Morning Report: June 24, 2007

Clueless in Gaza?  Portland's man in the Middle East sounds the alarm, and analysts suggest learning from the Lebanese army's no-nonsense approach. 

A warning from Gaza.  Michael Totten:  'Americans are siding with a weak government compromised and undermined by militarily superior terrorists, the Syrians and Iranians are backing the terrorists, and the Saudis are trying to broker some kind of moderate compromise. Sound familiar? It should.'  Read the rest of MJT's analysis of the Hamas/Syria/Jordan/Lebanon equation at the link.

Chemical Ali to hang.  CNN:  ' An Iraq court on Sunday sentenced three former aides to Saddam Hussein, including the man known as "Chemical Ali," to death by hanging for their role in a 1980s genocide campaign that that killed up to 100,000 Kurds.  Ali Hassan al-Majid, Hussein's first cousin, earned his nickname for atrocities committed in a military campaign code-named Operation Anfal during the 1980-88 Iraq-Iran war.'

Fox to air 'Muslims Against Jihad'.  Allahpundit:  'As predicted, PBS’s loss is Fox’s gain. Note: this isn’t “Islam vs. Islamists,” the film PBS originally spiked allegedly because it wasn’t quite “balanced” enough in its treatment of fundamentalists. This is a companion documentary made by the same producers, Frank Gaffney and Martyn Burke. As you’ll see from last night’s interview with Gaffney on H&C, even Fox doesn’t have its facts straight about that. Nor is it straight about the airdate: Lowry gives it as 7 p.m. but according to the website and my own cable guide here, the actual time is 9.'  Readers lucky enough to live in Oregon will be able to see the original documentary via OPB:

Portland, OR, May 23, 2007 - Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) today announced that it will distribute Islam vs. Islamists: Voices from the Muslim Center to public television stations under an agreement reached between The Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) and Oregon Public Broadcasting.

"Islam vs. Islamists addresses very difficult issues," Steve Bass, president and CEO of Oregon Public Broadcasting. "We are pleased to facilitate a dialogue on one of the central issues in the world today in conjunction with the broadcast."

"As stewards of the investment in public broadcasting, this fulfills our responsibility to the taxpayer," said Patricia Harrison, president and CEO of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Watch Dreams Into Lightning and Morning Report for details.

Olmert:  No to talks with Abbas.  Ha'Aretz:  'Prime Minister Ehud Olmert rejected, during his visit to the United States last week, a proposal by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice that Israel negotiate a permanent settlement with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas. Rice supports talks on a "shelf agreement" that would outline the permanent settlement but not be implemented immediately because of Abbas' weak standing. ...'  Read the rest at the link.  ProSemite Undercover
has a comments thread.

Sadr's charge.  Mohammed at ITM

In our last post we briefly mentioned a statement in which Sadr’s office accused Iran of hosting and assisting al-Qaeda, today I’ll talk about that statement in more detail.

The claim itself is not strange. What’s strange is whom it came from. Sadr was the last voice we’d expect to say such a thing. Accusing Iran of interfering in Iraq’s affairs is one thing, but accusing it of hosting and assisting [the Sunni-aligned] al-Qeada is a whole new ballgame. It opens the door for speculation and analysis, especially since Sadr only weeks ago returned from a long stay in Iran in which he was a guest of the top leaders of the Islamic Republic. So why make this statement now?

Some say that the many accusations in and outside of Iraq that Sadr is Iran’s man forced his hand in an effort to distance himself from suspicion. But Sadr’s words do not support this theory because, as previously mentioned, he could have just said that Iran is maliciously interfering in Iraq. When the accusation went beyond that to link al-Qaeda with Iran it became a serious claim that put Iran, his ally, in a very embarrassing position. Are we seeing signs of a breakup?

Full post at the link.  For an apparent breakup between Sadr's main Iraqi Shi'a rival, SCIRI, and Iran, see Morning Report: May 13.

Rice:  No to soft line on Iran.  Fox:  'Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice maintained a firm line Sunday against efforts to soften conditions for Iran to enter talks over its disputed nuclear program, dismissing as "chatter" discussions among U.S. allies about a new approach. ... "I don't know where that's coming from," Rice said en route to France for two days of get-to-know-you meetings with the new, conservative-led French government and a strategy session on the violence and refugee crisis in Sudan's Darfur region. ... "My counterparts when I talk to them are not interested in lowering the bar," Rice said. "There may well be chatter, and I'll call it chatter," Rice said, about other options, but she did not sound concerned about divisions within the international coalition arrayed against Iran.'

Six al-Qaeda killed, five more busted.  MNF-Iraq:  'Six al-Qaeda members were killed and five were detained following a series of early-morning raids in the vicinity of Karmah June 21.  The individuals are believed to be responsible for numerous terrorist incidents, to include kidnappings, murder and improvised explosive device attacks against coalition and Iraqi Security Forces. Members of the cell are also believed to be responsible for the Feb. 7 shoot down of a U.S. Marine CH-46 helicopter that resulted in the deaths of seven Marines.  With Coalition Forces present as advisers, Iraqi Security Forces entered two residences and discovered a computer, various weapons, identification cards and propaganda materials.'

A small life saved in Afghanistan.  Linda writes:  'On the Afghanistan border with Pakistan, our troops battled to save the lives of both mother and child.  Against all odds, our troops won that battle! It was touch and go for a while, but both Mom and baby are on their way to recovery.  Watch the clip, its amazing. I never would have expected such reporting from the BBC. I don't know how it got past the anti-American, anti-war censors, but I'm grateful that it did. Imagine what life would be like if more of these stories slipped past the censors and into the living rooms of America.'  Be sure to read Beth's comment, too.

What is Constant Hawk?  StrategyPage:  'Pattern analysis is one of the fundamental tools Operations Research (OR) practitioners have been using since World War II (when the newly developed field of OR got its first big workout). Pattern analysis is widely used on Wall Street, by engineers, law enforcement, marketing specialists, and now, the military. Constant Hawk uses a special video camera system to observe a locality and find useful patterns of behavior. Some of the Constant Hawk systems are mounted on light aircraft, others are mounted on ground structures. Special software compares photos from different times. When changes are noted, they are checked more closely, which has resulted in the early detection of thousands of roadside bombs and terrorist ambushes. This has largely eliminated roadside bomb attacks on supply convoys, which travel the same routes all the time. But those routes are also watched by Constant Hawk. No matter what the enemy does, the Hawk will notice.'

Hamas militant detained.  Stratfor (subscription) reports:  'Israeli forces on June 23 seized Saleh al-Aruri, founder of Hamas militant wing Izz al-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, in a village north of Ramallah in the Palestinian territories. The detainment comes three months after al-Aruri's release from Israeli custody.'

Taheri:  Military dynamism, political lethargy in Iraq.  Amir Taheri:  'Six months ago, the US-led coalition force in Iraq appeared to be largely in self-defense mode, allowing terrorists and insurgents much latitude in parts of Baghdad and the troubled provinces of Anbar and Diyalah. At the same time the government of Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki appeared to be engaged in a broad political offensive.  Today we have what looks like a reversal of the two situations. There is dynamism in the military field but lethargy in the political.'

What is Arrowhead Ripper?  OpFor

Operation Arrowhead Ripper is aimed at eliminating terrorists operating in, and around Baquoba in Diyala Province. The city has been surrounded with orders to the encircling force – nobody in, nobody out. A Stryker Brigade Combat Team is attacking house to house within the city. I was told last Monday by a senior Public Affairs Officer in Baghdad that the goal was not to clear Al-Qaeda from the city, but to kill them. There will be no running away to fight another day.

On Tuesday, seven al-Qaeda cowards attempted to flee the onslaught in an ambulance but alert Soldiers from 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, from Fort Lewis, Washington, stopped it. The Soldiers checked the ambulance and found a driver and six men, who appeared to be in their 20s and 30s. Yesterday, an Apache helicopter caught more than a dozen enemy trying to flee the area. They were quickly dispatched from above.

All the while the 3rd ID is on the offensive in the southeast in Operation Marne Torch. They are interdicting river borne smugglers on the Tigris River. Seventeen barges have been sunk. Insurgents have been captured and killed and weapons and explosives have been confiscated or destroyed. Just the other day, Operation Commando Eagle kicked off on the west side of the Tigris, south of Baghdad. This Brigade-sized operation is focusing on the countryside where the two missing soldiers were last seen.

That’s not all folks. Iraqi Army units fought rouge elements of the Mahdi Army in Nasiriyah early this week. There are other operations in the north, around Mosul and the Iraqi Army has taken up blocking positions on the west bank of the Tigris River, north of Baghdad, to insure that the insurgents in Diyala don’t spill over into Salhadin Province. The Marines are on the offence too. They are sweeping through the territory north of Fallujah in an unnamed operation.

All the while, Operation Fardh-al-Qanoon is alive and well in Baghdad. ...

Commentary.  JINSA ties it all together for us:

... We agree that peace, security and a “political horizon” for Iraq requires pushing the enemy out of your neighborhood and destroying him and his military capabilities.

In the broader scheme, it may be instructive for breaking the web of religious/ideological and financial support provided by Iran and Saudi Arabia to non-state actors in weak states. The Lebanese Army, for one, appears clear on the principle. According to Reuters, “The Lebanese army’s insistence on the surrender of the leaders of a militant group holed up at a Palestinian camp is complicating efforts to mediate an end to fighting... Mediators had been upbeat (but)... A Lebanese security source confirmed the army wants the surrender of Fatah al-Islam leader Shaker al-Abssi and his military commander known as Abu Hurayra... A group of Palestinian clerics has been leading efforts to end the fighting... One of the mediators said the army had yet to respond to a peace initiative presented by the clerics on Wednesday.”

Surrender. No mediation; no co-optation; no fooling around. Security will come when Fatah al-Islam is gone. ...