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Have the Syrian Kurds turned Kobani into ‘Stalingrad’ in the War against ISIS?

Sunday, October 19, 2014,  three USAF C-130’s flew over the Syrian  Kurdish YPG- held Western area of embattled Kobani.  Air  crews dropped 27 bundles of much needed arms, ammunition and medical supplies. Only one bundle went awry and was promptly destroyed by an accompanying coalition air fighter escort.  An NPR report noted the importance of this successful air drop and rising level of air strikes punishing besieging ISIS Jihadists:

In a statement, U.S. Central Command said the airdrops, executed by three C-130 cargo planes, were intended to help Kurdish fighters defend the city against the group calling itself the Islamic State.

“This assistance is another example of U.S. resolve to deny ISIL key terrain and safe haven as well as our commitment to assist those forces who oppose ISIL,” CENTCOM said in the statement, using a widely-used acronym for the Islamic State.

Polat Can, a spokesman for Kurdish forces in Kobani, acknowledged the delivery on his Twitter feed and added that he would soon be posting some “good news.”

In the past two weeks, U.S. forces have conducted 135 airstrikes against ISIL in and around the city of Kobani. The CENTCOM statement says the strikes have killed hundreds of fighters for the Islamic State and badly degraded the group’s military resources.

In a Pentagon briefing CENTCOMM commander Gen. Lloyd J. Austin stated that despite stepped-up strategies and efforts by allied forces, “Kobani could still fall.”

Others have called the defense of Kobani by YPG forces as “very impressive”. Impressive because of the grit, determination and valorous sacrifices of Kurdish fighters with some mixed units led by women commanders.  The YPG fighters’  motivation is to stave off the ISIS rampage from conquering this outlying Syrian bastion of their  ancestral Kurdish homeland crossing the borders of neighboring Turkey, Iraq and Iran.  Kobani has not been completely overtaken  by ISIS in the more than two months siege now in the brutal urban warfare phase. It has become a symbol of armed resistance  not unlike the Russian defense and ultimate victory over the  German Sixth Army at Stalingrad in early 1943.  The Kurdish resistance in Kobani  could be the turning point in the War against ISIS if properly supported by the Coalition.  This despite the obduracy of Turkish President Recep Erdogan, whose tanks silently stand on the border at Suruc overlooking the Kobani battle ground.

Erdogan is fearful that providing weapons and support to the YPG forces in Kobani would inflame the outrage of PKK allies in adjacent  Southeastern Turkey whose towns have been placed under virtual military control with  dozens of protesters killed. That set off street battles between Kurdish émigrés and ISIS supporters in Hamburg, Germany.  There have been protests at the White House by American Kurds and their supporters  requesting  President Obama  to support  those YPG fighters in Syria and Peshmerga in Iraq.  Support  also came from the  Kurdish Jewish community in Israel. The Times of Israel reported attendees at the annual  Saharanah festival denouncing ISIS and Turkey, “Concern for Brethren  in Syria marks Kurdish Jews Celebration”.    Yehuda ben Yosef, chairman of the National Organization of Kurdish Jews said:

This year, we focused an important part of the celebrations to call on the Israeli government and  the US, to denounce  two-faced Turkey, which doesn’t allow aid to reach the Kurdish army fighting there.  Genocide is being carried out on its borders, which are NATO borders. This is unbelievable. It’s as if the Holocaust is starting to return, and the world stands there silently.

 The US Administration was forced by public opinion outraged by the barbaric ISIS beheadings of Americans and British that fed into concern over support for  the Kurdish defense of Kobani.  Those developments forced President Obama to form a coalition of air contingents from several Sunni countries in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf that morphed into Operation Inherent Resolve. If that resolve is inherent in the battle against ISIS it is in the Syrian Kurdish YPG and Iraqi Peshmerga forces putting their lives on the line. Those Kurdish fighters communicated a message we haven’t heard since the dark days of WWII in May 1940 when Sir Winston Churchill was appointed as wartime Prime Minister, “give us tools and we’ll get the job done”.

Faith Mc Donnell of the Washington, DC-based Institute for Religion and Democracy drew attention on their blog yesterday, about the successful international social media effort led by the National Security Communications Task Force (NSCTF) of the Lisa Benson Show, “Twitter Success and Courageous Warriors”.   That was the fourth and most successful twitter rally that the NSCTF has conducted since June, 2014. The first was directed at a #DefendHamas campaign aimed at supporting Israel’s Operation Protective Edge during the 50 day rocket and terror tunnel war with Hamas in Gaza.   McDonnell wrote:

On Thursday, October 16, activists of the National Security Communication Task Force sponsored a Twitter Rally to lobby Congress for action to stop ISIS and protect the Kurds, Christians, Yazidis, and others victimized by the brutal Islamic “State.”

Messages such as #SupportTheKurds, #SaveKobani, #DefeatISIS, #ArmTheKurds, etc. were tweeted in an effort to push for more U.S. action to stop the brutal Islamists. And even as those tweets were flying, the war against ISIS was being fought on the ground by Syrian rebels and both male and female Kurdish soldiers, as well as by unusual new reinforcements, biker gang members — from the Netherlands and Germany.

Thank you to all who joined the Twitter Rally. There were many participants tweeting seriously for the first time. Passionate about impacting U.S. Iraq/Syria/ISIS policy, their goal was to push the U.S. government into arming the only official fighting force truly standing against the caliphate-builders right now: the Kurds.

The Twitter Rally was very successful. #SupportTheKurds reached 800 tweets per hour. This particular message also trended in the National Security category.

McDonnell  further writes about Dutch and German bikers who left to join those courageous Kurdish defenders of Kobani with their governments’ promise that they will not be prosecuted  upon  their  return. That is unlike the thousands of ISIS wannabes who have left the West and joined up via Turkey’s jihadist highway  only to return from Syria and Iraq as dangerous homegrown terrorists. She also notes the courage of Kurdish YPG women fighters.

The last weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal on October 18-19, 2014 drew attention in a report to those YPG women fighters, who constitute one-third of the Kurdish forces defending Kobani, “Kurdish Women Battle Islamic State on Front Lines.”  One 19 year old woman fighter, “Dilar” who joined up in an all female Martyr Warsin brigade, named in honor of a fallen teacher, said, “When I walk with my gun, the men who haven’t volunteered keep their eyes down around me. My bravery shames them.”

The valor of Kurdish women fighters in Kobani was reflected in the burial of four women near the Turkish Syrian border who fell fighting ISIS.   The courage that ‘Dilar’ and the fallen men and women of the YPG in Kobani have  displayed brought encouragement to other groups inside Syria fighting ISIS.  McDonnell cites Walid Phares noting the support of Christian allies of Syrian Kurds fighting in Kobani.  He stated, “The city was pronounced falling by Washington and Ankara but not by the fighters on the ground. ISIS is being pushed back by the people.”

Watch this Wall Street Journal video on Kurdish women fighters undergoing Peshmerga training in Iraq:

While President Obama is refraining from US boots on the ground in the battle for Kobani, he needs to continually replenish those Kurdish forces  in Kobani and Peshmerga in Iraq with the “tools to finish the job”.  He should urge CENTCOMM and Coalition commanders Gens. Austin and Allen to schedule more air drops with heavier weapons and ammunition coupled with robust close air support missions to complement communications and intelligence from Kurds on the ground. Consider the casualties that the Kobani YPG fighters inflict on ISIS reported daily by the Syrian Human Observatory as retribution for ISIS beheadings of Americans James Foley and Steven Sotloff and Britons, David Haines and Alan Henning.  Perhaps, just perhaps, like Stalingrad, Kobani could demonstrate to the uncooperative Turks, President Obama and the coalition in Inherent Resolve that fighting Kurds have the resolve  to “defeat and degrade” ISIS.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Syrian Kurdish Women YPG fighters

Israel is not ‘sightless’ in Gaza

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Destroyed home of Mohammed Deif in Gaza city, August 20, 2014. Source: AFP

Yesterday in Jerusalem, with visiting American Congressman Darrell  Issa (R-CA) at his side, Israeli PM Netanyahu heaped considerable praise on Shin Bet-Israel’s General Security Service – for the targeted  killings of senior Hamas commanders in Rafah. The International Business Times(IBT) quoted Netanyahu saying:

The “hard work and professionalism” of Shin Bet had enabled the Israeli military to “carry out this operation against the Hamas leaders who plotted fatal attacks against Israelis,” Netanyahu reportedly said, referring to pre-dawn air strikes in Rafah that killed the three Hamas commanders.

“In the name of every Israeli citizen, I thank the Shin Bet, the heads of the intelligence and operational units, and the chief of the organization, Yoram Cohen,” he said, according to Ha’aretz. Meanwhile, the Israeli military said that it had killed six militants of the Islamic Jihad — a Palestinian Islamist organization — as they were “about to launch rockets into Israel.”

Possibly in retaliation, today, Hamas,  publicly executed 18 ‘collaborators’. These public executions come in the midst of a rising wave of ‘collaborator’ executions in the terrorist stronghold of Gaza.  Israel National News  reported a series of such reprisals in an article, “Hamas Goes on an ‘Israel Collaborator’ Killing Spree”:

Majd, a website close to Hamas, on Thursday reported that Hamas’s military wing,the Al-Qassam Brigades, executed three Gaza residents and arrested seven others for ‘collaborating’ with Israel during Operation Protective Edge.

No date was given for the executions or arrests, but the Hamas security official quoted in the report said the three were killed after “revolutionary procedures” were completed against them.

The same website reported on August 6 that “a number” of Arab collaborators had been killed, again without giving a date.

In the last week of July, Palestinian sources reported that over 30 Gazans were executed by Hamas, most of them in the Shejaiya neighborhood. In that case too, Hamas claimed that they were collaborators with Israel.

The Times of Israel reported a revelation by a Lebanese publication that a phone call between Hamas leader Khalid Mashal in Qatar and  Mohammed Deif, the elusive  head of the Hamas military wing, may have  provided Israel with intelligence that sealed the fate of both he and his family.  According to the TOI  Mashal may have broken protocol to discuss a possible cease fire with Israel. The Deif residence in Gaza was hit with several bunker buster bombs which  cratered  the structure. That resulted  in a massive funeral purportedly for Deif’s wife and children. Hamas spokesman persist in conveying the impression that Deif escaped the fatal attack, and yet have not provided any proof of life.  That attack signifies, as one source told me, that the IAF is flying missions with small bunker buster bombs, in just such a  instance to make  an instantaneous attack.

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Mohammed Deif, Hamas military leader.

A report by the Shaham Palestinian news service published a picture of Deif along with this statement:

“The bodies arrived at the Shifa hospital in Gaza City, after the occupation planes attacked the al-Dalo home, in the Rimal neighborhood in the north, in Gaza City, last night,” the report said. “The document we obtained was confiscated by an armed squad of the Al-Qassam brigade from Shifa’s archive, and also changed the check-in information in the hospital to erase Deif’s name from the list.”

“We at Saham News are forced to tell the Palestinian nation, with great sadness, of the death of Deif,” it concluded. “We belong to Allah, and to him we return.”

Shin Bet is also to be credited for its role in uncovering  the Hamas  power play against Fatah in the West Bank with funds  and arms caches. Many observers believe this may have been a key part of the Rosh Ha Shanah attack plan by Hamas that included infiltration of suicide commandos through  the terror tunnels dug across the frontier between Gaza and Israel. The joint IDF-Shin Bet Operation Brother’s Keeper that detained hundreds of Hamas operatives in the search  for three murdered Jewish Yeshiva students may have provided the intelligence resulting in disclosures of the thwarted plot. Senior Hamas representative ensconced in Turkey, Salah al-Aruri,  announced his role in orchestrating the kidnapping and murder of three Jewish yeshiva students. The Jerusalem Post reported:

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Hamas Military leader in Turkey, Salah al-Aruri.

A senior Hamas official admitted for the first time on Wednesday that the organization’s armed wing, the Kassam Brigades, was behind the kidnapping and murder of Israeli teens Naftali Fraenkel, Gil-Ad Shaer and Eyal Yifrah in the West Bank in June, Channel 2 reported.

The Hamas official, Salah al-Aruri made the comments during a conference of Islamic clerics in Turkey. He praised the “heroic action of the Kassam Brigades who kidnapped three settlers in Hebron.”

Israeli lawyer, Nitsana Darshan Leitner of Shurat ha Din (Israel Law Center) asked US Attorney  General Eric Holder to invoke the extradition treaties between the US and Turkey to bring to justice al-Aruri for the murder of Israeli-American, Fraenkel.  Meanwhile, PA President Abbas is reported to have had heated conversations in Doha, Qatar with Mashal triggered by Hamas’ plans to overthrow Fatah . Further, there are indications that pressure  is building  on the Emir of Qatar, Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, to eject Mashal from his luxurious palace in Doha.  Qatar has been a major funder of Hamas, supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and  ISIS, along with Erdogan’s Turkey. If that eventuated Mashal might then be subject to apprehension and possible trial in Egypt. Lest we forget, PM Netanyahu was caught in an embarrassing position in 1998, when an attempted assassination of Mashal by Mossad agents was disclosed by the late King Hussein of Jordan.  Mashal also could have been taken out, while a resident in Damascus, before his departure for Qatar at the start of the Syrian Civil War in 2011. Witness the Mossad assassination in February 2008 of Hezbollah terrorist mastermind, Imad Mughniyeh.

Whether it is human intelligence through cultivation of assets, or ELINT ears and eyes in the skies over Gaza, these targeted assassination episodes by the IDF with assistance from Shin bet have succeeded in decimating  the military leadership of Hamas. These actions clearly indicate that unlike the Biblical Shimshon, Samson the Nazerite, Israel is not ‘sightless’ in Gaza.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Terrorist Attack on Brussels Jewish Museum Triggered by “Climate of Hate”

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Policemen close the access of the scene of a shooting near the Jewish Museum in Brussels, on May 24, 2014. Three people were killed and one badly injured in a shooting Saturday near the Jewish Museum in Brussels. (Photo credit: AFP/ Belga Photo/NICOLAS MAETERLINCK

Reports have just come in  about a possible terrorist attack on The Jewish Museum in Brussels by a perpetrator and accomplice, one of whom  entered the lobby and shot dead two men and a woman seriously injuring a fourth person.. The attack took place in mid afternoon, GMT, not far from the EU headquarters in Belgium’s Capital city.  The Jewish Museum, which is not operated by the country’s Jewish community, was open on Saturday and is located in the antique district popular with visitors.

The recent ADL Global 100 Index of Antisemitism indicated that an estimated 27% of Belgians evinced some form of Antisemitism. Belgium has a large emigre Muslim community. A 2008  study  estimated that  6% of Belgian’s population, 628,751 were Muslim.  A November 2012 Gatestone Institute article by Soeren Kern, “Belgium Will Become an Islamic State” drew attention to Muslim dominance in Brussels, noting:

Speaking to a reporter from Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF), the public broadcasting service of the French-speaking part of Belgium, Ahrouch said: “The agenda is still the same, but our approach is different now. I think we have to sensitize people, make them understand the advantages to having Islamic people and Islamic laws. And then it will be completely natural to have Islamic laws and we will become an Islamic state.”

The reporter interjected: “An Islamic State in Belgium?” Ahrouch replied: “In Belgium, of course! I am for the Sharia. Islamic law, I am for it. It is a long-term struggle that will take decades or a century, but the movement has been launched.”

The rise of the Islam Party comes amid a burgeoning Muslim population in the Belgian capital. Muslims now make up one-quarter of the population of Brussels, according to a book recently published by the Catholic University of Leuven, the top Dutch-language university in Belgium.

In real terms, the number of Muslims in Brussels — where half of the number of Muslims in Belgium currently live — has reached 300,000, which means that the self-styled “Capital of Europe” is one of the most Islamic city in Europe.

Here are excerpts from the Times of Israel report, ‘Climate of hate’ blamed for attack on Brussels Jewish museum that kills 3″:

The murder of three people at the Brussels Jewish Museum Saturday afternoon was a result of “a climate of hate,” said Joel Rubinfeld, the head of the Belgian League against anti-Semitism.

Rubinfeld told AFP it clearly “is a terrorist act” as a man had been seen driving up and entering the museum before opening fire inside and running off.

One person remained in critical condition as a result of the shooting. Twelve people were being treated for shock, according to local sources.

“Two women and one man are dead, a third person is in hospital,” Interior Minister Joelle Milquet said at the scene. “We don’t yet know if they were tourists or staff, they haven’t been identified.”

Asked whether she believed it was an anti-Semitic attack, she said it was too early to say as a police and judicial inquiry was under way but that given the target “there are strong grounds for presuming so”.

One man was reported in custody after the attack.

Milquet said the government had moved to increase protection at Jewish buildings as well as the Israeli embassy.

The country’s foreign minister, Didier Reynders, tweeted Saturday that he was “shocked by the murders committed at the Jewish museum.”

“I am thinking of the victims I saw there and their families,” he said.

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Forensic experts examine the site of a shooting at the Jewish museum in Brussels, Saturday, May 24, 2014. (Photo credit: AP/Yves Logghe)

The La Libre newspaper said on its website that an Audi had driven up and parked outside the museum, and that both a passenger and the driver had gotten out.

It said the driver placed two bags on the ground and then opened fire on bystanders before driving off.

“A person wearing a backpack was seen opening fire before fleeing,” Radio Télévision Belge Francophone (RTBF) reported [in French].

Police and emergency services were at the site, which was blocked off in the Belgian capital.

The Jewish Museum of Belgium, which was not answering calls, is located in the heart of the Sablon district which is home to the city’s top antique dealers. The area is a popular weekend haunt for shoppers.

The museum is not run by the Jewish community, and is therefore open on Saturdays. There were visitors at the museum at the time of the shooting.

The head of Belgium’s Jewish Consistory told La Libre that “is is probably a terrorist act. For us it is an extremely serious act.”

Read more: ‘Climate of hate’ blamed for attack on Brussels Jewish museum that kills 3 | The Times of Israel

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RELATED STORY: Tel Aviv Couple Among Four Dead in Attack on Brussels Jewish Museum

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.