UN gone wild

UN gone wild

Ed Lasky
The UN ignores its own rules and tradition by allowing a state (Iran) that has promised to destroy another state (Israel) continue as a member. Now via the New York Sun, we learn that the same UN has financed a document by another group that also calls for the destruction of that very same state (Israel). Your taxpayer dollars at work.

The Committee of Arab Mayors in Israel recently issued a document proffering a new political “vision.” The message is sharp and clear: The Arab-Palestinian minority in Israel no longer advocates a two-state solution. Beside the future Palestinian – Arab- Muslim – state there should be a binational state, Jewish and Palestinian, which will give the Palestinian minority special political rights. Israel would thus lose its specific nature as a Jewish homeland, as its flag, national anthem, and rhythm of national life would represent both peoples, Jews and Palestinians.
There is not a word for either entity about civil society, freedom of expression, rule of law, or other values associated with freedom.
“The Future Vision of the Palestinian Arabs in Israel,” whose preparation was financed by the United Nations Development Program, is replete with hostility toward Israel and Zionism. “Israel is the result of a colonialist action instigated by the Jewish-Zionist elites of Europe,” the document states, and Palestinians “were forced to acquire Israeli citizenship.” The mayors ignore that the so-called colonialists promised equal rights to all non-Jews in the Jewish state.

What Sharon Would Do

What Sharon Would DoHillel HalkinNew York Sun, January 9, 2007 

A year since Ariel Sharon had his massive stroke on January 4, 2006, one finds oneself wondering how and whether Israel might be different today had he remained healthy and in the prime minister’s office.  One can only speculate, of course. There is a natural tendency to express one’s sense of loss when a dominant figure passes suddenly from the political scene by magnifying the positive in him.


This happened in Israel after the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. For years after Rabin’s death it was assumed by many that, had only he lived, things would have gone differently and the “peace process” set in motion by him at Oslo might have succeeded. Today, in retrospect, it is clear that, whatever the pluses or minuses of Rabin’s term as prime minister, the Oslo process was doomed to failure. One can only ask today whether he would have reacted to its unraveling any differently than did his successors.


Perhaps one day things will also seem clear in regard to the major event to have taken place in Israel since Mr. Sharon’s incapacitation, namely, last summer’s war in Lebanon. In the meantime, one can only ask: Would Mr. Sharon have gone to war, as Ehud Olmert did, after the kidnapping last July by Hezbollah of two Israeli soldiers and the killing of three others? Would the war have taken another course had he done so? Would Israel’s position, which has taken, both domestically and abroad, a turn for the worse because of the war, be different today?


In response to the first question, it’s very likely that Mr. Sharon would not have gone to war. In the six years that he was prime minister, there were numerous Hezbollah attacks on Israeli positions along the Lebanese border, in 13 of which 20 Israeli soldiers were killed. The first of these took place a week after Mr. Sharon’s first election victory in 2001, and the last half a year before his stroke. On none of these occasions, as far as we know, did Mr. Sharon even consider launching a full-scale attack against Hezbollah and the Lebanese south, as Mr. Olmert did last July 12.


Why didn’t he? Perhaps because, during nearly all of this period, Israel’s army was busy fighting the Palestinian war of terror that started in late 2000 and Mr. Sharon didn’t want to burden it with another, difficult objective. Perhaps because his military judgment told him that an all-out campaign against Hezbollah might not succeed. Perhaps, also, because he realized that the great build-up in Hezbollah’s rocketry, which took place almost entirely on his watch and for which he could be held responsible, would be unleashed on northern Israel if war broke out.


In any case, it is difficult to imagine that what 13 previous incidents had not been able to goad Mr. Sharon into doing would have happened because of a 14th. Perhaps he should have reacted more forcefully to these incidents and stopped Hezbollah in its tracks [earlier]—but it was precisely his renowned military past and reputation for audacity that allowed him not to. The one thing, after all, that he could never have been accused of was of being unwilling to take bold but necessary military actions.


Mr. Olmert, on the other hand, was in a much more vulnerable position in this respect. With no military record…he felt that he had to prove himself and that he could not afford to be seen as passive toward the July 12 Hezbollah attack. Nor did he have Mr. Sharon’s ability to make an independent assessment of what the results of a full-scale war might be, or to overrule his chief of staff’s initial decision to limit the fighting to an air campaign that was unable to fulfill many of its objectives.


And yet suppose Mr. Sharon had gone to war. Would he have ordered the army to fight it differently? Probably he would have. As an infantry commander who always emphasized speed and tactical surprise, he is unlikely to have agreed to a campaign based entirely on a steady pounding of predictable Hezbollah targets from the air—or, when ground troops finally were sent in, to the straightforward, slogging-ahead approach that the army adopted. Mr. Olmert, by contrast, was once again in no position to disagree with his generals even had he been disposed to.


Of course, there is no guarantee that a more imaginatively fought war against Hezbollah, involving encirclements and the leapfrogging of units in the style Mr. Sharon was known for, would have succeeded in the end any better, and the risks to Israeli troops would have been greater. Yet so would have been the chances of entrapping and destroying large Hezbollah forces on the ground instead of letting them slip away in the end as happened time after time last July.


We’ll never know. But even if Mr. Sharon had gone to war and done no better than did Mr. Olmert…the country would still be better off with him in the driver’s seat today. Unlike Mr. Olmert, Mr. Sharon had a steady hand on the wheel that inspired confidence. Under him, the country felt it had a leader who knew what he was doing and where he wanted his government to go. This is not true of the Olmert regime…


Israel is the poorer today for Mr. Sharon’s stroke. It’s not a question of sentimentally missing him. It’s simply an undeniable fact. The country was a calmer, more optimistic place a year ago.

Somali Official Confirms Death of Wanted Al Qaeda Militant in U.S. Airstrike

Somali Official Confirms Death of Wanted Al Qaeda Militant in U.S. Airstrike

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

MOGADISHU, Somalia  — The suspected Al Qaeda militant who planned the 1998 U.S. embassy bombings in east Africa was killed in an American airstrike in Somalia, an official said Wednesday.

“I have received a report from the American side chronicling the targets and list of damage,” Abdirizak Hassan, the Somali president’s chief of staff, told The Associated Press. “One of the items they were claiming was that Fazul Abdullah Mohammed is dead.”

Brainroom: Tools of Battle, AC-130H/U Gunship

Mohammed allegedly planned the attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania that killed 225 people.

He is also suspected of planning the car bombing of a beach resort in Kenya and the near simultaneous attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner in 2002. Ten Kenyans and three Israelis were killed in the blast at the hotel, 12 miles north of Mombasa. The missiles missed the airliner.

Targeted Al Qaeda Suspects Have Long Rap Sheets

Mohammed is thought to have been the main target of an American helicopter attack Monday afternoon on Badmadow island off southern Somalia.

U.S. attack helicopters also strafed suspected Al Qaeda fighters in southern Somalia on Tuesday, witnesses said.

The two days of airstrikes by U.S. forces were the first American offensives in the African country since 18 U.S. soldiers were killed here in 1993.

On the Hunt in Somalia

On the Hunt in Somalia
By Jacob Laksin
FrontPageMagazine.com | January 10, 2007

An increasingly popular prejudice holds that the United States, by involving itself in Iraq, has handicapped the larger war against Islamic terrorism. Al-Qaeda operatives in southern Somalia would likely disagree. On Monday these operatives found themselves on the receiving end of apparently successful U.S. airstrikes. Launched from a U.S. Air Force gunship, the attack capped a broader regional campaign that has seen an American Navy fleet policing the country’s ports — a favorite transit point of the international terror network — while special intelligence operations, carried out in concert with neighboring Kenya and Ethiopia, identify and search out terrorist suspects in the country’s volatile south. James Phillips, a foreign policy specialist at the Heritage Foundation who has written extensively about al-Qaeda in Somalia, told FrontPageMag.com yesterday that the “the recent air strikes in Somalia show that U.S. forces remain capable of striking at al Qaeda from far away at a moments notice.” Reports of American weakness, it seems, have been greatly exaggerated.  For many Somalia is, if anything, a painful memory. It is indelibly linked to the October 1993 operation in which 18 American Army Rangers were gruesomely slaughtered while tracking Somali warlord Muhammad Farah Aidid — a tragedy first chronicled by Mark Bowden in the Philadelphia Inquirer and later dramatized in the film Black Hawk Down. For U.S. military strategists, however, Somalia has long held another significance: as a key battleground to thwart the export of Islamic radicalism into the African continent and beyond.  It is in this context that this week’s airstrikes should be seen. Early reports indicate that the targets of the strikes were Fazul Abdullah Mohammed and Saleh Nabhan, two terrorists with probable ties to al-Qaeda. Mohammed is believed to be the mastermind of the 1998 attacks on U.S. embassies in Kenya, which resulted in the deaths of 225 people. In addition, a failed 2002 attempt to shoot down an Israeli airliner, and the car bombing of a Kenyan hotel that claimed the lives of ten Kenyans and three Israelis, are said to bear Mohammed’s fingerprints. Saleh Nabhan is also wanted for the 2002 attacks. Kenyan investigators have reportedly discovered bomb-making materials in his home and local police have fingered him as the owner of the vehicle used in the hotel attack.  Rap sheets like these have only endeared the detonative duo to Somalia’s radical Islamic Courts Union. An umbrella of hard-line Sharia law courts that, in defiance of the official U.N.-backed Transitional Federal Government, affects to be the country’s true source of authority, the ICU is believed to have offered protection to both Mohammed and Nabhan. This would be entirely in keeping with the unions’ past history, which includes its documented links to al-Qaeda. Of the 11 courts affiliated with the union at least two are suspected to be terrorist training and recruitment centers, and at least one is led by an al-Qaeda operative, Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys, the onetime head of al-Itihaad al-Islamiya, a now-dissolved Somali Islamist group affiliated with al-Qaeda. Although the ICU styles itself as the voice of Somali believers, it is on closer inspection a tribal interest group — it mainly comprises the Hawiye, a Somali clan that makes up about a quarter of the country’s population — whose main “achievement,” apart from courting foreign al-Qaeda fighters, has been to impose a particularly severe form of Islamic rule on those parts of Somalia unfortunate enough to have come under its ambit.  Menacing to its host country and the region at large, the union thus deserves the brunt of the blame for precipitating Ethiopia’s recent invasion. One might not know it from the pronouncements of groups like Human Rights Watch and untold numbers of “Africa experts,” who condemned Ethiopia’s military for acting on behalf of U.S. interests — a grave offense for the high minded — but the invasion served two vitally useful purposes: routing the gathering Islamist forces and preventing the takeover of what by all the evidence would have been the Somali equivalent of the Taliban. Yet it would be a mistake to think that Somalia is now rid of its terrorist problem. By all accounts, the country remains a hotspot of Islamist activity. Equally dubious is the notion that an African peacekeeping force can serve as a buffer against Islamic ascendance in the country. As usually happens when the idea of such forces arises, African countries prove unwilling to provide the necessary troops. The upshot is that it’s left for the United States to do the job — striking down terrorists and safeguarding civilization — that, with some honorable exceptions, African states and the remainder of the international community won’t do.  

Encouragingly, the U.S. military is more than equal to the task. As documented by the journalist Robert Kaplan, lost amid the constant barrage of bad news from Iraq is that the U.S. military remains on unwearied offensive against al-Qaeda and its fellow travelers. In Africa especially the military has hunted down the terrorist group and trained local forces to carry on the fight. It has done all this, moreover, with little fanfare and even less recognition. Perhaps that’s to be expected. In the age of global media, waging a war on Islamic terrorism was never going to be a glamorous vocation — only a necessary one.