Even Countries That Oppose Israel Diplomatically Engage in Open Military Cooperation

July 23 2018

Israel, it is often said, risks becoming ever-more isolated due to the absence of a Palestinian state. Yet, as eager as many countries are to condemn the Jewish state or exclude it from international institutions, these same countries have frequently joined it in military exercises. For instance, notes Shoshana Bryen, Israel is one of over twenty countries currently participating in exercises in the Pacific Rim, alongside not only France and Germany but also such Muslim countries as Malaysia and Indonesia. Bryen writes:

Israel’s expansive sharing of water, solar, and agricultural technology is legendary, as is Israel’s emergency rapid-response team. But military cooperation underpins freedom of navigation in the air and on the seas—the source of international prosperity through trade—and secures people in their borders. Security makes everything else possible, and Israel is in the center of the universe of security cooperation.

Late last year, Israel hosted the largest aerial training exercise in its history—Blue Flag in the Negev desert. There were 70 aircraft from around the world, hundreds of pilots, and air-support team members. Participants included the United States, France, Italy, Greece, Poland, Germany, and India. It was the first time French, German, and Indian contingents trained in Israel. . . . In the 2016 Red Flag exercise in the United States, Israel’s partners were the United Arab Emirates and Pakistan. . . .

In June, Israeli paratroopers took part in their first combined European ground exercise not held in Israel when they trained with Swift Response in Germany, Poland, Lithuania, and Latvia. Thousands of soldiers from countries including Great Britain, the U.S., Spain, Italy, Poland, and Portugal participated in airborne exercises, personnel and equipment drops, air-assault operations, force buildups, and civilian-evacuation operations. . . .

Israel is an integral part of the world’s security system across the continents, from Europe to Asia to North America. In the Pacific Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, it has partnered with countries alphabetized from Australia to Vietnam in exercises on land, at sea, and in the air. Not a single country pulled out of a single exercise because of the presence of the Israel Defense Forces.

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More about: IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israel diplomacy


The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey