By Shoshana Bryen
WASHINGTON, D.C — The U.S. Department of the Army put out a request for information on “Afghanistan National Army Air Corps English and Pilot Training.”
The Program Executive Office for Simulation, Training & Instrumentation (PEO STRI) is conducting market research by seeking sources with innovative business solutions to (1) train and certify up to 67 Afghani student pilots to an International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) English level 4 in the English language; and (2) provide basic rotary wing or fixed wing Commercial Pilot Training to the European Joint Aviation Authority (JAA) standards.
It is desired that the English language and basic pilot training take place within South West Asia. PEO STRI requests information on sources available to perform training in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Lebanon, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, U.A.E, Uzbekistan, Yemen or other locations in Southwest Asia with the capability to provide requested training.
How is it possible that Syria, a charter and current member of the U.S. State Department list of terrorism-supporting countries, is considered an acceptable place to train Afghan pilots? Or Lebanon, which has Hezbollah as a member of the governing cabinet in Beirut? Hezbollah is a charter and current member of the U.S. State Department list of terrorist organizations, and until September 11, 2001, had killed more Americans than any other terrorist group. Didn’t Kyrgyzstan just have a coup inspired/financed by Russia? Wouldn’t training pro-Western Afghan pilots in Pakistan send those people from the frying pan into the fire? Isn’t Yemen home to some of the most virulently anti-American, anti-Western al Qaeda operatives and preachers, including Anwar al-Awlakiwho was talking to U.S. Army Major Nidal Hassan before he killed 13 Americans at Ft. Hood?
Aside from the fact that some of the countries listed are not in South West Asia, as the request for information requires, not one is remotely democratic. OK, we’ll give Jordan a few points and some to Iraq, but that’s it.
What would possess the United States Army to expose Afghani pilots, who are supposed to secure a functional and consensual state in Afghanistan, to countries where the governments are almost uniformly totalitarian, functionally repressive, less than hospitable to reform or dissent, and have women in positions of legal inferiority? Saudi Arabia is the financier of a particularly repressive, homophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic form of Islam exported around the world.
We did not expect to see Israel on the list, although Israel certainly is capable of training pilots to the European Joint Aviation Authority standards, and a few months in Israel would impart some Western governmental, judicial and social norms, including religious and political tolerance.
But if not Israel, why not Britain or Italy or France or Spain or Portugal? Why not Denmark or Colombia or Mali or Uruguay? Why not India or Indonesia or Taiwan or Japan?
The list is clearly weighted toward the part of the world to which President Obama wishes to show American comity. Unfortunately, it is also a part of the world in which neither American policies nor American values are particularly welcome items on the agenda. The list and the thinking behind it are political mistakes that should be corrected. Certainly, they should be corrected before we give the Afghanis the idea that the norms of Syria and Lebanon are ones we want them to adopt.
Bryen is senior director of security policy of the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs. Her column is sponsored by Waxie Sanitary Supply in memory of Morris Wax, longtime JINSA supporter and national board member
JERUSALEM–Patrick Martin, the Middle East correspondent of the Globe and Mail (www.theglobeandmail.com), published on February 5 an article with the ominous title, “Is this Israel’s calm before the storm?” Pointing to the relative tranquility of the first year of the Netanyahu government, Martin cites observers who recall other calm periods before wars, notably the 1973 Yom Kippur War and the 1987 Palestinian intifada. He refers to reliable analysts who say that something similar may happen soon again.
The February 7 edition of the Huffington Post (www.huffingtonpost.com) has a long essay by Sharmine Narwani, political analyst and senior associate of St. Anthony’s College, Oxford. She writes in a similar vein, suggesting that as the 2006 Lebanon War was the first not to yield total victory to Israel, its political leaders are “itching for a ‘do-over’.” As “the cornerstone of Israel’s military strategy is deterrence… loss – or even perceived loss – is not an option.” It doesn’t sound quite right, but she may have a point.
Referring to recent pronouncements by Israeli politicians, Narwani concludes that “instead of self-examination, Israel’s conflicted, and increasingly right-wing political body unleashed a belligerent tone – angry, defiant, threatening, unfocused like a petulant and wounded child.” (I believe that the child is called Yvette, not Israel: see below.)
In addition to the ongoing issue of peace negotiations with the Palestinians, Narwani lists five other areas of immediate concern to Israel about which “in recent weeks, Israeli officials have made inflammatory statements about conflicts.”
Syria: Foreign minister Avigdor “Yvette” Lieberman’s speech in which he threatened Assad himself and his family.
Gaza: The warnings in the wake of the Goldstone report and its aftermath that if Hamas, the rulers of Gaza, won’t watch their steps, Israel may attack again.
Lebanon: Similar warnings have been issued to the corresponding terrorist organization on Israel’s northern border (Hezbollah) that its actions that involve stockpiling of arms in Lebanon are endangering its population.
Iran: The risk of war, perhaps as concerted preemptive action backed by the United States and European countries, is the most obvious and greatest danger.
Turkey: To quote Narwani again, “things have gone from bad to worse since, culminating a month ago in the now-infamous Ayalon row when the Israeli deputy foreign minister publicly and deliberately humiliated Turkey’s ambassador in front of cameras.” Ayalon may have once known better, but he has become Yvette’s poodle.
Perhaps journalists are more in the know than ordinary citizens who read newspapers, watch TV and talk to friends. Speaking as one such a citizen it strikes me that it has more to do with ineptitude than with policy. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s first year in office may seem successful to him and to his entourage, but from where I sit, I’m not persuaded. He’s more anxious to keep his coalition together than the country safe.
In an effort to stay in power at all costs he seems to be indecisive. Even if Mrs. Netanyahu isn’t the one who sets the agenda, as some have suggested, Yvette probably does. Many of the troubles listed above are due to the latter’s kindergarten-style foreign policy. The fact that he’s shunned in most countries doesn’t seem to bother him (he’s just gone to Azerbaijan to solve the Iranian problem….), but it should bother the rest of us.
As part of my prayers for peace I hope for his speedy dismissal and/or indictment.
Rabbi Marmur is spiritual leader emeritus of Holy Blossom Temple in Toronto. He divides his year between Canada and Israel
JERUSALEM (WJC)–Turkish forces prevented a Hezbollah attack on an undisclosed Israeli target in Turkey, Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon has said, adding that he had thanked Ankara for the successful operation and for its cooperation.
According to the newspaper ‘Haaretz’, quoting Israeli defense sources, the attack was meant to avenge the killing of senior Hezbollah operative Imad Mughniyeh, who died in a car bombing in Damascus in February 2008. The Shiite terror organization has blamed Israel as responsible for the assassination.
The planned attack in Turkey was exposed over a month ago, with Turkish media publishing a warning issued by the local police’s command to its officers to take steps to prevent a Hezbollah attack on American and Israeli targets. Turkish reports said Hezbollah had set up a network of Iranian agents posing as tourists in Istanbul, with the cooperation of Iranian security agencies.
Earlier this year, Hezbollah planned an attack on the Israeli embassy in Azerbaijan, but local security forces exposed the attack and members of the group were arrested. Later on, in Egypt, a group of Hezbollah agents were arrested and accused of tracking Israelis at tourist sites as well as monitoring Israeli ships passing through the Suez Canal.
Mughniyeh served as a liaison between Hezbollah leader Nasrallah in Lebanon, and the Iranian regime.
Preceding provided by World Jewish Congress