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Al-Shabab Aims to Turn Jihad in Somalia into Nationalist War Against Kenya

by Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin

Al-Shabab, the Somalia-based terrorist group, appears to have adopted a new strategy to turn its Islamist war into a nationalist conflict targeting Kenya. Following al-Shabab’s military setbacks at the hands of African Union Mission Somalia (AMSOM) troops deployed to Somalia, the group’s operations may have shifted from tactical battles to spectacular acts of terror against Kenyan civilians.

Al-Shabab has been responsible for several recent operations inside Kenya that have commanded the attention of the world’s media. These terrorist spectaculars have included among others, the Westgate Mall slaughter of September, 2013; the killing of bus passengers in the Mandera District of the Northern Province in November, 2014; the assassination of quarry workers near Koromey township on 2 December 2014; and the mass murder of students in the area’s Garissa District in early April of this year. [Read more...]

Iranian Warships Arrive Near Yemen

Comes just days after U.S. announced it would send its own warships

by Adam Kredo     •     Washington Free Beacon

In this picture taken on Tuesday, April 7, 2015, and released by the semi-official Fars News Agency, Iranian warship Alborz, foreground, prepares before leaving Iran’s waters.

A fleet of Iranian warships arrived near the southern coast of Yemen on Wednesday in a move likely to add greater tension in a developing U.S.-Iranian standoff in the region, according Iranian military leaders.

Just days after the United States announced it would send its own warships to Yemen in order to prevent Iran from smuggling weapons to terror forces fighting there, a flotilla of Iranian destroyers docked in the same area.

Iran’s military moves are likely to increase tensions between the two countries as each seeks to bolster opposing sides in the fight currently unfolding in Yemen. [Read more...]

How Iran Outfoxes U.S.

by Aaron David Miller     •     CNN

If I had to describe the U.S.-Iranian relationship in one word it would be “overmatched.”

We’re playing checkers on the Middle East game board and Tehran’s playing three-dimensional chess. Iran has no problem reconciling its bad and contradictory behavior while we twist ourselves into knots over our tough choices, all the while convincing ourselves that America’s policy on the nuclear issue is on the right track.

Iran isn’t 10 feet tall in this region, but by making the nuclear issue the be-all and end-all that is supposed to reduce Iran’s power, the United States is only making Tehran taller. Consider the following: [Read more...]

Obama Deal With Iran In Trouble

by Michael Barone     •     Washington Examiner

Obama Iran Nuke DealIs the tide turning against President Obama’s purported nuclear weapons deal with Iran? One sign that the answer is yes is the devastating opinion article in Wednesday’s Wall Street Journal by former Secretaries of State Henry Kissinger and George Shultz.

The architect of Richard Nixon’s opening to China and the partner of Ronald Reagan in his negotiations with the Soviet Union are diplomatic in their criticisms. They pay passing tribute to their successor John Kerry’s “persistence, patience and ingenuity.” But they have many disturbing questions — I count 16 question marks in the article — about the deal. [Read more...]

1001 Circular Persian Charades

by Peter Huessy

nuclear-iran“The details of the deal are not important. Iran will or will not make nuclear weapons as it sees fit. The significance of the deal is the deal itself, especially the fact that it is being concluded while Iran is busy digesting another country (Yemen). The deal will make Iran the richest and most powerful country in the Middle East, eventually dominating it – all this with US blessing (and eventually with restored diplomatic relations, see Cuba). I cannot but agree with the NY Times that this is part of Obama’s vision of disengaging from the Middle East. No wonder the Saudis and the Gulf States are in fear for their lives.”

So writes a colleague from Israel reflecting almost exactly what former US Secretaries of State George Schultz and Henry Kissinger explain in sharp detail in the Wall Street Journal on April 8, 2015 when they explain “The framework agreement will…enable Iran to become a significant military power…and…to weaponize at a time of its choosing.” [Read more...]

There’s No Deterring an Apocalyptic Nuclear Iran

Letting it get the bomb would be the most catastrophic decision in the history of humanity.

By Thomas Sowell     •     National Review

Recent statements from United Nations officials, that Iran is already blocking their existing efforts to keep track of what is going on in their nuclear program, should tell anyone who does not already know it that any agreement with Iran will be utterly worthless in practice. It doesn’t matter what the terms of the agreement are, if Iran can cheat.

It is amazing — indeed, staggering — that so few Americans are talking about what it would mean for the world’s biggest sponsor of international terrorism, Iran, to have nuclear bombs, and to be developing intercontinental missiles that can deliver them far beyond the Middle East. [Read more...]

Obama Gets His Iran Nuclear Deal But Was It Worth It

Obama got his deal, but can he trust Iran to keep its word?

By Peter Roff     •      U.S. News

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry are to be congratulated for their perseverance in pursuing an international pact on the subject of Iran and its pursuit of nuclear capabilities. It was not an easy feat and they deserve credit for pushing the government in Tehran and the other global powers to stay at the thing until they achieved an agreement.

Whether it is worth all the effort expended is another matter entirely. Iran has not yet proven it is willing to re-enter the global community of civilized nations. An agreement, after all, is just a piece of paper that guarantees nothing. Now that a deal is done, the West, and the United States in particular, must be even more vigilant and must watch carefully to see that the mullahs hold up their end of the bargain. [Read more...]

The Tricks Obama Is Trying to Play with the Iran Announcement

by John Podhoretz     •     Commentary Magazine

obama profile smileIf you look at what happened today between the U.S. and Iran through the lens of domestic American politics, Barack Obama has made a very clever play here—because what might be called “the agreement of the framework of the possibility of a potential deal” gives him new leverage in his ongoing battle with the Senate to limit its ability to play a role in the most critical foreign-policy matter of the decade.

The “framework” codifies the Obama administration’s cave-ins but casts them as thrilling reductions in Iran’s capacities rather than what they are—a pie-in-the-sky effort to use inspections as the means by which the West can “manage” the speed with which Iran becomes a nuclear power.

Obama’s tone of triumph this afternoon was mixed with sharp reminders that the deal is actually not yet done—and that is entirely the point of this exercise from a domestic standpoint. the triumph signals his troops and apologists that the time has come for them to stand with him, praise the deal sheet and pretend it’s a deal, declare it historic, and generally act as though the world has been delivered from a dreadful confrontation by Obama and Kerry. [Read more...]

Obama Oversells His Nondeal With Iran

by Washington Examiner

obama_speechHaving missed the latest deadline for a nuclear deal with Iran, President Obama chose Thursday to make his most persuasive case yet that the deal he has not yet made is a good one.

He argued that no better option exists, given how close the Iranians are already to developing a nuclear bomb. He said that even though U.S. and Iranian negotiators failed to reach a final deal, they have agreed to a “framework” with terms that will at least appear agreeable to the layman, and which will supposedly become a final deal by June 30.

Has Obama’s concession of ground to the weaker party in negotiations ultimately been rewarded with cooperation? Has his decision to let Iran have four times as many centrifuges as originally envisioned, and to allow centrifuges to be installed in Iran’s underground facility at Fordo, produced a new era of Iranian-American friendship? [Read more...]

Obama’s Iran ‘Framework’*

*Details to be disclosed, and even negotiated, later.

Wall Street Journal

obama_speechThe fundamental question posed by President Obama’s Iran diplomacy has always been whether it can prevent a nuclear-armed Middle East—in Iran as well as Turkey and the Sunni Arab states. Mr. Obama unveiled a “framework” accord on Thursday that he said did precisely that, but the claims warrant great skepticism, not least because they come with so many asterisks.

The framework is only an “understanding” among Iran and the six powers because many of the specifics are still being negotiated. But Mr. Obama wanted to announce some agreement near his self-imposed March 31 deadline, lest Congress ratchet up sanctions on Iran, and now Secretary of State John Kerry will go back to negotiate the crucial fine print.

The general outline of the accord includes some useful limits on Iran, if it chooses to abide by them. Tehran will be allowed to operate a little more than 5,000 of its first-generation centrifuges at its Natanz facility, and only there. It will not enrich uranium above civilian-grade levels for at least 15 years, though it will retain some of its unnecessary current stockpile. [Read more...]

Misplaying America’s Hand With Iran

The president’s desperation for a foreign-policy legacy is leading toward a bad nuclear deal—and a dangerous one.

By Peggy Noonan     •     Wall Street Journal

Obama Foreign Policy FailedBarack Obama, six years into his presidency, does not have a foreign-policy legacy—or, rather, he does and it’s bad. He has a visceral and understandable reluctance to extend and overextend U.S. power, but where that power has been absent, violence and instability have filled the void. When he overcomes his reluctance to get involved, he picks the wrong place, such as Libya, where the tyrant we toppled was better than many of those attempting to take his place.

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.” [Read more...]

Krauthammer: If The Iranians Cheat, Not A Chance In The World Sanctions Would Return

[Read more...]

Iran Nuke Agreement Is Full of Holes

By Amir Taheri     •     The New York Post

Obama IranWhat we actually have in writing about the areas of agreement between Iran and the US-led P5+1 group of nations is full of holes. Worse, it is already being described differently in English and in Persian — a matter that will surely complicate the task of writing a final, binding draft by June 30.

Even the statement we have was merely released in the name of EU foreign-policy czarina Federica Mogherini and Iran’s foreign minister, Javad Zarif. It’s not signed, because almost no one had the authority to sign anything at this stage.

Many of the agreements plainly benefit Iran:

•   Iran will continue its full nuclear program, keeping open all its sites — including Fordo, Isfahan, Natanz and Arak, the closure of which had been a key demand of the United States and its allies for the past decade or so.

•   The heavy-water nuclear plant at Arak will be finished, despite Washington’s once-strong objections. [Read more...]

Russia Again Flight Tests New ICBM to Treaty-Violating Range

Test prompts renewed debate on violation of ’87 INF Treaty

by Bill Gertz     •     Washington Free Beacon

icbm_nuclear missileRussia conducted a flight test of a new intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this month that some U.S. officials and security analysts say is a new violation of Moscow’s arms control treaty commitments.

The March 18 flight test of a new RS-26 missile is part of a large-scale nuclear arms buildup by Russia and is raising concerns about treaty compliance, said U.S. officials familiar with details of the missile test.

The RS-26 missile carried a dummy warhead from Russia’s Kapustin Yar missile facility, located about 80 miles south of Volgograd in southern Russia, to an impact range at Sary Shagan in Kazakhstan.

The distance between the launch facility and the impact area is approximately 1,248 miles, far less than the threshold of 3,417 miles required by the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty. [Read more...]

Congressional Testimony: Iran’s Noncompliance With Its International Atomic Energy Agency Obligations

Statement of Ms. Rebeccah L. Heinrichs
Fellow, George C. Marshall Institute

House Foreign Affairs Committee
Subcommittee on The Middle East and North Africa

Tuesday, March 24, 2015
2:00 p.m. — 2172 Rayburn House Office Building

Chairman Ros-Lehtinen, Ranking Member Deutch, members of the committee, thank you for the invitation to participate in this hearing.

It is important to keep at the front of our minds the context in which the P5+1 has attempted to secure a diplomatic solution to Iran’s nuclear program. Iran views the U.S. and Israel as its principal enemies1 and over the past three decades Iran has very intentionally created a network of terrorist surrogates able to target U.S. interests and Israel.2

The terror or militant groups it supports are HAMAS, Lebanese Hezbollah, the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the Taliban, and Iraqi Shia groups. Hezbollah, in particular, has increased its global terrorist activities to a level greater than the intelligence community has seen since the 1990s.3 [Read more...]