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Κυριακή, 26 Οκτωβρίου 2014

MESOP RESEARCH TURKEY – Interview with Dr. Louis Fishman: The Past and Present of Turkish-Israeli Relations / MESOP ANALYSIS : Behind the ISIS Smokescreen..


MESOP RESEARCH TURKEY – Interview with Dr. Louis Fishman: The Past and Present of Turkish-Israeli Relations


 Research Turkey (October, 2014), “Interview with Dr. Louis Fishman: The Past and Present of Turkish-Israeli Relations”, Vol. III, Issue 10, pp.52-60, Centre for Policy Analysis and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), London, ResearchTurkey. (http://researchturkey.org/?p=6999) http://researchturkey.org/interview-with-dr-louis-fishman-the-past-and-present-of-turkish-israeli-relations/








As Centre for Policy and Research on Turkey (Research Turkey), we conducted an interview with Dr. Louis Fishman, Assistant Professor of History at Brooklyn College (CUNY), to discuss Turkey’s position in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the current state of Turkish-Israeli relations in the wake of Israel’s recent military operation in Gaza. Dr. Louis Fishman is an American-Israeli scholar specializing in the history of Ottoman Palestine.

Dr. Fishman received his undergraduate degree in Middle Eastern Studies from the University of Haifa, and his M.A. and PhD from the University of Chicago. A frequent visitor in Turkey, Dr. Fishman also taught as a lecturer in Palestinian-Israeli history at Bilkent University between 1998 and 2001. He also has taught classes at Sabancı, Okan, and Bahçeşehir Universities.
Synopsis of the Interview
“Israel made a fatal mistake in tying its future (in the 1990s) so strongly to a limited part of the Turkish society; in other words, its alliance was with the Turkish government, and to a greater extent with the Turkish military, and not with the people.”

“What is unique about the opposition to Israel in Turkey is that it provides a unifying factor among different groups within the Turkish society for very different reasons.”
“Hate speech has increased radically in the last year in Turkey and it is really dangerous. The danger is that hate speech can lead to actions. And I think the hate speech against the Jewish community reached such levels that it had some people from within the community fearing for their personal security.”
“The idea that the Turkish Jews have to condemn Israel is problematic. Because it is a double standard of citizenship. There should be no special conditions placed on certain groups from within the society. Calling upon Jews to deny the actions of Israel is a double standard.”
“What we used to call the Israeli left has almost disappeared. A true leftist or a true anti-occupation movement in Israel no longer exists.”
“Israel has an important leadership problem. Israel is not able to create a strong leadership within such a fragmented society, and this continues until today.”
“In Israel, everyone is a defence expert. Everyone talks about how to defend Israel and how to defeat Hamas. But my question is, and this is a huge one, who are the peace experts?”

“The bottom line is, no one in the region is going to benefit from a breakdown of Turkish-Israeli relations. Turkish people won’t, Israeli people won’t, and more than anyone else, the Palestinian people certainly won’t.”
Mr. Fishman, I would like to firstly thank you on behalf of Research Turkey for sparing us your time for this interview. I would like to start by asking about your assessment of the changing nature of Turkish-Israeli relations. The traditional alliance between Turkey and Israel has changed its course significantly after the 2009 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos and the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in 2010. Do you think these events may be regarded as a milestone in Israeli-Turkish relations, or is it likely that similar crises were previously tackled behind the scenes?

Yes, this is a turning point. But we have to be careful with calling it a “traditional” alliance. This was an alliance which was formed in the 1990s because both states wanted it and needed it. I think this is very important. We have to remember that Turkish-Israeli relations have always been contingent on the Israeli-Palestinian peace front. Meaning, if Israel moved forward with the Palestinians, Turkish-Israeli relations also moved forward. I actually believe that even at the time of the ‘postmodern’ coup d’état of 1997, relations between Turkey and Israel could not have progressed so quickly had it not been for the 1993 Oslo Acccords. Turkey has never demanded that Israel make peace with Palestinians. And this continued even through the post-2002 AKP era. I mean, they wanted Israel to work towards peace, but I don’t think I have ever heard a case where Erdoğan said ‘you have to make peace with the Palestinians or there won’t be good relations between us’. What they are saying is you have to improve, and move towards it.

Why exactly do you think the alliance between Turkey and Israel was not “traditional”?

It was an important relationship but it was also removed from the Turkish society to a great extent. Ever since the founding of the State of Israel the relations have come and gone like a tide. In the post-1980 coup era, relations between Turkey and Israel actually soured. By the understanding of many AKP supporters, the relations with Israel during this period must have been great, but that is not the case. We have to be careful while analyzing the history of Turkish-Israeli relations. The one serious problem I see is that Israel made a fatal mistake in tying its future so strongly to a limited part of the Turkish society. The alliance was with the Turkish government, and in reality it was with the Turkish military to a greater extent. In my opinion, during Turkey’s ‘postmodern’ coup in 1997, Israel should have seen that Turkey was at a breaking point. They should have thought, “We have strong ties with the military, but Turkey might be changing”. Israel did not see the change that was happening in Turkey. So it was a strong alliance that did not have popular support. There were no close ties between the two peoples until the 1999 earthquake in Turkey, which perhaps prepared the way for the Turkish people to say, for the first time, “wait a minute, Israelis are people too”. And perhaps it was the first time they ever thought this was not just an alliance between powers. The earthquake showed people the human side of this alliance.

What is unique about the opposition to Israel in Turkey is that it provides a unifying factor among different groups within the Turkish society for very different reasons.This goes back to the 1970s, which was a time when the Turkish leftist movement was strongly anti-Israel. They had strong ties with the PLO – which was, in a way, was “the way of the world” during that decade. Anticolonial movements from all around the world, leftist groups across Europe and in the non-aligned countries, and the Turkish left sympathized with the Palestinian people. On the other hand, the Turkish Islamists led by Necmettin Erbakan also adopted an anti-Israel, and even anti-Semitic, language in the 1970s. So, Israel became a unifying factor for different sectors of the Turkish society. Despite this, it would be wrong to claim that all Turkish citizens are anti-Israeli, this simply would be a wrong assumption.

“Israel made a fatal mistake in tying its future (in the 1990s) so strongly to a limited part of the Turkish society; in other words, its alliance was with the Turkish government, and to a greater extent with the Turkish military, and not with the people.”

AKP is often accused by the opposition for ‘playing both sides’ with Israel. It was frequently voiced among the Turkish public that the AKP may have been using the tension in Gaza as a pre-election stunt while resuming its military and trade agreements with Israel. Given this paradox, is it possible to think of Turkish-Israeli relations as a double-sided coin?

Yes, absolutely. I was asked on Israeli radio if Erdoğan was using the Israeli issue as a pre-election stunt. My answer was: yes, of course he is. But we have to put this in context and remember that he used everything he could as a pre-election stunt. This is not something unique to Erdoğan, any prime minister running in his position would have used this, partially related due to the fact that what I stated before that the issue of Palestine has a way of bringing together different groups. In fact, the injustice being done to Palestinians was so huge that Erdoğan had to use it. However, in my opinion, Erdoğan got swept away and the language he used comparing Israelis to Hitler went far beyond someone of his stature.

When newspapers such as Akit and Takvim used to make anti-Semitic remarks 3 or 4 years ago, we would quietly think, “they do not represent the government,” brushing them off as marginal groups. Let us remember this was a time when Zaman used to be the pro-government newspaper, which balanced out these radical voices. But after the Gezi protests and the corruption scandal, these two newspapers have a much stronger voice, as they are much closer to the government than they have ever been before. They are an integral part of the havuz medyası, a pool of news outlets that are visibly aligned with the government. We know from the recently leaked tapes that, if he wanted to, Erdoğan can call anyone within this pool of newspapers and say “stop the anti-Semitism”. But he didn’t. And that is what led me to write in my recent article in Haaretz that this is “state sanctioned anti-Semitism”. The fact that the Turkish state is not only turning a blind eye to anti-Semitism but also taking part in it is worrying to say the least.

In this case do you think that the opposition was right to emphasize the double standards in Turkish-Israeli relations?

In my opinion, Erdoğan’s language actually became much more graphic following a rise of anti-Semitic speech appearing in Yeni Akit and IHH president Bülent Yıldırım’s threatening comments directed at Turkish Jews. In that case, the opposition was right to point out the double standard and say “wait, you are buying arms from Israel, and you have strong relations with Israel, or you may even have private investments in Israel, so you’re being hypocritical”. In this sense, yes, you could say that. But on the other hand, with their excitement to point out these double standards, the opposition may have actually been threatening the limited relations that remain between Turkey and Israel.

What do you think about the position of Turkey’s Jewish community in the period following Israel’s operation in Gaza? How should the Turkish Jews feel about what has been going on?

I think the Jewish community in Turkey is well aware that since the Gezi protests and the corruption scandal, unfortunately AKP has implemented a lot of hate speech into their language. Jews are not alone in being targeted. For example, in reference to the rival Gülen movement, Erdoğan said “in order to sterilize this dirty water that contaminated the milk, we will either boil or vaporize it.” Who could imagine a leader speaking of his rivals in such a violent way? Right before the presidential elections in August, he said that he was called “ugly names” such as “Armenian”, and this was also very offensive to Armenians. So, I think the Jewish people in Turkey can think of themselves as not being alone. In other words, hate speech has increased radically in the last year in Turkey and it is really dangerous. The danger is that hate speech can lead to actions. And I think the hate speech against the Jewish community reached such levels that it had some people from within the community fearing for their personal security. Now will this lead to a new Jewish migration? Well, it certainly might add a factor among other concerns leading to an exit. For example, many members of the Jewish community in Turkey come from a middle-class background, so I think in that sense they are not different to Turkish Muslims who also leave Turkey due to the general crisis of the middle class. Meaning, once they go abroad to school and finish, they ask themselves “Why should I come back? I have a great job in New York or Paris, etc.”. But the anti-Semitism that exists in Turkey, which is embedded in certain parts of the society, adds to the urgency to leave, there is no doubt about it. True, anti-Semitism always existed in Turkey. However, today, due to social media Jewish Turkish citizens are much more exposed to it. If you put yourself in some of the Turkish Jews’ position, you can imagine how uncomfortable they felt when Erdoğan compared Israel to Hitler, or when Erdoğan said “Israel will drown in the blood it sheds.” First, this has nothing to do with Zionism, it is simply due to the fact Hitler’s crimes were directed towards all Jews, and also because many Turkish Jews have families in Israel. Let us not forget that there is a large Turkish-Jewish community in Israel with many arriving even before the Israeli state was established as a result of the 1934 pogrom in Edirne or the 1942 wealth tax. Following that, some Jews left as a result of the 1955 events, and others in the 1970s. There is also a younger Turkish-Jewish community in Israel that has left Turkey during the last decade. This last wave shows that for some Turkish Jews they no longer found their place in Turkey. For example, some must have asked themselves: “Do we really need this? Do we really need our children to be exposed to this hate? Lastly, the idea that the Turkish Jews have to condemn Israel is problematic. Because it is a double standard of citizenship. There should be no special conditions placed on certain groups from within the society. Calling upon Jews to deny the actions of Israel is a double standard.



“Hate speech has increased radically in the last year in Turkey and it is really dangerous. The danger is that hate speech can lead to actions. And I think the hate speech against the Jewish community reached such levels that it had some people from within the community fearing for their personal security.”

You were personally attacked with anti-Semitic comments made by a Turkish university professor on Twitter. How did this make you feel?

This personal attack against me is an interesting case. This person apparently believed that he would get support for what he did, but in place of support there was a huge outpouring of people criticizing him for his hate speech, with independent news outlets such as Diken and Medyatava covering it. First of all, I don’t take his attack as personal. Associate professor Ali İhsan Göker, head of the physics department at Bilecik University, directed his hate towards all Jews, stating “Treblinka will be ready soon. Constructing the railway to transport Jews at the moment.” This is something that should worry Turkish citizens in general. What is truly unfortunate is that he is a state employee, and in place of receiving punishment for his hate speech, he was awarded a government Tübitak research grant. Obviously, I am not the one to decide his punishment, but this case should be pursued because it targeted not just me but the Jewish community in Turkey as well.

As an insider to the Israeli society, how would you summarize the attitude of the Israeli public towards the recent attacks in Gaza? Do you see a diversity of opinions or do you think any particular consensus stands out?

I think there is no doubt that what we used to call the Israeli left has almost disappeared. A true leftist or a true anti-occupation movement in Israel no longer exists. There are numerous reasons for this. After the failure of the Oslo accords in 1995 and during the second intifada, suicide bombings in Israel were frequent even if Palestinian deaths have always been statistically higher. In other words, the conflict has become much more violent and the current young generation among Palestinians and Israelis do not know each other. This is different than let us say before the first Intifada in 1987 when many people from the West Bank and Gaza used to be able to work in Israel. People knew each other and people would talk to each other-meaning there was a human side to the conflict. During the Oslo accords in 1993 people still believed that the left and centre-left provided an option, which we saw was a radical failure. Of course, it started with Rabin’s assassination, and later Netanyahu came into power, and a “recycling of leaders” began. We should remember that when Peres finished his term as president he was 90 years old. He entered politics in the 1950s. This is the greatest proof that Israel has a major leadership problem. Israel is not able to create a strong leadership within such a fragmented society, and this continues into the day. The election threshold used to be around 2% but now it is 3.25% and within Israel nearly 20% of the population are Palestinians with Israeli citizenship. In addition, there is a large religious Hasidic population that has minimal ties with the state institutions. In short, Israel is a very fragmented society. However, it is not just Israel where the left movements are suffering to attract a young generation caught up in consumerism, a similar argument can be made for Turkey as well. Unfortunately, due to general fears and due to the fact that they are the ones in control, Israelis have opted in place of solving the conflict, building walls and enclosing themselves in a closed gated-community of sort. These walls have allowed Israelis to live their lives relatively in peace, while for Palestinians under occupation, the conflict remains at a constant high level. Even if Israelis were protected to a great extent by the Iron Dome, this sense of security must have been shattered during the recent war, leading to an overwhelming amount of support for the disproportionate use of force by Israel. Regardless, there can be no justification for the massive death of Palestinians and the targeting of a civilian population (regardless if Hamas has a strategy of shooting rockets from civilian centers).
Let’s also turn to the Israeli media and its current stance towards the military operation in Gaza. Do you observe any dominant tones or is it possible to talk about different attitudes?
I mostly watch the private Israeli TV Channel 2 and the state TV channel, while listening to some of the morning radio shows. I was recently interviewed about what is going on in Turkey. What I can see is that there is no doubt that the Israeli media, just like any private media, is chasing headlines. In my opinion, they radically failed to present the suffering of the Palestinians, and worse it was overwhelmingly pro-war, supporting the government’s campaign, and not showing the other side. In the past, in the days when we only had state TV we could have at least juxtaposed vis-à-vis the state narrative and fight against this. But now we’re in the age of commercials and of promotional TV. And with the complete nonstop live updates, 24hours a day, the media got swept away. Most of the media in the recent conflict “sold itself out”.How in your opinion was the case of the three kidnapped boys handled in the Israeli media?

The case of the three murdered boys is very interesting. After the boys were kidnapped, there was a campaign named “Bring Our Boys Back”. We found out later on that there was a tape of a phone call with the boys just as they had been kidnapped, where gunshots were heard. So the security forces knew that most likely they had been killed. The media jumped on this campaign, even though some of them already knew that the boys were most probably killed, but yet gave the impression as if the boys were alive as a result of the government gag order on the story. In other words, the government together with the media manipulated the feelings of people. Following their death, Israel MP Ayelet Shaked appeared on Israel Channel 2, spewing hate. I mean, we talk about hate speech in Turkey, but the language of violence in the Israeli media also hit dangerous levels. Frustratingly and sadly, just days later a young Palestinian in Jerusalem was kidnapped and murdered. Even if there are “voices of reason,” in the Israeli media it seems that in Israel, everyone is a defence expert. Everyone talks about how to defend Israel and how to defeat Hamas. But my question is, and this is a huge question, who are the peace experts? Okay, everyone is a defence expert, but your defence killed over 2000 people, 70% of whom are civilians. If I criticize what Israel is doing, the response I get is “but we have to defend ourselves”. The thing is, I am not the prime minister and I am not the head of the army, and we need to demand from them answers at why so many innocent people were killed-do not ask me. All I am saying is: killing civilians is wrong. Violence breeds violence, and this is not going to help to solve the problem. I am certainly not saying that I support Hamas, far from it. I think Hamas is guilty of putting civilians in the middle of the conflict. But Israeli actions will need to be investigated, in my opinion, for war crimes. There is no other way we are going to fix our society if we don’t at least pursue this. Were war crimes committed? I am not in a position to answer that. But we have to ask that question.
“In Israel, everyone is a defence expert. Everyone talks about how to defend Israel and how to defeat Hamas. But my question is, and this is a huge one, who are the peace experts?”
There have been numerous calls to boycott Israeli products in Turkey to show solidarity for the people of Gaza. How seriously do you think the Israeli government and private sector take these calls?
Actually, there have been calls on both sides. One of the mainstream news outlets in Israel had published a long article about boycotting Turkish products. In terms of trade, Turkey and Israel are now over 5 billion USD a year. Turkish companies need Israel to reach other markets such as Jordan and Saudi Arabia. They have been often docking their ships in Haifa and transporting their cargo from the port in trucks across the border. They do not even have to go through customs, it is done through a special arrangement. This idea of ‘boycotting Coca Cola’ in Turkey after the recent attacks on Gaza is ridiculous, I don’t even see how this is serious. I think most people are confused about the direct connection. When it comes to boycotting Israeli products, it is important to understand that this is not very easy. I mean, what are the Israeli products coming into Turkey? I imagine there must be computer chips or irrigation systems. So, I don’t think big business is taking this call seriously whatsoever. Some people in Turkey also support the BDS (boycott, divest, sanction) movement against Israel. This includes the boycotting of all cultural or academic exchanges with Israel. I think the few people who keep coming to Turkey from Israel should be seen as a bridge. It is the academics that insist on coming to Turkey and not giving up on that bridge, and I include myself in that. It is the middle people that are preventing a full break between Turkey and Israel.
Boycotting Israeli products in Turkey is not going to hurt the Israeli economy. The same warning goes for Israel. I mean, Turkey is the only country in the Middle East that Israelis can still go to. Especially for Israeli academics, this is one of the only countries in the region where they can participate in conferences and academic gatherings. There is also a steady flow of Turkish businessmen travelling to Israel; one example is of Turkish entrepreneurs who came to Israel to learn how the Israeli start-up companies operate. So, it is because of these people building bridges that relations have not broken down completely. The bottom line is, no one in the region is going to benefit from a breakdown of Turkish-Israeli relations. Turkish people won’t, Israeli people won’t, and much more than anyone else, the Palestinian people certainly won’t. It is really unfortunate that we have reached this huge division in the region between different actors – not only between Turkey and Israel but also between Egypt, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. The region is so divided now that it is hurting the Palestinians more than anyone else. The two main strong and stable countries in the Middle East are Turkey and Israel and they are leading two different camps right now. The price being paid for the deep divisions in the region are now extremely high. 190,000 Syrians so far, and we are not even talking about the hundreds of thousands of Iraqis killed since the American invasion in 2003. There are Yazidis, Christians and Muslims suffering in Iraq right now on a daily basis. So that’s why I find that Turkey and Israel need to do everything at least to somehow slowly get back into terms since it would just be another step in the direction of regional stability. We have to remember however that as I have mentioned earlier, the strength of the relations between Turkey and Israel are contingent on Israel moving forward with the Palestinian peace process. Turkey cannot have strong relations with Israel if it does not solve its problem with the Palestinians. However, it seems that this will only happen also once Turkey also takes an important step in ending the ongoing tensions. For the time being, I am not hopeful.
***
© 2014 Research Turkey. All rights reserved. This publication cannot be printed, reproduced, or copied without referencing the original source.
Please cite this publication as follows:
Research Turkey (October, 2014), “Interview with Dr. Louis Fishman: The Past and Present of Turkish-Israeli Relations”, Vol. III, Issue 10, pp.52-60, Centre for Policy Analysis and Research on Turkey (ResearchTurkey), London, ResearchTurkey. (http://researchturkey.org/?p=6999) http://researchturkey.org/interview-with-dr-louis-fishman-the-past-and-present-of-turkish-israeli-relations/




MESOP ANALYSIS : Behind the ISIS Smokescreen

Yoram Schweitzer Yoram Schweitzer – INSS – TEL AVIV – 26 Oct – 2014 – Israel is not currently a top priority for Al Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, or even for ISIS. Yet in light of the situation described above, and since these organizations regard Israel as a partner in the Western coalition, they may choose to undertake action against it at an earlier stage than originally planned stage. Despite this risk, it is best for Israel to avoid initiating premature military measures against them, as long as it is not forced into an operation in order to thwart direct action against it. Israel should leave this task to the unprecedented broad-based international coalition assembled against these organizations, while still contributing to the success of the mission assuming neither a high profile nor a leading role.

The horrifying scenes filmed by the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and released to the international media are giving new meaning to the terms “extremism” and “brutality.” Compared with ISIS’s cruelty, the massacres occurring elsewhere in the world seem relatively tolerable. Countries and terrorist organizations involved in murder and terror campaigns, such as the Bashar al-Assad regime in Syria, the ayatollahs’ regime in Iran, Hizbollah, Hamas, and even factions allied with Al Qaeda, are being considered as possibly legitimate partners in the war against ISIS.
The formation of a broad international coalition comprised of about 40 Western and Arab countries, with varying levels of involvement, is indicative of ISIS’s success in positioning itself as a global threat. This coalition is already operating in Iraq and Syria, mainly through aerial attacks and providing aid to the forces fighting on the ground. In Iraq, its activity is well defined due to the clear distinction between friend and foe. The situation in Syria, on the other hand, is more complex, since massively attacking the Salafi-Jihadist organizations including ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Jabhat al-Nusra, may contribute to the survival of the Assad regime, therefore contradicting the essence of coalition formed against those organizations. These organizations, especially Jabhat al-Nusra and its partners from the “Khorasan Army” directed by the Al Qaeda headquarters, have consolidated their position in Syria, gaining control of extensive areas and using them to prepare attacks in neighboring countries and the West.
In this context, a September 28 statement by Jabhat al-Nusra leader Mohammed al-Julani, condemning the coalition attacks in Syria, should be noted, as he referred to them as “a Western crusade against Islam.” Al-Julani also threatened that the attacks would have severe consequences, hinting at possible retaliation in Western countries. Later, threats were also reiterated by Al Qaeda’s partners in Hejaz and the Maghreb’s spokesmen.
In addition to attacking the West, Al-Julani was critical of ISIS, therefore giving rise to doubt as to feasibility of reconciliation and rapprochement between ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra, Al Qaeda. The poisonous verbal exchanges between ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghadadi and his spokesmen on the one hand and Al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri, al-Julani’s patron, on the other, have for months been accompanied by battles between ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra over control of large areas in Syria. Recently, however, senior religious figures in the global jihad camp have appealed to al-Baghdadi, asking him to avoid a fitna (internal discord), considered a grave sin in Islam. This appeal was designed to test the possibility of an alliance against what they consider a “total war” declared by the West against Islam.
The main obstacle in the way of an alliance between the  jihadist organizations is al-Baghdadi’s provocative step of appointing himself as Caliph, placing him above all other Muslim leaders, regardless of their identity, including heads of state, and of course leaders of the other Salafi-Jihadist organizations. This self-appointment may prevent willful cooperation with other leaders. Nevertheless, the possibility of ad hoc cooperation between field operatives belonging to Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS in Syria or other countries cannot be ruled out. In Lebanon, for example, Jabhat al-Nusra and ISIS operatives cooperated in fighting against Hezbollah and the Lebanese military in the Arsal area where three of the captured Lebanese soldiers were executed: two beheaded by ISIS and one shot to death by Jabhat al-Nusra.
Al-Zawahiri, whose status as leader of Al Qaeda and the global jihad movement has been severely challenged by al-Baghdadi’s actions, is striving to leverage international focus on ISIS in order to divert attention from his organization’s preparations to take advantage of the American withdrawal from Afghanistan at the end of this year. Al Qaeda, whose operatives have acquired combat experience in Pakistan and Afghanistan, together with the Taliban and other local forces, had also used the Syrian theater to identify and recruit new volunteers with suitable credentials, in order to expand its manpower and train operatives for future operations. That was apparently, the purpose of the “Khorasan Army,” whose existence and objectives were recently unveiled, following the bombardment of its camp in Syria.
These preparations are also reflected in the establishment of the “Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent” (AQIS) organization, whose founding was announced by al-Zawhiri at the beginning of September this year. The declared purpose of the organization is to reinforce jihadist activity in Pakistan, India, Burma, and Bangladesh. According to both official reports from Pakistan and the organization’s own announcements – despite different versions of the degree of success – the new organization has already tried to carry out an ambitious and daring attack designed to damage a Pakistani warship and to attack an American destroyer. Action on this scale, had it succeeded as planned, would have caused great damage and cost many lives, in addition to harming the prestige of the fleets of the targeted countries. Furthermore, the planning of such attacks indicates that Al Qaeda is not resting on its laurels, and refutes the assessments by senior American administration officials that Al Qaeda is a spent force.
Although the world’s attention is focused on the effort to stop ISIS, it is clear that at least at the current stage of the conflict, the countries in the coalition are reluctant to conduct ground operations on the scale needed to completely eliminate ISIS’s grip in Iraq and Syria.
The results of the global campaign against ISIS will directly affect the fate of various minorities in the Middle East, the lives of hundreds of thousands of refugees forced to abandon their areas of residence, and the stability of regimes in the region. At the same time, it is clear that there will also be consequences regarding Al Qaeda’s ability to resume its key role in global terrorism.
It stands to reason that a considerable proportion of the cadres of fighters on the various jihad fronts around the world, headed by those currently in Syria and Iraq may eventually choose to join Al Qaeda. This is particularly an option if ISIS proves unable to fulfill its pretentious promises to institute an Islamic Caliphate. Some are liable to find a new home in Al Qaeda in order to fulfil their militant aspirations and desire to take part in the global jihad. It is also quite clear that Al Qaeda is preparing for a renewal of its activity under the smokescreen  of the terror inflicted by ISIS that is blinding the world . Thus the West is liable to find itself again facing an enemy it had already considered past its peak.
Israel is not currently a top priority for Al Qaeda, Jabhat al-Nusra, or even for ISIS. Yet in light of the situation described above, and since these organizations regard Israel as a partner in the Western coalition, they may choose to undertake action against it at an earlier stage than originally planned stage. Despite this risk, it is best for Israel to avoid initiating premature military measures against them, as long as it is not forced into an operation in order to thwart direct action against it. Israel should leave this task to the unprecedented broad-based international coalition assembled against these organizations, while still contributing to the success of the mission assuming neither a high profile nor a leading role.
** The author thanks intern Elior Albachari, for his contribution to the writing of this article.         http://www.inss.org.il/index.aspx?id=4538&articleid=7936

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