Archive for April 14, 2014

COUNTER TERRORISM: The Rise of Hezbollah in Syria

New Study.

WASHINGTON – Back in February, 4GWAR attended the first major address by new Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson. At that time, Johnson said the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) has become “very focused” on Syria and the foreign jihadists streaming into the war-torn country to aid the rebels battling the regime of President Bashir al-Assad.

Map of Syria (Courtesy of the Institute for the Study of War)

Map of Syria
(Courtesy of the Institute for the Study of War)

Johnson said DHS was concerned about what those fighters will do when they return to their home countries across the Middle East, Africa – and North America, indoctrinated in a violent Islamic mission.

On Friday (April 11) we heard about another threat emanating from Syria – the rise of the Iranian-backed, Lebanese-based Hezbollah militia as a military force in Syria.

The Institute for the Study of War (ISW), a Washington-based think tank, issued a report last week on Hezbollah in Syria. Among the findings: that Hezbollah, a Lebanese militia which has been battling Israel and the West for decades, has become a major player in the Syrian conflict.

Hezbollah has been designated as a Global Terrorist organization by the United States since 1995 for a long history of terrorist attacks against American citizens and officials – including the bombing of the U.S. Embassy and Marine barracks in Lebanon during the 1980s.

According to the ISW report, Hezbollah has moved beyond its role as an adviser and trainer of Syrian troops and taken over a direct combat role against the mostly Sunni rebels battling Assad’s forces.

Iran and Syria have been important supporters of Hezbollah and the Syrian conflict threatened to disrupt that so-called Axis of Resistance. Hezbollah’s participation in the conflict has shored-up Syria’s lagging army, protected the hub of Iran’s power projection in the Eastern Mediterranean and given Hezbollah, as a fighting force, experience in urban warfare. But it has come at a cost – hundreds of causalities  — over the past year.

One key take-away, says Marissa Sullivan, an ISW research fellow and the report’s author, is that Hezbollah, the Syrian military, Iranian and Iraqi Shi’ite fighters have evolved into “a very well-integrated fighting force” that can coordinate, plan and deploy efficiently. “This is a huge innovation that has come out of the conflict in Syria,” she told a briefing on the report last week.

Before al-Qaeda’s 9/11 attack on the United States in 2001, Hezbollah was responsible for killing more Americans in terrorist attacks than any other terrorist group, U.S. Treasury Department officials told a 2012 press briefing.

Hezbollah started carrying out bombings and kidnappings in Lebanon but quickly expanded its violent campaign to a global stage, carrying out and supporting terrorist attacks in South America, Southeast Asia, Europe, and various countries in the Middle East.



April 14, 2014 at 11:18 pm 2 comments

THIS WEEK in the War of 1812 (April 13-April 19, 1814)

O Grab Me.

Courtesy New Zealand maritime Museum

Courtesy New Zealand maritime Museum

With the collapse of Napoleon’s Empire in late March, U.S. President James Madison calls for immediate repeal of a maritime trade embargo passed by Congress in December 1813.

The Embargo of 1813 is the latest in a series of attempts by Madison and his predecessor Thomas Jefferson to hurt Britain economically by denying British merchants and consumers American goods and raw materials.

There is another reason for this legislation: smuggling in Maine, Georgia, Vermont and New York – Americans doing business with the enemy despite the war and the widening naval blockade of U.S. seaports. The illegal trade “has reached such proportions” that Congress passes a far reaching embargo, according to George C. Daughan’s War of 1812, The Navy’s War.

To halt the smuggling and hurt British commerce, the new law bans every type of shipping including coastal shipping and fishing outside U.S. harbors Even inland waterways come under the shipping ban.

But like Jefferson’s attempt to slap Britain without starting a shooting war – the Embargo of 1807 – the 1813 law does more harm than good. Back in 1807, wags scrambled the letters of embargo to spell “O Grab Me” or “Mob Rage.” In 1813, American ships once again are barred from leaving American ports to trade overseas. As an example of the economic woes the 1813 Embargo imposed, Daughan notes that in 1806, nearly $16 billion in shipping business was conducted just in New York City. During 1813, that amount dwindled to $60,000.

President James Madison

President James Madison

And the 1813 embargo didn’t stop New York and Vermont farmers from selling fresh produce and meat to the British in Canada. Meanwhile, seaportsin the South were conducting the same type of trade with the very British ships blockading most U.S. Atlantic ports.

The embargo infuriates New England where the economy is dependent on maritime commerce and the British are not even blockading their ports yet. That omission was deliberate on the part of the Royal Navy, which sought to drive a wedge between Madison and the opposition Federalist Party, which was strongest throughout New England.

With Napoleon out of power, there’s no leverage against the British, so Madison calls on Congress to repeal the embargo and signs the legislation on April 14.




April 14, 2014 at 1:08 am 1 comment


April 2014


%d bloggers like this: