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inFOCUS Quarterly

Summer 2014

America's Global Withdrawal

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We Already Built an Iraqi Army Once, Now What?

by Shoshana Bryen
September 12, 2014 | American Thinker

Secretary of State Kerry is in the Middle East, looking for regional allies for President Obama's proposal to deal with the threat of the Islamic State (IS). That is entirely appropriate -- IS poses a more immediate and dire threat to regional players than it does to the United States. Convincing Turkey and Qatar to stop funding and supporting jihadists, for example, would be an excellent start.

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The Conditions of Victory and Peace

by Shoshana Bryen
September 9, 2014 | Gatestone

The Israeli public is in a notably bad mood. The Hamas rockets have, for the time being, stopped; the current cease-fire is holding. The tunnel threat, a strategic one most Israelis had not understood until several days into the war, has been alleviated; many Hamas rocket manufacturing facilities have been destroyed; a substantial percentage of the Hamas arsenal has been used up; and Hamas achieved none of its strategic goals.

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North Korea's Hamas Connection: "Below" the Surface?

by Gabriel Scheinmann and Victor Cha
September 4, 2014 | The National Interest

Since the recent conclusion of the war between Hamas and Israel in Gaza, the United States and Israel have begun pointing fingers at the Islamist terrorist group's usual benefactors: Iran, Syria, Qatar and Turkey. However, there's an additional, somewhat-oddball patron about five thousand miles away—North Korea. As then secretary of defense Robert Gates asserted in August 2010, "The fact is that North Korea continues to smuggle missiles and weapons to other countries around the world—Burma, Iran, Hezbollah, Hamas—and they continue with their development of their nuclear program." A recent report in The Telegraph highlighting an arms deal between North Korea and Hamas only grazes the tip of a much deeper relationship. Below the surface, Hamas' vast tunnel architecture and its tactical use of tunnels to conduct surprise assaults behind Israeli lines suggest an even more nefarious North Korean role.

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The Grim Lessons of "Protective Edge"

by Gabriel Scheinmann and Raphael Cohen
August 31, 2014 | The American Interest

After nearly two months of fighting, Israel and Gaza have agreed to an open-ended ceasefire, and for the third time in six years, Israel finds itself looking back at its attempt to stop the barrage of rockets fired at its citizens from the Hamas-controlled enclave of Gaza. Ever since withdrawing from Gaza in 2005, Israel has sought to prevent the smuggling of weaponry into the coastal territory and to deter militants from firing rocketry by exacting significant tolls on Hamas and other terrorist organizations operating in the Strip. While many have highlighted Protective Edge's technological innovations and the calls for radical changes to the status quo—be it in the reoccupation of Gaza, the international demilitarization of Hamas, or a jump-start to a true peace negotiation—in the end, most of the operation's tactical and strategic lessons were quite traditional. For all the attempts to find technological quick fixes or enforce a permanent settlement, Operation Protective Edge has highlighted that a war of attrition, known as a "long war", remains the only viable strategy in the current environment.

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The Beheading of James Foley and Other Unintended Consequences

by Shoshana Bryen
August 21, 2014 | Gatestone Institute

There is a reason the American military asks of its civilian commanders, "Don't tell us what to do, tell us what you want done." Giving the military an executable military mission to accomplish is the most important responsibility of civilian command. A strategic plan helps the military respond quickly to the unintended consequences that result from every mission, without sliding into incremental and often unplanned escalation.

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What is ISIS, Where did it Come From, and When Did the US Know it was There?

by Shoshana Bryen and Michael Johnson
August 20, 2014 | Jewish Policy Center

The Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS), also known as the Islamic State in the Levant (ISIL), currently controls about one-third of Iraq. It is a combination of a non-al-Qaeda revival of the al-Qaeda-sponsored Islamic State of Iraq (ISI) organization that tried to take over western Iraq 2003—2006, and Sunni Syrian rebel groups including the Nusra Front (Jabhat al Nusra), which also has ties to al Qaeda.

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inCONTEXT Blog

House Approves Plan to Aid Syrian Rebels

by Michael Johnson
September 18, 2014 at 5:16 pm

By a vote of 273 to 156, the House of Representatives approved President Obama's plan to train and arm Syrian rebels on Wednesday. With support from Congress, the White House hopes that assisting vetted opposition groups will help contain the spread of Islamic State (IS) fighters. The provision was attached to a continuing resolution to fund the U.S. government through December. Until now, the CIA had been covertly assisting the rebels for months.

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Fatalities Rise as Migrants Cross the Mediterranean

by Michael Johnson
September 17, 2014 at 2:33 pm

Approximately 500 migrants to Europe are feared to have died after their ship sank in the Mediterranean Sea over the weekend. The incident highlights the increasing danger for many Middle Eastern and African migrants and refugees illegally crossing into the EU.

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Islamists Free Fijian Peacekeepers in Golan

by Michael Johnson
September 11, 2014 at 12:35 pm

Jabat al-Nusra, an al-Qaeda affiliated rebel group fighting in Syria, released 45 Fijian soldiers serving in the Golan on Thursday. The IDF confirmed that the UN peacekeepers safely arrived in Israel following approximately two weeks in captivity.

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Kerry Visits Baghdad, Meets New Iraqi PM

by Michael Johnson
September 10, 2014 at 3:04 pm

The Iraqi parliament named Haider al-Abadi as the government's new prime minister earlier this week. Lawmakers also approved a number of cabinet posts during a late night session on Monday, but left other positions vacant after sectarian infighting.

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Abbas Questions Hamas's Unity Deal

by Michael Johnson
September 9, 2014 at 9:40 am

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas chastised Hamas over the weekend, saying the terrorist organization refuses to let the PA operate in Gaza. Abbas also threatened to end the unity government, to which both sides agreed in April.

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Al-Qaeda Leader Announces New India Branch

by Michael Johnson
September 4, 2014 at 3:58 pm

In a new video, al-Qaeda announced the establishment of Qaedat al-Jihad or al-Qaeda in the Indian subcontinent. The new organization comes as rival Islamist groups, including Islamic State (IS), have gained attention from graphically violent operations in Iraq and Syria. Analysts say al-Qaeda is trying to remain relevant as IS makes territorial advances and has released video of the executions of journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff.

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