It’s Time For a New Israeli-Arab Peace Process

Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital has set off a firestorm in the Middle East and the Islamic world. Across the spectrum, states, terrorist organizations and U.S allies have repudiated the move as a threat to the peace process or a provocation. Protests have erupted in the West Bank and Gaza with some Palestinian factions calling the move a “declaration of war and Hamas calling for a third Intifada.” Chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Erekat went as far as to declare it the end of the decades long U.S brokered peace process and refused further negotiations until the decision is reversed. PA President Mahmoud Abbas made his own fiery speech denouncing the move and  proclaiming Jerusalem to be the “Capital of Palestine” (fun fact. I got slightly nauseous typing that).

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North Korea Builds a Missile That Can Hit My House

Following a two and a half month hiatus the North Koreans are back to testing missiles.

Fired on a lofted trajectory North Korea’s new Hwasong 15 ICBM flew 4,475 km high and 950 km downrange on its maiden flight. If the missile were fired on a normal trajectory it would have a range of 13,000 km; long enough to strike my house in the D.C suburbs and the entirety of the continental United States.Read More »

The Consequences of Abandoning the Iran Deal

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), is in danger of being scrapped. Widely known as the “Iran Deal” the agreement was designed to block Iran’s path toward a nuclear bomb by limited their ability to produce the necessary fissile material.

By all accounts, including by the Trump administrations own admission, the deal been complied with. However, Iran hawks and the President have been seeking to scrap the deal citing Iran’s belligerence, growing regional power and sponsorship of terrorism. Recently, Trump announced that he plans to decertify the deal, sending it back to the U.S Congress to work out.

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Civil Defense is Dead! Long Live Civil Defense!

North Korea has developed and begun deploying nuclear armed ICBMs capable of hitting Alaska, Hawaii and parts of the western United States. Tensions are rising and Kim Jong Un and Trump are now sparing over a threat to the U.S territory of Guam issued by the regime to fire a salvo of IRBMs at the waters surrounding the American island.

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North Korea Tests an ICBM

As if attempting to troll the United States, the DPRK test fired it’s first ICBM on the Fourth of July. The test was a high altitude “lobbed” trajectory affair that hit 2800 km at its apogee and landed 930 km downrange of the test site. If fired for distance at a normal trajectory the missiles range is estimated at between 6700 km and 8000 km; enough to strike Anchorage and Seattle respectively.

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The INF Is On It’s Deathbed

Since Donald Trump took office nuclear hawks have been on a quest to redevelop America’s nuclear arsenal and dismantle non-proliferation efforts. Senators like Tom Cotton have called for scrapping roughly 30 years of nuclear treaties dating back to the Reagan administration in response the Russia’s violation, with possibly the most important treaty on the chopping block being the Intermediate Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF).

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The GMD Finally Intercepts an ICBM (kinda)

On May 30th the Ground Based Mid-Course Missile Defense system (GMD) successfully intercepted it’s first ICBM. Authorized in 1999 by the Missile Defense Act and offically deployed over a decade ago, the GMD has been plagued with problems. The test on May 30th was the first time the system was successfully tested against the threat it was designed to defeat.

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Assaulting Hodeidah Is A Terrible Idea

After years of war Yemen is on the brink of catastrophe. Food and medical supplies are running low across the country. In the Houthi controlled areas and the nations medical infrastructure has been critically damaged by bombing from the Arab coalition and supplies cut off by the blockade.

Yemen was already on the brink of famine, but a few a weeks ago a new threat emerged: Cholera.

Transmitted through unpurified water. The disease causes severe dehydration, vomiting and diarrhea. In the west such a disease would be rare and relatively easy to contain, but in Yemen over half the population does not have access to clean drinking water, meaning the disease is spreading like plague.

The disease has already spread to tens of thousands and killed hundreds. Without adequate health infrastructure containment has failed. The fact that many Yemenis are already malnourished is no doubt exacerbating the deadliness of the disease. The result has been a four to five fold increase in the case mortality rate.

With a suspected 2,000 new cases a day, experts expect the disease could reach 300,000 cases in the next six months. If the math holds we can expect three to fifteen thousand fatalities from Cholera alone; more than those killed by the fighting itself.

With the food and medical food already a planned offensive against the port of Hodeidah is threatening to turn them in catastrophe. With malnutrition already rampant and many areas on the brink of famine, the planned offensive against the port of Hodeidah would threaten 70 to 80 percent of Yemen’s external trade, essentially cutting off food imports.

While the coalition claims the operation would only last for six weeks. A recent Vice article noted that this is wildly optimistic; and I agree.

Given the way the coalition has fought I see no evidence that they are capable of quickly capturing a complex urban environment or being able to avoid destroying vital port infrastructure necessary to keep Yemen from famine.

Such operations are possible. In World War II the allies captured the French Port of Brest in a similar time-frame and Cherbourge in half that duration. Before that, in 1940 the Wehrmacht secured several french ports as part of it’s thrust to cut off French and British forces. If an assault is coordinated well in both the operational and strategic sense, a port can be taken in a matter of days.

In the case of Yemen the circumstances are much different. Such an operation would require land based maneuver forces to land around the port or come in from the North from the coastal plain. The mechanized forces would then have to surround to port and quickly reduce the pocket in a series of coordinated combined arms assaults. Essentially they would have to fight like a modern western marine or army corps, not a slow moving tactically and operationally inept Arab army.

This is not purely conjecture; we already have a data point to work from. The battle to recapture the port of Aden in 2015 took nearly 4 months and the coalition still has not made much headway into the Houthi heartland. The idea they could launch a seaborne direct assault against a port and take without knocking it out for an extended period is fanciful.

 

There was a time not long ago when I did support a new American backed offensive against the Houthis to gain leverage over them and restore security to the Mandeb Al-Bab strait. That time has passed. The situation is so fragile that an intensification of the fighting could lead to the deaths of tens of thousands by disease and starvation.

In Hodeidah we must find another way. If we don’t the bodies could start to pile up very fast.