This week’s long read focuses on recent Middle East related stories which did not appear on BBC channels.
Having ignored recent reports of a visit by the head of ISIS’ Sinai branch to the Gaza Strip, the BBC also refrained from covering reports concerning financial transactions between it and Hamas. Alex Fishman at Ynet reports:
“Hamas’ military wing in the Gaza Strip has been transferring tens of thousands of dollars a month to the Islamic State group’s Sinai branch over the past year, via one of its emissaries. […]
Hamas is paying the Islamic State militants in Egypt to secure weapons shipments being smuggled through the Sinai to Gaza.
The shipments primarily consist of explosive propellant material that Hamas needs in order to make rockets. As such the money is going towards smuggling both military equipment and material needed to build Hamas’ military infrastructure.”
At the Washington Institute, Ehud Ya’ari writes on the same topic:
“Over the past two years, IS Sinai helped Hamas move weapons from Iran and Libya through the peninsula, taking a generous cut from each shipment. Hamas relies on Bedouin guides to avoid detection by the Egyptian army and reach the few tunnels that have survived Cairo’s aggressive flooding and closure campaign. In this manner, IS Sinai acquired the advanced Kornet antitank missiles it has used to sink an Egyptian patrol boat off the coast of al-Arish and destroy several tanks and armored carriers stationed in the peninsula’s northeastern sector. Hamas has also provided training to some IS Sinai fighters and assisted with the group’s media campaign and online postings.”
Interestingly, a recent BBC report which supposedly “tracked” the journey of weapons from Libya to the Gaza Strip did not actually explain to readers the mechanisms of arms smuggling through Sinai.
Also at the Washington Institute, Aaron Y. Zelin and Oula A. Alrifai report on ISIS in Southern Syria.
“Much attention has been given to the Islamic State’s military and governance activities in northern and eastern Syria, but there has been less focus on its slow and steady growth in the southern theater. Since July 2013, it has been building a presence in a number of locales around Damascus, with the eventual goal of taking the city. While such aspirations are still far beyond the group’s military capabilities, it has actively rolled out soft-power strategies. Focusing on the Islamic State’s activities in the north and east of Syria could prevent a complete understanding of what it is attempting to accomplish.”
The Tower reports from the US on the ‘Hezbollah International Financing Prevention Act of 2015’.
“A bill that seeks to impose mandatory sanctions on banks that knowingly conduct business with Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese terror group, passed the House of Representatives by a vote of 425 – 0 on Wednesday, The Hill reported. The proposed legislation is now heading to the White House, where President Barack Obama is expected to sign it.
The measure would direct the Obama administration to report on the Lebanon-based terror group’s drug trafficking and organized crime activities, as well as outline its global support networks
It would also require the administration to determine any telecommunications companies that contract with Al-Manar, a TV station affiliated with Hezbollah.”
And at the Times of Israel, Avi Issacharoff writes about Hizballah’s changed approach to publicizing its casualties in Syria.
“The Lebanese Shiite militia Hezbollah has seen between 1,300 and 1,500 of its fighters killed in battles in the Syrian civil war, which means that together with the wounded it has lost as much as a third of its fighting force, according to Israeli estimates.
Some 5,000 of the organization’s members have been injured in fighting alongside regime troops against rebel groups, including the Islamic State.[…]
Recently, Hezbollah has been publishing details of its members killed in Syria and is not trying to hide its losses, in contrast to its policy during the early years of the Syrian civil war, which broke out in 2011.”