Week of September 20th, 2014

Executive Summary

 

The think tank community remained focused on Obama’s new strategy against ISIS this week.  In fact, much of this week’s commentary is on that subject.

The Monitor analysis looks at the politics of Obama’s plan to build a Syrian rebel army.  Ironically, it was the Republicans in congress that supported Obama, while many Democrats opposed Obama’s strategy.  The reason is politics and the likelihood that the Republicans can gain control of the US Senate in November.  By working with Obama, they increase their chances, even though they are actually pessimistic of the final success of Obama’s ISIS strategy.

 

 

Think Tanks Activity Summary

The CSIS looks at the American campaign against ISIS and argues for a broader strategy.  They conclude, “The Islamic State is only one battle in the fight for the future of Islam and the stability of Islamic countries. If the United States is to succeed in creating anything like a broader pattern of stability, secure the flow of world petroleum exports, and secure its own role in the global economy, it must create a far broader structure for working work with its Muslim and other allies, and building on the lesson learned from dealing with the Islamic State to fight a far longer war.”

The Carnegie Endowment looks at the risks of Obama’s strategy against ISIS.  One problem they see is, “The focus on targeting the Islamic State’s leadership—drawing from what Obama hailed as successful campaigns in Yemen and Somalia—doesn’t create the conditions on the ground for a lasting solution to the movement. High-value leadership targeting through precision strikes carries the risk of collateral casualties and radicalization. And the record shows that militant leadership cadres can reconstitute themselves quickly, making such a strategy akin to a game of Whac-a-Mole.”

The Cato Institute argues that Obama’s “war” on ISIS will not remain popular with voters.  In terms of framing the ISIS threat, they note, “In the wake of 9/11, Al Qaeda represented a clear and present danger to U.S. national security. But the American public does not yet see the threat from ISIL in the same way, thanks in part to collective ignorance about the group and its designs, but also in part to the fact that the U.S. intelligence community is on record as saying there is zero evidence that ISIL has any plans to attack the United States.  In the absence of a concrete threat from ISIL, the invisible benefits of the campaign will pale next to its visible costs and frustrations. In the worst case, the extended U.S. engagement in the domestic politics of Iraq and Syria will persuade many people that the entire exercise is primarily an effort to reshape the Middle East, rather than a necessary act of self-defense. If this happens, we can expect support to drop to levels similar to the current levels of Iraq and Afghanistan. There is not much the American people like less than nation building.”

 

The Center for Security Policy argues that the United States must resist the temptation to draw Iran further into the crises in Iraq and Syria.  They note, “Iran bears significant responsibility for the outbreak of sectarian tensions in Iraq since 2011 due to its strong support for the Nouri al-Maliki government and by its training of Shiite militias that have massacred Iraqi Sunnis.  An increased Iranian presence in Iraq would alienate Iraqi Sunnis and make it more difficult to bring them back into the political process.”

The Center for a New American Security looks at the potential for ISIS to fund its terrorism through oil sales.  They note, “Currently, ISIL controls oil fields in both Eastern Syria (most notably, the Al-Omar oil field in Raqqa), and Iraq, including Najmah, al-Qayyara, Ujayl, Himreen, and al-Dujail. In total, these fields produce between 30,000 and 70,000 barrels per day (bpd). Although a small number for any significant oil producer, for a non-state actor to be in control of as much oil production as the countries of Bahrain or France is extremely concerning. Not only do they have the ability to use already refined oil to power their cache of military vehicles, but they are also able to illegally sell oil. Even when only fetching below-market prices, ISIL is sitting on an ever-growing hoard of cash. Currently, ISIL is reported to be generating around $2 million per day solely through discounted and illegal oil sales. As ISIL moves farther into Iraqi territory, the possibility that they could overtake oil fields farther into Kurdistan and potentially into Southern Iraq is a very real possibility that cannot be ignored. If this were to happen, their influence, and their financial assets, would only grow.”

The German Marshall Fund looks at Turkey’s recent turn towards the European Union.  They conclude, “Critics suspect that embracing more positive leanings toward the EU could very well be merely a stepping stone for the ruling authorities in Turkey to restore imperial Turkic and Ottoman glory, or a tactical move to further consolidate their power for the extension of their immunity.  Reasons aside, it is up to opposition parties and the EU to use this opportunity to lock Turkey into the implementation of reforms for sustainable Europeanization.”

The Carnegie Endowment argues that Qatar’s desire to increases its influence in the region has been disastrous.  They note, “Qatar has long pursued a foreign policy that is both expansionist and pragmatic. In a bid to claim a greater regional role, the tiny Gulf state has relied on picking winners, riding political trends, and engaging with multiple actors, even volatile ones like jihadist groups.  Its foreign policy activities have evolved from focusing on mediation between conflicting parties to direct funding and training of military groups.  But since the start of the Arab uprisings in 2011, Qatari foreign policy has been plagued by miscalculations, domestic challenges, and international pressure—all of which, to a significant degree, are connected to Qatar’s relationship with it main regional rival, Saudi Arabia.  As a result, Qatar’s regional role has entered a new, diminished phase…As a result of those external and domestic pressures on Qatar, Saudi Arabia has been able to bring Doha back into its orbit. But although this is a loss for Qatar’s regional ambitions, it is not a gain for Saudi Arabia. The Saudi-Qatari rivalry has damaged both Gulf countries’ degree of external power and increased levels of instability in the Middle East. Looking ahead, Qatar’s will and ability to overcome its rivalry with Saudi Arabia when addressing mutual challenges will be key to its regional influence.”

 

 

ANALYSIS

 

 

America Responds to ISIS

Strategy or Political Cover

A week after outlining his strategy against ISIS, Obama went to Congress for the legislative support for his program of building a Syrian opposition army.  The $500 million was added to a stop gap funding bill that will keep the federal government funded until December.  The House voted 273-156 Wednesday to insert the amendment, which authorizes Obama’s plans, into the spending bill. The yes votes included 159 Republicans and 114 Democrats, while 85 Democrats and 71 Republicans voted against the amendment.

Ironically, although Republicans lambasted his plan last week, the Republican congressional leadership and 2/3rds of the Republicans gave the president what he wanted.  Speaker of the House John Boehner said, “I frankly think the president’s request is a sound one. I think there’s a lot more that we need to be doing, but there’s no reason for us not to do what the president asked us to do,”

Republicans have also backed off from requiring Obama to come to Congress for authority to use military force.  In an attempt to sidestep the issue, Boehner said that typically, the White House would be the one to make a request to have Congress vote on such an authorization and the administration has not done so yet.  “This is an interim step to do what the president’s asked for, it does not preclude us from revisiting the issue of a broader use of military force,” Boehner said.  “As you heard me say last week, I believe that it’s important, frankly, for the Congress to speak on this issue, and when we get to that point, we will.”

Interestingly enough, the opposition in Congress came from Obama’s own party, which saw 40% of the Democratic congressmen oppose the bill.  “The more I get briefed the more concerned I am,” said Democratic Congressman Jim McGovern.  He said Obama’s assertion he has authority to conduct air strikes under a 2001 law passed to authorize military force against Afghanistan “ludicrous” and said the administration’s plan didn’t make sense.  “I don’t get it, I don’t understand the end game, I don’t understand how this is supposed to work,” McGovern said.

In another example of the military unsoundness of the strategy, military veterans on both sides of the House opposed the bill.  California Republican representative Duncan Hunter, a Marine who deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan, said the authority “does nothing” to destroy the Islamic State.  Democratic Congressman Tulsi Gabbard of Hawaii, a captain in the Hawaii National Guard who served in Iraq, called Obama’s strategy “unrealistic” and worried “it will take way too long” to work.

However, in the end, it was the Republicans who delivered the victory to Obama.

Why is Obama getting support from Republicans?  The answer is the upcoming mid-term elections.  Republicans are looking forward to winning the Senate in November and don’t want to take any political stand that risks that possibility.  They also want to take advantage of the political opportunity offered by Obama to work with him on bipartisan legislation.  That makes it harder for Obama and the Democrats to attack them in the coming weeks for causing gridlock in Washington.

Polling in the last week has shown an increase in support for Obama’s action in Iraq and Syria.  For instance, YouGov poll showed that American support for air strikes against ISIS in Syria had gone from 42% to 53% after the president’s speech.  This is not the attitude of a war weary electorate.

Other polls show the same shift in opinion.  Three different polling groups now find majority support for Obama’s more aggressive strategy against ISIS: 62 percent per NBC, 64 percent per Reuters, and 53 percent per Pew, which includes 60 percent support among Democrats and 64 percent support among Republicans. The Pew poll now also shows voters evenly divided at 41 percent on whether Obama’s strategy goes too far or not far enough.  A month ago, that split was 51/32. Likewise, Reuters notes that 53 percent of the public say they’ll support the mission even if it takes two to three years, as the White House has estimated.

Although Obama still remains unpopular, this shift has made Republicans leery about opposing the president on this issue especially since Republican voters are more likely to support a more aggressive strategy against ISIS.

This leaves the Republican leadership in a tough position.  Either they can oppose the president’s ISIS strategy, which most military experts think is flawed and take the political risk of fighting the plan and end up giving Obama the political ammunition of attacking Republicans for leading a “do nothing” Congress. Or they can support Obama in this one vote.   Clearly House Speaker Boehner has decided to take the political option in hopes of winning the Senate in November.  Just like a military leader, Boehner has decided to only fight the political battles he can win.

That’s not to say that the political battle is over.  Obama has won the initial battle for funding until December, but as Commander-in-Chief, he still responsible for executing the strategy.  Republicans have reluctantly given him what he wants, but they have expressed enough reservations about the strategy that they will have ammunition if the strategy backfires.  And, if he succeeds, they can take part of the credit, while the Democrats who failed to back Obama will have to take the brunt of criticism.

The Battle for the US Senate

Republican strategy is clearly revolving around gaining control of the US Senate in November.

Although polls continue to shift, the Republicans clearly have a better than average chance to take the Senate by winning at least six seats.  First, mid-term elections in the 6th year of a sitting president usually go strongly against the party that controls the White House.  That is especially true when the president is as unpopular as Obama currently is.

Second, the Democrats are fighting to hold seats that they won in their landslide year of 2008, when Obama won.  Eight of the Democratic seats being contested are in states that voted for Republican Romney two years ago.  None of the Republican seats are in Democratic states.  Polls show Republicans holding at least nominal leads in eight contests for Democrat-held seats, while retaining all Republican seats.

Although some major pro-Democratic media outlets have indicated that Democrats are rebounding in some Senate races, professional political watchers still insist that the Republicans have the advantage.

First, it’s important to remember that American voters usually don’t engage in politics until after Labor Day.  That means that most movement in the polls comes in the last month – and that usually goes in the favor of the party out of power in mid-term elections.  For instance, in late September of 2010, Republicans held a three-point lead on the generic ballot in Real Clear Politics’ poll averaging. By Election Day, that gap had widened to nine-plus points.  The GOP ended up winning the election by about seven points.

At this point in time, there is still a large undecided voter population that historically breaks depending on how they view the performance of the president.  Currently, vulnerable Democratic senators are collecting nearly all of those voters who support Obama.  The undecided voters are overwhelmingly opposed to Obama and his policies.  This means that they historically will vote Republican by a large margin.

An excellent example of how this works is in the Iowa senate race that pits Democrat Braley against Republican Ernst.  The race had been very tight up to now, but a newly released poll by Quinnipiac show that Ernst had jumped ahead 50% to 44%.  The movement had been by previously undecided voters, who are upset with Obama and are breaking for the Republican candidate.

Another example is in Colorado where Democratic Senator Udall, who comes from one of the most successful Democratic families in the American West, has fallen behind in a state that voted for Obama.  The survey shows Udall at 42%, Republican challenger Cory Gardner at 43% in what is essentially a tie.  By 2-1 margin, 37%-19%, those surveyed say they think of their vote for Congress as a vote against Obama, not for him.

For Udall, the most frequent specific responses by those surveyed were that Udall was: “Obama follower/puppet,” “liberal” and “dishonest/untrustworthy.” His job-approval rating is 42% approve, 49% disapprove. His favorable-unfavorable rating is 43%-44%.

If undecided voters are upset with Obama and tending to break for the Republican in the generally Democratic states of Colorado and Iowa that means any Democratic Senator who is polling less than 50% is in trouble.

This is why Democrats are very worried.  Even supposedly safe seats in Democratic states like Minnesota, Delaware, and New Jersey have their incumbent Senator under 50%, which means a Republican landslide could potentially defeat them.

Meantime, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll released on September 17th, Republicans hold a six-point lead on the Congressional ballot among likely voters, winning independents by nine points and holding a double-digit enthusiasm advantage. Those are all very significant numbers.  The GOP holds substantial voter preference edges on the economy (+11), terrorism (+21) and foreign policy (+12), while pulling even with Democrats on immigration and largely erasing Democrats’ wide, decades-long lead on healthcare.  Obama’s overall approval rating is sagging at 40 percent, underwater by double-digits.  He’s fallen to new lows in this poll on his handling of terrorism (41 percent approval) — formerly a bright spot amidst otherwise ugly numbers — and foreign policy (34 percent).

This brings us back to the decision by the congressional Republican leadership to go along with Obama’s ISIS strategy.  Voters want a more vigorous response to ISIS and trust the Republicans more.  At the same time, by supporting Obama’s Syrian “ moderate opposition” strategy, despite their reservations, they show themselves to be willing to work on bipartisan legislation with the president, which undermines one of Obama’s campaign talking points that the Republican Congress is a “do nothing” Congress.

In the end, unless there is a major Republican landslide that overwhelms several Democratic senators in Democratic states, the chances are that the Republicans will probably gain 7 or 8 Senate seats and reclaim control of the Senate.

 

 

PUBLICATIONS

Why Obama’s War on ISIL Won’t Hold Its Popularity

By A. Trevor Thrall

Cato Institute

September 17, 2014

National Interest

With the prime-time announcement of his campaign to destroy ISIL, President Obama is staking his presidency in a place he certainly never intended. Obama launches his campaign with what appears to be a reasonable level of public support. A September CNN/ORC poll found that roughly 75 percent of the public supports airstrikes against ISIL, a figure that may climb a bit higher in the wake of Obama’s address to the nation on September 10. This support compares relatively favorably with most U.S. military interventions of the past (see Gallup’s list of public support by major intervention here), closer to initial levels of support for Iraq and Afghanistan, for example, than to the invasion of Panama or the Kosovo air war.  Despite the apparently strong initial wave of support for confronting ISIL, however, Obama’s campaign will almost certainly become a very unpopular affair. This will occur despite his best efforts to frame the campaign as part of the war against terrorism, despite his strategy to maintain support by avoiding the use of ground troops and U.S. casualties, and it will happen regardless of how much damage the United States manages to inflict on ISIL.

Read more

 

 

The Campaign Against the Islamic State.  Key Issues and Demands for Action from the Administration and Congress

By Anthony H. Cordesman

Center for Strategic and International Studies

September 16, 2014

Commentary

If there is any one lesson of the Afghan and Iraq Wars, it is that it is far easier to begin a conflict than to manage it well and achieve a meaningful form of victory. The President’s announcement of a strategy for seeking to degrade and destroy the Islamic State — and de facto Congressional acceptance of the need to fight a new conflict — has now committed the United States to a high risk, low-level war of indefinite duration.  Winning that war will require persistence, resources, effective planning and management, and sustained domestic and international political support. The Obama Administration now needs to show that it will both commit the necessary resources, and manage them effectively. It needs to show that it is doing its best to address the key risks it has accepted in going to war.  It needs to provide an honest picture of the course of the fighting and its impact on the stability and security of the region.

Read more

 

 

Five Hidden Risks of U.S. Action Against the Islamic State

By Frederic Wehrey

Carnegie Endowment

September 11, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama’s four-pronged strategy of air strikes, support to local proxies, defense against the Islamic State’s attacks through intelligence and counterterrorism, and humanitarian assistance leaves many unanswered questions. It’s hardly a clear articulation of the sort of long-term, holistic strategy needed to deny the Islamic State the fertile ground it needs to thrive. The approach is fraught with trade-offs, risks, and hidden costs that need to be addressed.

Read more

 

 

Qatar and the Recalibration of Power in the Gulf

By Lina Khatib

Carnegie Endowment

September 11, 2014

Long a minor regional actor in the shadow of Saudi Arabia, Qatar wants to increase its influence. But Doha’s expansionist foreign policy has been plagued by miscalculations, domestic challenges, and international pressure—all issues connected to Doha’s relationship with Riyadh. As a result of these setbacks, Qatar’s regional role has diminished, and for the foreseeable future, its external influence is likely to remain under the direction of Saudi Arabia.  Qatar’s Strategic Miscalculations: Qatar’s desire to chart an independent path led it into confrontation with Saudi Arabia, particularly in Egypt and Syria. This has damaged both countries’ external power and increased instability in the Middle East.

Read more

 

 

No Place for Iran in ISIS Plans

By Fred Fleitz

Center for Security Policy

September 17, 2014

Secretary of State John Kerry’s awkward denial that the United States has not proposed “coordinating with Iran” against ISIS suggests the Obama administration did indeed propose this and is engaged in damage control after its efforts were revealed by Iranian officials.  I wrote in a Sept. 3 Newsmax article that while the U.S. should attack ISIS — also known as ISIL and the Islamic State — in Syria even though this will help keep Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in power, the United States must resist the temptation to draw Iran further into the crises in Iraq and Syria. I believe this because Iran bears significant responsibility for the outbreak of sectarian tensions in Iraq since 2011 due to its strong support for the Nouri al-Maliki government and by its training of Shiite militias that have massacred Iraqi Sunnis.  An increased Iranian presence in Iraq would alienate Iraqi Sunnis and make it more difficult to bring them back into the political process.

Read more

 

 

Turkey’s Turn Toward the EU: Superficial or Real?

By Diba Nigar Göksel

German Marshall Fund

September 12, 2014

The Transatlantic Trends 2014 survey reflects a swell of support for the EU in Turkish society. Meanwhile, in the last days of August, the top echelon of Ankara’s ruling party also made more positive statements about Turkey’s commitment to EU accession than

they had in years. It seems the EU is making a comeback in Turkey.  The reasons why will be decisive in whether Ankara merely takes cosmetic steps toward reforms, or accepts EU-style checks and balances. On the other hand, given the rise of Turkoskepticism in Europe, whether Turkey will be able to make a comeback in EU

is an open question.

Read more

 

 

ISIL: A Well-Oiled Machine

By Rachel Rizzo

Center for a New American Security

September 12, 2014

The speed at which the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) has swept through and taken control of parts of Syria and Northern Iraq is both shocking and unexpected.  Thought to number between 30,000 and 50,000 fighters, ISIL has proven that it not only has the wherewithal to control huge swaths of territory, but that it is also a self-sufficient, financially viable entity with over $2 billion in assets. The group is funded through various illicit income-generating activities, and supplied from the military bases in Iraq and Syria from which they have looted weapons and equipment. However, the possibility of controlling and exploiting key oil fields is what truly has the ability to tip the financial scale further in ISIL’s favor. One facet of the long-term U.S. strategy to counter ISIL laid out by President Obama is to “redouble our efforts to cut off its funding.” Part of this strategy must be ensuring that they do not gain control of, and financially exploit, additional Iraqi or Syrian oil fields.

Read more

 

 

 

Mounzer A. Sleiman Ph.D.
Center for American and Arab Studies
Think Tanks Monitor

www.thinktankmonitor.org

C: 202 536 8984             C: 301 509 4144

التحليل 09-20-2014

:التحليل

داعش يرجح التصويت في الكونغرس الاميركي    تأجيـل المعركة الفاصلة الى نهاية العام

          ثمة اجماع في عاصمة القرار على ان الرئيس اوباما شد الرحال باتجاه معسكر الحرب وصقور السياسة، مما وفر له الدعم الميسر لسياسته المعلنة مؤخرا، بل “كوفيء” بمصادقة الكونغرس على توفير مبلغ 500 مليون دولار اضافي تنفق على تجهيز وتسليح قوى المعارضة السورية المسلحة. وصوت لصالح القرار عدد كبير من الاعضاء الجمهوريين، 159 مقابل 114 للنواب عن الحزب الديموقراطي، وعارضه 85 عضو من الحزب الديموقراطي مقابل 71 معارض من الحزب المنافس. محصلة الأمر ان فوز اوباما تحقق على ايدي النواب الجمهوريين

بعبارة اخرى تبنى الجمهوريون سياسة اوباما التصعيدية التي تكمل سياسات سلفه جورج بوش الابن، رغم لهجة الخطاب السياسي العلني في انتقاده، ومعارضة معتبرة من قبل حزبه الديموقراطي، نحو 40%. وجاء اوضح تصريح عقب التصويت على لسان رئيس مجلس النواب (الجمهوري)، جون بينر، قائلا “بصراحة اعتقد ان ما يطلبه الرئيس اوباما سويّ .. لا ارى اي عائق امامنا لرفض ما يطلبه منا الرئيس.” بينما اعرب احد اقطاب الحزب الديموقراطي المعتبرين، جيم ماكغفرن، عن عميق قلقه لشن غارات جوية في الاجواء العراقية واصفا ذاك القرار الرئاسي بأنه “مثير للسخرية”

يذكر ان اقطاب الحزب الجمهوري اشاعوا في البدء ضرورة توجه الرئيس اوباما للكونغرس لنيل تفويض لسياسته المعلنة في العراق، ومن ثم تراجع هؤلاء عن هذا الشرط. بل اوضح رئيس مجلس النواب ان “الرئيس هو المخول بتقرير التوجه للكونغرس للتصويت على ذاك التفويض من عدمه، والادارة لم تقدم على ذلك بعد”

تجدر الاشارة الى ان عددا كبيرا من نواب الحزبين في الكونغرس أتى من خلفية عسكرية وهمالذين عارضوا استراتيجية اوباما. وجاء على لسان النائب والعضو السابق في سلاح مشاة البحرية، المارينز، دانكان هنتر الذي قضى بعض خدمته في العراق وافغانستان، ان الاستراتيجية المعلنة “لا تساوي شيئا” ولا يمكنها تدمير الدولة الاسلامية. نظيره الديموقراطي تولسي غابارد، عن ولاية هوايي والذي خدم في العراق، وصف الاستراتيجية بأنها “غير واقعية .. وستستغرق زمنا طويلا قبل ان تلوح بوادرها في الافق”

الاجابة على تحول بعض موازين القوى في هذه المرحلة، دعم الجمهوريين للرئيس اوباما، تتعلق بالانتخابات النصفية المقبلة وعينهم على الفوز بأغلبية مجلس الشيوخ والاحتفاظ بأغلبية مجلس النواب، ولخشيتهم ان تؤثر معارضتهم الثابتة للرئيس اوباما على نتائج تلك الانتخابات. ولعل الادق ان ما تبقى من زمن لحين شهر الانتخابات، تشرين الثاني، ان اقطاب الحزب الجمهوري سحبوا البساط من تحت قادة الحزب الديموقراطي ورموا جانبا الاتهامات الموجهة لهم “بتعطيل الاداء الحكومي والتسبب في الطريق المسدود”

وأتت حملة التعبئة الاعلامية أكلها في الوعي العام، اذ اظهر احدث استطلاعات للرأي تنامي الدعم الشعبي لسياسة اوباما في العراق وسورية، 53% بعد خطاب الرئيس، مقابل 42% قبل ذلك. اي ان الكفة تميل لصالح معسكر الحرب الذي يتزعمه خطاب الحزب الجمهوري، ولا شك ان قادته قرأوا النبض الشعبي بدقة عقب حملة اعلامية وسياسية مكثفة ومدروسة

في هذا الصدد، اشار عدد من استطلاعات الرأي في الآونة الاخيرة الى تنامي الدعم الشعبي لخطاب اوباما المفعم بمفردات الحرب ضد داعش. واوردت شبكة (ان بي سي) للتلفزة ان التأييد بلغ 62%، وشخصته وكالة رويترز للانباء بنسبة 64%، ومعهد بيو بنسبة 53%. الملفت في تلك الحزمة من الاستطلاعات ان تأييد اوباما بين الجمهوريين بلغ 64%، بينما بين اوساط الديموقراطيين فقد بلغ 60%. وذهب استطلاع وكالة رويترز بالقول ان اغلبية الشعب الاميركي، 53%، يؤيد استراتيجية اوباما المعلنة حتى لو استغرقت سنتين او ثلاث، كما قدرها البيت الابيض

نتائج الاستطلاعات لفتت قادة الحزب الجمهوري الذين اعتادوا على افشال اي مشروع او اقتراح مقدم من السلطة الرئاسية، واثارت بعض القلق بين اوساطهم. وخياراتهم في هذه المرحلة الدقيقة احلاها مر: المضي بمعاداة ورفض توجه اوباما نحو الدولة الاسلامية، كما اعتادوا، ينطوي على مغامرة سياسية كبرى من شأنها توفير مزيد من ذخيرة الهجوم على الحزب الجمهوري من الرئيس اوباما وحزبه؛ او اعلان التأييد للرئيس مرة وحيدة والتطلع نحو الفوز بنسبة الاغلبية في الانتخابات المقبلة والسيطرة على مجلسي الكونغرس

بالطبع التجاذب بين الحزبين لن ينتهي بمجرد موافقة مجلس النواب على استراتيجية اوباما، وقادة الحزب الجمهوري يدركون تماما ان تصويتهم بنعم أجّل المعركة الفاصلة لشهر كانون الاول، بمنح الرئيس دعما ماليا لنهاية العام الجاري. احتمالات الربح والخسارة لدى الطرفين حاضرة في الاذهان. في حال نجاح خطة اوباما والتي وافق عليها الجمهوريون مكرهين سينالهم بعض آيات الثناء لدورهم الفعال. بالمقابل، نظرائهم من الحزب الديموقراطي الذين اعترضوا على خطة اوباما سيتركون يواجهون مصيرهم وحدهم من الانتقادات. اما احتمال الفشل، وهو المرجح، فانه سيوفر للجمهوريين زادا اضافيا للنيل من خصومهم بداء من الرئيس اوباما

معركة السيطرة على مجلس الشيوخ

لدى اقطاب الحزب الجمهوري تفاؤل كبير بالفوز بأغلبية المقاعد في شهر تشرين الثاني المقبل، على الرغم من استقطابات وتغيرات في الخارطة الانتخابية، وكل ما يحتاجونه هو الفوز بستة مقاعد على الاقل. اذ من بين ثوابت النظام السياسي الاميركي ان الحزب المسيطر على منصب الرئاسة سيخسر كثيرا في الانتخابات النصفية، يعززها تدني نسبة التأييد الشعبي للرئيس اوباما لحين اعلانه عن نواياه الحربية

بالمقابل، سيبذل الحزب الديموقراطي قصارى جهوده للاحتفاظ بالمقاعد التي فاز بها بشكل كاسح في الدورة الانتخابية الاخيرة لعام 2008. يحتفظ الديموقراطيون راهنا بثمانية (8) مقاعد يوشك على خسارتها تمثل الولايات التي صوتت لصالح المرشح الرئاسي الجمهوري، ميت رومني، قبل عامين. بالمقابل، لا ينطبق الوضع عينه على الحزب الجمهوري في مناطق تأييده، بل تشير استطلاعات الرأي الى تقدم بسيط لصالح مرشحي الحزب على خصومه الديموقراطيينفي 8 ولايات، اما باقي المقاعد فهي مضمونة النتائج لصالح الجمهوريين

جمهور الحزبين معالمه معروفة ومحددة لهما، اما ما يقلق الطرفين فهي شريحة اطلق عليها تسمية “المترددين” لحين اللحظة الاخيرة، وهي التي يراهن الطرفان على كسب جمهورها. تشكل المجموعة وزنا ذات ثقل معتبر في اي دورة انتخابية ومعظمها يعارض الرئيس اوباما وسياساته، بل اثبتت الدورات الانتخابية المتعاقبة ان اغلبية اصوات “المترددين” تذهب لصالح الحزب الجمهوري. للدلالة، نشرت جامعة كوينيبياك (بولاية كونتيكت) نتائج احدث استطلاعاتها للرأي تدل على على تردي شعبية الحزب الديموقراطي ويعتبر الناخب انه يصوت في الانتخابات النصفية ضد، او انتقاما من، الرئيس اوباما

واوضحت الجامعة ان مقعد ولاية كولورادو اضحى في خطر، وهي تصوت عادة لصالح الحزب الديموقراطي وترسل احد اباطرته الى الكونغرس، مارك يودال، الذي انخفضت نسبة تأييده الى 44% مقابل 50% لخصمه الجمهوري بسبب اصطفاف شريحة المتردين ضد الرئيس اوباما. بات الأمر يدعو الى القلق الشديد، سيما وان كولورادو محسومة تاريخيا للحزب الديموقراطي قد تذهب لصالح الخصم، ومقعد ولاية ايوا ايضا. ويمتد قلق الحزب الى الولايات المحسوبة في خانته تاريخيا، مينيسوتا وديلاوير ونيو جيرسي، انخفضت نسبة التأييد الشعبي لمرشحيه الى ما دون 50%، مما سيفتح الباب على مصراعيه امام الحزب الجمهوري للفوز بأغلبية المقاعد

وعزز القلق ايضا اصدار صحيفة “نيويورك تايمز” نتائج احدث استطلاع اجرته منتصف الاسبوع الجاري يدل على تقدم المرشحين الجمهوريين على خصومهم بنحو 6 نقاط مئوية، ونحو 9 نقاط بين صفوف الناخبين المستقلين. كما دل الاستطلاع على قلق العامة للقضايا الهامة وتأييد الاغلبية للحزب الجمهوري في مجالات متعددة: في حال الاقتصاد بلغ تقدم الجمهوريين 11 نقطة، قضية الارهاب 21 نقطة، السياسة الخارجية 12 نقطة؛ واسفر ايضا على تدني نسبة التأييد العام للرئيس اوباما الى 40%

هذا الاستعراض المفصل للخارطة الانتخابية كان ضروريا للاستدلال على دوافع الحزب الجمهوري وقادته في التصويت لصالح الرئيس اوباما مؤخرا، بعد طول عناء وثبات مواقفهم بتعطيل مشاريعه وافشال سياساته. وبرع هؤلاء في التقاط الفرصة المتاحة لا سيما في دعم ما يسمى “المعارضة السورية المعتدلة” بالرغم من سلسلة اعتراضات قدموها حول المسألة، والتي من شأنها سحب البساط الانتخابي من تحت اقدام الرئيس اوباما وتفنيد مقولته بأن الجمهوريين يعزفون عن العمل سوية معه

بالرغم من كل ما تقدم، فان الوقت لا يزال مبكرا وسابق لاوانه لترجيح كفة على اخرى، الا في حال تضافر عدد من العوامل تؤدي لفوز الحزب الجمهوري بنسبة كاسحة تمكنهم من اختراق المقاعد الثمانية المشار اليها ورفع اكاليل الغار

التقرير الأسبوعي 09-20-2013

:المقدمة 

          استمرت وسائل الاعلام ومراكز النخب الفكرية والسياسية في تداول معطيات استراتيجية اوباما ضد داعش، وكانت الحدث الابرز في معظم التغطيات والنقاشات في كافة المراكز والمؤسسات

          سيسلط قسم التحليل المرفق الاضواء على التجاذبات السياسية الاخيرة في الخارطة الاميركية، لا سيما دعم اغلبية من ممثلي الحزب الجمهوري لسياسته ومعارضة عدد كبير من النواب الديموقراطين. وفاز اوباما في تصويت الكونغرس بفضل الحزب الجمهوري. وسيستعرض ايضا الدوافع التي تقف وراء “الانشطارات” المؤقتة تجسيدا لسياسة حزبية معدة باتقان ودقة للولوج الى الانتخابات النصفية بتفوق الحزب الجمهوري قبل البدء بها

ملخص دراسات ونشاطات مراكزالابحاث

استراتيجية اوباما

          حث مركز الدراسات الاستراتيجية والدولية صناع القرار على بلورة استراتيجية شاملة في المنطقة يشكل التصدي لداعش احد اضلعها. وقال محاربة “الدولة الاسلامية ما هي الا  مواجهة تصدي واحدة للدولة في الصراع على مستقبل الاسلام واستقرار الدول الاسلامية .. وينبغي على الولايات المتحدة انشاء اطار اوسع للعمل مع المسلمين والحلفاء الآخرين، والبناء على الدروس المستفادة من عمليات التصدي للدولة الاسلامية بغية المضي في حرب اطول”

          تناول معهد كارنيغي المخاطر المترتبة على استراتيجية الرئيس اوباما ضد داعش. واوضح ان احداها تكمن في “اعلانه استهداف قادة الدولة الاسلامية، كما اشار الى انتصارات حققها في اليمن والصومال، لن تفضي الى تهيئة الارضية لحلول مستدامة معها .. اذ تنطوي الغارات الجوية على ايقاع المزيد من الضحايا الابرياء وتسهم في زيادة منسوب التطرف”

          حذر معهد كاتو الرئيس اوباما وادارته من ضيق ذرع الشعب الاميركي في حربه ضد داعش. وبالمقارنة فان “تنظيم القاعدة شكل خطرا واضحا قائما للامن القومي الاميركي.” اما داعش في ذهن الجمهور “فلا يرى فيه تهديد مماثل .. خاصة وان المؤسسة الاستخباراتية الاميركية اوضحت رسميا  ان هناك احتمال صفري لمواجهة تحدٍ من نوع استهداف الدولة الاسلامية الاراضي الاميركية.”  وعليه، اضاف المعهد، “وفي ظل عدم توفر تهديد حقيقي من الدولة الاسلامية، فان المردود غير الملموس للحملة تبدو شاحبة بالنسبة للكلفة المرئية ناهيك عن حالة الاحباط.” وحذر من مضي الرئيس اوباما في خطتهاذ “سيوفر ارضية لاعتقاد العديد بأن مجمل الحملة في حقيقتها ترمي الى اعادة رسم (خارطة) الشرق الاوسط، عوضا عن اتخاذ اجراء ضروري للدفاع عن النفس.” وفند المعهد المبررات التي سيقت في السابق لتبرير التدخل اذ ان ” “الشعب الاميركي سئم من مبدأ بناء الدولة” ونشر الديموقراطية

          ناشد مركز السياسة الأمنية الادارة الاميركية بعدم ضم ايران في التحالف الدولي، محملا اياها “مسؤولية كبيرة في تأجيج التوترات المذهبية في العراق منذ عام 2011 نتيجة دعمها الثابت لحكومة نوري المالكي.” ومضى محذرا من تداعيات انخراطها “المتزايد والذي من شأنه اقصاء سنة العراق “

          تناول مركز الأمن الاميركي الجديد مسألة الارهاب بشكل اوسع من زاوية الثروات المتراكمة لدى داعش وقدرته على التمويل الذاتي محذرا من”سيطرة داعش على حقول النفط في سورية والعراق .. للتزود بالوقود اللازم له وبيعه بطرق غير مشروعة .. تصل قيمته نحو 2 مليون دولار يوميا.” واخطر المركز صناع القرار من تداعيات تمدد داعش وتوغله “داخل الاراضي العراقية، وامكانية سيطرته الحقيقية على حقول النفط في اقليم كردستان “

نفوذ قطر

          اشار معهد كارنيغي الى “الفشل الذريع للسياسة القَطَرية الرامية الى توطيد نفوذها في الاقليم .. التي عادة تتميز بالتوسع والعقلانية.” واضاف انها كغيرها من اللاعبين “راهنت على الاطراف الرابحة وتساوقت مع الرياح السياسية والعمل مع عدد من الاطراف، حتى المتقلبة منها مثل المجموعات الجهادية.” وحول تغير المسارات وتداعياتها اوضح المعهد انه منذ عام 2011 “تعاني سياسة قطر الخارجية من سوء التقدير، والتحديات الداخلية، والضغوط الدولية .. ودخلت جراء ذلك في مرحلة الانكماش.” واعتبر المعهد ان تنافس قطر مع السعودية قد اضرّ بها “وينبغي عليها التعاطي مع الأمر بشكل مشترك وهو المفتاح لبسط نفوذها في الاقليم”

تركيا

          تأرجح تركيا مرة اخرى نحو التكامل مع الاتحاد الاوروبي كان موضع اهتمام صندوق جيرمان مارشال الذي اعرب عن خشيته من الأمر اذ “تستخدمه السلطات التركية منصة انطلاق لاحياء الامبراطورية التركية ومجد العثمانيين، او ربما خطوة تكتيكية لتوطيد اقدامها في السلطة وتمديد أمد الحصانة” من الملاحقة القانونية التي يتمتع المسؤولون بها. وناشد المعهد “دول الاتحاد الاوروبي والاحزاب المعارضة استغلال الفرصة المتاحة لالزام تركيا تطبيق الاصلاحات المطلوبة لعضوية اوروبية مستدامة”

:التحليل

داعش يرجح التصويت في الكونغرس الاميركي    تأجيـل المعركة الفاصلة الى نهاية العام

          ثمة اجماع في عاصمة القرار على ان الرئيس اوباما شد الرحال باتجاه معسكر الحرب وصقور السياسة، مما وفر له الدعم الميسر لسياسته المعلنة مؤخرا، بل “كوفيء” بمصادقة الكونغرس على توفير مبلغ 500 مليون دولار اضافي تنفق على تجهيز وتسليح قوى المعارضة السورية المسلحة. وصوت لصالح القرار عدد كبير من الاعضاء الجمهوريين، 159 مقابل 114 للنواب عن الحزب الديموقراطي، وعارضه 85 عضو من الحزب الديموقراطي مقابل 71 معارض من الحزب المنافس. محصلة الأمر ان فوز اوباما تحقق على ايدي النواب الجمهوريين

بعبارة اخرى تبنى الجمهوريون سياسة اوباما التصعيدية التي تكمل سياسات سلفه جورج بوش الابن، رغم لهجة الخطاب السياسي العلني في انتقاده، ومعارضة معتبرة من قبل حزبه الديموقراطي، نحو 40%. وجاء اوضح تصريح عقب التصويت على لسان رئيس مجلس النواب (الجمهوري)، جون بينر، قائلا “بصراحة اعتقد ان ما يطلبه الرئيس اوباما سويّ .. لا ارى اي عائق امامنا لرفض ما يطلبه منا الرئيس.” بينما اعرب احد اقطاب الحزب الديموقراطي المعتبرين، جيم ماكغفرن، عن عميق قلقه لشن غارات جوية في الاجواء العراقية واصفا ذاك القرار الرئاسي بأنه “مثير للسخرية”

يذكر ان اقطاب الحزب الجمهوري اشاعوا في البدء ضرورة توجه الرئيس اوباما للكونغرس لنيل تفويض لسياسته المعلنة في العراق، ومن ثم تراجع هؤلاء عن هذا الشرط. بل اوضح رئيس مجلس النواب ان “الرئيس هو المخول بتقرير التوجه للكونغرس للتصويت على ذاك التفويض من عدمه، والادارة لم تقدم على ذلك بعد”

تجدر الاشارة الى ان عددا كبيرا من نواب الحزبين في الكونغرس أتى من خلفية عسكرية وهمالذين عارضوا استراتيجية اوباما. وجاء على لسان النائب والعضو السابق في سلاح مشاة البحرية، المارينز، دانكان هنتر الذي قضى بعض خدمته في العراق وافغانستان، ان الاستراتيجية المعلنة “لا تساوي شيئا” ولا يمكنها تدمير الدولة الاسلامية. نظيره الديموقراطي تولسي غابارد، عن ولاية هوايي والذي خدم في العراق، وصف الاستراتيجية بأنها “غير واقعية .. وستستغرق زمنا طويلا قبل ان تلوح بوادرها في الافق”

الاجابة على تحول بعض موازين القوى في هذه المرحلة، دعم الجمهوريين للرئيس اوباما، تتعلق بالانتخابات النصفية المقبلة وعينهم على الفوز بأغلبية مجلس الشيوخ والاحتفاظ بأغلبية مجلس النواب، ولخشيتهم ان تؤثر معارضتهم الثابتة للرئيس اوباما على نتائج تلك الانتخابات. ولعل الادق ان ما تبقى من زمن لحين شهر الانتخابات، تشرين الثاني، ان اقطاب الحزب الجمهوري سحبوا البساط من تحت قادة الحزب الديموقراطي ورموا جانبا الاتهامات الموجهة لهم “بتعطيل الاداء الحكومي والتسبب في الطريق المسدود”

وأتت حملة التعبئة الاعلامية أكلها في الوعي العام، اذ اظهر احدث استطلاعات للرأي تنامي الدعم الشعبي لسياسة اوباما في العراق وسورية، 53% بعد خطاب الرئيس، مقابل 42% قبل ذلك. اي ان الكفة تميل لصالح معسكر الحرب الذي يتزعمه خطاب الحزب الجمهوري، ولا شك ان قادته قرأوا النبض الشعبي بدقة عقب حملة اعلامية وسياسية مكثفة ومدروسة

في هذا الصدد، اشار عدد من استطلاعات الرأي في الآونة الاخيرة الى تنامي الدعم الشعبي لخطاب اوباما المفعم بمفردات الحرب ضد داعش. واوردت شبكة (ان بي سي) للتلفزة ان التأييد بلغ 62%، وشخصته وكالة رويترز للانباء بنسبة 64%، ومعهد بيو بنسبة 53%. الملفت في تلك الحزمة من الاستطلاعات ان تأييد اوباما بين الجمهوريين بلغ 64%، بينما بين اوساط الديموقراطيين فقد بلغ 60%. وذهب استطلاع وكالة رويترز بالقول ان اغلبية الشعب الاميركي، 53%، يؤيد استراتيجية اوباما المعلنة حتى لو استغرقت سنتين او ثلاث، كما قدرها البيت الابيض

نتائج الاستطلاعات لفتت قادة الحزب الجمهوري الذين اعتادوا على افشال اي مشروع او اقتراح مقدم من السلطة الرئاسية، واثارت بعض القلق بين اوساطهم. وخياراتهم في هذه المرحلة الدقيقة احلاها مر: المضي بمعاداة ورفض توجه اوباما نحو الدولة الاسلامية، كما اعتادوا، ينطوي على مغامرة سياسية كبرى من شأنها توفير مزيد من ذخيرة الهجوم على الحزب الجمهوري من الرئيس اوباما وحزبه؛ او اعلان التأييد للرئيس مرة وحيدة والتطلع نحو الفوز بنسبة الاغلبية في الانتخابات المقبلة والسيطرة على مجلسي الكونغرس

بالطبع التجاذب بين الحزبين لن ينتهي بمجرد موافقة مجلس النواب على استراتيجية اوباما، وقادة الحزب الجمهوري يدركون تماما ان تصويتهم بنعم أجّل المعركة الفاصلة لشهر كانون الاول، بمنح الرئيس دعما ماليا لنهاية العام الجاري. احتمالات الربح والخسارة لدى الطرفين حاضرة في الاذهان. في حال نجاح خطة اوباما والتي وافق عليها الجمهوريون مكرهين سينالهم بعض آيات الثناء لدورهم الفعال. بالمقابل، نظرائهم من الحزب الديموقراطي الذين اعترضوا على خطة اوباما سيتركون يواجهون مصيرهم وحدهم من الانتقادات. اما احتمال الفشل، وهو المرجح، فانه سيوفر للجمهوريين زادا اضافيا للنيل من خصومهم بداء من الرئيس اوباما

معركة السيطرة على مجلس الشيوخ

لدى اقطاب الحزب الجمهوري تفاؤل كبير بالفوز بأغلبية المقاعد في شهر تشرين الثاني المقبل، على الرغم من استقطابات وتغيرات في الخارطة الانتخابية، وكل ما يحتاجونه هو الفوز بستة مقاعد على الاقل. اذ من بين ثوابت النظام السياسي الاميركي ان الحزب المسيطر على منصب الرئاسة سيخسر كثيرا في الانتخابات النصفية، يعززها تدني نسبة التأييد الشعبي للرئيس اوباما لحين اعلانه عن نواياه الحربية

بالمقابل، سيبذل الحزب الديموقراطي قصارى جهوده للاحتفاظ بالمقاعد التي فاز بها بشكل كاسح في الدورة الانتخابية الاخيرة لعام 2008. يحتفظ الديموقراطيون راهنا بثمانية (8) مقاعد يوشك على خسارتها تمثل الولايات التي صوتت لصالح المرشح الرئاسي الجمهوري، ميت رومني، قبل عامين. بالمقابل، لا ينطبق الوضع عينه على الحزب الجمهوري في مناطق تأييده، بل تشير استطلاعات الرأي الى تقدم بسيط لصالح مرشحي الحزب على خصومه الديموقراطيينفي 8 ولايات، اما باقي المقاعد فهي مضمونة النتائج لصالح الجمهوريين

جمهور الحزبين معالمه معروفة ومحددة لهما، اما ما يقلق الطرفين فهي شريحة اطلق عليها تسمية “المترددين” لحين اللحظة الاخيرة، وهي التي يراهن الطرفان على كسب جمهورها. تشكل المجموعة وزنا ذات ثقل معتبر في اي دورة انتخابية ومعظمها يعارض الرئيس اوباما وسياساته، بل اثبتت الدورات الانتخابية المتعاقبة ان اغلبية اصوات “المترددين” تذهب لصالح الحزب الجمهوري. للدلالة، نشرت جامعة كوينيبياك (بولاية كونتيكت) نتائج احدث استطلاعاتها للرأي تدل على على تردي شعبية الحزب الديموقراطي ويعتبر الناخب انه يصوت في الانتخابات النصفية ضد، او انتقاما من، الرئيس اوباما

واوضحت الجامعة ان مقعد ولاية كولورادو اضحى في خطر، وهي تصوت عادة لصالح الحزب الديموقراطي وترسل احد اباطرته الى الكونغرس، مارك يودال، الذي انخفضت نسبة تأييده الى 44% مقابل 50% لخصمه الجمهوري بسبب اصطفاف شريحة المتردين ضد الرئيس اوباما. بات الأمر يدعو الى القلق الشديد، سيما وان كولورادو محسومة تاريخيا للحزب الديموقراطي قد تذهب لصالح الخصم، ومقعد ولاية ايوا ايضا. ويمتد قلق الحزب الى الولايات المحسوبة في خانته تاريخيا، مينيسوتا وديلاوير ونيو جيرسي، انخفضت نسبة التأييد الشعبي لمرشحيه الى ما دون 50%، مما سيفتح الباب على مصراعيه امام الحزب الجمهوري للفوز بأغلبية المقاعد

وعزز القلق ايضا اصدار صحيفة “نيويورك تايمز” نتائج احدث استطلاع اجرته منتصف الاسبوع الجاري يدل على تقدم المرشحين الجمهوريين على خصومهم بنحو 6 نقاط مئوية، ونحو 9 نقاط بين صفوف الناخبين المستقلين. كما دل الاستطلاع على قلق العامة للقضايا الهامة وتأييد الاغلبية للحزب الجمهوري في مجالات متعددة: في حال الاقتصاد بلغ تقدم الجمهوريين 11 نقطة، قضية الارهاب 21 نقطة، السياسة الخارجية 12 نقطة؛ واسفر ايضا على تدني نسبة التأييد العام للرئيس اوباما الى 40%

هذا الاستعراض المفصل للخارطة الانتخابية كان ضروريا للاستدلال على دوافع الحزب الجمهوري وقادته في التصويت لصالح الرئيس اوباما مؤخرا، بعد طول عناء وثبات مواقفهم بتعطيل مشاريعه وافشال سياساته. وبرع هؤلاء في التقاط الفرصة المتاحة لا سيما في دعم ما يسمى “المعارضة السورية المعتدلة” بالرغم من سلسلة اعتراضات قدموها حول المسألة، والتي من شأنها سحب البساط الانتخابي من تحت اقدام الرئيس اوباما وتفنيد مقولته بأن الجمهوريين يعزفون عن العمل سوية معه

بالرغم من كل ما تقدم، فان الوقت لا يزال مبكرا وسابق لاوانه لترجيح كفة على اخرى، الا في حال تضافر عدد من العوامل تؤدي لفوز الحزب الجمهوري بنسبة كاسحة تمكنهم من اختراق المقاعد الثمانية المشار اليها ورفع اكاليل الغار

Analysis 09-13-2014

 

ANALYSIS

 

Obama Attempts to Manage ISIS Crisis

Obama’s speech addressing ISIS on Wednesday wasn’t an attempt to defeat ISIS and its threat to the Middle East as much as it was political and an attempt to manage domestic political considerations.  In fact, one column on the speech was titled, “Obama Declares War on His Bad Poll Numbers.”

After first calling ISIS a junior varsity team and then blithely telling reporters that he had no strategy to handle ISIS, Obama has seen his ratings plummet.  A Fox News poll released the day after the speech showed that voters don’t think Obama can handle foreign policy. Only 34 percent of those surveyed approve of Obama’s handling of foreign policy and 59 percent think the U.S. is less respected today than when Obama took office. Among independents, key voting groups that will swing this year’s midterm election, a full 67 percent feel the U.S. is less respected. Even 35 percent of Democrats now agree the U.S. has lost respect, compared with just 20 percent who think the U.S. is more respected.

Even worse for Obama, an increasing number of voters no longer take him seriously on foreign policy. An astonishing 55 percent of voters say they feel embarrassed that Obama hasn’t articulated a strategy to combat ISIS until now.  A Gallup poll also released on Thursday showed that only 32 percent of Americans think that Obama and the Democrats can protect America from terrorist and military threats.  55 percent think the Republicans can do a better job.

These aren’t numbers that Obama wants to see just weeks before the mid term elections that could give control of the Senate to the Republicans.

It was this political reality that forced Obama to address ISIS rather than his desire to truly defeat it.  In fact, the need for political damage control was most obvious as Obama repeatedly used the word, “strategy” in his speech in order to follow up his statement two weeks ago that, “We don’t have a strategy yet” to confront ISIS in Syria.

The domestic aspect of the speech was quickly highlighted in the hours following the speech, when Britain, Germany, and Turkey indicated that they wouldn’t participate.  In fact, Germany indicated it wasn’t even consulted.  German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told a news conference in Berlin Thursday that Germany has not been asked to take part in the air strikes and would not be participating. “To be quite clear, we have not been asked to do so and neither will we do so,” Steinmeier said.

If the speech had been a well thought out attempt to rally international support to stop ISIS, these allies would have been consulted beforehand and been “onboard” before the speech was made.  By not consulting them, the White House clearly showed that the speech was mainly for domestic political consumption.

The speech itself was broad in tone and lacking in details.  Obama said ISIS poses a threat to Iraq, Syria and the broader Middle East – including American citizens, personnel and facilities.  “If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States,” he said. “While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies. Our intelligence community believes that thousands of foreigners – including Europeans and some Americans – have joined them in Syria and Iraq. Trained and battle-hardened, these fighters could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks.

“I know many Americans are concerned about these threats. Tonight, I want you to know that the United States of America is meeting them with strength and resolve.”

The president announced “a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy” to “degrade, and ultimately destroy,” ISIS.  “First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists,” he said. “Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense…Second, we will increase our support to forces fighting these terrorists on the ground.”

Obama also pledged the U.S. would continue to draw on counterterrorism capabilities to prevent ISIS attacks by cutting off its funding, improving intelligence, strengthening U.S. defenses and stemming the flow of foreign fighters into and out of the Middle East.  “And in two weeks, I will chair a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to further mobilize the international community around this effort,” he added.

Lastly, Obama said the U.S. would provide humanitarian aid to civilians, including Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities who have been driven from their homes.

Will the Obama Strategy Work?

One way to judge the potential for success is to look at the reaction by America’s NATO allies.  That alone should cause worry as Britain, Germany, and Turkey have already said they will not participate in the bombing of Syria.  This indicates that contrary to the implications in the speech about a broad coalition, many nations are leery about the Obama strategy.

One problem was the lack of details on defeating ISIS and the limited effort being made by the US.  Obama did not announce any new actions, beyond sending fewer than 500 military members to Iraq, and repeated request for Congress to fund training of Syrian opposition forces. He said “I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria,” but cautioned that “it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL.”

Obama insisted that this limited involvement in the region would work and gave the examples of Somalia and Yemen as proof that this strategy would bear fruit.  The problem is that these two countries are not the best examples of America’s victory over terrorism.

Admittedly, the US has had some successes in Yemen and Somalia while limiting the monetary cost and not exposing Americans to combat situations.  However, these are not overwhelming successes that imply a future victory against ISIS.

America has successfully used drones to kill many terrorists in Yemen and Somalia, but hasn’t destroyed or even significantly degraded terrorist capabilities of the key groups in either country.  In addition, both countries are almost as unstable as they were five years ago.  Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) remains a terrorist threat. Its leader, Nasser al Wahayshi, became al Qaeda’s general manager in August 2013, in fact. Its threats caused the closure of over 20 U.S. diplomatic posts across the Middle East and North Africa at that time. Its bomb maker, Ibrahim al Asiri, was behind a threat to U.S. airlines just over six months ago. AQAP is still trying to kill Americans and continues to probe U.S. security for a chance to do so.

 

It’s hard to call that success.

In the meantime, American drone attacks that have killed civilians have cost the US dearly in the region.

Another problem with the Obama strategy is the overreliance on air power and the unwillingness to commit forces to the ground war.

It has been a military axiom since World War Two that despite modern technology like missiles, aircraft, and precision targeting, it is still the soldier who must occupy and hold the ground.  By relying on surgical air strikes, Obama is forced to rely upon frequently untrained and potentially unreliable forces to occupy the ground in Iraq and Syria.  Admittedly, nearly 500 American Special forces soldiers will go into the area to train Kurds and other militia members, but those trainees will not be ready for combat operations for many months.

The other problem with the military aspect of the new Obama strategy is that he insists on treating ISIS like a terrorist cell instead of a quasi-nation.  ISIS controls and governs enormous territory in Iraq and Syria.  It has a conventional army that though lightly armed compared to traditional Western armies, is supported by armored vehicles and has the potential to field tanks and even some military aircraft.  It has combat experience – ranging from guerrilla warfare to conventional set piece tactics.  It has also fought and defeated several regular military units from Iraq, Syria, and Kurdistan.

Not only is ISIS not a terrorist organization, its goals are more akin to those of a nation state than a group of terrorists.  ISIS has stated that it wants to conquer the territory of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan,” Israel”, and the Palestinian Territories.  This means it needs to be attacked like a country rather than a terrorist cell.

This is something that the American people understand.  According to the Fox News poll, Obama’s strategy to treat ISIS like a large terrorist organization and to combat the group using air power and surrogate forces on the ground generates some skepticism. “By nearly two-to-one, voters think it will take boots on the ground to defeat ISIS (51 percent) rather than airstrikes alone,” reports Fox News pollster Dana Blanton.

This brings us back to the original purpose of the speech – to stop Obama’s plummeting popularity.

In order for the speech to reverse Obama’s foreign policy weaknesses, he must be perceived as being serious and taking a course that will solve the problem.  However, American voters clearly think that defeating ISIS will require more action by the US than Obama is willing to take.  By that standard alone, the speech will be considered a failure.

Obama is clearly out of his depth when dealing with ISIS.  Although warned about its threat over a year ago, he ignored the problem and downplayed it when questioned about it.  He has consistently refused to take the advice of experts on dealing with the radical Islamic threat posed by the unrest in Syria and Iraq.  His actions up to this point have been purely for domestic political consumption rather than national or international security concerns.

This speech is merely the latest attempt to politically neutralize an international threat that threatens to shift the US Senate into Republican hands.

Unless ISIS starts to collapse from internal forces, the course set out by Obama this week will not guarantee their defeat.  In the end, Obama’s war on ISIS and his bad poll numbers will both be failures.

 

 

PUBLICATIONS

Nation Building Isn’t Needed to Fight ISIS

By Christopher A. Preble

Cato Institute

September 10, 2014

In his speech to the American people tonight, President Obama aims to build support for a protracted military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  It doesn’t have to be a hard sell. A majority of Americans support a military response—though not U.S. troops on the ground. Very few are content with allowing ISIS to spread its influence with impunity, especially after the brutal killing of the American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. The group has effectively declared itself an enemy of the United States, and there is growing support for action against the group before it even attempts an attack on the U.S. homeland (something that it appears only to be aspiring to, as opposed to actively planning for).

Read more

 

 

Key Factors Shaping the President’s Islamic State Speech

By Anthony H. Cordesman

Center for Strategic and International Studies

September 9, 2014

Commentary

There are several critical aspects of the U.S. strategy in Iraq that the President may not be able to address in full. They will, however, be critical to what the United States can and cannot do in the future.  The United States Already Has a Strategy.  The real world context is important. The President is now trapped to some extent by his previous misstatement about the United States not having a strategy. Anyone who looks seriously at the timeline of U.S. action will see he is now formally announcing a strategy that the United States not only had already developed in July, but partly begun to implement after the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) first made major gains back in December 2013. At the same time, there are many good reasons the President needs to be cautious about what he says and not speak too openly about the details.

Read more

 

 

Obama’s ISIS speech: AEI scholars react

American Enterprise Institute

September 11, 2014

Let’s get one thing clear: it’s not the job of the president of the United States to determine what Islam is or is not, what Christianity is or is not, and what Judaism is or is not. Religion is what its practitioners believe it to be. That President Obama begins with a politically correct paean and only addresses the Islamic State’s ideology as a passing thought later on undercuts the seriousness of a very good speech, one that calls for the Islamic State’s defeat without any artificial timeline and recognizes that a return to Bashar Assad’s rule is no option.  The problem lies with Obama’s inability to separate theory from reality. Alliances may sound good on paper, but they can also be an Achilles’ heel: Turkey has become Pakistan on the Med, saying one thing to our diplomats while coddling the adversaries we fight behind our backs. Most jihadis transit Turkey and cross the Turkish border for the cost of a $40 bribe. Trust Saudi Arabia with running counter radicalization programs? That’s like having Bernie Madoff teach accounting.

Read more

 

 

Defeating the Islamic State Requires a Saudi-Iranian Compromise

By Lina Khatib

Carnegie Endowment

September 3, 2014

Airstrikes are intensifying on areas of Iraq held by the militant Islamic State, and the group has beheaded a second American hostage. But clear indications of a strategy to tackle the escalating Islamic State problem are hard to find. Indeed, in a statement in late August, U.S. President Barack Obama affirmed that the United States did not yet have a strategy to combat this militant threat.  The president did, however, single out further cooperation with “Sunni partners” against the Islamic State. Such regional partnerships are necessary, but putting such an emphasis on Sunni players misses a crucial component without which no strategy against the Islamic State will succeed: finding a way to appease the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

Read more

 

 

The Islamic State’s Electronic Outreach

By Lawrence Husick

Foreign Policy Research Institute

September 2014

Over the past several months the world has witnessed a new media creation of jihadis – al Hayat (“life”) Media Center (not to be confused with the liberal pan-Arab newspaper of the same name) – and has seen a new level of sophistication in messaging and brutality in content, and of effectiveness in communication. In print through the glossy online magazine “Dabiq” and on the Internet in video bearing the al Hayat brand, the victories of the new mujahideen (holy fighters) of the “Islamic State” and their efforts to “purify” dar al Islam (the lands of Islam) are glorified and chronicled. These media efforts have effectively silenced most other jihadi channels, and have drowned out all efforts of the West to counter this Internet onslaught.

Read more

 

 

Unwanted, Unwelcome: Anti-Immigration Attitudes in Turkey

By Emre Erdogan

German Marshall Fund

September 10, 2014

Until the spread of the Arab Spring and the conflict in Syria, Turkey was known as a “sending” country in terms of international migration. When it was founded in 1924, around 60 percent of the citizens of the young Turkish republic were either first or second-generation immigrants from the former Ottoman realms.  More recently, according to available statistics, only 2 percent of Turkey’s population immediately before the Arab Spring consisted of immigrants and the majority of those were from ex-Ottoman territories, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Bulgaria.  Immigrants became visible in Turkey when the direction of migration flow changed.

Read more

 

Obama Changed His Mind about Syria, Now He Needs to Explain Why

By William McCants

Brookings Institution

September 10, 2014

A year ago today, President Obama addressed the American public. In his speech, the president explained why the United States should attack Syria to punish its ruler for ignoring Obama’s warning not to use chemical weapons. But a war-weary American public balked and the president ultimately decided against military action. Today, the president is again going to argue for military action inside Syria and this time the American public supports him. But instead of initiating attacks on a sovereign state, we contemplate extending a weeks-old war against an insurgent pretender to statehood.  The Islamic State has been around for a while and, despite sharing the global jihadi ideology that calls for the destruction of the United States, the president and the American public were not too worried about it previously. What changed the president’s calculations and those of the public are the Islamic State’s actions this summer. The group took over large swathes of territory in Iraq, prompting the president to launch airstrikes to halt their advance on the capital of our allies in Baghdad. When the group responded by beheading American journalists, American support for military action against them soared.

Read more

 

 

Defeating ISIS: An Integrated Strategy to Advance Middle East Stability

By Brian Katulis, Hardin Lang, and Vikram Singh

Center for American Progress

September 10, 2014

U.S. airstrikes in Iraq against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, have been an important step to contain the rise of the extremist group, respond to immediate threats to U.S. citizens in Iraq, and prevent possible acts of genocide. These airstrikes enabled Iraqis to resist ISIS and bought time for the Iraqi government to begin building a more inclusive administration under a new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi.* But as the Center for American Progress noted in a June report, U.S. military action needs to be just one part of a long-term multinational political and security strategy in the region.  The new strategy should aim to contain and degrade ISIS and enable regional partners to continue to build the tools needed to defeat ISIS’s movement with international support. This report outlines actions to advance three core strategic goals:

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Mounzer A. Sleiman Ph.D.
Center for American and Arab Studies
Think Tanks Monitor

 

www.thinktankmonitor.org

C: 202 536 8984             C: 301 509 4144

Week of September 13th, 2014

Executive Summary

 

ISIS was clearly the issue of the week at the Washington think tank community looked forward to Obama’s Wednesday evening address to the nation on ISIS.  Needless to say, much of the commentary was on this subject and what each think tank thought was the most important strategy to pursue.

The Monitor Analysis looks at the speech and notes that it was more political than a cohesive plan to destroy ISIS.  Not only did the White House not consult many key allies before the speech, it was vague in specifics.  And, the specifics mentioned are unlikely to defeat ISIS by themselves.  Consequently, the speech must be seen as an attempt to fight the falling approval numbers of the president in the run up to the mid-term elections in 7 weeks.

 

Think Tanks Activity Summary

American Enterprise Institute scholars react to Obama’s speech – mostly negatively.  One scholar, Michael Rubin noted, “Nor does Obama realize that pinprick strikes are never enough. My colleague Katie Zimmerman has talked about the fallacy of the Yemen model. Somalia, too, is no example. That country is stabilizing not because of limited airstrikes, but rather because the African Union occupied the country to fight Al-Shabaab where they ate and slept.  It’s good to have a strategy. But national security should never be sacrificed upon the altar of diplomatic whimsy, political correctness, or twisted history.”

The Carnegie Endowment notes that defeating ISIS will require cooperation between Saudi Arabia.  In noting the difficulties, they say, “However, despite sharing animosity toward the Islamic State with Iran, Saudi Arabia is still concerned about what would happen if the group were eradicated as the situation in Iraq and Syria currently stands. In Syria, the Assad regime is stronger than the moderate opposition, while Iraq still has not formed a national unity government. The eradication of the Islamic State without alternatives to the Assad regime and to a Shia-dominated government in Baghdad would mean the survival of Iran’s two allies in those countries. The continuation of the political status quo in Syria and Iraq would consolidate Iran’s influence in the region.”

The Brookings Institution looks at the inconsistencies of Obama’s policy towards ISIS over the last year.  They suggest that Obama be clear on the threat posed by ISIS and realistic about the difficulty of destroying them, and explain how to prevent similar groups from emerging in the aftermath of their defeat.

The CSIS looks at the factors that govern and limit Obama’s actions against ISIS.  “They note, “Limited U.S. airpower may be able to contain the Islamic State, but it will take a far larger air campaign to defeat it in Iraq and a campaign that strikes targets in Syria to have any chance of reducing the Islamic State back to a small extremist faction with only limited support. In practice, air power must be extended well beyond targeting forward IS combat elements and strike at the entire leadership, military forces, key cadres, and key strategic political and economic centers of IS operations. This will, however, take time if the United States is to minimize civilian casualties and collateral damage. It will require creating an extremely sophisticated intelligence, targeting, and damage assessment capability. And, it can only succeed even in Iraq if the Iraqi government and Iraqi forces make the previous kinds of reform.”

The Center for American Progress looks at strategies for defeating ISIS.  Amongst their many suggestions, they mention, “A successful U.S. strategy will require reinvigorated support for Syrian opposition forces to establish a third way that is opposed to President Bashar al-Assad’s regime on one side and ISIS on the other. This reinvigorated support should include the $500 million of additional assistance that President Obama proposed in June. With 10 nations agreeing to work together against ISIS during the NATO summit in Wales and the Arab League announcing a joint commitment to fight ISIS, the foundation for such international cooperation is taking shape. These countries—including the United Kingdom, Germany, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates—should match their commitment on paper with financial and material resources to complement the resources committed by the United States in the fight against ISIS.”

The Cato Institute argues for a limited strategy to defeat ISIS.  They conclude, “Simply put, a full-scale ground war with U.S. troops doing most of the fighting isn’t necessary. ISIS currently presents, at worst, a minor and manageable threat to U.S. security. The group has many enemies, and they are growing more determined to resist it by the day. If ISIS expands the territory under its control, it will acquire even more enemies. If it attempts to consolidate control in the territory it already has, it will engender resistance and opposition, as al Qaeda did in western Iraq in 2006.  There is a military mission available—targeted air strikes against ISIS extremists, and military assistance to Kurdish and Iraqi forces taking the fight to them on the ground—that can degrade ISIS’s capabilities, and complicate its now very limited ability to attack the United States. The president should focus upon that narrow mission, and resist the calls to launch the U.S. military on yet another quixotic nation-building crusade in the Middle East.”

The Foreign Policy Research Institute looks at ISIS’s sophisticated electronic media outreach.  They note, “gruesome videos are interspersed with those explaining that IS is governing for the benefit of Muslims in the areas that it controls. Scenes of food distribution, medical care, giving of alms, and devout mass prayer are common, and produced in a style reminiscent of USAID and Peace Corps documentaries extolling the virtues of United States foreign aid programs. These videos, narrated and subtitled in English, are aimed at Western professionals, and explain that it is now a duty of Muslims to emigrate to the IS to care for its people and to help build and expand the new Caliphate, which the leader, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, proclaimed on June 29, 2014. A sister publication, “IS Report” features English language articles about how the IS has established an office of Consumer Protection, and how it operates seminars to train imams in the Wahabi doctrines of Shaikh Ali Al-Khudair, a Saudi cleric famous for his fatwa in 2001 calling on his followers to rejoice in the 9/11 attacks. IS Report also features photos of executions for violation of Islamic law, battlefield victories, and of new recruits from around the world.”

The German Marshall Fund talks about the anti-immigrant attitude in Turkey.  As immigrants in Turkey became more visible, so did a previously hidden problem: the intolerance of Turkish citizens toward immigrants. Several surveys reveal that Turkish citizens have a less than welcoming attitude regarding immigrants, and this attitude is often fanned by politicians and the media. This policy brief explains the reasons for this and recommends actions to reverse this trend.

 

 

ANALYSIS

 

Obama Attempts to Manage ISIS Crisis

Obama’s speech addressing ISIS on Wednesday wasn’t an attempt to defeat ISIS and its threat to the Middle East as much as it was political and an attempt to manage domestic political considerations.  In fact, one column on the speech was titled, “Obama Declares War on His Bad Poll Numbers.”

After first calling ISIS a junior varsity team and then blithely telling reporters that he had no strategy to handle ISIS, Obama has seen his ratings plummet.  A Fox News poll released the day after the speech showed that voters don’t think Obama can handle foreign policy. Only 34 percent of those surveyed approve of Obama’s handling of foreign policy and 59 percent think the U.S. is less respected today than when Obama took office. Among independents, key voting groups that will swing this year’s midterm election, a full 67 percent feel the U.S. is less respected. Even 35 percent of Democrats now agree the U.S. has lost respect, compared with just 20 percent who think the U.S. is more respected.

Even worse for Obama, an increasing number of voters no longer take him seriously on foreign policy. An astonishing 55 percent of voters say they feel embarrassed that Obama hasn’t articulated a strategy to combat ISIS until now.  A Gallup poll also released on Thursday showed that only 32 percent of Americans think that Obama and the Democrats can protect America from terrorist and military threats.  55 percent think the Republicans can do a better job.

These aren’t numbers that Obama wants to see just weeks before the mid term elections that could give control of the Senate to the Republicans.

It was this political reality that forced Obama to address ISIS rather than his desire to truly defeat it.  In fact, the need for political damage control was most obvious as Obama repeatedly used the word, “strategy” in his speech in order to follow up his statement two weeks ago that, “We don’t have a strategy yet” to confront ISIS in Syria.

The domestic aspect of the speech was quickly highlighted in the hours following the speech, when Britain, Germany, and Turkey indicated that they wouldn’t participate.  In fact, Germany indicated it wasn’t even consulted.  German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told a news conference in Berlin Thursday that Germany has not been asked to take part in the air strikes and would not be participating. “To be quite clear, we have not been asked to do so and neither will we do so,” Steinmeier said.

If the speech had been a well thought out attempt to rally international support to stop ISIS, these allies would have been consulted beforehand and been “onboard” before the speech was made.  By not consulting them, the White House clearly showed that the speech was mainly for domestic political consumption.

The speech itself was broad in tone and lacking in details.  Obama said ISIS poses a threat to Iraq, Syria and the broader Middle East – including American citizens, personnel and facilities.  “If left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond that region, including to the United States,” he said. “While we have not yet detected specific plotting against our homeland, ISIL leaders have threatened America and our allies. Our intelligence community believes that thousands of foreigners – including Europeans and some Americans – have joined them in Syria and Iraq. Trained and battle-hardened, these fighters could try to return to their home countries and carry out deadly attacks.

“I know many Americans are concerned about these threats. Tonight, I want you to know that the United States of America is meeting them with strength and resolve.”

The president announced “a comprehensive and sustained counter-terrorism strategy” to “degrade, and ultimately destroy,” ISIS.  “First, we will conduct a systematic campaign of airstrikes against these terrorists,” he said. “Working with the Iraqi government, we will expand our efforts beyond protecting our own people and humanitarian missions, so that we’re hitting ISIL targets as Iraqi forces go on offense…Second, we will increase our support to forces fighting these terrorists on the ground.”

Obama also pledged the U.S. would continue to draw on counterterrorism capabilities to prevent ISIS attacks by cutting off its funding, improving intelligence, strengthening U.S. defenses and stemming the flow of foreign fighters into and out of the Middle East.  “And in two weeks, I will chair a meeting of the U.N. Security Council to further mobilize the international community around this effort,” he added.

Lastly, Obama said the U.S. would provide humanitarian aid to civilians, including Sunni and Shiite Muslims, Christians and other religious minorities who have been driven from their homes.

Will the Obama Strategy Work?

One way to judge the potential for success is to look at the reaction by America’s NATO allies.  That alone should cause worry as Britain, Germany, and Turkey have already said they will not participate in the bombing of Syria.  This indicates that contrary to the implications in the speech about a broad coalition, many nations are leery about the Obama strategy.

One problem was the lack of details on defeating ISIS and the limited effort being made by the US.  Obama did not announce any new actions, beyond sending fewer than 500 military members to Iraq, and repeated request for Congress to fund training of Syrian opposition forces. He said “I will not hesitate to take action against ISIL in Syria,” but cautioned that “it will take time to eradicate a cancer like ISIL.”

Obama insisted that this limited involvement in the region would work and gave the examples of Somalia and Yemen as proof that this strategy would bear fruit.  The problem is that these two countries are not the best examples of America’s victory over terrorism.

Admittedly, the US has had some successes in Yemen and Somalia while limiting the monetary cost and not exposing Americans to combat situations.  However, these are not overwhelming successes that imply a future victory against ISIS.

America has successfully used drones to kill many terrorists in Yemen and Somalia, but hasn’t destroyed or even significantly degraded terrorist capabilities of the key groups in either country.  In addition, both countries are almost as unstable as they were five years ago.  Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) remains a terrorist threat. Its leader, Nasser al Wahayshi, became al Qaeda’s general manager in August 2013, in fact. Its threats caused the closure of over 20 U.S. diplomatic posts across the Middle East and North Africa at that time. Its bomb maker, Ibrahim al Asiri, was behind a threat to U.S. airlines just over six months ago. AQAP is still trying to kill Americans and continues to probe U.S. security for a chance to do so.

 

It’s hard to call that success.

In the meantime, American drone attacks that have killed civilians have cost the US dearly in the region.

Another problem with the Obama strategy is the overreliance on air power and the unwillingness to commit forces to the ground war.

It has been a military axiom since World War Two that despite modern technology like missiles, aircraft, and precision targeting, it is still the soldier who must occupy and hold the ground.  By relying on surgical air strikes, Obama is forced to rely upon frequently untrained and potentially unreliable forces to occupy the ground in Iraq and Syria.  Admittedly, nearly 500 American Special forces soldiers will go into the area to train Kurds and other militia members, but those trainees will not be ready for combat operations for many months.

The other problem with the military aspect of the new Obama strategy is that he insists on treating ISIS like a terrorist cell instead of a quasi-nation.  ISIS controls and governs enormous territory in Iraq and Syria.  It has a conventional army that though lightly armed compared to traditional Western armies, is supported by armored vehicles and has the potential to field tanks and even some military aircraft.  It has combat experience – ranging from guerrilla warfare to conventional set piece tactics.  It has also fought and defeated several regular military units from Iraq, Syria, and Kurdistan.

Not only is ISIS not a terrorist organization, its goals are more akin to those of a nation state than a group of terrorists.  ISIS has stated that it wants to conquer the territory of Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Jordan,” Israel”, and the Palestinian Territories.  This means it needs to be attacked like a country rather than a terrorist cell.

This is something that the American people understand.  According to the Fox News poll, Obama’s strategy to treat ISIS like a large terrorist organization and to combat the group using air power and surrogate forces on the ground generates some skepticism. “By nearly two-to-one, voters think it will take boots on the ground to defeat ISIS (51 percent) rather than airstrikes alone,” reports Fox News pollster Dana Blanton.

This brings us back to the original purpose of the speech – to stop Obama’s plummeting popularity.

In order for the speech to reverse Obama’s foreign policy weaknesses, he must be perceived as being serious and taking a course that will solve the problem.  However, American voters clearly think that defeating ISIS will require more action by the US than Obama is willing to take.  By that standard alone, the speech will be considered a failure.

Obama is clearly out of his depth when dealing with ISIS.  Although warned about its threat over a year ago, he ignored the problem and downplayed it when questioned about it.  He has consistently refused to take the advice of experts on dealing with the radical Islamic threat posed by the unrest in Syria and Iraq.  His actions up to this point have been purely for domestic political consumption rather than national or international security concerns.

This speech is merely the latest attempt to politically neutralize an international threat that threatens to shift the US Senate into Republican hands.

Unless ISIS starts to collapse from internal forces, the course set out by Obama this week will not guarantee their defeat.  In the end, Obama’s war on ISIS and his bad poll numbers will both be failures.

 

 

PUBLICATIONS

Nation Building Isn’t Needed to Fight ISIS

By Christopher A. Preble

Cato Institute

September 10, 2014

In his speech to the American people tonight, President Obama aims to build support for a protracted military campaign against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).  It doesn’t have to be a hard sell. A majority of Americans support a military response—though not U.S. troops on the ground. Very few are content with allowing ISIS to spread its influence with impunity, especially after the brutal killing of the American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff. The group has effectively declared itself an enemy of the United States, and there is growing support for action against the group before it even attempts an attack on the U.S. homeland (something that it appears only to be aspiring to, as opposed to actively planning for).

Read more

 

 

Key Factors Shaping the President’s Islamic State Speech

By Anthony H. Cordesman

Center for Strategic and International Studies

September 9, 2014

Commentary

There are several critical aspects of the U.S. strategy in Iraq that the President may not be able to address in full. They will, however, be critical to what the United States can and cannot do in the future.  The United States Already Has a Strategy.  The real world context is important. The President is now trapped to some extent by his previous misstatement about the United States not having a strategy. Anyone who looks seriously at the timeline of U.S. action will see he is now formally announcing a strategy that the United States not only had already developed in July, but partly begun to implement after the Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) first made major gains back in December 2013. At the same time, there are many good reasons the President needs to be cautious about what he says and not speak too openly about the details.

Read more

 

 

Obama’s ISIS speech: AEI scholars react

American Enterprise Institute

September 11, 2014

Let’s get one thing clear: it’s not the job of the president of the United States to determine what Islam is or is not, what Christianity is or is not, and what Judaism is or is not. Religion is what its practitioners believe it to be. That President Obama begins with a politically correct paean and only addresses the Islamic State’s ideology as a passing thought later on undercuts the seriousness of a very good speech, one that calls for the Islamic State’s defeat without any artificial timeline and recognizes that a return to Bashar Assad’s rule is no option.  The problem lies with Obama’s inability to separate theory from reality. Alliances may sound good on paper, but they can also be an Achilles’ heel: Turkey has become Pakistan on the Med, saying one thing to our diplomats while coddling the adversaries we fight behind our backs. Most jihadis transit Turkey and cross the Turkish border for the cost of a $40 bribe. Trust Saudi Arabia with running counter radicalization programs? That’s like having Bernie Madoff teach accounting.

Read more

 

 

Defeating the Islamic State Requires a Saudi-Iranian Compromise

By Lina Khatib

Carnegie Endowment

September 3, 2014

Airstrikes are intensifying on areas of Iraq held by the militant Islamic State, and the group has beheaded a second American hostage. But clear indications of a strategy to tackle the escalating Islamic State problem are hard to find. Indeed, in a statement in late August, U.S. President Barack Obama affirmed that the United States did not yet have a strategy to combat this militant threat.  The president did, however, single out further cooperation with “Sunni partners” against the Islamic State. Such regional partnerships are necessary, but putting such an emphasis on Sunni players misses a crucial component without which no strategy against the Islamic State will succeed: finding a way to appease the rivalry between Iran and Saudi Arabia.

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The Islamic State’s Electronic Outreach

By Lawrence Husick

Foreign Policy Research Institute

September 2014

Over the past several months the world has witnessed a new media creation of jihadis – al Hayat (“life”) Media Center (not to be confused with the liberal pan-Arab newspaper of the same name) – and has seen a new level of sophistication in messaging and brutality in content, and of effectiveness in communication. In print through the glossy online magazine “Dabiq” and on the Internet in video bearing the al Hayat brand, the victories of the new mujahideen (holy fighters) of the “Islamic State” and their efforts to “purify” dar al Islam (the lands of Islam) are glorified and chronicled. These media efforts have effectively silenced most other jihadi channels, and have drowned out all efforts of the West to counter this Internet onslaught.

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Unwanted, Unwelcome: Anti-Immigration Attitudes in Turkey

By Emre Erdogan

German Marshall Fund

September 10, 2014

Until the spread of the Arab Spring and the conflict in Syria, Turkey was known as a “sending” country in terms of international migration. When it was founded in 1924, around 60 percent of the citizens of the young Turkish republic were either first or second-generation immigrants from the former Ottoman realms.  More recently, according to available statistics, only 2 percent of Turkey’s population immediately before the Arab Spring consisted of immigrants and the majority of those were from ex-Ottoman territories, such as Bosnia-Herzegovina and Bulgaria.  Immigrants became visible in Turkey when the direction of migration flow changed.

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Obama Changed His Mind about Syria, Now He Needs to Explain Why

By William McCants

Brookings Institution

September 10, 2014

A year ago today, President Obama addressed the American public. In his speech, the president explained why the United States should attack Syria to punish its ruler for ignoring Obama’s warning not to use chemical weapons. But a war-weary American public balked and the president ultimately decided against military action. Today, the president is again going to argue for military action inside Syria and this time the American public supports him. But instead of initiating attacks on a sovereign state, we contemplate extending a weeks-old war against an insurgent pretender to statehood.  The Islamic State has been around for a while and, despite sharing the global jihadi ideology that calls for the destruction of the United States, the president and the American public were not too worried about it previously. What changed the president’s calculations and those of the public are the Islamic State’s actions this summer. The group took over large swathes of territory in Iraq, prompting the president to launch airstrikes to halt their advance on the capital of our allies in Baghdad. When the group responded by beheading American journalists, American support for military action against them soared.

Read more

 

 

Defeating ISIS: An Integrated Strategy to Advance Middle East Stability

By Brian Katulis, Hardin Lang, and Vikram Singh

Center for American Progress

September 10, 2014

U.S. airstrikes in Iraq against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham, or ISIS, have been an important step to contain the rise of the extremist group, respond to immediate threats to U.S. citizens in Iraq, and prevent possible acts of genocide. These airstrikes enabled Iraqis to resist ISIS and bought time for the Iraqi government to begin building a more inclusive administration under a new prime minister, Haider al-Abadi.* But as the Center for American Progress noted in a June report, U.S. military action needs to be just one part of a long-term multinational political and security strategy in the region.  The new strategy should aim to contain and degrade ISIS and enable regional partners to continue to build the tools needed to defeat ISIS’s movement with international support. This report outlines actions to advance three core strategic goals:

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Mounzer A. Sleiman Ph.D.
Center for American and Arab Studies
Think Tanks Monitor

www.thinktankmonitor.org

C: 202 536 8984             C: 301 509 4144

التحليل 09-13-2014

:التحليل

اوباما يستنجد بداعش لانقاذ رئاسته وحزبه من السقوط

وتحضير المسرح للعدوان على سورية

سبر اغوار خطاب الرئيس اوباما

          سورية، وان غاب حضورها، هي الهدف غير المعلن في خطاب الرئيس اوباما، وجموع التكفيريين من داعش واخواتها ومشتقاتها هم الادوات التي تنوي “الاستراتيجية” الاميركية استخدامها في اعادة رسم خارطة الوطن العربي والاقليم في طبعته الجديدة. داعش مجرد ورقة او وسيلة من وسائل الضغط تستخدم عند الحاجة، وتُركن جانبا عند انتفائها. السفير والمستشار الاميركي الاسبق لأقليم كردستان العراق، بيتر غالبريث، اوضح ان “الدولة الاسلامية تخدم الجهود (الغربية) في قتال نظامين مدعومين من ايران في العراق وسورية”

          في البعد المحلي الداخلي، شكل الخطاب بعد طول انتظار محاولة لمحاكاة الاعتبارات السياسية المحلية، في ظل مناخ الانتخابات القادمة، عبرت عنه احد الصحف الكبرى بعنونة افتتاحيتها “اوباما يعلن الحرب على نتائج الاستطلاع المتردية.” وهو يفسر ايضا مغزى تكرار الرئيس اوباما استخدام مصطلح “استراتيجية” في خطابه لتعديل تصريحه السابق بأن بلاده “لا يتوفر لديها استراتيجية” واضحة المعالم للتصدي لداعش

          دأبت استطلاعات الرأي المحلية، في الآونة الاخيرة، على ابراز تدني نسبة الدعم الشعبي للرئيس اوباما سيما وان “عددا كبيرا منهم لا يأخذ تصريحاته حول السياسة الخارجية على محمل الجد .. واعربت نسبة مذهلة منهم، 55%، عن حرجهم وارتباكهم من عدم توصل الرئيس اوباما لبلورة استراتيجية للتصدي للدولة الاسلامية لحين اللحظة.” تأييد الرئيس اوباما لم يتعدى نسبة 32% من الاميركيين، عشية القائه خطابه؛ وهو يدرك بوعي تام تداعيات ذلك على نتائج الحملة الانتخابية المقبلة

          خطاب اوباما تتضمن العديد من المفردات والمفاهيم المبهمة التي ستشوش الوعي العام الاميركي، بتركيزه على المصطلحات المتعددة لتنظيم داعش وهمجيته، بينما في الحقيقة كان يرمي لحشد الدعم الشعبي بكافة اطيافه لشن “جولة” جديدة من الحروب الدموية في المنطقة، يورثها لخليفته المقبل، بالتساوق لما ورثه عن سلفه جورج بوش الابن. الاستاذ الجامعي فيجاي براشاد اوجز الخطاب بأنه “مربك جدا وانطوى على لغة خطابية متقنة تخلو من مفاهيم استراتيجية” يمكن البناء عليها. ومضى موضحا ان “الدولة الاسلامية توفر مبررا بتوقيت مريح لشن غزو دموي آخر يتبعه عدد من سنوات الاحتلال والتدجين والترويض والمقاومة”

          حذر الرئيس اوباما الشعب الاميركي والغربي عموما من خطورة عدم التصدي لداعش. “هؤلاء الارهابيون باستطاعتهم تشكيل تهديد ينمو خارج حدود تلك المنطقة – ومن ضمنها الولايات المتحدة .. لن اتردد باتخاذ ما يلزم من اجراءات ضد الدولة الاسلامية في سورية، والعراق ايضا ..” بينما في الواقع ناقضه الرأي بعض اركان ادارته، احداهن جنيفر لاسلي، ضابط استخبارات في وزارة الأمن الداخلي، قائلة ان “الدولة الاسلامية لا تشكل خطورة على الولايات المتحدة في المدى المنظور،” في شهادة ادلت بها امام اللجنة الفرعية للأمن الداخلي في مجلس النواب. المفارقة ان شهادتها وشهادات مماثلة لآخرين جاءت قبل بضع ساعات من القاء اوباما خطابه المذكور

          وعليه، يمكننا القول ان الحرب العدوانية الثالثة على العراق قد اتضحت معالمها، وانعشت مرة اخرى احلام المحافظين الجدد بنسخة اوباما، لتقسيم العراق وفق محاصصة طائفية وعرقية. ما يعزز ذلك هو افصاح اوباما واركان ادارته بأن “الحملة ضد الدولة الاسلامية” ستستغرق بضع سنين، الى ما بعد انتهاء ولايته الرئاسية. جدير بالذكر ان دوائر صنع القرار، لا سيما في المعسكر الصناعي الحربي، روجت لاحتلال العراق منذ زمن باعتباره “منصة انطلاق تكتيكية” لخدمة اهداف اعادة رسم حدود منطقة الشرق الاوسط برمتها. (في هذا الصدد يرجى مراجعة اصدارات مؤسسة راند بتاريخ 6 آب 2002)

تردد وقلق في الغرب

          روج الرئيس اوباما وكافة الوسائل الاعلامية الاميركية للتحالف الدولي المزمع انشاؤه بمشاركة دول غربية وعربية واقليمية، تُوِّج بارسال وزير الخارجية جون كيري الى الرياض لجمع شمل الحلفاء المقربين؛ وسارعت كل من المانيا وتركيا في الاعلان عن عدم مشاركتهما جهود الرئيس اوباما، ونفي بريطانيا لتصريح وزير خارجيتها بعد اعلانه عدم مشاركة بلاده؛ بل اوضحت المانيا في خطوة غير مسبوقة انه لم يتم استشارتها بهذا الخصوص. وقال وزير الخارجية الالماني، فرانك-ولتر شتاينماير، “دعوني اقول بكل وضوح، انه لم يطلب استشارتنا” في المساهمة بالغارات الجوية ضد مواقع داعش “ولن نقوم بذلك ايضا”

          “استراتيجية حلف اوباما” اوضحها الرئيس في خطابه بالقول بانها “استراتيجية شاملة ومستمرة لمكافحة الارهاب .. تنطوي اولا على شن حملة ممنهجة من الضربات الجوية .. وسنوسع نطاق جهودنا الى ابعد ما تقتضيه حماية مواطنينا (هناك) المنخرطين في عمليات الاغاثة الانسانية ..” في ذات السياق، كرس الرئيس اوباما خطة تقسيم المنطقة في خطابه الاعلامي عبر تكرار مصطلحاته ان المجتمعات العربية ما هي الا ثمة تجمعات “طائفية تشمل السنة والشيعة من المسلمين، والمسيحيين واقليات دينية اخرى ..”  وتعمد تغييب الهوية الوطنية والقومية اتساقا مع الاستراتيجية الاميركية بعيدة المدى

آفاق نجاح “استراتيجية اوباما”

          ردود فعل حلفاء اميركا في حلف الناتو أهم مؤشر على حقيقة ما يمور خلف الكواليس وظهر الى العلن، وما اعلان اهم اقطاب حلف الناتو، المانيا وبريطانيا وتركيا،ـ عن عدم مشاركتهم في حملة الغارات الجوية على الاراضي السورية الا دليل على هشاشة “استراتيجية” اوباما في اطلاق “حرب جديدة على الارهاب.” استثناء اوباما لروسيا وايران من هذه التشكيلة تدل على حقيقة اهداف اميركا والقلق من نواياها المبيتة بانها تسعى لاسقاط الدولة السورية بتوظيفها داعش اداة وذريعة لتنفيذ غارات جوية على اراضيها. وما تعيين اوباما لجنرال الحرب في افغانستان، جون آلان، للتنسيق بين القوات الخاصة والارهابيين والغارات الجوية الا دليل آخر على ان الاستراتيجية تقتضي استهداف سورية، تحت ذريعة ملاحقة داعش،ولبنان ربما الذي يروج لعمليات اغتيالات ستجري على اراضيه

          في هذا الصدد، يشير بعض المراقبين في العاصمة الاميركية الى توقيت اعلان الاستراتيجية، 11 أيلول/سبتمبر، سيما وان “الصدف” التاريخية نادرا ما اثبتت انها حقيقة صدفة. اوجه التشابه ليست من باب الترف الفكري، سيما وان 11 ايلول 2001 لا تزال تحوم حوله الشبهات بأنه منصة انطلاق اسفرت عن تكريس استفراد اميركا بالعالم ودمرت واحتلت دولا عربية عدة، من العراق الى ليبيا واليمن والصومال، الى الحروب الاخرى المناطة بالكيان الصهيوني، الى الاغتيالات بطائرات الدرونز .. الخ. الحادي عشر من ايلول اضحى اعلانا بالعدوان المفتوح غير مقيد بفترة زمنية

          شبكة فوكس نيوز اليمينية اظهرت ارتياحا مشروطا باستراتيجية اوباما استخدام سلاح الجو الاميركي بكثافة “مدعوم بقوات برية موالية،” بيد انها حذرته من نتائج استطلاعاتها للرأي التي تشير الى اعتقاد الغالبية من الشعب الاميركي، نحو الثلثين، بان نجاح الاستراتيجية ينطوي على نشر قوات اميركية برية لتحقيق هدف الحاق الهزيمة بداعش مع استمرار القصف الجوي المكثف

          تنبغي الاشارة في هذا السياق الى ما اضحى ممارسة ثابتة في الاغتيالات وثقتها وسائل الاعلام الاميركية، اذ يصغي الرئيس اوباما صباح كل يوم ثلاثاء الى تقارير رؤساء اجهزة الاستخبارات يستعرضون معه لائحة “الاغتيالات” المرشحة للمصادقة عليها وتنفيذها على الفور. من غير المستبعد ان تشمل تلك الاجراءات سورية في ظل “الاستراتيجية” الجديدة

          يحضرنا في هذه المناسبة ما سبق الاشارة اليه فيما يخص الاسلحة الليبية المتجهة الى سورية. اذ اكدت شبكة (سي ان ان) للتلفزة العام الماضي، نقلا على لسان ممثلين في الكونغرس، ان حادثة البعثة الديبلوماسية الاميركية في بنغازي، 11 ايلول / سبتمبر 2012، التي اسفرت من مصرع السفير الاميركي كريستوفر ستيفنز وعدد من ضباط الاستخبارات الاميركية، كانت “عملية اعداد سرية لنقل صواريخ مضادة للطائرات متطورة من ليبيا، عبر تركيا، وتسليمها للمجموعات السورية المسلحة.” واضافت الشبكة ان موظفي السفارة الاميركية، في طرابلس وبنغازي، تعرضوا لسلسة اختبارات لاجهزة كشف الكذب وتلقوا تعليمات صارمة بعدم البوح بأي من تلك المعلومات

اوباما يراهن على استغلال الحملة الجديدة لمكافحة ارهاب داعش ليشيع الانطباع باعادة استلام زمام المبادرة السياسية خارجيا وداخليا بعد اتهامات قاسية له بغياب القدرة القيادية الضرورية لحماية المصالح الكونية الاميركية، ويدرك ان الاسابيع القليلة القادمة قد تكون الاكثر حراجة قبل الانتخابات النصفية لانقاذ ما يمكن انقاذه من تركة للتاريخ ومن وزن مهدد لحزبه الديمقراطي

التقرير الأسبوعي 09-13-2013

:المقدمة

                    اسس خطاب الرئيس اوباما ارضية للتغطية الاعلامية، بشقيها العام واهتمامات النخب السياسية، بعد طول ترقب وانتظار لما سيترتب عليه من رؤى وخطط مستقبلية، دغدغ مشاعر الجمهور واحبط آمال معسكر الحرب الذي سعى لاطلاق فصل جديد من الحرب المعلنة ضد الدول الوطنية

          سيركز قسم التحليل الكشف عن كنه لغة الديبلوماسية والشعارات المنمقة في الخطاب، الذي رمى لتوظيف فزاعة داعش واساليبه الدموية كمدخل لاعادة تكريس احادية زعامة اميركا وتقسيم المنطقة مجددا “بايدي ابائها وتمويلهم” ايضا. سورية هي الهدف الثابت غير المعلن في الخطاب الذي بشر بحرب جديدة مفتوحة الافاق والازمنة

          توقيت الخطاب له بعد داخلي محلي، سيما وانه جاء عشية احياء ذكر “الحادي عشر من سبتمبر،” ورغبة من الرئيس تعديل ميل ميزان الرأي العام المائل ضده وضد حزبه تمهيدا لخوض الانتخابات المقبلة بعد نحو 50 يوما

ملخص دراسات ونشاطات مراكزالابحاث

خطاب “استراتيجية” اوباما

          رأى الجزء الاكبر من النخب الفكرية ان خطاب الرئيس اوباما الاخير، بخصوص داعش، ينطوي على العديد من الثغرات، اتساقا مع ساسة وقادة الحزب الجمهوري. وقال معهد المشروع الاميركي ان الرئيس “لا يدرك ان الغارات الجوية الدقيقة لن تكفي .. انظروا الى مثال اليمن. اما الصومال فما يشهده من استقرار لا يعود جراء الغارات الجوية المحدودة بل لاحتلال قوات الاتحاد الافريقي البلاد بغية مقارعة (تنظيم) الشباب في معاقلهم واماكن اقامتهم.” واضاف ان الاطراف جميعها تتطلع الى “استراتيجية متبلورة، بيد ان مسألة الأمن القومي لا ينبغي ان التضحية بها على مذبح النزوات الديبلوماسية، او صوابية الرؤيا السياسية، او تحريف التاريخ”

          حث معهد كارنيغي صناع القرار على ضرورة انخراط السعودية لتعزيز نجاح جهود التصدي لداعش “بصرف النظر عن مشاطرتها ايران عدائهما للدولة الاسلامية، اذ انها قلقة لما ستؤول اليه الامور في كل من العراق وسورية بعد القضاء على داعش،” وهاجسها الشاغل هوية ومستقبل البديل لحكومتي دمشق وبغداد اللتين “يتعزز بقاءهما بغياب بدائل اخرى. وعليه، فان استمرار الوضع الراهن في سورية والعراق من شأنه توطيد نفوذ ايران في المنطقة”

          تناول معهد كارنيغي ما اسماه “تناقضات وعدم اتساق سياساة الرئيس اوباما حيال داعش،” مناشدا البيت الابيض التزام وضوح الرؤيا حول “حقيقة التهديد الذي تمثله الدولة الاسلامية وانتهاج مقاربة واقعية للعقبات التي تعترض سبل القضاء عليها،” ويتعين عليه ايضا “مصارحة الشعب الاميركي بالخطوات التي ينوي الاقدام عليها لتلافي بروز مجموعات مشابهة في اعقاب اندحارها”

          سلط مركز الدراسات الاستراتيجية والدولية الاضواء على “القيود التي تحد الرئيس اوباما من مواجهة شاملة ضد داعش .. سيما وان الغارات الجوية لها مفعول محدود لاحتوائها، الامر الذي يستدعي القيام بحملة جوية اوسع لالحاق الهزيمة بداعش في العراق وكذلك حملة (موازية) للاغارة على اهداف في سورية .. لتقليص الدولة الاسلامية الى الحجم السابق لفصيل صغير متطرف يحظى بدعم محدود.” واوضح ان الغارات الجوية ستستغرق وقتا طويلا “عند الاخذ بعين الاعتبار ضرورة تخفيض عدد الضحايا المدنيين والاضرار الجانبية الاخرى”

          استعرض مركز التقدم الاميركي ما اسماه “الاستراتيجيات” المطلوب اعتمادها لالحاق الهزيمة بتنظيم داعش، موضحا ان احد اعمدتها الفعالة “يتطلب اعادة تنشيط سيل الدعم لقوى المعارضة السورية كي تتمكن من انشاء بديل ثالث معارض للدولة السورية من ناحية، والدولة الاسلامية من الناحية الاخرى.” واوضح ان الدعم “يجب ان يتضمن توفير 500 مليون دولار من مساعدات اضافية طالب بها الرئيس اوباما ..” واضاف انه بعد الاعلان عن تشكيل التحالف الدولي الجديد “يتعين على تلك الدول – لا سيما المملكة المتحدة والمانيا وتركيا والسعودية والامارات – اقران التزاماتهم اللفظية بتوفير موارد مالية وسبل دعم تكمّل التزامات الولايات المتحدة لمحاربة داعش”

          معهد كاتو بدوره طالب بانتهاج “استراتيجية محدودة لالحاق الهزيمة بالدولة الاسلامية .. اذ ليس من الضروري نشر قوات برية اميركية للقيام بمعظم العمليات القتالية.” فتنظيم داعش “يشكل تهديدا ثانويا في اسوأ الاحوال باستطاعة الولايات المتحدة التحكم به .. عبر غارات جوية مركزة ضد عناصره المتطرفة، وتوفير مساعدات عسكرية للقوات الكردية والعراقية لتقوم بمواجهته وتقايص قدراته.” وحث الرئيس اوباما على “اعتماد ذلك النمط المحدود من التدخل، ومعارضة الدعوات لنشر القوات العسكرية الاميركية في حملة واهمة اخرى لبناء دولة في الشرق الاوسط”

          كثيرا ما اشارت وسائل الاعلام الاميركية المتعددة للقدرات التقنية المتاحة لتنظيم داعش، تناولها معهد ابحاث السياسة الخارجية بالقول ان نشر “اشرطة الفيديو البشعة تخللتها رسائل تفيد بان الدولة الاسلامية نشأت لتحكم تلبية لمصالح المسلمين في المناطق تحت سيطرته .. تم اخراجها باسلوب يذكرنا بالافلام الوثائقية التي تنتجها وكالة التنمية الدولية الاميركية وفصائل السلام تمجد فضائل برامج المساعدات الاميركية.” واوضح ان التقنية والرسالة المتطورة لتلك الاشرطة “تروى وتترجم للانكليزية، تستهدف المهنيين في الغرب، وتحرض على هجرة المسلمين الى (مناطق) الدولة الاسلامية لتوفير الرعاية لمواطنيها والمساهمة في توسيع رقعة الخلافة الجديدة.” وبلغ رقي لغة الخطاب الى مرحلة اعلن فيها عن “انشاء هيئة لحماية المستهلكين .. وتوثيق بالصورة لمشاهد تنفيذ حكم الاعدام بالمخالفين للشريعة الاسلامية، والانجازات الميدانية، وكذلك حضور بعض المجندين الجدد حول العالم”

تركيا

          حذر معهد صندوق جيرمان مارشال من تنامي مشاعر العداء للمهاجرين في تركيا، اذ كشف تصاعد اعداد المهاجرين عن “قضية كانت خفية لوقت قريب: تعصب المواطنين الاتراك ضد المهاجرين .. توجه يعززه خطاب السياسيون والاجهزة الاعلامية.” وحث صناع القرار على ضرورة التصدي لتلك الظاهرة واتخاذ التدابير الكفيلة باحتوائها

:التحليل

اوباما يستنجد بداعش لانقاذ رئاسته وحزبه من السقوط

وتحضير المسرح للعدوان على سورية

سبر اغوار خطاب الرئيس اوباما

          سورية، وان غاب حضورها، هي الهدف غير المعلن في خطاب الرئيس اوباما، وجموع التكفيريين من داعش واخواتها ومشتقاتها هم الادوات التي تنوي “الاستراتيجية” الاميركية استخدامها في اعادة رسم خارطة الوطن العربي والاقليم في طبعته الجديدة. داعش مجرد ورقة او وسيلة من وسائل الضغط تستخدم عند الحاجة، وتُركن جانبا عند انتفائها. السفير والمستشار الاميركي الاسبق لأقليم كردستان العراق، بيتر غالبريث، اوضح ان “الدولة الاسلامية تخدم الجهود (الغربية) في قتال نظامين مدعومين من ايران في العراق وسورية”

          في البعد المحلي الداخلي، شكل الخطاب بعد طول انتظار محاولة لمحاكاة الاعتبارات السياسية المحلية، في ظل مناخ الانتخابات القادمة، عبرت عنه احد الصحف الكبرى بعنونة افتتاحيتها “اوباما يعلن الحرب على نتائج الاستطلاع المتردية.” وهو يفسر ايضا مغزى تكرار الرئيس اوباما استخدام مصطلح “استراتيجية” في خطابه لتعديل تصريحه السابق بأن بلاده “لا يتوفر لديها استراتيجية” واضحة المعالم للتصدي لداعش

          دأبت استطلاعات الرأي المحلية، في الآونة الاخيرة، على ابراز تدني نسبة الدعم الشعبي للرئيس اوباما سيما وان “عددا كبيرا منهم لا يأخذ تصريحاته حول السياسة الخارجية على محمل الجد .. واعربت نسبة مذهلة منهم، 55%، عن حرجهم وارتباكهم من عدم توصل الرئيس اوباما لبلورة استراتيجية للتصدي للدولة الاسلامية لحين اللحظة.” تأييد الرئيس اوباما لم يتعدى نسبة 32% من الاميركيين، عشية القائه خطابه؛ وهو يدرك بوعي تام تداعيات ذلك على نتائج الحملة الانتخابية المقبلة

          خطاب اوباما تتضمن العديد من المفردات والمفاهيم المبهمة التي ستشوش الوعي العام الاميركي، بتركيزه على المصطلحات المتعددة لتنظيم داعش وهمجيته، بينما في الحقيقة كان يرمي لحشد الدعم الشعبي بكافة اطيافه لشن “جولة” جديدة من الحروب الدموية في المنطقة، يورثها لخليفته المقبل، بالتساوق لما ورثه عن سلفه جورج بوش الابن. الاستاذ الجامعي فيجاي براشاد اوجز الخطاب بأنه “مربك جدا وانطوى على لغة خطابية متقنة تخلو من مفاهيم استراتيجية” يمكن البناء عليها. ومضى موضحا ان “الدولة الاسلامية توفر مبررا بتوقيت مريح لشن غزو دموي آخر يتبعه عدد من سنوات الاحتلال والتدجين والترويض والمقاومة”

          حذر الرئيس اوباما الشعب الاميركي والغربي عموما من خطورة عدم التصدي لداعش. “هؤلاء الارهابيون باستطاعتهم تشكيل تهديد ينمو خارج حدود تلك المنطقة – ومن ضمنها الولايات المتحدة .. لن اتردد باتخاذ ما يلزم من اجراءات ضد الدولة الاسلامية في سورية، والعراق ايضا ..” بينما في الواقع ناقضه الرأي بعض اركان ادارته، احداهن جنيفر لاسلي، ضابط استخبارات في وزارة الأمن الداخلي، قائلة ان “الدولة الاسلامية لا تشكل خطورة على الولايات المتحدة في المدى المنظور،” في شهادة ادلت بها امام اللجنة الفرعية للأمن الداخلي في مجلس النواب. المفارقة ان شهادتها وشهادات مماثلة لآخرين جاءت قبل بضع ساعات من القاء اوباما خطابه المذكور

          وعليه، يمكننا القول ان الحرب العدوانية الثالثة على العراق قد اتضحت معالمها، وانعشت مرة اخرى احلام المحافظين الجدد بنسخة اوباما، لتقسيم العراق وفق محاصصة طائفية وعرقية. ما يعزز ذلك هو افصاح اوباما واركان ادارته بأن “الحملة ضد الدولة الاسلامية” ستستغرق بضع سنين، الى ما بعد انتهاء ولايته الرئاسية. جدير بالذكر ان دوائر صنع القرار، لا سيما في المعسكر الصناعي الحربي، روجت لاحتلال العراق منذ زمن باعتباره “منصة انطلاق تكتيكية” لخدمة اهداف اعادة رسم حدود منطقة الشرق الاوسط برمتها. (في هذا الصدد يرجى مراجعة اصدارات مؤسسة راند بتاريخ 6 آب 2002)

تردد وقلق في الغرب

          روج الرئيس اوباما وكافة الوسائل الاعلامية الاميركية للتحالف الدولي المزمع انشاؤه بمشاركة دول غربية وعربية واقليمية، تُوِّج بارسال وزير الخارجية جون كيري الى الرياض لجمع شمل الحلفاء المقربين؛ وسارعت كل من المانيا وتركيا في الاعلان عن عدم مشاركتهما جهود الرئيس اوباما، ونفي بريطانيا لتصريح وزير خارجيتها بعد اعلانه عدم مشاركة بلاده؛ بل اوضحت المانيا في خطوة غير مسبوقة انه لم يتم استشارتها بهذا الخصوص. وقال وزير الخارجية الالماني، فرانك-ولتر شتاينماير، “دعوني اقول بكل وضوح، انه لم يطلب استشارتنا” في المساهمة بالغارات الجوية ضد مواقع داعش “ولن نقوم بذلك ايضا”

          “استراتيجية حلف اوباما” اوضحها الرئيس في خطابه بالقول بانها “استراتيجية شاملة ومستمرة لمكافحة الارهاب .. تنطوي اولا على شن حملة ممنهجة من الضربات الجوية .. وسنوسع نطاق جهودنا الى ابعد ما تقتضيه حماية مواطنينا (هناك) المنخرطين في عمليات الاغاثة الانسانية ..” في ذات السياق، كرس الرئيس اوباما خطة تقسيم المنطقة في خطابه الاعلامي عبر تكرار مصطلحاته ان المجتمعات العربية ما هي الا ثمة تجمعات “طائفية تشمل السنة والشيعة من المسلمين، والمسيحيين واقليات دينية اخرى ..”  وتعمد تغييب الهوية الوطنية والقومية اتساقا مع الاستراتيجية الاميركية بعيدة المدى

آفاق نجاح “استراتيجية اوباما”

          ردود فعل حلفاء اميركا في حلف الناتو أهم مؤشر على حقيقة ما يمور خلف الكواليس وظهر الى العلن، وما اعلان اهم اقطاب حلف الناتو، المانيا وبريطانيا وتركيا،ـ عن عدم مشاركتهم في حملة الغارات الجوية على الاراضي السورية الا دليل على هشاشة “استراتيجية” اوباما في اطلاق “حرب جديدة على الارهاب.” استثناء اوباما لروسيا وايران من هذه التشكيلة تدل على حقيقة اهداف اميركا والقلق من نواياها المبيتة بانها تسعى لاسقاط الدولة السورية بتوظيفها داعش اداة وذريعة لتنفيذ غارات جوية على اراضيها. وما تعيين اوباما لجنرال الحرب في افغانستان، جون آلان، للتنسيق بين القوات الخاصة والارهابيين والغارات الجوية الا دليل آخر على ان الاستراتيجية تقتضي استهداف سورية، تحت ذريعة ملاحقة داعش،ولبنان ربما الذي يروج لعمليات اغتيالات ستجري على اراضيه

          في هذا الصدد، يشير بعض المراقبين في العاصمة الاميركية الى توقيت اعلان الاستراتيجية، 11 أيلول/سبتمبر، سيما وان “الصدف” التاريخية نادرا ما اثبتت انها حقيقة صدفة. اوجه التشابه ليست من باب الترف الفكري، سيما وان 11 ايلول 2001 لا تزال تحوم حوله الشبهات بأنه منصة انطلاق اسفرت عن تكريس استفراد اميركا بالعالم ودمرت واحتلت دولا عربية عدة، من العراق الى ليبيا واليمن والصومال، الى الحروب الاخرى المناطة بالكيان الصهيوني، الى الاغتيالات بطائرات الدرونز .. الخ. الحادي عشر من ايلول اضحى اعلانا بالعدوان المفتوح غير مقيد بفترة زمنية

          شبكة فوكس نيوز اليمينية اظهرت ارتياحا مشروطا باستراتيجية اوباما استخدام سلاح الجو الاميركي بكثافة “مدعوم بقوات برية موالية،” بيد انها حذرته من نتائج استطلاعاتها للرأي التي تشير الى اعتقاد الغالبية من الشعب الاميركي، نحو الثلثين، بان نجاح الاستراتيجية ينطوي على نشر قوات اميركية برية لتحقيق هدف الحاق الهزيمة بداعش مع استمرار القصف الجوي المكثف

          تنبغي الاشارة في هذا السياق الى ما اضحى ممارسة ثابتة في الاغتيالات وثقتها وسائل الاعلام الاميركية، اذ يصغي الرئيس اوباما صباح كل يوم ثلاثاء الى تقارير رؤساء اجهزة الاستخبارات يستعرضون معه لائحة “الاغتيالات” المرشحة للمصادقة عليها وتنفيذها على الفور. من غير المستبعد ان تشمل تلك الاجراءات سورية في ظل “الاستراتيجية” الجديدة

          يحضرنا في هذه المناسبة ما سبق الاشارة اليه فيما يخص الاسلحة الليبية المتجهة الى سورية. اذ اكدت شبكة (سي ان ان) للتلفزة العام الماضي، نقلا على لسان ممثلين في الكونغرس، ان حادثة البعثة الديبلوماسية الاميركية في بنغازي، 11 ايلول / سبتمبر 2012، التي اسفرت من مصرع السفير الاميركي كريستوفر ستيفنز وعدد من ضباط الاستخبارات الاميركية، كانت “عملية اعداد سرية لنقل صواريخ مضادة للطائرات متطورة من ليبيا، عبر تركيا، وتسليمها للمجموعات السورية المسلحة.” واضافت الشبكة ان موظفي السفارة الاميركية، في طرابلس وبنغازي، تعرضوا لسلسة اختبارات لاجهزة كشف الكذب وتلقوا تعليمات صارمة بعدم البوح بأي من تلك المعلومات

اوباما يراهن على استغلال الحملة الجديدة لمكافحة ارهاب داعش ليشيع الانطباع باعادة استلام زمام المبادرة السياسية خارجيا وداخليا بعد اتهامات قاسية له بغياب القدرة القيادية الضرورية لحماية المصالح الكونية الاميركية، ويدرك ان الاسابيع القليلة القادمة قد تكون الاكثر حراجة قبل الانتخابات النصفية لانقاذ ما يمكن انقاذه من تركة للتاريخ ومن وزن مهدد لحزبه الديمقراطي

Analysis 09-05-2014

 

ANALYSIS

 

Obama and NATO Respond to Russia

 

Will NATO make the same mistake that the Allies did 70 years ago?

The convergences of a NATO summit meeting in Wales and renewed hostilities between Russia and the Ukraine have forced both Obama and NATO to address the deteriorating security situation in Eastern Europe and Russia’s aggressive preventive defense posture.  It has also forced both Obama and Cameron to face the growing issue of ISIS, although no specific action was mentioned.

The week of action began for Obama on Wednesday when he arrived in Estonia to talk to the leaders of the three Baltic nations, who are all members of NATO.  In a speech delivered there, he pledged additional military aircraft to patrol the Baltic region in addition to more frequent stationing of American troops on the ground.

“The defense of Tallinn and Riga and Vilnius is just as important as the defense of Berlin and Paris and London,” Obama said, invoking the founding principle of collective defense that undergirds NATO. “An attack on one is an attack on all, and so if, in such a moment, you ever ask again, ‘Who’ll come to help?’ you’ll know the answer: the NATO alliance, including the armed forces of the United States of America.”

“We’ll be here for Estonia. We’ll be here for Latvia. We’ll be here for Lithuania,” Obama said. “You lost your independence once before. With NATO, you will never lose it again.”

Obama also addressed the situation in the Ukraine.  “It is a brazen assault on the territorial integrity of Ukraine, a sovereign and independent European nation,” Obama said. “It challenges that most basic of principles of our international system — that borders cannot be redrawn at the barrel of a gun; that nations have the right to determine their own future.”

The US also announced a military exercise, Rapid Trident, to take place in the next few weeks as a show of support for Eastern NATO nations and the Ukraine.  The annual exercise takes place in Poland, near its border with the Ukraine.  The United States European Command (EUCOM) says the exercise will involve about 200 U.S. personnel as well as 1,100 others from Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Britain, Canada, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania and Spain.  It will focus on peacekeeping missions and will include command post drills, patrolling, and dealing with improvised explosive devices.

In addition to Rapid Trident, the United States is moving tanks and 600 troops to Poland and the Baltic states for joint maneuvers in October, replacing a more lightly armed force of paratroopers.

This wasn’t the only action to support beleaguered NATO nations in the east.  Several NATO nations declared that they would send forces to Eastern Europe to deter any Russian aggression.  France also announced that it was suspending delivery of two helicopter carriers to Russia.  The first one, the Vladivostok, was due to be delivered next month.  Although the helicopter carriers aren’t much of a threat to the Ukraine, they would be a problem to NATO nations with coastlines on the Black and Baltic seas.

However, the most important news that will come out of the NATO meeting will be the formation of a brigade sized rapid reaction force that can move into an area within 48 hours.  Stockpiles of heavy equipment will be stored in Eastern Europe for the reaction force to mate up with.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO Secretary-General, said on Monday: “This is a time of multiple crises on several fronts. To the east, Russia is intervening overtly in Ukraine; to the south we see growing instability, with fragile states, the rise [of] extremism, and sectarian strife. These crises can erupt with little warning, move at great speed and they all affect our security in different ways.  “We will develop a spearhead within our response force. This will require reception facilities in NATO territory, pre-positioned equipment and supplies, command and control and logistics experts. So this force can travel light, but strike hard if needed.”

NATO’s current rapid reaction force would take 5 days to arrive on scene and be able to remain on scene for up to 30 days without resupply.  The NATO Response Force has only been used 6 times (The 2004 Olympic Games, the Iraqi Elections, the 2011 Libyan civil war, humanitarian relief to Afghanistan, humanitarian relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and humanitarian relief in the earthquake disaster in Pakistan).

One of the criticisms of the force is that it fields very small land contingent.  In its first deployment for the Athens Olympics in 2004, of the 9,500 personnel, about 8,500 were airmen and sailors, and only 1,000 were ground troops. Its land component included a French paratroop battalion, a Greek airmobile company, and a Belgian commando company.

Another criticism of the rapid reaction force is that its divergent nationalities make it hard to smoothly coordinate.

So, the question is if the new, proposed NATO rapid reaction force will be a credible deterrent to Russia?

Ironically, the answer may lie in history and NATO ministers may want to look at events that happened 70 years ago this month in Belgium and Holland.  Operation Market Garden (September 17 – 25,, 1944) represented the largest use of airborne forces – the rapid reaction forces of World War II.  The result was the near destruction of the British First Airborne Division at Arnhem.

Rapid reaction forces traditionally have limited capabilities, as Allied commanders discovered in Operation Market Garden.  They are light infantry – usually delivered by air – that have to rely upon light weapons and have little mobility.  Their advantage lies in the training and quality of the airborne troops, which are traditionally higher than the average soldier.  Their immobility makes them a target for heavier units

Excellent examples of such a force are the American 82nd Airborne Division and the 75th Ranger Regiment – both of whom would undoubtedly be allocated to such a NATO force at some time.  Both units have the mission of having combat troops “Wheels Up” (en route by aircraft) within 18 hours of an order to move. Both units have the capability of “Forced Entry” into a territory to seize and secure key terrain, e.g. Drop Zone (DZ), airfield or airport, to accommodate follow on forces. A good example of this was Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada. The Rangers were at the staging base in Barbados in less than 18 hours from notification followed by the 82nd Airborne Division.

But, is speed enough?  What would such a unit bring to a combat situation in Eastern Europe?

Although heavy equipment will be prepositioned in Eastern Europe, It’s very likely that these depots will be hit be Russian strikes before they can be mobilized.  In that case, NATO will have to rely upon what the force brings to the battlefield.

A situation in Eastern Europe may very well rely upon a forced entry into hostile or contested territory.  This is something the 82nd Division can do, but with limited ability to project power beyond a limited range.  The 82nd Division can land 2,000 paratroopers, armored vehicles, and 155mm howitzers over a three mile drop zone to seize and defend an airfield in order to allow reinforcements, including air mobile Stryker armored units, to land and fight their way to the objective.  However, the ability of the attack to reach its objective relies upon the reinforcements and the air superiority to allow them to land.

An example of this was seen by the 82nd Airborne in Operation Market Garden in 1944.  They had been assigned the mission of capturing the Nijmegen Bridge, but were stopped by a light German armored unit.  They didn’t achieve their objective until days later – then with the support of armored units from the ground units of the 30th Corps.  Even then, they took heavy casualties in a daylight assault across the Waal River in order to capture the northern end of the bridge.

Event proved worse for the British 1st Airborne Division.  They reached their objective, but lost their landing zone.  The result was that they ran out of ammunition and supplies and those who weren’t captured by the Germans were forced to retreat.  The story of Operation Market Garden was made into a movie titled, “A Bridge Too Far.”

So, what does this history lesson mean to a modern day NATO quick reaction force?  Rapid reaction forces are highly skilled, highly trained light infantry that may be very mobile going into battle, but are largely immobile once they land.  Man per man, they can outfight any unit, but they don’t have the logistics tail or heavy equipment to continue fighting for long, especially in heavy combat.

Operation Market Garden also highlighted the communication problems between units of different nationalities, even though the majority of the Market Garden forces were all English speaking British and Americans.  A poly-lingual NATO rapid reaction force will have even greater problems.

The success of such a rapid reaction unit will depend on how quickly it gets to the potential theater of operations.  A rapid reaction force that can move in days before any combat and link up with heavy equipment and a logistics chain can be a deterrent as its combat ability exceeds its numbers.

Should that force not enter the area of operations until just before combat, its ability is seriously degraded.  The ability of the unit to fight against superior numbers depends on supply support that probably will not be there.  Consequently, the unit may stop a Russian advance for a few days before running out of ammunition and supplies.

Should the rapid reaction force try to force an entry into hostile territory without adequate air cover, the lives of the 4,000 men would be wasted.

In reality, a NATO rapid reaction force is more of a political response than a sound military one.  Deterring Russian expansionism would be better served by permanently stationing smaller numbers of ground forces in Eastern Europe – forces that would have all their equipment and an established supply infrastructure.

Undoubtedly, Putin is aware of this.   While the uncertainty of a NATO force will cause him to pause, it will not stop him if he decides to act.

 

 

PUBLICATIONS

2014 NATO Summit: Understanding the Key Issues

By Luke Coffey and Daniel Kochis

Heritage Foundation

September 3, 2014

Issue Brief #4271

The 2014 NATO summit will be held this week in Wales. The last time the United Kingdom hosted the NATO summit was in 1990, when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, the Cold War was coming to a close, and the alliance was questioning its future role in the world. Today’s situation is not dissimilar. This will be the last summit before NATO ends its combat operations in Afghanistan and the first since Russia illegally annexed the Crimean Peninsula and brought instability to eastern Ukraine. The U.S. should use this opportunity to refocus the alliance on the core tenets of the original 1949 North Atlantic Treaty: collective security and territorial defense. In advance of the summit, The Heritage Foundation has published six Issue Briefs touching on important policy issues that President Obama and his NATO counterparts should address.

Read more

 

 

Washington Should Stop Praising Military Tyranny in Egypt

By Doug Bandow

Cato Institute

September 2, 2014

Egypt’s capital is crowded, busy, confused, and messy.  Security isn’t obvious, until you get close to a sensitive site, such as the Interior Ministry. The military has taken firm control, elevating its leader, Abdel Fata al-Sisi, to the presidency.  The army permitted dictator Hosni al-Mubarak’s ouster by street protests in 2011 because he planned to turn military rule into a family dynasty.  If ousted president Mohamed al-Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood been defeated in a future election, they would have been discredited peacefully.  However, the coup turned the movement’s members into angry victims.  In Cairo they took over Rab’a al-Adawiya and al-Nahda Squares, just as the anti-Mubarak and anti-Morsi crowds had done in Tahir Square.  The military government responded with a campaign of premeditated murder.  In a new report Human Rights Watch detailed the junta’s crimes.  From the beginning the military used deadly force with no concern for casualties.  In fact, the army began using live ammunition against protestors just two days after the coup.

Read more

 

 

The U.S. Strategic Vacuum in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia

By Anthony H. Cordesman

Center for Strategic and International Studies

September 2, 2014

Strategy does not consist of concepts, good intentions, or public statements that will not be implemented in any meaningful form. It consists of the policies and actions that are already in place and practical plans that can – and are – actually implemented. Today, the US lacks a real world strategy for dealing with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia. It has an unworkable and under-resourced Transition plan for Afghanistan, no meaningful public strategy for Pakistan, and little more than statements of good intentions for Central Asia as it withdraws the forces that supported the war in Afghanistan. This “strategy” of good intentions is not a strategy. Yes, it would be nice to resolve the tensions and risk of conflict between India and Pakistan. It would be nice to see Afghanistan emerge as a unified, peaceful, developing democracy. It would be nice to seek Pakistan put on the same path. It would be nice to see Central Asia develop as a region, and do so in ways that are peaceful, and involve the same progress towards democracy.

Read more

 

 

Winning the Campaign Against the Islamic State: Key Strategic and Tactical Challenges

By Anthony H. Cordesman

Center for Strategic and International Studies

August 29, 2014

Commentary

The United States does not have good or quick options in dealing with the Islamic State, in part because it faces serious challenges in Iraq and Syria that cannot be separated from any efforts to weaken and destroy the Islamic State. This, however, is not a reason to stand and wait for better options that do not exist. The situation will not get better because the United States continues to dither.  The United States already has the elements of the strategy it needs and has begun to act in important ways, and if this action is taken more decisively, in an integrated form, and over enough time to be effective it may well be capable of both imploding the Islamic State and serving U.S. interests in both Iraq and Syria.

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Backdrop to an Intervention: Sources of Egyptian-Libyan Border Tension

By Frederic Wehrey, David Bishop, and Ala’ Alrababa’h

Carnegie Endowment

August 27, 2014

The airstrikes that Emirati forces with Egyptian support conducted against militia positions in Libya in late August 2014 were sparked by an anti-Islamist military campaign in eastern Libya.  The campaign, led by retired General Khalifa Hifter and a breakaway faction of the Libyan military, has profoundly altered Egyptian-Libyan relations. But the roots of Egyptian meddling in Libya run deeper than Hifter’s current operation.  Among Libya’s many afflictions, none is more threatening to Egypt than the two states’ nearly 700-mile-long shared border. Border policing in Libya has always been weak and ill-defined—even under Muammar Qaddafi—but it has suffered a catastrophic decline following the dictator’s overthrow in 2011. Oversight of borders has devolved to a constellation of eastern militias that are only tenuously connected to the government and that, in many cases, are colluding in the very smuggling they are meant to combat. The border is now North Africa’s eastern thoroughfare for weapons, fighters, illegal migrants, and illicit goods flowing into the Levant, with profoundly destabilizing effects on the Sinai, Gaza, and Syria.

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Will ISIS Strike America’s Achilles Heel?

By Frank Gaffney

Center for Security Policy

September 3, 2014

According to the indispensable government watchdog group Judicial Watch, the U.S. government has evidence that the jihadist Islamic State (IS) is present in Juarez, Mexico – across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.  Worse yet, the Texas Department of Public Safety believes there is evidence that IS plans an imminent attack in this country. In light of the latest murderous attack by this organization against an American journalist, Steven Sotloff, among other atrocities, such threats must be taken with the utmost seriousness.  Among the targets national security professionals fear may now be in the jihadis’ crosshairs is America’s exceedingly vulnerable electric grid. A panel discussion being held at the National Press Club in Washington Wednesday afternoon will show how a spate of recent attacks involving sabotage and destruction of property at various electric substations here and elsewhere could be leading indicators of the next 9/11 – one potentially vastly more destructive than the original which occurred thirteen years ago next week.

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ISIS’s Offensive in Syria Shows that U.S. Airstrikes Have Not Blunted Momentum

By Isabel Nassief and Jennifer Cafarella

Institute for the Study of War

August 28, 2014

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told reporters that U.S. airstrikes “have stalled ISIL’s momentum” after two weeks of bombarding ISIS positions in Northern Iraq. The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham has not stalled under U.S. pressure.  Rather, since the fall of Mosul and despite U.S. airstrikes, the insurgent army has continued a successful and spectacular offensive in Syria. Their gains nearly equal in scale the seizure of northern Iraq in June.  The insurgent army’s latest triumph is the capture of Assad’s Tabqa air base in Eastern Syria.  ISIS is one armed force fighting on multiple fronts in two theaters of operation, Iraq and Syria, across a border that the group does not recognize. It aims to establish and consolidate a cross-border Caliphate and has sought to fuse its lines of communication across the border region, while also seizing control of populated urban areas in both countries. ISIS has sought to expel armed forces of both states from positions within  ISIS’s desired “borders” in order to preserve the Caliphate’s territorial integrity.

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Lebanon and the ISIS Threat

By David Daoud

Washington Institute

August 28, 2014

Fikra Forum

The advance of the Islamic State of Syria and al-Sham (ISIS), currently known as the Islamic State, has focused the international spotlight on Syria and Iraq, as ISIS has taken control over huge swaths of the two countries. Although Lebanon has managed to stay off the international radar, instability and sectarianism leave the country equally vulnerable to this growing threat in the region.  The lack of national unity has been disastrous for Lebanon. The country has yet to overcome the damaging consequences of its bloody civil war (1975-1990), during which regional actors capitalized on Lebanon’s sectarian divides for their own political interests. For example, the Syrian army entered Lebanon under the initial pretext of aiding the Christian Maronites, and Iran took advantage of the disenfranchisement of Shiites and the Israeli occupation to create the Shiite militia Hezbollah. ISIS is very likely to exploit the Lebanese state’s failure to resolve the deep sectarian divides just like it did in Iraq and Syria.

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Mounzer A. Sleiman Ph.D.
Center for American and Arab Studies
Think Tanks Monitor

 

www.thinktankmonitor.org

C: 202 536 8984             C: 301 509 4144

Week of September 5th, 2014

Executive Summary

 

The American summer is officially over and the pace of think tank publications should probably pick up.

Needless to say, the upcoming NATO summit in Wales was at the forefront of conversation, especially given the unrest in the Ukraine and the ISIS murder of another journalist.

The Monitor Analysis looks at the NATO summit and the proposed rapid reaction force that will be authorized by the NATO members.  Although it will be designed to move into a theater of operations within 48 hours, we ask if it is a substantial military force or more a political Band-Aid.  In order to answer that, we look at how it will be composed and what military history tells us about light, highly mobile forces in combat.  We find this month’s 70th anniversary of Operation Market Garden particularly instructive.

 

Think Tanks Activity Summary

 

The Heritage Foundation looks at the key issues surrounding the NATO summit this week in Wales.  One of the recommendations is that the alliance< “get back to basics.”  They note, “NATO’s mission in 1949 and throughout the Cold War was to deter and (if required) defeat the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact, to protect the territorial integrity of its members, and to stop the spread of communism in Europe. Although the nature of the threat might have changed, the threat itself has not gone away. NATO does not have to be everywhere in the world doing everything all the time, but it does have to be capable of defending its members’ territorial integrity. The 1949 North Atlantic Treaty is clear that NATO’s area of responsibility is “in the North Atlantic area north of the Tropic of Cancer.” The U.S. must use the Summit as an opportunity to focus on collective defense, encourage Europeans to spend more on their militaries, and to keep NATO’s “open-door” policy alive.”

The CSIS notes that the United States does not have good or quick options in dealing with the Islamic State.  It also notes that they effort must go beyond what the US appears willing to do now by saying, “The United States needs to use airpower, weapons transfer, forward military advisors, its full range of intelligence and targeting assets, and the careful allocation of special forces and covert operations to attack the key networks, centers, foreign volunteers, and physical assets of the Islamic state with sufficient precision to avoid striking at the Sunnis who must rejoin the Iraqi government and turn against the Islamic State. But, the ideological, political, and economic aspects of the campaign are at least as critical.  The United States must work with the Iraqi government and with its Arab allies to create the political and economic conditions that will bring Iraq’s Sunnis and Kurds back into an effective government and give then real incentives to turn on the Islamic State.”

The Institute for the Study of War says the American air attacks haven’t stalled ISIS progress.  They note, “ISIS operations in Syria have centered on five main objectives: control of the Euphrates River Valley; seizure of critical oil infrastructure; freedom of maneuver through Kurdish areas of Syria; expulsion of remaining regime forces from bases in Eastern Syria; and seizure of critical supply lines along the Turkish border. ISIS thereby seeks to merge its Iraq and Syria fronts by consolidating lines of communication between the two. ISIS has continued to pursue these objectives in Syria despite U.S. airstrikes in Northern Iraq and the Syrian regime’s sustained air strikes in North-Eastern Syria.”

The Washington Institute looks at the threat ISIS poses to Lebanon.  They note, “It is unlikely that Lebanon’s Sunnis and their leaders will submit to ISIS out of true ideological conviction, but practical needs might overshadow ideology. Shortages in supplies and ammunition have pushed many Syrian rebels to switch allegiances, and others have said that their desperation on the battlefield might force them to join ISIS. Driven by despair and sectarian violence, some of Lebanon’s Sunnis might soon succumb to a similar trend. If Lebanon continues to disenfranchise Sunnis, ISIS will repeat Hezbollah’s approach to the Lebanese Shiites. It will take advantage of the absence of the Lebanese state and provide armed protection and a wide array of social services to some Sunnis in exchange for their obedience. In short, Lebanon is in grave danger of becoming the next victim of ISIS, and the clashes in Arsal were just a taste of things to come.”

The Cato Institute criticizes Washington for praising Egypt’s military run government.  They conclude, “Repression is unlikely to deliver stability.  Terrorism may be seen by more than jihadists as the only way to challenge a regime which bars peaceful dissent.  Mubarak’s jails helped turn Brotherhood member Ayman al-Zawahiri into al-Qaeda’s leader. There isn’t much the U.S. can do to change Cairo.  But the Obama administration could stop intervening constantly and maladroitly.  In fact, Washington’s influence is extremely limited…The U.S. should work with Cairo on issues of shared interest but otherwise maintain substantial distance.  In particular, the administration should stop using foreign aid to bribe Egypt’s generals.  They don’t have to be paid to keep the peace and shouldn’t be paid for anything else. Egypt appears likely to end up without liberty or stability.  Instead of pretending to be in control, Washington should step back from a crisis which it cannot resolve.”

The Carnegie Endowment looks at the air strikes carried out by Egypt and the UAE against targets in Libya.  They note, “Such a strategy is ultimately shortsighted. The airstrikes were not enough to stop Islamist-oriented Misratan forces from taking over the Tripoli airport, which had previously been controlled by Zintani militias aligned with Hifter. And no amount of Egyptian support—military or otherwise—will result in a complete diminishing of the Islamist threat to el-Sisi’s satisfaction.”

In the past, the Monitor Analysis has looked at the vulnerability of America’s electrical power grid.  Now, according to the Center for Security Policy, it appears that ISIS may be considering a terrorist attack against the US to take advantage of that weakness.  “The Texas Department of Public Safety believes there is evidence that IS plans an imminent attack in this country…Among the targets national security professionals fear may now be in the jihadis’ crosshairs is America’s exceedingly vulnerable electric grid.” A panel discussion held at the National Press Club in Washington last Wednesday showed how a spate of recent attacks involving sabotage and destruction of property at various electric substations here and elsewhere could be leading indicators of the next 9/11 – one potentially vastly more destructive than the original which occurred thirteen years ago next week.

The CSIS observes that the US lacks a strategic view for Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia.  They note, “While the US does want to see peaceful and stable relations between Afghanistan, India, and Pakistan countries, it has little desire to maintain a major role in the region or make further major expenditures in aid. It does see India as a potential counterweight to China, but has not seen its efforts to build closer strategic relations produce major results or benefits. Accordingly, the US is focusing its “rebalancing to Asia” on Pacific states, and less on the Indian Ocean. To paraphrase a term from the US film “Wargames,” the best way for the US to win any new Great Game in Central and South Asia is not to play.”

 

 

ANALYSIS

 

Obama and NATO Respond to Russia

 

Will NATO make the same mistake that the Allies did 70 years ago?

The convergences of a NATO summit meeting in Wales and renewed hostilities between Russia and the Ukraine have forced both Obama and NATO to address the deteriorating security situation in Eastern Europe and Russia’s aggressive preventive defense posture.  It has also forced both Obama and Cameron to face the growing issue of ISIS, although no specific action was mentioned.

The week of action began for Obama on Wednesday when he arrived in Estonia to talk to the leaders of the three Baltic nations, who are all members of NATO.  In a speech delivered there, he pledged additional military aircraft to patrol the Baltic region in addition to more frequent stationing of American troops on the ground.

“The defense of Tallinn and Riga and Vilnius is just as important as the defense of Berlin and Paris and London,” Obama said, invoking the founding principle of collective defense that undergirds NATO. “An attack on one is an attack on all, and so if, in such a moment, you ever ask again, ‘Who’ll come to help?’ you’ll know the answer: the NATO alliance, including the armed forces of the United States of America.”

“We’ll be here for Estonia. We’ll be here for Latvia. We’ll be here for Lithuania,” Obama said. “You lost your independence once before. With NATO, you will never lose it again.”

Obama also addressed the situation in the Ukraine.  “It is a brazen assault on the territorial integrity of Ukraine, a sovereign and independent European nation,” Obama said. “It challenges that most basic of principles of our international system — that borders cannot be redrawn at the barrel of a gun; that nations have the right to determine their own future.”

The US also announced a military exercise, Rapid Trident, to take place in the next few weeks as a show of support for Eastern NATO nations and the Ukraine.  The annual exercise takes place in Poland, near its border with the Ukraine.  The United States European Command (EUCOM) says the exercise will involve about 200 U.S. personnel as well as 1,100 others from Ukraine, Azerbaijan, Britain, Canada, Georgia, Germany, Latvia, Lithuania, Moldova, Norway, Poland, Romania and Spain.  It will focus on peacekeeping missions and will include command post drills, patrolling, and dealing with improvised explosive devices.

In addition to Rapid Trident, the United States is moving tanks and 600 troops to Poland and the Baltic states for joint maneuvers in October, replacing a more lightly armed force of paratroopers.

This wasn’t the only action to support beleaguered NATO nations in the east.  Several NATO nations declared that they would send forces to Eastern Europe to deter any Russian aggression.  France also announced that it was suspending delivery of two helicopter carriers to Russia.  The first one, the Vladivostok, was due to be delivered next month.  Although the helicopter carriers aren’t much of a threat to the Ukraine, they would be a problem to NATO nations with coastlines on the Black and Baltic seas.

However, the most important news that will come out of the NATO meeting will be the formation of a brigade sized rapid reaction force that can move into an area within 48 hours.  Stockpiles of heavy equipment will be stored in Eastern Europe for the reaction force to mate up with.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the NATO Secretary-General, said on Monday: “This is a time of multiple crises on several fronts. To the east, Russia is intervening overtly in Ukraine; to the south we see growing instability, with fragile states, the rise [of] extremism, and sectarian strife. These crises can erupt with little warning, move at great speed and they all affect our security in different ways.  “We will develop a spearhead within our response force. This will require reception facilities in NATO territory, pre-positioned equipment and supplies, command and control and logistics experts. So this force can travel light, but strike hard if needed.”

NATO’s current rapid reaction force would take 5 days to arrive on scene and be able to remain on scene for up to 30 days without resupply.  The NATO Response Force has only been used 6 times (The 2004 Olympic Games, the Iraqi Elections, the 2011 Libyan civil war, humanitarian relief to Afghanistan, humanitarian relief in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, and humanitarian relief in the earthquake disaster in Pakistan).

One of the criticisms of the force is that it fields very small land contingent.  In its first deployment for the Athens Olympics in 2004, of the 9,500 personnel, about 8,500 were airmen and sailors, and only 1,000 were ground troops. Its land component included a French paratroop battalion, a Greek airmobile company, and a Belgian commando company.

Another criticism of the rapid reaction force is that its divergent nationalities make it hard to smoothly coordinate.

So, the question is if the new, proposed NATO rapid reaction force will be a credible deterrent to Russia?

Ironically, the answer may lie in history and NATO ministers may want to look at events that happened 70 years ago this month in Belgium and Holland.  Operation Market Garden (September 17 – 25,, 1944) represented the largest use of airborne forces – the rapid reaction forces of World War II.  The result was the near destruction of the British First Airborne Division at Arnhem.

Rapid reaction forces traditionally have limited capabilities, as Allied commanders discovered in Operation Market Garden.  They are light infantry – usually delivered by air – that have to rely upon light weapons and have little mobility.  Their advantage lies in the training and quality of the airborne troops, which are traditionally higher than the average soldier.  Their immobility makes them a target for heavier units

Excellent examples of such a force are the American 82nd Airborne Division and the 75th Ranger Regiment – both of whom would undoubtedly be allocated to such a NATO force at some time.  Both units have the mission of having combat troops “Wheels Up” (en route by aircraft) within 18 hours of an order to move. Both units have the capability of “Forced Entry” into a territory to seize and secure key terrain, e.g. Drop Zone (DZ), airfield or airport, to accommodate follow on forces. A good example of this was Operation Urgent Fury in Grenada. The Rangers were at the staging base in Barbados in less than 18 hours from notification followed by the 82nd Airborne Division.

But, is speed enough?  What would such a unit bring to a combat situation in Eastern Europe?

Although heavy equipment will be prepositioned in Eastern Europe, It’s very likely that these depots will be hit be Russian strikes before they can be mobilized.  In that case, NATO will have to rely upon what the force brings to the battlefield.

A situation in Eastern Europe may very well rely upon a forced entry into hostile or contested territory.  This is something the 82nd Division can do, but with limited ability to project power beyond a limited range.  The 82nd Division can land 2,000 paratroopers, armored vehicles, and 155mm howitzers over a three mile drop zone to seize and defend an airfield in order to allow reinforcements, including air mobile Stryker armored units, to land and fight their way to the objective.  However, the ability of the attack to reach its objective relies upon the reinforcements and the air superiority to allow them to land.

An example of this was seen by the 82nd Airborne in Operation Market Garden in 1944.  They had been assigned the mission of capturing the Nijmegen Bridge, but were stopped by a light German armored unit.  They didn’t achieve their objective until days later – then with the support of armored units from the ground units of the 30th Corps.  Even then, they took heavy casualties in a daylight assault across the Waal River in order to capture the northern end of the bridge.

Event proved worse for the British 1st Airborne Division.  They reached their objective, but lost their landing zone.  The result was that they ran out of ammunition and supplies and those who weren’t captured by the Germans were forced to retreat.  The story of Operation Market Garden was made into a movie titled, “A Bridge Too Far.”

So, what does this history lesson mean to a modern day NATO quick reaction force?  Rapid reaction forces are highly skilled, highly trained light infantry that may be very mobile going into battle, but are largely immobile once they land.  Man per man, they can outfight any unit, but they don’t have the logistics tail or heavy equipment to continue fighting for long, especially in heavy combat.

Operation Market Garden also highlighted the communication problems between units of different nationalities, even though the majority of the Market Garden forces were all English speaking British and Americans.  A poly-lingual NATO rapid reaction force will have even greater problems.

The success of such a rapid reaction unit will depend on how quickly it gets to the potential theater of operations.  A rapid reaction force that can move in days before any combat and link up with heavy equipment and a logistics chain can be a deterrent as its combat ability exceeds its numbers.

Should that force not enter the area of operations until just before combat, its ability is seriously degraded.  The ability of the unit to fight against superior numbers depends on supply support that probably will not be there.  Consequently, the unit may stop a Russian advance for a few days before running out of ammunition and supplies.

Should the rapid reaction force try to force an entry into hostile territory without adequate air cover, the lives of the 4,000 men would be wasted.

In reality, a NATO rapid reaction force is more of a political response than a sound military one.  Deterring Russian expansionism would be better served by permanently stationing smaller numbers of ground forces in Eastern Europe – forces that would have all their equipment and an established supply infrastructure.

Undoubtedly, Putin is aware of this.   While the uncertainty of a NATO force will cause him to pause, it will not stop him if he decides to act.

 

 

PUBLICATIONS

2014 NATO Summit: Understanding the Key Issues

By Luke Coffey and Daniel Kochis

Heritage Foundation

September 3, 2014

Issue Brief #4271

The 2014 NATO summit will be held this week in Wales. The last time the United Kingdom hosted the NATO summit was in 1990, when Margaret Thatcher was prime minister, the Cold War was coming to a close, and the alliance was questioning its future role in the world. Today’s situation is not dissimilar. This will be the last summit before NATO ends its combat operations in Afghanistan and the first since Russia illegally annexed the Crimean Peninsula and brought instability to eastern Ukraine. The U.S. should use this opportunity to refocus the alliance on the core tenets of the original 1949 North Atlantic Treaty: collective security and territorial defense. In advance of the summit, The Heritage Foundation has published six Issue Briefs touching on important policy issues that President Obama and his NATO counterparts should address.

Read more

 

 

Washington Should Stop Praising Military Tyranny in Egypt

By Doug Bandow

Cato Institute

September 2, 2014

Egypt’s capital is crowded, busy, confused, and messy.  Security isn’t obvious, until you get close to a sensitive site, such as the Interior Ministry. The military has taken firm control, elevating its leader, Abdel Fata al-Sisi, to the presidency.  The army permitted dictator Hosni al-Mubarak’s ouster by street protests in 2011 because he planned to turn military rule into a family dynasty.  If ousted president Mohamed al-Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood been defeated in a future election, they would have been discredited peacefully.  However, the coup turned the movement’s members into angry victims.  In Cairo they took over Rab’a al-Adawiya and al-Nahda Squares, just as the anti-Mubarak and anti-Morsi crowds had done in Tahir Square.  The military government responded with a campaign of premeditated murder.  In a new report Human Rights Watch detailed the junta’s crimes.  From the beginning the military used deadly force with no concern for casualties.  In fact, the army began using live ammunition against protestors just two days after the coup.

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The U.S. Strategic Vacuum in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia

By Anthony H. Cordesman

Center for Strategic and International Studies

September 2, 2014

Strategy does not consist of concepts, good intentions, or public statements that will not be implemented in any meaningful form. It consists of the policies and actions that are already in place and practical plans that can – and are – actually implemented. Today, the US lacks a real world strategy for dealing with Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Central Asia. It has an unworkable and under-resourced Transition plan for Afghanistan, no meaningful public strategy for Pakistan, and little more than statements of good intentions for Central Asia as it withdraws the forces that supported the war in Afghanistan. This “strategy” of good intentions is not a strategy. Yes, it would be nice to resolve the tensions and risk of conflict between India and Pakistan. It would be nice to see Afghanistan emerge as a unified, peaceful, developing democracy. It would be nice to seek Pakistan put on the same path. It would be nice to see Central Asia develop as a region, and do so in ways that are peaceful, and involve the same progress towards democracy.

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Winning the Campaign Against the Islamic State: Key Strategic and Tactical Challenges

By Anthony H. Cordesman

Center for Strategic and International Studies

August 29, 2014

Commentary

The United States does not have good or quick options in dealing with the Islamic State, in part because it faces serious challenges in Iraq and Syria that cannot be separated from any efforts to weaken and destroy the Islamic State. This, however, is not a reason to stand and wait for better options that do not exist. The situation will not get better because the United States continues to dither.  The United States already has the elements of the strategy it needs and has begun to act in important ways, and if this action is taken more decisively, in an integrated form, and over enough time to be effective it may well be capable of both imploding the Islamic State and serving U.S. interests in both Iraq and Syria.

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Backdrop to an Intervention: Sources of Egyptian-Libyan Border Tension

By Frederic Wehrey, David Bishop, and Ala’ Alrababa’h

Carnegie Endowment

August 27, 2014

The airstrikes that Emirati forces with Egyptian support conducted against militia positions in Libya in late August 2014 were sparked by an anti-Islamist military campaign in eastern Libya.  The campaign, led by retired General Khalifa Hifter and a breakaway faction of the Libyan military, has profoundly altered Egyptian-Libyan relations. But the roots of Egyptian meddling in Libya run deeper than Hifter’s current operation.  Among Libya’s many afflictions, none is more threatening to Egypt than the two states’ nearly 700-mile-long shared border. Border policing in Libya has always been weak and ill-defined—even under Muammar Qaddafi—but it has suffered a catastrophic decline following the dictator’s overthrow in 2011. Oversight of borders has devolved to a constellation of eastern militias that are only tenuously connected to the government and that, in many cases, are colluding in the very smuggling they are meant to combat. The border is now North Africa’s eastern thoroughfare for weapons, fighters, illegal migrants, and illicit goods flowing into the Levant, with profoundly destabilizing effects on the Sinai, Gaza, and Syria.

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Will ISIS Strike America’s Achilles Heel?

By Frank Gaffney

Center for Security Policy

September 3, 2014

According to the indispensable government watchdog group Judicial Watch, the U.S. government has evidence that the jihadist Islamic State (IS) is present in Juarez, Mexico – across the Rio Grande from El Paso, Texas.  Worse yet, the Texas Department of Public Safety believes there is evidence that IS plans an imminent attack in this country. In light of the latest murderous attack by this organization against an American journalist, Steven Sotloff, among other atrocities, such threats must be taken with the utmost seriousness.  Among the targets national security professionals fear may now be in the jihadis’ crosshairs is America’s exceedingly vulnerable electric grid. A panel discussion being held at the National Press Club in Washington Wednesday afternoon will show how a spate of recent attacks involving sabotage and destruction of property at various electric substations here and elsewhere could be leading indicators of the next 9/11 – one potentially vastly more destructive than the original which occurred thirteen years ago next week.

Read more

 

 

ISIS’s Offensive in Syria Shows that U.S. Airstrikes Have Not Blunted Momentum

By Isabel Nassief and Jennifer Cafarella

Institute for the Study of War

August 28, 2014

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel told reporters that U.S. airstrikes “have stalled ISIL’s momentum” after two weeks of bombarding ISIS positions in Northern Iraq. The Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham has not stalled under U.S. pressure.  Rather, since the fall of Mosul and despite U.S. airstrikes, the insurgent army has continued a successful and spectacular offensive in Syria. Their gains nearly equal in scale the seizure of northern Iraq in June.  The insurgent army’s latest triumph is the capture of Assad’s Tabqa air base in Eastern Syria.  ISIS is one armed force fighting on multiple fronts in two theaters of operation, Iraq and Syria, across a border that the group does not recognize. It aims to establish and consolidate a cross-border Caliphate and has sought to fuse its lines of communication across the border region, while also seizing control of populated urban areas in both countries. ISIS has sought to expel armed forces of both states from positions within  ISIS’s desired “borders” in order to preserve the Caliphate’s territorial integrity.

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Lebanon and the ISIS Threat

By David Daoud

Washington Institute

August 28, 2014

Fikra Forum

The advance of the Islamic State of Syria and al-Sham (ISIS), currently known as the Islamic State, has focused the international spotlight on Syria and Iraq, as ISIS has taken control over huge swaths of the two countries. Although Lebanon has managed to stay off the international radar, instability and sectarianism leave the country equally vulnerable to this growing threat in the region.  The lack of national unity has been disastrous for Lebanon. The country has yet to overcome the damaging consequences of its bloody civil war (1975-1990), during which regional actors capitalized on Lebanon’s sectarian divides for their own political interests. For example, the Syrian army entered Lebanon under the initial pretext of aiding the Christian Maronites, and Iran took advantage of the disenfranchisement of Shiites and the Israeli occupation to create the Shiite militia Hezbollah. ISIS is very likely to exploit the Lebanese state’s failure to resolve the deep sectarian divides just like it did in Iraq and Syria.

Read more

 

 

Mounzer A. Sleiman Ph.D.
Center for American and Arab Studies
Think Tanks Monitor

 

www.thinktankmonitor.org

C: 202 536 8984             C: 301 509 4144