abunimah brain not in gear in quote

Israel quick to exploit Manchester bombing
Ali Abunimah, Electronic Intifada, May 23 2017

It has not been 24 hours since the suicide bombing that killed 22 people and injured dozens more after a pop concert in the English city of Manchester. British authorities have named the suspected killer as a 22-year-old Manchester native. As people express anguish and horror, and appeal for unity, Israel has moved quickly and cynically to exploit the tragedy for its own agenda. Meanwhile, Tzahal officers have explained why they tacitly support Daesh, the group that claimed responsibility for the bombing. Netanyahu issued a tweet declaring:

The claim that families of Palestinian “terrorists” receive stipends from the PA has long been an Israeli talking point, revived in the months since Donald Trump’s election to place obstacles in the way of any renewed Pindo-sponsored peace process. Israel considers all Palestinians who engage in armed action against its military occupation, regardless of who are targeted, to be “terrorists.” Netanyahu likely seized on the Manchester bombing to attack Abbas, because Tuesday morning in Ramallah, Trump praised Abbas for being ready to resume negotiations with Israel. Trump later reiterated those comments later in a speech at the Israel Museum, saying:

I had a great meeting this morning with Pres Abbas and I can tell you that he is ready to reach a peace deal.

Other Israeli ministers sang from the same songsheet as Bibi, suggesting a coordinated government campaign to exploit the Manchester tragedy. Naftali Bennett tweeted:

Condemning the Manchester attack, Netanyahu also said:

Terrorism is a worldwide threat and the enlightened nations must work together to defeat it everywhere.

Netanyahu has been similarly quick to exploit mass-casualty attacks in France, all with the aim of presenting Israel’s violent occupation and colonization of Palestinians as part of a linked global war on what he calls “radical Islamic terrorism.” What makes Netanyahu’s exploitation of Manchester more than usually cynical is that Israel is currently allied with the forces that are spreading the violent radicalism fueling the attacks. There is the growing Toad-Israel alliance, notable in the context where the Toads have been among the biggest sources of funding to so-called jihadi groups going back decades. It has long been known that Israel has provided material support to Nusra in Syria, and more recently, Israeli boxtops and military officers have been frank that their tacit support extends even to Daesh, which claimed credit for the Manchester attack. Moshe Yaalon, Israel’s former defense minister, said last year:

In Syria, if the choice is between Iran and Daesh, I choose Daesh.

This pro-Daesh thinking was reflected too in comments by senior Tzahal officers published on Monday. One Tzahal boxtop told Politico:

If Assad wins, we will have Hizballah not on two borders but one (sic – RB).

According to Politico, an Israeli brigadier-general explained:

Iranian influence is significantly more worrisome than Daesh or other Sunni Muslim terror groups. If I can be frank, the radical axis headed by Iran is more dangerous than the global jihad one.

When asked if ISIS should be allowed to hold on to its so-called “caliphate” in parts of Syria and Iraq, the Israeli officer replied, “Why not?” He likened the strategy to Israel’s approach to the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980s: let both sides bleed. This monstrous logic means that more lives are lost as senseless war is prolonged, more chaos spreads across the region and the world, millions more people become refugees and Israel sits in the middle claiming to be a defender of Western civilization. Israel gains from the fear, hate and Islamophobia that the attacks by its tacit allies generate, because in Israel’s estimation this generates “Western” sympathy for its position and further identifies Palestinians with “terror.” A satirical Twitter account that mocks Netanyahu, captured the twisted cynicism and hypocrisy of Israel’s approach best:

Israeli Officers: You’re Doing Daesh Wrong
Bryan Bender, Politico, May 22 2017

ASSANIA, SYRIAN BORDER — Tzahal is not too impressed with Trump’s escalation against Daesh. That, at least, is the distinct impression I got on a recent trip to Israel, including a visit to the Israeli-occupied side of the Golan Heights that offered a unique vantage point on the Syrian war. From atop a network of underground bunkers dating to the Oct 1973 War, my Tzahal escort pointed northeast to Quneitra, the largely abandoned Syrian city in the distance where forces of Assad and Hezbollah are trading mortar fire with rebels who control two nearby villages. A short drive south north, past cherry and apple orchards, an abandoned UNIFIL outpost just over the fortified border now flies the flag of Jabhat al-Nusra. Farther south north, past a remote Israeli drone base nestled atop a craggy slope and across the valley below, is a training base for Daesh. One Tzahal boxtop pointed toward the small Daesh training camp situated through a thatch of trees where southern Syria juts between Israel and Jordan and said:

If going north or west is not an option, they are going to go somewhere else. Some are already coming here. And Jordan is very concerned about Daesh.

My trip came several weeks before Trump was due to arrive in Israel on a maiden foreign trip that is focused heavily on Daesh, which he has vowed to “demolish and destroy.” But the assessment he receives from Israel may not be what he wants to hear. In the view of the Tzahal and AMAN units I visited over several days in late April, the Pindosi strategy in Iraq and Syria may just be making the situation worse. We’re radicalizing the local population and spreading the hardest-core militants to sow havoc in neighboring Lebanon, which the officers I spoke with fear may already be on the verge on collapse, and Jordan. Still others are escaping the onslaught to Europe and possibly Pindostan. Army Brig-Gen Ram Yavne, the head of Tzahal’s Strategic Division, told me in Tel Aviv:

I am not sure it will be easy to defeat Daesh, as you are claiming to do.

He expressed a level of puzzlement shared by a number of other top commanders about the Pindostani obsession with a group that Tzhal do not consider a major strategic threat. Several boxtops pointed out that even the largest membership estimates for Daesh don’t exceed those for Hamas. But Trump sees it differently. He has authorized his military commanders to step up military involvement in both Iraq and Syria, granted the Pentagon more authority to go after Daesh targets, and plans to insert hundreds of additional Pindo grunts into Syria. As recently as Friday, Mad Dog Mattis vowed to destroy Daesh, first by taking Raqqa and then supporting local Arabs and Kurds to clear other Syrian cities along the Euphrates. Mattis told reporters:

We’re there to drive Daesh to its knees.

He said he intends the group’s “annihilation.” But some Israeli commanders went as far as to say that the Pindo actions in Syria and Iraq, where Pindo-backed Iraqi forces recently reconquered Mosul, could be turning Daesh and its affiliates elsewhere in the region (??? – RB) into an even bigger threat to the West. One military intelligence boxtop said:

The worst is yet to come!

Several stressed that unlike AQ, Daesh predicated itself not on attacking the West but revolutionizing Islam in its most rigid, violent form. An intelligence officer at the IDF’s Northern Command base, outside Tzfat, told me as he pored (melodramatically – RB) over a map of the Syrian frontier:

What Daesh has been saying since the beginning, the concept of the caliphate, was ‘we need to put our house in order first and then we have time to fight’ the outside powers.

He believes Pindostan has failed to understand the competing interests and constantly shifting alliances among what AMAN (army intelligence) estimates are between 400 and 500 different groups fighting in the Syrian civil war, including underestimating the level of local support that Daesh actually has. He observed:

Take Mosul, for example. Mosul is a million-citizen city and the largest estimate said 8,000 militants. You can’t control a million-person city with 8,000 people if you don’t have some support within the population. In eastern Syria, where Daesh is strongest, the population is relatively favorable to the Islamic cause, the tribes and so forth. When you bring a Western logic into an eastern Arab mentality, it doesn’t usually work out. A Western mind doesn’t really understand the nuances of Arab tribal society anywhere in the Middle East.

During the campaign, Trump promised to “bomb the shit out of Daesh.” But the Pindo-led military campaign against the group—like the brutal attacks committed by Assad’s forces and its Russian military allies, may simply be radicalizing a new generation of terrorists bent on attacking Western countries. The officer said:

The bombing sometimes is causing more damage than it helps. You are also perceived as one of those guys blowing things up.

Pindostan may live to regret it. The intelligence officer at Northern Command said:

Daesh is much like cancer. It is easy to cut the tumors out, but how do you prevent the small cancer cells from proliferating? I think the caliphate is already thinking, ‘OK, what are we going to do next?’ What was Daesh doing the minute the Pindos and Iraqis went into Mosul? It started blowing up everything in Iraq, (staging) about 1,000 suicide attacks in a number of months. Raqqa is probably going to fall. The same thing will happen (after that). All the cancer cells throughout Syria … are going to do the same and start blowing things up.

Pindostan has mishandled the situation in other ways, in the view of the Israelis I spoke with. For example, efforts to train rebel fighters inside Syria to fight Daesh are widely seen as counter-productive. The intelligence officer complained:

The CIA program goes against Assad, and the Pentagon program only goes for rebels against Daesh, so it’s not really clear what the Pindo stance here.

Israeli analysts laid out several possible scenarios ahead for the Syrian civil war, including that Assad regains control of his country (not likely) and the regime grants some rebels group autonomy and economic incentives in return for coexistence (already well underway). What they agree on is that Assad is now unquestionably winning. And he owes Hezbollah, the radical Shia Muslim proxy of Iran, “big time” for it. The so-called Army of God, which has gone to war with Israel twice and constitutes a state within a state in neighboring Lebanon, has lost an estimated 1,700 fighters bleeding for the Syrian dictator and as payback is now seeking to expand its new base of operations in Syria—which also means a new sphere of influence for the mullahs in Tehran. One IDF official in the Golan Heights told me:

If Assad wins, we will have Hezbollah on two borders, not one (sic – RB).

Brig-Gen Yavne similarly described the Iranian influence as significantly more worrisome than Daesh or other Sunni Muslim terror groups:

If I can be frank, the radical axis headed by Iran is more risky than the global Jihad one. It is much more knowledgeable, stronger, with a bigger arsenal.

As far as these Israeli officers are concerned, the ideal strategy is to sit back and let both types of groups duke it out, and work to contain the conflict rather than trying to end it with military force. As the AMAN (army intelligence) officer put it:

The battle for deterrence is easier than the battle for influence.

But does that mean Pindostan and its vassals should simply allow Daesh to retain its so-called caliphate in parts of eastern Syria and eastern Iraq? The officer shot back:

Why not? When they asked Menachem Begin, during the Iraq-Iran War, who does Israel stand for, he said, ‘I wish luck to both parties! They can go at it, killing each other!’ The same thing applies here. You have Daesh killing AQ by the thousands, AQ killing Daesh by the thousands, and they are both killing Hezbollah, and Assad.

I asked another Tzahal boxtop peering out into the Syrian frontier a similar question about the consequences of Pindostan’s war against ISIS in the region. Clutching a machine gun in one hand and a pineapple popsicle in another (sic – RB ) said:

There is no lack of Islamic militant groups here. You just haven’t heard of them all, yet.

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