاستخدام القوة العسكرية” ضد سوريا. كما أن ميثاق الأمم المتحدة، الذي لا تكترث له واشنطن، لا يجيز لها استخدام قوتها العسكرية ضد سوريا إلا في حال استصدار قرار صريح من مجلس الأمن الدولي بذلك أو “استخدام مبرر حق الدفاع عن النفس.”

بل تنكرت الولايات المتحدة لالتزاماتها الدولية بإعلان المندوبة الأميركية الدائمة لدى الأمم المتحدة، نكي هايلي، نيسان / ابريل 2017، حين أشارت الى نية بلادها استخدام الخيار العسكري في سوريا “دون تفويض من الهيئة الدولية ..”

غيبت المندوبة الأميركية والمسؤولين الكبار حقيقة أوضاع قواتها الخاصة التي أضحت متمددة في أكثر من ساحة مما اضطر عناصرها للبقاء تحت الخدمة الفعلية فترة أطول “من المعتاد،” وتعاني من إرهاق مزمن. كما أن استبدال القوات بأخرى ليس من بين الخيارات المتاحة: كلفة إعداد عنصر القوات الخاصة تعادل نحو 2 مليون دولار للفرد، وتستغرق فترة التدريب القاسي نحو سنتين.

دروس الماضي القريب

بعد إعلان الولايات المتحدة قرارها بالانخراط الفعلي في الحرب العالمية الاولى لجأت الحكومة المركزية إلى “تأميم خطوط السكك الحديدية وقطاع الاتصالات من برق وبريد وهاتف، ومصادر الطاقة الخام” فضلا عن قيود فرضتها على مرافق أخرى متعددة، كما أوضح الخبير الإقتصادي الأميركي، روبرت هيغز.

اما تداعيات قرار دخول الحرب على الأوضاع الاقتصادية الداخلية فكان كارثياً، إذ ارتفعت النسب الضريبية بشكل ملحوظ، وقفز العجز في الميزان التجاري “إلى 25.5 مليار دولار عام 1919، مقارنة بما كان عليه قبل سنتين، 1.2 مليار.”

دأبت الادارات الأميركية المتعاقبة منذ عام 2001 على زيادة المخصصات المالية للأجهزة الأمنية والبنتاغون “لتعزيز الأمن الداخلي،” فاقمها الإنفاق الهائل على حروبها في العراق وأفغانستان، والآن سوريا ودول الساحل الإفريقي دون استثناء الاراضي العربية الأخرى في الصومال وليبيا واليمن.

بناء على ما سبق، لم يغب عن ذهن القوى المتنفذة في الكونغرس ما ستؤدي إليه الأوضاع الداخلية في حال إقدامها على إعلان الحرب بشكل رسمي. بل تبدو على معظم أعضائه علامات الرضى والراحة للسير بالنصوص الراهنة في التدخل العسكري دون الأعلان الرسمي، لكن إلى متى.

البعض يستدرك بالقول أن واشنطن قد تمضي في شن الحروب لعقد آخر من الزمن، وبذلك ستقترب من “حرب الثلاثين عاماً .. الحرب الأطول في التاريخ البشري.”

التقرير الأسبوعي 11-03-2017

المقدمة

فيظلإنشغالالمؤسساتالأميركيةالمتعددة،الرسميةوالخاصة،بتوجيهالمحققالخاصلوائحإتهامبحقثلاثةمنالمسؤولينالسابقينفيحملةالرئيسترامبالإنتخابية،جاءالهجومالإرهابيعلىالمارةفيمدينةنيويوركليحولالأنظارمرةأخرىعنالأولوياتاليومية.

كماأنالصراعاتوالتوترات “الشخصية” بينالرئيسترامبوعددمنقادةحزبهالجمهوريفرضتنفسهاعلىالأجندةاليوميةللفريقين،وسعيالقياداتالنافذةفيلجانالكونغرسإحياءالجدلحولالصلاحياتالرئاسيةفينشرقواتأميركيةخارجالحدودوشنالحروب،فيأعقابمقتلعددمنجنودالقواتالخاصةفيالنيجر.

سيسلطقسمالتحليلالضوءعلىقرارالتفويضالرئاسيالمسنّعام 2001 بعدهجماتأيلولفيذلكالعام،وشكلذريعةللسلطةالتنفيذيةللتدخلفيسورياوعددمنالدولالأفريقيةالتيلميعلنعنهابكثافةفيوسائلالإعلام.

ملخص دراسات واصدارات مراكز الابحاث

جدل التفويض الحربي والنيجر

مقتلجنودأميركيينفيالنيجرمننخبةالقواتالخاصةأعادالجدلداخلالكونغرسلمربعهالأوللناحيةحدودالصلاحيات  التيأوكلهاللسلطةالتنفيذيةفينشرقواتأميركيةفيمناطقمتعددةمنالعالم،علىخلفياتالأجواءالمشحونةفيأعقابهجمات 11 أيلول 2001. واوضحمركز الدراساست الاستراتيجية والدولية أن الجدل يتجدد بين الفينة والأخرى حول التعامل العصري مع الغموض المتضمن في النصوص الأصلية واستغلال الادارات الأميركية المتعاقبة تلك الثغرات لتمضي قدماً في تعزيز استراتيجياتها في التدخل العسكري المباشر. كما أسهمت التوترات بين بعض قيادات الكونغرس من الحزب الجمهوري والرئيس ترامب في سعي اللجان المختصة لتحديث التفويض بقانون جديد يحد من سلطات السلطة التنفيذية. الادارة الراهنة، اتساقاً مع أسلافها، ترمي للإبقاء على الصيغة الراهنة وعدم المس بصلاحياتها في قرار التدخل العسكري، اينما ومتى تراه مناسباً.

https://www.csis.org/analysis/what-does-niger-have-do-aumf

وشاطرالرأيمعهد هدسون بقوله ان “الوفاة المأساوية” لعدد من القوات الخاصة “أعادت لدائرة الضوء حقيقة عملياتنا في النيجر،” موجهاً انتقاداً حاداً “لأعضاء الكونغرس الذين يدّعون عدم معرفتهم بتواجد قوات أميركية في النيجر هم إما أصابهم نسيان مذهل أو إنهم غير صادقين.” وشدد المعهد أن أولئك الأعضاء الذين تظاهروا بعد المعرفة فإن المسؤولية لا تقع على كاهل البنتاغون لا سيما وأن قائد “القوات الأميركية في افريقيا – إفريكوم، الجنرال توماس وولدهاوزر، أحاطهم علماً” بذلك منذ زمن، فضلاً عن توفر المعلومات بذلك “للذين تقتضي مسؤولياتهم اصدار التفويض وإقرار الأموال الضرورية لتسليح القوات الأميركية التي نرسلها لمناطق الخطر.”

https://www.hudson.org/research/13972-why-are-american-forces-in-niger

سوريا

استهزأمركز الدراسات الاستراتيجية والدولية بحجم التحالف الدولي العامل في سوريا مقابل الحكومة السورية وحلفائها المعدودين “لا يوجد ما يثبت أن الرقم ثلاثة هو أكبر من 73،” في إشارة الى سوريا وروسيا وايران مقابل الولايات المتحدة والدول المنضوية تحت لوائها في محاربة سوريا. موضحأً أن “التحالف الثلاثي .. استطاع فرض شروطه على وضع يتسم بالعنف والفوضى.” واستطرد أنه ربما النظرة لقيام تحالفات “أمر مبالغ به .. ويتعين على الولايات المتحدة عند هذا المفصل عدم إيلاء الأهمية لكسب دول العالم الى جانبها.” وفند المركز الاهداف الأميركية المعلنة في سوريا والمستندة الى ثنائية “إلحاق الهزيمة بتنظيم داعش وعدم قتال الرئيس السوري بشار الأسد، بيد أن البعدين تربطهما صلة دائمة .. بيد أن الولايات المتحدة راهنت على سلوك طريق تستطيع الاستغناء فيه عن كليهما معاً.”

https://www.csis.org/analysis/allies-and-influence

لبنان

استضافمعهد واشنطن لدراسات الشرق الأدنى ندوة حوارية محورها حزب الله “وكيفية الحيلولة  لنشوب حرب ثالثة في لبنان،” يوم 25 أكتوبر المنصرم، شارك فيها ثلة من ألمع القيادات العسكرية الغربية: رئيس الأركان السابق للجيس البريطاني، ريتشارد دانات؛ قائد وحدة (الإرهاب الدولي) في المخابرات البريطانية، ريتشارد كيمب؛ رئيس هيئة الأركان الألمانية ورئيس اللجنة العسكرية في حلف الناتو، كلاوس نومان. إنطلق الثلاثي من فرضية قيام “حزب الله بشن حربً أخرى .. ضد إسرائيل والولايات المتحدة وحلفائهما؛ وستشعر إسرائيل بأنها مجبرة على الرد بعدوانية وقوة وسرعة كبيرة.” وأضاف الفريق أن الرد “الإسرائيلي سيوقع أعدادً كبيرة من الضحايا بين المدنيين، وسيلجأ الحزب لتحريض المجتمع الدولي ضد إسرائيل واتهامها بارتكاب جرائم حرب. ولهذا السبب بالذات، من غير المرجح أن تنظر إسرائيل في شن حملة إستباقية كبرى في لبنان.” واعتبر الثلاثة ان حزب الله راكم خبرات قتالية وقدرات استراتيجية وأصبح “الآن أقرب الى قوة عسكرية موحدة مع هيكلية وتسلسل واضح للقيادة .. ولدية نحو 25 ألف مقاتل ناشط و 20 ألف مقاتل احتياطي.” وشدد الثلاثي على أنه يتعين على “الغرب ادراك أن حزب الله أصبح يشكل تهديداً كبيراً، ليس على إسرائيل فحسب، بل على الشعب اللبناني أيضاً.” وحذر الثلاثي دول الغرب مجتمعة بأنه آن الآوان لتعديل سياساتها نحو لبنان والإقرار بأنه “لم يعد منفصلاً عن حزب الله، وإذا فشل في ذلك فإن الخطر سيزداد سوءاً .. وينبغي على إدرة (الرئيس) ترامب التصريح بأنه يحق لإسرائيل الدفاع عن نفسها في أعقاب هجمات حزب الله؛ وعلى الدول الاوروبية ادراج (الحزب) بكامله ككيان إرهابي.”

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/hezbollahs-terror-army-how-to-prevent-a-third-lebanon-war

تونس

اعتبرمعهد كارنيغي أن “عدوى الفساد في تونس تشكل زعزعة لاستقرارها، وتلوث كافة المستويات الأقتصادية والأمنية والنظام السياسي.” وزعم المعهد ان نظام زين العابدين بن على “شدد قبضته على ظاهرة الفساد آنذاك بيد أنها أضحت مرضاً مستوطناً .. وباتت أكثر انتشاراً اليوم.” وشدد على أن نجاح البلاد في التصدي لتلك الظاهرة “وضمان استمرارية الانتقال الديموقراطي، يتعين على تونس شن حرب متزامنة على جبهتين: البيروقراطية القديمة والفساد المستشري.” وأضاف أن على المجتمع الدولي تقع مسؤولية توفير الدعم لذلك الجهد “بمساعدات وتقديم التمويل المركز.”

https://carnegieendowment.org/2017/10/25/tunisia-s-corruption-contagion-transition-at-risk-pub-73522

إسرائيل

استعرضمعهد أبحاث السياسة الخارجية تداعيات حرب أكتوبر 1973، التي شكلت “أدنى مستوى في تاريخ دولة إسرائيل السبعين، وجاءت بعد 7 سنوات من الانتاصار الباهر في حرب الأيام الستة.” وأوضح أن الهجوم السوري المصري المنسق “استطاع تدمير أو القاء القبض على القوات الإسرائيلية المنتشرة، تحت غطاء مظلة من الصواريخ المتحركة المضادة للطائرات والتي كادت أن تعطل سلاح الجو الإسرائيلي.” ومضى المعهد باستعراض “قدسية” المناسبة التي حدثت في “يوم الغفران، أقدس يوم عند اليهود ..”

Israel’s National Security since the Yom Kippur War

إيران

رحبتمؤسسة هاريتاج بإعلان الرئيس الأميركي “استراتيجيته الجديدة للتصدي لايران كونها توفر قدرٍ يسيرٍ من الأمل عن استعداد الولايات المتحدة” لللانخراط في الدفاع عن منطقة الخليج؛ مستدركة بالقول أن ذلك “يتطلب إدراك الساسة (الاميركيين) أن الإتفاق النووي لم يكن يرمي لكبح جماح إيران؛ بل لكبح جماح الولايات المتحدة.” واستطرد بالقول ان الاتفاق النووي “وفّر لإيران نجدة فورية من العقوبات الغربية المفروضة عليها مقابل  تعهد إيران بحسن السلوك في المستقبل.” وشدد على أن إعادة تفعيل نظام العقوبات، بعد الاتفاق النووي، يتطلب “مساندة الدول الاوروبية، لا سيما وأن الأموال الإيرانية في طريقها للتدفق على الصناعات الأوروبية، ومن غير المرجح ان نحصل عليها.”

http://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/iran-deal-was-not-about-iran

أثنىالمجلس الأميركي للسياسة الخارجية على قرار الرئيس ترامب الخاص بالاتفاق النووي “إذ انتهج طريقاً وسطياً رمى لممارسة نفوذ أميركي أكبر على برنامج إيران النووي” وعدم خضوعه لأهواء فريقي إلغائه أو الإبقاء عليه. وأوضح أن إحجام الرئيس عن “المصادقة” ينبغي أن ينظر إليه في إطار أن “الأمر ليس جزءاً من الاتفاق الرسمي؛ بل شرط منفصل أضيف عام 2015 بقرار من الكونغرس لتعزيز قدرته الإشراف على المفاوضات التي كانت تجريها إدارة الرئيس اوباما.”

http://www.afpc.org/publication_listings/viewArticle/3640

أفغانستان

رحبتمؤسسة هاريتاج بقرار إدارة الرئيس ترامب الخاص بأفغانستان كونه “يختلف جوهرياً وبايجابية عن سياسة الرئيس اوباما .. ويشكل تحولاً ضرورياً ومرحباً به كونه يعكس واقع الأمر الراهن في أفغانستان الذي يختلف عما كان عليه عام 2001 أو حتى عام 2009 حينما وافق الرئيس اوباما على إرسال قوات جديدة هناك.” واوضح المعهد أبرز مزايا قرار الرئيس ترامب “… إذ أشّر على الإنتقال من استراتيجية تستند إلى جداول زمنية واستبدالها بأخرى تستند إلى شروط يتم تحقيقها؛ تتفادى الإعلان المسبق عن تاريخ محدد للإنسحاب ..” وشدد على أن الرئيس ترامب “أحجم عن رسم جدول زمني للإنسحاب التام، قائلاً أن الولايات المتحدة ينبغي أن تركز أنظارها على التطورات الميدانية ..”

http://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/trumps-afghanistan-strategy-breath-fresh-air

التحليل

تخاذل الكونغرس عن إعادة النظر بقرار 

“التفويض بالحرب” لاستمرار الحروب الأميركية

عندكلمنعطفيهزهيبةأميركاونفوذهاالكونيتتجددالدعواتالداخليةلإعادةالروحلاستصدارقرارجديدمنالكونغرس،أوتعديلالقانونالراهن،يضفيشرعيةعلىصلاحياتالسلطةالتنفيذيةبشنحروبخارجحدودالولاياتالمتحدة،أينماومتىشاءت،دونالحاجةللتوجهإلىالكونغرسأوطلبمخصصاتماليةإضافيةلتنفيذالمهامالمطلوبة؛فتلكمتضمنةفيالقرارالراهنالصادرعام 2001.

بعدفترةوجيزةمنتنفيذهجمات 11 أيلول/سبتمبر 2001،قامتالمؤسسةالأميركيةالحاكمة،ممثلةبالأذرعالعسكريةوالأمنيةوالاستخباراتيةوالإعلامية،بإرسالطواقمعسكرية “صغيرةومحدودة” لمناطقمتعددةمنالعالمللعملسوياًمعالقوىالمحلية،لاسيمافيعدةدولإفريقية. عمادالقواتالأميركيةكانتالقواتالخاصةوصفوتها “القبعاتالخضراء،” أنيطتبهامهامروجتهاالوسائلالإعلاميةبأنهاضرورية “لمكافحةالإرهاب،”

ستة عشر عاماً والحروب مستمرة دون أفق زمني، والرؤساء الأميركيون المتعاقبون يستغلون “سلطاتهم الواسعة” والمكتسبة لنشر قوات ومعدات عسكرية  في ساحات اشتباك متجددة وفق رؤى متطابقة “لملاحقة القاعدة وتنظيمات وجماعات مرتبطة بها.”

صادقالرئيسدونالدترامب،أيلول / سبتمبرالمنصرم،علىوثيقة “تفويضسرية” يمنحبموجبها “وكالةالاستخباراتالمركزيةوقياداتالقواتالعسكريةتنفيذمهاموهجماتواسعةلمكافحةالإرهاب،” دونوضعقيودميدانيةأوالرجوعللمراتبالأعلىلاتخاذالقرارالمناسبتشملاستخدامطائراتالدرونزوشنغاراتونصبكمائنوتنفيذعملياتسريةحولالعالم.

أقدمترامبعلىفعلتهمستنداًالىالتفويضسالفالذكر، 2001،والذيسرىمفعولهعلىسلفيه،الرئيسجورجبوشالإبنوالرئيسباراكأوباما،وجرىتطبيقهعلىمختلفالساحاتالعالميةمعظمهافيالوطنالعربيومحيطه.

مطلعشهرتشرين1 / اكتوبر الماضي أفاق المجتمع الأميركي على “صدمة مقتل عدد من جنود وحدات القبعات الخضراء على أراضي النيجر؛” مما دفع وسائل الإعلام وأعضاء الكونغرس على التساؤل لناحية طبيعة مهام القوات الأميركية وتواجدها هناك.

معتضاربالسردياتالرسميةالأميركيةلحقيقةماجرىفيالنيجرواتهاماتقياداتميدانيةبالتقصيروالفوضىبرزالكونغرسوالرئيسترامبفيصدارةالجدلوتبادلالمطالبةالحذرةبحصرصلاحياتالسلطة “التشريعية” إعلانالحرب،كماينصالدستور،وسعيالأخيرللإبقاءعلى “الوضعالراهن،” كصيغةحظيتباجماعفريقيالحزبين.

محورتحفظاتالفريقين،الكونغرسوالرئيس،هو “تلكؤ” الكونغرسفياعلانالحرببصورةرسميةواكتفىبمنحالسلطةالرئاسيةصلاحياتغيرمقيدة “لإرسالقواتومعداتعسكرية” اينماتراهضروريدونالحاجةللمرورعلىالكونغرس.

عددمحدودمنقياداتالحزبيناعربمراراًعنتحفظهعلىمضمونالصلاحياتالرئاسيةغيرالمقيدة،مؤكدينأنالمسألةتكمنفيتحقيقتوافقسياسيبينالتياراتالمختلفةمنأقرانهم.

المرشحلمنصبنائبالرئيسالسابقعنالحزبالديموقراطي،تيمكين،صرحبعدحضورهاستعراضاً “سرياً” لعددمحدودمنأعضاءالكونغرسأوضحأن “مايحدثفيالنيجروإفريقياعلىنطاقواسعيشيرإلىحاجتناالماسةإلى (استصدار) تفويضجديد.”

السيناتورالجمهوريراندبولسعىمبكراًلتبنيمبادرةتفضيلتعديلالتفويضالرئاسيالراهن،فيشهرأيلول / سبتمبرالماضي،بيدأنمراكزالقوىالمتنفذةفيالحزبينأسقطتهفيالتصويتبنسبة 61 صوتاًمقابل 36 مؤيداً.

رئيسلجنةالقواتالمسلحةفيمجلسالشيوخ،جونماكين،أشارإلىنيتهلبحث “إصدارمذكرةإستدعاءللبيتالأبيضلأنهلميلتزمالصراحةفيمايخصهجومالنيجر.”

بيدأنمايخشاهقادةالحزبالجمهوريتحديداًصدورتفويضجديديفرضقيودعلىحركةالبنتاغونوينبغيأن “يتركالأمرللقادةالعسكريينالذينعليهمتحديدأفضلالسبللمحاربةأعداءالبلاد.”

رئيسلجنةالعلاقاتالخارجية،بوبكوركر،أعربعننيتهاستحضارمشروعقرارسابققدمهالسيناتورتيمكين،المرشحالسابقلنائبالرئيس،والذييقضيبتجديدالكونغرسالتفويضالرئاسيمرةكلخمسسنوات،ومطالبةالإدارةإخطارالكونغرسحينتنويإرسالقواتأميركية “لبلدانلمتذكرنصاًفيالتفويضالسابق.”

اماردفعلالرئيسترامبعلىماجرىفيالنيجرفجاءمطابقاًلمسلكياتهالسابقةبالتنصلمنالمسؤولية. وقال “حسناً،تدركونأنالجنرالاتهممناتخذالقراربنشرالقواتهناك.” ولميعلقأحدبأنالرئيس،دستورياً،هوالقائدالأعلىللقواتبصرفالنظرعنتفاصيلايحدث.

وزيريالخارجيةوالدفاع،ريكستيلرسونوجونكيلي،تباعا،حضراأماملجنةالعلاقاتالخارجيةفيالكونغرس،منتصفالأسبوعالجاريعلىضوءحادثةالنيجر،لشرحوجهةنظرالإدارةالمتمثلبرفضالثنائيأيقيودقدينظرفيفرضهاالكونغرسعلىالقانونالجاري.

أوضح تيلرسون أن أي قانون جديد “لا ينبغي أن يتضمن قيودا على جغرافيا الحركة .. والإدارة تحتفظ بحقها في الصلاحيات المنصوص عليها” في التفويض الحالي. أما وزير الدفاع فشدد على الإلتزام بالنصوص السارية “في التفويض لعامي 2001 و 2002 لاستخدام القوات العسكرية الأميركية ضد تهديد متبدّل .. ليس بوسعنا تحديد فترة زمنية لمسار أزمة ضد عدو باستطاعته التكيف مع المتغيرات.”

يشار في هذا الصدد أن التفويض الرئاسي يخلو من ذكر سوريا أو ليبيا اللتين شنت عليهما الولايات المتحدة سلسلة غارات جوية ونشرت قواتها البرية على أراضيهما. وبرزت المسألة مراراً بمطالبة الادارة توضيح مبرر تدخلها قانونياً.

في الشأن السوري، أوضح البيت الأبيض مراراً انه استند الى المادة الثانية من التفويض، بيد أن الكونغرس لم يسن أي قانون يخول السلطة التنفيذية استخدام القوة العسكرية ضد سوريا. بيد أن مساعي الرئيس السابق باراك اوباما للفوز بتفويض من الكونغرس، عام 2013، لاستخدام القوة العسكرية ضد سوريا باء بالفشل.

خبراء القانون الدولي يؤكدون على أن الرئيس ترامب “لا يحظى بتفويض صريح لاستخدام القوة العسكرية” ضد سوريا. كما أن ميثاق الأمم المتحدة، الذي لا تكترث له واشنطن، لا يجيز لها استخدام قوتها العسكرية ضد سوريا إلا في حال استصدار قرار صريح من مجلس الأمن الدولي بذلك أو “استخدام مبرر حق الدفاع عن النفس.”

بل تنكرت الولايات المتحدة لالتزاماتها الدولية بإعلان المندوبة الأميركية الدائمة لدى الأمم المتحدة، نكي هايلي، نيسان / ابريل 2017، حين أشارت الى نية بلادها استخدام الخيار العسكري في سوريا “دون تفويض من الهيئة الدولية ..”

غيبت المندوبة الأميركية والمسؤولين الكبار حقيقة أوضاع قواتها الخاصة التي أضحت متمددة في أكثر من ساحة مما اضطر عناصرها للبقاء تحت الخدمة الفعلية فترة أطول “من المعتاد،” وتعاني من إرهاق مزمن. كما أن استبدال القوات بأخرى ليس من بين الخيارات المتاحة: كلفة إعداد عنصر القوات الخاصة تعادل نحو 2 مليون دولار للفرد، وتستغرق فترة التدريب القاسي نحو سنتين.

دروس الماضي القريب

بعد إعلان الولايات المتحدة قرارها بالانخراط الفعلي في الحرب العالمية الاولى لجأت الحكومة المركزية إلى “تأميم خطوط السكك الحديدية وقطاع الاتصالات من برق وبريد وهاتف، ومصادر الطاقة الخام” فضلا عن قيود فرضتها على مرافق أخرى متعددة، كما أوضح الخبير الإقتصادي الأميركي، روبرت هيغز.

اما تداعيات قرار دخول الحرب على الأوضاع الاقتصادية الداخلية فكان كارثياً، إذ ارتفعت النسب الضريبية بشكل ملحوظ، وقفز العجز في الميزان التجاري “إلى 25.5 مليار دولار عام 1919، مقارنة بما كان عليه قبل سنتين، 1.2 مليار.”

دأبت الادارات الأميركية المتعاقبة منذ عام 2001 على زيادة المخصصات المالية للأجهزة الأمنية والبنتاغون “لتعزيز الأمن الداخلي،” فاقمها الإنفاق الهائل على حروبها في العراق وأفغانستان، والآن سوريا ودول الساحل الإفريقي دون استثناء الاراضي العربية الأخرى في الصومال وليبيا واليمن.

بناء على ما سبق، لم يغب عن ذهن القوى المتنفذة في الكونغرس ما ستؤدي إليه الأوضاع الداخلية في حال إقدامها على إعلان الحرب بشكل رسمي. بل تبدو على معظم أعضائه علامات الرضى والراحة للسير بالنصوص الراهنة في التدخل العسكري دون الأعلان الرسمي، لكن إلى متى.

البعض يستدرك بالقول أن واشنطن قد تمضي في شن الحروب لعقد آخر من الزمن، وبذلك ستقترب من “حرب الثلاثين عاماً .. الحرب الأطول في التاريخ البشري.”

Analysis 11-03-2017

ANALYSIS:

Washington Fights Over Authorization to Use Military Force in Middle East

On Tuesday the West celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, an event that dramatically changed religion, politics, and civilization in Europe. The movement led to the Thirty Years War, one of the longest wars in Western history.

The US is well on its way to beating this record. America is already 16 years into the “War on Terror” and there is no end in sight.

The keystone to this war is the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which was passed after the 9-11 attack. It gave the president wide latitude to send military assets anywhere where there are terrorists.

Here is what, the relevant part says: “The President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

The Problems with the Current AUMF

The problem is that the US Congress has refused to fulfill its constitutional role of declaring war. Instead, they have given the president nearly unlimited authority to send military assets into any country without congressional review.

There have been some in Congress who have questioned this unlimited presidential authority. But, there is more than the constitutional issue. It is also a political issue that has led to political theater.

In September, Senator Rand Paul submitted an amendment to sunset the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force. It was killed with a 61–36 vote. Senators Paul, Mike Lee, and Dean Heller were the only Republicans to vote against the motion to kill the amendment. Senator Marco Rubio did not vote.

Senator Paul said, “My vote is on whether or not we should vote on whether we should be at war. So for those who oppose my vote, they oppose the Constitution. They oppose obeying the Constitution, which says we are supposed to vote.”

Although the Senate Republicans stood fast against eliminating AUMF, political issues have caused two GOP senators to join the anti-AUMF bandwagon, even though they voted to keep it just a few weeks ago – Senators Flake and Corker.

Both Flake and Corker have announced that they are leaving the Senate next year. Although they have cited different reasons for their decision, both Senators were opposed to Trump, were lagging behind pro-Trump challengers in the polls and were very likely to lose in their primaries. Now that they don’t have to reflect their pro-Trump voters, they have opted for some political theater.

“Congress needs to weigh in, we need to make sure our adversaries and our allies and our troops know we speak with one voice,” said Arizona Senator Jeff Flake. “We haven’t weighed in; we haven’t said our peace on this. We ought to aspire to be more than a feedback loop.”

Senator Foreign Relations Chairman Senator Corker said his panel would mark up new legislation, possibly modeled on a proposal Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Flake introduced in May. Their version would require Congress to reauthorize the bill every five years, and require the administration to notify Congress if it sends troops to new countries not specifically named in the AUMF.

However, much of the Washington establishment – including Trump people – support keeping AUMF as is, even though Trump campaigned against the expansive use of AUMF under Obama. President Trump’s secretaries of state and defense told lawmakers this week that the US military doesn’t need any new authorization to fight dozens of groups in at least 19 countries — and “any attempt to place time limits or geographical constraints in a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force could cripple efforts to fight terrorists.”

The hearing was called in the wake of the Oct. 4 attack in Niger that left four American troops dead in an apparent ambush near the border with Mali.  The Military Times reports that operation “brought new focus on the need to update the military force authorizations governing those missions.” And yet Monday’s debate stayed largely to the scripts of previous war authorization debates on Capitol Hill: “The 2001 and 2002 authorizations to use military force remain a sound basis for ongoing U.S. military operations against a mutating threat,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senators.

When might these wars wrap up?  Mattis said, essentially, that it’s impossible to know: “We cannot put a firm timeline on conflict against an adaptive enemy who could hope that we haven’t the will to fight as long as necessary…We must recognize that we are in an era of frequent skirmishing, and we are more likely to end this fight sooner if we don’t tell our adversary the day we intend to stop fighting.”

Despite Mattis’ comments and vast military experience, there are many problems with the current AUMF. The AUMF broadly permits a president to use military force against those who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” But it does not grant him the power to use military action for another reason, such as fighting the ISIS or intervening in Libya or Syria for reasons unrelated to the 9/11 terror attacks.

The problem is that presidents of both parties find it easier to take the maximum use of the AUMF than go to Congress and convince them of the need to use the military. As Congress fails to hold the executive branch accountable, the president will continue to usurp Congress’s power and perpetuate wars that have not been authorized.

From the view of Americans, the problem is a long term one and extends beyond the Middle East. America’s constitutional checks and balances exist to ensure that one branch does not have too much authority, which encourages robust debate over serious issues, such as war. When Congress stands by as the president usurps congressional power and grants dictatorial authority to a president, who can make vital decisions without the consent of the legislative branch, it sets precedent for future presidents to interpret legislation broadly in order to claim excess power.

This can be seen in the current over application of the AUMF. Much of the recent intervention in the Middle East and Northern Africa does not even seem to have much national-security benefit. For example, the United States assisted the overthrow of leaders, such in Egypt and in Libya, even when they posed no immediate threat to American national security.

The United States has also aided multiple rebel groups against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, even though some rebels are affiliated with ISIS. With danger rising up in unstable areas, the Senate never seriously discussed these dangers nor voted on intervention before simply barging into Syria.

The impact on the US military’s readiness is serious. Special Forces soldiers, who cost about $2 million and a couple of years per soldier to train, are overextended. Consequently, their deployments are longer, and their retention rate is dropping dramatically. Even moving these forces out of places like Syria only mean that they are going to another country like Niger.

The cost of these deployments is also taking money from needed modernization and reequipping of the military services. War powers also impact domestic policy. After entering into World War I, for example, economist Robert Higgs writes, the federal government nationalized “the railroad, telephone, domestic telegraph, and international telegraphic cable industries.”

It manipulated, Higgs adds, “labor-management relations, securities sales, agricultural production and marketing, the distribution of coal and oil, international commerce, and markets for raw materials and manufactured products” — all while using the Federal Reserve to inflate the dollar. Taxes increased drastically, and the national debt skyrocketed up to $25.5 billion in 1919, when it was just $1.2 billion two years before.”

During the Bush years, the war on terror helped establish the PATRIOT Act and the Transportation Security Administration. During the Obama years, war helped establish a more intrusive National Security Agency. Trump is already mimicking his predecessors by advocating increased steel tariffs in the name of national security.

Despite the problems with the AUMF – both foreign and domestic – Congress is loath to modify it, even though it is reducing Congress’ constitutional power to govern the US.   In the light of constant ISIS attacks in the US as on Tuesday in New York City, no politician wants to go home and tell voters that he doesn’t want to hamstring the fight against terrorism.

However, unless there is a change, more Americans and other will die. And, the US will be in the running for being at war longer than 30 years.

One then wonders if the US may try to outlast the 100 Years War between England and France.

 

 

 

PUBLICATIONS

Iran Deal Was Not About Iran
By Theodore R. Bromund
Heritage Foundation
October 24, 2017

President Donald Trump’s announcement of a new strategy for confronting Iran offers a modicum of hope that the United States will stop kicking the can down the road in the Persian Gulf. But to do that, we have to recognize the point of the Iran nuclear deal wasn’t to restrain Iran. It was to restrain the United States. The Iran nuclear deal may be the most poorly designed agreement the U.S. has ever signed. It gave Iran immediate relief from Western sanctions in return for Iranian pledges of good behavior in the future. Iran knew that once sanctions were lifted, it would be hard for us to re-impose them. To do that, we need European cooperation, and with Iranian dollars flowing to Europe’s industries, we’re unlikely to get it.

Read more at

http://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/iran-deal-was-not-about-iran

 

Trump’s Afghanistan Strategy a Breath of Fresh Air
By Olivia Enos
Heritage Foundation
October 23rd, 2017

President Trump introduced a long-awaited new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan that differs substantively and positively from the Obama administration policy. The change in policy is a welcome and necessary transition that reflects the reality that conditions in Afghanistan are not the same as they were in 2001, or even 2009 when Obama approved a surge in U.S. troops in Afghanistan. New conditions necessitate a new strategy.

First, and arguably most importantly, Trump signaled a transition from a timeline-based strategy to a conditions-based plan of action. This represents a sharp departure from the Obama administration’s policy which set timelines for troop withdrawal starting in 2011. President Obama also announced in advance the handover from U.S. troops to Afghan security forces in 2014, and the anticipated full withdrawal at the end of 2016.

Trump did not set a timeline for complete withdrawal, stating that the U.S. needs to focus on conditions on the ground, not arbitrary dates to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Read more at

http://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/trumps-afghanistan-strategy-breath-fresh-air

 

What Does Niger Have to Do with the AUMF?
By Alice Hunt Friend
Center for Strategic and International Studies
October 26, 2017

Recent events in Niger have called attention to the role of Congress in overseeing military deployments outside areas of active hostilities. As the Senate Foreign Relations Committee prepares to consider the value of updating or even replacing the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against al Qaeda and associated groups, it is worth considering how global extremism has evolved over the past 16 years and the types of congressional authorities the Department of Defense (DoD) relies on to today.

Read more at

https://www.csis.org/analysis/what-does-niger-have-do-aumf

 

Allies and Influence in Syria
By Jon B. Alterman
Center for Strategic and International Studies
October 27, 2017

There isn’t a number system in the world in which three is greater than 73. And yet, in Syria, an alliance of three governments has run circles around an alliance of 73, imposing its order on a violent and chaotic situation. It is tempting to see the whole episode as a sign that alliances are overrated, and that going forward, the United States should worry less about having the world on its side. But if the conflict in Syria teaches us anything, it is that the United States needs to put more energy into building its alliances, since the world we will face after Syria will require them even more. While the avowed U.S. goal in Syria was to defeat the Islamic State group (ISG) and not fight Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the two were always related. Assad nurtured the rise of the ISG and harshly repressed peaceful elements of the Syrian opposition. He believed, apparently, that his best hope for survival lay in fighting a foe even more unpalatable to the world than he was. The United States hoped to find a way to dispense with both, believing that Assad’s brutality would only nurture more Islamist extremism. It built a mighty coalition—first 60, then 65, and now 73—to fight the ISG, and it covertly supported a collection of forces intended to create a non-radical Syrian opposition.

Read more at

https://www.csis.org/analysis/allies-and-influence

 

Tunisia’s Corruption Contagion: A Transition at Risk
By SARAH YERKES and  MARWAN MUASHER
Carnegie Endowment
October 25, 2017

Corruption is a destabilizing force in Tunisia, infecting all levels of its economy, security, and political system. Once tightly controlled under former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, corruption has now become endemic, with everyday citizens engaging in and benefitting from corrupt practices. Numerous legal measures and civil society initiatives have been working to fight corruption, but it is perceived to be even more pervasive today than it was under Ben Ali. For the democratic transition to survive, Tunisia must fight a two-front war to simultaneously address the former kleptocracy and the emergence of widespread petty corruption. And to be successful, government and civil society must first agree on a framework for understanding and implementing the war. The international community should then support this framework with targeted funding and assistance.

Read more at

https://carnegieendowment.org/2017/10/25/tunisia-s-corruption-contagion-transition-at-risk-pub-73522

 

President Trump Takes A Wise Middle Course On The Iran Nuclear Deal
By Ilan Berman
American Foreign Policy Council
October 20, 2017

In his policy speech last Friday, President Trump did not scrap the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, as some prominent conservative thinkers had suggested he should. Nor did he simply leave the deal intact, as proponents of the agreement had previously counseled. Instead, the president charted a middle way intended to give America greater leverage over Iran’s nuclear program and processes. To start, it’s necessary to understand that formally “certifying” the agreement – which the president has now declined to do – isn’t actually part of the deal formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. Rather, it is a separate condition imposed by the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, a piece of legislation cobbled together by Congress in an effort to gain oversight over the Obama administration’s maddeningly opaque negotiating process with the Iranians.

Read more at

http://www.afpc.org/publication_listings/viewArticle/3640

 

Israel’s National Security since the Yom Kippur War
By Joshua Krasna
Foreign Policy Research Institute
October 25, 2017

For the Jewish people, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (which fell this year on September 30), is the holiest day of the year. It is a day for solemn retrospection and repentance. In Israel, Yom Kippur is a phenomenon: it is the one day of the year when Israel’s borders and airspace are closed; while no law forbids it, only emergency vehicles are on the road in Jewish cities and neighborhoods; all shops are closed. Sixty percent of Jewish Israelis report that they fast on Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur has another, more secular significance for Israelis. It marks the lowest point in Israel’s 70-year history—the Yom Kippur War, which began on October 6, 1973. Only six years after Israel’s stunning victory in the Six-Day War, Egypt and Syria carried out a surprise attack on thinly spread Israeli forces in the Sinai and the Golan Heights, destroying or capturing many of them, under the umbrella of mobile surface to air missiles which nearly neutralized the Israeli Air Force. The IDF, over several desperate days, recovered its balance and mobilized reserves, then halted the opposing armies’ advances, rolled them back, inflicted a crushing defeat on the opposing armies, and occupied large tracts of their territories.

Read more at

https://www.fpri.org/article/2017/10/israels-national-security-since-yom-kippur-war/

 

Why are American Forces in Niger?
By Rebeccah L. Heinrichs
Hudson Institute
October 30, 2017

United States forces are sweating, bleeding, craving sleep, missing their wives, their children, and their friends while serving in Niger. And, in the case of Sgt. La David Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, they are sacrificing their lives. The tragic deaths of these four special operators occurred when Islamist militants ambushed their 12-man Green Beret-led team on October 4th, 2017. The conflict has brought our operations in Niger under a national spotlight. Members of Congress who claim they did not know we had troops in Niger are either stunningly forgetful or are being insincere. There have been hearings on our operations in Africa, and the Commander of Africa Command, General Thomas D. Waldhauser, discussed Niger. If Congressmen truly didn’t know we had troops in Niger, this was not due to a lack of transparency on the part of the Pentagon. All of this is available information for those whose responsibility it is to authorize and appropriate the funds necessary to equip U.S. forces we send into harm’s way.

Read more at

https://www.hudson.org/research/13972-why-are-american-forces-in-niger

 

Hezbollah’s Terror Army: How to Prevent a Third Lebanon War
By Richard Kemp, Lord Richard Dannatt, and Klaus Naumann
Washington Institute
October 27, 2017
Video

On October 25, Col. Richard Kemp, Gen. Lord Richard Dannatt, and Gen. Klaus Naumann addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute as part of the long-running Stein Counterterrorism Lecture Series. Kemp is former commander of British forces in Afghanistan and led the international terrorism team at Britain’s Joint Intelligence Committee. Dannatt is former chief of the general staff of the British Army. Naumann has served as chief of staff of the German Bundeswehr and chairman of the NATO Military Committee. All three participated in a High Level Military Group project that led to the publication of the recent report Hezbollah’s Terror Army: How to Prevent a Third Lebanon War. The following is a rapporteur’s summary of their remarks.

Read more at

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/hezbollahs-terror-army-how-to-prevent-a-third-lebanon-war

Week of November 3rd, 2017

Executive Summary

The indictments in the investigation into Russia’s influence in the 2016 election were overshadowed by the terrorist attack in New York City.

The week, the Monitor analysis looks at the Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF) and the questions within the US about renewing it, eliminating it, or modifying it. Many see it as a way for Congress to ignore its constitutional obligation to declare war, while giving the president dictatorial powers. We look at the debate and the problems the AUMF are causing the US.

 

Think Tanks Activity Summary

The CSIS asks, “What does Niger have to do with the AUMF (Authorization for the use of military force).”   They conclude, “Congress could consider whether a threat-based authorization, on a case-by-case basis, may be more appropriate to the nature of extremist violence around the globe today. A new AUMF could require the administration to propose new deployments to confront terrorist groups based on an assessment that those groups pose a direct threat to the United States, its allies, or partners. The new authorization could require that the administration provide updated assessments every six months once combat forces are deployed. These assessments would provide Congress with the opportunity to review counterterrorism-related deployments as well as the justification for combatting a particular group in a particular geographic location. Debate over a new AUMF could also consider whether accompany-type missions should be separated from training authorizations in a manner that requires War Powers or other notification, given the increase in risk to U.S. forces and the proximity to kinetic tactical operations.”

The CSIS says the US must rely on alliances in Syria. They conclude, “If the United States were to lash out against its coalition, as it seems tempted to do, even friends would be torn between bandwagoning with the world’s largest economy, and balancing against the world’s most awesome and unconstrained power. Some would seek to teach the United States a lesson for abandoning multilateralism; others would pursue their own self-interest after judging the United States unable to take on a world that wasn’t following its lead…The United States cannot do everything, nor can its alliances. An alliance is no substitute for will or for strategy. But with a will and a strategy, there are very few things that the United States seeks to do where an alliance isn’t a large force multiplier. As the United States thinks about negotiations over the future of Syria, it needs to summon both a will and a strategy. It needs to have real allies helping as well.”

The Hudson Institute looks at why US forces are in Niger. They conclude, “The mission in Niger is not the result of lofty nation-building or democracy-exporting ambitions, nor does it belong uniquely to the Obama or Trump administration. It has been a reality for years. As the United States finishes this phase of the anti-ISIS campaign, conflicts like the one in Niger may be more frequent. Even an “America First” oriented foreign policy should, and in fact seems to, recognize this. If our troops weren’t there, it is likely a much larger deployment of U.S. forces would be required in the future, at a much higher cost in blood and treasure. The American forces who died fighting ISIS fighters in Niger deserve our gratitude, their families our compassion and help, and their mission in the African theater of operations our support.”

The American Foreign Policy Council says Trump is taking a middle course in terms of the Iranian nuclear deal. They conclude, “the new, more comprehensive Iran policy outlined by Trump last week can also help restart the conversation over Iran’s nuclear capabilities and obligations. The centerpiece of this approach is a blacklisting of Iran’s most important strategic actor: the regime’s clerical army, known as the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). Doing so, the president has made clear, is necessary to roll back Iran’s malign activities in the region. But, given the IRGC’s massive role in Iran’s economy, it can also create valuable political and economic leverage that might help bring the Iranians back to the nuclear negotiating table.  Will all this be enough to fix an agreement than many – including the president himself – consider fatally flawed? It may not be. But the Trump administration should be given credit for trying to more completely address the contemporary threat posed by Iran. That process starts with a sober look at the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, and an exploration of how to fix its flaws and mitigate its consequences.

The Heritage Foundation looks at Trump’s Afghan strategy. They note, “Critically, Trump signaled a transition from the Bush era of nation-building in Afghanistan to one focused on safeguarding U.S. national security considerations in the region. He emphasized that the U.S. does not seek to remake Afghanistan in America’s image and instead focused on the need for Afghanistan to take ownership of its own political and democratic transition. This change in policy should not signal a shift away from a desire to see freedom and prosperity for the Afghan people. It should instead reflect the reality that without security, democratic institutions and political transformation cannot occur. And without the political will of the Afghan people standing behind such a reform process, it won’t happen at all. Third and finally, Trump expressed a desire for a more regionally-based effort to address challenges in Afghanistan. The speech signaled a more broad-sweeping U.S. strategy — not just toward Afghanistan, but toward South Asia.”

The Foreign Policy Research Institute looks at Israeli national security since the Yom Kipper War. They note, “change that has occurred over the last 40 years, and which Israelis find hard to swallow, is that the image of Israel has transformed—at least in many circles in the West—from that of David to that of Goliath. This development is an ostensibly negative one, which, in fact, reflects a positive one: Israel has over the years, while dedicating less and less of its GDP to defense, became a military power which is preponderant in the region, as well as a successful, technologically-advanced modern state with a high standard of living.”

The Heritage Foundation says the Iran nuclear deal wasn’t about Iran. The three takeaways from the paper are: 1 – Trump’s new strategy for confronting Iran offers a modicum of hope that the United States will stop kicking the can down the road in the Persian Gulf. 2 – A better policy doesn’t start with sanctions. It starts with rejecting Obama’s core assumption: that Iran is a useful regional partner for the U.S. 3 – Unless the Trump Administration rejects the assumption underlying the deal, decertifying the deal won’t do much more than give the can another kick down the road.

The Washington Institute looks at how to prevent a third Lebanon war. One of the participants notes, “Hezbollah has made significant developments in its strategic concepts and capabilities since the 2006 Lebanon war, and understanding the resultant dangers is vital to assessing the likelihood of attack and the nature of Israel’s inevitable counteroffensive. Regarding ground combat capabilities, Hezbollah has grown well beyond the terrorist or guerrilla category — it is now closer to a standard military force, with a clear chain of command and infrastructure. Its numbers have increased immensely, up to an estimated 25,000 active fighters and 20,000 reserve personnel…Combined with the combat experience Hezbollah forces have gained in Syria, these advances will allow the group to carry out operations at the company or battalion level. In addition, Hezbollah remains the most important piece in Iran’s proxy warfare strategy. Therefore, if another conflict with Israel breaks out, Tehran would likely push its other terrorist proxies around the region to come to the group’s defense.

The Carnegie Endowment looks at corruption in Tunisia and how it is hindering the nation’s transition. They note, “Once tightly controlled under former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, corruption has now become endemic, with everyday citizens engaging in and benefitting from corrupt practices. Numerous legal measures and civil society initiatives have been working to fight corruption, but it is perceived to be even more pervasive today than it was under Ben Ali. For the democratic transition to survive, Tunisia must fight a two-front war to simultaneously address the former kleptocracy and the emergence of widespread petty corruption. And to be successful, government and civil society must first agree on a framework for understanding and implementing the war. The international community should then support this framework with targeted funding and assistance.”

 

 

ANALYSIS 

Washington Fights Over Authorization to Use Military Force in Middle East

On Tuesday the West celebrated the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, an event that dramatically changed religion, politics, and civilization in Europe. The movement led to the Thirty Years War, one of the longest wars in Western history.

The US is well on its way to beating this record. America is already 16 years into the “War on Terror” and there is no end in sight.

The keystone to this war is the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which was passed after the 9-11 attack. It gave the president wide latitude to send military assets anywhere where there are terrorists.

Here is what, the relevant part says: “The President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”

The Problems with the Current AUMF

The problem is that the US Congress has refused to fulfill its constitutional role of declaring war. Instead, they have given the president nearly unlimited authority to send military assets into any country without congressional review.

There have been some in Congress who have questioned this unlimited presidential authority. But, there is more than the constitutional issue. It is also a political issue that has led to political theater.

In September, Senator Rand Paul submitted an amendment to sunset the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force. It was killed with a 61–36 vote. Senators Paul, Mike Lee, and Dean Heller were the only Republicans to vote against the motion to kill the amendment. Senator Marco Rubio did not vote.

Senator Paul said, “My vote is on whether or not we should vote on whether we should be at war. So for those who oppose my vote, they oppose the Constitution. They oppose obeying the Constitution, which says we are supposed to vote.”

Although the Senate Republicans stood fast against eliminating AUMF, political issues have caused two GOP senators to join the anti-AUMF bandwagon, even though they voted to keep it just a few weeks ago – Senators Flake and Corker.

Both Flake and Corker have announced that they are leaving the Senate next year. Although they have cited different reasons for their decision, both Senators were opposed to Trump, were lagging behind pro-Trump challengers in the polls and were very likely to lose in their primaries. Now that they don’t have to reflect their pro-Trump voters, they have opted for some political theater.

“Congress needs to weigh in, we need to make sure our adversaries and our allies and our troops know we speak with one voice,” said Arizona Senator Jeff Flake. “We haven’t weighed in; we haven’t said our peace on this. We ought to aspire to be more than a feedback loop.”

Senator Foreign Relations Chairman Senator Corker said his panel would mark up new legislation, possibly modeled on a proposal Sens. Tim Kaine (D-Va.) and Flake introduced in May. Their version would require Congress to reauthorize the bill every five years, and require the administration to notify Congress if it sends troops to new countries not specifically named in the AUMF.

However, much of the Washington establishment – including Trump people – support keeping AUMF as is, even though Trump campaigned against the expansive use of AUMF under Obama. President Trump’s secretaries of state and defense told lawmakers this week that the US military doesn’t need any new authorization to fight dozens of groups in at least 19 countries — and “any attempt to place time limits or geographical constraints in a new Authorization for the Use of Military Force could cripple efforts to fight terrorists.”

The hearing was called in the wake of the Oct. 4 attack in Niger that left four American troops dead in an apparent ambush near the border with Mali.  The Military Times reports that operation “brought new focus on the need to update the military force authorizations governing those missions.” And yet Monday’s debate stayed largely to the scripts of previous war authorization debates on Capitol Hill: “The 2001 and 2002 authorizations to use military force remain a sound basis for ongoing U.S. military operations against a mutating threat,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told senators.

When might these wars wrap up?  Mattis said, essentially, that it’s impossible to know: “We cannot put a firm timeline on conflict against an adaptive enemy who could hope that we haven’t the will to fight as long as necessary…We must recognize that we are in an era of frequent skirmishing, and we are more likely to end this fight sooner if we don’t tell our adversary the day we intend to stop fighting.”

Despite Mattis’ comments and vast military experience, there are many problems with the current AUMF. The AUMF broadly permits a president to use military force against those who “planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons.” But it does not grant him the power to use military action for another reason, such as fighting the ISIS or intervening in Libya or Syria for reasons unrelated to the 9/11 terror attacks.

The problem is that presidents of both parties find it easier to take the maximum use of the AUMF than go to Congress and convince them of the need to use the military. As Congress fails to hold the executive branch accountable, the president will continue to usurp Congress’s power and perpetuate wars that have not been authorized.

From the view of Americans, the problem is a long term one and extends beyond the Middle East. America’s constitutional checks and balances exist to ensure that one branch does not have too much authority, which encourages robust debate over serious issues, such as war. When Congress stands by as the president usurps congressional power and grants dictatorial authority to a president, who can make vital decisions without the consent of the legislative branch, it sets precedent for future presidents to interpret legislation broadly in order to claim excess power.

This can be seen in the current over application of the AUMF. Much of the recent intervention in the Middle East and Northern Africa does not even seem to have much national-security benefit. For example, the United States assisted the overthrow of leaders, such in Egypt and in Libya, even when they posed no immediate threat to American national security.

The United States has also aided multiple rebel groups against President Bashar al-Assad in Syria, even though some rebels are affiliated with ISIS. With danger rising up in unstable areas, the Senate never seriously discussed these dangers nor voted on intervention before simply barging into Syria.

The impact on the US military’s readiness is serious. Special Forces soldiers, who cost about $2 million and a couple of years per soldier to train, are overextended. Consequently, their deployments are longer, and their retention rate is dropping dramatically. Even moving these forces out of places like Syria only mean that they are going to another country like Niger.

The cost of these deployments is also taking money from needed modernization and reequipping of the military services. War powers also impact domestic policy. After entering into World War I, for example, economist Robert Higgs writes, the federal government nationalized “the railroad, telephone, domestic telegraph, and international telegraphic cable industries.”

It manipulated, Higgs adds, “labor-management relations, securities sales, agricultural production and marketing, the distribution of coal and oil, international commerce, and markets for raw materials and manufactured products” — all while using the Federal Reserve to inflate the dollar. Taxes increased drastically, and the national debt skyrocketed up to $25.5 billion in 1919, when it was just $1.2 billion two years before.”

During the Bush years, the war on terror helped establish the PATRIOT Act and the Transportation Security Administration. During the Obama years, war helped establish a more intrusive National Security Agency. Trump is already mimicking his predecessors by advocating increased steel tariffs in the name of national security.

Despite the problems with the AUMF – both foreign and domestic – Congress is loath to modify it, even though it is reducing Congress’ constitutional power to govern the US.   In the light of constant ISIS attacks in the US as on Tuesday in New York City, no politician wants to go home and tell voters that he doesn’t want to hamstring the fight against terrorism.

However, unless there is a change, more Americans and other will die. And, the US will be in the running for being at war longer than 30 years.

One then wonders if the US may try to outlast the 100 Years War between England and France.

 

 

 

PUBLICATIONS

Iran Deal Was Not About Iran
By Theodore R. Bromund
Heritage Foundation
October 24, 2017

President Donald Trump’s announcement of a new strategy for confronting Iran offers a modicum of hope that the United States will stop kicking the can down the road in the Persian Gulf. But to do that, we have to recognize the point of the Iran nuclear deal wasn’t to restrain Iran. It was to restrain the United States. The Iran nuclear deal may be the most poorly designed agreement the U.S. has ever signed. It gave Iran immediate relief from Western sanctions in return for Iranian pledges of good behavior in the future. Iran knew that once sanctions were lifted, it would be hard for us to re-impose them. To do that, we need European cooperation, and with Iranian dollars flowing to Europe’s industries, we’re unlikely to get it.

Read more at

http://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/iran-deal-was-not-about-iran

 

Trump’s Afghanistan Strategy a Breath of Fresh Air
By Olivia Enos
Heritage Foundation
October 23rd, 2017

President Trump introduced a long-awaited new U.S. strategy in Afghanistan that differs substantively and positively from the Obama administration policy. The change in policy is a welcome and necessary transition that reflects the reality that conditions in Afghanistan are not the same as they were in 2001, or even 2009 when Obama approved a surge in U.S. troops in Afghanistan. New conditions necessitate a new strategy.

First, and arguably most importantly, Trump signaled a transition from a timeline-based strategy to a conditions-based plan of action. This represents a sharp departure from the Obama administration’s policy which set timelines for troop withdrawal starting in 2011. President Obama also announced in advance the handover from U.S. troops to Afghan security forces in 2014, and the anticipated full withdrawal at the end of 2016.

Trump did not set a timeline for complete withdrawal, stating that the U.S. needs to focus on conditions on the ground, not arbitrary dates to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan.

Read more at

http://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/trumps-afghanistan-strategy-breath-fresh-air

 

What Does Niger Have to Do with the AUMF?
By Alice Hunt Friend
Center for Strategic and International Studies
October 26, 2017

Recent events in Niger have called attention to the role of Congress in overseeing military deployments outside areas of active hostilities. As the Senate Foreign Relations Committee prepares to consider the value of updating or even replacing the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) against al Qaeda and associated groups, it is worth considering how global extremism has evolved over the past 16 years and the types of congressional authorities the Department of Defense (DoD) relies on to today.

Read more at

https://www.csis.org/analysis/what-does-niger-have-do-aumf

 

Allies and Influence in Syria
By Jon B. Alterman
Center for Strategic and International Studies
October 27, 2017

There isn’t a number system in the world in which three is greater than 73. And yet, in Syria, an alliance of three governments has run circles around an alliance of 73, imposing its order on a violent and chaotic situation. It is tempting to see the whole episode as a sign that alliances are overrated, and that going forward, the United States should worry less about having the world on its side. But if the conflict in Syria teaches us anything, it is that the United States needs to put more energy into building its alliances, since the world we will face after Syria will require them even more. While the avowed U.S. goal in Syria was to defeat the Islamic State group (ISG) and not fight Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, the two were always related. Assad nurtured the rise of the ISG and harshly repressed peaceful elements of the Syrian opposition. He believed, apparently, that his best hope for survival lay in fighting a foe even more unpalatable to the world than he was. The United States hoped to find a way to dispense with both, believing that Assad’s brutality would only nurture more Islamist extremism. It built a mighty coalition—first 60, then 65, and now 73—to fight the ISG, and it covertly supported a collection of forces intended to create a non-radical Syrian opposition.

Read more at

https://www.csis.org/analysis/allies-and-influence

 

Tunisia’s Corruption Contagion: A Transition at Risk
By SARAH YERKES and  MARWAN MUASHER
Carnegie Endowment
October 25, 2017

Corruption is a destabilizing force in Tunisia, infecting all levels of its economy, security, and political system. Once tightly controlled under former president Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, corruption has now become endemic, with everyday citizens engaging in and benefitting from corrupt practices. Numerous legal measures and civil society initiatives have been working to fight corruption, but it is perceived to be even more pervasive today than it was under Ben Ali. For the democratic transition to survive, Tunisia must fight a two-front war to simultaneously address the former kleptocracy and the emergence of widespread petty corruption. And to be successful, government and civil society must first agree on a framework for understanding and implementing the war. The international community should then support this framework with targeted funding and assistance.

Read more at

https://carnegieendowment.org/2017/10/25/tunisia-s-corruption-contagion-transition-at-risk-pub-73522

 

President Trump Takes A Wise Middle Course On The Iran Nuclear Deal
By Ilan Berman
American Foreign Policy Council
October 20, 2017

In his policy speech last Friday, President Trump did not scrap the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran, as some prominent conservative thinkers had suggested he should. Nor did he simply leave the deal intact, as proponents of the agreement had previously counseled. Instead, the president charted a middle way intended to give America greater leverage over Iran’s nuclear program and processes. To start, it’s necessary to understand that formally “certifying” the agreement – which the president has now declined to do – isn’t actually part of the deal formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA. Rather, it is a separate condition imposed by the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, a piece of legislation cobbled together by Congress in an effort to gain oversight over the Obama administration’s maddeningly opaque negotiating process with the Iranians.

Read more at

http://www.afpc.org/publication_listings/viewArticle/3640

 

Israel’s National Security since the Yom Kippur War
By Joshua Krasna
Foreign Policy Research Institute
October 25, 2017

For the Jewish people, Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement (which fell this year on September 30), is the holiest day of the year. It is a day for solemn retrospection and repentance. In Israel, Yom Kippur is a phenomenon: it is the one day of the year when Israel’s borders and airspace are closed; while no law forbids it, only emergency vehicles are on the road in Jewish cities and neighborhoods; all shops are closed. Sixty percent of Jewish Israelis report that they fast on Yom Kippur. Yom Kippur has another, more secular significance for Israelis. It marks the lowest point in Israel’s 70-year history—the Yom Kippur War, which began on October 6, 1973. Only six years after Israel’s stunning victory in the Six-Day War, Egypt and Syria carried out a surprise attack on thinly spread Israeli forces in the Sinai and the Golan Heights, destroying or capturing many of them, under the umbrella of mobile surface to air missiles which nearly neutralized the Israeli Air Force. The IDF, over several desperate days, recovered its balance and mobilized reserves, then halted the opposing armies’ advances, rolled them back, inflicted a crushing defeat on the opposing armies, and occupied large tracts of their territories.

Read more at

https://www.fpri.org/article/2017/10/israels-national-security-since-yom-kippur-war/

 

Why are American Forces in Niger?
By Rebeccah L. Heinrichs
Hudson Institute
October 30, 2017

United States forces are sweating, bleeding, craving sleep, missing their wives, their children, and their friends while serving in Niger. And, in the case of Sgt. La David Johnson, Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, and Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, they are sacrificing their lives. The tragic deaths of these four special operators occurred when Islamist militants ambushed their 12-man Green Beret-led team on October 4th, 2017. The conflict has brought our operations in Niger under a national spotlight. Members of Congress who claim they did not know we had troops in Niger are either stunningly forgetful or are being insincere. There have been hearings on our operations in Africa, and the Commander of Africa Command, General Thomas D. Waldhauser, discussed Niger. If Congressmen truly didn’t know we had troops in Niger, this was not due to a lack of transparency on the part of the Pentagon. All of this is available information for those whose responsibility it is to authorize and appropriate the funds necessary to equip U.S. forces we send into harm’s way.

Read more at

https://www.hudson.org/research/13972-why-are-american-forces-in-niger

 

Hezbollah’s Terror Army: How to Prevent a Third Lebanon War
By Richard Kemp, Lord Richard Dannatt, and Klaus Naumann
Washington Institute
October 27, 2017
Video

On October 25, Col. Richard Kemp, Gen. Lord Richard Dannatt, and Gen. Klaus Naumann addressed a Policy Forum at The Washington Institute as part of the long-running Stein Counterterrorism Lecture Series. Kemp is former commander of British forces in Afghanistan and led the international terrorism team at Britain’s Joint Intelligence Committee. Dannatt is former chief of the general staff of the British Army. Naumann has served as chief of staff of the German Bundeswehr and chairman of the NATO Military Committee. All three participated in a High Level Military Group project that led to the publication of the recent report Hezbollah’s Terror Army: How to Prevent a Third Lebanon War. The following is a rapporteur’s summary of their remarks.

Read more at

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/hezbollahs-terror-army-how-to-prevent-a-third-lebanon-war

التقرير الأسبوعي 10-27-2017

كمين النيجر يكشف
تنامي الدور الأميركي في الساحل الأفريقي

يبدو أن التمدد العسكري الأميركي عالمياً، الى جانب ترسانتها القتالية، يعزز من احتمالات توظيف واشنطن للمنظمات المتشددة والتشكيلات الأصولية والإرهابية لدعم مشاريع الإطاحة بالنظم المحلية العصية على الإخضاع والتبعية.

يستدل بعض المراقبين في الداخل الأميركي على “الترابط بين سوريا والساحل الإفريقي،” في الاستراتيجية الأميركية الشاملة، من المساعي الخفية “لإعادة تسويق” تنظيم القاعدة وإعداده كبديل “معتدل” عن داعش؛ التجهيز لمرحلة مقبلة ومهام مطلوبة في ساحات عدة.

أما ما يعزز هذا الإعتقاد فهو الجدل الصامت الذي يلف الدوائر المؤثرة في صنع القرار السياسي الأميركي، وبروز أحد صفوتها معهد راند العريق، يروّج بلغة واضحة لمرحلة ما بعد هزيمة داعش في سوريا، والعراق بالطبع، دون المساس بطبيعة التواجد العسكري الأميركي – بخلاف بعض التصريحات الرسمية التي “توحي” بانسحاب القوات الأميركية من سوريا.

بداية، في تبرير المعهد للمراهنة على “تنظيم القاعدة” أوضح بشدة أنه تحت قيادة أيمن الظواهري “أعلن على الملأ أنه سيحجم عن استهداف (المصالح) الغربية.” كما أن الفرع السوري للقاعدة “برز بصمت كبديل يبعد عن تشدد داعش بين صفوف خارطة القوى الجهادية.”

ولم يشأ المعهد أن يترك الأمر غامضاً لما يعتقده من دور وهوية يتحول فيه التنظيم الجديد، فقد شدد على أنه “ينبغي على هيكل القاعدة (الجديد) أن يشبه حزب الله اللبناني؛” موضحاً أن التحديات المقبلة تتطلب وجود “تنظيم يؤمن بالعنف مستقل عن هيكل الدولة يعزز شرعيته السياسية وفي نفس الوقت يصقل قدراته لشن عمليات ارهابية وسياسية عنيفة على نطاق واسع.”

الملفت في أدبيات المعهد المذكور إقراره بانتهاء وظيفة تنظيم داعش في خدمة الاستراتيجية الغربية بشكل عام وانتفاء الحاجة له فيما تبقى من هيكلية، نظراً لطغيان ونجاح “سيل الدعاية الجارف لداعش ضد الغرب ومصالحه، مما دفع (بواشنطن) تركيز أنظارها على تفكيك (دولة) الخلافة، مما أسفر عن تواجد تنظيم القاعدة في سوريا بعيداًعن الإستهداف مكّنه إعادة بناء صفوفه بحرية وصمت .. وبعد خسارة داعش لعاصمته في الرقة، فإن (تنظيم) القاعدة ربما يبقى الوحيد الذي يمتلك خبرة عسكرية تؤهله لمنازلة نظام (الرئيس) الأسد.”

إذن، نحن أمام “تجديد شرعية تنظيم إرهابي وتسويقه بماركة جديدة،” تحاكي الهواجس الغربية التي تطرب لسماع مفردات “الاعتدال” وما شابهها. كما أوضحت دراسة حديثة للمعهد أن “تنظيم القاعدة في سوريا خضع لسلسة من عمليات تحديد الهوية خلال عام 2016 بتفريخها جبهة النصرة ثم جبهة فتح الشام إلى هيئة أحرار الشام.”

في سياق “الحرب الأميركية على الإرهاب،” تتعدد ساحات المواجهة والتنظيمات المسلحة والتشكيلات الإرهابية، وتتجدد العلامات التجارية لداعش والقاعدة وبوكو حرام وحركة الشباب .. الخ.

أميركيا: النيجر ونيجيريا سيان

إعلنت البنتاغون ، 5 أكتوبر،عن مقتل أربعة جنود أميركيين من نخبة القوات الخاصة “القبعات الخضراء” في النيجر رافقه جدلاً متصاعداً حول حقيقة تواجد قوات أميركية في ذلك الجزء من الساحل الغربي لأفريقيا، ومهامها والمدة الزمنية.

في حمأة التغطية الإعلامية المكثفة ضاعت هوية النيجر وتماهت مع نيجيريا بالنسبة للسردية الأميركية، بيد أن صناع القرار بما فيهم البنتاغون لهم دراية تامة ليس فقط في البعد الجغرافي فحسب، بل لضرورات استراتيجية التمدد الأميركي، والكشف عن “حضور أميركي كبير في النيجر، خصوصاً في مطار أغادير (موقع) قاعدة تقلع منها طائرات الدرونز” لمراقبة منطقة الساحل الإفريقي.

فجأة “وجدت النيجر نفسها في عين عاصفة الحرب على الأرهاب محلياً وإقليمياً .. وتدفق مجموعات مسلحة إلى أراضيها؛ بعضهم يدين بالولاء (لتنظيم) القاعدة، والبعض الأخر يتبع داعش.” تلك هي السردية الرسمية المعتمدة والتي تنطوي على عملية تمويه نجد أجوبتها في مواطن الاستراتيجية الكونية لأميركا.

قيادة القوات الأفريقية، افريكوم، أقرت بانتشار قواتها في المنطقة  وهي هناك “لدعم جهود السفارة الأميركية” في العاصمة نيامي. بيد ما تتضمنه وثيقة “سرية أفرج عنها مؤخرا” لافريكوم، وتعود لعام 2015 تشير الى خلاف ذلك. (الوثيقة منشورة على موقع ذي انترسبت الاستقصائي).

نصت الوثيقة على أن النيجر “كانت الدولة الوحيدة في شمال غرب إفريقيا على استعداد لاستضافة (سرب درونز من طراز) MQ-9s،” جيلٌ أكثر تطوراً من سلفه بريداتور، ويجري العمل راهناً على تسليح ونشر تلك الطائرات بصواريخ وذخائر أخرى.

في سياق الكشف عن ملابسات مقتل جنود القوات الخاصة الأميركية برزت بعض التفاصيل كمؤشرات على ترابط “الساحات والتنظيمات الجهادية.” ونُسب لقيادة قوات افريكوم قولها أن “نطاق عمل القوات الأميركية في النيجر يشبه الى حد بعيد ما نقوم به من عمليات في المنطقة منذ عام 2003 ..”

وذهب رئيس هيئة الأركان الأميركية، جوزيف دنفورد، الى ما يعتبر أبعد من مجرد تصريح توضيحي لوسائل الإعلام، 23 أكتوبر الجاري في اختتام قمة رؤساء الأركان التي رعتها واشنطن، بالقول إن “هناك نحو 6،000 عسكري ينشطون في القارة الإفريقية يتخذون مواقع لهم في 53 دولة .. قيادتنا تعمل مع شركائنا على الأرض في عدد من مناطق القارة؛ وهي مهام شبيهه لما نقوم به في العراق وسوريا وأفغانستان أيضا.”

عند التدقيق في النشاطات العسكرية الأميركية، في افريقيا جنوبي الصحراء الكبرى، يتبين، وفقاً لموقع انترسبت الالكتروني، أن تلك القوات تجري نحو “3،500 مناورة مشتركة سنويا – أي بمعدل 10 عمليات يوميا – تمتد على رقعة واسعة من اراضي الكاميرون الى الصومال وجيبوتي وليبيا.”

حادث النيجر

أوجز رئيس هيئة الأركان الأميركية ما جرى في معرض إحتواء “الإهانة العسكرية” التي لحقت بالمؤسسة وعقيدتها القتالية، بالقول أنه تم تنفيذ “عملية استطلاعية يوم 3 أكتوبر بقوة مشكلة من 12 عنصر من القبعات الخضراء برفقة 30 جندي من النيجر في قرية (تونغو تونغو) التي تبعد نحو 85 كلم شمال العاصمة نيامي .. وفي اليوم التالي (4 أكتوبر) تحركت القوات جنوباً باتجاه مقر قاعدة الانطلاق وتعرضت لإطلاق نيران من ما يقدر بنحو 50 عنصر من القوات المعادية؛ كانت حصيلتها مقتل أربعة عناصر من القبعات الخضراء وجرح عنصرين في الكمين الذي نصب لهم، وذهب ضحيته أيضاً 5 جنود للجيش النيجري.”

في الملابسات اتضح أنه تم سحب ثلاثة جنود أميركيين قتلى، في البداية، وفي اليوم التالي تم العثور على الجندي الرابع. وكانت القوة العسكرية المشتركة التقت مع رؤساء القبائل المحلية، 4 أكتوبر، طالبين معلومات محددة حول تواجد ورقعة انتشار المسلحين في المنطقة. تردد أن زعماء القبائل “تباطؤا” عن عمد في تقديم المطلوب مما أدى لبداية متأخرة للعملية عن الموعد المحدد.

بعد التعرض للكمين، طلبت القوة المشتركة تدخل الطيران الحربي “بعد انقضاء ساعة على الاشتباك،” وتحركت مقاتلات فرنسية لنجدتها بيد أن طياريها لم يتسنى لهم التعرف على هوية “القوات المعادية” لقضفها.

قيادة قوات افريكوم اصدرت بيانا يوم 19 أكتوبر، بعد نحو أسبوعين، يفيد بأنها أوفدت فريقا للتحقيق في الحادث، وانضم إليه طاقم من مكتب التحقيقات الفيدرالي أيضاً.”

البنتاغون في النيجر

يعود التواجد العسكري المباشر في منطقة “الساحل” الافريقي الى عام 2002، تحت عنوان فضفاض لمكافحة الإرهاب شمل كلا من “تشاد ومالي وموريتانيا والنيجر،” بمشاركة فعالة من قوات تلك البلدان العسكرية.

مضى “برنامج مكافحة الإرهاب” بتهيئة القوات المحلية وإمدادها بالسلاح والعتاد والتدريب المطلوب، وشهد تخصيص البنتاغون ميزانية بلغت 288 مليون دولار لمتطلباته في الفترة بين 2009 الى 2013، كانت حصة “النيجر أزيد من 30 مليون دولار، وحصة مالي كانت الأكبر نحو 41 مليون دولار؛” وفق بيانات مكتب المحاسبة العام الأميركي.

في مطلع عام 2013 انتهز السفير الأميركي لدى النيجر، بيسا ويليامز، الفرصة طالباً من رئيس النيجر مامادو إيسوفو، السماح لبلاده إقامة قاعدة تستخدم لطائرات  الدرونز. وبعد نحو 30 يوما صادق الرئيس أوباما على قرار إرسال نحو 150 عسكري أميركي للنيجر. وفي شهر تشرين الأول/أكتوبر 2015 أبرمت الولايات المتحدة إتفاقية مع النيجر “للعمل سوياً في مكافحة الإرهاب؛” والتي تبعها تدفق القوات الخاصة الأميركية.

كما تنشط القوات الأميركية في إنشاء “قاعدة ثانية لطائرات الدرونز” تستخدمها القوات الأميركية والفرنسية المتواجدة هناك، ومن المقرر تجهيزها للخدمة عام 2018.

حصيلة التواجد العسكري في النيجر

 في ظل سريان مفعول المعاهدة الاميركية مع النيجر شهدت تشاد محاولتي انقلاب، 2006 و 2013؛ قيام القوات العسكرية في موريتانيا بمحاولة انقلاب وإطاحة الحكومة مرتين، 2005 و 2008؛ انقلاب عسكري في النيجر عام 2010؛ وانقلاب آخر في مالي عام 2012 قام به “الضابط  (أمادو سانوغو) الذي تدرب على أيدي القوات الأميركية” أطاح برئيس البلاد المنتخب.

ولو عدنا قليلا الى الوراء، عام 2001، تمتعت المنطقة بحالة استقرار نسبي “وخلوها من التهديدات الإرهابية؛” ولكنها باتت معقلاً للعديد من التنظيمات المسلحة. واشارت دراسة صادرة عن (المكتب الإفريقي في وزارة الدفاع الأميركية) الى انتشار التنظيمات والمجموعات المسلحة التالية:

“القاعدة في المغرب الإسلامي؛ المرابطون؛ أنصار الدين؛ وفرع الانصار في مالي، جبهة تحرير ماسينا؛ جماعة نصرة الإسلام والمسلمين؛ مجموعة بوكو حرام؛ حركة الوحدة والجهاد في الغرب الإفريقي؛ أنصار الإسلام؛ ولاية غرب إفريقيا.”

كما برز تنظيم جديد يطلق عليه “الدولة الإسلامية في الصحراء الكبرى” الذي تحمله واشنطن مسؤولية اختراق حدود النيجر ونصب كمين للقوة المشتركة من الأميركيين وجيش النيجر.

تقييم التواجد العسكري الأميركي ليس عسيراً، بل يتضح من خلال الوثائق الأميركية عينها أن “التواجد المباشر ساهم في تأجيج السكان المحليين وأصبح حافزاً لتجنيد المقاتلين” للانطلاق والعمل في الرقعة الواسعة من الغرب الإفريقي.

Week of October 27th, 2017

America’s War in Niger and the Continuing War on ISIS

The death of four American Special Forces soldiers in Niger surprised many Americans. Most Americans aren’t aware of international events and few in the US were aware of the extensive military obligations of the US military and the extent of the war on ISIS and other radical Islamic groups outside Syria and Iraq.

Defense Department officials said Staff Sgt. Bryan Black, 35, Staff Sgt. Jeremiah Johnson, 39, Staff Sgt. Dustin Wright, 29 and Sgt. La David Johnson, 25, were killed in an attack during an advise-and-assist mission in southwestern Niger.

The armed militants were from the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara (ISGS). The attack also left five Nigeriens and an unknown number of militants dead.

The American military operation in Niger is one of about 20 in Africa and part of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). The command is aimed at building military relations with African nations and other key players in the region. It began operations in 2007.

Niger is part of Saharan and sub-Saharan Africa, where ISIS and al Qaeda affiliates flourish. The U.S. State Department in April issued a warning for Americans traveling in Niger to stay away from “locations frequented by Westerners” and to keep to hotels with armed Nigerien security officers because of the risk of terror attacks and kidnapping threats against Westerners.

“Niger’s southeastern border with Nigeria and east of Maradi are poorly controlled,” State Department officials said. “Boko Haram and several factions affiliated with ISIS have conducted cross-border attacks into Niger. The government of Niger has increased its security forces in the border areas, but the situation remains unstable and travel is not advised.”

Officials with the Defense Department said this month that about 1,000 troops in the region (800 of which are in Niger) work with about 4,000 French service members. The U.S. military has had some presence in Niger since 2012, according to CNN.

“We’re providing refueling support, intelligence support, surveillance support,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said. “But also we have troops on the ground. Their job is to help the people in the region learn how to defend themselves. We call it foreign internal defense training, and we actually do these kinds of missions by, with and through our allies.”

In January 2013, United States Ambassador to Niger Bisa Williams requested permission to establish a drone base in a meeting with Nigerien President Mahamadou Issoufou.   In February, Obama sent 150 military personnel to Niger to set up a surveillance drone operation that would aid France in its counterterrorism efforts in the Northern Mali conflict.  In October 2015, Niger and the U.S. signed a military agreement committing the two countries “to work together in the fight against terrorism”. American Special Forces personnel were sent to train the Niger Armed Forces.

Most of the US forces are working to build a second drone base for American and French aircraft in Agadez. Construction is expected to be completed in 2018, and will allow surveillance operations with the MQ-9 Reaper against insurgents.

The Ambush

Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said US armed forces have been working for years with West African nations to combat the threat of terrorism. But rarely have US forces been engaged in such a firefight.

The American soldiers killed in the Oct. 4 attack were assisting with Nigerien security force counterterrorism operations about 125 miles north of Niamey, the country’s capitol city, according to the Defense Department.

On 3 October 2017, twelve soldiers from the U.S. 3rd Special Forces Group accompanied thirty Nigerien soldiers on a reconnaissance mission to gather information.  The next day, the soldiers met with local leaders, asking them for information about the whereabouts of insurgents.  However, the meeting would drag on with the local leaders delaying the soldiers’ departure by stalling and keeping them waiting. While the soldiers were returning to base, about fifty armed ISGS militants attacked the convoy.

Although the militants, had been armed with light weapons, vehicle mounted weapons, rocket-propelled grenades, and mortars, the American and Nigerien soldiers only had automatic rifles.

An hour into the ambush, the soldiers called in for air support, which led to French fighter jets being scrambled to respond to the ambush.  Even though there was now air support, the French pilots could not engage because they could not readily identify enemy forces in the firefight. However, the presence of the fighter jets brought the engagement to an end.

United States Africa Command spokesperson Robyn Mack said that Berry Aviation, a Defense Department contractor, was “on alert during the incident and conducted casualty evacuation and transport for U.S. and partner forces.”

There are several investigations taking place, including one in France.

On 19 October, NBC News reported that AFRICOM sent a team to Niger to conduct a “review of the facts.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has since joined the investigation.

Secretary of Defense James Mattis, said that the ambush was “considered unlikely”. Officials from the Department of Defense said that soldiers had carried out 29 similar operations in the past six months with no problems and were considered routine by the time of the ambush.

There was also considerable political fallout as some Democrats tried to equate the attack with the one that led to the death of the American ambassador to Libya in Benghazi.

Republican Senator John McCain stated that the Trump administration was not being forthcoming about the details of the attack. McCain also said that the Senate Armed Services Committee, of which he is the chairman, would like to get the information “it deserves and needs,” before deciding whether a formal investigation is necessary.

A senior congressional aide told NBC News that the ambush was caused by a “massive intelligence failure with no overhead surveillance of the mission nor a quick reaction force to swiftly respond in the event that the mission went wrong.

Defeating ISIS Outside Iraq and Syria

The ambush highlights one of the problems of the war against ISIS. Although the key ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria have been captured, ISIS claims religious, political and military authority over all Muslims worldwide.

Outside Iraq and Syria, ISIS has an influence in Libya, Egypt (Sinai Peninsula), Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Niger, Chad, Bangladesh, Philippines, Yemen, Algeria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nigeria and the North Caucasus.

Unfortunately, the conventional military tactics used in Syria and Iraq can’t be exported to these other countries. Terrain, unrest amongst the natives, unpopularity of the central government, guerilla fighting skills of the insurgents, and access to arms make each case different. That’s why US Special Forces, especially the Green Berets are being used extensively in these countries. The Green Berets were originally formed during the Cold War to train insurgents behind the Iron Curtain and are experts on counterinsurgency.

Here’s where the problem lies. Conventional American forces are not trained in counterinsurgency warfare and are, therefore, of little help. Yet, American Special Forces are limited in number and already strained from extensive deployments. As a result, it’s likely that Special Forces currently deployed in Syria and Iraq will be moved to these other trouble spots after some time to rest and reequip.

In the meantime, this forces them to rely upon the forces of the host nation, which may not be up to the job.

As a result, the US has been forced to rely upon NATO forces with experience in the region like the French Special Forces used in Niger. However, the cooperation of these forces depends to great extent on America’s (especially Trump’s) relations with that country.

France may be willing to deploy its special forces to Western Africa, where it has a historical interest, but is probably unwilling to engage in other theaters like Somalia or Yemen.

In the end, the defeat of ISIS in these other countries will require an American commitment of Special Forces for years. It also will require bringing on other Western nations to supplement its military forces. And, it will require the assistance of the host nation and a program that can win the hearts and minds of the local peoples.

Whether the US has the will to stay the course for that period of time remains a question.

Analysis 10-20-2017

ANALYSIS:

What Next After the Conquest of Raqqa?
ISIS defeat will require reset of White House strategy

Just nine months after taking office, President Trump might attempt to claim that has done something that Obama couldn’t do in years – defeat ISIS by assisting in the conquest of their capital Raqqa. However, before anyone breaks out the Champaign that doesn’t mean the end of this group. There are still small ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria, in addition to cells in Europe, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and throughout the region.

The defeat of ISIS also doesn’t mean the terrorist threat in the West is ended. Although ISIS is no longer as attractive to potential recruits in the West, there remains a strong chance that a suicide terrorist may carry out an attack in order to reenergize ISIS.

The defeat of ISIS also means the end of the fragile coalition that battled ISIS; the US, NATO, the Syrian government, Syrian opposition groups, Russia, Iraq, and Iran and its local allies. Now that the defeat of ISIS doesn’t bind them together, new alliances are expected to form, with new strategic goals.

We can also expect age old rivalries to reappear – the Kurdish independence issue, the Sunni-Shiite feud, Iranian extended influence and the Israel-Palestine issue, amongst others.

In addition to international policy differences, the Trump White House must face disagreements inside the US. The ailing Senator McCain (R-AZ) is committed to the downfall of Syrian President Assad and his statements have become more strident as his brain cancer advances.

So, where will the White House turn next?

During the presidential campaign, Trump made it clear that he had few problems with Syrian President Assad, but he wanted to curb Iranian expansionism.   Yet, Trump asserts that Iran and President Assad are allied and Iran, of all the countries in the region have benefitted from the war on ISIS as it has extended its influence across Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Given Trump’s statements in the past (including last week’s move to gut the Iranian nuclear deal), it would appear that he will want American attention to focus on Iran. This means shifting attention to Yemen and assisting the GCC in countering Iranian moves. He will also continue to push for an international set of sanctions.

One way to counter Iran is to try to drive a wedge between Assad and Iran. The US could agree with Russia that Assad has a future in a post civil war Syria. He could also agree not to oppose Russia’s naval base in Tartus, Syria. This would effectively focus on attempt to divorce Syria and Russia from Iran and its allies and dramatically restrict Iranian influence in both Syria and Lebanon.

However, it is expected that president Assad will require more of Trump and the US than a mere recognition of his place in Syria’s future. He will call for the withdrawal of US Special Forces from Syria, which Trump will likely agree to as the situation calms down.

One reason Trump will agree eventually to pulling US forces out of Syria is the fact that US Special Forces are over stretched.   As the recent Special Forces deaths in Niger show, American Special Forces are deployed and fighting in dozens of countries. Since it takes a couple of years to train a Special Forces soldier, the special operations forces of the US military can’t be quickly increased.

The biggest problem with this move will not be international, but domestic. Senator McCain has fought for the downfall of Assad for years and the support of opposition forces.

However, this is more than a mere policy difference. Senator McCain and President Trump have taken verbal shots at each other and appear to dislike each other. Then there is the brain cancer and its treatment that McCain is undergoing.

Doctors know that chemotherapy seriously impacts the mental functions of the patient, including temperament, emotions, mood changes and “mental fogginess.” As McCain is undergoing aggressive chemotherapy, his statements and actions must be suspect. There is also the fact that McCain may be forced to resign or may die in office, which could change the debate in the US.

Eventually Trump’s policy is expected to prevail and Iran will become the major focus for US foreign policy.

The next major concern will be the issue of Kurdish independence. And, again, there will be a difference of opinion within the US as the State Department will oppose an independent Kurdistan, while Trump will likely favor it.

The Kurdish issue will evolve depending on the elimination of ISIS. The Kurds have been America’s most reliable ally in the war against ISIS and their continued help would be appreciated. Yet, their desire for independence is opposed by the other major local players in the war, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey.

The Kurdish issue will have an impact on negotiations for the end of the civil war in Syria. President Assad has promised more autonomy to Syrian Kurds, but is leery of an independent Kurdistan that may inspire Syrian Kurds to secession.

Iraq clearly wants to conquer the territory controlled by Iraqi Kurds. However, they can’t expect the air support and American advisors that they have now. This means Iraqi gains in Kurdistan may be limited.

Of course, Iraq has its problems as it sits on a knife edge between the US and Iran. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has been stronger than expected, but he isn’t strong enough to eschew US help. He’d like a residual US presence to counterbalance Iran’s influence. But if he opposes Tehran too resolutely, Iran’s supporters and allies will try to defeat him and push him out of power.

Of course, Iran could decide to help crush the Iraqi Kurds, but the Trump policy of limiting Iranian influence would likely push the White House into providing more covert aid to Kurdistan.

Another American policy push will likely be attempting to find some sort of rapprochement between Syria and Israel. Relations between Israel and several Arab countries have warmed in the last few years, and Syria remains the last “front line” Arab country to not have come to an agreement with the Zionist state.

Although President Assad had been very patient and avoiding direct confrontation with Israel during his presidency, relations between the two countries have gone downhill during the last few months as Israeli aircraft have bombed parts of Syria. This includes attacks this week, where there have been reports that a Syrian anti-aircraft missile damaged an Israeli F-35 fighter aircraft.

The major issues separating the two countries are the Golan Heights and Syrian support of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Although they have proven intractable in the past, the end of the Syrian civil war might force Israel to curb its attacks on Syria, and Trump may find this option is one way to try seeking the isolation of Iran. .

The push back of Iran will not be limited to Syria and Kurdistan. The GCC nations can expect more American support in regards to stopping Iranian influence in the Gulf and in Yemen. We can expect Trump to take a look at supporting opposition groups in Iran.

Conclusion

The end of the war on ISIS is fraught with problems and possibilities. The current ISIS coalition will fracture in the next few months as nations and groups look to new alliances that will advance their own agenda. For the US, it means pivoting towards a more aggressive stance against Iran.

Expect the US to realign its Middle Eastern policy to reflect this new reality. With ISIS defeated, president Assad growing power will be a minor issue for Trump and he can be expected to be forced to withdraw US forces over the next year. As a result both Presidents Assad and Putin can solidify their gains in the region.

The Kurdish issue is more complicated and the US has relations with both the Kurds and Iraqis. However, past experience shows that the Iraqi military is less likely to beat the Kurds without serious US assistance and Iran is ready ti fill any US void.

There is also the issue of rebuilding both Iraq and Syria – something that will require US money. And, there is the refugee problem. Can President Assad navigate Syria back with the promise of peace? If not, rebuilding Syria and its economy will be difficult. And, we can expect instability in the refugee laden countries of Jordan and Lebanon.

The end of the Syrian conflict will help the US renew its alliances with nations like the GCC and Egypt that frequently supported other sides in the Syrian conflict. The goal of this rapprochement will be a stronger bulwark against Iranian expansionism.

Of course, America isn’t the only player in the game. Other countries will have differing goals. Iran will fight to prevent its influence from being diminished by the US and Iraq will not easily give up Kurdistan. How they will execute their foreign policy will have as much impact on the region as Trump’s policies.

 

 

PUBLICATIONS

Egos and Ideologies: Islamism in the Gulf
Center for Strategic and International Studies
October 6, 2015

Gulf leaders engaged with the Brotherhood soon after its founding in Egypt in 1928. By the mid-twentieth century, they came to see Islamic revivalists as allies in countering Arab Nationalism, which Gulf rulers viewed as a threatening secular modernist movement. Thousands of Brotherhood members fled political repression in Egypt and the Levant to settle in the Gulf in the early years of statehood. With almost no college graduates among the native population, these immigrants filled educational and other professional roles, and even some high-ranking government positions. Over time, some Gulf leaders grew suspicious that the Brotherhood’s pan-Islamist ambitions might represent a threat to Gulf regimes. The “first hint of trouble” according to Jenkins came with the Muslim Brotherhood’s embrace of the Iranian revolution of 1979. Brotherhood members welcomed the revolution as a harbinger of Islamist power, even if the Brotherhood is avowedly Sunni and Iran is a largely Shi`ite state; Gulf governments loathed it as a harbinger of revolution. Concerns spiked again in 1990 when some Muslim Brotherhood leaders expressed support for the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Following the invasion, Saudi Arabia lashed out at members of the Sahwa, or “Awakening movement,” which was an admixture of Saudi theology and Brotherhood political activism.

Read more at:

https://www.csis.org/events/gulf-roundtable-egos-and-ideologies-islamism-gulf

President Trump’s Failing Leadership on Iran
By Danielle Pletka
American Enterprise Institute
October 6, 2017

President Trump has made clear his hostility toward the Iran nuclear deal, labeling it “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has entered into.” He is right: The ill-constructed deal left Iran with an industrial-scale nuclear program which, when the pact’s terms begin to expire, will provide Iran with a clear pathway to nuclear weapons. But true leadership requires Mr. Trump to do more than focus solely on Iran’s nuclear program; he must also address the broader threats that Iran poses to the region. Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, the bipartisan Senate compromise used by the Obama administration to get Congress to buy into the nuclear deal, the president must certify every 90 days that, among other things, Iran is fully implementing the nuclear pact and has not committed a material breach. The president must also attest that the agreement is vital to the security interests of the United States.

Read more at:

http://www.aei.org/publication/president-trumps-failing-leadership-on-iran/

 

Take it from me: Kirkuk was not an Iranian defeat of America
By Michael Rubin
American Enterprise Institute
October 18, 2017

Look, I think my credentials as an Iran hawk are pretty strong. When, during the Clinton administration, many American policymakers and academics were enthralled with newly-elected President Mohammad Khatami’s rhetoric of “dialogue of civilizations,” I warned that it was a public relations distraction and that the Iranian behaviors that most concerned the United States remained unchanged. My first monograph, Radical Vigilantes in Khatami’s Iran, focused on how hardline, extra-legal forces moved to constrain meaningful reform of the system. Prior to public revelations about Iran’s covert enrichment program, I called out the Islamic Republic on its secret nuclear, ballistic missile, and biological weapons programs. I advocated for Iranian labor and, while I have consistently opposed military strikes on Iran (because they can never substitute for a more substantive long-term policy), I have not been shy about arguing that the U.S. goal should be regime change. The insincerity of Iranian diplomacy has also been a constant theme and, using Persian sources, I highlighted Iran’s deceitful approach to nuclear negotiations.

Read more at:

http://www.aei.org/publication/take-it-from-me-kirkuk-was-not-an-iranian-defeat-of-america/

 

INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE AND FORECAST: THE SYRIAN THEATER
Institute for the Study of War
September 23, 2017

The United States will continue to risk its vital strategic interests in the Middle East unless it changes its policies in Syria and Iraq. President Donald Trump and his administration inherited a weakened U.S. position, with Russia imposing constraints on American freedom of action and options. The Trump administration has taken initial steps to advance U.S. prestige in the region by reassuring America’s traditional allies and acting more firmly against its enemies and adversaries. The tactical tasks of recapturing Mosul and liberating Raqqa from the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) are complete and nearly complete, respectively. Nevertheless, its efforts to define and execute policies that secure America’s vital interests are moving more slowly than those of America’s enemies, adversaries, and spoilers who are more agile than the U.S. These actors include Russia, Iran and its proxies, Turkey, ISIS, al Qaeda, and some Kurdish elements, which are pursuing goals that threaten American objectives and are exploiting the current situation to make strategic gains as the U.S. champions short-term gains and tactical success.

Read more at:

http://www.understandingwar.org/article/intelligence-estimate-and-forecast-syrian-theater

 

How to Lose Friends and Alienate Allies: Trump’s New Strategy on Iran
By Guillaume Xavier-Bender
German Marshall Fund
October 19, 2017

There is a thorn in the Rose Garden. When in 2015, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, joined by Germany, reached an agreement with Iran on the future of its nuclear weapon, diplomacy had demonstrated yet again that compromise and trust are the building blocks of peace. Then President Obama, speaking from the White House gardens, underscored that “the issues at stake here are bigger than politics,” and that if Congress killed the deal “it’s the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy. International unity will collapse, and the path to conflict will widen.” President Trump brought many reasons forward on October 13 to refuse to certify that Iran is complying with the agreement, despite repeated assurances from the International Atomic Energy Agency — guardian of the deal — and Washington’s partners that it is. The flurries of comments and statements following the announcement of this New Strategy on Iran have shown that if those reasons are hardly justified, they are simply not true. “Inexplicable.” “Irrational.” “Dangerous.” But let’s leave those at that, and the disheartening contemplation of a strategy that is not one.

Read more at:

http://www.gmfus.org/blog/2017/10/19/how-lose-friends-and-alienate-allies-trump%E2%80%99s-new-strategy-iran

 

How to Keep Armed Clashes in Kirkuk from Escalating
By Michael Knights
Washington Institute
October 16, 2017

In the early hours of October 16, the federal Iraqi military forced its way into many parts of Kirkuk city and adjacent military and energy facilities. The Counter-Terrorism Service, supported by army tanks, the Federal Police, and special forces (though not by Popular Mobilization Forces), took over the K1 military base, the governor’s palace, the Kirkuk Provincial Council headquarters, the North Oil Company and North Gas Company headquarters, the Kirkuk Regional Air Base, and key road junctions. Local Kurdish forces offered only token resistance, seemingly because the political faction in charge of them — the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) — was not fully resolved to resist the move. Thus far, no international body or state has opposed the move either, with President Trump noting today that the United States would not be “taking sides” in the dispute.

Read more at:

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/how-to-keep-armed-clashes-in-kirkuk-from-escalating

 

Interpreting the Fall of Islamic State Governance
By Aaron Y. Zelin
Washington Institute
October 16, 2017

POLICYWATCH 2871

According to a field commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the last Islamic State (IS) holdouts will lose control of Raqqa, the group’s self-proclaimed capital, by sometime in the third week of October. Alongside the fall of Mosul, the IS stronghold in Iraq, this development marks a second collapse of governance for the jihadists. Reflecting this failure, for the first time since IS began systematizing its governance capabilities in late 2013 and early 2014, the group’s media apparatus has not, for roughly a month, released any material related to governing, social services, or dawa (proselytizing and outreach activities). The most sophisticated system of jihadist governance ever established thus appears to be dwindling to nothing. All the same, it is worth noting that the media silence may not indicate the absolute cessation of IS governance — indeed, the group is likely engaging in basic governance in certain areas along the Iraq-Syria border — but instead the further erosion of its media apparatus.

Read more at:

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/interpreting-the-fall-of-islamic-state-governance

 

Egyptians Surprisingly Open to Key Trump Policies, New Poll Shows
By David Pollock
Washington Institute
October 12, 2017

As President Trump rolls out his plan for confronting Iran, a credible new poll in Egypt reveals that this posture enjoys a remarkable degree of public support in the most populous Arab country. A mere 1% of Egyptians rate Iran’s regional policies favorably, and in the ongoing intra-Arab dispute with Qatar, two-thirds agree that “the most important issue” is “to find the maximum degree of Arab cooperation against Iran.” Tehran’s regional allies, likewise the target of new U.S. sanctions, receive overwhelmingly bad reviews as well, with 91% of Egyptians voicing disapproval of Hezbollah — a stunning reversal of the group’s glorious image right after its 2006 war with Israel. The same high proportion express a negative view of the Houthis, Iran’s favored party in the continuing Yemeni civil war. Moreover, a mere 14% say that it is even “somewhat important” for Egypt to have good relations with Iran, while 56% call good ties with the United States “important.” This stark contrast helps put Egypt’s fabled anti-American sentiment in proper perspective. While the public mostly disapproves of U.S. policy overall, they also clearly value satisfactory official ties with Washington.

Read more at:

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/egyptians-surprisingly-open-to-key-trump-policies-new-poll-shows

Week of October 20th, 2017

Executive Summary

As ISIS faces defeat with the fall of Raqqa, Washington think tanks are looking at the future.

The Monitor Analysis looks at what future American policy will be in the region. We look at what Trump has said in his campaign speeches and try to forecast his new American Middle Eastern policy.

 

Think Tanks Activity Summary

The Institute for the Study of War looks at American options in Syria. They conclude, “American national security requires that the Trump administration pursue a strategy that helps constrain, contain, and ultimately roll back Russia and Iran; defeat Salafi-jihadists in ways that prevent their reconstitution; defend strategic allies and bolster partners; and facilitate the emergence of independent, representative, and unitary states in Syria and Iraq. The removal of the Assad regime remains a necessary condition to achieve a desirable outcome in Syria. The U.S. must apply meaningful pressure against the Assad-Russia-Iran axis and regain leverage over it rather than accommodate it. The U.S. is now accommodating its adversaries by signing onto various agreements that allow it to consolidate control. This axis not only destabilizes the region and perpetuates conflict, but it also fuels radicalization and strengthens jihadist forces through its policies. It is making it increasingly difficult for the U.S. to protect its own security and interests.”

The Washington Institute warns that the fall of Raqqa doesn’t mean ISIS is totally defeated. It is still active and governs some towns. They note, “The group continues to conduct military operations. On this count, it is worth recalling that between the tactical defeat of ISI following the sahwa movement and troop surge around 2009, and its reemergence as ISIS around 2012-13, Iraq remained the most violent conflict in the world. This reality illustrates the incredible lethal dangers posed by IS even if it does not control territory. Furthermore, the IS of today is stronger than the group’s previous incarnation in 2009-12, with violence in Iraq currently three times more deadly than during the roughly four-year period following the surge. The bureaucratic apparatus might be dormant, but the insurgent capabilities remain formidable.”

The Washington Institute notes a recent poll shows that Egyptians agree with many Trump policies. Some of the results according to the report, “Asked to pick their top priority for U.S. policy in the Middle East, just 13% of Egyptians select “Reduce its interference in the region.” The plurality choice, at 36%, is another area of agreement with Trump’s policy emphasis: “Expand its active role in fighting the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, and similar terrorist groups.” Very close behind, at 33%, is one more signature U.S. declaratory policy: “Push harder to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.” In that connection, Egyptians are solidly behind a Trump administration variation on the peacemaking theme: 72% agree that “Arab states should play a new role in Palestinian-Israeli peace talks, offering both sides incentives to take more moderate positions.” Egypt’s own diplomatic efforts to broker new Gaza security arrangements, along with possible Palestinian reconciliation on relatively moderate terms, could fit well into this framework…Yet what is truly surprising about the Egyptian data is the relatively large minority who express agreement with a highly controversial proposition about Israel, even without any peace talks: namely, that “despite their differences, Arab states should work with Israel on other issues like technology, counterterrorism, and containing Iran.”

The German Marshall Fund argues that Trump’s Iran policy is alienating America’s allies. They conclude, “The Iran deal does not only bind the United States to Iran, but also to its other signatories. More broadly, it is enshrined in the UN system and multilateralism. By refusing to certify the deal, the American President is confirming his defiance toward global institutions and conventions, regardless of alliances and friendships of convenience. Without much precaution, he is also scrubbing in one wipe years of constructive discussions with Russia and China. While such a decision might provide some short-term political gains for Washington in Tel Aviv or in Riyadh, it will come at huge costs for relations with other allies, especially those across the Atlantic. Yes, more is still to be done to ensure that Iran does not become a nuclear power, to curb its ballistic missile program, and clarify its role in the region. As such, the question is more whether Iran can be trusted as a credible power that will in the medium to long term contribute to the prosperity and stability of the region. This will take time and, yes, more talks. It will require finesse and patience. It will require the United States to meet Iran in this field that the poet Rumi so dearly spoke of, “out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing.” And you can’t do this without friends you can trust: allies.”

The Washington Institute looks at keeping the armed clashes in and around Kirkuk from escalating. They note, “For instance, Kirkuk city has long been treated as a partially demilitarized area — the police had primacy in urban security, while federal army troops and Kurdish Peshmerga were not allowed to deploy inside the city proper. The entrance of federal Special Forces there has now upended that status quo. Moreover, Kirkuk security was at its best when handled by a joint security headquarters that included Kurdish and federal forces; as of today, however, only the latter are manning the K1 headquarters. Similarly, the ideal model for oil field security was never military garrisons, but a dedicated oil field police force; the same is true for other energy infrastructure and government buildings. In other words, if the pendulum swings too far in the direction of totally excluding Kurdish forces, then security over northern Iraq’s citizens, state institutions, and oil facilities will surely suffer.”

The American Enterprise Institute argues that Trump is making a mistake concerning Iran. They note, “Mr. Trump has done little to push back on Iranian expansionism. The United States provides cursory support for operations by the Saudis and United Arab Emirates against Iranian-backed forces in Yemen. And for most of this year, the administration has been funneling financial aid to the Lebanese armed forces, which in turn have been working hand in hand with Iran’s most powerful proxy, Hezbollah, on the Lebanon-Syria border. While the administration has offered inconsistent and lackluster support for the Arab nations challenging Qatar’s support for extremists, it has largely ignored Iran’s growing influence in both Qatar and Oman.”

The American Enterprise Institute argues that Kirkuk was a defeat for Iran. They note, “First, it’s not always about us. Iran opposed the Kurdish referendum not because the Kurds are pro-American, but rather because Iran fears the precedent Kurdish independence might have on their own restive Kurds. Those who have embraced the Iraqi Kurdish leaders’ public relations campaign should take care: it’s Middle East 101 to recognize that just because someone feeds you well and whispers sweet nothings into your ear, they’re not automatically your friend. Yes, Sami Abdul Rahman, the Kurdistan Regional Government representative in Washington (and sister to one of the region’s most “controversial” businessmen) tells American congressmen the correct things, but did they ever wonder what her counterpart in Tehran actually says?”

The CSIS looks at the Muslim Brotherhood and the Gulf Nations. The fault line dividing Gulf Arab states’ views of the Muslim Brotherhood has much more to do with the group’s political rather than its theological content, Sir John Jenkins argued at a recent CSIS Middle East Program roundtable. Jenkins, a former British ambassador to Saudi Arabia with long service in the Middle East, spoke at the CSIS roundtable on “Egos and Ideologies: Islamism in the Gulf” on October 6, 2017.

 

 

ANALYSIS

What Next After the Conquest of Raqqa?
ISIS defeat will require reset of White House strategy

Just nine months after taking office, President Trump might attempt to claim that has done something that Obama couldn’t do in years – defeat ISIS by assisting in the conquest of their capital Raqqa. However, before anyone breaks out the Champaign that doesn’t mean the end of this group. There are still small ISIS strongholds in Iraq and Syria, in addition to cells in Europe, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and throughout the region.

The defeat of ISIS also doesn’t mean the terrorist threat in the West is ended. Although ISIS is no longer as attractive to potential recruits in the West, there remains a strong chance that a suicide terrorist may carry out an attack in order to reenergize ISIS.

The defeat of ISIS also means the end of the fragile coalition that battled ISIS; the US, NATO, the Syrian government, Syrian opposition groups, Russia, Iraq, and Iran and its local allies. Now that the defeat of ISIS doesn’t bind them together, new alliances are expected to form, with new strategic goals.

We can also expect age old rivalries to reappear – the Kurdish independence issue, the Sunni-Shiite feud, Iranian extended influence and the Israel-Palestine issue, amongst others.

In addition to international policy differences, the Trump White House must face disagreements inside the US. The ailing Senator McCain (R-AZ) is committed to the downfall of Syrian President Assad and his statements have become more strident as his brain cancer advances.

So, where will the White House turn next?

During the presidential campaign, Trump made it clear that he had few problems with Syrian President Assad, but he wanted to curb Iranian expansionism.   Yet, Trump asserts that Iran and President Assad are allied and Iran, of all the countries in the region have benefitted from the war on ISIS as it has extended its influence across Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon.

Given Trump’s statements in the past (including last week’s move to gut the Iranian nuclear deal), it would appear that he will want American attention to focus on Iran. This means shifting attention to Yemen and assisting the GCC in countering Iranian moves. He will also continue to push for an international set of sanctions.

One way to counter Iran is to try to drive a wedge between Assad and Iran. The US could agree with Russia that Assad has a future in a post civil war Syria. He could also agree not to oppose Russia’s naval base in Tartus, Syria. This would effectively focus on attempt to divorce Syria and Russia from Iran and its allies and dramatically restrict Iranian influence in both Syria and Lebanon.

However, it is expected that president Assad will require more of Trump and the US than a mere recognition of his place in Syria’s future. He will call for the withdrawal of US Special Forces from Syria, which Trump will likely agree to as the situation calms down.

One reason Trump will agree eventually to pulling US forces out of Syria is the fact that US Special Forces are over stretched.   As the recent Special Forces deaths in Niger show, American Special Forces are deployed and fighting in dozens of countries. Since it takes a couple of years to train a Special Forces soldier, the special operations forces of the US military can’t be quickly increased.

The biggest problem with this move will not be international, but domestic. Senator McCain has fought for the downfall of Assad for years and the support of opposition forces.

However, this is more than a mere policy difference. Senator McCain and President Trump have taken verbal shots at each other and appear to dislike each other. Then there is the brain cancer and its treatment that McCain is undergoing.

Doctors know that chemotherapy seriously impacts the mental functions of the patient, including temperament, emotions, mood changes and “mental fogginess.” As McCain is undergoing aggressive chemotherapy, his statements and actions must be suspect. There is also the fact that McCain may be forced to resign or may die in office, which could change the debate in the US.

Eventually Trump’s policy is expected to prevail and Iran will become the major focus for US foreign policy.

The next major concern will be the issue of Kurdish independence. And, again, there will be a difference of opinion within the US as the State Department will oppose an independent Kurdistan, while Trump will likely favor it.

The Kurdish issue will evolve depending on the elimination of ISIS. The Kurds have been America’s most reliable ally in the war against ISIS and their continued help would be appreciated. Yet, their desire for independence is opposed by the other major local players in the war, Syria, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey.

The Kurdish issue will have an impact on negotiations for the end of the civil war in Syria. President Assad has promised more autonomy to Syrian Kurds, but is leery of an independent Kurdistan that may inspire Syrian Kurds to secession.

Iraq clearly wants to conquer the territory controlled by Iraqi Kurds. However, they can’t expect the air support and American advisors that they have now. This means Iraqi gains in Kurdistan may be limited.

Of course, Iraq has its problems as it sits on a knife edge between the US and Iran. Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi has been stronger than expected, but he isn’t strong enough to eschew US help. He’d like a residual US presence to counterbalance Iran’s influence. But if he opposes Tehran too resolutely, Iran’s supporters and allies will try to defeat him and push him out of power.

Of course, Iran could decide to help crush the Iraqi Kurds, but the Trump policy of limiting Iranian influence would likely push the White House into providing more covert aid to Kurdistan.

Another American policy push will likely be attempting to find some sort of rapprochement between Syria and Israel. Relations between Israel and several Arab countries have warmed in the last few years, and Syria remains the last “front line” Arab country to not have come to an agreement with the Zionist state.

Although President Assad had been very patient and avoiding direct confrontation with Israel during his presidency, relations between the two countries have gone downhill during the last few months as Israeli aircraft have bombed parts of Syria. This includes attacks this week, where there have been reports that a Syrian anti-aircraft missile damaged an Israeli F-35 fighter aircraft.

The major issues separating the two countries are the Golan Heights and Syrian support of Hezbollah in Lebanon. Although they have proven intractable in the past, the end of the Syrian civil war might force Israel to curb its attacks on Syria, and Trump may find this option is one way to try seeking the isolation of Iran. .

The push back of Iran will not be limited to Syria and Kurdistan. The GCC nations can expect more American support in regards to stopping Iranian influence in the Gulf and in Yemen. We can expect Trump to take a look at supporting opposition groups in Iran.

Conclusion

The end of the war on ISIS is fraught with problems and possibilities. The current ISIS coalition will fracture in the next few months as nations and groups look to new alliances that will advance their own agenda. For the US, it means pivoting towards a more aggressive stance against Iran.

Expect the US to realign its Middle Eastern policy to reflect this new reality. With ISIS defeated, president Assad growing power will be a minor issue for Trump and he can be expected to be forced to withdraw US forces over the next year. As a result both Presidents Assad and Putin can solidify their gains in the region.

The Kurdish issue is more complicated and the US has relations with both the Kurds and Iraqis. However, past experience shows that the Iraqi military is less likely to beat the Kurds without serious US assistance and Iran is ready ti fill any US void.

There is also the issue of rebuilding both Iraq and Syria – something that will require US money. And, there is the refugee problem. Can President Assad navigate Syria back with the promise of peace? If not, rebuilding Syria and its economy will be difficult. And, we can expect instability in the refugee laden countries of Jordan and Lebanon.

The end of the Syrian conflict will help the US renew its alliances with nations like the GCC and Egypt that frequently supported other sides in the Syrian conflict. The goal of this rapprochement will be a stronger bulwark against Iranian expansionism.

Of course, America isn’t the only player in the game. Other countries will have differing goals. Iran will fight to prevent its influence from being diminished by the US and Iraq will not easily give up Kurdistan. How they will execute their foreign policy will have as much impact on the region as Trump’s policies.

 

 

PUBLICATIONS

Egos and Ideologies: Islamism in the Gulf
Center for Strategic and International Studies
October 6, 2015

Gulf leaders engaged with the Brotherhood soon after its founding in Egypt in 1928. By the mid-twentieth century, they came to see Islamic revivalists as allies in countering Arab Nationalism, which Gulf rulers viewed as a threatening secular modernist movement. Thousands of Brotherhood members fled political repression in Egypt and the Levant to settle in the Gulf in the early years of statehood. With almost no college graduates among the native population, these immigrants filled educational and other professional roles, and even some high-ranking government positions. Over time, some Gulf leaders grew suspicious that the Brotherhood’s pan-Islamist ambitions might represent a threat to Gulf regimes. The “first hint of trouble” according to Jenkins came with the Muslim Brotherhood’s embrace of the Iranian revolution of 1979. Brotherhood members welcomed the revolution as a harbinger of Islamist power, even if the Brotherhood is avowedly Sunni and Iran is a largely Shi`ite state; Gulf governments loathed it as a harbinger of revolution. Concerns spiked again in 1990 when some Muslim Brotherhood leaders expressed support for the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. Following the invasion, Saudi Arabia lashed out at members of the Sahwa, or “Awakening movement,” which was an admixture of Saudi theology and Brotherhood political activism.

Read more at:

https://www.csis.org/events/gulf-roundtable-egos-and-ideologies-islamism-gulf

President Trump’s Failing Leadership on Iran
By Danielle Pletka
American Enterprise Institute
October 6, 2017

President Trump has made clear his hostility toward the Iran nuclear deal, labeling it “one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has entered into.” He is right: The ill-constructed deal left Iran with an industrial-scale nuclear program which, when the pact’s terms begin to expire, will provide Iran with a clear pathway to nuclear weapons. But true leadership requires Mr. Trump to do more than focus solely on Iran’s nuclear program; he must also address the broader threats that Iran poses to the region. Under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, the bipartisan Senate compromise used by the Obama administration to get Congress to buy into the nuclear deal, the president must certify every 90 days that, among other things, Iran is fully implementing the nuclear pact and has not committed a material breach. The president must also attest that the agreement is vital to the security interests of the United States.

Read more at:

http://www.aei.org/publication/president-trumps-failing-leadership-on-iran/

 

Take it from me: Kirkuk was not an Iranian defeat of America
By Michael Rubin
American Enterprise Institute
October 18, 2017

Look, I think my credentials as an Iran hawk are pretty strong. When, during the Clinton administration, many American policymakers and academics were enthralled with newly-elected President Mohammad Khatami’s rhetoric of “dialogue of civilizations,” I warned that it was a public relations distraction and that the Iranian behaviors that most concerned the United States remained unchanged. My first monograph, Radical Vigilantes in Khatami’s Iran, focused on how hardline, extra-legal forces moved to constrain meaningful reform of the system. Prior to public revelations about Iran’s covert enrichment program, I called out the Islamic Republic on its secret nuclear, ballistic missile, and biological weapons programs. I advocated for Iranian labor and, while I have consistently opposed military strikes on Iran (because they can never substitute for a more substantive long-term policy), I have not been shy about arguing that the U.S. goal should be regime change. The insincerity of Iranian diplomacy has also been a constant theme and, using Persian sources, I highlighted Iran’s deceitful approach to nuclear negotiations.

Read more at:

http://www.aei.org/publication/take-it-from-me-kirkuk-was-not-an-iranian-defeat-of-america/

 

INTELLIGENCE ESTIMATE AND FORECAST: THE SYRIAN THEATER
Institute for the Study of War
September 23, 2017

The United States will continue to risk its vital strategic interests in the Middle East unless it changes its policies in Syria and Iraq. President Donald Trump and his administration inherited a weakened U.S. position, with Russia imposing constraints on American freedom of action and options. The Trump administration has taken initial steps to advance U.S. prestige in the region by reassuring America’s traditional allies and acting more firmly against its enemies and adversaries. The tactical tasks of recapturing Mosul and liberating Raqqa from the Islamic State of Iraq and al Sham (ISIS) are complete and nearly complete, respectively. Nevertheless, its efforts to define and execute policies that secure America’s vital interests are moving more slowly than those of America’s enemies, adversaries, and spoilers who are more agile than the U.S. These actors include Russia, Iran and its proxies, Turkey, ISIS, al Qaeda, and some Kurdish elements, which are pursuing goals that threaten American objectives and are exploiting the current situation to make strategic gains as the U.S. champions short-term gains and tactical success.

Read more at:

http://www.understandingwar.org/article/intelligence-estimate-and-forecast-syrian-theater

 

How to Lose Friends and Alienate Allies: Trump’s New Strategy on Iran
By Guillaume Xavier-Bender
German Marshall Fund
October 19, 2017

There is a thorn in the Rose Garden. When in 2015, the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council, joined by Germany, reached an agreement with Iran on the future of its nuclear weapon, diplomacy had demonstrated yet again that compromise and trust are the building blocks of peace. Then President Obama, speaking from the White House gardens, underscored that “the issues at stake here are bigger than politics,” and that if Congress killed the deal “it’s the United States that will be blamed for the failure of diplomacy. International unity will collapse, and the path to conflict will widen.” President Trump brought many reasons forward on October 13 to refuse to certify that Iran is complying with the agreement, despite repeated assurances from the International Atomic Energy Agency — guardian of the deal — and Washington’s partners that it is. The flurries of comments and statements following the announcement of this New Strategy on Iran have shown that if those reasons are hardly justified, they are simply not true. “Inexplicable.” “Irrational.” “Dangerous.” But let’s leave those at that, and the disheartening contemplation of a strategy that is not one.

Read more at:

http://www.gmfus.org/blog/2017/10/19/how-lose-friends-and-alienate-allies-trump%E2%80%99s-new-strategy-iran

 

How to Keep Armed Clashes in Kirkuk from Escalating
By Michael Knights
Washington Institute
October 16, 2017

In the early hours of October 16, the federal Iraqi military forced its way into many parts of Kirkuk city and adjacent military and energy facilities. The Counter-Terrorism Service, supported by army tanks, the Federal Police, and special forces (though not by Popular Mobilization Forces), took over the K1 military base, the governor’s palace, the Kirkuk Provincial Council headquarters, the North Oil Company and North Gas Company headquarters, the Kirkuk Regional Air Base, and key road junctions. Local Kurdish forces offered only token resistance, seemingly because the political faction in charge of them — the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK) — was not fully resolved to resist the move. Thus far, no international body or state has opposed the move either, with President Trump noting today that the United States would not be “taking sides” in the dispute.

Read more at:

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/how-to-keep-armed-clashes-in-kirkuk-from-escalating

 

Interpreting the Fall of Islamic State Governance
By Aaron Y. Zelin
Washington Institute
October 16, 2017

POLICYWATCH 2871

According to a field commander of the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the last Islamic State (IS) holdouts will lose control of Raqqa, the group’s self-proclaimed capital, by sometime in the third week of October. Alongside the fall of Mosul, the IS stronghold in Iraq, this development marks a second collapse of governance for the jihadists. Reflecting this failure, for the first time since IS began systematizing its governance capabilities in late 2013 and early 2014, the group’s media apparatus has not, for roughly a month, released any material related to governing, social services, or dawa (proselytizing and outreach activities). The most sophisticated system of jihadist governance ever established thus appears to be dwindling to nothing. All the same, it is worth noting that the media silence may not indicate the absolute cessation of IS governance — indeed, the group is likely engaging in basic governance in certain areas along the Iraq-Syria border — but instead the further erosion of its media apparatus.

Read more at:

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/interpreting-the-fall-of-islamic-state-governance

 

Egyptians Surprisingly Open to Key Trump Policies, New Poll Shows
By David Pollock
Washington Institute
October 12, 2017

As President Trump rolls out his plan for confronting Iran, a credible new poll in Egypt reveals that this posture enjoys a remarkable degree of public support in the most populous Arab country. A mere 1% of Egyptians rate Iran’s regional policies favorably, and in the ongoing intra-Arab dispute with Qatar, two-thirds agree that “the most important issue” is “to find the maximum degree of Arab cooperation against Iran.” Tehran’s regional allies, likewise the target of new U.S. sanctions, receive overwhelmingly bad reviews as well, with 91% of Egyptians voicing disapproval of Hezbollah — a stunning reversal of the group’s glorious image right after its 2006 war with Israel. The same high proportion express a negative view of the Houthis, Iran’s favored party in the continuing Yemeni civil war. Moreover, a mere 14% say that it is even “somewhat important” for Egypt to have good relations with Iran, while 56% call good ties with the United States “important.” This stark contrast helps put Egypt’s fabled anti-American sentiment in proper perspective. While the public mostly disapproves of U.S. policy overall, they also clearly value satisfactory official ties with Washington.

Read more at:

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/egyptians-surprisingly-open-to-key-trump-policies-new-poll-shows