December 30, 2008

What Would a Proportionate Response Look Like?

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 9:50 PM | Permalink | 9 Comments »

December 29, 2008

Home Again, At Last

by Michael J. Totten

I just returned home after spending three weeks in Iraq, two weeks in Lebanon, and one week in transit hell on my way home thanks to a labor strike at the airport in Rome. The behavior of the staff at Italy's Alitalia airline -- management and worker alike -- shocked and appalled me. At this point I would rather go back to Iraq than to Italy, and I am not joking. I'm going to write about what happened, partly to blow off some steam, and also to warn you to stay the hell away from that airline at all costs. Alitalia delenda est.

Thanks to Charles Chuman for helping me out on the blog while I was away. Now that I'm back and can write full time, we'll go back to the regular publishing schedule. Stay tuned for dispatches and analysis from Iraq, Lebanon, and...Italy.

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 10:03 AM | Permalink | 5 Comments »

December 28, 2008

Suicide Bomber Targets Iraqi Gaza Protest

by Charles Chuman

The attack on Sunnis protesting the conflict in Gaza can only be understood through Iraqi sectarian violence. If that is not the explanation, I have no idea what to make of this.

Posted by Charles Chuman at 4:44 PM | Permalink | 6 Comments »

Inside Israel’s Gaza Attack

by Charles Chuman

If there was ever any doubt, the Israeli plan to attack Gaza was formulated long ago. As I noted in the previous post, the Israelis had a long list of targets gathered through months of intelligence gathering.

Ha'aretz explains some key components leading up to the attacks.

One striking fact now revealed is that Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni flew to Cairo to personally inform the Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak about Israel's plans.

Hamas was ready for an Israeli attack after the Israeli cabinet meeting, but a strategic Israeli disinformation campaign lured Hamas into a vulnerable position: ""Hamas evacuated all its headquarter personnel after the cabinet meeting on Wednesday," one defense official said, "but the organization sent its people back in when they heard that everything was put on hold until Sunday."

The article claims:

bq. Long-term preparation, careful gathering of information, secret discussions, operational deception and the misleading of the public - all these stood behind the Israel Defense Forces "Cast Lead" operation against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, which began Saturday morning.

bq. The disinformation effort, according to defense officials, took Hamas by surprise and served to significantly increase the number of its casualties in the strike.

bq. Sources in the defense establishment said Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the Israel Defense Forces to prepare for the operation over six months ago, even as Israel was beginning to negotiate a ceasefire agreement with Hamas. According to the sources, Barak maintained that although the lull would allow Hamas to prepare for a showdown with Israel, the Israeli army needed time to prepare, as well.

bq. Barak gave orders to carry out a comprehensive intelligence-gathering drive which sought to map out Hamas' security infrastructure, along with that of other militant organizations operating in the Strip.

Posted by Charles Chuman at 4:26 PM | Permalink | 1 Comment »

Why Gaza? Why Now?

By Charles Chuman

The Israeli attacks on Gaza took the world by surprise. Why? Why now? And is it surprising?

A common response about the reason for the current military action is that

Posted by Charles Chuman at 3:24 PM | Permalink | 10 Comments »

December 21, 2008

The (Really) Moderate Muslims of Kosovo

by Michael J. Totten

Here's a long piece I wrote some time ago for City Journal which is now available online for free. Hope you enjoy it.

On February 17, 2008, Kosovo declared independence from Serbia, becoming the newest country in the world

Posted by Michael J. Totten at 8:58 AM | Permalink | 8 Comments »

December 18, 2008

Russia to Provide Lebanon with 10 MIG-29s

by Charles Chuman

The New York Times' Bobby Worth reports on the possibility of Lebanon receiving 10 MIG-29s from Russia.

These planes could easily attack targets in Lebanon or Syria, but are vulnerable against the Israelis.

The Lebanese Armed Forces will now have pieces of military equipment more powerful than anything Hezbollah has.

The MIGs will not be a significant threat to Israel. Expert concern and consternation from the US and Israelis about this acquisition, but the most significant implications are likely domestic.

Posted by Charles Chuman at 10:20 PM | Permalink | 7 Comments »

US Arms Lebanese Military

by Charles Chuman

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Bobby Worth of the New York Times has an excellent piece on US military aid to the Lebanese Armed Forces.

The primary concern most Americans have about supplying military aid to Lebanon is that the weapons will be used against the United States, Israel, and other American allies. In a country known for corruption and with a history of arms dealing, might these weapons be sold into the wrong hands? The article calms such fears claiming, "American-driven audits have shown that almost nothing given to the army has ended up in Hezbollah

Posted by Charles Chuman at 9:23 AM | Permalink | 1 Comment »

December 17, 2008

US-Lebanon Relations

by Charles Chuman

The Aspen Institute and the Lebanese Renaissance Foundation recently hosted a conference in Washington, DC on US-Lebanon relations entitled: "Lebanon: The Swing State of a New Levant."

It was held three years to the date after the assassination of Lebanese journalist, editor, and parliamentarian Gebran Tueni on 12 December 2005.

Much of the conference was filmed and is available at the Aspen Institute Video website.

The panels featured former US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, former US Ambassador to Israel and director of the Brookings Institute's Saban Center Martin Indyk, US Undersecretary of State and former US Ambassador to Lebanon Jeffrey Feltman, Lebanese Minister of State Nassib Lahoud, Parliamentarian Ghassan Mokheiber, Quantum Group Chairman Elie Khoury, Washington Post commentator David Ignatius, US Congressmen, and many other American and Lebanese politicians, intellectuals, and analysts.

The conference sessions will interest anyone trying to understand the complexities of Lebanon and the future of US-Lebanese relations.

Many thanks to Aspen Institute President Walter Isaacson, LRF President Elie Khoury, LRF Executive Director Firas Maksad, and conference coordinator Benjamin Ryan for organizing such an informative and timely event.

Michael Totten interviewed Elie Khoury, one of the architects of the Cedar Revolution, and published his findings in 2007.

Posted by Charles Chuman at 8:22 PM | Permalink | Comments Off
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Winner, The 2008 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

Winner, The 2007 Weblog Awards, Best Middle East or Africa Blog

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