ISIS has Israel in its crosshairs

The US strategy against Islamic State “suffers from a series of weaknesses

By Yaakov Lappin, JPOST
ISIS militant

The US strategy against the Islamic State “suffers from a series of weaknesses,” a study by the Tel Aviv-based Meir Amit Intelligence and Terrorism Information Center found recently.

The center is a part of the Israeli Intelligence and Heritage Commemoration Center, which was founded in the 1980s by leading members of the Israeli intelligence community.

The report described goals in the American strategy as unrealistic.

“It is extremely difficult to destroy an organization with a Salafist-jihadi ideology such as ISIS [Islamic State].

There are limits to what military force can achieve against jihadi organizations in general and ISIS in particular. The local forces in Syria and Iraq that America is counting on are weak, and the coalition is heterogeneous, composed of countries with different interests and internal constraints that are liable to make it difficult for them to provide the United States with effective support,” the document said.

The situation is made more complex by the fluctuating societal and political situations in Syria and Iraq, the authors added.

“They [such organizations] cannot be fundamentally changed through military action, limited or even extensive.

That is because ISIS and other Salafist-jihadi terrorist organizations arose from the chaos in security and the societal and political disintegration of Syria and Iraq, and because of the drastic changes caused by the regional upheaval.

“Iraq and Syria are a swamp in which ISIS and other jihadi organizations thrive. Rooting out ISIS will be impossible until the swamp has been drained, and that is currently not on the horizon,” the study stated.

Dr. Reuven Erlich, head of the Meir Amit Center, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday that US President Barack Obama’s objective of destroying Islamic State has raised expectations to a point that is “very high. ISIS is a terrorist organization with an ideology and capabilities that exists in an area where political systems have crashed. It can’t be destroyed through air power.”

Similarly, he added, Israel, too, cannot destroy Hezbollah or Hamas through air power alone.

“It’s not enough to bomb. In order to destroy Hamas, which exists in a narrow strip, Israel would have to go in and rule for years, carrying out a fundamental thwarting of the organization. That would produce results, but only until the day forces leave.”

The center’s study also highlighted several weaknesses that afflict Islamic State, which, if exploited by the US, could yield positive results, “although perhaps less far-reaching than expected by President Obama.”

Washington’s military, economic and political campaign could eventually weaken – but not destroy – Islamic State and halt its rapid spread through Syria and Iraq. The Iraqi Army and local militias within Syria and Iraq that are hostile to Islamic State can be strengthened.

The report stressed several threats and dangers posed to Israel by the establishment and growth of Islamic State and other jihadi organizations.

Foremost among these is their likely targeting of the Golan Heights and the Sinai Peninsula.

“As of today, the [Syrian] Golan Heights are controlled by rebel organizations, the most prominent of which is the al-Nusra Front, al-Qaida’s branch in Syria. While ISIS does not currently have a significant presence there, the dynamics can easily change the Golan Heights from a relatively quiet area into an active terrorist front where the al-Nusra Front may be dominant.

“In the Sinai Peninsula, Islamic State-affiliated Ansar Bayt al-Maqdis (which has become the Sinai province of the Islamic State) is expected to launch terrorist attacks against Israel, although its strategic priority is its campaign against the Egypt regime,” said the authors.

Additionally, Islamic State supports jihadi organizations and networks in countries bordering on Israel.

“ISIS is a terrorist organization with semi-state capabilities: it has advanced weapons and technology captured from the Iraqi and Syrian armies; it earns enormous amounts of money from oil fields and other resources; it has supporters in the Middle East and worldwide who help it enlist foreign fighters; it has an advanced media network which brands ISIS and the global jihad.

“To date those capabilities are mainly exploited for internal purposes (fighting enemies in Iraq and Syria). However, they may filter into jihadi organizations and networks in the Middle East, including countries and entities bordering on Israel, and strengthen the operational capabilities of local jihadi organizations,” the report warned.

Commenting on this section of the findings, Erlich said Israel is facing a “new reality in which new jihadi organizations are present to the north and south. It’s very hard to deter them. The only thing that works to our benefit is that they have not begun dealing with us yet. But problems are expected for Israel. Also, we should not believe that Jordan and Lebanon are immune.”

According to the study’s authors, “In the foreseeable future, ISIS strategy will continue focusing on gaining a firmer foothold in Syria and Iraq. However, in view of the American aerial attacks and the competition between the jihadi organizations, ISIS may encourage or initiate attacks within Israel from inside the country or from its borders, or against Israeli and/or Jewish targets abroad. They may receive help and support from the veterans of the fighting in Syria and Iraq who returned to their countries of origin and/ or from local operatives and networks that support ISIS.”

The report also cautioned about cooperation between the US-led coalition and Iran against Islamic State.

“Such collaboration might occur at Israel’s expense and harm its vital interests; for example, Iran’s concessions on the nuclear issue. In addition, collaborating against ISIS might increase Iranian influence in Syria and Iraq, and might also strengthen Hezbollah’s status in Lebanon, possibly strengthening the Iranian- led radical camp in the Middle East,” it said.

Erlich added, “Seemingly, Iran is a partner for the US against ISIS, which threatens Tehran’s interests in Iraq and Syria. We don’t think a deep strategic relationship will develop between them. Iran is seeking regional hegemony in place of the US. But local cooperation and a dialogue are possible.”

Envisaging how Washington and Tehran could work together, Erlich said, “One could support the Iraqi Army and the second could aid Shi’ite militias. That would result in cooperation.”

December 2, 2014 | 9 Comments »

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9 Comments / 9 Comments

  1. @ yamit82:
    you will like this one, read the whole thing as it also discounts the one in august.

    Despite reports, Saudis not about to sell oil to Israel
    Several Israeli and Arab media outlets quoted Riyadh’s oil minister purportedly considering exports to the ‘Jewish state.’ But the stories were likely based on a hoax

    Read more: Despite reports, Saudis not about to sell oil to Israel | The Times of Israel
    Follow us: @timesofisrael on Twitter | timesofisrael on Facebook

    it sounded too overt to be true in both cases.

  2. Khatib’s Moscow visit raising questions…

    According to Khatib’s article, Russia revealed its intention to hold a conference including some Syrian opposition figures to open [doors] to negotiating a new political solution. Khatib referred to the solution as Geneva III.

    Lavrov clearly stated his rejection of the idea of organizing a large-scale international conference like the Geneva Conference on a settlement in Syria. He announced support for the initiative by Staffan de Mistura, the United Nations secretary-general’s special envoy to Syria, to progress gradually toward resolving the crisis by freezing the fighting in individual areas. The first step would be freezing the fighting in Aleppo.

    Read more:

  3. IS is also good for the west as a place to send undesirable muslim jihadis to join a side and die, also russia. Its good for everyone to send their muslims there. It would not surprise me if recruiting centers were covertly supported by western intelligence agencies to get rid of these nutters and send them to faraway deserts…..using rhetoric to the contrary as the cover story. If not they should be. Why would any western nation not want them to go away and fight…..just do not let them back if they escape death.

  4. yamit82 Said:

    What are the real reason for their reticence?

    DUH?? They set up funded and covertly continue to support IS…the most successful sunni jihadi group that fought Irans proxies and captured territory. their use of non PC terror tactics meant they had to be disowned by their Sunni sponsors who will reap the benefits in the negotiations for the control of syria, Iraq and lebanon. The war of the west against IS is fake… minor attacks which do not justify the assembling of the large air fleet and other assets. the attacks purpose is to define the boundaries of IS not to destroy it. The US says it will not ratchet up the war agianst IS unless Turkey and saudi are on boards and turkey and Saudi will not be on board unless Assad is the prime target. Hence, the battle will be low key and preserved as a negotiating tactic with Iran.
    yamit82 Said:

    Syria is no longer a viable country no less a fighting force than can be used against anybody.

    IS is the reason for that result…before IS assad was winning as were the hezbullah proxy. IS is the sunni savior in the Gulf monarchy battle against Iran and proxies.

  5. @ bernard ross:

    Question??? Where have all the weaponry sold or given to these Arab state gone?

    What value all the training America and Britin have given them?

    What are the real reason for their reticence?

    Syria is no longer a viable country no less a fighting force than can be used against anybody.

    Seems all of these militaries sole function is to protect the sitting leaders of mentioned countries from internal overthrows.