Trump’s Middle East doctrine by Admiral James A. Lyons, USN (ret.)

 

 

 

Trump’s Middle East doctrine

A key objective is the isolation of Iran

by Admiral James A. Lyons, USN (ret.)

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

President Trump’s historic visit last month to Saudi Arabia, where he met with the heads of more than 50 mostly Sunni heads of state, dramatically marked the end of eight years of Barack Obama’s appeasement of Iran. It signaled to all the Muslim leaders that the United States as the “strong horse” is back. There was no doubt in any of the Muslim leaders’ minds that Mr. Trump is a man of action and a leader who will keep his word.

Mr. Trump’s goal of establishing a coalition of nations that share the objective of defeating terrorist groups and providing for a stable and hopeful future made it clear that the assembled nations cannot be indifferent to the presence of evil. That evil is represented not only by the Islamic State (ISIS), al Qaeda et al., but also by Iran, the recognized world leader of state-sponsored terrorism. In that sense, one of the key objectives of the summit was to isolate Iran, a goal embraced by the coalition, as well as their shared disdain for the Obama administration’s atrocious failed nuclear agreement with Iran.

Mr. Trump also made it clear that this coalition of nations must adopt a policy of “sovereign responsibility,” which means that they cannot wait for American power to defeat the enemy for them. They must be directly involved, with our assistance.

Nonetheless, the Trump doctrine must be driven by our core vital interests, which are:

  • Eliminating ISIS as a functioning entity.
  • Preventing Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon capability.
  • Preventing Iranian hegemony throughout the Middle East.
  • Removing the Iranian theocracy from power.
  • Re-establishing and strengthening our relations with our traditional allies.
  • Ensuring the survival of Israel.
  • Establishing a sovereign Kurdistan.
  • Maintaining freedom of navigation throughout the Persian Gulf and Red Sea, including strategic choke points, e.g., the Suez Canal, the Bab el-Mandeb Strait and the Strait of Hormuz.

The establishment of a Global Terrorism Center for Combating Extremism in Riyadh was a manifestation of the shared objective of defeating terrorist groups and isolating Iran, but its effectiveness will depend on results. The same can be said for the establishment of the Terrorist Financing Targeting Center, co-chaired by the United States and Saudi Arabia, as well as the United States-United Arab Emirates Center to Counter the Online Spread of Hate. It was clear to all the attendees that a peaceful, stable future can only be achieved by defeating the ideology that drives terrorism. Carrying this out will require some very fundamental and painful changes. For example, mosques and imams that preach hate and urge all Muslims to conduct violent jihad should be closed and the imams removed.

Concrete steps must be taken to stop funds from going to radical mosques and front groups that promote terrorism. Targeting funds being sent to various terrorists groups, e.g., ISIS and al Qaeda, must receive immediate priority. The source of these funds, be it from individuals or states like Qatar, must be identified and interdicted.

Qatar has been a particular problem because of its support of the Muslim Brotherhood and its cozy relationship with Iran. This came to a head on June 5, when Saudi Arabia broke diplomatic and some commercial relations with Qatar over its terrorist financing and its links to the Muslim Brotherhood, ISIS, Hamas and the Houthi rebels in Yemen. Qatar’s relationship with Iran was a decisive factor in causing the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Bahrain to quickly join with Saudi Arabia in breaking relations. Most land, sea and air routes to Qatar have been closed. Qatar is an isthmus whose only land route is through Saudi Arabia by which it receives 40 percent of its food. This is a major problem for Qatar, despite Turkey’s offer of food and water delivered by sea.

Another issue that must be addressed is the U.S. Central Command’s forward air base in Qatar, which has been an essential element of our air campaign in the region. As of today, there has been no impact on U.S. air operations, but contingency plans should be made ready for an alternative air base if regional relationships further deteriorate.

An underlying element of the Trump doctrine that cannot be overstated is recognition that 65 percent of the population of the Middle East is under the age of 30, and that those youths must be provided with opportunities for a satisfying life as an attractive option to the lure of terrorist groups. While this is a worthy objective, Muslims don’t commit to jihad because they don’t have jobs. They commit to jihad because they are devout Muslims, many with university degrees. The only way they can be dissuaded from jihad is to see a crushing defeat of jihadis on the battlefield. Once they understand they cannot win, they are obligated by their own doctrine to back off.

Saudi Prince Mohammad bin Salman is taking the lead for economic and cultural reform in Saudi Arabia, and other members of the coalition should follow. Nevertheless, the indispensable principle for achieving the objectives of the Riyadh summit is the isolation of Iran, the prime mover of instability throughout the region. As a start, sanctions on the mullahs’ ballistic missile programs must be imposed. Further, until the unsigned nuclear weapons deal with Iran is formally canceled, real inspections by the U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency must be conducted on all the sites in their nuclear weapon infrastructure.

Finally, an aggressive plan must be developed with the objective of removing the regime of Ayatollah Ali Khamenei from power. That is the first principle of any plan to return stability and peace to the Middle East.

  • James A. Lyons, a retired U.S. Navy admiral, was commander in chief of the U.S. Pacific Fleet and senior U.S. military representative to the United Nations.

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Nuclear Deal, Iran’s Missiles, & U.S. Sanctions by Raymond Tanter

 

 

 

Raymond Tanter

20 JUNE 2017,

Nuclear Deal, Iran’s Missiles, & U.S. Sanctions

Breaking News

On June 18, Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) launched several midrange missiles from western Iran across Iraq and hit sources in Syria of Islamic State (ISIS) attacks on Tehran on June 7. In the context of these strikes, consider revelations about Iran’s missile sites on June 20 by the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) office in the United States (The People’s Mujahedeen Organization of Iran, PMOI aka Mujahedeen-e-Khalq MEK is the largest unit in the NCRI.)

Nuclear negotiations between Iran and the major powers began during 2013 and culminated in the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) in 2015. Thereafter, the IRGC intensified its activities to develop and expand Tehran’s missile program based on orders of the regime’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, per the NCRI revelations on June 20.

Evidence:

The NCRI verified locations of over three dozen centers involved in the production, testing, and launching of missiles by the IRGC. A dozen of these sites were exposed for the first time. The NCRI identified 42 IRGC missile centers involved in production, testing, storage, launch, and command. There are 15 that are part of Tehran’s missile manufacturing network.

The centers for building and testing missiles are in Iran’s central regions. Sites for medium-range ballistic missile launches are mostly in Iran’s western mountain regions, and central regions. In the southern provinces, missile launch centers are aimed at the Persian Gulf and Gulf of Oman. The location of these centers across Iran suggests IRGC missile objectives are oriented toward Iran’s western and southern borders.

The Nuclear Deal and U.S. Sanctions

The nuclear accord imposes few restrictions on Iran regarding ballistic missiles and does not prohibit new sanctions from being levied on Iran. UNSCR 2231, which gave international legal authority to the nuclear deal, “called upon (Iran) not to undertake any activity related to ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons,” but Tehran vowed to ignore the Resolution. UNSCR 2231 does not prohibit new sanctions from being imposed on Iran, providing an occasion for President Trump to review the nuclear deal. The President told Secretary Tillerson on Apr. 19 to announce Iran is in compliance with the accord but also said the National Security Council (NSC) had 90 days to finish the review, which is coming up in July.

Meanwhile, on June 15, The Senate voted 98-2 in favor of a bill to impose new U.S. sanctions to target Iran’s ballistic missile program, its support for terrorism, and human rights violations.

The Way Forward

First, one outcome of the NSC review should be that the nuclear deal be modified to include ballistic missile research, development, and testing by Tehran. Trump should order the NSC to consider the testimony during passage of the June sanctions bill to justify pressing Iran to accept new restraints on its missiles. And the President should insist the NSC and State include evidence proffered by the NCRI on June 20 to justify revisions of the accord.

Second, the review should mention the NCRI as having provided valid evidence on prior violations by the Iranian regime regarding nuclear sites, testing of trigger mechanisms for nuclear weapons, and the most recent revelations on June 20 concerning ballistic missiles. The NCRI office on Pennsylvania Ave is a stone’s throw from the White House. If its delegation met with the President in the Oval Office and briefed his NSC staff in the Situation Room, it would indicate the tide is turning even further against Tehran. Such sessions with the main opposition to Tehran would place pressure on Iran to renegotiate the nuclear deal.

Third, if President Trump tweets about the Iran Freedom Rally on July 1 in Paris, he will see policies espoused there don’t require compromising on his policy of putting “America first.”

A bipartisan group of present and former legislators have attended or plan to attend the rally. Even more noteworthy, on Apr. 14, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.), visited Albania to meet with NCRI officials, including its president-elect, Maryam Rajavi.

There is support across the aisle in Congress to back the NCRI. It has received about three decades of bipartisan congressional support. See H.Con.Res.159– introduced in Nov. 2016 by Homeland Security Committee Chairman Michael McCaul (R-Texas), Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) and ranking member Elliot Engel (D-N.Y.), as well as Rep. James McGovern (D-Mass.).

Although it is standard operating procedure for American Embassy officials to accompany congressional delegations (CODELS), it is remarkable that the Deputy Chief of the U.S. Mission and many of our Embassy staff in Tirana were in the presence of NCRI officials. It is hard to conceive of that situation occurring in the Obama-Kerry era!

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Raymond Tanter :

Prof. Raymond Tanter (@AmericanCHR) served as a senior member on the Middle East Desk of the National Security Council staff in the Reagan-Bush administration, Personal Representative of the Secretary of Defense to international security and arms control talks in Europe, and is now Professor Emeritus at the University of Michigan. Tanter is on the comprehensive list of conservative writers and columnists who appear in The Wall Street Journal, Townhall.com, National Review, The Weekly Standard, Human Events, The American Spectator, and now in Newsmax.

 

 

 

Balochistan: A wider strategic context in the Afghanistan debate by Lawrence Sellin, Phd.

Editor’s Note: From our great friend Dr. Lawrence Sellin, Phd. Dr. Sellin is also a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq.

 

 

 

Balochistan: A wider strategic context in the Afghanistan debate

 

by Lawrence Sellin, Phd. June 9, 2017

Yes, the primary mission is still to protect the homeland by preventing Afghanistan from being used again as a safe haven for terrorists to attack the U.S. or our allies.

And, yes, troop levels and the operational tempo have always been predicated on a single proposition, to buy enough time so that Afghan security forces can successfully take the lead against the Taliban or any other terrorist entity who plan to use Afghanistan as a training or operational base.

But there is a bigger picture.

Pakistan created and supported the Taliban as an instrument of its foreign policy and has always viewed Afghanistan as a client state, a security buffer against what they consider potential Indian encirclement and as a springboard to extend its own influence into the resource-rich areas of Central Asia.

In line with those objectives, Pakistan has an economic incentive to force the U.S. and NATO out of Afghanistan in order to pursue the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor, which is part of China’s larger Belt and Road Initiative that aims to connect Asia through land-based and maritime economic zones, a project that includes exploitation of Afghanistan’s mineral wealth.

The China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and, more broadly, the Belt and Road Initiative are China’s attempt to extend its strategic reach to the Indian Ocean, East Africa and the Middle East. That approach is similar to what China is doing in Southeast Asia, building artificial islands in the South China Sea as military and logistical bases. It all reminds one of Imperial Japan’s “Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere” of the 1930s and 1940s, to create a self-sufficient “bloc of Asian nations led by the Japanese [Chinese] and free of Western powers”.

What should be an even greater concern to the U.S. is China’s growing military ambitions in the Gulf of Aden and the Arabian Sea.

China has established a military base in Djibouti on the Horn of Africa, construction of which started in February 2016 and is expected to be completed in 2018.

To complement that effort, the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor allows China to develop the port of Gwadar in Balochistan, a region forcibly incorporated into Pakistan after the partition of India in 1947.

Look at the map.

Gwadar would provide China with a military and logistics base at the entrance of the Gulf of Oman, the shipping route to the Strait of Hormuz and the Persian Gulf, a potential chokepoint for Middle East oil exports. Gwadar will also be supplied by a transportation network directly linking China to the port.

The Chinese military base in Djibouti is at the entrance of the Red Sea, transit point to the Suez Canal.

Upon completion of those facilities, China will have a strategically critical region bracketed by its military.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to conclude that the success of the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and Chinese military ambitions depend on the stability of Balochistan, and, thus, presents a possible lever to influence the regional strategic environment including the situation in Afghanistan.

It is an incontrovertible fact that the U.S. and NATO cannot succeed in Afghanistan without a significant change in the strategic conditions because the operational tempo of the war and the supply of our troops are regulated by Pakistani whims.

Balochistan, a region rich in minerals and other natural resources, has been the home of a festering ethnic insurgency. Despite its mineral wealth, the Baloch people have been intentionally kept underdeveloped by the Pakistani government, along with oppression and alleged extrajudicial killings by the Pakistani military.

An autonomous or independent Balochistan could counter Chinese military expansionism, provide a potential bulwark against the terrorism-exporting nations in the region and offer a more reliable sea-land link to Afghanistan.

Frankly, unless the U.S. starts learning to play strategic chess, it could be checkmate.

 

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Should Pakistan be partitioned like Yugoslavia? by Lawrence Sellin, Phd.

 

Should Pakistan be partitioned like Yugoslavia?

By

by Lawrence Sellin, Phd.

 

After World War II, Yugoslavia was organized as a federation of six republics, with borders drawn along ethnic and historical lines: Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Slovenia with the two autonomous Serbian provinces of Vojvodina and Kosovo.

The Yugoslav federation worked successfully largely due to the strong leadership of president-for-life Josip Broz Tito, but after his death in 1980, a weakened central government could not cope with the growing ethnic and nationalist tensions.

Likewise, Pakistan is not so much a country, but an artificial political entity created by the British during the partition of India. It is founded on the ideology of Islam and is primarily composed of five ethnic groups that never coexisted – the Bengalis, Punjabis, Pashtuns, Sindhis and Baloch.

It is ironic that the father of Pakistan, Mohammed Ali Jinnah, reportedly an atheist, who argued for a secular and inclusive Pakistan in his famous speech in the Constituent Assembly on August 11, 1947 days before Pakistani independence, could, just a year earlier, display no qualms about asking Muslims to implement “Direct Action” which led to widespread rioting and bloodshed in the name of religion. Political psychologist Ashis Nandy wrote “Jinnah kept the ulema [scholars of Muslim religious law] at a distance throughout his life, but was perfectly willing to use them to advance the cause of a separate homeland for South Asian Muslims.”

Since its inception, Pakistan has operated according to several fundamental principles: Punjabi ethnic supremacy, fear of India, political control by the army and, lacking ethnic cohesiveness, using Islam as a domestic and foreign policy instrument.

Pakistan’s inability to establish a national identity beyond Islam began in the 1950s when the imposition of Urdu as a national language generated resentment amongst the majority Bengalis in East Pakistan, which, after a bloody conflict in 1971, separated from Pakistan to become the independent country of Bangladesh.

Karachi and adjacent areas have been plagued by political turmoil between the native Sindhis and the Urdu-speaking “Mohajir,” who migrated there during and after partition.

Balochistan, now its largest province, never agreed to join with Pakistan, but did so only after being invaded by the Pakistani military. For a succinct history of the forced annexation, see the article “How Balochistan became a part of Pakistan – a historical perspective” published in “The Nation,” an English-language daily newspaper based in Lahore, Pakistan.

Balochistan is in southwest Pakistan bordering Afghanistan and Iran with its southern coast on the Arabian Sea. It is rich in natural resources, including oil, gas, copper and gold, yet remains one of the poorest regions of Pakistan, where the vast majority of its population lives in deplorable conditions without access to electricity or clean drinking water.

Balochistan’s natural resources have been plundered by Pakistan, nuclear tests were conducted there without the permission of the Baloch people and the region has been subjected to military oppression for decades to extinguish ethnic aspirations and to maintain it as a de facto colony of Pakistan.

Pakistan’s attempts at quelling ethnicity-based grievances have only resulted in exacerbating them, encouraging provincial discontent and intensifying separatism. That occurs because

Pakistan has not diverted from its political playbook outlined above, namely, Punjabi dominance, irrational fear of India, military control of the political system, and the ever increasing use of ever more radical interpretations of Islam to mitigate internal dissent and exert influence regionally.

United States policy in Afghanistan is directly and intentionally thwarted by Pakistan and we would benefit from a change in the strategic landscape.

And so would South Asia.

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U.S. Passivity Towards Pakistan has Prolonged the Afghan War by Lawrence Sellin, Phd.

Editor’s Note: From our great friend Dr. Lawrence Sellin, Phd. Dr. Sellin is also a retired colonel with 29 years of service in the US Army Reserve and a veteran of Afghanistan and Iraq.

 

 

U.S. Passivity Towards Pakistan has Prolonged the Afghan War

by Lawrence Sellin, Phd. June 2, 2017

Each year the United States sends Pakistan billions of dollars in aid.

In return, Pakistan provides safe haven and material support for our enemy the Taliban, while, through Pakistan’s network of radical Islamic schools “madrassas,” a continuous supply of jihadi recruits is produced to fill the ranks of the Taliban and other terrorist groups.

The policy towards Pakistan that U.S. politicians have pursued is not only stupid, but it could be considered willfully negligent.

It is a strategy based on bribery and submission, not unlike jizya, a tax historically levied by Islamic states on non-Muslim subjects known as “dhimmis” or, in our case, dummies.

It is a form of insanity, repeatedly giving Pakistan money in the vain hope that the Pakistanis will change an approach which they consider successful, the use of terrorism as an instrument of their foreign policy.

The U.S. cannot win in Afghanistan unless there is a significant change in the strategic environment, addressing the root of the conflict, which our politicians have refused to acknowledge.

The U.S. military has been largely relegated to killing the expendable foot-soldiers of the Taliban inside Afghanistan, Pakistan’s madrassa cannon fodder, but only occasionally attacking the inner circle of the Taliban inside Pakistan.

In other words, we have been whacking the wrong moles.

In the relatively rare instances when terrorist leaders have been targeted, they have been killed in Pakistan, not Afghanistan. Those include members of the Pakistan-based Haqqani network and Osama bin Laden, who was sheltered in Pakistan from 2005 until his death at the hands of U.S. Navy SEALs in 2011. The new al Qaeda leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, is in Pakistan and, like bin Laden, has been protected by Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence agency (ISI).

Mullah Akhtar Mohammad Mansour, Emir of the Taliban was killed in the Nushki district of Balochistan, Pakistan in May 2016 by a drone strike on his car while he was returning from a trip to Iran where he was conferring with Iranian officials. Mansour was carrying an official Pakistani computerized national identity card and a Pakistani passport under the name Muhammad Wali.

The main Taliban group that was led by Mansour is known as the Quetta Shura, whose headquarters is in the Pakistani city of Quetta, the capital of Balochistan Province.

The time is long past to change U.S. policy, to take the war to Pakistan in ways that will alter the strategic conditions.

A first step to doing so would be for the U.S. Department of State to designate the Afghan Taliban as a terrorist group. Many Americans may be surprised to learn that the Afghan Taliban is not on that list, but the Pakistani Taliban, the Tehrik-i-Taliban, is, a group that directly threatens Pakistan’s internal stability.

The Afghan Taliban, without any doubt, meets the criteria for being declared a terrorist organization, that is, to engage in terrorism, deliberate attacks on civilians, and threatening the security of U.S. nationals or the national security of the United States.

The reason the Afghan Taliban is not on the list is political expediency, “a concern that applying the terror label to the group would restrict U.S. and Afghan government diplomatic contacts with the Taliban, making peace talks more difficult.”

Declaring the Afghan Taliban a terrorist organization would allow the U.S. to begin to apply pressure on Pakistan to dismantle the Taliban infrastructure inside its territory.

Additional steps could include cutting off foreign aid to Pakistan, declaring Pakistan a state sponsor of terrorism, tilting towards India and supporting a Balochistan independence movement.

Pakistan has made Balochistan both an incubator and operational base for the Taliban and other terrorist groups like the Islamic State, which now has established a presence there and Lashkar-e-Taiba, a fully owned and operated subsidiary of Pakistan’s intelligence service, the ISI.

It is in our interest to assure that Balochistan does not remain a Pakistan-sponsored launch pad for terrorist attacks into Afghanistan or internationally, perhaps by reversing the flow of insurgency.

I do not blame Pakistan for pursuing what they consider their national interests, but I do blame American politicians for agreeing to conditions in Afghanistan that are so lethally detrimental to our own.

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