Revamp NATO to Fight Radical Islam

Feb. 16 2017

Surveying NATO’s checkered record since the fall of the Soviet Union, Rafael Bardají and Richard Kemp argue that the alliance must be expanded and revamped to save it from obsolescence.

NATO should accept that we are all under attack by Islamist extremist forces of all kinds. President François Hollande said that France was at war, and the rest of the allies cannot sit idle by his side. NATO must make the fight against Islamic terrorism its core mission. . . .

In order to reinforce our Western world, NATO must invite to become members countries that are alike in the defense of our values and with the willingness to share the burden in this civilizational struggle. It should [therefore] invite without delay Israel, Japan, Singapore, and India to become members.

Defense expenditures should be revised and increased, but ceilings and burden-sharing are not the problem. We don’t expend more because current leaders do not feel compelled to do so. Furthermore, to spend more on the same will not change our ability to confront the threats and challenges we face. There is a myriad of things that can be done to put NATO back on track. . . .

But above all, what NATO needs is a vision and an impulse to transform from the new U.S. president and administration. Yes, Mr. President, we agree with you that NATO has become obsolete. But we believe you can make it relevant again. Your allies will follow.

Read more at Telegraph

More about: Donald Trump, Francois Hollande, NATO, Politics & Current Affairs, Radical Islam

As the Situation in Syria Changes, the Risks for Israel Increase

March 27 2017

On March 17, the Israeli Air Force struck a weapons convoy near Palmyra that was most likely bringing precision missiles to Hizballah in Lebanon. Syria responded with surface-to-air missiles, in turn triggering Israeli anti-missile missiles that successfully intercepted the counterattack. Yoav Limor comments on what is becoming an increasingly volatile situation:

[A series of military] successes in Syria have led the Russians, [who are fighting to prop up the Assad regime] to expand their campaign, and there is no doubt that Raqqa, Islamic State’s “capital” in Syria, as well as Palmyra and Deir el-Zor are next on Moscow’s list. Seizing control of these strategic areas will significantly increase Russia’s scope of operations, hence the increased risk factors in the regional theater, which includes Israel.

This was most likely the reason for Russia’s ire over the Israeli strike [on the Hizballah-bound convoy] in Syria, which led the Russian deputy foreign minister Mikhail Bogdanov to summon, very publicly, the Israeli ambassador to Russia, Gary Koren, to provide clarifications. . . . The area struck near Palmyra, northeast of Damascus, is home to a Russian base and it is possible the Russian troops felt threatened, or that someone in the Kremlin wanted to draw clear operational parameters for Israel.

To be clear: Russia has no interest in a clash with Israel or in a fresh Israeli-Syrian conflict. But if until now Moscow was conspicuously uninterested in the covert blows Israel has been dealing Hizballah and Syria, the latest signal from the Kremlin is at the very least a warning sign to remind anyone who might have forgotten that the only interest Russia cares about is its own. . . .

[T]he tensions on the northern border do not spell an inevitable Israeli-Syrian conflict, as all regional actors have a clear interest to avoid one. Assad wants to re-establish his rule and he does not want to endanger it with an unplanned escalation against Israel, the strongest regional entity; Iran and Hizballah currently prefer to expand their regional sphere of influence quietly; and Israel wants peace and quiet as long as its two main interests—preventing advanced weapons from reaching Hizballah and avoiding war on the Golan Heights—are maintained. However, . . . recent events increase the risk that the parties could find themselves in a situation that might rapidly spiral out of control and result in a full-blown conflict.

Read more at Israel Hayom

More about: Hizballah, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Security, Russia, Syrian civil war