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Putin Is No Partner in the War on Terror

Although Russia claims to be fighting Islamic State alongside the U.S. and its allies, David Satter argues that nothing could be farther from the truth. Moscow’s brutal bombings of civilians and support for Iran and Syria run contrary to American interests, and Russian intelligence may even be abetting terrorists when it finds them useful. (Free registration required.)

Ayman al-Zawahiri, [now] the head of al-Qaeda, was arrested in Dagestan in 1996 while en route to Chechnya to survey the possibility that it could be used as a safe haven for Egyptian Islamic Jihad, the terrorist organization that he [then] headed which became famous for its role in the assassination of Anwar Sadat in 1981. At the time of his arrest, Zawahiri was one of the world’s most wanted terrorists. . . . He arrived in Russia on a phony passport and claimed to be working for an Azeri trading company. . . . Zawahiri ended up spending six months in jail, . . . spent another ten days meeting with Islamists in Dagestan, and then left Russia for Afghanistan, where he joined Osama bin Laden and began to plan the September 11 terrorist attacks.

Something similar happened with Tamerlan Tsarnaev, the Boston-marathon bomber. Then there are Russia’s ties to IS:

With the outbreak of the civil war in Syria, there is evidence that Russia is facilitating the transfer of dangerous radicals from the North Caucasus to the war zone, where they fight for IS. . . . Among those showing up in IS-controlled territory are radical preachers from Dagestan, [who have become the organization’s main recruiters in Iraq]. . . . In the meantime, the number of casualties in armed clashes between insurgent forces and security forces in the North Caucasus has declined by about 50 percent since the beginning of the Syrian civil war in 2011, a sign that many members of the Islamist underground in the North Caucasus are now fighting in the Middle East.

[But beyond such malign activities], the most important reason why Russia cannot be a U.S. ally in the war on terrorism is that its geopolitical goals are fundamentally different from, and often opposed to, those of the United States.

Read more at Foreign Affairs

More about: Al Qaeda, ISIS, Politics & Current Affairs, Russia, U.S. Foreign policy, Vladimir Putin, War on Terror

 

Israel’s Economy Thrives While the Middle East Disintegrates

Jan. 19 2018

Now that the data have come in from 2017, it is clear that the Israeli economy had another successful year, expanding at a rate higher than that of any other advanced country. Israel’s per-capita GDP also grew, placing it above those of France and Japan. Daniel Kryger notes some of the implications regarding the Jewish state’s place in the Middle East:

The contrast between first-world Israel and the surrounding third-world Arab states is larger today than ever before. Israel’s GDP per capita is almost twenty times the GDP per capita of impoverished Egypt and five times larger than semi-developed Lebanon.

Like any human project, Israel is a never-ending work in progress and much work remains to integrate ḥaredi Jews and Israeli Arabs into Israel’s knowledge economy. Properly addressing Israel’s high costs of living requires more economic and legislative reforms and breaking up inefficient oligopolies that keep the prices artificially high. However, by any standard, the reborn Jewish state is a remarkable success story. . . .

Much has changed since OPEC launched its oil embargo against the West after the failed Arab aggression against Israel in October 1973. Before the collapse of the pro-Arab Soviet empire, China and India had no official ties with Israel and many Western and Japanese companies avoided doing business with Israel. Collapsing oil prices have dramatically eroded the power of oil-producing countries. It has become obvious that the future belongs to those who innovate, not those who happen to sit on oil. Israel has today strong commercial ties with China and a thriving partnership with India. Business delegations from Jamaica to Japan are eager to do business with Israel and benefit from Israel’s expertise. . . .

[For its part], the boycott, divest, and sanction (BDS) movement may bully Jewish and pro-Israel students on Western campuses. However, in real life, BDS stands no chance of succeeding against Israel. The reason is simple: reborn Israel has . . . become too valuable a player in the global economy.

Read more at Mida

More about: BDS, Israel & Zionism, Israeli economy, Middle East, OPEC