The British Soldier Who Shot a Downed Terrorist versus the IDF One

April 19 2016

Yesterday an IDF soldier was indicted for shooting a wounded, prone terrorist in the aftermath of a stabbing attack. The case has sparked much controversy in Israel—along with the usual censure and handwringing abroad—as the soldier’s defenders claim that he responded to a credible threat, while others assert that he committed murder. Noting a similar, if more clearcut, case involving a British marine in Afghanistan in 2011, likewise caught on video, Ben-Dror Yemini draws some conclusions:

[The British soldier, Alexander Wayne] Blackman, was sentenced to life imprisonment with a minimum of ten years. . . . There was no argument over the facts. The video revealed the full picture, including the fact that Blackman was aware he was violating the Geneva Conventions. . . .

The conviction intensified the protests [against Blackman’s prosecution]. The British defense secretary, Michael Fallon, ordered soldiers not to attend demonstrations in solidarity with Blackman, because these were “political” demonstrations. Fallon’s order was ignored as thousands rallied, including 700 members of the marines, both on active duty and in the reserves. Many of the demonstrators were in uniform. . . . There was a heated argument in military circles [about whether Blackman deserved his punishment].

The British case is not presented here to justify the unusual incident. Israel should be proud of the ethical norms that its commanders enforce. . . . The [Blackman] case is described here because we sometimes have to observe others to understand that we are a lot more normal than the way our media often depict us. The incident is cited here in the context of those, and there are too many of them, who stigmatize Israel. That’s enough, guys. . . . We’re tired of the endless celebration of self-made demonization.

Read more at Ynet

More about: IDF, Israel & Zionism, Military ethics, Palestinian terror, United Kingdom

If Handled Correctly, the Quarrel between Qatar and Its Neighbors Presents an Opportunity

June 29 2017

Last week, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, and Egypt sent Qatar a list of demands, some quite extravagant, as preconditions for the restoration of relations. The U.S., John Hannah argues, must get these countries to temper some of their demands, especially because America has a crucial airbase in Qatar, even while helping them to curb some of the Gulf emirate’s bad behavior:

The fact is that among the thirteen demands contained in the Saudi-led list are several items that, properly reformulated, Washington should absolutely be insisting on if it’s serious about winning the war against jihadism. That includes an end to Qatari support for the radical Islamist agenda across the region—politically, financially, militarily, and ideologically (read: a dramatic revamping of Al Jazeera’s systematic campaigns of Islamist incitement and regional subversion). No more safe haven for U.S.-designated terrorists or operatives from extremist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood and the Taliban [and Hamas] that seek to undermine key U.S. partners and overturn the region’s American-led order.

[Other musts include a] curtailment in Qatar’s dalliance with the Iranians to the bare minimum necessary to safeguard Doha’s vital economic equities—[the two countries share the world’s largest natural-gas reserve]—while forgoing any significant military or intelligence ties; reversing the decision to let an Islamist-leaning, America-bashing Turkey deploy several thousand troops to the Arabian Peninsula for the first time since the Ottoman Empire’s demise; and a strict but fair-minded monitoring regime that ensures Qatar’s commitments are actually implemented and sustained.

All of these changes are self-evidently in U.S. interests. All of them can be culled from the Saudi-led list of demands and appropriately recast by a serious mediation effort. This crisis presents a unique opportunity to achieve many of them and score a seminal victory for the United States in its battle against radical Islamism. The Trump administration should not let it go to waste. . . .

The longer the crisis drags on, [however], the greater the risks that bad actors will be able to take advantage. An extended, all-consuming conflict that leaves critical U.S. partners preoccupied with battling each other rather than Iran and other common adversaries is not a scenario that’s likely to favor U.S. interests over time.

Read more at Foreign Policy

More about: Egypt, Iran, Middle East, Persian Gulf, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, U.S. Foreign policy, War on Terror