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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Farewell speech by President Shimon #Peres of #Israel

I know of no other country on the face of the earth or throughout history, which amazed and surprised so much.

I came to thank you for the privilege you granted me to serve our country and its people for the past seven years. I leave the presidency without parting from my faith. I will continue to serve my country as a deep believer that Israel is an exemplary state.

President Shimon Peres and his successor Reuven Rivlin in the Knesset, 2011
Copyright: GPO/Amos Ben Gershom archive photo

Farewell speech by President Shimon Peres 

I came to thank you for the privilege you granted me to serve our country and its people for the past seven years. There is no greater privilege. Thank you.

Israel, this small country, became a truly great state.

I know of no other country on the face of the earth or throughout history, which amazed and surprised so much.

Gathering in its people. Making its wilderness bloom. Resurrected from the ruins, surviving a terrible Holocaust. Fighting back in seven wars. Bringing a language back to life. Respecting its traditions and adopting modernity.

And at the same building a country which continues to develop. A country which carries values and practices democracy. A country without natural resources, which utilized instead the resourcefulness of its people. Our human resource is far more precious than wells of oil or mines of gold. A country which was established upon a historical core and became an outstanding state in the new scientific world. A country of song. A country of literature. A country which seeks peace day and night.

I leave the presidency without parting from my faith. I will continue to serve my country as a deep believer that Israel is an exemplary state.

We are a people that experienced unimaginable agony. And we are a people that reached the lofty heights of human achievement. We made great efforts. We paid a heavy price.

We will never forget our brothers and sisters who perished in the Holocaust. We will remember those who fell in battle, who brought new life to a redeemed people.

It is a great privilege to be a citizen among citizens who know toil and struggle. Who made a supreme effort and carried determined hope until the first dew of our dawn.

We returned. We built. We fought. We prayed. Until we began to see contours that even surprised us. We are an ancient people who are getting older. We are a people, first and foremost, that rebuilds itself time and again.

Israel was born as a precedent and created precedents. Despite being small in number among the nations, our people carried a faith as great as any. The first to rebel against prejudice was Moses. A nation that rebelled against Pharaoh. That smashed idols. That shattered illusions. A nation that walked through the desert to reach its home, its destiny.

We climbed the mountains and came down with the tablets, with the Ten Commandments which became the foundations upon which our nation was built and which were adopted by Western civilization.

We continue and will continue with this great legacy. There are still idols to be smashed, slaves to free, lives to save and justice to uphold. There is still a world to fix. Even if we remain the minority among the nations. Even if we serve as a target for evil - we will not deviate from our moral heritage.

Challenges are not invited. They occur spontaneously. That is how the current challenge occurred. I did not imagine that in the last days of my presidency I would be called upon, once more, to comfort bereaved families. Tears in their eyes. And faith in their hearts.

I did not imagine that it would happen again, after we were hit with rockets which were intended to harm innocent civilians. And after we uncovered tunnels meant to kill, intended to penetrate into the heart of civilian communities and fire at mothers and children. We must alert the world to the madness of the terrorist threat.

Terrorism aims to spill our blood. And leads to blood being spilled among its people. Never has such a minority torn apart the fabric of whole societies. So cruelly sent children to serve as shields for its crimes.

Hamas has once again put hundreds of thousands of the citizens of Gaza in harm's way, into a field of fire. The terrorists have transformed Gaza, which is over 3000 years old, into a man-made tragedy.

We left Gaza of our own free will and even helped to rebuild it. Unfortunately, it was taken over by fanatical terrorists, who uprooted the structures for rehabilitation and wasted them on a machinery of terror and murder.

Israel is not the enemy of the people of Gaza. The opposite is true, Israel built the Erez Crossing to open a gateway to Gaza. We did not open fire. We returned fire when fired upon. We fought the terrorists to bring peace to our people. They were also cruel to their own people, taking food away from babies to fund terror. They sowed death and they reaped death.

They forced their children to serve as human shields, and sent them into the fire. I say it again, I say it clearly, the Arabs are not our enemies. The policy of murder is the enemy. It is also the greatest danger to the Arab World.

Hamas fired but it cannot answer two simple questions.

What is the reason for the fire? Gaza is not occupied, and when they don't fire it is open.
Secondly, what do they want to achieve? You can accomplish things without fire and you lose them when you open fire.

For 68 years terror has been harming its people. It has never been victorious. It brought only darkness to its people and destruction to its land.

Terror has no answers and does not draw the right conclusions. Israel will be victorious over terrorism because we search for peace and we are just in defense of our home.

Israel will win because of the IDF. Because of its excellent commanders and dedicated soldiers. There is no other army like the IDF. Its power is great. Its equipment is advanced. Its values are clear.

The country is proud of its army. The people love the army. The nation trusts it.

When I came to comfort, these past days, those who had lost that which is dearest to them, I feel a sadness that has no comfort, but I also learn again the magnitude of our fallen. The fire cut short their lives and revealed their greatness. It lit up the depths of their personalities alongside the courage of their hearts.

Nobody had to explain a thing to them. They knew the reality. By themselves. They moved towards battle even before the call to the front lines came. They volunteered for dangerous missions and fought like lions. Fast but not reckless. They carried the legacy of our forefathers and the bravery of youth.

Their hearts were filled with love for their families, for their country, for their people. The parents educated and the boys exceeded the expectations of the country.

I visited communities which had been bombed. Communities which created wonderful societies and plowed new fields. I met the founders surrounded by fruit trees. And children who advocate for freedom and brotherhood. They are all aware of the danger. But convinced of our ability to overcome it.

Members of Knesset,

Allow me to say from upon this stage - there are none like them.

I will add, Israel's strength is drawn from its unity. A unity of a nation which fights and builds. A nation of good citizens, who enlist when they are young and volunteer for reserve duty long after.

Israel is a nation that dwells alone. But we have friends. In America and in Europe, in Asia, in Australia and in Africa. I am grateful to them.

It is difficult to understand how across the world in the streets and the squares protesters come out in support of terrorists and condemn those who defend themselves. They hold signs aloft without providing an answer to terror. They encourage and incite violence.

It is also hard to fathom how a council which bears the words "human rights" in its name, decided to establish a committee to investigate who is right. Is it the murderers or those who refuse to be murdered?

If the right to life is not the first right among human rights, what is the value of other rights? The terrorists try to restrict the freedom of air traffic. We must not submit to them. Governments must paralyze the terror and not suspend the flights. In countries governed by law, the sky should be open and the terrorists stopped.

Members of Knesset,

There is no place to doubt our victory. We know that no military victory will be enough. There is no permanent security without permanent peace. Just as there is no real peace without real security.

There is no chronological order when it comes to our founding principles. In our search for peace, we must not forsake security. In our efforts to ensure our safety, we must not forgo the prospects for peace. A people which can win wars can also bring peace to its children. Even when peace seems to elude us, our reach is determined enough to grasp it. We have witnessed it in the past.

I remember when experts used to say that Egypt will never sign a peace treaty with us. That Jordan will never agree to peace with Israel before Syria does so. That there will never rise a camp against terror among the Palestinians. That never will Arab leaders raise their voices for peace and against terror, in their own language and not just in English, in Arab countries and not just in Europe. Arab leaders that condemn kidnappings and are open to land swaps. Arab leaders that are for two states while one of them is clearly the State of Israel which is a Jewish homeland in its nature and in its constitution.

There was never an expert that could have predicted that one day the Arab League which engraved upon its flag the three "No's" of Khartoum, would publish an initiative which refutes them all, and would instead suggest a proposal of its own for a path towards peace, not only between Israelis and Palestinians but with all Arab countries. Even if we cannot accept this proposal in its entirety, we cannot ignore its value.

As Ben Gurion said: "There are no experts for the future, only experts for the past." Indeed, the future requires believers, not necessarily experts. The future is built. Not inherited from prophets. In order to secure the future of Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, Israel adopted the solution based on two states for two peoples. A Jewish state - Israel. And an Arab state for the Palestinians.

This solution is accepted by a majority of the peoples of the world and by a majority of the Arab world.

Members of Knesset,

I have come to bid you farewell as a citizen, as a man whose dream is still alive. As a man who has learned from experience that the greatness of Israel's reality is greater than the dream which begot it at its dawn.

I am taking leave of my position as President, but not from my duty as a citizen. I was a President who loved his people. As of now, I am a citizen in love with my people. I will not give up my right to serve my people and my country. And I will continue to help build my country, with a deep belief that one day it will know peace.

That Israel will uphold social justice and will raise its eyes to the realized dream of its prophets. That Israel will continue to be Jewish in its legacy and democratic in its practices. That it will safeguard freedom of speech and freedom of research. That it will continue to excel in its scientific level on a global scale. That it will be a moral country. A country which will practice equality for all its citizens - Jews, Muslims, Christians, Druze, Bedouins, and Circassians. So we promised in our Declaration of Independence. So we proclaimed in our book of laws. So we practiced upon the commands of our authorities.

The social vision of the prophet Amos, as the political vision of the prophet Isaiah, are our guiding lights. They commanded us to take social justice and world peace as guiding principles for our actions. Israel was born on the foundations of its principles. Today it grows on the shoulders of science. There is no contradiction between the two and there shouldn't be.

During my visits to the many unique and diverse corners of Israel, I entered each place with an explorer's curiosity and returned with a heart full of pride. I discovered everywhere, and every time, hardworking people, endless talent, wonderful children and surprises which cannot be described.

Therefore, as I leave my official position I will remain a citizen filled with hope. Hope for a better future. Hope for peace. Hope that the dream of today will create an exemplary reality. When I return and meet the beauty and strength of the State of Israel, I find myself shedding a tear. Maybe excited slightly more than my younger friends. Because throughout my years I witnessed the entire incredible journey, and the miracles of Israel.

Alongside David Ben Gurion I saw it fighting for its life. With few resources but endless dangers. And today, I see her standing strong. Secure. Flourishing. Successful in every field. I see my country promising an exciting future for our sons and daughters.

Friends, Reuven Rivlin, the next elected President of Israel,

I wish you success, that you should serve the nation in your positive way, as you already do. With your great heart. With your face full of light. You already have what is expected from a president. I am sure you will succeed in our way and strengthen the future of the State of Israel

Members of Knesset,

The nature of parliamentary democracy is ongoing, passionate debate. This is democracy. This is how it should be. If I may, particularly in these days when we must stand united, in these difficult days in which they eyes of the nation are on its leaders, on you. Please - do not lessen the debate. It is the essence of democracy. And it must remain. But do it with mutual respect, with a sense of shared destiny and with great respect for the Israeli public, like which there is no other. They are worth of nothing less from their representatives.

Thank you all from the bottom of my heart

Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs

Monday, July 21, 2014

Lying commies: The more people are exposed to #socialism, the worse they behave @TheEconomist

No surprise here really.

On average, those who had East German roots cheated twice as much as those who had grown up in West Germany 

The more people are exposed to socialism, the worse they behave

Economics and ethics

Lying commies

My other car is a Porsche 
“UNDER capitalism”, ran the old Soviet-era joke, “man exploits man. Under communism it is just the opposite.” In fact new research
suggests that the Soviet system inspired not just sarcasm but cheating
too: in East Germany, at least, communism appears to have inculcated
moral laxity.

Lars Hornuf of the University of Munich and Dan
Ariely, Ximena García-Rada and Heather Mann of Duke University ran an
experiment last year to test Germans’ willingness to lie for personal
gain. Some 250 Berliners were randomly selected to take part in a game
where they could win up to €6 ($8).

game was simple enough. Each participant was asked to throw a die 40
times and record each roll on a piece of paper. A higher overall tally
earned a bigger payoff. Before each roll, players had to commit
themselves to write down the number that was on either the top or the
bottom side of the die. However, they did not have to tell anyone which
side they had chosen, which made it easy to cheat by rolling the die
first and then pretending that they had selected the side with the
highest number. If they picked the top and then rolled a two, for
example, they would have an incentive to claim—falsely—that they had
chosen the bottom, which would be a five.

Honest participants
would be expected to roll ones, twos and threes as often as fours, fives
and sixes. But that did not happen: the sheets handed in had a
suspiciously large share of high numbers, suggesting many players had

After finishing the game, the players had to fill in a
form that asked their age and the part of Germany where they had lived
in different decades. The authors found that, on average, those who had
East German roots cheated twice as much as those who had grown up in
West Germany under capitalism. They also looked at how much time people
had spent in East Germany before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The longer
the participants had been exposed to socialism, the greater the
likelihood that they would claim improbable numbers of high rolls.

study reveals nothing about the nature of the link between socialism
and dishonesty. It might be a function of the relative poverty of East
Germans, for example. All the same, when it comes to ethics, a
capitalist upbringing appears to trump a socialist one.

From the print edition: Finance and economics

Read it online here:  Economics and ethics: Lying commies | The Economist

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

The Sunni Ramadan Offensive and the Lessons of Tet @stratfor

The Sunni Ramadan Offensive and the Lessons of Tet

July 1, 2014 | 0802 GMT

By George Friedman

In February 1968, the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong launched a general offensive in Vietnam during Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. From mid-1966 onward, the North Vietnamese had found themselves under increasing pressure from American and South Vietnamese forces. They were far from defeated, but they were weakening and the likelihood of their military victory was receding. The North Vietnamese decided to reverse the course of the war militarily and politically by marshaling available forces, retaining only limited reserves and going on the offensive throughout South Vietnam.

The attack had three strategic purposes. First, the North Vietnamese wanted to trigger a general uprising against the Americans and the South Vietnamese government. Second, they wanted to move the insurgency to the next stage by seizing and holding significant territory and resisting counterattack. And third, they wanted to destabilize their enemy psychologically by demonstrating that intelligence reports indicating their increasing weakness were wrong. They also wanted to impose casualties on the Americans at an unprecedented rate. The American metric in the war was the body count; increasing the body count dramatically would therefore create a crisis of confidence in the U.S. public and within the military and intelligence community.

General Offensives and Crises of Confidence

From a military standpoint, the offensive was a failure. The North Vietnamese military was crippled by its losses. While seizing Hue and other locations, the North Vietnamese were unable to hold them. But they succeeded psychologically and politically by raising doubts about U.S. intelligence and by creating a political crisis in the United States. In war, perception of the enemy's strength and will, and confidence in your own evaluation of those things, shifts the manner in which one fights. The U.S. intelligence estimate before Tet was more right than wrong, but by marshaling all forces for a general offensive, the North caused U.S. trust in that evaluation to collapse. Even though the North Vietnamese were militarily far weaker after the offensive, the military failure proved less relevant than this creation of a crisis of confidence.

The use of a general offensive to reverse military decline is not unique to Tet. The Germans did the same in their offensive in 1944 at the Battle of the Bulge. While the Germans also had a military intent, their psychological intent was as important. Before the battle, the Allies thought the Germans were finished. They were, and so the Germans had to show they still had power. They accordingly threw their reserves into a battle to break the Allies' nerve.

When launched at a time when it is assumed it could not be launched, the general offensive is a powerful weapon. Such an offensive is now underway in Iraq. When we step back, we see a broad offensive by Sunni jihadists underway in a range of countries. In Afghanistan, a massive summer offensive is underway in parts of the country once regarded as secure. To the south, the Pakistani Taliban launched a major offensive a few weeks ago that sparked a Pakistani counteroffensive, putting the Pakistani Taliban on the defensive. In Syria, while the Islamic State (formerly known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant) has not surged, it also has not declined. Southern Jordan has meanwhile seen clashes between jihadists and government forces. In the Palestinian territories, Hamas has announced, though not launched, a third intifada. To the west, Egypt is experiencing terrorism, while in Libya jihadists have asserted themselves in various ways.

The Question of Coordination

Like the Vietnamese and Germans, the jihadists have, broadly speaking, been on the defensive in recent years, and in many cases they had been dismissed as broken. They differ from the Vietnamese and Germans in the sense that they do not constitute a single force. The question remains, however, whether there has been coordination between these offensives. Clearly, the Jordanian, Syrian and Iraqi offensives are linked. Not so clear is whether they are operationally linked to events in Afghanistan and Pakistan or North Africa. To the extent there was coordination, it would have come from Saudi Arabia. As one might imagine, Saudi actions are deliberately murky, so it is difficult to establish anything definitive here. But the Saudis are most threatened by the prospect of a U.S.-Iranian entente. The Saudis also find the jihadists useful for domestic political purposes and as a lever to maximize regional Saudi influence.

There are small hints here and there of coordination, such as this video. But mysteries always have small hints that one can pretend combine to prove something. So far, we see nothing definitive indicating overall coordination. But in a certain sense, it doesn't matter. These uprisings have occurred close enough to each other that they have had the same effect regardless of whether they were coordinated -- giving rise to a sense that the situation in the region is destabilizing dramatically and that jihadist strength has been underestimated.

In a sense, there was no need for coordination because in each theater jihadists were responding to the same three processes. First, there was the increasing evidence that the United States is drawing down its forces such that the door is open to broader jihadist military action. Second, American negotiations with Iran have created a fear among Sunnis, including in Saudi Arabia, that the entire political structure of the region is about to tilt massively against them. And third, Afghanistan, Iraq, Egypt and even Syria all saw recent elections intended to create lasting regimes unfriendly to the jihadists. Within the past few months, these factors combined to force action by the jihadists with or without overt coordination.

Redefining Politics

Jihadists in particular -- and many Sunni populations in mixed countries like Iraq -- either individually, regionally or in coordination launched an offensive designed to make their military power appear as large as possible and thereby redefine politics in areas where their political influence has declined in recent years. Iraq is the most obvious example of this.

The country is divided into three regions. The Shia, the largest group, control the Baghdad government and massive oil reserves in the south. In the north, the Kurds are well-organized and well-defended and also control oil supplies. The Sunnis have little access to oil, are smaller in numbers than the Shia and have become increasingly marginalized since the creation of the post-Saddam Iraqi government. Given that a new government was being formed after recent elections with the same structure as before, the Sunnis had to throw their reserves into the battle. If taken seriously, the threat of a Sunni military force that can seize the country gives the Sunnis a seat at the table, both politically and economically.

From news reports, it would appear that a massive Sunni army is marching in the country -- exactly the image the Islamic State wants to portray. The reality is more modest. This is less an invasion of Shiite or Kurdish territory than an uprising within the Sunni regions in favor of the Islamic State, which is limiting itself to consolidating power within the Sunni region. It is not clear how the group will cope if the Shia reorganize their military and strike north and west or if the Kurds were to attack. Still, the Sunni offensive has hit Iraqi Shiite self-confidence hard. Shiite self-confidence could shatter, or the Shia could draw together and counterattack. If the latter, the Islamic State might fight poorly or well against the Shia. The Islamic State hopes Shiite confidence collapses in the face of all this uncertainty.

This uncertainty has had the same effect on the Americans and Iranians that it has had on the Shia. Neither the United States nor Iran seems to have expected an attack of this magnitude. Both seemed to be operating on intelligence evaluations that made it appear that Iraq was stabilizing under a Shiite-dominated government and that the real issue was how to manage Kurdish oil sales. The Islamic State wants to make the United States and Iran wary of their respective intelligence estimates, and therefore wary of taking any political or military action in Iraq. So far, the Islamic State has succeeded in creating panic in Iraq and wariness in outside countries.

Gauging an Offensive's Success

We will soon start to learn if the general offensive has worked, destroying old assumptions and creating uncertainty. This will be measured differently in each country. Will the fighting in Jordan spread? Can the Afghan Taliban seize and hold territory as the United States draws down to limited forces? If the Pakistani military puts the Pakistani Taliban on the run but they survive, does their mere survival threaten the regime?

The general offensive from a position of weakness can work, but it takes a combination of fragmentation, indifference and misunderstanding. The Tet offensive is the classic success. The Bulge is the classic failure. The North Vietnamese made the American media vastly overestimate northern military strength. At the Battle of the Bulge, Patton was not impressed by the German offensive and urged that the Germans be allowed to roll on to Paris so as to burn up all their fuel. As with both earlier general offensives, first reports of jihadist military success should be taken with a grain of salt.

Evaluating the offensive will give us a better sense of Iraq as the Iraqi army tries to mount a counteroffensive. But we must not focus on Iraq: This is a broader general offensive from Pakistan to the Mediterranean, whether coordinated or not. Some theaters will see failure, others success as Tet did. And though Tet serves as an imperfect historical comparison, there is a powerful parallel: At a time when reasonable people thought that the fighting had been contained in Iraq and elsewhere in the region, they have discovered that there was no basis for that assumption. And that reminds us of Tet.

Thursday, June 26, 2014

The Difference Between #Terrorism and Insurgency @Stratfor

The Difference Between Terrorism and Insurgency

It is not uncommon for media reports to refer to the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant as a terrorist group. While the group certainly does have cadres with advanced terrorist tradecraft skills, they are much more than a terrorist group. In addition to conducting terrorist attacks in its area of operations, the group has displayed the ability to fight a protracted insurgency across an expansive geography and has also engaged in conventional military battles against the Syrian and Iraqi militaries.
Because of this, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is much more accurately referred to as a militant group -- a group that uses terrorism as one of its diverse military tools. We have taken some heat from readers who view our use of the term "militant group" to be some sort of politically correct euphemism for terrorism, but militant group is really a far more accurate description for groups like the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, al Shabaab and al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which all have the capacity to do far more than conduct terrorist attacks.

Terrorism and Insurgency

First, it is important to recognize that terrorism is only one tool used by organizations that wage asymmetrical warfare against a superior foe. Terrorism is often used to conduct armed conflict against a militarily stronger enemy when the organization launching the armed struggle is not yet at a stage where insurgent or conventional warfare is viable. (Although there are also instances where state-sponsored terrorism can be used by one state against another in a Cold War-type struggle.)
Marxist, Maoist and focoist  militant groups often use terrorism as the first step in an armed struggle. In some ways, al Qaeda also followed a type of focoist vanguard strategy. It used terrorism to shape public opinion and raise popular support for its cause, expecting to enhance its strength to a point where it could wage insurgent and then conventional warfare in order to establish an emirate and eventually a global caliphate.
Terrorism can also be used to supplement insurgency or conventional warfare. In such cases, it is employed to keep the enemy off balance and distracted, principally by conducting strikes against vulnerable targets at the enemy's rear. The Afghan Taliban employ terrorism in this manner, as does the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant.
Once a group becomes more militarily capable, the group's leaders will often switch strategies, progressing from terrorist attacks to an insurgency. Insurgent warfare, often referred to as guerilla warfare, has been practiced for centuries by a number of different cultures. Historical commanders who employed insurgent tactics have ranged from the Prophet Mohammed to Mao Zedong to Geronimo.
Simply put, insurgent theory is based on the concept of declining battle when the enemy is superior and attacking after amassing sufficient forces to strike where the enemy is weak. The insurgents also take a long view of armed struggle, seeking to live to fight another day rather than allow themselves to be fixed and destroyed by their superior enemy. They may lose some battles, but if they remain alive to continue the insurgency while also forcing their enemy to expend men and resources disproportionately, they consider it a victory. Time is on the side of the insurgents in this asymmetrical style of battle, and they hope a long war will exhaust and demoralize their enemy.
This style of warfare is seen very plainly in the history of the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. In 2004, when the group was called al Qaeda in Iraq, it attempted to progress from an insurgent force to a conventional military, seizing and holding territory, but it suffered terrible losses when facing the United States in clashes that included the first and second battles of Fallujah. In 2006, the group, known then as the Islamic State in Iraq, suffered significant losses in the battle of Ramadi, and the losses continued during the Anbar Awakening. However, the group persevered, abandoned its efforts to hold territory and reverted back to a lower-level insurgency, continuing its pursuit of a long war.
The group's persistence paid off. Now known as the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, the militants regained strength after the U.S. withdrawal from Iraq and through their involvement in the Syrian civil war. Today, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is arguably the most powerful jihadist militant group in the world. The group has even been able to progress militarily to the point where it can engage in conventional military battles simultaneously against the Syrian and Iraqi armies. The group is clearly more than just a terrorist group; its military capabilities are superior to those of many small countries.


All that said, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is also constrained as it employs its military power. Its first constraint is the projection of that power. Force projection is a challenge for even large national militaries. It requires advanced logistical capabilities to move men, equipment, munitions, petroleum and other supplies across expanses of land, and it becomes even more difficult when substantial bodies of water must be crossed. The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is aided by the fact that it can operate along internal supply lines that cross the Iraq-Syria border, allowing them to move men and material to different areas of the battlefield as needed. Mostly this movement is achieved by means of trucks, buses and smaller, mobile technicals (pickup trucks) and motorcycles.
For the most part, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is practicing a mobile hit-and-run style of warfare aided by sympathetic Sunni forces, but in some places, such as Mosul, Ramadi and Baiji, they are conducting more conventional warfare along fixed battle lines. The militants have not shown the capability to project their conventional or even insurgent forces very far into the Kurdish and Shiite-controlled areas of Iraq, where they lack significant local support. In the past, they have been able to conduct terrorist operations in Kurdish and Shiite areas, including Arbil, Baghdad and Basra, but in recent years the group has not conducted terrorist attacks outside of its operational theater. Back in 2005, the group carried out bombing and rocket attacks in Jordan, including the Nov. 9, 2005 suicide bombing attacks against three hotels in Amman, but it has not conducted an attack in Jordan for many years now. Local supporters often facilitate the group's terrorist operations in Iraq, Syria and Jordan, even when foreign operatives conduct a suicide bombing or armed assault.
Historically, it has been fairly unusual for a militant group to develop the capability to project power transnationally. Developing such a capability without state sponsorship is even more unusual; transnational groups such as Hezbollah, Black September and the Abu Nidal Organization all received significant state sponsorship. It is far more common for militant groups to confine their military operations within a discreet theater of operations consisting of their country of origin and often the border areas of adjacent countries. In many cases, the militant group involved is a separatist organization fighting for independence or autonomy, and its concerns pertain to a localized area.
In other cases, militant organizations have more global ambitions, such as the jihadist or Marxist visions of global conquest. These groups will often try to accomplish their global goals via a progression that begins with establishing a local political entity and then expanding. This initial local focus requires a group to commit its military resources toward local targets rather than transnational targets. This is likely why, for example, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has not yet attempted to conduct transnational terrorist operations directed against the United States and the West. The group has more pressing local and regional targets to hit.
Militant groups face another constraint on the projection of military power in the form of transnational terrorism: The tradecraft required to plan and orchestrate a terrorist attack undetected in a hostile environment is quite different from the skill set needed to operate as a guerilla fighter in an insurgency. In addition, the logistical networks needed to support terrorist operatives in such environments are quite different from those required to support insurgent operations. These constraints have shaped our assessment that the threat posed by foreign fighters returning to the West from Syria is real but limited.
Among the things that made the al Qaeda core organization so unique was its focus on the "far enemy" (the United States) first rather than the "near enemy" (local regimes). Al Qaeda also developed the capability to train people in advanced terrorist tradecraft in camps like Deronta and create the logistical network required to support terrorist operatives operating in hostile territory. Following the 9/11 attacks, al Qaeda lost its training camps and logistical networks. This has made it much more difficult for the group to conduct transnational attacks and explains why the long-awaited follow up attacks to the 9/11 operation did not materialize. Indeed, in 2010 the al Qaeda core group jumped on the bandwagon of encouraging individual jihadists living in the West to conduct simple attacks where they live rather than travel to other countries to fight.
Among the al Qaeda franchise groups, such as al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb and al Shabaab, tensions have erupted between members of the organization who favor the al Qaeda-like focus on the far enemy and those who want to focus their military efforts on the near enemy. For the most part, the regional franchises are also under heavy pressure from the local authorities and are struggling to survive and continue their struggles. In such an environment, they have very little extra capacity to devote to transnational attacks.
Even a local franchise group like al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which has adopted more of a transnational ideology, can be constrained by such factors. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula has not been able to launch an attack directed against the U.S. homeland since the November 2010 printer bomb attempt. Moreover, it is important to recognize that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula launched the attacks targeting the United States from its base of operations in Yemen rather than sending operatives to the United States to plan and execute attacks in a hostile environment. The group did not have operatives with the requisite tradecraft for such operations and also lacked the logistics network to support them. Therefore, the al Qaeda franchise was limited to executing only the transnational attacks it could plan and launch from Yemen.
So far, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant has not demonstrated a focus on conducting transnational attacks against the far enemy. It also has not shown that it has operatives capable of traveling to foreign countries to plan and conduct sophisticated terrorist operations there. However, the group retains a robust terrorist capability within its area of operation and has consistently been able to acquire weapons and explosives, fabricate viable explosive devices and recruit and indoctrinate suicide operatives.
The Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is far more than a terrorist organization. It can launch complex insurgent campaigns and even conduct conventional military operations, govern areas of territory, administer social services and collect taxes. Labeling the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant solely as a terrorist organization underestimates the group's capabilities, giving it the element of surprise when it launches a major military operation like the one resulting in the capture of a significant portion of Iraq's Sunni-dominated areas.

See the article online at Stratfor here:  The Difference Between Terrorism and Insurgency

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