Bolton In, McMaster Out: Trump Announces John Bolton as Next National Security Advisor

Posted March 23, 2018 by joopklepzeiker
Categories: Uncategorized

by Kristina Wong

22 Mar 2018

AP Photo/Rainier Ehrhardt, AP Photo/Susan Walsh, Breitbart News Edit

President Donald Trump announced on Thursday that he is appointing Amb. John Bolton as his new national security advisor, ending weeks of speculation he would be tapped for the job.

Trump made the announcement via Twitter:

Bolton’s appointment comes after months of speculation that current National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster was on his way out, after repeated reports that he and the president were not close. It also comes after someone leaked to the press that the president congratulated Putin on his election win after a briefing card had included the note: DO NOT CONGRATULATE.

According to a White House official, the president and McMaster had “mutually agreed” on his resignation, and the two had been discussing it for “some time.” However, the timeline was “expedited as they both felt it was important to have the new team in place, instead of constant speculation.”

“This was not related to any one moment or incident, rather it was the result of ongoing conversations between the two,” the official said.  Trump announced last week that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was resigning, and CIA Director Mike Pompeo would take his place.

McMaster, a lieutenant general, said in a statement that he is requesting retirement from the Army, and will leave public service.

“I am thankful to President Donald J. Trump for the opportunity to serve him and our nation as national security advisor. I am grateful for the friendship and support of the members of the National Security Council who worked together to provide the President with the best options to protect and advance our national interests,” he said.

Trump praised McMaster in a statement.

“H.R. McMaster has served his country with distinction for more than 30 years. He has won many battles and his bravery and toughness are legendary. General McMaster’s leadership of the National Security Council staff has helped my administration accomplish great things to bolster America’s national security. He helped develop our America First National Security Strategy, revitalize our alliances in the Middle East, smash ISIS, bring North Korea to the table, and strengthen our nation’s prosperity. This work and those achievements will ensure that America builds on its economic and military advantages. I thank General McMaster and his family for their service and wish them the very best.”

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly called McMaster a “true soldier-scholar.”

“His impact on his country and this government will be felt for years to come,” he said.

Bolton was spotted entering the West Wing late Thursday afternoon:

Bolton last served in the George W. Bush administration as the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. Bolton is a senior fellow at the conservative American Enterprise Institute and a frequent Fox News commentator. He has also been a regular guest on Breitbart News Daily.

He spoke with Breitbart News Daily on Thursday morning, discussing the Trump administration’s actions against unfair trade practices by China.

Israel opens investigation into Facebook

Posted March 22, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Israel opens investigation into Facebook – Israel National News

Authorities to probe Facebook activities after revelations that firm gained access to millions of users’ personal data.

Contact Editor

David Rosenberg, 22/03/18 17:12

Israeli investigators announced Thursday that they have launched a probe into the Facebook social media network, following reports that the personal information of tens of millions of users was compromised and transferred to a private consulting firm.

According to the allegations, in 2014, the UK-based firm Cambridge Analytica gained access to the personal data of some 50 million Facebook users, taking advantage of a loophole in the system which permitted a personality quiz application to gain access not only to the data of the 270,000 users who took the quiz, but all of their Facebook friends’ accounts as well.

The data had been sold to Cambridge Analytica by the author of the quiz, University of Cambridge academic Aleksandr Kogan.

Cambridge Analytica then used the data to engage in “micro-targeting” for clients, mining a wealth of personal information to determine which users are most receptive to particular messages. Among Cambridge Analytica’s clients following the acquisition of the Facebook user data was the Donald Trump presidential campaign.

The revelation has sparked a popular backlash against the social media giant, leading CEO Mark Zuckerberg to initiate an internal investigation into the matter.

“We will learn from this experience to secure our platform further and make our community safer for everyone going forward,” Zuckerberg wrote.

On Thursday, the Israeli Privacy Protection Authority announced they it had “informed Facebook today that it had opened an investigation into its activities, following the publications on the transfers of personal data from Facebook to Cambridge Analytica, and the possibility of other infringements of the privacy law regarding Israelis.

“According to the Israeli Privacy Law personal data may only be used to the purpose for which it was given, with the consent of the individual.

“Therefore, the authority will investigate whether personal data of Israeli citizens was illegally used in a way that infringes upon their right to privacy and the provisions of the Israeli Privacy Law.”

Syria may be building an underground nuclear facility, report suggests

Posted March 22, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Syria may be building an underground nuclear facility, report suggests – Israel Hayom

The Arab world silently celebrates

Posted March 22, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: The Arab world silently celebrates – Israel Hayom

Prof. Eyal Zisser

n response to headlines in the Israeli media Wednesday acknowledging the 2007 airstrike that destroyed Syria’s nuclear reactor in Deir ez-Zor, after having kept quiet for over a decade, the Arab world, including Syria, was deafeningly silent.

Although the general consensus from day one has been that Israel carried out the aerial assault that knocked out Syria’s clandestine nuclear reactor, developed with North Korean assistance, Israel waited until Wednesday to confirm the strike.

Damascus’ silence, at least, is completely understandable. Syrian President Bashar Assad has much more pressing matters on his agenda than media hype in Israel over something everyone already knew – he is a little too busy waging a war of survival, rather successfully, against his countrymen who have rebelled against him. In addition, the nuclear reactor episode is no source of pride for the Syrian regime, specifically not the way Assad’s nuclear adventure ended and his decision to refrain from leveling any kind of response to the Israeli airstrike.

Moreover, the Israeli confirmation included no new information, aside from petty squabbling over credit – namely between then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak and then-Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and the heads of Military Intelligence and the Mossad. Other than that, the information was widely reported over a decade ago and attributed to reliable American sources. At most, the information that Israel made public on Wednesday will be used by Syrian intelligence agents or by Iran, who will pore over the previously classified material in search of details to help them prepare for the next clash.

The few Arab networks that did inform their viewers about the Israeli media frenzy, were noticeably overjoyed at Assad’s misfortune. They gloated at the humiliation of the Syrian leader who used chemical weapons on his own people but was too intimidated to face Israel.

Alongside the gloating, there was also palatable relief in the region’s capitals at the thought that Assad was kept from developing nuclear weapons. Is there any doubt regarding his willingness to use nuclear weapons on his own people or against his opponents in the region?

But the silence in Damascus and the Arab networks low profile regarding the Israeli news in no way suggests that the Arab world isn’t closely monitoring Israel’s every move. Today, thanks to social media, this task is easier than ever before.

Even the Arabs who believe in far-fetched conspiracy theories interpreted the timing of Israel’s publication as a clear and simple message to Iran: that Jerusalem is determined, just as it was in the past, to nip any security threat in the bud. This message is also addressed to the many other hostile Arab states.

Eyal Zisser is a lecturer in the Middle East History Department at Tel Aviv University.

Trump, Saudi Prince & UAE to set up action group against Iran

Posted March 22, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Trump, Saudi Prince & UAE to set up action group against Iran – DEBKAfile

Ahead of their White House talks on Tuesday, March 20, President Donald Trump and the Saudi Crown Prince agree on a new Supreme Committee to coordinate military and diplomatic efforts for curbing Iranian expansion. The United Arab Emirate is the third member. This committee, to focus on coordinated operations, will consist of the three governments’ national security advisers. For final decisions, they will call in President Trump, Saudi Crown Prince Muhammed bin Salman (MbS) and the UAE Emir Sheikh Muhammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan (MbZ). White House sources reported that the new group would be ceremonially launched in Washington this week. The Emirates national security adviser Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan will come over to join the event. The emir himself is expected in Washington soon.

US and Saudi officials confirmed Tuesday that the new Supreme Committee’s mission would be to execute the goal shared by the three governments, namely, to stall Iran’s expansionist designs across the oil-rich Gulf and the Middle East.

DEBKAfile’s sources report that this move is consistent with the decision which President Trump is widely believed to have reached for taking the United States out of the 2015 nuclear with Iran. Intensive discussions are taking place in the White house on timing; whether Trump should make the announcement when the next deadline for re-certificating the accord comes up in mid-May or jump the gun in March or early April. The US, the Saudis and the UAE are meanwhile checking to make sure that their military assets are in sync and ready for potential repercussions.
The new Supreme Committee will fill the cohesion void left in the Gulf Cooperation Council by the refusal of two of its members, Qatar and Oman, to go along with the tough policies pursued by Saudi Arabia and the UAE since MbS took over the reins of government in Riyadh three years ago.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is moving on to his next target: Iran

Posted March 21, 2018 by Louisiana Steve
Categories: Iran - Saudi Arabia, Iran and Saudi Arabia


John Kilduff Published 2:02 PM ET Tue, 20 March 2018 via CNBC

Source Link: Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is moving on to his next target

{A good time to buy Exxon stock, IMHO. – LS}

  • Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, nicknamed MBS, has rapidly consolidated power within the kingdom.
  • With his position secured and his rivals vanquished, he is moving on to his next target: Iran.
  • With hostilities rising, war is seeming more inevitable, which increases the likelihood of rising oil prices.

The new face of Saudi Arabia makes his Washington D.C. debut this week, and you better take a good look because, at 32-years old, he will very likely be with us for a while.

Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, nicknamed MBS, has rapidly consolidated power within the kingdom. He iced out his rivals by charging many of them with corruption, extracting forfeitures of great sums of wealth that the Saudi government claims were ill-gotten.

With his position secured and his rivals vanquished, he is moving on to his next target: Iran.

The topic of Iran is a key agenda item for his meeting with President Trump on Tuesday. President Trump should find himself well-versed on the topic, which he discussed at-length with Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu, earlier this month.

Iran is serving as a unifying force among its Middle East neighbors. Both Israel and Saudi Arabia see Iran as a grave threat, to such a degree that the two countries, once fierce enemies, are now sharing intelligence and cooperating in other ways. Netanyahu has alluded to this budding friendship by noting that Israel “has friends in the Middle East.”

MBS compared Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei to Adolf Hitler in an interview over the weekend, and he termed the Iran nuclear deal as a “flawed agreement” echoing President Trump’s position. President Trump’s nominee for Secretary of State is expected to push hard to see the U.S. terminate the Iran nuclear deal, which had been favored by former Secretary of State Tillerson.

We are now dealing with a much more forward-leaning Saudi Arabia that is also seeking to modernize.

But, has the leopard really changed its spots?

The recent corruption purge took on a hint of irony, when it was revealed recently that MBS himself has some extravagant tastes that include a palace in Versailles, France, and the purchase of the most expensive art work in history, Da Vinci’s depiction of Jesus, for $450 million, among other goodies.

MBS is being championed, in some circles, as standing against radical Islam, but he is also standing as Sunni Muslin against Islam’s other faction, the Shia branch, which Iranians, mostly, adhere to, and there is nothing new about that.

There has been a proxy war raging between Iran and Saudi Arabia in Yemen and Syria. The Saudis recently trotted out an unexploded rocket that was launched from Yemen into the kingdom that bore Iranian markings. Saudi air sorties regularly bomb Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen.

The situation vis-à-vis Iran is escalating. A second “coalition of the willing,” the term used to describe allies in the second U.S. war with Iraq, may be forming to take on Iran more directly, and the roster looks to include Saudi Arabia, U.A.E, Israel, and the United States. Look for triparty agreement on Iran among the U.S., Saudi Arabia, and U.A.E. to be announced this week, as a prelude to a broader grouping.

Saudi Arabia used to be a quiet giant in the Middle East, more than happy to be the world’s largest source of oil, minting petrodollars and spreading the wealth, internally, to keep the powers that be in charge and the populace placated.

MBS is making it clear that is no longer the case. Get ready to hear Saudi Arabia roar, with all that brings with it.

Saudi Arabia will look to use its power and influence to remake the Middle East in its image. The kingdom will not sit idly by and allow Iran to gain de facto control of Iraq, which has parliamentarian elections in May. Iran is actively trying to engineer the return of former Prime Minister Maliki.

The new Saudi doctrine is also being seen in the form of the blockade of Qatar, which several other Gulf nations have joined in.

It does appear that policies and regional ambitions of Saudi Arabia and Iran are putting them on a collision course that will result in direct hostilities, and Saudi Arabia has partners willing to assist it with such a fight, that coalition of the willing.

The rhetoric and apparent intentions of MBS have reinflated the risk premium in oil prices. If it keeps up and if the U.S. withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal becomes a reality, WTI oil prices will head higher, upwards of $70-plus. Absent these tensions, the prices is more appropriately in the low $50 area.


IDF chief: Reactor strike showed Israel will not tolerate existential threats 

Posted March 21, 2018 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: IDF chief: Reactor strike showed Israel will not tolerate existential threats – Israel Hayom