The President’s Indiscretion Won’t Shake the World’s Best Intelligence Relationship

Reports that Donald Trump shared highly classified information with the Russian ambassador and foreign minister dominated headlines this week. After the news broke, it was soon asserted that the intelligence in question came from Israeli spying on Islamic State (IS), raising the question of whether Israel’s sources would be compromised and its officials less willing to share intelligence with the U.S. in the future. Ronen Bergman comments:

Israel has good reason to be concerned about its intelligence making its way to Moscow: Russia is a major player in the war in Syria on Israel’s northern border, where it has also become a close ally of Iran and Hizballah, Israel’s sworn enemies. But the problem goes even deeper: if Israeli intelligence that has been shared with the United States—whether the National Security Agency, the CIA, the Defense Department, or the White House—is not safely guarded, Israel faces a major threat to its security. Cooperation with America’s agencies is deeply embedded in Israel’s intelligence community. . . .

In this relationship, Israel has always had an advantage in the recruitment and handling of agents in Arab countries, and the Americans have the edge when it comes to the technology for intercepting transmissions. In practical terms, Israel has become the eyes and ears of the United States in the Middle East. This arrangement has freed the United States from a heavy intelligence-gathering burden. But it has also forced the Americans to depend upon the Israelis. . . .

In recent months, Israel has passed on to the United States a great deal of highly sensitive and detailed information about the close coordination among the armed forces of Syria, Iran, Hizballah, and Russia, under Russian command. The problem, according to a former senior Mossad official, lies not in the information but in the most highly sensitive sources, some of whom were cultivated for years. . . . But after six decades of [American-Israeli] cooperation, it is difficult to picture the two intelligence communities operating separately. It would cause untold damage to both.

Read more at New York Times

More about: Donald Trump, Intelligence, ISIS, Israel & Zionism, Russia, US-Israel relations

To Defeat the Legacy of Islamic State, Start Rebuilding the Communities It Destroyed

Now that the borders of Islamic State (IS) are slowly contracting, argues Alberto Fernandez, there is a moral and strategic imperative to reconstruct some of the non-Muslim communities that it has destroyed—and the U.S. should encourage local government to help:

Islamic State’s self-declared caliphate is crumbling, if all too slowly. Sadly, though, its ultimate collapse will not be the end of the story. It will leave behind a still-lethal insurgency that will almost certainly attempt to stage terrorist attacks around the world as well as a wide swath of physical destruction and devastated lives stretching from Aleppo to Ramadi.

And yet, even while the Islamic State is “losing,” there is no denying that it has also “won” some things. It has created grim facts on the ground. It has wiped out communities that will never rise again. Many Yazidi villages and towns within its orbit are destined to remain permanently empty because of slaughter and the flight of despairing survivors. IS jihadists also succeeded in destroying the ancient Christian community of Mosul, whose surviving members were robbed of everything they had when they were expelled from the city in July 2014. Many of the survivors of these same minority groups remain scattered around the region, and some still haven’t decided whether they should stay, with all the risks that it would entail, or leave forever. Islamic State has torn a hole in the fabric of the region’s millennia-old diversity that can never be fully repaired. . . .

But we should consider fresh ways for Muslim leaders to show concrete support for restoring what IS sought to exterminate. Even the resurrection of a single community would be a powerful message of solidarity and diversity in a Middle East that is becoming increasingly monochrome. . . .

In . . . Israel, one kibbutz incorporated and commemorated survivors of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and other Jewish partisans. Imagine the resurrection of a non-Muslim community that the Islamic State sought to exterminate. What a powerful message that would send. And the message would resonate even more strongly if the work were to be done with the support of Muslim states.

Read more at Washington Post

More about: ISIS, Middle East Christianity, Politics & Current Affairs, U.S. Foreign policy, Yazidis