The Newest Threat: Radical Islamist Piracy

Aug. 31 2017

According to a recently published report by a scholar at the Marine Corps University, Islamic State (IS) and perhaps even al-Qaeda, having been driven from their territorial strongholds, are likely to take up campaigns of maritime terror. IS successfully carried out an attack on an Egyptian navy frigate, using anti-ship missiles, in the summer of 2015. Michael Rubin explains what could be next:

[T]he Arabs and the Islamic world more broadly have a long and rich maritime legacy, one in which the symbolism-conscious Islamic State can find inspiration. . . .

[The] al-Qaeda military strategist Abu Ubayd al-Qurayshi first sought to integrate maritime operations into a broader jihadist strategy. Al-Qurayshi argued that doing so was especially important to achieve the goal of undermining the U.S. economy, given the importance of trade and the freedom of navigation. . . .

How might al-Qaeda and Islamic State act in the future? In short, they hope to entice the U.S. Navy into narrow waterways off the coast of hostile regions, such as the waters off Yemen and Somalia [as well as] Libya, Egypt, and Syria, and in the Straits of Malacca and the South China Sea. While ships have grown accustomed to treading carefully off the Horn of Africa, Yemen is more difficult to avoid: the Mandeb Strait between Yemen and Djibouti is a chokepoint that shipping transiting the Suez Canal cannot avoid. The same holds true with the Straits of Malacca, especially if extremists succeed in their efforts to gain footholds in Indonesia.

As for the Mediterranean, the development of local gas fields and the rise of Islamic State proxies along its shores mean that it is in play in a way that it has not been since the cold war.

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Read more at Commentary

More about: Islamic State, Mediterranean Sea, Piracy, Politics & Current Affairs, Suez, Terrorism

What Israel Can Offer Africa

Last week, the Israeli analyst Yechiel Leiter addressed a group of scholars and diplomats gathered in Addis Ababa to discuss security issues facing the Horn of Africa. Herewith, some excerpts from his speech:

Since the advent of Zionism and the birth of modern Israel, there has been a strong ideological connection between Israel and the African continent. . . . For decades, [however], the notion that the absence of peace in the Middle East was due the absence of Palestinian statehood prevented a full and strategic partnership with African countries. . . . The visits to Africa by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu—in 2016 to East Africa and in 2017 to West Africa—reenergized the natural partnership that was initiated by Israel’s Foreign Minister Golda Meir in the 1960s.

There is much we share, many places where our interests converge. And I don’t mean another military base in Djibouti. . . . One such area involves the safety of waterways in and around the Red Sea. Curtailing contraband, drugs, arms smuggling, and other forms of serious corruption are all vital for us. . . . But the one critical area of cooperation I’d like to put the spotlight on is in the realm of food security, or rather food insecurity.

Imagine Ethiopia’s cows producing 30 or 40 liters of milk a day instead of the two or three that they produce today. Imagine an exponential rise in (organic) meat exports to Middle Eastern and even European countries, the result of increased processing, storage, and transportation possibilities. Cows today can have a microscopic chip behind their ears that sends messages to the farmer’s computer or mobile phone that tracks what the cow ate, what its temperature is, and what care it might need. Imagine a dramatic expansion of the wheat yield that can make Ethiopia a net exporter of wheat—to Egypt, perhaps in the context of negotiations over the waters of the Nile.

Israel has proven technology in all of these agricultural areas and we’re here; we’re neighbors. We are linked to Africa, particularly the Horn of Africa, in so many ways.

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Read more at Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs

More about: Africa, Ethiopia, Israel diplomacy, Israeli agriculture, Israeli technology