Mason launched two Standard Missile-2s (SM-2s) and a single Enhanced Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) to intercept the two missiles that were launched about 7 P.M. local time. In addition to the missiles, the ship used its Nulka anti-ship missile decoy
Sam LaGrone reports: The crew of a guided-missile destroyer fired three missiles to defend themselves and another ship after being attacked on Sunday in the Red Sea by two presumed cruise missiles fired by Iran-backed Houthi-forces, USNI News has learned.
During the attack against USS Mason (DDG-87), the ship’s crew fired the missiles to defend the guided-missile destroyer and nearby USS Ponce (AFSB(I)-15) from two suspected cruise missiles fired from the Yemini shore, two defense officials told USNI News.
Mason launched two Standard Missile-2s (SM-2s) and a single Enhanced Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) to intercept the two missiles that were launched about 7 P.M. local time. In addition to the missiles, the ship used its Nulka anti-ship missile decoy, the sources confirmed. Mason was operating in international waters north of the strait of Bab el-Mandeb at the time of the attack.
According to a defense official on Monday, Mason “employed onboard defensive measures” against the first suspected cruise missile, “although it is unclear whether this led to the missile striking the water or whether it would have struck the water anyway.” The official did not specify that the defensive measure was a missile fired from the ship.
USNI News understands, as of Monday, the crew of the ship was uncertain if the suspected cruise missile was taken out by an SM-2 or went into the water on its own. In the Monday statement, the Pentagon said an investigation was ongoing.
The second missile launched from Yemen hit the water without being struck by a U.S. interceptor, the Pentagon said. Read the rest of this entry »
Rick Moran writes: The new year has gotten off to quite a start. Shia Iran and the Sunni Arab states have broken relations and are beginning to sound a lot like belligerents ready to go to war. The Chinese stock market tanked by nearly 7% while the Dow bled 300 points to open the year. And with the Iowa caucuses 30 days away, we will soon be faced with the probable choice of electing a screeching liberal harridan or a screaming celebrity tycoon.
But beyond that, there are at least 10 reasons why the global outlook for 2016 is so bad, we will end up envying the ostrich. The Eurasia Group has issued its annual list of the political and geopolitical trends that threaten stability, and if only a couple of these trends end up materializing, we’re going to wish we never woke up on New Year’s Day.
1. The Hollow Alliance
The trans-Atlantic partnership has been the world’s most important alliance for nearly 70 years, but it’s now weaker, and less relevant, than at any point in decades. It no longer plays a decisive role in addressing any of Europe’s top priorities.
2. Closed Europe
In 2016, divisions in Europe will reach a critical point as a core conflict emerges between Open Europe and Closed Europe — and a combination of inequality, refugees, terrorism, and grassroots political pressures pose an unprecedented challenge to the principles on which the new Europe was founded.
3. The China Footprint
The recognition in 2016 that China is both the most important and most uncertain driver of a series of global outcomes will increasingly unnerve other international players who aren’t ready for it, don’t understand or agree with Chinese priorities, and won’t know how to respond to it.
4. ISIS and “Friends”
For 2016, this problem will prove unfixable, and Isil (and other terrorist organisations) will take advantage of that. The most vulnerable states will remain those with explicit reasons for Isil to target them (France, Russia, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the United States)…(read more)
Source: PJ Media
Europe’s openness rests on America’s strength—you can’t have one without the other.
In short, a flat world. Whatever happened to that?
In the early 1990s, Israel’s then-Foreign Minister Shimon Peres published a book called “The New Middle East,” in which he predicted what was soon to be in store for his neighborhood. “Regional common markets reflect the new Zeitgeist,” he gushed. It was only a matter of time before it would become true in his part of the world, too.
I read the book in college, and while it struck me as far-fetched it didn’t seem altogether crazy. The decade from 1989 to 1999 was an age of political, economic, social and technological miracles. The Berlin Wall fell. The Soviet Union dissolved. Apartheid ended. The euro and Nafta were born. The first Internet browser was introduced. Oil dropped below $10 a barrel, the Dow topped 10,000, Times Square became safe again. America won a war in Kosovo without losing a single man in combat.
Contrast this promised utopia with the mind-boggling scenes of tens of thousands of Middle East migrants, marching up the roads and railways of Europe, headed for their German promised land. The images seem like a 21st-century version of the Völkerwanderung, the migration of nations in the late Roman and early Medieval periods. Desperate people, needing a place to go, sweeping a broad landscape like an unchanneled flood. Read the rest of this entry »
The president’s desperation for a foreign-policy legacy is leading toward a bad nuclear deal—and a dangerous one
“The Arab world has entered a war phase that may go for decades. Its special threat is that the struggle is not only an essential one—Sunni vs. Shia, in a fight to the end—but that it engenders and is marked by what British Prime Minister David Cameron has called ‘the death cult.’ Many in the fight have no particular fear of summoning the end of the world.”
Syria, red lines, an exploding Mideast, a Russian president who took the American’s measure and made a move, upsetting a hard-built order that had maintained for a quarter-century since the fall of the Soviet Union—what a mess.
In late February, at a Washington meeting of foreign-policy intellectuals, Henry Kissinger summed up part of the past six years: “Ukraine has lost Crimea; Russia has lost Ukraine; the U.S. has lost Russia; the world has lost stability.”
“Nuclear proliferation has been a problem for so long that we no longer talk or think about it. But in the current moment in the Mideast, we’re not talking ‘nuclear proliferation’ in the abstract. It’s more like talking about the spread of nuclear weapons among the inmates of an institution for the criminally insane.”
What Barack Obama needs is a foreign-policy win, and not only for reasons of legacy. He considers himself a serious man, he wants to deal constructively with a pressing, high-stakes international question, and none fits that description better than Iran and nuclear weapons. And so the talks in Lausanne, Switzerland.
Here is the fact. The intention behind a deal—to stop Iran from developing, and in the end using, nuclear weapons—could not be more serious and crucial. The Arab world has entered a war phase that may go for decades. Its special threat is that the struggle is not only an essential one—Sunni vs. Shia, in a fight to the end—but that it engenders and is marked by what British Prime Minister David Cameron has called “the death cult.” Many in the fight have no particular fear of summoning the end of the world.
“There are many reasons nuclear weapons have not been used since 1945. One is that the U.S. was not evil and the Soviet Union was not crazy. It was also a triumph of diplomacy, of imperfect but ultimately sound strategic thinking, that kept the unthinkable from happening.”
Once Iran has what used to be called the bomb, there will be a race among nearby nations—Persian Gulf states, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Turkey—to get their own. As each state builds its arsenal, there will be an increased chance that freelancers, non-states and sub-states will get their hands on parts of it.
The two most boring words in history are “nuclear proliferation.” Jimmy Carter made them so on Oct. 28, 1980, when, in a presidential debate, he announced that his 12-year-old daughter, Amy, had told him that the great issue of the day was the control of nuclear arms. America laughed: So that’s where the hapless one gets his geopolitical insights. Read the rest of this entry »
Sources: U.S. Pulling Last of its Special Operations Forces Out of Yemen Due to Deteriorating SecurityPosted: March 21, 2015
U.S. evacuating Special Operations forces from Yemen
Sanaa, Yemen (CNN)The U.S. military is in the process of evacuating about 100 Special Operations forces members from the Al Anad airbase in Yemen due to that country’s deteriorating security situation, sources in the region familiar with the situation told CNN.
Those being evacuated are the last American troops stationed in the Arab nation, which is home to al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, the terrorist group also known as AQAP. The United States closed its embassy in Sanaa last month, after Houthi rebels took over the Yemeni capital.
For years, the U.S. military has worked closely with Yemen’s government to go after AQAP, together carrying out numerous attacks like the 2011 drone strike that killed prominent al Qaeda figure Anwar al-Awlaki. And U.S. President Barack Obama has hailed this cooperation as a pillar in his anti-terrorism campaign.
“Yemen has never been a perfect democracy or a island of stability,” Obama said in January, promoting the policy of “partnering and intelligence-sharing with that local government” as the best approach in a bad situation.
“The alternative would be for us to play whack-a-mole every time there is a terrorist actor inside of any given country,” the President said.
But while there have been drone strikes as recently as last month, these cooperative efforts have been hampered by Yemen’s growing difficulty in maintaining unity and peace. These include the rise of the Houthis, their battles with forces loyal to ousted President Abdu Rabu Mansour Hadi and the presence of not only al Qaeda fighters but other militants. Read the rest of this entry »
Michael Tomasky almost makes a good case here, but his credibility is strained by some perplexing comments. For example, the worst kind of wishful thinking is revealed in statements like this: “If states were to alter their conceptions of sharia law so that blasphemy and apostasy were lesser crimes, or preferably not crimes at all…” Well, of course we prefer they’re “not crimes at all”. Islamic legal scholars are pretty much on record preferring otherwise. I’d prefer that fresh coffee be delivered to my desk each morning by a team of pink unicorns. Who wouldn’t? But in the real world, I still have to go out and get my own coffee. To adherents and advocates of sharia law — perhaps not in its western world incarnations and deviations – but certainly in the Islamic world, to recommend liberalizing sharia to the point of irrelevance is itself arguably blasphemous. Or at the least, unrealistic to the point of being dangerously blind. Perhaps I’m wrong, maybe sharia has more potential to be flexible than I’m aware of. But current global trends certainly suggests otherwise.
Further, Tomasky’s flimsy defense of CAIR is questionable, and his call for maturity is rank snobbery disguised as insight: “Groups like CAIR and leading intellectuals and imams have been denouncing acts like these for years. It’s just that they don’t often make the news when they do it. So let’s please just grow out of that one,” he writes. Really? Let’s not grow out of that one, Mr. Tomasky. Terrorist front-group CAIR pays lip service to such things, but their blood-soaked insincerity is as ripe and thick as their FBI rap sheet. Let’s not even pretend that CAIR is a legitimate organization, if we’re trying to have a serious discussion. Those complaints aside? It’s a good article. And a worthwhile debate to have. Anyone willing to defend blasphemy, and advocate reform, is one of the good guys. Read the whole thing here, at The Daily Beast.
Today, Saudi Arabia will flog a blogger for blasphemy. We may not be able to stop terrorists from killing, but can we pressure states?
Michael Tomasky writes: Today, Saudi Arabia will flog a blogger for blasphemy. We may not be able to stop terrorists from killing, but can we pressure states?
As you go about your business today and think once or twice (as I hope you will) of Charb and his colleagues in Paris, spare another thought for Raif Badawi. He is, or was, a blogger in Saudi Arabia. Not the most agreeable place to ply the trade, as he learned in 2012 when he was arrested and charged with using his web site, “Free Saudi Liberals,” to engage in electronic insult of Islam. I read on Jonathan Turley’s blog that today, Friday, he will receive the first dose of his sentence in the form of 50 lashes.
“Have a look at this telling research from Pew on blasphemy and apostasy laws around the world. We do see that a few European countries have them on the books: Germany, Poland, Italy, Ireland, a couple more. In these countries, the punishment is typically a fine. Maybe in theory a short stint in the cooler, but in reality the laws in these countries are rarely enforced, and in some countries there hasn’t been a prosecution in years or decades.”
Badawi’s crime was to run a web site that “violates Islamic values and propagates liberal thought.” Interesting that those who sat in judgment of him found those two sets of beliefs to be incompatible. He was originally sentenced to seven years and 600 lashes. A huge international outcry ensued. He was retried, and sure enough his sentence was adjusted. It was increased—to 10 years and 1,000 lashes. But give the Kingdom credit for its sense of mercy: The lashes will be administered only 50 at a time.
Like Nick Kristof, I have been gratified to see that my Twitter feed has been bursting to the rafters with tweets from Muslims and Arabs condemning the Paris attacks in the strongest possible terms. Gratified but not surprised. Anyone who’s paid attention has known for some time now that there are millions of Muslims and Arabs (obviously, not all Muslims are Arabs, and vice versa) who espouse and fight for liberal secular values. I know some. They’re some of the most courageous people I’ve ever met.
“The most notorious states are Saudi Arabia and Pakistan, where death is an acceptable legal remedy. In 2009, a Pakistani Christian woman got into a religious argument with some Muslim women with whom she was harvesting berries. Asia Bibi, as she is known, was arrested and sentenced to death.”
It’s high time—and if this tragedy has prodded Western culture to turn this particular corner, then that’s one good thing that will have come of it—that we stop demanding of Muslims and Arabs that they denounce acts of terrorism just because they’re Muslims and Arabs. Read the rest of this entry »
A team of camouflage-clad Iraqi soldiers lines up near the door of a one-storey house north of Baghdad with rifles ready, preparing to enter and search it. Duration: 01:18
Ennahda, the Tunisian Islamist party affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood, has been forced from power by an overwhelming secular opposition.
Michael J. Totten writes: I didn’t know this was going to happen, but I had a pretty strong sense that it would. Tunisia is a modern, pluralistic, civilized place. It’s striking liberal compared with most Arab countries. A person couldn’t possibly show up in Tunis from Cairo and think the two are remotely alike. Egypt is at one extreme of the Arab world’s political spectrum, and Tunisia is at the other.
The Islamists won less than half the vote two years ago, and the only reason they did even that well is because Ennahda ran on an extremely moderate platform. They sold themselves to voters as Tunisia’s version of Germany’s Christian Democrats.
It was a lie, of course, and once Tunisians figured that out, support for Ennahda cratered. Read the rest of this entry »
The biggest issue Israel faces today is not the garden-variety Arab Spring. It also is not whether equality and democracy reign in Israel. It’s also surprisingly not the Palestinian-Israeli conflict many associate as the bone of contention of the region. The mother-of-all-issues, as I learned Monday from Dr. Andy David, Israel’s Consul General of the Pacific Northwest in an American Jewish Committee-sponsored room of pro-Israel folks from across the political aisle, is that the Arab world has shifted from a conversation of nationalism and secularism to one subjugated to Islam. In other words, welcome to the Islamic Winter.
After blogging in 2010 about how Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s noticeably distanced and in many ways lessened his relationships with Western democracies like Israel and the US to fully embrace radicalized, Islamic-leftist countries like the Islamic Republic of Iran, David’s words caught my attention.
When the region had once dealt with the Pan Arabism model and the rest of the world still looked at the Middle East with “Lawrence of Arabia” lenses, Islam was not present in the conversation. Yet an exposure event occurred and it can be easily identified by analyzing something as inconsequential though colorful as the duds of a former dictator. Really.
For example, Libya’s former President Muammar al-Gaddafi donned European suits until he tossed those for a clownish collection of multi-colored (sometimes even the infamous Barney-purple) African-inspired Islamic garb. Remember those gold should-be-pajamas he wore at the UN? No doubt Gaddafi was a chided character, among other things, but his often-garish attire still didn’t clue anyone outside of the region into its significance.
When you look at the region from a panoramic lens, you can see where the exposure event occurred. Even when you examine maps of the Middle East its clear which lines are natural borders (represented by jagged lines) and those that were drawn in straight lines representing artificial borders (represented via straight lines) made by individual regimes or the flavor-of-day regional actors. Notice, Israel’s lines are unusually straight as are Jordan’s–and even some of lines representing the border between Saudi Arabia and Iraq.
So when Obama or his successor goes to bat for “1967 borders” we must discuss “natural borders” vs. “artificial borders” that the Arab region has chosen at random and sold to the world while refusing to aid those who identify (many times without merit) themselves as Palestinian. To date, no Arab nation has stepped forward with any viable plan to repatriate or aid those who consider themselves Palestinian in any real way. The incitement-filled UNWRA textbooks that America is bankrolling out the wazoo via US taxpayers (with Europe cutting the 2nd fat check) are not helping either.
So first, you’ve got to ask: why aren’t the Arab nations helping their beloved pals? Then you need to follow up with, “What is the one thing that people think about when the subject turns to Israel? And why?
David offered sacrificial examples. Paris, France is known for romance while Las Vegas, Nevada is known as Sin City, AKA “what happens there, stays there.” Israel on the hand is known for conflict instead of the amazing innovations that come out of Jewish nation-state daily whether it be agricultural, medical, technology or more specific milestones like leading in degrees per capita, patents per capita, Nobel prize winners per capita and so on. In essence, the world knows more misinformation about Israel than countries known for committing genocide. Yes, Syria is in that bunch.
Next, we need to look at the regional actors and their role in shaping the Middle East. The Saudis, for example, are best known as the region’s “fence-sitters.” The Gulf countries are weak. Jordan is not a big player. Syria has murdered some 32,000-plus people. Lebanon lost its focus via Iranian-backed Hezbollah and Egypt is struggling to maintain itself. Iran has not always been ruled by Islamic clerics and Iran and Turkey are not even traditionally Arab though they continue to push one thing: Islam. So today is good in Israel but Iran might change that and has a head-start with little deterrents (minus weak sanctions) in achieving its goal of gaining nukes.
So when David analyzed what the world had often raved about when highlighting the Great Arab world known for its astute philosophers, intellectuals, and innovators all he saw were dirty cities, underdeveloped towns, sewage left in the open, largely uneducated masses with no clear access to education or jobs. The hoopla didn’t match the reality on the ground. Arab nations were not achieving the hype they had once been touted for by their global admirers. The cunning regional rulers had become expert at silencing their deprived masses until one dude lit himself on fire in Tunisia via his rooftop to rattle the cage, setting the Arab Spring-turned-Islamic winter into motion. Those same Arab “intellectuals” were not sharing their knowledge and certainly they were not job creators or even educating their youth or offering sustaining career paths. Something had changed. An exposure event had occurred and it had little to do with Israel…
- Whichever of Obama or Romney wins, US dealings with the Arab world will change (independent.co.uk)
- Christian Arabs Targeted Throughout the Middle East (papundits.wordpress.com)
- Arabs must be realistic (ynetnews.com)
- Next US president will have to deal with a new Arab world (dawn.com)
- ‘Tragedy Of Immense Proportions’: Millions Of Christian Arabs Targeted Throughout the Middle East (And The World Does Nothing) (midnightwatcher.wordpress.com)