World View: Two U.S. Military Strikes Target Libya, Somalia Jihadists

This morning's key headlines from GenerationalDynamics.com

  • U.S. military captures jihadist leader al-Libi in Tripoli, Libya
  • U.S. Navy Seals strike Somalia jihadists related to Kenya attack
  • Iran's politics in turmoil, pitting 'heroic flexibility' versus 'Death to America!'

U.S. military captures jihadist leader al-Libi in Tripoli, Libya

More than 220 people died in the 1998 embassy attack in Kenya and Tanzania (AFP)
More than 220 people died in the 1998 embassy attack in Kenya and Tanzania (AFP)

U.S. officials are saying that jihadist leader Abu Anas al-Libi was captured in Tripoli, Libya, by U.S. military special operations forces on Saturday, apparently grabbed as he was leaving his home. There were no casualties.

The operation was conducted with the knowledge of the government of Libya, according to U.S. officials. But there is still concern about the possibility of revenge attacks as word spreads about the capture of al-Libi. Last week, Libyans attacked Russia's embassy in Tripoli, forcing all diplomats to be evacuated and returned to Russia. And last year, terrorists attacked the American embassy in Benghazi, killing the U.S. Ambassador and three other diplomats.

Al-Libi is alleged to have been the mastermind for the bombing of the American embassies in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, and Nairobi, Kenya, on August 7, 1998. He's been indicted in the U.S., and has been on the FBI's most wanted list. He's expected to be brought back to New York City for trial, which should be quite a show. CNN

U.S. Navy Seals strike Somalia jihadists related to Kenya attack

U.S. Navy Seals conducted a raid of the al-Shabaab jihadist group in Somalia early Saturday morning. The raid was conducted with soldiers rather than using drone strikes, in the hope that some "high-profile targets" could be captured and brought to trial. However, the American forces were forced to withdraw in the face of heavy fire. It's believed that one al-Shabaab leader was killed. There were no U.S. casualties.

The al-Qaeda linked al-Shabaab terrorist group has received increased international attention and prominence ever since last month's horrific three-day attack on the Westlake Mall in Nairobi, Kenya. It's recognized that the attack was extremely well-planned and executed, indicating a degree of high sophistication that was previously not recognized in al-Shabaab. Furthermore, two of the Westlake Mall terrorists were American cities, from a Somali community in Minneapolis. A number of Somalis are known to have gone to Somalia for terrorist training, and returned to the United States, where they can enter freely because they're American citizens. (See "23-Sep-13 World View -- Minnesota link to Kenya shopping mall attack raises U.S. fears") This is raising concerns about the same of shopping malls and other soft targets in the United States. AP and Fox News

Iran's politics in turmoil, pitting 'heroic flexibility' versus 'Death to America!'

The United Nations 'charm offensive' by Iran's new president Hassan Rouhani continues to generate a great deal of controversy within Iran. The charm offensive was triggered by a call from Supreme Leader Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei to adopt a strategy of "Heroic Flexibility" with respect to America and the West. This phrase has a great deal of historic significance, as it refers to the act of a Muslim hero who reversed his clan's opposition to the message of the prophet Mohamed in the 7th century. (See "21-Sep-13 World View -- Does Iran's 'Heroic Flexibility' signal a real policy change?")

Rouhani was criticized in the West for 'snubbing' president Barack Obama's invitations to meet at the United Nations -- and there were five such invitations, according to news reports. However, any such meeting would have generated enormous controversy in Tehran.

An Iranian Revolutionary Guard Council (IRGC) official, Mohammad Hossein Saffar Harandi, on Friday described the trip to a Tehran audience:

"This is a situation in which our President [Rouhani] went to the UN to solve problems with all options open from the Supreme Leader and a framework of red lines. The American Secretary of State, in opposition to the commitments and statements he made, did not recognize Iran’s right to enrich uranium, said that none of the officials had agreed on Iran’s right to enrichment and said that no changes had taken shape in this area when he spoke to news agencies and the media."

At this point, the audience started chanting "Death to America!", causing Harandi to rebuke the audience for interrupting him, but then he added:

"This anger is due to the past memories of these people, and this can be our message. Of course the chant of Death to America has been and will be reinforced over time, because the people have daggers of Americans in the chest, back, and throat of their children. These past memories are added to their treacherous designs [hidden] behind their diplomatic front. Behind the apparent friendliness, their hostility continues."

To put all this in perspective, Iran is in a generational Awakening era, one generation past Iran's last generational crisis war, the Great Islamic Revolution of 1979 and the Iran/Iraq war that climaxed in 1988.

America's last generational Awakening era occurred in the 1960s-70s, one generation past the end of World War II. I recall that one commentator at the time characterized America's relationship with the Soviet Union as follows: "The liberals blame the conservatives for wanting to fight a war against the Soviets, while the conservatives blame the liberals for wanting to turn the entire government over to the control of Moscow." These differences were characterized at the time as a "generation gap," pitting the conservative survivor generations of World War II against the liberal younger generation of Boomers that had grown up after the war.

Iran is going through exactly the same kind of generation gap today. The political faction led by the Islamic Revolution survivors believe that the only way that Iran can survive is to maintain their revolutionary ideals, one of which is constant opposition to the Great Satan and the west. The younger generation almost always wins these battles since, after all, the older generation dies off first. Khamanei's call for "heroic flexibility" and Rouhani's "charm offensive" are part of the Awakening era generational transition going on in Iran today. But the conflict is far from over, and there is little chance of a major dénouement aligning Iran with the West in the near future.

The other important fact about this is that this transition is absolutely unaffected by anything the West does. Iran is now like a teenage girl who's worried about pimples and whether to have sex with her boyfriend, and couldn't care less what some preacher down the street is saying to them. Last week's ten minute phone call between president Barack Obama and Rouhani, which was the subject of so much idolatrous fawning by the press, had no effect in Iran except to generate additional condemnation by the hardliners against Rouhani, and force Khamanei to pull back from his call for heroic flexibility. AEI Iran Tracker and Reuters


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