An Analysis of Current Events in the Middle East

By Ilana Freedman Sun 04/10/2011 The tides of change are sweeping through the Arab world, and not, it seems for the better. To be sure, the tyranny of autocrats who have ruled the region for decades is systematically being overthrown. But what is replacing them may be far worse ± first chaos, in which the levels of death and suffering will be staggering, followed by a new kind of tyranny ± Islamism under Shari¶ah law ± throughout the region. The tyrants of the second half of the twentieth century kept the region relatively stable, while Western support of µdemocratic¶ revolution is now creating chaos throughout the Arab and Muslim world. Whether this is due to a lack of vision and understanding, or matter of policy, it stands to unhinge the delicate balances of power that have kept the nations of the world in a fragile, if incomplete, peace for the last sixty years. Local wars have been contained, and international commerce has been able to flourish. But today¶s Western interference in local rebellions has generated a global fever for revolution and instability around the world that may ultimately be impossible to contain. The interesting thing about many of these revolutions is that they were started by people in search of nothing more than better economic conditions. In Egypt, for example, the revolution was planned and initiated by young, predominantly secular students and professionals seeking a more democratic society in which there would be jobs and opportunity. But their movement was quickly hijacked by the Muslim Brotherhood, a very well-organized and well-disciplined organization based on Islamist ideology. The Muslim Brotherhood, formerly outlawed in Egypt, has now regrouped and is seeking the reins of power in the unrest that provides a long-awaited opportunity. The original demonstrations for jobs and better economic conditions quickly morphed into massive demonstrations that led to the fall of the Mubarak regime. But even after Mubarak¶s departure, the demonstrations continued and have now turned into a virulent anti-Israel, anti-Semitic, anti-Christian movement that threatens to turn µdemocratic¶ Egypt into a radical Islamist state. Mohamed Ghanem, a senior member of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to Iranian television that the Egyptian army, temporary custodians of the Egyptian government, should be preparing for a new war with Israel. If the Muslim Brotherhood wins a majority in the upcoming Egyptian elections, as now seems likely, the peace treaty between


Egypt and Israel will be a thing of the past, and the region will most likely dissolve into bitter bloodshed again. In Libya, the revolution was a rag-tag operation from the beginning. The first peaceful demonstrations were quickly disrupted by Gaddafi¶s imported mercenaries, whose sniper fire and heavy guns brought mayhem on the streets within hours, and Western interference within weeks. The ensuing chaos enabled al Qaeda and Hezbollah forces to quickly infiltrate the ranks of the rebels, including men who had previously fought against ³foreign invaders´ (i.e. American troops) in Afghanistan and Iraq. These are the same µpro-democracy rebels¶ (as the mainstream media likes to call them) who are now supported by the US against Gaddafi. The Western involvement took the form of a NATO-imposed no-fly zone which immediately deteriorated into a massive bombing of Gaddafi assets throughout the country, and material support for the rebels. The US is now pouring money into this and other revolutions, according to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (see article here), who, clearly supports the so-called 'pro-democracy' movements now also festering in Yemen, Syria, Egypt, and throughout the Middle East. The sandbox of the Libyan rebellion is very crowded. Al Qaeda in the Maghreb is now active in Libya, as is Iranian client, Hezbollah. Also fighting in this strange band of brothers are jihadists, adrenalin junkies, ex-prisoners, and former Gaddafi soldiers, all of whom make up a largely disorganized, undisciplined army of men with guns and no game plan. In a recent report from the field, Geraldo Rivera said, ³"Libyan rebels have the fire discipline of an LA street gang!" (read the whole article here and watch it here). Hezbollah is playing a unique role. They were reportedly sent into Libya by Iran, seeking access to Gaddafi¶s vast store of WMD, including many tons of mustard and nerve gas. They appeared in Benghazi with several million dollars in cold cash, and purchased from rebel leaders ³at least 2,000 artillery shells carrying mustard gas and 1,200 nerve gas shells´ bound for Gaza and Lebanon (read the original article here). According to Al Jazeera, ³Israeli officials have expressed concern about suspected arms smuggling through the country´. According to Debka, they have good reason to be concerned. Debka reported that the shipment passed overland through northern Sudan, a Muslim stronghold through which Hezbollah can be assured safe passage. An ³unidentified drone´ bombed a car associated with the transfer, Tuesday night near the Sudanese town of Port Sudan, killing two people. The Sudanese immediately accused Israel of carrying out the attack from ³a plane that


flew in from the Red Sea´ (although one police official said the missile had been fired from the sea). The two men killed in the vehicle were identified as being associated with al Qaeda and involved with the Iranian-Hamas arms smuggling network in Sudan. The shipment of millions of dollars of poison gas to Hamas and Hezbollah is a serious escalation in the burgeoning conflict. According to Debka, ³the first consignments of shells and poison gas were ferried to the Iranian intelligence bases in Iran, which oversee the arms smuggling routes to the Gaza Strip and Lebanon, by a gang of Sudanese weapons smugglers´.

All of which brings us to Israel and the global War Against the Jews

If you have been following our irregularly posted newsletters, you may remember that we have continually warned of the escalating potential for war against Israel by Hamas and Hezbollah, supported by Iran and al Qaeda. We have called this the flash point for the next regional (if not global) war. The news that somehow has eluded the mainstream media in the US is that Israel is now already on the brink of war, accelerated by a renewed barrage of rockets and missiles from Gaza on Israeli civilians. In the last four days, Israel has received over 150 rockets crashing into populated areas of its southern region. Israel¶s military response, to stop the missiles and take out the launchers, has been met with condemnation from around the world. America is ignoring the threat, or worse, supporting it. One of the most egregious attacks, and the one that triggered the most severe Israeli response, was an anti-tank missile assault on an Israeli school bus (see above). The bus was almost empty, but a 16 year old boy, the sole remaining passenger, is still fighting for his life from the critical head trauma that he received from shrapnel when the bus was totally destroyed by the missile fired from Gaza. The event went largely unnoticed here in the US, but its impact in Israel was sharp.


Israel responded with justified force, took out strategic Hamas targets in Gaza, and killed several Hamas leaders, including the man who kidnapped Gilad Shalit from Israeli territory in 2006. Hamas has claimed that since the day of the bus attack, Israel has committed war crimes against women, children, and the elderly. The group charged that the IDF hit an ambulance as part of its strikes on Gaza. But Israel¶s firepower is highly sophisticated and its targeting is extremely precise. The fact that Hamas uses ambulances transport missiles and Hamas fighters instead of injured civilians, and therefore in specific cases are legitimate targets, has already been welldocumented in many videos and first hand reports, including this one). If Israeli firepower did, in fact, hit an ambulance, this was no doubt the reason.

So why do Israelis kill civilians?
In the 2006 Lebanon war, in a brilliantly orchestrated PR campaign by Hezbollah, Israel was vilified for what was presented to the press as mass murder of babies and innocent civilians. Despite an enormous quantity of recorded proof to the contrary, Hezbollah was successful in turning world opinion against Israel. The accusation that Israel has a policy of targetikng civilians in its battles with Hamas and Hezbollah is old. It is also totally false. The truth is that civilian casualties are often the product of war, regardless of who is fighting. In Israel¶s case, the targets are much more complicated than they seem. Nevertheless, the question hangs in the air: why does Israel kill civilians in its war against terrorism? The answer is deceptively simple and straightforward. Historically, Israel¶s reputation for taking exceptional measures to avoid civilian casualties when engaged in battle has not gone unnoticed by her enemies. Both Hamas and Hezbollah follow a practice of placing military assets, heavy guns, and high explosives in the midst of heavily populated areas, knowing that Israel will think twice about striking these targets and risking civilian casualties. In fact, Israel goes to extraordinary lengths to avoid hitting civilian targets, dropping leaflets (in Arabic) to warn civilians of impending strikes, and calling their homes and cell phones to alert them to leave the target area. But the terrorist organizations understand well the underlying constraints and exploit them. Both Hamas and Hezbollah appropriate homes and community centers such as schools and hospitals for the positioning and storage of heavy weapons, munitions, and explosives. They fire their weapons from deep inside heavily populated areas (see photo of rocket being fired from Gaza City) This is not Israeli propaganda. It


is well- documented information, which you can find here and here (this is an excellent video documenting the use of human shields by Hamas) as well as elsewhere. Yet the propaganda continues. Arab League head Amr Musa has already called for the UN Security Council to impose a ³no-fly zone" over Gaza. One can expect that this will include the bombing of Israeli assets in Israel á la Libya. Meanwhile, the PR continues to flow. The following was posted today on an Australian blog: ³Israeli apache helicopters open fire at Palestinian houses in the heavily populated neighbourhood of Shuja¶eya east of Gaza. There are also reports of Israeli military boats firing at houses. Palestinian sources say that an ambulance was hit in one of the strikes. Five people have been killed, one a man of 50 by an Israel tank shell and the latest victim is Saleh Tarabin (38). Some 30-40 people have been wounded.´ The only reference in the entire posting to cause and effect refers to the single missile strike on a school bus, but omits the fact that this was one of fifty missiles and rockets fired from Gaza into southern Israel in a single day, or that the Israeli strikes are in response to the massive shelling on Israel¶s populated areas from Gaza (the school bus shelling was simply the proverbial µstraw¶). It also fails to mention Hamas¶ use of human shields by placing military assets in densely populated civilian areas as a cause of civilian casualties. Faced with these realities, Israel must attempt to stop the assault on her own population or face the inevitable death of many of her citizens and the destruction of her population centers. It is a choice which Israel¶s leaders do not take lightly. They have to make calculated decisions in every case, weighing the possibility of µcollateral damage¶ when Israeli forces strike at enemy targets placed in civilian areas. Israel¶s code of behavior in war is clearly stated in both law and regulation. It is also articulated clearly in a code that every soldier is taught in basic training, called ³The Spirit of the IDF´ (read this account from an American who served in the IDF). It is based on a profound belief in the essential value of all human lives, and precludes the careless or willful taking of either life or dignity of even an enemy non-combatant. But when faced with such a choice as the trade-off between risking civilian casualties while stopping the enemy or risking the lives of her citizens, Israel¶s first obligation is to her citizens. (For more on this and other issues, you may find this interview interesting. You may also want to read this article on ³disproportionate´ response).


What would America do?
How would we respond if, for example, New Hampshire, which is slightly larger than the state of Israel and roughly the same shape, were faced with a barrage of thousands of rockets and mortars over a period of several years, from just across the Canadian border? Would we show µrestraint¶ and let it go on for years? How would New Hampshire¶s residents adjust to running for cover several times a day, spending hours every day in cold shelters, listening to the incoming rockets that put their lives at risk, damage their property, prevent them from going to work, and disrupt their economy? Would there be no response? Would their concern about 'collateral damage' immobilize them? Or would they fight back with all their resources to stop the assault? And who would blame them? In the 1990s, then-Secretary of State Madeleine Albright was asked about how µcollateral damage¶ (specifically, the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children as the result of US sanctions) could be justified. She did not dispute the number, but just said: "We think the price is worth it." However, when it is Israel on the front lines, values are different and one fatality in Gaza City from Israeli bombs merits a front page story in the West. The world turns a blind eye to Israel¶s existential dilemma, and worse, threatens retaliation for Israel daring to defend herself and the lives and security of her citizens. The threat comes not only from the Muslim states that surround Israel, or from those further away such as Iran, or from the terrorist organizations whose existence is based on the destruction of Western values in general and Israel in particular. It also comes from Western countries, including our own, which was once Israel¶s ally but has now taken a position somewhere between indifference and throwing her to the wolves. Semi-official rumblings from in and around the administration do not give reason for optimism. Obama advisor Samantha Power, for example, who some believe will be tapped as the new Secretary of State if Obama wins the 2012 elections, has openly called for a US invasion of Israel on behalf of the Palestinian people. Earlier administrations have threatened Israel with bombing, should her leaders not agree to US demands for what many Israelis consider unreasonable restraint that compromises her national security. Israel stands alone in a world that largely wants to see her gone. Incredibly, her leaders still believe in America¶s friendship, and continue to respond to US


demands. But it is a trust that may be misplaced, and should be re-evaluated, given the current administration¶s clear anti-Israel posture in the growing Middle East unrest. Interestingly, in a recent Gallup Poll, in response to the question: ³In the Middle East situation, are your sympathies more with the Israelis or with the Palestinians?´, 63% of the Americans queried said that they favored the Israelis, and only 17% favored the Palestinians. Yet American policy is clearly divorced from popular opinion, as it seems to be on many other issues as well.

"When something goes wrong, blame the Jews": The non-links between the Rolling Revolutions and Israel
Despite the fall of Mubarak and his government, the demonstrations in Cairo continue, only now they include large gatherings in front of the Israeli Embassy, where the demonstrators chant anti-Israel slogans, burn the Israeli flag, and call for the dismissal of Israel¶s Ambassador to Egypt. They question the Egyptian-Israeli Peace Accord and condemn Israel for its strikes on Gaza. Similar demonstrations have taken place in Tunisia and Libya, while in Yemen, President Saleh recently said, "The events from Tunisia to Oman are a storm orchestrated from Tel Aviv and under Washington's supervision. . . What is taking place on Yemen's streets is just a copycat attempt. . . . led from outside" by people who are in the pay of "Zionists". Attributing everything that is wrong in the Arab world to Jews and Israel is nothing new. Anti-Semitism has been a societal phenomenon for several thousand years, for reasons that I, for one, will never understand. And since 1948, Israel has been the most handy target in this historical offensive. Now Israel is coming to a very dangerous crossroads, unlike anything she has faced before. Enemies who supply each other with poison gas, sophisticated long range missiles, and creative approaches to warfare against ³the Zionists´, are a determined, fanatical enemy, willing to die (or let their foot soldiers die) in order to kill Jews and destroy the Jewish state. Under the guiding hand of Ahmadinejad, Hezbollah and Hamas have amassed huge arsenals of lethality, all aimed at Israel¶s heart. All that is needed is the trigger point, which resides in the hands of a madman. As the momentum of rocket and missile attacks against her continues to grow in intensity, and her responses are met with new threats, the situation is likely to escalate quickly. I believe that the escalation in attacks from Gaza is Iran's way of


testing Israel¶s new Iron Dome system, as well as her will to use it against the rockets. It exposes Israel¶s capability in this area and may well influence the trigger point that will start the next Middle East war. So far, Iron Dome has worked very well. This marks the first time in history that short-range rockets have been successfully intercepted in mid-air. With a development cost of $200 million and a per missile price-tag of $22,000, the system was untested in battle until this week, when it took down several in-bound rockets in mid-flight (see one of them here). The Israeli-developed system surpasses the technology of the American Patriot missile, using cameras and radar to track incoming rockets. It is supposed to shoot them down within seconds of their launch, and Israel has now shown that they work. But Israel¶s future security cannot depend on Iron Dome alone.

America's Strategic Interests Undermined by US Foreign Policy
American ongoing policy against Israel contrasts sharply with Israel¶s intrinsic value to us as an ally and partner in the war against terrorism. Despite the recent wave of so-called µdemocratic¶ revolutions throughout the region, Israel remains the only true democratic society in the Middle East. Her contribution to the world¶s knowledge is truly amazing. She is also the source of much of the life-changing technology that rules our lives, and an invaluable resource for strategic intelligence from areas where the US has no assets on the ground.

An example of Israel¶s technology is the ³AGM-142 Have Nap´, a derivative of the Israeli Popeye missile, which the United States Air Force has acquired for its fleet of 85 active B-52 bombers. The AGM-142 is a short-range, television or imaging infrared-guided, air-to-surface cruise missile. It was developed and manufactured by the Israeli defense firm Rafael Armament Development Authority. The USAF version has a moderate number of minor modifications to fit the configurations of the US planes. This medium range conventional stand off missile provides the Air Force with a precision man-in-the-loop capability for the B-52H to attack high value, fixed targets from standoff ranges. The weapon will be licensed for manufacture in the US in a joint venture by Israel's Rafael and Lockheed Martin. Israeli innovations have protected US personnel in Iraq and Afghanistan with creative solutions to other thorny military problems, as well. For example: - TARGO is a complete mission life-cycle Helmet Mounted Avionics (HMA) technology developed by Elbit Systems. This µsmart¶ system transfers the


aircraft¶s avionics to the pilot¶s helmet, representing a new generation of personal avionics that enable pilots to plan, rehearse, fly and debrief using their personal helmets. It reduces dependence on dashboard and allows the pilot to keep their focus where it needs to be in intense combat situations. - The Bradley Reactive Armor Tiles, created by the Israel Defense Forces, overlay US armored personnel carriers with embedded explosives that blast outward to suppress incoming fire. The tiles have protected thousands of U.S. troops in combat zones. - The Israeli SIMON distance door-breaching system, developed by Raphael Advanced Defense Systems, reduced soldiers¶ exposure to the enemies inside buildings by providing a safe distance door breaching capability of up to 130 feet. - The first unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV) were first built in the 60s for intelligence, surveillance, and target acquisition. These pilotless remotecontrolled airplanes collect real-time video intelligence and targets enemy combatants with laser-guided precision. The US used UAVs in Viet Nam for these purposes. - The first weaponized UAV, known as the Harpy, was developed in Israel by Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI), which later also developed a loitering killer drone that has the capability to hunt illusive ground targets, such as anti-aircraft systems (including Iran's S-300 anti-air missile), and mobile or concealed ballistic missile launchers. UAVs are now used extensively by the US military to limit the exposure of its pilots and ground forces to enemy gunfire, while collecting valuable information from the ground, and targeting combatants without exposing US pilots to ground fire. Israeli UAV technology has reduced the number of piloted missions by US forces, leading to fewer American casualties in difficult terrains like Afghanistan and Pakistan. In other areas, Israel¶s intelligence from areas where the US has no assets, medical technology used in combat and civilian settings, and commercial technology such as the cell phone, AOL instant messaging, Intel Centrino technology, and many major components of MicroSoft¶s Windows platform, were all developed in Israel. All of these technologies have saved American lives and given strategic advantage to US forces in combat zones. To undervalue Israel¶s importance to America puts all that we believe in at risk, not only strategically, but it compromises the ethical and moral imperative of supporting our allies in their time of stress. To even consider supporting the


concept of a world without Israel is to betray the values upon which our country was founded and because of which we became great. Without Israel, the chaos that has begun in the Middle East will quickly find its way to our own shores. Israel is not only our strategic ally and partner, Israel is our µcanary in the coal mine¶. Without Israel as our strategic partner, we will be less well prepared to meet the enemy, or to win the war. Conclusion What the American people overwhelmingly understand and support that Israel is our ally and that we must continue to support her - our government must also quickly come to understand and to act accordingly on behalf of the American people, whom they represent. Ahmadinejad has recently said, ³Soon we will have a Middle-East without America and Israel in it.´ He mentioned America first, and he made no distinction between us and Israel. Neither should we.

======== ILANA FREEDMAN is an intelligence analyst with over twenty years of experience in the field. Trained in Israel, Ilana has forecast some of the major events in the last decade, including the current crisis in the Middle East. She forecast the fall of Mubarak, the spread of the uprisings throughout the region, she identified the hand of the Muslim Brotherhood in the organizations of the demonstrations in Egypt, and she was among the first to recognize the importance of Qaradawi's presence in Tahrir Square a week after Mubarak's fall. Ms Freedman has been a featured speaker at conferences and other events throughout the US and around the world. She is a frequent guest on radio and television where she provides analysis on the implications of current crises, and on the threat of global and domestic terrorism to the US and the world.


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