Analysis 01-12-2017

ANALYSIS :

Military Technology Heats up Middle Eastern Conflicts

Swarms of drones attacking Russian bases in Syria, Yemeni rebels shooting down high tech Saudi aircraft, and precision Iranian missiles attacking Riyadh – the Middle East has become a testbed for high tech military weapons systems.

Yemen’s New Military Technology

A new report says that Yemeni air force and air defense units used a new domestically designed and produced missile system to shield the country’s capital and the northwestern provinces against airstrikes by Saudi military aircraft.

Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported that Yemeni air defense forces, backed by fighters from allied Popular Committees, employed the system to intercept and target a F-15 fighter jet belonging to the Royal Saudi Air Force over Yemen’s capital on January 8.

This report came only hours after Yemeni air defense forces reportedly used the same missile defense system to shoot down a Tornado combat aircraft as it was flying in the skies over Yemen.

The Yemeni rebels showed video of the F-15 shoot-down by using an American FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) from an American made helicopter.  The sensor creates an image from thermal infrared wavelengths.  Apparently, Yemeni rebels, possibly with the help of outside advisors, were able to modify the system and place it on a ground based turret.

According to the internet publication “The Drive,” there is a distinct possibility that the United States might have supplied the FLIR System. In July 2009, the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Sales approved a deal that included three FLIR Ultra 8500 turrets.  The full package, intended as an upgrade for Yemen’s Huey II helicopters, had an estimated value of more than $3.7 million.

Although there are some reports that the imager was critical in defeating the F-15 that is probably not true.  Helicopter installed FLIR systems are too large to install in ground to air missiles.  There are also considerable technical issues to tying a thermal imaging system to a computer system that can track and predict the movement of a flying high performance aircraft.  There are also technical issues to tying such a system to servos that can maneuver a missile.

However, a FLIR system can be used to detect and warn short range air defense systems since it can see through smoke and haze.

There is the possibility that militants used a Man Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS) as the Yemeni rebels claimed in the case of the MQ-9 drone shoot-down in October 2017.  It is also possible that the Houthis may have modified infrared homing air-to-air missiles they captured from Yemeni government stockpiles, although such missiles wouldn’t have the ability to hit high flying aircraft..

Improvised air defense systems aren’t unusual. Serbian forces employed modified Soviet AA-8 and AA-11 types during the fighting in the Balkans during the 1990s.

The Houthis also claim to have reactivated at least one Russian SA-2 Guideline surface-to-air missile system, including its Fan Song fire control radar. The group said it used one of these radio command guided weapons to knock down an American drone in January 2016, but this claim remains unsubstantiated.

The use of a radar guided missile like the SA-2 would help explain why the missile was not confused by the release of decoy flares, and the reason that the pilot used the jet’s afterburners, even though doing so created a far larger infrared signature for a heat-seeking missile to home in on.

In other words, the F-15’s crew may have been confused about whether it was a radar or infrared guided missile.

Another piece of military technology being used by the Yemeni rebels is the advanced guidance system that is making Scud missiles more accurate.  This has allowed the rebels to hit Riyadh, which is hundreds of miles from Yemen.

Although many questions remain it appears that the Scuds may have an aftermarket Russian optical seeker installed.  The optical seeker would compare the image it sees with a terrain image inside the onboard computer.

The optical seeker is produced by Russia’s secretive Central Scientific and Research Institute of Automatics and Hydraulics.

Russian arms manufactures have been actively marketing upgraded weapons systems to Middle Eastern clients like Syria and Iran.

Most notably, Moscow has been offering the new optically-guided Scud missile that is ostensibly capable of penetrating US and Israeli-made missile defense systems. According to Victor Solunin, the director general of Russia’s Central Scientific and Research Institute of Automatics and Hydraulics, a Scud missile upgraded with an optically-guided warhead, disengages in the terminal phase of the missile’s flight, allowing it to avoid incoming defensive missiles.

Solunin, whose institute has been building Scud missiles since 1968, also said that the upgraded Scud is much more accurate than its predecessors, “with a miss distance not exceeding 10 to 20 meters, irrespective of the range.” The missile’s optical system has a photo receiver and digital mapping system, enabling it to scan terrain based on pre-programmed target information during its final approach, as well as a mid-course correction device to avoid obstacles. It is supposedly immune to signal jamming and other electronic countermeasures.

Syria Heats up

Last week, the Russian military in Syria thwarted a massive drone attack at the Khmeimim air base and Russian Naval point in the city of Tartus on January 6, intercepting 13 heavily armed UAVs launched by terrorists.  Russia said that it shot down seven of the 13 drones and used electronic countermeasures to safely bring down the other six.

Russian news outlets have also reported two smaller drone attacks against Russian outposts in the provinces of Homs and Latakia.

While the Russian Ministry of Defense consciously didn’t point any fingers when talking about the January 6 attack, it pointed out that the technology used in the attack was telling. Advanced training in engineering in “one of the developed countries” would be necessary to program the principal controllers and bomb-release systems of an aircraft-type combat drone, the Russian statement stressed and added that “not everyone is also able to get exact (attack) coordinates from the space surveillance data.”

The Russian Ministry of Defense also declared that this is the “first time that terrorists massively used unmanned combat aerial vehicles of an aircraft type that were launched from a distance of more than 50 kilometers, and operated using GPS satellite navigation coordinates.”

The statement said the drones “carried explosive devices with foreign detonating fuses,” adding that the “usage of strike aircraft-type drones by terrorists is the evidence that militants have received technologies to carry out terrorist attacks.”

Shortly after, the Russian Ministry of Defense released new information, noting “strange coincidences” surrounding the terrorist attack: these included a US spy plane spotted in the area, namely a US Navy’s Boeing P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft on patrol between the Khmeimim airbase and Tartus naval base in Syria during the time of the attack.  Russia also implied that the high technology found in the drone may indicate that America may be involved.

The Pentagon countered that while the US was “concerned” over the incident, Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankin-Galloway, however, claimed that “those devices and technologies can easily be obtained in the open market.” He later also told the Russian news agency Sputnik that the US already saw what it called “this type of commercial UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) technology” being used in ISIS missions.

However, the attacks may also be from Turkey.  According to a report Wednesday in the Russian Defense Ministry’s official Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper, the drones were launched from a village controlled by the “moderate opposition” called Muazzara in southern Idlib province. Russia has sent a letter to Turkish authorities urging them to comply with Turkey’s obligations in the area under ceasefire agreements with Russia, the report said.

 

 

PUBLICATIONS

Trump Just Cut Aid to Pakistan. Why This Long-Overdue Move Could Have a Real Impact.

By Jeff M. Smith
Heritage Foundation
January 5th, 2018

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. It’s a lesson the U.S. government has learned the hard way in Pakistan.  Fortunately, the Trump administration’s recent decision to suspend $255 million in aid to Islamabad serves as a welcome injection of sanity into the deeply dysfunctional U.S.-Pakistan relationship. “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” President Donald Trump declared in a Jan. 1 tweet. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

Read more at:

http://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/trump-just-cut-aid-pakistan-why-long-overdue-move-could-have-real-impact

 

U.S. Must Condemn Iranian Regime, Back Protesters

By Peter Brookes
Heritage Foundation
January 5, 2018

It’s not its perceived “enemies” in the United States, in Israel or Saudi Arabia that Iran really fears — it’s a liberating counterrevolution to the repressive 1979 Islamic Revolution that Tehran’s thuggish theocrats really dread. And rightfully so. The people of Iran have lots of good reasons to be fed up with the regime’s tyrannical political, economic and social policies that it has meted out on them without their consent for nearly four decades now. Just take a gander at the U.S. State Department’s annual human rights report to Congress. It notes that the Iranian regime is responsible for “severe restrictions on civil liberties, including assembly, association, speech, religion and press.”

The State Department’s report also documents politically motivated violence and repression, disappearances, arbitrary arrests — with prisoners being held sometimes incommunicado. Security forces, it charges, continue to act with impunity and invasions of privacy are common. We also know that Iran is no democracy: Iranians don’t get to choose their government through open elections. The regime rules on who can run for political office — and you can bet every candidate is a loyalist.

Read more at:

http://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/us-must-condemn-iranian-regime-back-protesters

 

Iraq After ISIS: The Other Half of Victory Dealing with the Civil Dimension

By Anthony Cordesman
Center for Strategic and International Studies
January 9, 2018

The United States, its allies, and international organizations are just beginning to come to grips with the civil dimensions of “failed state” wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, the Sudans, Syria, and Yemen. In each case, it is clear that the civil dimension of the war will ultimately be as important as the military one. Any meaningful form of “victory” requires far more than defeating the current extremist threat in military terms, and reaching some temporary compromise between the major factions that divide the country. The current insurgent and other security threats exist largely because of the deep divisions within the state, the past and current failures of the government to deal with such internal divisions, and the chronic failure to meet the economic, security, and social needs of much of the nation’s population.

Read more at:

https://www.csis.org/analysis/iraq-after-isis-other-half-victory/?block4

 

Unconventional Wisdom in the Middle East

By Lawrence J. Haas
American Foreign Policy Council
January 9, 2018

Recent events across the Middle East put the lie to one of the foreign policy establishment’s most enduring tenets of conventional nonsense: that Israeli-Palestinian peace is key to greater regional peace and stability.  Sharing concerns over hegemony-seeking Iran and radical Islamic forces like the Islamic State group and Muslim Brotherhood, the key Arab states of Egypt and Saudi Arabia are drawing ever closer to Israel – with officials appearing together publicly, meeting privately and collaborating to confront their mutual adversaries. That helps explain why, in the face of global opposition, the central committee of Israel’s ruling Likud Party, felt free to unanimously endorse a resolution the other day that called for annexing West Bank settlements, and why some leading Likud members now openly dismiss the viability of a Palestinian state.

Read more at: http://www.afpc.org/publication_listings/viewArticle/3721

 

Iran’s Cyber Threat: Espionage, Sabotage, and Revenge

By COLLIN ANDERSON and  KARIM SADJADPOUR
Carnegie Endowment
January 4, 2018

Incidents involving Iran have been among the most sophisticated, costly, and consequential attacks in the history of the internet. The four-decade-long U.S.-Iran cold war has increasingly moved into cyberspace, and Tehran has been among the leading targets of uniquely invasive and destructive cyber operations by the United States and its allies. At the same time, Tehran has become increasingly adept at conducting cyber espionage and disruptive attacks against opponents at home and abroad, ranging from Iranian civil society organizations to governmental and commercial institutions in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.

Read more at:

http://carnegieendowment.org/2018/01/04/iran-s-cyber-threat-espionage-sabotage-and-revenge-pub-75134

 

Is Saudi Arabia’s Counterterrorism Approach Shifting?

By Lori Plotkin Boghardt
Washington Institute
January 9, 2018

POLICYWATCH 2913

The history of Saudi efforts to combat terrorism is mixed, but Riyadh has become a close U.S. partner on that front in recent years. A deadly series of al-Qaeda attacks inside the kingdom beginning in 2003 drove the Saudis to pursue more aggressive counterterror policies. Today, Washington and Riyadh see eye to eye on the Islamic State (IS) threat—of which the Saudis have been major victims themselves. The kingdom has also become a cooperative partner on counter-terrorist financing, which is important because of the vast sums of private money that have been funneled to terrorist groups from inside its borders.  Washington has expressed a strong desire to see much more from the Saudis when it comes to groups like al-Qaeda and IS. This includes more vigorous delegitimizing of religious extremist ideology, as well as more candid acknowledgment that the kingdom has been part of the terrorist problem itself. Yet even in the context of U.S. concerns over some Saudi policies, Riyadh may be turning a corner as a result of changing perceptions about its own interests.

Read more at:

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/is-saudi-arabias-counterterrorism-approach-shifting

 

Will the Trump Administration Force Oman to Choose Sides?

By Jay Solomon
Washington Institute
January 9, 2018

POLICYWATCH 2914

The sleepy Persian Gulf sultanate of Oman has emerged as a wild card in the Trump administration’s push to roll back Iranian power across the Middle East. The country’s ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, is in many ways a weathervane for gauging the region’s shifting power balance amid Tehran’s worsening feud with Saudi Arabia. He has also served as a crucial U.S. ally in recent years, particularly by helping the Obama administration establish a secret diplomatic backchannel with Iran and pursue a negotiated solution to Yemen’s civil war. Today, however, President Trump’s hardline stance on Iran and his embrace of Saudi crown prince Muhammad bin Salman risk placing Oman in the crosshairs of an escalating proxy feud, according to U.S., Arab, and Israeli officials who work on Gulf affairs.

Read more at:

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/will-the-trump-administration-force-oman-to-choose-sides

 

The signal and the noise: Trump’s foreign policy in year two

By Colin Duech
American Enterprise Institute
January 10, 2018

As we enter the second year of US foreign policy under the current administration, sometimes it is hard to separate the signal from the noise. Is there a guide for the perplexed? The new National Security Strategy may be a useful starting point. Many of the administration’s opponents conceded that National Security Adviser HR McMaster and his staff, led in this instance by Nadia Schadlow, did excellent work in crafting a thoughtful and perceptive document. The usual suspects and critics of a Republican presidency denounced the strategy — critics including the People’s Republic of China, Vladimir Putin, prominent liberal Democrats, and strict non-interventionists on the Right. Another common theme emerged among critics that the document could not possibly represent the president’s actual beliefs on foreign policy. Interestingly, this is also the fear of some Trump supporters; they fear there is a “deep state” clique around the president.

Read more at: http://www.aei.org/publication/the-signal-and-the-noise-trumps-foreign-policy-in-year-two/

Week of January 12th, 2018

Executive Summary

Now that the New Year has arrived, we can expect to see the pace of papers coming out of Washington’s think tanks to increase.

This week’s analysis looks at several military technology issues in the Middle East, including the drone attacks on Russian bases in Syria and the use of technology by the Yemeni rebels against Saudi Arabia.

 

Think Tanks Activity Summary 

The American Enterprise Institute looks forward to Trump’s foreign policy in Year Two.  They conclude, “An underlying foreign policy direction thus far emphasizing freedom of action, rebalanced and reciprocal alliance relationships, a blunt emphasis on US national interests, attention to the domestic economic sources of power, continuing forward military presence, counter-pressure against numerous foreign adversaries, and a new American nationalism — that is the signal. In this year and beyond when it comes to US foreign policy, consider focusing on the signal, not the noise.”

The Heritage Foundation looks at the protests in Iran and what the US should do.  They conclude, “But the big question, of course, is what should the U.S. do about it? That could mean doing nothing, standing aside, remaining silent and letting Iranians sort things out — similar to the Obama administration’s approach during the 2009 protests.

While doing nothing is, in actuality, doing something, it shouldn’t be the course our nation takes — considering the threat the Iranian regime poses to not only human values, but to our security and that of our allies, friends and partners. Instead, the U.S. should speak out forcefully on human rights in Iran — whether the protests continue or not. Our government should push other states to express their support for the Iranian people’s aspirations, too, especially from the major, democratic capitals of Europe. We shouldn’t expect that the regime will relinquish its death grip on Iran, but it’s important that the Iranian people — and the world — understand that the United States backs their desire for political, social and economic rights and liberties. There’s no question about it: It’s just the right thing to do.”

The Washington Institute looks at Saudi Arabia’s evolving approach to counterterrorism and America’s response.  They conclude, “Apparent shifts in the way Riyadh is approaching the terrorism challenge present opportunities for the United States to encourage broader and deeper changes that address longstanding American interests. One area to support is continued tightening of Saudi supervision over religious figures traveling internationally for work, over religious and educational materials sent abroad by Saudi institutions, and over religious figures doing media work—all toward the goal of restricting the export of extremist ideology. A related interest is accelerated removal of extremist content that remains in Saudi schoolbooks. Another area to support is added transparency and measurable advancement in new training, supervision, and reeducation of religious figures and teachers (or, if necessary, dismissal). The kingdom has already registered successes in these areas and is now building on them; further progress could be discussed during the first annual meeting of the U.S.-Saudi Strategic Joint Consultative Group expected later this year. Finally, given the divergence between U.S. and Saudi views on the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist group, Washington should work closely with its Saudi partners in Etidal to track the quantity, quality, and reach of content against top U.S.-designated groups such as IS and al-Qaeda.”

The CSIS says that true victory in Iraq after defeating ISIS must consider “economic, security, and social needs of much of the nation’s population.”  They note, “Iraq provides a critical test case. Defeating ISIS in Iraq will not—by itself—deal with any of Iraq’s broader problems in politics, governance, and economics, and may well be the prelude to new forms of conflict between (and within) the Shiites and Sunnis, Arabs and Kurds, various extremist groups, and the remnants of ISIS. Iraq also offers unique opportunities relative to other conflict states. It does not face the same level of post-conflict challenges as Syria, Libya, Somalia, the Sudans, Yemen, or Afghanistan. It did achieve substantial levels of development relative to other “failed states” in spite of nearly a half century of revolution, turmoil, and war—and it has substantial petroleum income. This does not mean, however, that there is any guarantee that the defeat of ISIS will bring stability, recovery, or successful national development unless Iraq has substantial outside help. Iraq was a “failed state” in virtually every respect before ISIS invaded and is still largely a failed state.

The Washington Institute warns that Trump’s hardline attitude towards Iran could cause problems with Oman, which has been America’s backdoor to Iranian negotiations.  They conclude, “Oman is being pulled in multiple directions at once, and it is unclear how these oft-competing priorities will affect its posture in the coming months. To the north, Saudi Arabia has tried to woo the resource-poor country into its camp despite their mutual distrust. This month, for example, Riyadh announced it would contribute $210 million to finance an industrial zone in Oman’s southern port of Duqm. At the same time, Oman has continued to coordinate its diplomatic, economic, and military activities with Iran in recent months, building on close bilateral ties that stretch back to the 1970s, when the shah sent thousands of troops and attack helicopters into Dhofar to help put down a tribal uprising…As for the West, official signals seem mixed at the moment…Yet ongoing developments in Yemen may soon spur Washington and its partners in Riyadh to increase their pressure on Oman. In recent weeks, Houthi militias have shot ballistic missiles into Saudi Arabia, including against Riyadh’s international airport. The Trump administration believes that Iran smuggled these missiles to the Houthis, and while it has not openly accused Oman of involvement in the transfer, clouds are beginning to form over the relationship.”

The Heritage Foundation looks at the cut off of aid to Pakistan by the US.  They conclude, “The status quo, long viewed by Washington as lamentable but tolerable, will no longer be a costless affair for Pakistan. Whether this leads our two countries toward a vicious cycle of hostility and recrimination is entirely dependent on Pakistan’s behavior. As always, the path to stability, prosperity, and a true strategic partnership with America is clear: Abandon your support for Islamist extremists, end your paranoid infatuation with India, make peace with your Afghan neighbors, and respect freedom and religious liberty at home.”

The Carnegie Endowment looks at Iran’s cyber threat.  Incidents involving Iran have been among the most sophisticated, costly, and consequential attacks in the history of the internet. The four-decade-long U.S.-Iran cold war has increasingly moved into cyberspace, and Tehran has been among the leading targets of uniquely invasive and destructive cyber operations by the United States and its allies. At the same time, Tehran has become increasingly adept at conducting cyber espionage and disruptive attacks against opponents at home and abroad, ranging from Iranian civil society organizations to governmental and commercial institutions in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.

The American Foreign Policy Council argues for “Unconventional wisdom” in the Middle East.  They note, “For decades, foreign policy elites across the West have argued that Israeli-Palestinian peace will pave the way for broader Arab-Israeli peace, less terrorism, less anti-American animus, and solutions to such seemingly separate challenges as Iran’s regional expansionism and nuclear pursuits.” However, noting a New York Times article in December they note, “”[T]he Saudi Prince has made clear that his top priority in the region is not the Palestinian-Israeli issue, the fulcrum of Arab politics for generations, but confronting Iran,” the Times reported. “Regional officials and analysts say they believe he might be willing to try to force a settlement on Palestinians in order to cement Israeli cooperation against Iran.  That is, rather than accede to longstanding Palestinian demands – whether reasonable ones like a contiguous state or unreasonable ones like a multi-generational right of return – Saudi officials would impose their own solution on the Palestinians to secure greater collaboration between Jerusalem and Riyadh.”

 

 

ANALYSIS 

Military Technology Heats up Middle Eastern Conflicts

Swarms of drones attacking Russian bases in Syria, Yemeni rebels shooting down high tech Saudi aircraft, and precision Iranian missiles attacking Riyadh – the Middle East has become a testbed for high tech military weapons systems.

Yemen’s New Military Technology

A new report says that Yemeni air force and air defense units used a new domestically designed and produced missile system to shield the country’s capital and the northwestern provinces against airstrikes by Saudi military aircraft.

Yemen’s Arabic-language al-Masirah television network reported that Yemeni air defense forces, backed by fighters from allied Popular Committees, employed the system to intercept and target a F-15 fighter jet belonging to the Royal Saudi Air Force over Yemen’s capital on January 8.

This report came only hours after Yemeni air defense forces reportedly used the same missile defense system to shoot down a Tornado combat aircraft as it was flying in the skies over Yemen.

The Yemeni rebels showed video of the F-15 shoot-down by using an American FLIR (Forward Looking Infrared) from an American made helicopter.  The sensor creates an image from thermal infrared wavelengths.  Apparently, Yemeni rebels, possibly with the help of outside advisors, were able to modify the system and place it on a ground based turret.

According to the internet publication “The Drive,” there is a distinct possibility that the United States might have supplied the FLIR System. In July 2009, the Pentagon’s Foreign Military Sales approved a deal that included three FLIR Ultra 8500 turrets.  The full package, intended as an upgrade for Yemen’s Huey II helicopters, had an estimated value of more than $3.7 million.

Although there are some reports that the imager was critical in defeating the F-15 that is probably not true.  Helicopter installed FLIR systems are too large to install in ground to air missiles.  There are also considerable technical issues to tying a thermal imaging system to a computer system that can track and predict the movement of a flying high performance aircraft.  There are also technical issues to tying such a system to servos that can maneuver a missile.

However, a FLIR system can be used to detect and warn short range air defense systems since it can see through smoke and haze.

There is the possibility that militants used a Man Portable Air Defense System (MANPADS) as the Yemeni rebels claimed in the case of the MQ-9 drone shoot-down in October 2017.  It is also possible that the Houthis may have modified infrared homing air-to-air missiles they captured from Yemeni government stockpiles, although such missiles wouldn’t have the ability to hit high flying aircraft..

Improvised air defense systems aren’t unusual. Serbian forces employed modified Soviet AA-8 and AA-11 types during the fighting in the Balkans during the 1990s.

The Houthis also claim to have reactivated at least one Russian SA-2 Guideline surface-to-air missile system, including its Fan Song fire control radar. The group said it used one of these radio command guided weapons to knock down an American drone in January 2016, but this claim remains unsubstantiated.

The use of a radar guided missile like the SA-2 would help explain why the missile was not confused by the release of decoy flares, and the reason that the pilot used the jet’s afterburners, even though doing so created a far larger infrared signature for a heat-seeking missile to home in on.

In other words, the F-15’s crew may have been confused about whether it was a radar or infrared guided missile.

Another piece of military technology being used by the Yemeni rebels is the advanced guidance system that is making Scud missiles more accurate.  This has allowed the rebels to hit Riyadh, which is hundreds of miles from Yemen.

Although many questions remain it appears that the Scuds may have an aftermarket Russian optical seeker installed.  The optical seeker would compare the image it sees with a terrain image inside the onboard computer.

The optical seeker is produced by Russia’s secretive Central Scientific and Research Institute of Automatics and Hydraulics.

Russian arms manufactures have been actively marketing upgraded weapons systems to Middle Eastern clients like Syria and Iran.

Most notably, Moscow has been offering the new optically-guided Scud missile that is ostensibly capable of penetrating US and Israeli-made missile defense systems. According to Victor Solunin, the director general of Russia’s Central Scientific and Research Institute of Automatics and Hydraulics, a Scud missile upgraded with an optically-guided warhead, disengages in the terminal phase of the missile’s flight, allowing it to avoid incoming defensive missiles.

Solunin, whose institute has been building Scud missiles since 1968, also said that the upgraded Scud is much more accurate than its predecessors, “with a miss distance not exceeding 10 to 20 meters, irrespective of the range.” The missile’s optical system has a photo receiver and digital mapping system, enabling it to scan terrain based on pre-programmed target information during its final approach, as well as a mid-course correction device to avoid obstacles. It is supposedly immune to signal jamming and other electronic countermeasures.

Syria Heats up

Last week, the Russian military in Syria thwarted a massive drone attack at the Khmeimim air base and Russian Naval point in the city of Tartus on January 6, intercepting 13 heavily armed UAVs launched by terrorists.  Russia said that it shot down seven of the 13 drones and used electronic countermeasures to safely bring down the other six.

Russian news outlets have also reported two smaller drone attacks against Russian outposts in the provinces of Homs and Latakia.

While the Russian Ministry of Defense consciously didn’t point any fingers when talking about the January 6 attack, it pointed out that the technology used in the attack was telling. Advanced training in engineering in “one of the developed countries” would be necessary to program the principal controllers and bomb-release systems of an aircraft-type combat drone, the Russian statement stressed and added that “not everyone is also able to get exact (attack) coordinates from the space surveillance data.”

The Russian Ministry of Defense also declared that this is the “first time that terrorists massively used unmanned combat aerial vehicles of an aircraft type that were launched from a distance of more than 50 kilometers, and operated using GPS satellite navigation coordinates.”

The statement said the drones “carried explosive devices with foreign detonating fuses,” adding that the “usage of strike aircraft-type drones by terrorists is the evidence that militants have received technologies to carry out terrorist attacks.”

Shortly after, the Russian Ministry of Defense released new information, noting “strange coincidences” surrounding the terrorist attack: these included a US spy plane spotted in the area, namely a US Navy’s Boeing P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft on patrol between the Khmeimim airbase and Tartus naval base in Syria during the time of the attack.  Russia also implied that the high technology found in the drone may indicate that America may be involved.

The Pentagon countered that while the US was “concerned” over the incident, Pentagon spokesman Maj. Adrian Rankin-Galloway, however, claimed that “those devices and technologies can easily be obtained in the open market.” He later also told the Russian news agency Sputnik that the US already saw what it called “this type of commercial UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) technology” being used in ISIS missions.

However, the attacks may also be from Turkey.  According to a report Wednesday in the Russian Defense Ministry’s official Krasnaya Zvezda newspaper, the drones were launched from a village controlled by the “moderate opposition” called Muazzara in southern Idlib province. Russia has sent a letter to Turkish authorities urging them to comply with Turkey’s obligations in the area under ceasefire agreements with Russia, the report said.

 

 

PUBLICATIONS

Trump Just Cut Aid to Pakistan. Why This Long-Overdue Move Could Have a Real Impact.

By Jeff M. Smith
Heritage Foundation
January 5th, 2018

They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. It’s a lesson the U.S. government has learned the hard way in Pakistan.  Fortunately, the Trump administration’s recent decision to suspend $255 million in aid to Islamabad serves as a welcome injection of sanity into the deeply dysfunctional U.S.-Pakistan relationship. “The United States has foolishly given Pakistan more than 33 billion dollars in aid over the last 15 years, and they have given us nothing but lies and deceit, thinking of our leaders as fools,” President Donald Trump declared in a Jan. 1 tweet. “They give safe haven to the terrorists we hunt in Afghanistan, with little help. No more!”

Read more at:

http://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/trump-just-cut-aid-pakistan-why-long-overdue-move-could-have-real-impact

 

U.S. Must Condemn Iranian Regime, Back Protesters

By Peter Brookes
Heritage Foundation
January 5, 2018

It’s not its perceived “enemies” in the United States, in Israel or Saudi Arabia that Iran really fears — it’s a liberating counterrevolution to the repressive 1979 Islamic Revolution that Tehran’s thuggish theocrats really dread. And rightfully so. The people of Iran have lots of good reasons to be fed up with the regime’s tyrannical political, economic and social policies that it has meted out on them without their consent for nearly four decades now. Just take a gander at the U.S. State Department’s annual human rights report to Congress. It notes that the Iranian regime is responsible for “severe restrictions on civil liberties, including assembly, association, speech, religion and press.”

The State Department’s report also documents politically motivated violence and repression, disappearances, arbitrary arrests — with prisoners being held sometimes incommunicado. Security forces, it charges, continue to act with impunity and invasions of privacy are common. We also know that Iran is no democracy: Iranians don’t get to choose their government through open elections. The regime rules on who can run for political office — and you can bet every candidate is a loyalist.

Read more at:

http://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/us-must-condemn-iranian-regime-back-protesters

 

Iraq After ISIS: The Other Half of Victory Dealing with the Civil Dimension

By Anthony Cordesman
Center for Strategic and International Studies
January 9, 2018

The United States, its allies, and international organizations are just beginning to come to grips with the civil dimensions of “failed state” wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, the Sudans, Syria, and Yemen. In each case, it is clear that the civil dimension of the war will ultimately be as important as the military one. Any meaningful form of “victory” requires far more than defeating the current extremist threat in military terms, and reaching some temporary compromise between the major factions that divide the country. The current insurgent and other security threats exist largely because of the deep divisions within the state, the past and current failures of the government to deal with such internal divisions, and the chronic failure to meet the economic, security, and social needs of much of the nation’s population.

Read more at:

https://www.csis.org/analysis/iraq-after-isis-other-half-victory/?block4

 

Unconventional Wisdom in the Middle East

By Lawrence J. Haas
American Foreign Policy Council
January 9, 2018

Recent events across the Middle East put the lie to one of the foreign policy establishment’s most enduring tenets of conventional nonsense: that Israeli-Palestinian peace is key to greater regional peace and stability.  Sharing concerns over hegemony-seeking Iran and radical Islamic forces like the Islamic State group and Muslim Brotherhood, the key Arab states of Egypt and Saudi Arabia are drawing ever closer to Israel – with officials appearing together publicly, meeting privately and collaborating to confront their mutual adversaries. That helps explain why, in the face of global opposition, the central committee of Israel’s ruling Likud Party, felt free to unanimously endorse a resolution the other day that called for annexing West Bank settlements, and why some leading Likud members now openly dismiss the viability of a Palestinian state.

Read more at: http://www.afpc.org/publication_listings/viewArticle/3721

 

Iran’s Cyber Threat: Espionage, Sabotage, and Revenge

By COLLIN ANDERSON and  KARIM SADJADPOUR
Carnegie Endowment
January 4, 2018

Incidents involving Iran have been among the most sophisticated, costly, and consequential attacks in the history of the internet. The four-decade-long U.S.-Iran cold war has increasingly moved into cyberspace, and Tehran has been among the leading targets of uniquely invasive and destructive cyber operations by the United States and its allies. At the same time, Tehran has become increasingly adept at conducting cyber espionage and disruptive attacks against opponents at home and abroad, ranging from Iranian civil society organizations to governmental and commercial institutions in Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the United States.

Read more at:

http://carnegieendowment.org/2018/01/04/iran-s-cyber-threat-espionage-sabotage-and-revenge-pub-75134

 

Is Saudi Arabia’s Counterterrorism Approach Shifting?

By Lori Plotkin Boghardt
Washington Institute
January 9, 2018

POLICYWATCH 2913

The history of Saudi efforts to combat terrorism is mixed, but Riyadh has become a close U.S. partner on that front in recent years. A deadly series of al-Qaeda attacks inside the kingdom beginning in 2003 drove the Saudis to pursue more aggressive counterterror policies. Today, Washington and Riyadh see eye to eye on the Islamic State (IS) threat—of which the Saudis have been major victims themselves. The kingdom has also become a cooperative partner on counter-terrorist financing, which is important because of the vast sums of private money that have been funneled to terrorist groups from inside its borders.  Washington has expressed a strong desire to see much more from the Saudis when it comes to groups like al-Qaeda and IS. This includes more vigorous delegitimizing of religious extremist ideology, as well as more candid acknowledgment that the kingdom has been part of the terrorist problem itself. Yet even in the context of U.S. concerns over some Saudi policies, Riyadh may be turning a corner as a result of changing perceptions about its own interests.

Read more at:

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/is-saudi-arabias-counterterrorism-approach-shifting

 

Will the Trump Administration Force Oman to Choose Sides?

By Jay Solomon
Washington Institute
January 9, 2018

POLICYWATCH 2914

The sleepy Persian Gulf sultanate of Oman has emerged as a wild card in the Trump administration’s push to roll back Iranian power across the Middle East. The country’s ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, is in many ways a weathervane for gauging the region’s shifting power balance amid Tehran’s worsening feud with Saudi Arabia. He has also served as a crucial U.S. ally in recent years, particularly by helping the Obama administration establish a secret diplomatic backchannel with Iran and pursue a negotiated solution to Yemen’s civil war. Today, however, President Trump’s hardline stance on Iran and his embrace of Saudi crown prince Muhammad bin Salman risk placing Oman in the crosshairs of an escalating proxy feud, according to U.S., Arab, and Israeli officials who work on Gulf affairs.

Read more at:

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/will-the-trump-administration-force-oman-to-choose-sides

 

The signal and the noise: Trump’s foreign policy in year two

By Colin Duech
American Enterprise Institute
January 10, 2018

As we enter the second year of US foreign policy under the current administration, sometimes it is hard to separate the signal from the noise. Is there a guide for the perplexed? The new National Security Strategy may be a useful starting point. Many of the administration’s opponents conceded that National Security Adviser HR McMaster and his staff, led in this instance by Nadia Schadlow, did excellent work in crafting a thoughtful and perceptive document. The usual suspects and critics of a Republican presidency denounced the strategy — critics including the People’s Republic of China, Vladimir Putin, prominent liberal Democrats, and strict non-interventionists on the Right. Another common theme emerged among critics that the document could not possibly represent the president’s actual beliefs on foreign policy. Interestingly, this is also the fear of some Trump supporters; they fear there is a “deep state” clique around the president.

Read more at: http://www.aei.org/publication/the-signal-and-the-noise-trumps-foreign-policy-in-year-two/

التحليل 01-12-2018

:التحليل

تطورات عسكرية وتقنية لافتة 
في المسرحين اليمني والسوري 

 

في مطلع العام الجديد تزاحمت أنباء استخدام تقنيات عسكرية جديدة في سوريا واليمن تحديداً مع التطورات المتسارعة في واشنطن وما تعده من تدابير ضد شبه الجزيرة الكورية، وتنبؤات العديد من المسؤولين بحرب نووية وشيكة، كما هدد الرئيس الاميركي بها بيونغ يانغ.

        سنلقي نظرة مركزة على تحول “الشرق الأوسط” الى ساحة تجارب لتقنية الأسلحة العسكرية المختلفة، نستعرض فيها تقنية طائرات الدرونز التي استخدمها المسلحون في سوريا ضد قاعدتي روسيا في سوريا، البحرية في طرطوس والجوية  في حيميم. وكذلك تسليط الضوء على دخول سلاح مضاد الطائرات في اليمن لأول مرة بفعالية ضد مقاتلات دول التحالف الذي تقوده السعودية، واستهداف اليمن للرياض بتقنية دقيقة للصواريخ الباليستية.

التقنية اليمنية

        افادت مصادر عسكرية مقربة من اليمن أن سلاح الجو وبطاريات الدفاع الجوي استطاعت إنتاج نظام صاروخي محلي التصنيع دخل الخدمة لحماية العاصمة صنعاء والمحافظات الشمالية الغربية من الغارا الجوية السعودية.

        كما أفادت الأنباء يوم 8 كانون الثاني / يناير الجاري اسقاط اليمن لطائرة سعودية مقاتلة من طراز إف-15 كانت تغير على صنعاء. وسبق ذلك النبأ بساعات قليلة إعلان سلاح الجو اليمني عن اسقاطه مقاتلة حربية أخرى متعددة المهام القتالية من طراز تورنيدو.

        وتثبّت العالم أجمع من صدقية سلاح الجو اليمني بنشره شريط فيديو للحظات اسقاطه طائرة الأف-15، مستخدماً تقنية أميركية “التطلع للأمام بالأشعة تحت الحمراء – فلير” المخصصة للطائرات المروحية.

        التقنية، كما تدل البيانات العسكرية، مزودة بجهاز استشعار ينتج صورة الجسم المستهدف بتتبعه الموجات الحرارية تحت الأشعة الحمراء المنبعثة، ويعتقد أن اليمن استطاع إدخال تعديلات عليها ونصبها على منصة إطلاق أرضية.

        الإجابة على التساؤول من أين حصل المقاتلون اليمنيون على تقنية (فلير) كانت محور تكهنات مستمرة، ألقت نشرة ذي درايف الأميركية المختصة بعض الضوء بالقول أن اليمن حصل على شحنة معدات عسكرية أميركية، تموز/يوليو 2009، وفق برنامج “المبيعات العسكرية الخارجية” الذي تشرف عليه البنتاغون. وأضافت أن تلك الصفقة شملت ثلاث منصات (فلير ألترا 8500) كجزء من حزمة معدات أخرى قيمتها  3.7 مليون دولار لتحديث اسراب الطائرات المروحية القديمة من طراز “هيوي 2.”

        بيد ان بعض الخبراء العسكريين ألقوا ظلالاً من الشك على ذلك التكهن بالقول أن نظم (فلير) المنصوبة على الطائرات المروحية هي أكبر حجماَ بكثير من تطويع استخدامها في ظروف سلاح أرض – جو؛ فضلاً عن ما يرافق التعديل من تحديات تقنية أخرى كربط جهاز التصوير الحراري بنظام كمبيوتر يستطيع تتبع مسار الجسم الطائر والتنبؤ بحركة طيرانه بسرعة عالية، وامتلاك قدرة المناورة لاطلاق صاروخ ضد الهدف.

        من ميزات نظام (فلير) قدرته على الرؤيا عبر سحب الدخان والضباب مما يتيح لأطقم الاخصائيين استخدامه لمهام الاستشعار والإنذار وارسال البيانات لنظم الدفاع الجوي للمديات القصيرة.

        يرجح الأخصائيون استخدام الجيش واللجان الشعبية اليمنية نظم دفاع جوي محمولة (مانباد)، كما جرى التثبت منه باسقاطهم طائرة درونز من طراز MQ-9 في شهر تشرين الثاني /اكتوبر الماضي. ومن غير المستبعد تمكن القوات اليمنية إدخال تعديلات على صواريخ جو – جو الموجهة بالأشعة تحت الحمراء، والتي كانت في حوزة الجيش اليمني؛ بيد أنها غير ملائمة لظروف ملاحقة اجسام طائرة تحلق على ارتفاعات عالية.

        ترسانة اليمن بها أسلحة ومعدات سوفيتية (روسية) الصنع، منها نظام (سام-2) لإطلاق صواريخ أرض – جو يتحكم بها جهاز رادار من طراز “فان سونغ فاير.” ترددت أنباء حديثاً عن استطاعة الجيش واللجان الشعبية إعادة تفعيل نظام واحد على الأقل من هذا الطراز واستخدام أسلحة موجهة بأشعة الراديو لاسقاط طائرة درونز أميركية مطلع عام 2016. بيد أنن لم يتم التثبت من صحة الأنباء.

        ما يعزز فرضية استخدام اليمن لبطاريات سام-2 هو قدرتها على الإفلات من الصواريخ والبالونات التمويهية التي تطلقها الطائرات الحربية للخداع، وكذلك استخدام قائد الطائرة المستهدفة للدفع النفاث الإضافي مما نتج عنه تموجات أوسع للأشعة تحت الحمراء من السابق كي يلحق بها صاروخ حراري.

        وربما أصاب طاقم المقاتلة الحربية حالة ارتباك وعدم القدرة على التمييز بما يتتبع مساره سواء أشعة رادار أو صاروخ موجه بالأشعة تحت الحمراء.

        حافظ اليمن على سرديته منذ بدء العدوان السعودي عليه بأن لديه مخزون من صواريخ سكود بنماذج متعددة، وما يرافقها من نظم توجيه متطورة تعزز دقة التصويب. الأمر الذي أتاح الفرصة للجيش واللجان الشعبية اطلاق صواريخ باليستية بنجاح على الرياض، والتي تبعد نحو 800 كلم عن الحدود اليمنية.

        يرجح الخبراء العسكريون نصب معدات بصرية متطورة على صواريح سكود اليمنية وظيفتها إجراء مقارنة بين الهدف المرئي خلال التحليق فوق تضاريس مختلفة مع الخريطة المعدة مسبقا في ذاكرة الكمبيوتر على متنها. الأجهزة البصرية تلك هي من إنتاج مؤسسة روسية “سرية” تعرف بـ معهد الأبحاث والعلوم المركزية.

مؤسسات التصنيع العسكري الروسية المختلفة تنشط في بلدان “الشرق الأوسط” لبيع منتوجاتها لدول متعددة من بينها سوريا وإيران؛ ابرزها عرض موسكو لمعدات توجيه بصرية تنصب على صواريخ سكود والتي باستطاعتها اختراق الجدار الإلكتروني الواقي الحامي لنظم الدفاعات الجوية الأميركية و”الاسرائيلية،” الباتريوت نموذجاً.

المدير العام لمعهد الأبحاث الروسي المذكور، فيكتور سوليونين، يشير إلى أن المؤسسة تنتج صواريخ سكود منذ عام 1968، ويؤكد أن معدات توجيه بصرية متطورة منصوبة على صواريخ سكود صممت على الانفصال في محطة التحليق الطرفية لمسار الصاروخ مما يوفر لها فرصة للإفلات من الصواريخ الدفاعية القادمة.

يشار إلى أن رحلة إعادة دخول الصاروخ على الهدف تبدأ على ارتفاع 100 كلم وفيها تنفصل المركبة الحاملة لرأس الصاروخ وتتجه نحو الهدف بمعدل سرعة عالية تصل إلى  4 كلم / ثانية.

وأضاف المدير العام أن نماذج سكود المطورة تتمتع بدقة إصابة أعلى من سابقاتها “بدائرة خطأ لا تتجاوز 10-20 متراً، بصرف النظر عن المدى النهائي للإطلاق؛” وهي مزودة بنظم توجيه بصرية باستطاعتها إجراء مسح ضوئي للتضاريس التي تقطعها ومقارنتها مع بيانات الهدف المخزنة خلال المرحلة النهائية، فضلاً عن قدرتها على تعديل مسار التحليق لتفادي الشباك الالكترونية. ويشير آخرون إلى أن تلك المعدات المتطورة لديها مناعة ضد التشويش الإلكتروني وتدابير أخرى مضادة.

سوريا

في تصريح نادر، أعلنت وزارة الدفاع الروسية عن إحباطها لهجوم ضخم شاركت فيه 13 طائرة مسيّرة – درونز “محملة بالمتفجرات” وُجهتها قاعدتي طرطوس البحرية وحميميم الجوية، 6 كانون2 / يناير الجاري؛ أقلعت من قرية (موزرة) في ريف إدلب الجنوبي الغربي. وأضافت أنه تزامن مع توقيت الهجوم رصد “تحليق طائرة إستطلاع أميركية من طراز بوينغ P-8 (بوسايدون) فوق البحر المتوسط لأكثر من أربع ساعات على إرتفاع 7000 متر بين قاعدتي طرطوس وحميميم.”

وسائل الدفاع الجوية الروسية أسقطت 7 طائرات مهاجمة ونجحت في التحكم الإلكتروني بالطائرات الست الأخرى وقادتها للهبوط في منطقة سيطرة القوات الروسية دون أضرار.

التزمت روسيا لغة الحذر من توجيه إتهامات محددة، واكتفت بالقول أن تقنية برمجة وحدات التحكم في طائرات الدرونز والقاء حمولتها من المتفجرات عبر نظام تحديد المواقع، GPS، يتطلب الحصول على شهادة هندسة من إحدى الدول المتقدمة تقنياً، ولا يمكن للعامة الحصول على الإحداثيات الدقيقة من بيانات الإستطلاع المتوفرة للأقمار الإصطناعية؛ كرد على نفي وزارة الدفاع الأميركية أي دور لها وبأن تلك المعدات “يمكن الحصول عليها من السوق،” وفق تصريح المتحدث باسم البنتاغون آدريان رانكين – غالاوي.

وشدد إعلان وزارة الدفاع الروسية على أن الحادث هو “الأول الذي يستخدم فيه الإرهابيون طائرات مقاتلة مسيّرة أقلعت من مسافة أبعد من 50 كلم، وحلقت بالإعتماد على بيانات الملاحة الجوية في الأقمار الإصطناعية .. وحمولتها من المتفجرات تحمل فتيل تفجير من صناعة أجنبية؛ مما يدل على تلقي الإرهابيين دعماً تقنياً متطوراً للقيام بالهجوم.”

الأخصائي الأميركي في الشؤون السورية، آرون لاند، من خلال موقعه في مؤسسة القرن الأميركية أعرب عن شكوكه في سيل التحركات النشطة بين صفوف المسلحين في تلك المنطقة بالقول “هناك عدد كبير من التحركات المشبوهة الجارية في إدلب – عملاء يتحركون بحرّية، ومجموعات تتعاون مع أخرى لا تتشاطر معها في الأهداف والوسائل.” وربما، أضاف موضحاٌ، جرى تمويه طائرات الدرونز بمظهر صناعة محلية أما حمولتها فكانت من أفضل ما أنتجته التقنية الحديثة؛ ومداها يقرب من 100 كلم.

وأضاف أن نوعية المتفجرات المستخدمة، RDX، لا يمكن لمقاتلين هواة تسلمها واستخدامها، وهي من صنع مؤسسات عسكرية محدودة في العالم، إحداها مصنع في اوكرانيا.”

وشاطره الرأي خبراء أميركيون في علم الطيران بالقول أن من بين المعدات المتطورة على متن الدرونز كانت أجهزة استشعار للضغط الجوي تساعد الطائرة على المضي إلى هدفها المحدد مسبقاً، وأجهزة جيروسكوب أو البوصلة الدوارة مما يضيف إلى الخطورة النوعية التي حملتها طائرات الدرونز، خاصة لميزة تحصينها ضد أجهزة التشويش الإلكتروني – أمر غير متوفر في “السوق المفتوحة.”

الناطق باسم البنتاغون رانكين – غالاوي صرح لوكالة “سبوتنيك” الروسية للأنباء أن تقنية مشابهة لطائرات الدرونز المعنية استخدمها تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية في سلسلة مهام قتالية. ما لم يوضحه الناطق هو كيف له أن يستنتج بيقين عن طبيعة المعدات والتقنية المحمولة في الهجوم على المنشآت الروسية! ربما هو تأكيد غير مباشر على دور طائرة الإستطلاع الأميركية، بوسايدون، في توفير الدعم والملاحة الجوية للسرب المهاجم.

ومن المرجح أيضاً أن الولايات المتحدة تمضي في “اختبار” الدفاعات الجوية الروسية لإختراقها والتغلب عليها، إن استطاعت، والإعداد لدعم هجوم أوسع لاحقاً.

التقرير الأسبوعي 01-12-2018

لمقدمة       

       حاز “مصير” الاتفاق النووي مع إيران على قسط واسع من الإهتمام الأوساط الأميركية، سياسيين ونخب فكرية، رافقه إنحياز الإدارة لأقطاب اليمين المتشدد بشأن إنزال عقوبات جديدة على إيران والتي أعلن عن بعضها بالتزامن مع تجديد الرئيس المصادقة عليه.

        سيستعرض قسم التحليل دخول تقنيات عسكرية متطورة على المسرحين اليمني والسوري، وتداعيات الهجوم على قاعدتي روسيا في سوريا.

 

ملخص دراسات واصدارات مراكز الابحاث

أولويات استراتيجية معكوسة

        رحب المجلس الأميركي للسياسة الخارجية بالأولويات الجديدة في المشهد السياسي للشرق الأوسط، موضحاً “تقارب مصر والسعودية مع إسرائيل” على حساب “الهراء التقليدي بأن حل النزاع الاسرائيلي – الفلسطيني هو مفتاح السلام” في المنطقة. وأضاف أن التحديات المشتركة للدول الثلاث تطورت لتواجه “ايران والقوى الإسلامية المتطرفة مثل مجموعة الدولة الإسلامية وتنظيم الإخوان المسلمين .. ودفعتها لظهور مسؤوليها علناً.” وأردف أن إحساس “الاسرائيليين” بالاطمئنان للتحالف الجديد “.. دفع اللجنة المركزية لحزب الليكود لتأييد قرار بالاجماع لضم مستعمرات الضفة الغربية ..”

http://www.afpc.org/publication_listings/viewArticle/3721

سياسة ترامب الخارجية

        القى معهد المشروع الأميركي ظلالاً من الشك على مزاعم الإدارة الأميركية، وهي تدخل عامها الثاني، بأن لديها استراتيجية واضحة المعالم عقب الإعلان عن “الإستراتيجية الأمنية الوطنية،” رغم إشادته بدور مستشار الأمن القومي هيربرت ماكماستر في “صياغة بديعة” للوثيقة. وأشار المعهد إلى عنصر مشترك لأطراف المنتقدين للوثيقة بأنها “.. لا تعكس أراء الرئيس في السياسة الخارجية؛ ومن المثير للاهتمام موافقة بعض مؤيدي ترامب على ذلك لخشيتهم من النفوذ الطاغي لزمرة “الدولة العميقة” على الرئيس.”

http://www.aei.org/publication/the-signal-and-the-noise-trumps-foreign-policy-in-year-two/

        إندحار داعش من العراق وما يترتب عليه كان محور إهتمام مركز الدراسات الإستراتيجية والدولية مشيراً إلى “بداية استيعاب الولايات المتحدة وحلفائها للأبعاد المدنية (الخدمات) المطلوب توفيرها لنظم فاشلة نتيجة الحروب في أفغانستان والعراق وليبيا والصومال والسودان وسوريا واليمن.” وأوضح أن من أبرز المهام “بعد إنجاز الانتصار بالبعد العسكري ينبغي أن تشمل تحقيق مساومات مؤقتة الطابع بين الفصائل الكبرى التي تتقاسم الدولة .. لا سيما وأن التهديدات الأمنية الماثلة هي نتيجة الإنقسامات العميقة في داخل بنية الدولة؛ والفشل المزمن في معالجة الاحتياجات الإقتصادية والأمنية والإجتماعية للسكان.”

https://www.csis.org/analysis/iraq-after-isis-other-half-victory/?block4

عُمان في استهداف ترامب

        لفت معهد واشنطن لسياسات الشرق الأدنى الأنظار لما تنوي عليه إدارة الرئيس ترامب تطبيقه لتقييد مساحة المناورة أمام الدولة العمانية والضغط عليها للابتعاد عن إيران “لما يمثله السلطان قابوس من مؤشر لقياس تحول موازين القوى في الإقليم؛ فضلاً عن دوره كحليف هام للولايات المتحدة.” وأوضح أن الخطاب السياسي المتشدد للرئيس ترامب نحو إيران “واحتضانه لولي العهد السعودي محمد بن سلمان إنما يغامر بدفع عُمان الى مرمى الاستهداف في ظل تصاعد أجواء العداء بالوكالة.”

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/will-the-trump-administration-force-oman-to-choose-sides

المملكة السعودية

        أشار معهد واشنطن لسياسات الشرق الأدنى إلى التحولات الجارية في سياسة الرياض “لمكافحة الإرهاب والتي لم تكن محطة إعجاب في السابق؛ أضحت اليوم شريك متعاون لمكافحة تمويل الإرهاب وهي التي كانت مصدر تمويل هائل من مصادر خاصة لمجموعات إرهابية.” وأوضح أن الرياض شنت “حملة قوية لنزع الشرعية عن الفكر الديني المتطرف، وكذلك لاعتراف صريح للمملكة بأنها كانت جزءاً من معضلة الإرهاب نفسها.” وأعرب المعهد عن أمله باستمرار الرياض المضي في نهجها الجديد وإقرارها بأن ذلك “نتيجة تحولات في المفاهيم حول مصالحها.”

http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/is-saudi-arabias-counterterrorism-approach-shifting

إيران

        اعتبرت مؤسسة هاريتاج ان هاجس إيران الأكبر “ليس في معسكر اعدائها: الولايات المتحدة واسرائيل والسعودية .. بل الثورة المضادة لتحرير (إيران) من الثورة الإسلامية ..” مشيرة إلى التقرير السنوي لوزارة الخارجية الأميركية حول حقوق الإنسان وما يتضمنه من إدانة لطهران “للقيود الصارمة المفروضة على الحريات المدنية .. وتوثيق للاضطهاد والعنف والاختطاف والاعتقالات التعسفية التي تجري بدوافع سياسية.” وشدد على أن الانتخابات الإيرانية “لا تجري بمناخات حرة .. فكل مرشح لمنصب رسمي هو من الموالين” للنظام.

http://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/us-must-condemn-iranian-regime-back-protesters

        دق معهد كارنيغي ناقوس الخطر من قدرات إيران شن “هجمات الكترونية (بغية) التجسس والتخريب والانتقام .. لا سيما وأن ما تم رصده من هجمات تتعلق بإيران جاءت فائقة التطور، وبالغة الكلفة، وما يترتب على ذلك من هجمات على شبكة الإنترنت.” وأوضح أن الحرب الباردة الأميركية – الإيرانية “انتقلت بسرعة الى الفضاء الإلكتروني، وكانت طهران إحدى أبرز الأهداف الفريدة ونشاطات التدمير الالكتروني من قبل الولايات المتحدة وحلفائها.” واضاف أنه في الفترة عينها اكتسبت طهران “مهارات متصاعدة (استطاعت) شن هجمات تجسس إلكترونية والإخلال بالنظام ضد مناوئيها في الداحل والخارج .. في إسرائيل والسعودية والولايات المتحدة.”

http://carnegieendowment.org/2018/01/04/iran-s-cyber-threat-espionage-sabotage-and-revenge-pub-75134

باكستان

        رحبت مؤسسة هاريتاج بقرار الرئيس ترامب “تعليق” مساعدة عسكرية لباكستان قيمتها 255 مليون دولار وأنها “خطوة في الاتجاه الصحيح ولوتأخرت عن موعدها .. في سياق العلاقة الأميركية الباكستانية المرتبكة بشدة.” وانتقدت بشدة المسار السابق للسياسة “الأميركية الحمقاء التي وفرت بموجبها أكثر من 33 مليار دولار كمساعدات عبر 15 عاما، ولم نحصد من ورائها سوى الرياء والخداع، واعتبار قادتنا حمقى.” وشددت على أن الرئيس ترامب أوضح دوافعه لتلك الخطوة نظراً لقيام “باكستان بتوفير ملاذ آمن للإرهابيين الذي نتعقبهم في أفغانستان ..”

http://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/trump-just-cut-aid-pakistan-why-long-overdue-move-could-have-real-impact

 

 

التحليل

تطورات عسكرية وتقنية لافتة 
في المسرحين اليمني والسوري 

 

في مطلع العام الجديد تزاحمت أنباء استخدام تقنيات عسكرية جديدة في سوريا واليمن تحديداً مع التطورات المتسارعة في واشنطن وما تعده من تدابير ضد شبه الجزيرة الكورية، وتنبؤات العديد من المسؤولين بحرب نووية وشيكة، كما هدد الرئيس الاميركي بها بيونغ يانغ.

        سنلقي نظرة مركزة على تحول “الشرق الأوسط” الى ساحة تجارب لتقنية الأسلحة العسكرية المختلفة، نستعرض فيها تقنية طائرات الدرونز التي استخدمها المسلحون في سوريا ضد قاعدتي روسيا في سوريا، البحرية في طرطوس والجوية  في حيميم. وكذلك تسليط الضوء على دخول سلاح مضاد الطائرات في اليمن لأول مرة بفعالية ضد مقاتلات دول التحالف الذي تقوده السعودية، واستهداف اليمن للرياض بتقنية دقيقة للصواريخ الباليستية.

التقنية اليمنية

        افادت مصادر عسكرية مقربة من اليمن أن سلاح الجو وبطاريات الدفاع الجوي استطاعت إنتاج نظام صاروخي محلي التصنيع دخل الخدمة لحماية العاصمة صنعاء والمحافظات الشمالية الغربية من الغارا الجوية السعودية.

        كما أفادت الأنباء يوم 8 كانون الثاني / يناير الجاري اسقاط اليمن لطائرة سعودية مقاتلة من طراز إف-15 كانت تغير على صنعاء. وسبق ذلك النبأ بساعات قليلة إعلان سلاح الجو اليمني عن اسقاطه مقاتلة حربية أخرى متعددة المهام القتالية من طراز تورنيدو.

        وتثبّت العالم أجمع من صدقية سلاح الجو اليمني بنشره شريط فيديو للحظات اسقاطه طائرة الأف-15، مستخدماً تقنية أميركية “التطلع للأمام بالأشعة تحت الحمراء – فلير” المخصصة للطائرات المروحية.

        التقنية، كما تدل البيانات العسكرية، مزودة بجهاز استشعار ينتج صورة الجسم المستهدف بتتبعه الموجات الحرارية تحت الأشعة الحمراء المنبعثة، ويعتقد أن اليمن استطاع إدخال تعديلات عليها ونصبها على منصة إطلاق أرضية.

        الإجابة على التساؤول من أين حصل المقاتلون اليمنيون على تقنية (فلير) كانت محور تكهنات مستمرة، ألقت نشرة ذي درايف الأميركية المختصة بعض الضوء بالقول أن اليمن حصل على شحنة معدات عسكرية أميركية، تموز/يوليو 2009، وفق برنامج “المبيعات العسكرية الخارجية” الذي تشرف عليه البنتاغون. وأضافت أن تلك الصفقة شملت ثلاث منصات (فلير ألترا 8500) كجزء من حزمة معدات أخرى قيمتها  3.7 مليون دولار لتحديث اسراب الطائرات المروحية القديمة من طراز “هيوي 2.”

        بيد ان بعض الخبراء العسكريين ألقوا ظلالاً من الشك على ذلك التكهن بالقول أن نظم (فلير) المنصوبة على الطائرات المروحية هي أكبر حجماَ بكثير من تطويع استخدامها في ظروف سلاح أرض – جو؛ فضلاً عن ما يرافق التعديل من تحديات تقنية أخرى كربط جهاز التصوير الحراري بنظام كمبيوتر يستطيع تتبع مسار الجسم الطائر والتنبؤ بحركة طيرانه بسرعة عالية، وامتلاك قدرة المناورة لاطلاق صاروخ ضد الهدف.

        من ميزات نظام (فلير) قدرته على الرؤيا عبر سحب الدخان والضباب مما يتيح لأطقم الاخصائيين استخدامه لمهام الاستشعار والإنذار وارسال البيانات لنظم الدفاع الجوي للمديات القصيرة.

        يرجح الأخصائيون استخدام الجيش واللجان الشعبية اليمنية نظم دفاع جوي محمولة (مانباد)، كما جرى التثبت منه باسقاطهم طائرة درونز من طراز MQ-9 في شهر تشرين الثاني /اكتوبر الماضي. ومن غير المستبعد تمكن القوات اليمنية إدخال تعديلات على صواريخ جو – جو الموجهة بالأشعة تحت الحمراء، والتي كانت في حوزة الجيش اليمني؛ بيد أنها غير ملائمة لظروف ملاحقة اجسام طائرة تحلق على ارتفاعات عالية.

        ترسانة اليمن بها أسلحة ومعدات سوفيتية (روسية) الصنع، منها نظام (سام-2) لإطلاق صواريخ أرض – جو يتحكم بها جهاز رادار من طراز “فان سونغ فاير.” ترددت أنباء حديثاً عن استطاعة الجيش واللجان الشعبية إعادة تفعيل نظام واحد على الأقل من هذا الطراز واستخدام أسلحة موجهة بأشعة الراديو لاسقاط طائرة درونز أميركية مطلع عام 2016. بيد أنن لم يتم التثبت من صحة الأنباء.

        ما يعزز فرضية استخدام اليمن لبطاريات سام-2 هو قدرتها على الإفلات من الصواريخ والبالونات التمويهية التي تطلقها الطائرات الحربية للخداع، وكذلك استخدام قائد الطائرة المستهدفة للدفع النفاث الإضافي مما نتج عنه تموجات أوسع للأشعة تحت الحمراء من السابق كي يلحق بها صاروخ حراري.

        وربما أصاب طاقم المقاتلة الحربية حالة ارتباك وعدم القدرة على التمييز بما يتتبع مساره سواء أشعة رادار أو صاروخ موجه بالأشعة تحت الحمراء.

        حافظ اليمن على سرديته منذ بدء العدوان السعودي عليه بأن لديه مخزون من صواريخ سكود بنماذج متعددة، وما يرافقها من نظم توجيه متطورة تعزز دقة التصويب. الأمر الذي أتاح الفرصة للجيش واللجان الشعبية اطلاق صواريخ باليستية بنجاح على الرياض، والتي تبعد نحو 800 كلم عن الحدود اليمنية.

        يرجح الخبراء العسكريون نصب معدات بصرية متطورة على صواريح سكود اليمنية وظيفتها إجراء مقارنة بين الهدف المرئي خلال التحليق فوق تضاريس مختلفة مع الخريطة المعدة مسبقا في ذاكرة الكمبيوتر على متنها. الأجهزة البصرية تلك هي من إنتاج مؤسسة روسية “سرية” تعرف بـ معهد الأبحاث والعلوم المركزية.

مؤسسات التصنيع العسكري الروسية المختلفة تنشط في بلدان “الشرق الأوسط” لبيع منتوجاتها لدول متعددة من بينها سوريا وإيران؛ ابرزها عرض موسكو لمعدات توجيه بصرية تنصب على صواريخ سكود والتي باستطاعتها اختراق الجدار الإلكتروني الواقي الحامي لنظم الدفاعات الجوية الأميركية و”الاسرائيلية،” الباتريوت نموذجاً.

المدير العام لمعهد الأبحاث الروسي المذكور، فيكتور سوليونين، يشير إلى أن المؤسسة تنتج صواريخ سكود منذ عام 1968، ويؤكد أن معدات توجيه بصرية متطورة منصوبة على صواريخ سكود صممت على الانفصال في محطة التحليق الطرفية لمسار الصاروخ مما يوفر لها فرصة للإفلات من الصواريخ الدفاعية القادمة.

يشار إلى أن رحلة إعادة دخول الصاروخ على الهدف تبدأ على ارتفاع 100 كلم وفيها تنفصل المركبة الحاملة لرأس الصاروخ وتتجه نحو الهدف بمعدل سرعة عالية تصل إلى  4 كلم / ثانية.

وأضاف المدير العام أن نماذج سكود المطورة تتمتع بدقة إصابة أعلى من سابقاتها “بدائرة خطأ لا تتجاوز 10-20 متراً، بصرف النظر عن المدى النهائي للإطلاق؛” وهي مزودة بنظم توجيه بصرية باستطاعتها إجراء مسح ضوئي للتضاريس التي تقطعها ومقارنتها مع بيانات الهدف المخزنة خلال المرحلة النهائية، فضلاً عن قدرتها على تعديل مسار التحليق لتفادي الشباك الالكترونية. ويشير آخرون إلى أن تلك المعدات المتطورة لديها مناعة ضد التشويش الإلكتروني وتدابير أخرى مضادة.

سوريا

في تصريح نادر، أعلنت وزارة الدفاع الروسية عن إحباطها لهجوم ضخم شاركت فيه 13 طائرة مسيّرة – درونز “محملة بالمتفجرات” وُجهتها قاعدتي طرطوس البحرية وحميميم الجوية، 6 كانون2 / يناير الجاري؛ أقلعت من قرية (موزرة) في ريف إدلب الجنوبي الغربي. وأضافت أنه تزامن مع توقيت الهجوم رصد “تحليق طائرة إستطلاع أميركية من طراز بوينغ P-8 (بوسايدون) فوق البحر المتوسط لأكثر من أربع ساعات على إرتفاع 7000 متر بين قاعدتي طرطوس وحميميم.”

وسائل الدفاع الجوية الروسية أسقطت 7 طائرات مهاجمة ونجحت في التحكم الإلكتروني بالطائرات الست الأخرى وقادتها للهبوط في منطقة سيطرة القوات الروسية دون أضرار.

التزمت روسيا لغة الحذر من توجيه إتهامات محددة، واكتفت بالقول أن تقنية برمجة وحدات التحكم في طائرات الدرونز والقاء حمولتها من المتفجرات عبر نظام تحديد المواقع، GPS، يتطلب الحصول على شهادة هندسة من إحدى الدول المتقدمة تقنياً، ولا يمكن للعامة الحصول على الإحداثيات الدقيقة من بيانات الإستطلاع المتوفرة للأقمار الإصطناعية؛ كرد على نفي وزارة الدفاع الأميركية أي دور لها وبأن تلك المعدات “يمكن الحصول عليها من السوق،” وفق تصريح المتحدث باسم البنتاغون آدريان رانكين – غالاوي.

وشدد إعلان وزارة الدفاع الروسية على أن الحادث هو “الأول الذي يستخدم فيه الإرهابيون طائرات مقاتلة مسيّرة أقلعت من مسافة أبعد من 50 كلم، وحلقت بالإعتماد على بيانات الملاحة الجوية في الأقمار الإصطناعية .. وحمولتها من المتفجرات تحمل فتيل تفجير من صناعة أجنبية؛ مما يدل على تلقي الإرهابيين دعماً تقنياً متطوراً للقيام بالهجوم.”

الأخصائي الأميركي في الشؤون السورية، آرون لاند، من خلال موقعه في مؤسسة القرن الأميركية أعرب عن شكوكه في سيل التحركات النشطة بين صفوف المسلحين في تلك المنطقة بالقول “هناك عدد كبير من التحركات المشبوهة الجارية في إدلب – عملاء يتحركون بحرّية، ومجموعات تتعاون مع أخرى لا تتشاطر معها في الأهداف والوسائل.” وربما، أضاف موضحاٌ، جرى تمويه طائرات الدرونز بمظهر صناعة محلية أما حمولتها فكانت من أفضل ما أنتجته التقنية الحديثة؛ ومداها يقرب من 100 كلم.

وأضاف أن نوعية المتفجرات المستخدمة، RDX، لا يمكن لمقاتلين هواة تسلمها واستخدامها، وهي من صنع مؤسسات عسكرية محدودة في العالم، إحداها مصنع في اوكرانيا.”

وشاطره الرأي خبراء أميركيون في علم الطيران بالقول أن من بين المعدات المتطورة على متن الدرونز كانت أجهزة استشعار للضغط الجوي تساعد الطائرة على المضي إلى هدفها المحدد مسبقاً، وأجهزة جيروسكوب أو البوصلة الدوارة مما يضيف إلى الخطورة النوعية التي حملتها طائرات الدرونز، خاصة لميزة تحصينها ضد أجهزة التشويش الإلكتروني – أمر غير متوفر في “السوق المفتوحة.”

الناطق باسم البنتاغون رانكين – غالاوي صرح لوكالة “سبوتنيك” الروسية للأنباء أن تقنية مشابهة لطائرات الدرونز المعنية استخدمها تنظيم الدولة الإسلامية في سلسلة مهام قتالية. ما لم يوضحه الناطق هو كيف له أن يستنتج بيقين عن طبيعة المعدات والتقنية المحمولة في الهجوم على المنشآت الروسية! ربما هو تأكيد غير مباشر على دور طائرة الإستطلاع الأميركية، بوسايدون، في توفير الدعم والملاحة الجوية للسرب المهاجم.

ومن المرجح أيضاً أن الولايات المتحدة تمضي في “اختبار” الدفاعات الجوية الروسية لإختراقها والتغلب عليها، إن استطاعت، والإعداد لدعم هجوم أوسع لاحقاً.

Week of January 5th, 2018

Iranian Riots and the U.S. Policy

In the past few days, thousands of Iranians have marched against the government in Tehran. Trump has tweeted his support for the protesters, spoken out in their favor, and made clear that he’d love to see them topple the regime itself.

But, will the American response, be limited to the president’s tweets? Or, is this the beginning of a movement to destabilize Iran?

The first question to ask is if these demonstrations are different from ones that occurred in the past?

It’s obvious that these riots are quite different from the ones in 2009.

The first difference is geographic. Whereas the 2009 protests were mainly limited to Tehran, today’s phenomenon covers the whole country, from major cities to smaller towns and even rural villages. That’s significant, because many argue that opposition to the regime is restricted to the elites of the big cities, and that rural populations are pro-regime. It’s difficult to judge how many rural residents are protesting. That’s new, and it probably surprised both the government and the leaders of the 2009 protests.

Of concern for the regime is the fact that the Kurds are supporting the protests. The region’s Kurds are experienced fighters and have weapons.

The second difference is demographic. The 2009 demonstrators were Tehran’s upper middle class. Today’s masses are proletarians: workers, unemployed, failing farmers and the like. Notice that trade unionists are being arrested in Tehran, because the leadership fears they are the real organizers of the uprising, and because workers and the unemployed are not as easy to intimidate as professors and businessmen.

Then there is ideology. Most accounts insist that this whole thing started because people weren’t being paid enough and food prices were too high in addition of failed banks that usurps thousands from their savings. Obviously, protests of this sort are commonplace in many nations, but they do not normally set off a nation-wide conflagration. It takes a common interest like aiming at overthrowing the regime, to create nationwide protests.

Interestingly, it appears that the riot participants are from the same sectors of society that brought down the Shah nearly 40 years ago. The Washington Times said, “While the abortive Green Revolution eight years ago was driven mainly by the children of wealthy political elites in Tehran in the wake of a questionable election, the spontaneous protests this time around are unfolding across the country and driven by what analysts describe as “the working poor” — a segment of the population that has little to lose in the face of a crackdown by the regime.”

“The segment of the population that’s out protesting right now is much the same segment that carried out the revolution against the U.S.-backed Shah nearly 40 years ago,” said one of the sources, who spoke Tuesday on the condition of anonymity. “We’re talking about people who weathered the bullets of the Shah. We don’t know how these people are going to react if there’s a violent crackdown.”

According to reports, fires are being set by people who want an end to the Islamic Republic. Videos show them burning posters of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, religious centers, schools, and living quarters of the clergy.

There is also a concern about Iran’s foreign involvements. Rioters are begin heard to yell “Don’t talk to us about Gaza, talk about us.” Some of the protestors have lost relatives on foreign battlefields, and they don’t approve of the human and monetary costs of Iran’s interventions in places like Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, Yemen.

One of the problems with protests that are widespread, is that the elements that Iran’s leadership draws its security forces are involved in the protests. The security forces’ most loyal component is the Basij, whose ranks are largely drawn from the same neighborhoods as many of the protestors.

So, what we are seeing is a nation with widespread protests that are involving most of the demographic elements of Iran. In that case, even Iran’s security forces, which are large and powerful, may not be able to stem the unrest. Twitter on Tuesday night carried an alleged text message said to have been sent to retired security people, urging them to come fight for the regime. If that is true, it indicates a real concern in the corridors of power that they need more fighters – that this thing is too big for them as presently constituted.

 

Outside Forces

The Iranian leadership must also be concerned that this domestic unrest is happening as the opposition to the Iranian regime is coalescing outside their borders.

The biggest change is American President Trump. While Obama took a low profile approach during the 2009 unrest in Iran, Trump has made it clear that he considers the Iranian regime to be a danger – a danger that must be countered.

For the US, a regime change in Iran could solve many problems. A more moderate regime could curtail its missile and nuclear programs. It would also likely pull its forces from Syria and Iraq.

Another country hoping for a regime change in Iran is Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of Crown Prince Salman. While there has been a long term rivalry between the two nations for influence in the Middle East, the war in Yemen has made that less a rivalry and more an outright war.

For Saudi Arabia, a regime change would likely mean an end to the costly and indecisive war in Yemen. A more moderate Iran would also mean that Saudi Arabia would have more influence within the region.

The final important player in the anti-Iranian regime alliance is Israel. Israel and Iran have been enemies since the Iranian Revolution in 1979. A regime change would lessen the nuclear and missile threat. A more moderate Iranian leadership wouldn’t have the same influence in Lebanon and Syria.

It now appears that these three countries are prepared to be more aggressive towards Iran.   A report in a Kuwaiti newspaper says U.S. intelligence has given a green light to Israel to assassinate a top Iranian Revolutionary Guards general.

Qassem Soleimani has commanded the Revolutionary Guards unit known as the Quds Force for 20 years.  Soleimani has been in command of Iranian units in Syria, Lebanon, and Iraq. Israel wanted to kill Soleimani three years ago, but the Obama administration tipped off the Iranians, and the effort failed. But that is unlikely under Trump.

With Iran facing widespread unrest, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the US will probably ramp up their destabilization activities.

In addition to providing moral support via Twitter, Trump can tighten economic sanctions against Iran, if the protests lead to widespread suppression by Iranian security forces. The US can also counter the Iranian government’s tightening of internet access with more radio broadcasts directed towards Iran.

Trump can also cut international support for Iran by working with Russia for a Syrian peace that includes president Assad.

Russia and Iran are traditional rivals as they have both vied for influence in the Central Asia area. That rivalry has been set aside recently as both nations have supported Syria and president Assad.

The report that Israel wants to assassinate one of the heads of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard indicates that Israel is probably already involved in destabilizing Iran. It seems the 3 countries think they need to weaken Revolutionary Guards using assassination of prominent leaders like Sulaimani , the calculation is that such action will render the Guards unable to quickly or effectively respond to protestors. And, since the Revolutionary Guards are the backbone of the Iranian regime’s power, their nullification would seriously cripple the regime.

The final key player in bringing about a regime change in Iran is Saudi Arabia. Although the war in Yemen is draining Saudi Arabia.

Before the unrest, it was clear that Iran was committed to Yemen for the long term. In March Revolutionary Guards Brigadier General Masoud Jazayeri said that Tehran was willing to help Houthi rebels “in any way it can, and to any level necessary” against the Saudis.

These three nations (and others like the UAE) have a desire to overthrowing the current Iranian regime, if they want to commit the resources to it. Aside from the public face of opposition like economic sanctions and public statements, there are many things that Israel the US, and Saudi Arabia could do.

According to some American analysts who are in close contacts with US undercover operations, the first move is to strengthen the unrest inside Iran. This means money and arms. Obviously, America and Saudi Arabia have the money and there is a surplus of arms in the Middle East, thanks to the ongoing wars in Syria, Libya, and Iraq.

The next move is to coordinate the protests, so they become more effective. This includes targeting centers of power like police stations and government buildings.

As the unrest grows, the hope is that parts of the Iranian security forces defect to the protesters or just desert grows. This, in turn, puts more pressure on the regime.

If these actions are widespread enough, it will force the Iranian regime to pull forces out of countries like Syria and Iraq in order to contain the unrest.

At this point, the Iranian military becomes important. Since the Revolutionary Guards are expected to remain loyal to the current government (minus some defections), it will be up to the military leadership to step in to “protect the nation and its citizens.”

Although the regime of Iran seems secure now, the hope is a concerted push by the protesters, backed by several outside forces could create a continuous crisis that lead to crippling the regime and open the door for drastic changes.

التقرير الأسبوعي 01-05-2018

ايران في عين العاصفة الأميركية 

عداء تاريخي ورغبة جامحة بالإنتقام

         لم يخفِ الرئيس ترامب حقيقة موقفه داعماً ومؤيداً للمظاهرات التي اجتاحت ايران في الساعات الأخيرة لأفول العام الماضي وبزوغ العام الجديد، ولم يكترث كالعادة بمجانبة الصواب في ملامسة الأسباب الحقيقية على خلفية تراجع الأوضاع الإقتصادية بقوله مغرداً “.. لقد اتخذ الناس موقفاً حكيماً من أن أموالهم تسرق وتبذر لدعم الإرهاب .. ويبدو أنهم لم يحتملوا ذلك.” رافقها تصريح لوزارة الخارجية الأميركية بالقاء المسؤولية على كاهل القادة الإيرانيين الذين “حولوا البلاد من دولة ثرية .. إلى دولة منهكة اقتصاديا ..”

         سنحاول باختصار تسليط الضوء على ما تحتله إيران من موقع متقدم في استهدافات الإستراتيجية الأميركية، ومساعي واشنطن المتواصلة لتقويض نظام الحكم واسترداد ما فقدته من نفوذ منذ سقوط الشاه – واحتضانها لنجله والدعوة لعودته برفقة قوى إيرانية معارضة أخرى تناصب طهران العداء، إلى جانب تحشيد “حلفائها” من دول الخليج لزعزعة الاستقرار الداخلي.

         بداية، ينبغي النظر الى سياسة واشنطن “بالحصار وفرضها عقوبات” مشددة على إيران، والمطالبة بالمزيد كلما سنحت الفرصة السياسية، كأحد أسباب الأزمة ولدورها بإعاقة إطلاق جهود التطور الإقتصادي وتحسين سبل المعيشة والاستثمار الداخلي؛ فضلاً عن نفوذ واشنطن لدى “حلفائها” الاوروبيين تحديداً وتحذيرهم بعدم الانفتاح على طهران – حتى بعد التوصل للإتفاق النووي.

         في تطور موازي، لفتت الناطق باسم الخارجية الأميركية، هذر ناويرت، (30 كانون أول / ديسمبر 2017) الأنظار الى شهادة قدمها وزير الخارجية ريكس تيلرسون أمام لجان الكونغرس في شهر حزيران محورها إيران بقوله أنه يدعم العناصر الموجودة داخل إيران والتي “ستقود نحو تغيير سلمي في الحكومة.”

         ربما التطور الأبرز في الآونة الأخيرة ما كشفته في تقريرها يومية وول ستريت جورنال، 4 كانون الثاني / يناير 2018، عن لقاء جمع مستشار الأمن القومي هيربرت ماكماستر بنظيره “الاسرائيلي،” مئير بن شاباط، في البيت الأبيض يوم 12 كانون الأول/ ديسمبر 2017، وقّعا فيه على “بروتوكول سري” لتنفيذ خطوات ملموسة ضد إيران “تترجم” الاستراتيجية الأميركية المناهضة لإيران التي أعلن عنها الرئيس ترامب يوم 13 تشرين الأول / اكتوبر 2017.

         يشار إلى أن ترامب حَصَرَ توجهه آنذاك نحو إيران في محطتين: الأولى تتلخص في الأمتناع عن التصديق على التزام إيران بتنفيذ تعهداتها المنصوص عليها في الإتفاق النووي – كما يقتضي القانون الأميركي؛ والثانية التوجه نحو إلغاء الإتفاق من جانب واحد. وذلك بخلاف تصريحات رئيس هيئة الأركان الأميركية جوزيف دانفورد حينئذ بأن “إيران لم تنتهك نصوص الإتفاق.”

سياسة “تغيير النظام” في إيران هي القاسم المشترك في سياسات واشنطن المتعاقبة الى جانب أبرز حلفائها الإقليميين “اسرائيل والسعودية؛” وقدمت دعماً إعلامياً لامحدوداً لشعارات المحتجين في “الحرية والديموقراطية وتحسين ظروف المعيشة وضد البطالة،” وإعلائها مجتمعة لقوى إيرانية معارضة متمثلة بنجل الشاه، علي رضا بهلوي، ومنظمة “مجاهدي خلق” التي ترعاها واشنطن وباريس بصورة علنية، ودفع مؤيديها للمواجهة خارج إطار الأحتجاج السلمي عله يدفع الطرف الرسمي لمواجهات عنفية تشكل أرضية تدخل مبررة من الأطراف الخارجية، كما شهدت سيناريوهات “الربيع العربي.”

“سياسة الولايات المتحدة ينبغي أن تتمحور حول تغيير النظام في إيران،” عبر عنه عضو حزب الشيوخ النافذ عن الحزب الجمهوري توم كوتن، وشاطره الرأي أقطاب اليمين بكافة تلاوينه السياسية. بل انضمت صحيفة واشنطن بوست “الليبرالية” إلى جوقة التأييد بافتتاحية عددها يوم الأول من كانون الثاني الجاري بالزعم أن “..الرئيس ترامب كان على حق لإعلان تأييده للمتظاهرين عبر تغريداته.”

ما يعزز الاستنتاجات السابقة أعلاه تعيين إدارة ترامب منتصف العام الماضي (مايكل دآندريا) تسلم وإدارة ملف إيران داخل وكالة الإستخبارات المركزية، كما أوضحه تقرير ليومية نيويورك تايمز، 2 حزيران / يونيو 2017، وتكليفه “بترجمة الموقف المتشدد (للإدارة) تجاه إيران” بخطوات وإجراءات ميدانية تزعزع استقرار وتماسك نظام الحكم في طهران.

بيد أن مهام (دآندريا) ليست الوحيدة في سلسلة سياسات أميركية “ترعاها وكالة الإستخبارات المركزية” ترمي للإطاحة بالنظام الإيراني، ربما ليس في المدى المنظور بل بتشديد الحصار الدولي عليه ورعاية الإحتجاجات الشعبية وإشغاله بقضاياه الداخلية حصراً. جدير بالذكر ايضاً ما صرح به مدير وكالة الإستخبارات المركزية الأميركية، مايك بومبيو، منتصف شهر تموز/يوليو 2017، بأنه استحدث مركز عمليات جديد في مقر الوكالة مهمته “تضييق الخناق” على إيران.

يشار إلى أن من “أبرز” نجاحات (دآندريا) كان إغتيال عماد مغنية “بالتعاون مع إسرائيل،” وإدارته برنامج إغتيالات الكفاءات العلمية الإيرانية، في عهد الرئيس السابق اوباما، قبل أن يوعز الأخير الى تجميد البرنامج خلال  المفاوضات على الملف النووي، وقتل “آلاف الجهاديين مع مدنيين في باكستان وأفغانستان (واليمن) بطائرات من دون طيار،” وفق توصيف الصحيفة المذكورة. كما شارك في اعتقال واستجواب وتعذيب نزلاء معتقل غوانتانامو.

من بين الإجراءات المتداولة داخل إدارة الرئيس ترامب عقب أفول زخم الاحتجاجات الشعبية المناهضة لطهران “إعداد سلسلة إضافية من العقوبات الاقتصادية، وإعادة تفعيل تلك التي رُفعت سابقاً ..” مما يعني الإطاحة بالاتفاق النووي، وفق مصادر اسبوعية ذي نيشن الأميركية، 4 كانون الثاني / يناير 2018.

 

لغة الأرقام تفند المزاعم

قيل الكثير حول المظاهرات التي اندلعت في خراسان، 28 ديسمبر، تمددت في اليوم التالي الى شمال وغرب البلاد، ورفعت شعارات في مشهد قالت عنها وسائل الإعلام الغربية انها رصدت أحدها في كرمنشاه، بالقرب من الحدود العراقية، يقول “الشعب يتسول، ورجل الدين يتصرف كإله.”

وتناقلت العديد من وسائل الإعلام الأميركية ما أكده سماحة السيد نصرالله في مقابلته الأخيرة مع قناة “الميادين” أن أكثر من 150 ألف عائلة مشهدية خسرت أموالها في مشروع (شانديز) السكني، وكذلك إعلان إفلاس عدة مصارف في ظروف وملابسات مشبوهة.

المرشح السابق للانتخابات الرئاسية عام 2017، إسحاق جهانغيري، الذي انسحب آنذاك لصالح الشيخ حسن روحاني، اتهم “المحافظين” بتنظيم الاحتجاجات بالوكالة – أي أركان الدولة المناهضة لواشنطن. جهانغيري كان أيضا من منظمي الثورة الملونة عام 2009، وكان عضواً في فريق حملة مير حسين موسوي الإنتخابية.

“حكومة الرئيس روحاني كانت تعوّل على مردود ايجابي كبير للإتفاق النووي،” كما أجمعت عليه دوائر صنع القرار الأميركي وآخرين “.. بدءأ باستثمارات فرنسية في قطاع الطاقة وعقد صفقة للطائرات المدنية مع شركة بوينغ الأميركية.”

الأسباب الإقتصادية الكامنة وراء التحركات الأخيرة أضحت محل إجماع خبراء السياسة والاقتصاد على نحو شامل. ونشير ادناه إلى بعض ما جاء في أبحاث استاذ مادة الاقتصاد في جامعة هارفارد، جواد صالحي إصفهاني، إيراني الأصل، ويعد مرجعاً للدراسات الرصينة.

بداية يشير إصفهاني الى التعويل الجمعي لمردود الإتفاق النووي على مجمل الاوضاع الاقتصادية بأنه “.. سينعكس بشكل ملموس على بيانات معدلات المعيشة،” والتي بدأ اعدادها في شهر آذار 2016.

ويضيف ان التوزيع الديموغرافي في عموم الدولة الايرانية يشير الى أن طهران يقطنها نحو 16% من مجموع سكان البلاد؛ والمدن الأخرى يقطنها نحو 58%، بينما سكان الريف تقدر اعدادهم بنحو 26%. اما مردود “ظاهرة الاتفاق النووي” الموعود فقد أسهم بارتفاع النمو الاقتصادي لنحو 11%، منذ توقيعه عام 2017 وإلى الآن. ويستدرك أن المستفيد الأكبر كان قطاع التجار في طهران تحديداً مما يفسر “عملياً” عدم إنضمام طهران للاحتجاجات كما كان عليه الأمر عام 2009.

وأردف أن معدلات الفقر شهدت “ارتفاعاً حاداً في السنة الأولى من عهد الرئيس روحاني ولا تزال،” استناداً الى المعايير المعتمدة: مستوى الفقر للفرد في طهران 7 دولارات يوميا؛ 5 دولارات في المناطق المدنية الأخرى؛ و 3.6 دولار في المناطق الريفية.

وشدد إصفهاني على أن معدلات الفقر العام في عموم إيران “متدنية إذ بلغت نسبتها 4.7%” لعامي 2016/2017. وأضاف معللاً “.. لا أستطيع استساغة تفسير البعض لأسباب الإحتجاجات الأخيرة بأنها تعود لارتفاع معدلات الفقر؛ بل لمعدلات بطالة وإخفاق تحقيق التوقعات الإقتصادية وليس لمعدلات فقر عالية.” (التشديد مضاف).

قوى “المعارضة المعتدلة” التي تدعم الإتفاق النووي، وتتخذ من واشنطن مقراً لها، سلطت سهام انتقاداتها على الرئيس ترامب الذي “.. لم نرى منه سوى العداء تجاه الشعب الإيراني منذ تسلمه ولايته الرئاسية.” ومع ذلك، أضافت، فإن الرئيس “ترامب أسهم في تأجيج مزيج متفجر من العوامل التي أنجبت الاحتجاجات في إيران.”

 

ماذا بعد

استهل نائب الرئيس الأميركي، مايك بينس، مطلع العام الجديد بتوجيه رسالة متلفزة يوم 3 كانون الثاني / يناير الجاري، شدد فيها على نزعة العداء الأميركية لإيران واتهامها بأنها “الدولة الرائدة في رعاية الإرهاب عالمياً .. ونريد أن يخرج شعب إيران من تحت (نير) نظام لا يزال يهدد العالم ويهدد بتطوير أسلحة نووية.”

وسبق ذلك التاريخ بأيام معدودة توجيه مذكرة جماعية من 22 من ضباط الاستخبارات السابقين الى الرئيس ترامب وإدارته يعربون فيها عن قلقهم من رفع الإدارة الأميركية منسوب العداء لإيران التي “لا تشكل تهديداً حتمياً” للولايات المتحدة.

ووجهت المجموعة المنضوية تحت لواء ضباط استخبارات مهنيين (يدعون) للتعقل نصيحة للرئيس ترامب بإعاد النظر في خطابه السياسي المستند إلى تصنيف إيران “في مقدمة الدول العالمية الراعية للإرهاب .. والذي نعتبره إدعاءاً خاطئاً وغير دقيق.”

كما حثت المذكرة الرئيس الأميركي “الاقتداء بتحذير الرئيس الأسبق جورج بوش الإبن قبل نحو 15 عاماً، عند نقطة انعطاف تاريخية مشابهة،”وإقراره لاحقاً في مذكراته محطات قرار بأنه لم يشعر بالاطمئنان لاتخاذ قرار “بتدمير منشآت نووية لدولة قالت الأجهزة الإستخباراتية الأميركية بأنها لا تملك برنامجاً فاعلاً للأسلحة النووية.”

 يشكل يوم الثالث عشر من الشهر الجاري تاريخاً مفصلياً فيما يتعلق بمصير الاتفاق النووي أميركيا، إذ من المقرر أن يتخذ الرئيس ترامب قراره بشأن “المصادقة من عدمها” وتحويل المسألة للكونغرس، وفق ضوابط القوانين الأميركية التي صيغت بعد التوقيع الدولي على الإتفاق. ومن المرجح أن يضغط أقطاب مناهضة الأتفاق بقوة على عدم المصادقة وحرمان إيران من استعادة ثرواتها المصادرة وتضييق حيز النمو الإقتصادي المنشود.

عودة لمقابلة نائب الرئيس بينس، 3 الشهر الجاري، أجاب بوضوح شديد حول “التوقعات المستقبلية” بأن ترامب لن يعيد التصديق على الاتفاق النووي (التشديد مضاف)، وسيتعين (عليه) إتخاذ قرار ما إذا كنا سنواصل تعليق العقوبات أم لا؛ مستدركاً أن “العقوبات تؤتي أكلها فيما يخص إيران؛ والإدارة ملتزمة التزاماً مطلقاً بمواصلة استخدام النفوذ الاقتصادي الكامل للولايات المتحدة والعقوبات الإقتصادية ضد ايران .. العقوبات القائمة اليوم تشجع شعب إيران على التحلي بالشجاعة” لمواصلة الاحتجاجات.

Week of December 22nd, 2017

Examining Yemen Carries Out Missile Strikes Against Saudi Arabia

The aggressive war waged by Saudi Arabia against Yemen took a new turn this week, when Yemenis launched a Burkan H-2 missile at the royal palace in Riyadh. According to reports, a Saudi Patriot Missile battery shot it down before it hit the palace.

This was not the first attack. Nor was it the first that came close to hitting its target – something very worrying to nations in the region since the typical Scud missile used in the region is notoriously inaccurate. On November 4, it was reported by Saudis that a Patriot missile intercepted an Iranian-manufactured Burkan H-2 missile as its reentry vehicle plunged toward the international airport outside Riyadh.

International reaction was varying. Though the missile was launched from Yemen, Saudi leaders called the attack an act of “aggression” by Iran. The US (who is militarily involved in Yemen) joined the Saudis by denouncing it. A human rights organization said the “indiscriminate” missile attack was “an apparent war crime.” But Iran denied that it was involved.

The missile attack signals that war of words between Saudi Arabia and Iran is escalating and more western observers are sounding alarms of what they are labeling a proxy war in Yemen that will become more intense.

But, the problem isn’t just limited to potential escalation. American foreign policy over the past 6 years encouraged what was to happen according to Saudi apologists who concluded that the Iranian leaders are benefitting since 2011 “Arab Spring revolts “and the U.S. military withdrawal from Iraq in December 2011 that created a regional power vacuum. To them, this encouraged Iranian involvement in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon.

They are claiming that “Arab Spring” chaos in Yemen presented Iran with a target of opportunity. In 2011 a revolt forced Yemen’s president Ali Abdullah Saleh to cede power in early 2012. Vice-president Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi replaced him. In 2014, Houthi fighters seized the capital, Sanaa. In 2015, they took over Yemen’s government. Hadi then went into exile in Saudi Arabia.

When Hadi went into exile, Saudi Arabia began its aggression and airstrikes on Yemen. In the meantime, the Houthi rebels have accused Hadi of treason and sentenced him to death in absentia.

Although the Houthi aren’t totally in line with the Iranian leadership, it is perceived by Saudi and their allies that Iran is providing the rebels with arms, intelligence, and expertise.

From the Saudi point of view, if the Houthis dominate Yemen, Iran will have a generally unpopulated and unguarded land frontier with Saudi Arabia that they can infiltrate to destabilize the House of Saud. With the aid of the U.S., the Saudis formed a coalition to support Hadi government under their control.

So far this criminal war on Yemen of more than 1000 days has killed some 9,000 Yemenis and injured 60,000. 18 million displaced people need food and medical assistance. This is an international catastrophe since Yemen’s total population is only 28.5 million.

Since the Saudis conduct indiscriminate air strikes on Yemenis inflicting enormous loss of innocent lives and destruction, the Houthis portray the missile attacks as legitimate retaliatory measures. The Saudis, however, are certain that the November 4th and December 19th missiles were fired with the help of Iran.

Iran denies the charge and others disagree with the Saudi analysis. Some say Hezbollah is responsible since they have considerable missile experience. There are also claims that the missiles came from North Korea, which has shipped Scud type missiles to Yemen in the past.

In order to determine the source of the missiles that struck Saudi Arabia, we need to look at what is known about Hezbollah, Iran, and North Korea’s missile technology. Then we need to look at the wreckage, which has been photographed by private citizens in Riyadh and official presentations by both the Saudis and Americans.

Yemen’s Missile Origins

It appears that the missiles are Burkan H-2 missiles, which are a variation of the Scud liquid fueled missile originally designed by the Soviets in the 1950s.

Of the three accused groups – Hezbollah, Iran, and North Korea – only two – North Korea and Iran – have the capability to build a Scud type missile. Hezbollah has built smaller solid fuel missiles and reportedly have received Scud variant missiles from Syria. However, the ability to master the variety of skills and technology to build a liquid fueled missile with a range of hundreds of miles is not known or yet reported capabilities of Hezbollah.

This leaves Iran and North Korea as possible sources of the Burkan H-2. Both have the industrial capability and expertise. In addition, they have collaborated with each other in order to improve their missile capability.

This week, the US made it clear that they considered the missiles that hit Saudi Arabia came from Iran. The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said the attack on the Riyadh bore “all the hallmarks of previous attacks using Iranian-provided weapons.”

The most critical piece of evidence was that the missile didn’t have external fins. Fins give the missile stability, but add weight and increase drag. Removing the fins, however, does increase the range. However, there is only one short range, liquid fueled ballistic missile that doesn’t have external fins, that relies totally on graphite vanes located in the exhaust plume, and that is the Iranian Qiam missile (which is the basis of the Burkan missile).

Removing the external fins isn’t easy because it requires a more sophisticated guidance technology. Consequently, it isn’t something that either the North Koreans or the Yemenis are perceived to do at this point.

Additional proof was claims that the Iranian markings found on structural components and engine parts. In addition, the circuit boards in the guidance system were also claimed to be of Iranian origin.

Although an analysis of the wreckage showed that it is closely related to the Scud missile type, Iran has made some changes in order to increase range. The missile has more aluminum, which makes it lighter. Close-ups of the engine wreckage show that the engine itself is a Scud variant, but of lower quality.

Another quality issue was some of the welding. While some of the welding was professional and probably done at the plant manufacturing the missile, other weld seams were very amateurish. These poor welds are more likely to fail in flight.

Experts think the reason for the amateurish welds was to reassemble the missile after being smuggled through the Saudi blockade. Since the missile is less than a meter in diameter, disassembling the missile would make it easy to hide in other shipments.

There were other differences in addition to the lack of external fins. There is a reentry vehicle that can detach from the missile during reentry. There is also a more sophisticated guidance system than that found in the original Scud Missile.

The original Scud guidance system was an analog device based on gyros and clockwork that determined the engine burn time and angle of flight. The gyros would detect any deviation and send electrical signals to the graphite vanes to correct the course. This system would also be immune to damage from a nearby nuclear blast, which would damage electronic systems.

The Burkan missile’s guidance system is electronic and more accurate. And, since there appear to be antennae attached on the outside of the missile, it appears to have a manual override. This is why the missile has a more accurate CEP (circle error probability) of half a kilometer.

The other notable modification is a reentry vehicle with a blunt nose that slows the speed of reentry. It shifts the missile balance backwards, which improves flight stability and lessens the need for external fins. However, by slowing the reentry vehicle it makes interception easier and makes the vehicle more susceptible to wind drift.

Are Burkan Missiles Invulnerable to Patriot Missiles?

Based on a report by the New York Times, there has been some question if the Saudi Patriot missile battery actually intercepted and destroyed the Yemeni missile.

A forensic analysis of photos and video of the Burkan missile wreckage displayed by the US indicates that it was probably hit by a Patriot missile. The wreckage showed considerable scorching and damage just above the engine, which may be the damage from the Patriot missile.

Whether the Patriot hit the missile before the reentry vehicle separated is classified.   However, forensic evidence from the wreckage indicates that the reentry vehicle broke up – either from the Patriot missile hit or dynamic forces of reentry.

There were three types of damage to the reentry vehicle that indicates it broke up into two or three parts before hitting the ground.

The rear part of the re-entry vehicle, where the explosives were placed, show scorching and fragmentation indicative of an explosion. This tends to confirm reports of an explosion in Riyadh. However, it doesn’t indicate if the warhead properly exploded in or around the airport, or the amount of damage it caused.

The middle part of the reentry vehicle has broken up, but shows no sign of scorching. Some parts show bending, which indicates that it may have been ripped apart by dynamic forces during reentry. Since there is no scorching, this part of the reentry vehicle probably was torn away from the lower part of the reentry vehicle before the explosion took place.

Fragments from the tip of the reentry vehicle show signs of melting. This indicates that the reentry vehicle hit the atmosphere at a higher speed than it was designed for. The melting would have weakened the vehicle structure and radically changed the aerodynamics. This, in turn, would have caused the vehicle to start to tumble and tear apart.

Given the wreckage, it is not conclusive that a Patriot missile did hit the Burkan missile. Without the confidential radar data, we don’t know if the hit was before or after the reentry vehicle had separated.   However, the reentry vehicle did separate from the rest of the missile and then broke apart from poor design, dynamic forces, or a patriot missile hit. No matter what, it was enough to prevent a completely successful hit. It is highly possible that Yemenis were able to locally master manufacturing and modifying Scud missiles to be able to lunch such missiles.

Needless to say, much that is written about the missile attack depends on the preconceived notions of the writers. Those who insist that anti-missile systems are relatively worthless like those who wrote the New York Times piece will insist that these attacks prove that anti-missile systems are incapable of reliably hitting missiles.

On the other hand, advocates of anti-missile systems like the Patriot will look at the interception rate and insist that they are worthwhile.

But, missiles and anti-missile systems aside, how will they impact this war that doesn’t seem to have any chance of ending?

What Next?

Does Saudi Arabia have the power to continue this war on Yemen? Not by itself. It has the assets as long as the US continues to sell weapons to it. Its anti-Iran coalition could extend the war beyond Yemen, but it would be an indecisive war. Without the participation of U.S. forces, or toppling the Iranian regime by military means which is an adventure no one dares to pursue and a mission impossible.

This raises the possibility that Trump may authorize a secret campaign aiming to destabilize the Iranian regime and likely will be doomed to fail.

Of course, the US is already involved in Yemen. The Defense Department on Wednesday acknowledged for the first time “multiple ground operations” in Yemen, while noting that ISIS has doubled in size in the war-torn country.

“U.S. forces have conducted multiple ground operations and more than 120 strikes in 2017,” said a statement from the U.S. Central Command in Tampa, Florida.

The goal is to “disrupt the ability of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula and ISIS-Yemen to use ungoverned spaces in Yemen as a hub for terrorist recruiting, training and base of operations to export terror worldwide.”

But, there is another problem in the strategy to pushback against Iran. Iran remains capable to obtaining nuclear weapons if it wishes or pushed in that direction, and the timing isn’t if, but when.

The Saudis have ballistic missiles and the cash to buy or build nukes. Moreover, they now have the support of a new American administration that says it won’t permit a nuclear armed Iran.

But, the current Saudi air war against Yemen, or the Houthi missile attacks against the Saudis will not win this war. As we have mentioned in the past, history shows that air wars without ground soldiers – from the Battle of Britain to the American air war against ISIS – will not succeed.

With the naval blockade, the Houthi will not be able to bring in whole Burkan missiles from Iran if they wish, which means the possibility of resorting to smuggling in the parts and welding them together.

Saudi Arabia and its allies can’t win the war with air strikes and a limited military presence in Yemen. They have to commit to a ground war and the military forces necessary to wage such an operation.

In the end, the decision will be made in Riyadh. Crown Prince Salman will have to decide how long he can continue tis risky adventure to challenge Iran instead of seeking mutual respect and understanding. If it is the prime foreign policy objective of Saudi Arabia, we can expect the conflict to continue and escalate.

التقرير الأسبوعي 12-22-2017

صواريخ اليمن تطيح بكفاءة الباتريوت
واتهام إيران لتغطية الفشل

تقنية أميركية مبالغ بها

         شهد تصعيد الخطاب السياسي الأميركي ضد كوريا الشمالية مؤخراً بروز بعض الأصوات العسكرية الأميركية وخبراء في تقنية الصواريخ تحذر من خطأ الاعتماد على بطاريات الدفاع الجوي – صواريخ الباتريوت لتشكيل مظلة حماية فوق الاراضي الأميركية  في حال نشوب حرب ترد فيها بيونغ يانغ باستهداف المدن الأميركية بصواريخ باليستية عابرة للقارات، بعد نجاح تجاربها عليها.

         التحذير الأميركي من فرط الإعتماد على تقنية مليئة بالعيوب زادت وتيرته بعد تعرض الرياض لصاروخ باليستي مصدره اليمن، 4 كانون أول / ديسمبر الجاري، استهدف مطار “الملك خالد” الدولي في الرياض، تلاه صاروخ ثاني “متطور” يوم 19 ديسمبر استهدف قصر اليمامة في الرياض أيضاً.

         من أحدث التحذيرات ما نشرته اسبوعية ناشيونال انترست National Interest ، يوم 6 ديسمبر، متسائلة عما ستؤول إليه الأوضاع  “لو فشلت صواريخ الباتريوت ربما” في توفير الحماية لأي مواجهة محتملة “ودخول الولايات المتحدة حرباً إستناداً الى ثقة زائفة بأن لديها وقاية كافية لإعتراض وإسقاط الصواريخ المعادية، بينما حقيقة ما يتوفر لديها لا يعدو غربالاً.”

         وشاطرتها النتيجة أيضاً المجلة العلمية بوبيولار ميكانيكس Popular Mechanics، 4 ديسمبر، بالتشكيك في الرواية الرسمية السعودية المتداولة استناداً الى بياناتها العلمية المتوفرة قائلة  “.. ربما لم يتم إعتراض الهجوم الصاروخي الأخير بواسطة بطاريات الصواريخ أميركية الصنع.”

         توسعت رقعة التحذيرات لتشمل كبريات الصحف الأميركية، إذ أجرت يومية نيويورك تايمز، 4 ديسمبر، نتائج تحقيق استمر زهاء شهر من الزمن لتقييم أداء بطاريات الباتريوت بعد الصاروخ اليمني الثاني مؤكدة أن “.. صواريخ الاعتراض الخمسة فشلت في مهمتها خلال الهجوم على (مطار) الرياض.” أما في الهجوم الأول، في شهر تشرين الثاني / نوفمبر، فقد أطلقت السعودية سبعة صواريخ لاصطياده، وكانت النتيجة مشابهة بنجاح الصاروخ النفاذ من بطاريات الدفاع الصاروخي.

         ودقت الصحيفة ناقوس الخطر لدى الحلفاء في دول الناتو وآخرين لما سيترتب عليه بعد التيقن من فشل التقنية الأميركية “وقلق نحو 14 دولة حليفة لواشنطن وثِقَت بالصواريخ الأميركية لمواجهة تهديدات متعددة من كوريا الشمالية وروسيا؛” خاصة وأن معدل اطلاق الباتريوت يصل لخمسة صواريخ للتصدي لكل صاروخ باليستي وما تعنيه الكلفة المالية العالية لكل محاولة.

         أشد الإدانات التقنية للباتريوت جاءت على لسان رئيس فريق التحقيق المكون من خبراء في علم الصواريخ، جيفري لويس، مفنداً كافة المزاعم الرسمية والدعائية بقوله “الحكومات الرسمية تكذب حول فعالية تلك النظم؛ أو أنها غير مطلعة على كافة المعلومات .. وهذا ينبغي أن يثير قلقاً بالغاً لدينا.”

         اما في سياق تقييم الفريق لصاروخ بركان – 2 إتش، مستهدفاً مطار الرياض، فقد أوضح (لويس) استناداً الى البيانات التقنية المتوفرة وطبيعة الشظايا المتناثرة في المكان أن الصاروخ  “قد يكون استطاع  تضليل بطاريات الصواريخ السعودية من طراز (باك-3) بالكامل .. أظهرت صور الشظايا المأخوذة على بعد 12 ميلاً عن نقطة الاصطدام أنها تعود لجسم الصاروخ ومحركه.” أما مصير الرأس الحربي فيعتقد الخبراء، وفق الصحيفة، أنه “مضى في طريقه للهدف دون عوائق .. محلقاً فوق مدى صواريخ الاعتراض، وانفجر في نهاية مدرج المطار.”

         يشار إلى أن السعودية اشترت (600) صاروخ خاص ببطاريات الباتريوت (باك-3) عام 2015، معدل كلفة الصاروخ الواحد نحو 6 مليون دولار.

 فشل: “الحق على .. إيران”

         حافظت السردية الرسمية الأميركية، وملحقاتها في المنطقة، على التحذير من أن ايران هي المستفيد الأول من أحداث “الربيع العربي .. وملئها فراغ القوة الإقليمية،” في اعقاب اضطرار الولايات المتحدة للانسحاب جزئياً من العراق، ديسمبر 2011. 

         بعد مرور 1،000 يوم على العدوان السعودي تكبد اليمن مقتل ما يربو على 9،000  فرد وجرح نحو 60،000  وتشريد 18 مليون من مواطنيه، فضلاً عن خطر المجاعة ووباء الكوليرا الذي يتعرض له جراء الحصار التام لمطاراته وموانئه.

احتفل اليمنيون بصمودهم في تلك المناسبة على طريقتهم الخاصة بإطلاق صاروخ باليستي “بركان – 2 إتش” على قصر اليمامة في الرياض، رافقه تصريحات ترسي معادلات ميدانية جديدة: صنعاء مقابل الرياض وأبو ظبي؛ القصر الجمهوري مقابل القصور الملكية ..الخ.

بطاريات الدفاع الجوي السعودي، الباتريوت، أطلقت صواريخها لإعتراض واسقاط الصاروخ اليمني، والنتيجة لم تكن أفضل من السابق بعد الفشل المتكرر وتعرية التقنية وديمومة الإعتماد على أميركا. وسارعت كل من الرياض وواشنطن باتهام طهران في شن “عدوان” على السعودية دون التقيد بابراز الدلائل. 

وكررت واشنطن مسرحية وزير الخارجية الأسبق كولين باول من على منبر الأمم المتحدة، بعرض مندوبتها الدائمة نيكي هايلي  صوراً كبيرة لجسم صاروخ قالت أنه “يحمل كافة بصمات” الصواريخ الباليستية المصنعه في إيران.

حصيلة مزاعم المندوبة الأميركية، وفق تقرير صحيفة نيويورك تايمز، 14 ديسمبر، أنها أفلحت في إقناع السعودية، أما “وسائل الإعلام الأميركية أو الحكومات الأوروبية فلم تشتري بضاعتها .. وأخفقت في ابراز الدلائل.”

في ظل غياب البيانات الموثقة عن التداول العام حول مدى فعالية “فخر الصناعة الأميركية” سيستمر الجدل والادعاء والادعاء المضاد، بيد أن ذلك لا يحجب من صدقية تقارير الخبراء الأميركيين تحديداً، أو تعزيز الإتهامات بشأن مصدر تصنيع الصواريخ اليمنية. التيقن الحقيقي يستدعي الاطلاع على بيانات تقنية جلها مصنف سري في ترسانات كوريا الشمالية وايران وحزب الله؛ والاطلاع أيضاً على بيانات حطام الصاروخ بحريّة لن تسمح بها الرياض.

الاتهام الأميركي لإيران يستند بشكل رئيسي على خلو الصاروخ من “زعانف توجيه خارجية،” التي تتحكم بتوازن الجسم أثناء التحليق. غياب الزعانف يدل على زيادة مدى التحليق، في علم الصواريخ. 

الاتهامات المزدوجة، أميركياً وسعودياً، ذهبت أيضاً لتسليط الضوء على “حزب الله،” كمصدر مورد للصاروخ اليمني استناداً الى ترسانته المعلنة من عدة أنواع من الصواريخ.

تتضمن الترسانة الصاروخية الحالية لإيران صاروخ باليستي أرض – أرض يعمل بالوقود السائل يخلو من الزعانف / الجنيحات، من طراز “قيام،” يعتقد أنه نسخة معدلة عن صاروخ “سكود – سي،” مصنع محلياً ومزود بمنظومة توجيه تعتمد (الدفع الموجه) التي تتيح للصاروخ الإنطلاق  “وتوجيهه من الدافع.” 

من أهم خصائص تلك التقنية “دقة التصويب،” إذ باستطاعته تصحيح مساره وفق البيانات المخزنة؛ ونزع الزعانف يعني “تخفيض بصمة الصاروخ الألكترونية وزيادة صعوبة رصده” من قبل وسائل الدفاعات؛ وتوفر قدرة أفضل على المناورة اثناء التحليق والتغلب على محاولات تعقبه – وفق بيانات مركز الدراسات الاستراتيجية والدولية في واشنطن.

ترسانة اليمن الصاروخية

مخزون الدولة والجيش اليمني من الصواريخ ليس وليد اليوم، بل جرى إمدادها بنماذج متعددة من الصاروخ الروسي (سكود) الذي يعمل بالوقود السائل، وادخلت عليه تعديلات عدة منذ دخوله الخدمة في جيوش الإتحاد السوفياتي في عقد الخمسينيات من القرن الماضي.

الصاروخ اليمني “المتطور،” بركان – 2 إتش، هو نموذج معدل عن الأصل السوفياتي (سكود)، والذي تعتمده أيضاً كوريا الشمالية وإيران وسوريا، ودول عربية أخرى منها مصر والجزائر والسودان وليبيا.

يتصدر (جوزيف سيرينسيوني) قائمة الخبراء الأميركيين في علم الصواريخ، والذي تنقل عنه الأدبيات الرصينة. في شأن الصواريخ اليمنية قال أنها استفادت من تجربة العراق عام 1991 اذ تغلب مهندسوه على زيادة المدى بتخفيف وزن الرأس الحربي، وهذا يؤشر “الى ما توصل إليه المهندسون اليمنيون في إنتاج “بركان – 2،” وتخطى مداه 600 كلم.” وأضاف أن التعديل العراقي ومن ثم اليمني على تقنية الصاروخ سكود أدى “لانتاج، بطريق الصدفة، جسم يحلق بسرعات عالية أثناء دخوله الغلاف الجوي تحميه شبكة من الشرك والخداع، من المستحيل اصطياده رغم عدم دقة إصابته.”

كما أدخل اليمن صواريخ من صناعة كوريا الشمالية من طراز “هواسونغ – 5 و 6” الى ترسانته ولديه “تجربة تمتد على ثلاثة عقود في التعامل مع تقنية الصواريخ وأنتج كفاءات تقنية لإدخال تعديلات عليها عند الحاجة،” وفق شهادة الخبير الأميركي سيرينسيوني.

يتضح من سلسلة تجارب أجرتها كوريا الشمالية وإيران امتلاكهما تقنية التصنيع بمواصفات حربية عالية باستخدام الوقود السائل، بمديات متعددة تصل لما ينوف عن 1000 كلم أفقي؛ وتعاونهما المشترك في هذا الشأن خرج للعلن منذ أمد. أما إتهام حزب الله بأنه يملك تلك التقنية لا تسنده الحقائق المتداولة؛ وما لديه صواريخ تعمل بالوقود الصلب وربما استطاع الحصول على بضع نماذج من صواريخ سكود من سوريا.

فيما يخص الاتهام الأميركي بأن “بركان – 2 إتش” يحمل بصمات صناعة إيرانية بما فيها لوحات التحكم الإلكترونية داخل نظام التوجيه فقد حصد سخرية عالية من قبل مصادر أميركية متعددة، في ظل عدم توفير صاحب الإتهام لمستندات علمية موثقة.

أما زيادة مدى الصواريخ المتوفرة في الترسانة الإيرانية فقد أدخلت طهران سلسلة تعديلات منها دخول عنصر الألمنيوم لخفته في صناعة جسم الصواريخ. الصواريخ الإيرانية تتضمن أجهزة توجيه رقمية متطورة، بينما النماذج الأولى لصواريخ سكود استندت إلى التقنية التناظرية التي من أبرز خصائصها عدم تأثرها بالتشويش الإلكتروني.

ومن بين التعديلات الإيرانية أيضاً تصميم رأس غير حاد لجسم الصاروخ في طريق عودته للغلاف الجوي، مما سيبطيء سرعته ويتحمل جزئه الخلفي تعديل توازنه ويعزز استقراره أثناء التحليق ويخفف الإعتماد على زعانف خارجية لضبط المسار والتوجيه. أما مخاطر تلك التقنية المعتمدة فإنها تعرض الجسم للرصد والإعتراض فضلاً عن تغلب قوانين الفيزياء الفضائية  وانجرافه بفعل الرياح.

من البيانات المتوفرة حول صاروخ بركان-2 اليمني أن فرق التصميم نجحت في التغلب على “ضغوط” الديناميكا  في رحلة مداها نحو 1،000 كلم، ومن ثم ينفصل الى قطعتين: الأنبوب الخلفي، الذي يدفع الصاروخ، والرأس الحربي.

أشار الخبراء الأميركيون الى احتواء جسم الصاروخ اليمني على أكثر من طريقة لحام في أجزائه، بعضها تم بصناعة بدائية، بينما أجزاء أخرى خضعت لمواصفات تصنيع تدل على أنها تمت في منشأة صناعية. أما “التفاوت” بينهما فيعزوه اولئك إلى أن الصاروخ تم تفكيكه لتسهيل إمكانية تهريبه عبر الحصار السعودي، ومن ثم تم إعادة تركيبه واستخدام الأسلوب البدائي في العملية نتيجة عدم توفر معدات تصنيع متطورة داخل اليمن.

من بين النتائج التي توصلت إليها فرق التحقيق الأميركية، رغم أن جلها قيد التصنيف السري، أن حطام الصاروخ يشير إلى انشطار الجسم في طريق عودته للغلاف الجوي، دون الإشارة بيقين مقنع عن السبب إن كان بفعل ارتطامه بصاروخ باتريوت أم بفعل قوانين القوة الديناميكية.

كما أن الجزء الحامل المعلب من الصاروخ الذي احتوى على المواد المتفجرة بدت عليه آثار احتراق وتشظت بفعل  قد يشير الى حدوث انفجار –  مما يعزز الاستنتاج الأولي بأن الإنفجار سقط  في الرياض دون تحديد الموقع بالقرب أو داخل محيط المطار.

أما حال القسم الأوسط من الصاروخ فلم يستدل على تعرضه لآثار احتراق، بل لوحظ بعض الانحناءات مما يدل على أنه قد تعرض للانشطار بفعل قوانين القوة الديناميكية وربما انفصاله عن الجزء الخلفي قبل تعرضه للانفجار.

الرأس غير المدبب للصاروخ كان عليه آثار انصهار مما يدل على دخوله الغلاف الجوي للأرض بسرعة عالية تفوق معدل ما مسموح به وفق التصاميم. انصهار المعدن يؤثر على صلابة الجسم وقدرته على تحمل المتغيرات في علم الديناميكيا الهوائية؛ وربما كان السبب في تعثر الجسم وتمزقه.

تداعيات الباتريوت

يسود قلق كبير بين صفوف القيادة العسكرية الأميركية والأخصائيين على السواء من تبخر الثقة بمظلة الحماية الإلكترونية التي يعدون بها، خاصة بعد تصريحات صادمة ومثيرة في آن للرئيس ترامب حول فعالية سلاح “اثبت فشله ميدانيا المرة تلو الأخرى.” 

سوق مبيعات السلاح الأميركي لم يتأثر بشكل مباشر، نتيجة إبرام عقود مسبقة مع حلفاء للولايات المتحدة. بيد أن مشاعر قلقها حقيقي كما يستدل من لجوء المملكة السعودية لروسيا طمعاً في اقتناء منظومة إس أس 400 للدفاع الصاروخي؛ وسبقتها تركيا بالتوجه لموسكو بعد مماطلة الولايات المتحدة بتزويدها أنظمة متطورة طالبت بها أنقرة.

التأثير الأبعد يكمن في الملف الإيراني واستهداف الولايات المتحدة المستمر لإيران واستبدال دول الخليج خطر “اسرائيل” بما أضحى يروج له بأن الخطر الأول على استقرار أنظمتها مصدره طهران. 

تستند واشنطن إلى “إفراط ثقتها” بسلاحها لحماية كيانات حلفائها في دول الخليج، وبعد انكشاف عيوبه ستضطر الاستراتيجية الأميركية إلى انتهاج مسار آخر يأخذ بالحسبان حقيقة الخسائر التي قد تصيب الهيبة العسكرية الأميركية نتيجة مواجهة محتملة عبر وكلائها المحليين قد تضطر فيها للتدخل المباشر، كما فعلت في سوريا.

تجدر الأشارة إلى شهادة الخبير الأميركي، جوزيف سيرينسيوني، بالقول أن اليمن يقوم بتطوير ذاتي لترسانته الصاروخية، مما يعد بتوسع رقعة الحرب، نافياً بذلك ما ينسب لإيران بتوريدها قطع صاروخية لليمن عن طريق التهريب. بل نستطيع القول بناء على ذلك أن عناصر القوة العسكرية “السعودية” في اليمن بدأت بالتبخر، وتلقت أكبر دليل مذِلّ لمخططها في عزل إيران واستحضار “اسرائيل” التي حتماً ستستخلص الدروس العسكرية من فشل الباتريوت لتوفير حماية لها منذ عام 1991 وللآن.

هذا لا يعني بالطبع أن المؤسسة الحاكمة الأميركية لن تلجأ لأساليبها المعهودة في زعزعة استقرار خصومها، وعلى رأس القائمة إيران. بيد أن ذلك المشهد لن يأتي بمعزل عن انتشار القوات العسكرية الأميركية في العراق وسوريا، وفي افغانستان أيضا، لا سيما مع تجدد التحذيرات الأميركية من أن “أنصار إيران في العراق يطالبون بخروج القوات الأميركية.”

على الطرف المقابل نجد بعض “التراجع” في الموقف الأميركي حيال اليمن تحديداً، بمطالبته المتأخرة للسعودية إنهاء حصارها البري والبحري على اليمن “والسماح بوصول الإغاثات الإنسانية،” بعد ما ينوف عن 1،000 يوم من القتل والدمار والتشريد وانتشار الأمراض. وما صاروخ بركان-2 إلا العامل المساعد لذلك التراجع المرحلي.

Analysis 12-15-2017

ANALYSIS:

Trump Administration Crafts its First National Security Strategy

The Trump Administration is scheduled to release its first National Security Strategy on Monday, December 18th. And, although many will take it as the final word in terms of the future of America’s national strategy, it’s important to remember that these documents are designed for public consumption, not to be the key document for the implementation of foreign policy.

The National Security Strategy (NSS) has been a Congressionally-mandated requirement since President Ronald Reagan signed the Goldwater-Nichols Act in 1986. It offers the president’s appraisal of America’s core interests, challenges, and opportunities, and (to a lesser degree) the means by which the administration intends to achieve its foreign policy vision.

It is rare for a new administration to release an NSS document within its first year, however. The move illustrates the desire of Trump and his foreign policy team to change course especially in terms of fighting worldwide terrorism and addressing the Russian, Chinese, Iranian and North Korean threats.

The principal advisers to the president who wrote the document appear to incorporate the president’s campaign promises of putting American interests first.  Reports indicate that the Trump Administration NSS will significantly address the economic threat of Chinese trade practices.

They also realize the world must contend with the former ISIS fighters who are returning “home” to the West – including the United States. What will these fighters do as a means of retaliating against the United States?

According to the snippets of the pending NSS that have been released to the public thus far, another important element is the inclusion of space weaponization and technological threats. This has been something that few NSS memos have ever seriously addressed and this item will likely look North Korea’s missile capabilities and computer hacking infrastructure, and America’s options.

These and other parts of the NSS will be interesting, but should we really pay a lot of attention to them?

Should we Really Believe National Security Strategy Reports?

Like the political platforms written every four years by the Republican and Democratic parties, NSSs can mean little when it comes to actually formulating national security strategy. For instance, the 2016 Democratic platform advocated recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

And, like the political platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties are criticized by the opposition, we can expect the new NSS to be criticized by Trump’s critics, no matter what it says.

Criticism of a NSS is easy; conversely, the president’s supporters will mostly say nice things about it because they trust Trump. Like so much of the debate over foreign and defense policy these days, where you stand depends on where you sit.

However, since the NSS is public, it gives critics a target to aim at and criticize. As Stephen Walt said in Foreign Policy, “If your job involves teaching and writing about U.S. foreign policy, in short, you should be grateful that Goldwater-Nichols forces every administration to produce something new to feed on each year.”

Walt continued, “We scholars also like these documents because they give us a chance to aim our intellectual firepower at a fixed target.”

Consequently, the reports are designed to be as bland as possible. No wonder every president has diverged from his NSS at some point in time.

One can’t assume the NSS will actually tell you what any administration (Republican or Democratic) is going to do. They are often drafted by committee, or by some hired pen, and the president may not play much (any?) role in the process. More importantly, foreign policy always involves adapting to actions or events that one doesn’t anticipate, and no government can ever stick to its strategic vision with complete fidelity. Even so, these statements are usually worth reading, if only to get an idea of an administration’s basic inclination or at least what it thinks it is trying to accomplish.

Another factor to consider is the relationship between the president and the National Security Council (NSC). In the history of the NSC, some presidents have relied heavily on the NSC like Nixon, while others like Truman have ignored it. In the case of Trump, since McMaster was Trump’s second choice and several Obama appointments still remain in the NSC, the NSS may reflect the NSC views instead of the administration. Also remember Trump relies more on the Department of Defense for strategy options.

With these caveats in mind, let’s look at the probable tone of Trump’s first NSS.

NSC Advisor McMaster and the Trump NSS

During a speech to the Reagan National Defense Forum last week, President Trump’s national security advisor, Army Lt. General McMaster, gave hints on what the president’s national security strategy will contain.

McMaster started by reflecting on the challenges President Reagan faced and comparing it to the national security challenges faced by Trump today.

“Today as we approach the unveiling of the Trump administration’s national security strategy, we are at a similar crossroads,” McMaster said.

Russia and China are subverting the post-World War II political, economic and security orders to advance their own interests at the expense of the United States and its allies, the national security advisor said.

Iran and North Korea are violating the sovereignty of their neighbors, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and exporting terror to other nations. “Jihadist terror organizations such as [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] threaten all civilized people in every corner of the world,” he said.

“These national security challenges also require a dramatic rethinking of American foreign policy from previous decades,” McMaster said.

The national security strategy “will focus on protecting our homeland, advancing American prosperity, preserving peace through strength … and finally enhancing American influence,” he said.

The approach adopts a realistic view of our security environment, the general said. “For this reason, we do not base national security decisions on rigid ideology, but instead on our core national interests and clearly defined objectives derived from those interests,” McMaster said.

Much of what we can expect from Trump is already obvious and it’s quite a change from his predecessor. Trump has empowered his top military commanders to act as they see fit on the battlefield, and he feels free to reverse his positions.

Under Obama, commanders in the field had to work their way up the chain of command. Plans would go off into the White House to the National Security Council, there would be meetings, then work its way back down. This is very different under Trump, he’s authorized his generals. He’s literally given them the authority to take aggressive action.

Trump and his supporters likes to present this measure as proof the defeat of ISIS on the battlefield in the last year compared to “Obama’s national security failures against ISIS in the past 8 years”.

Trump’s real national security strategy will also be based on his outlook, which he outlined during his campaign. In another speech, McMaster said the new strategy would rely on “peace through strength” to advance U.S. interests abroad. And he promised that alliances with traditional U.S. allies would play a prominent role in Washington’s approach. Despite concerns that President Donald Trump’s “America First” campaign might lead to a retreat from the world stage, McMaster said the new strategy would do the opposite, and instead mark the return of a more confident, more determined United States.

McMaster said the finished document is centered on four main principles: protecting the U.S. homeland; advancing American prosperity and economic security; a stronger, more capable military; and advancing U.S. influence.

The strategy also highlights several different threats: those from powers like Russia and China, as well as from so-called rogue regimes, such as Iran and North Korea.

McMaster specifically called out Russia for threatening the U.S. with “so-called new generation warfare,” an apparent reference to the U.S. intelligence community assessment that Moscow tried to influence the 2016 presidential election.

“These are very sophisticated campaigns of subversion and disinformation and propaganda using sovereign tools, operating across global domains that attempt to divide our communities within our nations and pit them against each other,” McMaster said.

The NSS will also address the American retreat in world affairs in the last 8 years. “In many ways, we vacated a lot of competitive space in recent years and created opportunities for these revisionist powers,” he said, referring to Moscow and Beijing. “You’ll see a big emphasis on competitive engagement — competitive engagement across what we’re calling arenas of competition.”

The U.S. national security adviser also criticized China for what he termed “economic aggression.”

“[China] is challenging the rules-based economic order that helped lift hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty,” McMaster said.

At the same time, McMaster called on Beijing to do more to corral North Korea, calling China’s economic power over Pyongyang “considerable,” while warning this might be the world’s “last, best chance to avoid military conflict.”

“The president is not asking [Chinese] President Xi for a favor,” McMaster warned. “It is in both our interests to resolve this problem.”

On Iran, McMaster promised the new U.S. strategy would seek to counter Tehran’s destabilizing activities in Syria and across the Middle East, while continuing to block all paths to a nuclear weapon.

The new U.S. national security strategy will also address the persistent threat from terror groups and what McMaster called “radical Islamist ideology,” describing previous U.S. approaches to the problem as “too myopic.”

Speaking before McMaster on Tuesday, British National Security Adviser Mark Sedwill said the U.S. “remains the indispensable global leader.”

“We have had a global order that has been underwritten by the United States,” Sedwill said. “That will continue to be the case, I’m sure, in the 21st century.” It may be wishful thinking but time will tell…….

 

PUBLICATIONS

Taking a Better Shot at Missile Defense
By Edwin J. Feulner
Heritage Foundation
December 13, 2017

Thirty-three minutes. That’s all the time we’d have to respond to an incoming intercontinental ballistic missile from anywhere in the world. Roughly half an hour to avert disaster — if we’re lucky. Sure, that isn’t the most cheerful thought to entertain, especially at Christmas time. But with all the saber-rattling coming from North Korea these days, not to mention other global hot spots, we don’t have the luxury to pretend this threat doesn’t exist. A successful nuclear strike would carry an unthinkable toll. The bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945 had an explosive yield of 15 kilotons of TNT. North Korea’s nuclear test in October was 250 kilotons.

Read more at:

http://www.heritage.org/missile-defense/commentary/taking-better-shot-missile-defense

 

Jerusalem Move Just a Capital Idea
By Peter Brookes
Heritage Foundation
December 11, 2017

F ace it: No matter what anyone says, President Trump’s move to finally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv is a totally defensible diplomatic decision. You wouldn’t know that listening to some folks. First, the change rights a glaring anomaly in U.S. diplomatic practice in which Washington, D.C., doesn’t officially recognize the chosen capital of another sovereign state. Where else is that the case for us? Uh, nowhere. Good grief, we recognize the chosen capital of communist Cuba, nuclear North Korea and terrorist Iran, but not that of democratic Israel, our closest ally and friend in the messy Middle East? Come on. Next, the decision — which Congress approved for the first time in the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act but which has been waived by presidents ever since — doesn’t prejudice any future Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Read more at:

http://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/jerusalem-move-just-capital-idea

 

What Trump’s Decision on Jerusalem Means for Israel and the Middle East
By James Phillips
Heritage Foundation
December 7, 2017

President Donald Trump on Wednesday kept his campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordered the State Department to make plans to eventually move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv. The long-delayed, symbolic move addressed a historic injustice: Israel is the only country in the world not allowed to choose its own capital. Trump also exercised America’s sovereign right to recognize the capital of a close ally and choose the location of its own embassy. In recent years, the refusal of many nations to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has become an integral part of the international campaign to de-legitimize Israel.

Read more at:

http://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/what-trumps-decision-jerusalem-means-israel-and-the-middle-east

 

The Pundits Were Wrong about Assad and the Islamic State. As Usual, They’re Not Willing to Admit It
By Max Abrahms and John Glaser
Cato Institute
December 10, 2017

The Islamic State is a shadow of its former self. In 2014, the extremist group seemed to make substantial inroads in achieving its stated goal of a caliphate. It boasted tens of thousands of fighters and territorial control over an area roughly the size of South Korea. By almost every metric, Islamic State has collapsed in its Syria stronghold, as well as in Iraq. As a former foreign fighter recently admitted, “It’s over: there is no more Daesh left,” using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State. The rollback of Islamic State must come as a shock to the chorus of journalists and analysts who spent years insisting that such progress would never happen without toppling the regime of Bashar Assad — which is, of course, still standing. A cavalcade of opinion makers long averred that Islamic State would thrive in Syria so long as Assad ruled because the Syrian Arab Army was part of the same disease. John Bolton, former United Nations ambassador under George W. Bush, insisted in the New York Times that “defeating the Islamic State” is “neither feasible nor desirable” if Assad remains in power. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham asserted that “defeating Islamic State also requires defeating Bashar Assad.” Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution prescribed a policy of “building a new Syrian opposition army capable of defeating both President Bashar al-Assad and the more militant Islamists.”

Read more at: https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/pundits-were-wrong-about-assad-islamic-state-usual-theyre-not-willing-admit

 

The Strategic Impact of Making Jerusalem the Capital of Israel
By Anthony H. Cordesman
Center for Strategic and International Studies
December 7, 2017

President Trump’s announcement on December 6th that, “It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” and that he is “directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” will hurt both Israeli and U.S. strategic interests. Two critical problems: It damages Israel and U.S. interests by seriously irritating the Arab world, and it gives Iran, the Hezbollah, and Russia the opportunity to exploit this anger and the divisions. There was no earthly reason to provoke the Arab world. All President Trump had to do to help Israel was to ignore his campaign rhetoric and Israel’s political hardliners, and do nothing. Every year since 1967, Israel has slowly created new facts on the ground in Jerusalem and on the West Bank. Jerusalem has become steadily more Jewish, and the Jewish areas in greater Jerusalem have expanded eastward to the point where they have virtually reached the edge of the slopes down to the Jordon River Valley.

Read more at: https://www.csis.org/analysis/strategic-impact-making-jerusalem-capital-israel

 

U.S. Troop Deployment in Syria: Potential Pitfalls
By James F. Jeffrey
Washington Institute
December 12, 2017
POLICYWATCH 2900

The U.S. military recently announced that it has 2,000 troops in Syria, most of them working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurdish-dominated umbrella group that has liberated a large swath of the country’s eastern provinces from the Islamic State. Now that conventional military operations against IS are essentially finished and international concerns about Iran are mounting, more attention is being paid to the future of the U.S. contingent and the estimated 40,000-50,000 SDF fighters associated with it. American forces could play an important role in reaching a Syria solution that curbs Iran’s Russian-enabled power projection against Arab states, Israel, Turkey, and U.S. regional interests. Yet doing so requires that Washington deal with assorted challenges, from articulating the deployment’s mission to clarifying its legal basis and mapping the diplomatic geography required to physically sustain it.

Read more at: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/u.s.-troop-deployment-in-syria-potential-pitfalls

 

Week of December 15th, 2017

Executive Summary

As America heads into the holiday season, the number of publications is going down. It will pick up after the New Year.

The Monitor Analysis looks at the upcoming Trump National Security Strategy report. Although the document is primarily a political document, not a tool of national policy, we look at the major themes we can expect to see when it comes out next week.

 

Think Tanks Activity Summary

The Washington Institute looks at the pitfalls of keeping American troops in Syria. They note, “First, any such endeavor will necessarily be long term, messy, and uncertain, with no clear end state beyond containing Iran…As seen with Benghazi and Niger, however, public and congressional outcry can become deafening when these kinds of operations go awry, so the White House should be prepared to weather the storm.  A second pitfall is the issue of legal authority. Washington’s deployment of forces in Syria and its support to the SDF rest on several mechanisms: the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) against al-Qaeda (given the Islamic State’s genealogy as an al-Qaeda offshoot)…Yet Congress has already questioned the 2001 AUMF’s role in perpetuating “endless war,” so it could oppose using that authorization to justify an open-ended military presence in Syria or specific operations targeting the Assad regime and Iran (e.g., the low-intensity clashes seen in May and June)…Third, any U.S. contingent would face numerous logistical pitfalls. While American forces have established a handful of small Syrian enclaves abutting Jordan, the main U.S. presence is in the northeast, where access can only be obtained through Iraq, the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), or Turkey.”

Given the recent advances in North Korean missile technology, the Heritage Foundation looks at America’s missile defense. They note, “The bad news is that the missile-defense system we have isn’t as comprehensive and well-developed as it could and should be at this stage. We have a revolver, when we could have an automatic rifle. Nearly 35 years ago, President Reagan first called for a way to render the threat of ballistic missiles “impotent and obsolete.” Yet today, thanks in part to opposition from those who consider missile defense both unworkable and destabilizing, we have only one system capable of shooting down long-range ballistic missiles headed for the U.S. homeland: the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. We can do better, though. The GMD system is the only system we have capable of intercepting an ICBM in the mid-course phase of its flight. With a system that includes sea- and space-based interceptors, we could target ICBMs earlier in their flight — during the boost or ascent phase, when they’re traveling more slowly and are easier to hit.”

The CSIS looks at Trumps move to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. They note, “Doing nothing would have allowed this real-world expansion of facts on the ground to continue indefinitely. Greater Jerusalem would have continued to grow with minimal and largely pro forma Arab objections. The Israeli Jewish population would have continued to increase, and the Palestinian population of Jerusalem would have continued to come under pressure. Outside objections would have remained equally ineffective, and the threat of real peace negotiations that actually affect the facts on the ground would have been negligible. Jerusalem might have lacked the formal title of capital and the “thrill” of housing more embassies, but each passing month and year would have made Jerusalem more Israeli without creating any new political opposition or rise in the threat to Israel. Doing nothing would also have avoided giving Iran, the Hezbollah, and potentially Russia and Syria the political ammunition to use against Israel, or against America’s Arab strategic partners and the U.S.”

The Heritage Foundation praises Trump for moving the embassy to Jerusalem. They note, “Among other issues, these parties are free to decide the fate of Jerusalem as they wish, including single sovereignty, dividing the city between East and West or making it an open city as an important place of worship for the three Abrahamic religions. Plus, this decision could vivify moribund peace talks. The Palestinians — deeply divided between Fatah in the West Bank and (terrorist) Hamas in the Gaza Strip — have a real incentive to move on the reconciliation plan they hatched in Cairo in October.”

The Cato Institute looks at the failures of the pundits, who said that Assad must be removed in order to defeat ISIS. In noting that such a move only creates more unrest, they note, “As in Iraq a decade earlier, regime change in Syria would have created the ultimate power vacuum for Islamic State to flourish. Moreover, the notion that pumping arms and fighters into Syria would mitigate the unrest is actually the opposite of what study after study has established. The conflict literature makes clear that external support for the opposition tends to exacerbate and extend civil wars, which usually peter out not through power-sharing agreements among fighting equals, but when one side — typically, the incumbent — achieves dominance. The Realist paradigm reminds us that the U.S. need not share the same ideology of a nasty international actor to countenance working with him against a mutual foe. With its sensitivity to overspending and blowback, Realism also emphasizes the dangers of militarily picking foreign governments around the world.”

The Heritage Foundation looks at Trumps decision to move the embassy to Jerusalem. They conclude, “The bottom line is that Trump has acted to implement a policy long mandated by law and supported by a bipartisan majority in Congress. While his Jerusalem statement may complicate peace negotiations and undermine cooperation with Arab allies in the short run, it reflects a realism that could benefit U.S. policy and Arab thinking in the long run.”

 

 

ANALYSIS

Trump Administration Crafts its First National Security Strategy

The Trump Administration is scheduled to release its first National Security Strategy on Monday, December 18th. And, although many will take it as the final word in terms of the future of America’s national strategy, it’s important to remember that these documents are designed for public consumption, not to be the key document for the implementation of foreign policy.

The National Security Strategy (NSS) has been a Congressionally-mandated requirement since President Ronald Reagan signed the Goldwater-Nichols Act in 1986. It offers the president’s appraisal of America’s core interests, challenges, and opportunities, and (to a lesser degree) the means by which the administration intends to achieve its foreign policy vision.

It is rare for a new administration to release an NSS document within its first year, however. The move illustrates the desire of Trump and his foreign policy team to change course especially in terms of fighting worldwide terrorism and addressing the Russian, Chinese, Iranian and North Korean threats.

The principal advisers to the president who wrote the document appear to incorporate the president’s campaign promises of putting American interests first.  Reports indicate that the Trump Administration NSS will significantly address the economic threat of Chinese trade practices.

They also realize the world must contend with the former ISIS fighters who are returning “home” to the West – including the United States. What will these fighters do as a means of retaliating against the United States?

According to the snippets of the pending NSS that have been released to the public thus far, another important element is the inclusion of space weaponization and technological threats. This has been something that few NSS memos have ever seriously addressed and this item will likely look North Korea’s missile capabilities and computer hacking infrastructure, and America’s options.

These and other parts of the NSS will be interesting, but should we really pay a lot of attention to them?

Should we Really Believe National Security Strategy Reports?

Like the political platforms written every four years by the Republican and Democratic parties, NSSs can mean little when it comes to actually formulating national security strategy. For instance, the 2016 Democratic platform advocated recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

And, like the political platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties are criticized by the opposition, we can expect the new NSS to be criticized by Trump’s critics, no matter what it says.

Criticism of a NSS is easy; conversely, the president’s supporters will mostly say nice things about it because they trust Trump. Like so much of the debate over foreign and defense policy these days, where you stand depends on where you sit.

However, since the NSS is public, it gives critics a target to aim at and criticize. As Stephen Walt said in Foreign Policy, “If your job involves teaching and writing about U.S. foreign policy, in short, you should be grateful that Goldwater-Nichols forces every administration to produce something new to feed on each year.”

Walt continued, “We scholars also like these documents because they give us a chance to aim our intellectual firepower at a fixed target.”

Consequently, the reports are designed to be as bland as possible. No wonder every president has diverged from his NSS at some point in time.

One can’t assume the NSS will actually tell you what any administration (Republican or Democratic) is going to do. They are often drafted by committee, or by some hired pen, and the president may not play much (any?) role in the process. More importantly, foreign policy always involves adapting to actions or events that one doesn’t anticipate, and no government can ever stick to its strategic vision with complete fidelity. Even so, these statements are usually worth reading, if only to get an idea of an administration’s basic inclination or at least what it thinks it is trying to accomplish.

Another factor to consider is the relationship between the president and the National Security Council (NSC). In the history of the NSC, some presidents have relied heavily on the NSC like Nixon, while others like Truman have ignored it. In the case of Trump, since McMaster was Trump’s second choice and several Obama appointments still remain in the NSC, the NSS may reflect the NSC views instead of the administration. Also remember Trump relies more on the Department of Defense for strategy options.

With these caveats in mind, let’s look at the probable tone of Trump’s first NSS.

NSC Advisor McMaster and the Trump NSS

During a speech to the Reagan National Defense Forum last week, President Trump’s national security advisor, Army Lt. General McMaster, gave hints on what the president’s national security strategy will contain.

McMaster started by reflecting on the challenges President Reagan faced and comparing it to the national security challenges faced by Trump today.

“Today as we approach the unveiling of the Trump administration’s national security strategy, we are at a similar crossroads,” McMaster said.

Russia and China are subverting the post-World War II political, economic and security orders to advance their own interests at the expense of the United States and its allies, the national security advisor said.

Iran and North Korea are violating the sovereignty of their neighbors, pursuing weapons of mass destruction and exporting terror to other nations. “Jihadist terror organizations such as [the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria] threaten all civilized people in every corner of the world,” he said.

“These national security challenges also require a dramatic rethinking of American foreign policy from previous decades,” McMaster said.

The national security strategy “will focus on protecting our homeland, advancing American prosperity, preserving peace through strength … and finally enhancing American influence,” he said.

The approach adopts a realistic view of our security environment, the general said. “For this reason, we do not base national security decisions on rigid ideology, but instead on our core national interests and clearly defined objectives derived from those interests,” McMaster said.

Much of what we can expect from Trump is already obvious and it’s quite a change from his predecessor. Trump has empowered his top military commanders to act as they see fit on the battlefield, and he feels free to reverse his positions.

Under Obama, commanders in the field had to work their way up the chain of command. Plans would go off into the White House to the National Security Council, there would be meetings, then work its way back down. This is very different under Trump, he’s authorized his generals. He’s literally given them the authority to take aggressive action.

Trump and his supporters likes to present this measure as proof the defeat of ISIS on the battlefield in the last year compared to “Obama’s national security failures against ISIS in the past 8 years”.

Trump’s real national security strategy will also be based on his outlook, which he outlined during his campaign. In another speech, McMaster said the new strategy would rely on “peace through strength” to advance U.S. interests abroad. And he promised that alliances with traditional U.S. allies would play a prominent role in Washington’s approach. Despite concerns that President Donald Trump’s “America First” campaign might lead to a retreat from the world stage, McMaster said the new strategy would do the opposite, and instead mark the return of a more confident, more determined United States.

McMaster said the finished document is centered on four main principles: protecting the U.S. homeland; advancing American prosperity and economic security; a stronger, more capable military; and advancing U.S. influence.

The strategy also highlights several different threats: those from powers like Russia and China, as well as from so-called rogue regimes, such as Iran and North Korea.

McMaster specifically called out Russia for threatening the U.S. with “so-called new generation warfare,” an apparent reference to the U.S. intelligence community assessment that Moscow tried to influence the 2016 presidential election.

“These are very sophisticated campaigns of subversion and disinformation and propaganda using sovereign tools, operating across global domains that attempt to divide our communities within our nations and pit them against each other,” McMaster said.

The NSS will also address the American retreat in world affairs in the last 8 years. “In many ways, we vacated a lot of competitive space in recent years and created opportunities for these revisionist powers,” he said, referring to Moscow and Beijing. “You’ll see a big emphasis on competitive engagement — competitive engagement across what we’re calling arenas of competition.”

The U.S. national security adviser also criticized China for what he termed “economic aggression.”

“[China] is challenging the rules-based economic order that helped lift hundreds of thousands of people out of poverty,” McMaster said.

At the same time, McMaster called on Beijing to do more to corral North Korea, calling China’s economic power over Pyongyang “considerable,” while warning this might be the world’s “last, best chance to avoid military conflict.”

“The president is not asking [Chinese] President Xi for a favor,” McMaster warned. “It is in both our interests to resolve this problem.”

On Iran, McMaster promised the new U.S. strategy would seek to counter Tehran’s destabilizing activities in Syria and across the Middle East, while continuing to block all paths to a nuclear weapon.

The new U.S. national security strategy will also address the persistent threat from terror groups and what McMaster called “radical Islamist ideology,” describing previous U.S. approaches to the problem as “too myopic.”

Speaking before McMaster on Tuesday, British National Security Adviser Mark Sedwill said the U.S. “remains the indispensable global leader.”

“We have had a global order that has been underwritten by the United States,” Sedwill said. “That will continue to be the case, I’m sure, in the 21st century.” It may be wishful thinking but time will tell…….

 

PUBLICATIONS

Taking a Better Shot at Missile Defense
By Edwin J. Feulner
Heritage Foundation
December 13, 2017

Thirty-three minutes. That’s all the time we’d have to respond to an incoming intercontinental ballistic missile from anywhere in the world. Roughly half an hour to avert disaster — if we’re lucky. Sure, that isn’t the most cheerful thought to entertain, especially at Christmas time. But with all the saber-rattling coming from North Korea these days, not to mention other global hot spots, we don’t have the luxury to pretend this threat doesn’t exist. A successful nuclear strike would carry an unthinkable toll. The bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima, Japan, in 1945 had an explosive yield of 15 kilotons of TNT. North Korea’s nuclear test in October was 250 kilotons.

Read more at:

http://www.heritage.org/missile-defense/commentary/taking-better-shot-missile-defense

 

Jerusalem Move Just a Capital Idea
By Peter Brookes
Heritage Foundation
December 11, 2017

F ace it: No matter what anyone says, President Trump’s move to finally recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv is a totally defensible diplomatic decision. You wouldn’t know that listening to some folks. First, the change rights a glaring anomaly in U.S. diplomatic practice in which Washington, D.C., doesn’t officially recognize the chosen capital of another sovereign state. Where else is that the case for us? Uh, nowhere. Good grief, we recognize the chosen capital of communist Cuba, nuclear North Korea and terrorist Iran, but not that of democratic Israel, our closest ally and friend in the messy Middle East? Come on. Next, the decision — which Congress approved for the first time in the 1995 Jerusalem Embassy Act but which has been waived by presidents ever since — doesn’t prejudice any future Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.

Read more at:

http://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/jerusalem-move-just-capital-idea

 

What Trump’s Decision on Jerusalem Means for Israel and the Middle East
By James Phillips
Heritage Foundation
December 7, 2017

President Donald Trump on Wednesday kept his campaign promise to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and ordered the State Department to make plans to eventually move the U.S. Embassy there from Tel Aviv. The long-delayed, symbolic move addressed a historic injustice: Israel is the only country in the world not allowed to choose its own capital. Trump also exercised America’s sovereign right to recognize the capital of a close ally and choose the location of its own embassy. In recent years, the refusal of many nations to acknowledge Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has become an integral part of the international campaign to de-legitimize Israel.

Read more at:

http://www.heritage.org/middle-east/commentary/what-trumps-decision-jerusalem-means-israel-and-the-middle-east

 

The Pundits Were Wrong about Assad and the Islamic State. As Usual, They’re Not Willing to Admit It
By Max Abrahms and John Glaser
Cato Institute
December 10, 2017

The Islamic State is a shadow of its former self. In 2014, the extremist group seemed to make substantial inroads in achieving its stated goal of a caliphate. It boasted tens of thousands of fighters and territorial control over an area roughly the size of South Korea. By almost every metric, Islamic State has collapsed in its Syria stronghold, as well as in Iraq. As a former foreign fighter recently admitted, “It’s over: there is no more Daesh left,” using an Arabic acronym for Islamic State. The rollback of Islamic State must come as a shock to the chorus of journalists and analysts who spent years insisting that such progress would never happen without toppling the regime of Bashar Assad — which is, of course, still standing. A cavalcade of opinion makers long averred that Islamic State would thrive in Syria so long as Assad ruled because the Syrian Arab Army was part of the same disease. John Bolton, former United Nations ambassador under George W. Bush, insisted in the New York Times that “defeating the Islamic State” is “neither feasible nor desirable” if Assad remains in power. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham asserted that “defeating Islamic State also requires defeating Bashar Assad.” Kenneth Pollack of the Brookings Institution prescribed a policy of “building a new Syrian opposition army capable of defeating both President Bashar al-Assad and the more militant Islamists.”

Read more at: https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/pundits-were-wrong-about-assad-islamic-state-usual-theyre-not-willing-admit

 

The Strategic Impact of Making Jerusalem the Capital of Israel
By Anthony H. Cordesman
Center for Strategic and International Studies
December 7, 2017

President Trump’s announcement on December 6th that, “It is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel,” and that he is “directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem,” will hurt both Israeli and U.S. strategic interests. Two critical problems: It damages Israel and U.S. interests by seriously irritating the Arab world, and it gives Iran, the Hezbollah, and Russia the opportunity to exploit this anger and the divisions. There was no earthly reason to provoke the Arab world. All President Trump had to do to help Israel was to ignore his campaign rhetoric and Israel’s political hardliners, and do nothing. Every year since 1967, Israel has slowly created new facts on the ground in Jerusalem and on the West Bank. Jerusalem has become steadily more Jewish, and the Jewish areas in greater Jerusalem have expanded eastward to the point where they have virtually reached the edge of the slopes down to the Jordon River Valley.

Read more at: https://www.csis.org/analysis/strategic-impact-making-jerusalem-capital-israel

 

U.S. Troop Deployment in Syria: Potential Pitfalls
By James F. Jeffrey
Washington Institute
December 12, 2017
POLICYWATCH 2900

The U.S. military recently announced that it has 2,000 troops in Syria, most of them working with the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), the Kurdish-dominated umbrella group that has liberated a large swath of the country’s eastern provinces from the Islamic State. Now that conventional military operations against IS are essentially finished and international concerns about Iran are mounting, more attention is being paid to the future of the U.S. contingent and the estimated 40,000-50,000 SDF fighters associated with it. American forces could play an important role in reaching a Syria solution that curbs Iran’s Russian-enabled power projection against Arab states, Israel, Turkey, and U.S. regional interests. Yet doing so requires that Washington deal with assorted challenges, from articulating the deployment’s mission to clarifying its legal basis and mapping the diplomatic geography required to physically sustain it.

Read more at: http://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/view/u.s.-troop-deployment-in-syria-potential-pitfalls