Tag Archives: cease fire


Blog 318 September 12, 2016

Obama met Putin in a face-to-face confrontation to discuss a cease-fire in Syria as well as provide mercy and relief for the last citizens bottled up in Aleppo. Putin said no and went home. This morning the rumor is that a cease-fire is pending. Really?

If so, Putin’s delay was to appear superior to Obama which seems to be a major preoccupation with him. As a matter of fact, the Russians and to some extent the Iranians and Syrians appeared these past several weeks to be testing how far they can push the USA in near military confrontations before there is a response.

This activity is a result of Obama’s failure several years ago to keep his pledge to act if Syria used chemical weapons. They’ve been doing it ever since and Obama has done nothing. He is now perceived as weak and unreliable. The Russians are testing just how far he can be pushed around. Some commentators speculate that Russia is testing the waters to see what might happen in an attempt to militarily conquer the Ukraine later in the year.

Maybe – hopefully – this behavior on Obama’s part is coming to an end.

Lt. General Stephen Townsend is the new U.S. commander of American troops in Iraq and Syria, taking command this past week. He is now vowing to defend American special operations in northern Syria and cautioned the opposition that Americans warplanes and artillery will attack to defend these operations. General Townsend has told the Russians and sent the messages on to Syria that that they will defend themselves against the threat of any attack. The general is the first senior military commander to speak on the record that US forces will confront Syrian Air craft if encounters happen again.

Has the military acted whether the Obama administration is awake or not? Possibly, Obama has realized that his attempts to work with Putin are null and he has awakened to the consequences of being passive. Hard to say.

General Townsend also stated that his personal goal is the defeat of ISIS in the coming year. He recognizes that this is an ambitious goal, but the possibility remains his objective. The top leader of ISIS. Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, is being hunted and will be attacked when found. It appears that the ISIS leaders are in or around the Syrian city of Raqqa. Townsend defined the defeat of ISIS to be when the so-called caliphate no longer exists or controls population centers. He recognized that ISIS would continue to exist, but in a highly diminished form. Kurdish fighters trained by the US will start moving on Raqqa in the coming weeks.

Has the situation truly changed? If General Townsend’s strong statements are backed up with force, it will. Putin may want to test the US, but he doesn’t actually want to start a war as that would be disastrous for Russia.

Stay tuned.

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Filed under America, middle east, Russia


            Now that hostilities have ceased, the next step between Israel and Palestinian militants is some form of negotiated settlement. Hamas will push for the lifting of the blockade that has stifled goods being shipped into the country. Five years after Hamas seized control from Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, the blockade was imposed by Israel to halt the flow of military weapons into Gaza. The closing of all ports has been highly successful, leaving Gaza in an impoverished condition. In turn, Israel will demand an end to arms smuggling. Weapons have continued to come in through a system of tunnels built along the Egyptian border. These tunnels were one of the main targets during the eight days of air strikes by Israel. Significant damage was done to this system.

            Obviously, negotiations will be long and tough. Both sides have a great deal at stake. Egypt’s continuing role is to work with Gaza and Israel to start talks. However, the ongoing turmoil in Egypt has made President Morsi’s position tenuous. Undoubtedly, his time is consumed with trying to survive the current upheaval since he claimed dictatorial powers. It is not clear when negotiations can begin in earnest with President Morsi at the table..

But what can be expected?

This past week the world got a few clues from the first visit to Gaza City in history of the political leader of Hamas. Khaled Meshai delivered a defiant speech, vowing to built an Islamic Palestinians state on all the land of Israel. Tens of thousands of supporters gathered to hear Meshai promise the Jewish state would be wiped out by resistance and military action. Meshai said, “Palestine is ours from the river to the sea and from the south to the north. There will be no concessions on any inch of the land.”

The Hamas leader promised no recognition of the legitimacy of Israel, vowing that they would free Jerusalem no matter how long it takes. Hamas appears to have developed a new confidence believing they have stood up to Israel. However, they know that the fall of President Morsi would have dire consequences for them.

So, what can the world make of the current situation. Palestinian defenders are not likely to write Meshal’s speech off as political rhetoric. They believe in what he said. Certainly his ideas represent the Hamas constitution. He must be taken seriously. Unfortunately, terrorist are not deterred by such things as having all their buildings smashed and their leaders killed. They’ll be back tomorrow with a another truck load of weapons.

Until Hamas reaches a reconciliation with the PLO, the Palestinians remain divided and Israel has stated it will not negotiate with any terrorist group seeking their downfall. Therefore, we have come again to an impasse going nowhere. This amounts to a continuation of the status quo of past years. We cannot expect much to come out of the proposed negotiations.

With Syria poised for a downfall of the Assad regime with radical changes on the horizon, and Iran enriching uranium for a bomb, both sides have a great deal to think about. Nothing is ever easy in the Middle East. And it hasn’t gotten any smoother.

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Filed under Gaza, Israel, Palestinians, Peace


The media flashed pictures of Palestinians surging into the streets, firing weapons in the air, and proclaiming they had won. From the television coverage, I witnessed, it appeared that Hamas had gained a major victory over Israel.

I was reminded of the day that Anwar Sadat was assassinated. Egypt had just been knocked upside down and defeated. Of course, that loss called for a military parade celebrating their victory. The badly defeated Egyptian army marched into the field before the review stand. Suddenly the soldiers turned on Sadat and the military leaders, firing their weapons indiscriminately. Egyptians defeat was compounded by tragedy.

The Palestinians characteristically don’t read the handwriting on the wall. Israel had killed their major military leader, other agents, reduced all Hamas headquarter buildings to rubble, terrified the civilian population, and caused multiple deaths. The Israeli army stood amassed on their border with the capacity to reduce Gaza City to rubble. The major reasons that Israel did not press forward were that major military objectives had been accomplished and the pressure from President Barack Obama called for them to stand down. Of course, at least half of the population of Israel did not want Prime Minister Netanyahu to invade. With elections in the near future, this factor more than any other gave Netanyahu a good reason to stop.

Did Hamas win? Win what? A reprieve from having their houses destroyed? Having more Hamas leaders killed? Not having to commit suicide by continuing the war? Doesn’t sound like a victory to me.

Several interesting twists appeared out of this war. The Iron Dome system that Israel built and America funded proved successful. Not only were 90% of the incoming rockets destroyed, the system demonstrated the capacity select which projectiles to intercept and which ones to let go. Amazing capacity, indeed. Of course, the rockets came from Iran as Hamas acknowledged. The Iranians now have a reading on what their missiles can not do and must be taking a long, hard, second look at the results. Iran could now be more ready to negotiate because they must recognize their own limitations.

The second surprise was Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi’s actions immediately after the cease fire. Recognized as playing a key role in negotiations, Morse went home and gave himself dictatorial powers. He unilaterally neutralized the judicial system by barring the courts from challenging his decisions. This move gave protection to the Islamist dominated assembly writing a new constitution because the court held the possibility of a dissolution of the Assembly.

Morsi supporters in the Moslem Brotherhood immediately clashed with liberals who feared the rise of a new dictatorship. In Alexandria, anti-Morsi opponents attacked the Brotherhood and the protests are far from over. And where is the military in this upheaval? Nothing has been heard from the generals who were demoted as Morsi rose in power. If the tanks and troops came back on the streets, Morsi would be in big trouble. The issue is far from settled.

So, did Hamas win something or the other? I don’t thinks so. They are luck to be alive!

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Filed under Egypt, Israel, Palestinians, War


You may have turned on the TV last week and been shocked to discover a war had broken out between Israel and the Gaza Strip. If you didn’t follow Middle Eastern events closely, you could have been completely unaware of the constant barrage of rockets fired out of this area. What started the war? Here’s the facts.

Since Israel made a unilateral withdrawal from the Gaza area in 2005, 8,500 rockets have been fired into Israel. 13,500 rockets have hit Israel since 2001. Since tht date, an average of three rockets per day have struck Israel. Currently, 5,000,000 Israelis now live in rocket range.

Why did Israel take out the Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari as well as targeting Hamas rocket launchers? The question is not unimportant because United Nations members always blame Israel –regardless. Let’s put it like this …

Mexico starts firing rockets on El Paso, Texas at the rate of 3 a day. This goes on for 7 years. Finally, the United States bombs the launching sites in Mexico. Do you think we’d wait 7 years? 7 weeks? 7 days to stop such attacks? Probably we’d respond in less than 7 hours. The issue isn’t hard to understand.

The basic problem Israel faces is not the rockets as much as it is the Palestinian mentality. Here’s another analogy to explain how they think.

We have a Friday night football game between the Israeli Warriors and the Hamas Rockets. The warriors win by a big 50 to nothing score. The games over and the Warriors go out to get in their bus. The Rockets hide in the bushes but start throwing baseballs at the bus. No matter how defeated they have been, they are going to attack the buses until the last one of them is dead.

Make sense? No. But that’s the way it works.

Yasser Arafat could have achieved peace with a capital in East Jerusalem but he walked away when President Clinton tried to broker a deal. Why? Because the Palestinians want nothing less that Israel to be pushed into the Mediterranean Sea.

Rather than striking a deal and rebuilding their society, they continue down a path of destruction and death. From my encounters with these people, I do not believe they will stop. These attacks and responses will continue.

While no one has clarified the facts, it appears that more rockets have been smuggled in through Egypt. Of course, they are Iranian in origin. Having upgraded from liquid fuel to solid state materials, these new Iranian rockets have a much greater range even shooting at Tel Aviv and hitting Jerusalem. The Iron Dome defense system has proven amazingly accurate, knocking out 90% of the Hamas rocket attacks in this war. Unfortunately, the l0% that break through are capable of significant destruction. This fact alone suggests that Israel will not quickly end the conflict until they have cleaned out the launchers and tunnels that bring rockets in from Egypt.

Suddenly everyone from Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi to the American State Department are scrabbling to bring a cease fire. They should have been working to stop the rocket attacks years ago and there would not be a conflict happening today.

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Filed under Egypt, Israel, middle east