Reps Push Trump Admin to Bypass U.N. and Help Iraqi Christians, Yazidis Directly

Posted October 18, 2017 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Christian refugees, Iraq, U.S. Congress, UN and corruption, USAID, Yazidis

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Reps Push Trump Admin to Bypass U.N. and Help Iraqi Christians, Yazidis Directly, Washington Free Beacon , October 18, 2017

Church of Mart Shmoni in Erbil / Getty Images

Four House members are pressing the top official of the U.S. Agency for International Development to bypass the United Nations and channel funds intended to help Christians and Yazidis in Iraq directly to Catholic charities and others helping them on the ground.

The urgent push comes amid dire warnings from lawmakers and human rights activists that Christians and Yazidis, already victims of genocide at the hands of the Islamic State, are on the verge of extinction in Northern Iraq, their home for thousands of years.

The lawmakers also point to new evidence of corruption in the United Nations’ process for stabilization projects in Iraq.

Republican Reps. Jeff Fortenberry of Nebraska, Robert Aderholt of Alabama, and Chris Smith of New Jersey, along with Democrat Rep. Anna Eshoo of California, sent a letter to USAID Administrator Mark Green last week arguing that these communities now face “dire conditions where they desperately need assistance if they are to survive.”

“Returning Christians, Yazidis, and others to their rightful place will reknit the once rich tapestry of pluralism and diversity that existed in the region—an effort that is essential to any hope of durable stability in Iraq and the region,” they wrote in a letter dated Oct. 12.

USAID did not immediately return an inquiry about the letter.

Fortenberry, Aderholt, and Smith are longtime human rights champions. Eshoo has a personal interest in the mission. She is a Chaldean Catholic and first-generation American. Her mother is Armenian and her father is an Assyrian Christian from Iraq.

The letter is the latest effort by a bipartisan group of lawmakers in the House and Senate, along with human rights activists and Catholic groups, to persuade the State Department and USAID to change the Obama-era policy of directing most of its money to Iraq through the United Nations.

The lawmakers argue that Catholic charities most connected to the communities on the ground are the only groups that have a track record of helping persecuted minorities survive for the last several years and are best positioned to help them return and rebuild. The United Nations, they argue, has little to show for its assistance to these communities.

As the Washington Free Beacon reported earlier this month, photos of the few United Nations Development Program projects in Ninevah show the work being done is mostly cosmetic in nature. This contradicts claims for the United Nations, which has suggested far more substantial work has been done.

Steve Rasche, an attorney for the Catholic archdiocese of Northern Iraq testified before a House hearing that so-called “completed” school-rehabilitation projects in the towns of Teleskov and Batnaya “take the form of one think coat of painting of the exterior surface walls, with freshly stenciled UNICEF logos every 30 feet.”

Inside, he said, the rooms remain untouched and unusable.

U.S. agencies have a responsibility to intervene more directly and effectively, the lawmakers argue, especially after both the Obama and Trump administrations have declared that Christians, Yazidis, and other religious minorities in Iraq are the victims of ISIS genocide.

“USAID has an immediate opportunity to partner with entities committee to the appropriate reconstruction of damaged homes and public buildings in several key towns in the Ninevah Plan of Iraq,” they wrote.

“Timely action would address provisions outlined in the genocide declarations and mirror the current administration’s desire to help the survivors,” they argued.

As ISIS is driven from Iraq, it is also critical to U.S. national security that that these indigenous communities are supported to prevent Iran from gaining influence in the region.

“Repatriation has a strategic advantage of heading off potential conflict between the KRG and Baghdad while barring an Iranian land bridge to the Mediterranean, which presently threats to fill the vacuum in the Ninevah Plain created by the removal of ISIS,” the lawmakers wrote. “This land bridge will be occupied by forces loyal to Tehran if security and rebuilding fails to come from other quarters.”

Congress has taken a number of steps to try to provide direct assistance to the minority populations in Iraq. Earlier this year, Congress allocated more than $1.4 billion in funds for refugee assistance and included specific language to ensure that part of the money would be used to assist Yazidis, Christians, and Shia Muslims in Iraq.

The House passed legislation, cosponsored by Smith and Eshoo, that would explicitly authorize the State Department and USAID to direct aid to faith-based entities, such as the Archdiocese of Erbil following congressional delegations to the region.

More recently, the House and Senate have held hearings about the need for the Trump administration to act quickly to get the funds where they are needed.

“We implore you to review proposals from credible organizations on the ground in the region who are committed to these goals, and if deemed worthy, to move swiftly to empower the through available resources to rebuild the region,” they lawmakers wrote.

Donald Trump: An American Patriot of the Same Stripe as Ronald Reagan

Posted October 18, 2017 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: American values, Patriotism, Trump and Reagan

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Donald Trump: An American Patriot of the Same Stripe as Ronald Reagan, PJ MediaRoger Kimball, October 18, 2017

Image Courtesy of Shutterstock

The policy take-away from President Trump’s remarks last night at the Heritage Foundation centered around tax cuts. The president likes ‘em, and if he has his way (and on this issue, I think he will), we will see a sharp cut to the corporate tax rate (from 35 percent to 20 percent), a simplification and reduction of the individual tax rate, and a big expansion of the individual exemption (to $12,000 for individuals and $24,000 for married couples filing jointly).

 There is a certain kind of politician who likes high taxes, partly because he likes big government, which is the natural result of high taxes, partly because he wants most people (not his tribe, of course) to have as little money as possible.  The poorer people are, the more dependent they are. Politicians of a certain stripe want people to be dependent on the government, i.e., on them and the instruments they control.

To my mind, that unholy dialectic between political power and an agenda of enforced dependency is one of the most despicable and destructive coefficients of the administrative state. It is despicable because it deploys power for personal aggrandizement under the camouflage of helping (i.e., pretending to help) others (the “Great Society,” etc.). It is destructive because its end is the eclipse of liberty for the sake of expanding and institutionalizing the apparatus of bureaucracy (and the perquisites of the bureaucrats running it).

So I applaud the president’s plan to cut taxes and allow Americans to keep a bit more of what after all is their own money. (We tend to forget this.)

But although taxes formed the official centerpiece of the president’s speech last night, and though I liked what he said about taxes, I thought the most impressive part of the speech was its rhetorical setting.  The occasion was a meeting of Heritage Foundation supporters. Accordingly, President Trump began by talking about the importance of embracing our history, our heritage. “For America to have CONFIDENCE in our future, we must have PRIDE in our HISTORY.”

I think that is right, and I think it is worth pondering each of the three stressed words.

One of the great liabilities of so-called identity politics is that, ironically, it acts as a solvent on shared cultural confidence. The irony flows from the fact that identity politics is supposed to leave its partisans with an enhanced sense of self-worth and solidarity but in fact it tends to isolate them in rancid grievance ghettos.

Along the way last night, the president spoke up for preserving our heritage, our history, an enterprise that encompasses not just the preservation of monuments and other historical markers that commemorate our past, but also extends to the spiritual decorum of civic respect: standing for the national anthem, for example, or (since this multiethnic country was and is, as Samuel Huntington observed, a country of “Anglo-Protestant” values) wishing people “Merry Christmas” in due season.<

It is worth noting, by the way, that saying one should have  pride in our history and confidence in our culture is not thereby to issue a plenary indulgence for past wrongdoing.  The fact that people erect a statue commemorating Gen. Robert E. Lee does not in any way imply that they are racist advocates of chattel slavery, any more than erecting a statue of JFK implies that one is an advocate of satyriasis.

President Trump’s policy initiatives—the judicial nominations, the regulatory astringency, the exploitation of the country’s energy resources and enforcement of our immigration laws, the revival of America’s military assets, regarding morale as well as hardware—are important, just as taxes, a rational (as distinct from an ideological) approach to the environment, and health care are important.  But at the end of the day, I suspect that the underlying success of the Trump presidency will be located on a different plane.  If he is successful in extending the extraordinary run of economic good news—the stock market at 23,000, unemployment at about 4 percent, GDP flirting with 3.2 percent—then the material markers will add up to a triumph.

Such achievements are not only important, they are in some measure indispensable to a successful administration.  But they are not by themselves sufficient for real success.

I believe that Donald Trump understands this, which is why his most brilliant speeches—before a joint session of Congress, at Warsaw, at the UN, and just a week ago at the Values Voter Summit—are speeches that dilate on civilizational themes.  At Warsaw it was the importance of defending Western civilization; at the UN it was the importance of national sovereignty; last week it was the  value of safeguarding our “Judeo-Christian” inheritance. (Aside to the reader: can you imagine Barack Obama speaking in warm terms of our “Judeo-Christian” values?) And last night it was the link between forward-looking cultural confidence and an affirmation of our glorious if imperfect past.

As Chief of Staff John Kelly said at his press conference last week, Trump’s agenda is “what’s good for America,” period, full stop. Donald Trump is a forthright and voluble American patriot of the same stripe as Ronald Reagan.  That is one of the reasons (not the only reason) he is so despised by the America-hating Left.

What interests me more, however, is the persistent contempt in which Donald Trump is held by some aspects of the America-loving Right.  To take just one paradigmatic example: my friend Bill Kristol, energetic political commentator and founder of The Weekly Standard, is not (litotes alert) a supporter of Donald Trump.  In a recent tweet, Bill had this to say:<

Bill Kristol 

I like Gorsuch, decertifying Iran and leaving UNESCO. But they’re not worth the degradation of our public life that is the Trump presidency.

Here’s my question: in what does the alleged “degradation” consist?  That Donald Trump tweets?

That can’t be right, since Bill himself avails himself of that demotic medium.  That he does not speak like a Harvard graduate?  That may be part of it, but Bill knows as well as I do that the end of rhetoric is persuasion, and no one can deny Trump’s masterly powers of persuasion. Donald Trump may be an imperfect vessel for our national hopes, but then of whom may that not be said?  In the aftermath of the Harvey Weinstein scandal, former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said on national television “we have someone admitting to being a sexual assaulter in the Oval Office.” I am pretty sure she was not talking about her husband. No, she was talking about Donald Trump. But what can that mean? As far as we know, Donald Trump (unlike Bill Clinton) is not guilty of sexual assault. Certainly, he has never said he was. Yes, there was that crude Access Hollywood video—a video, remember, that captured a private conversation between two bragging men more than a decade ago.  But how many crude locker-room expostulations equal one Monica Lewinsky in the Oval Office?

I think the statute of limitation has been reached on that leaked video. Indeed, I think the most disgusting thing about it was the secret taping and malice-directed release of the video.  Trump’s language was crude: no argument there.  But how do we calculate the crudity and malevolence of those who made the tape and then released it in the hope that it would destroy a political rival?

Besides, it’s my sense that Donald Trump is not now the chap he was when Graydon Carter made his nasty quips about him in the 1980s or even when Trump was palling around with Billy Bush in 2005.

That is no surprise. The history of the world is full of redemption and conversion stories, from Saul of Tarsus to Henry V and beyond. Quoth the King at the end ofHenry IV Part 2:

Presume not that I am the thing I was;
For God doth know, so shall the world perceive,
That I have turn’d away my former self.

The proof of the pudding, they say, is in the eating.  It seems to me that in just nine months Donald Trump has given us a lot of savory tidbits to chew on.  Some people might object to the style.  But how about the substance?  In any event, it seems ungracious, not to say short-sighted, to withhold any possibility of reformation from a man just because he had the temerity to win an election without the permission of the would-be governing class.

China’s War Timing Firming Up

Posted October 18, 2017 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: China - naval power, China and Taiwan, China vs America, China's expansion of power, Chinese economy, Scarborough Shoal, Senkaku Islands, Xi Jinping

Tags: , , , , , , ,

China’s War Timing Firming Up, American ThinkerDavid Archibald, October 18, 2017

(Please see also, China’s Secret Military Plan: Invade Taiwan by 2020. — DM)

Part of Obama’s baleful legacy is that during the Scarborough Shoal Incident of April to June 2012, the Filipino president travelled to Washington to ask Obama for U.S. support. Obama didn’t offer support, no operational support followed and China read that as the signal to seize territory from a U.S. ally. As is the usual pattern, the consequence of not dealing forcefully against a minor aggression will lead to a much bigger war down the track.

The Chinese leader that organised the seizure of Scarborough Shoal, Xi Jinping, became a national hero and that gave him the political momentum to see off rivals to become president of the People’s Republic of China the following year. As retired U.S. Navy captain James Fanell noted, while in the West the Scarborough seizure was treated as a minor fisheries dispute, Chinese scholars recognized the significance of Xi’s template for mooting U.S. alliances by undercutting confidence in defense agreements, calling it the ‘Scarborough Model’.

Emboldened by Obama’s acquiescence, China is preparing for a “short, sharp war” to seize the Senkaku Islands from Japan. They are building specialised equipment to that end. Again from Captain Fanell:

Size matters in confrontations at sea, especially between coast guard vessels. As China has sought more of its neighbors’ maritime sovereignty, it has built ever-larger coast guard ships. These are intended to enable its civil maritime forces to carry out China’s  campaign more aggressively (having the biggest ship on scene), and to conduct them at  increasing distances from China’s coastline. As such, China has demonstrated its commitment to have the largest coast guard vessels in the Asia Pacific region. In 2014, China commissioned the largest coast guard cutter in the world, at 12,000 tons, the Zhongguo Haijing 2901. This cutter first went to sea for the first time in May 2015 and is subordinated to the East China Sea area of responsibility. A second ship of the class, CCG 3901, was completed and made ready for operations in January 2016. The Communist Party’s People’s Daily made the purpose of these ships crystal-clear, stating they were designed to have “the power to smash into a vessel weighing more than 20,000 tons and will not cause any damage to itself when confronting a vessel weighing under 9,000 tons. It can also destroy a 5,000-ton ship and sink it to the sea floor.”

Note carefully the combat assault mission of these Chinese Coast Guard ships.

Sinking ships by ramming is a throwback to how triremes did battle in the Mediterranean. It also tells us how China plans to start its war. The super-sized Chinese coast guard ships will ram and sink Japanese coast guard vessels.

When the Japanese Navy responds by sinking the Chinese coast guard ships, the Chinese PLA Navy will come over the horizon with amphibious assault ships. China will claim to be the aggrieved party and offer to end hostilities, leaving it in possession of what it seized.

The Chinese have been doing some dry runs for the conflict to come. Around midday on August 5th, 2016, some 200 to 300 Chinese fishing boats swarmed into the contiguous zone around the Senkaku Islands of Kuban and Uotsuri, followed by 15 Chinese coast guard vessels by August 9th. Come the actual battle, there will be hundreds of Chinese vessels to be sunk, much like plinking tanks in the deserts of the Middle East.

China’s intent is plain, the next question is the timing. The Communist Party of China has directed the People’s Liberation Army to transform itself into a force that will be ready to take Taiwan by 2020. A Senkaku campaign will be a lot easier than subduing Taiwan, and possession of the Senkakus in turn will make the Taiwan campaign easier to mount by partial envelopment of that island. The PLA Navy is still expanding and China might not start its war until its navy is somewhat larger than it is now. Of particular interest is a new class of amphibious assault ships, the Type 075. Approximately the size of the U.S. Navy’s Wasp-class ships, the Type 075 is projected to carry up to 30 helicopters and have the ability to launch six helicopters simultaneously. The first Type 075 class may be launched in 2019 and in service in 2020. Another four might be built by 2025.

There are a few other considerations which have the potential to bring forward China’s war plans. China’s economic growth is mostly debt-funded construction of unproductive assets, so China’s debt to GDP ratio continues to climb. Everyone knows this is unsustainable, that it will end in tears but nobody knows when. A stalling economy and tens of millions of personal bankruptcies as China’s real estate bubble pops would encourage the regime to distract the public with a foreign military adventure. Then there is the question of China’s energy supply. China’s strategic petroleum reserve is estimated to be about 700 million barrels and still building at one million barrels per day. The Chinese reserve will probably keep building until the day the war starts and U.S. and Japanese submarines begin sinking Chinese tankers.

But the big story in energy, internationally, is the projected peaking of Chinese coal production in 2020 before it starts falling away due to resource exhaustion. Chinese coal production of over four billion tons per annum is about four times the U.S. production level. Coal is the source of two thirds of power generation in China, about the same for chemical feedstocks and is the source of all the nitrogenous fertiliser they use. The energy content of Chinese coal production is equivalent to 58 million barrels of oil per day. The production cost of coal, and thus the cost of doing everything in China, will start rising once production has peaked. It is unlikely that China’s nuclear power sector will expand fast enough to compensate. Thus China’s competitiveness relative to countries that have plenty of coal remaining will fall. This will factor into President Xi’s timing of his war.

Now is the time to ask Lenin’s question “What is to be done?” The important thing is to shun anything made in China because that just funds their aggression. Choose the Samsung offering over the iPhone for no other reason. And be nice to any Japanese or Vietnamese you meet. We need them to have courage.

David Archibald is the author of American Gripen: The Solution to the F-35 Nightmare

 

Europe’s New Official History Erases Christianity, Promotes Islam

Posted October 18, 2017 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Christianity in Europe, European Union, Islam and Christianity, Islam and Western civilization, Islamic invasion, Islamisation of Europe

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Europe’s New Official History Erases Christianity, Promotes Islam, Gatestone InstituteGiulio Meotti, October 18, 2017

[I]t is hard to understand the “logic” behind the official European animosity toward Christianity and its attraction to a basically totalitarian Islam. Europe could easily be secular without being militantly anti-Christian. It is easier to understand why thousands of Poles just took part in a mass protest along Poland’s borders to voice their opposition to “secularization and Islam’s influence“, which is exactly the same as the official crazy EU credo.

During the Second World War, the Allies avoided bombing Brussels, because it was to be the site of European rebirth. If the European elite continue with this cultural repudiation of their Judeo-Christian-Humanistic culture, the city could be its grave.

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“The patrons of the false Europe are bewitched by superstitions of inevitable progress. They believe that History is on their side, and this faith makes them haughty and disdainful, unable to acknowledge the defects in the post-national, post-cultural world they are constructing.” — The Paris Statement, signed by ten respected European scholars.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière’s proposal to introduce Muslim public holidays shows that when it comes to Islam, Europe’s official “post-Christian” secularism is simply missing in action.

A few days ago, some of Europe’s most important intellectuals — including British philosopher Roger Scruton, former Polish Education Minister Ryszard Legutko, German scholar Robert Spaemann and Professor Rémi Brague from the Sorbonne in France — issued “The Paris Statement“. In their ambitious statement, they rejected the “false Christendom of universal human rights” and the “utopian, pseudo-religious crusade for a borderless world”. Instead, they called for a Europe based on “Christian roots”, drawing inspiration from the “Classical tradition” and rejecting multiculturalism:

“The patrons of the false Europe are bewitched by superstitions of inevitable progress. They believe that History is on their side, and this faith makes them haughty and disdainful, unable to acknowledge the defects in the post-national, post-cultural world they are constructing. Moreover, they are ignorant of the true sources of the humane decencies they themselves hold dear — as do we. They ignore, even repudiate the Christian roots of Europe. At the same time they take great care not to offend Muslims, who they imagine will cheerfully adopt their secular, multicultural outlook”.

In 2007, reflecting on the cultural crisis of the continent, Pope Benedict said that Europe is now “doubting its very identity“. In 2017, Europe took a further step: creating a post-Christian pro-Islam identity. Europe’s official buildings and exhibitions have indeed been erasing Christianity and welcoming Islam.

One kind of official museum recently opened by the European Parliament, the “House of the European History“, costing 56 million euros. The idea was to create a historical narrative of the postwar period around the pro-EU message of unification. The building is a beautiful example of Art Deco in Brussels. As the Dutch scholar Arnold Huijgen wrote, however, the house is culturally “empty”:

“The French Revolution seems to be the birthplace of Europe; there is little room for anything that may have preceded it. The Napoleonic Code and the philosophy of Karl Marx receive a prominent place, while slavery and colonialism are highlighted as the darker sides of European culture (…) But the most remarkable thing about the House is that.as far as its account is concerned, it is as if religion does not exist. In fact, it never existed and never impacted the history of the continent (…) No longer is European secularism fighting the Christian religion; it simply ignores every religious aspect in life altogether”.

The Brussels bureaucracy even deleted the Catholic roots of its official flag, the twelve stars symbolizing the ideal of unity, solidarity and harmony among the peoples of Europe. It was drawn by the French Catholic designer Arséne Heitz, who apparently took his inspiration from the Christian iconography of Virgin Mary. But the European Union’s official explanation of the flag makes no mention of these Christian roots.

The European Monetary and Economic Department of the European Commission then ordered Slovakia to redesign its commemorative coins by eliminating the Christian Saints Cyril and Methonius. There is no mention of Christianity in the 75,000 words of the aborted draft of the European Constitution.

The European Commission ordered Slovakia to redesign its commemorative coins by eliminating the Christian Saints Cyril and Methonius. (Image sources: Coin – European Commission; Bratislava, Slovakia – Frettie/Wikimedia Commons)

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière, of Angela Merkel’s ruling Christian Democratic Party, recently suggested introducing Muslim public holidays. “In places where there are many Muslims, why can’t we think about introducing a Muslim public holiday?”, he said.

“The submission is moving ahead,” replied Erika Steinbach, the influential former chair of the Federation of Expellees — Germans expelled from various Eastern European countries during and after World War II.

Beatrix von Storch, a leading politician from Alternative for Germany Party (AfD), just tweeted: “NO! NO! NO!”.

De Maizière’s proposal shows that when it comes to Islam, Europe’s official “post-Christian” secularism is simply missing in action.

A few weeks ago, a European Union-funded exhibition, “Islam, It’s also our history!”, was hosted in Brussels. The exhibition tracks the impact of Islam in Europe. An official statement claims:

“The historical evidence displayed by the exhibition – the reality of an old-age Muslim presence in Europe and the complex interplay of two civilisations that fought against each other but also interpenetrated each other – underpins an educational and political endeavour: helping European Muslims and non Muslims alike to better grasp their common cultural roots and cultivate their shared citizenship”.

Isabelle Benoit, a historian who helped design the exhibition, told AP: “We want to make clear to Europeans that Islam is part of European civilisation and that it isn’t a recent import but has roots going back 13 centuries”.

The official European establishment has turned its back on Christianity. The establishment appear unaware of the extent to which the continent and its people still depend on the moral guidance of its humanitarian values, especially at a time when radical Islam has launched a civilization challenge to the West. “It is simply a problem of a packing that tends to fill a ‘void'”, just wrote Ernesto Galli della Loggia in the Italian daily newspaper Il Corriere della Sera.

“It is impossible to ignore that behind the packing are two great theological and political traditions — that of the Russian Orthodoxy and Islam — while behind the ‘void’ there is only the fading of the Christian consciousness of the European West”.

That is why it is hard to understand the “logic” behind the official European animosity toward Christianity and its attraction to a basically totalitarian Islam. Europe could easily be secular without being militantly anti-Christian. It is easier to understand why thousands of Poles just took part in a mass protest along Poland’s borders to voice their opposition to “secularization and Islam’s influence“, which is exactly the same as the official crazy EU credo.

During the Second World War, the Allies avoided bombing Brussels, because it was to be the site of European rebirth. If the European elite continue with this cultural repudiation of their Judeo-Christian-Humanistic culture, the city could be its grave.

Giulio Meotti, Cultural Editor for Il Foglio, is an Italian journalist and author.

Clare Lopez: Trump Takes Aim at Iran’s ‘Clandestine Nuclear Weapons Program’

Posted October 18, 2017 by danmillerinpanama
Categories: Iran compliance with JCPOA, Iran scam termination, Iran's undeclared nuke sites, Iranian military sites, Iranian missiles, Iranian nukes, Iranian resistance, Iranian Revolutionary Guard terrorist designation, JCPOA decertification, Non-Proliferation Treaty, Trump and Iran, Trump and Iran scam, U.S. Congress and Iran, U.S. Congress and Iran scam

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Clare Lopez: Trump Takes Aim at Iran’s ‘Clandestine Nuclear Weapons Program’, Breitbart,  Clare M. Lopez, October 17, 2017

AFP

Iran remains a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is obligated under the terms of that agreement to disclose all nuclear sites to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Of course, it never has. In fact, of all the facilities now known to be part of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, not one was ever reported first by the Iranian regime itself.

Denying re-certification for the Iranian nuclear deal is an important first step as is the Treasury Department designation and sanctioning of the IRGC. Designating the IRGC to the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list and complete withdrawal from the JCPOA should follow. Seeking the support of our closest allies and partners to implement a follow-on set of measures, including sanctions and increasingly coercive commercial, diplomatic, legal, military, and political steps, is also critical if we are to ensure that this Tehran regime never has the ability to deploy deliverable nuclear weapons that threaten any of us.

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President Donald J. Trump put the Iranian regime on notice with his speech last week: the time when the United States (U.S.) government would turn a blind eye to its decades-long drive for deliverable nuclear weapons is over. Citing a long litany of destabilizing, rogue behavior on the part of Tehran, the president announced he would not re-certify Iranian compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) or Iran nuclear deal.

That is a necessary and first step, but must be followed up with a clear U.S. strategy for ending Iranian support to Islamic terror proxies and the criminal regime of Syrian Bashar al-Assad, its reckless regional aggression, human rights abuses against its own people, and above all, development of an entire range of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) – biological, chemical, and nuclear – as well as the ballistic missiles on which to deliver them.

By making explicit references to “Iran’s clandestine nuclear weapons program” and “illicit nuclear program,” President Trump acknowledged what many have known for a long time: there has never been a time since 1988, when the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini first ordered his Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) to “get the bomb,” that Iran has not had a clandestine nuclear weapons program. The world first learned publicly about that illicit program in 2002, when the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) blew the lid off the program with revelations about places whose names are now well-known, including Natanz and Isfahan. Iran remains a signatory to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is obligated under the terms of that agreement to disclose all nuclear sites to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Of course, it never has. In fact, of all the facilities now known to be part of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, not one was ever reported first by the Iranian regime itself.

One of the most glaring problems with the terms of the JCPOA is that there is no obligatory mechanism under which the Iranian regime is compelled to open facilities to IAEA inspection where it is suspected that nuclear weapons work is being done. Iran’s leadership has made quite clear in numerous public statements that it will never allow inspectors onto military sites it declares off-limits. Unfortunately, this means there is no chance under the terms of the JCPOA for IAEA inspectors ever to clear up the many unresolved “Possible Military Dimensions” of Iran’s nuclear program – involving nuclear warhead work, explosive charges to initiate the implosion sequence of a nuclear bomb, and more – that were enumerated in the November 2011 quarterly report on the Iranian nuclear program by the IAEA Board of Governors.

On 11 October 2017, the NCRI issued a new report, entitled “Iran’s Nuclear Core: Uninspected Military Sites,” which reveals four more of the clandestine sites where the Iranian military is conducting nuclear weapons R&D. While Iran’s alarming and destabilizing geo-strategic behavior certainly provides more than enough reason for the president to find the JCPOA not in America’s national security interests, it is the Iranian regime’s blatant violation of the nuclear NPT as well as material breaches of the JCPOA (especially section T, that deals with nuclear warhead work), that fully justify U.S. withdrawal from the nuclear deal entirely.

Denying re-certification for the Iranian nuclear deal is an important first step as is the Treasury Department designation and sanctioning of the IRGC. Designating the IRGC to the U.S. Department of State’s Foreign Terrorist Organizations (FTO) list and complete withdrawal from the JCPOA should follow. Seeking the support of our closest allies and partners to implement a follow-on set of measures, including sanctions and increasingly coercive commercial, diplomatic, legal, military, and political steps, is also critical if we are to ensure that this Tehran regime never has the ability to deploy deliverable nuclear weapons that threaten any of us.

Clare M. Lopez is the Vice President for Research and Analysis at the Center for Security Policy.

Iran general: Trump quiet on military ​threat because he ‘realizes our power’ 

Posted October 18, 2017 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Iran general: Trump quiet on military ​threat because he ‘realizes our power’ | The Times of Israel

Hossein Salami says US president omitted his predecessors ‘all options on the table’ comment because he recognizes Tehren as a ‘credible’ adversary

US President Donald Trump speaks about the Iran deal from the Diplomatic Reception room of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 13, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI)

US President Donald Trump speaks about the Iran deal from the Diplomatic Reception room of the White House in Washington, DC, on October 13, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / Brendan SMIALOWSKI)

The deputy head of Iran’s hardline Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) mocked US President Donald Trump Tuesday, saying that his omission of military options in his recent rhetoric threatening to cancel the Iran nuclear deal proves he is scared of engaging the Islamic Republic.

“Unlike the past, the new US president didn’t speak of the military option against Iran because Iran’s power is credible and the enemy has realized and accepted Iran’s power,” said General Hossein Salami, in remarks quoted by Iran’s Fars news agency.

IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami (YouTube screen capture)

In a much-anticipated White House speech on Friday, Trump stopped short of withdrawing from the accord, but “decertified” his support for the agreement and left its fate in the hands of Congress.

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), the nuclear control accord reached between Iran and the so-called P5+1 — Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia and the United States — was signed in 2015 and saw economic sanctions on Iran lifted in return for limitations place on it nuclear program to prevent it from producing nuclear weapons. Israeli officials, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, opposed the deal, saying it did not go far enough to prevent Iran from going nuclear in the future.

Outlining the results of a review of efforts to counter Tehran’s “aggression” in a series of Middle East conflicts, Trump ordered tougher sanctions on Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps and on its ballistic missile program.

But unlike his predecessor Barack Obama who said during the negotiations for the 2015 agreement that “all options are on the table,” Trump made no threat of using military force against Iran if they fail to comply.

“Trump’s remarks, which seemed threatening on the surface, admitted emergence of an uncontrollable power,” Salami said, addressing a ceremony in Tehran. “It’s clear that he realizes our power.”

Salami said that Trump’s speech was “US defeats, failure and inability,” according to Fars.

Trump, however did announce targeted sanctions on the Revolutionary Guards, a key instrument of Tehran’s military and foreign policy that the president described as “the Iranian Supreme Leader’s corrupt personal terror force and militia.”

He said he is authorizing the US Treasury Department to “further sanction the entire Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps for its support for terrorism and to apply sanctions to its officials, agents, and affiliates.”

But the US leader backed away from designating the Guards Corps as a terror group, a move that would have triggered a slew of sanctions and almost certain Iranian retribution.

Irani Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said on Sunday that Trump’s speech outlining an aggressive new strategy against Iran violated Tehran’s nuclear agreement with world powers.

The virulent speech contravened three articles of the 2015 deal, Zarif said in televised remarks broadcast late on Saturday.

They include the requirement to implement the accord “in good faith” and for the US to “refrain from re-introducing or re-imposing” sanctions related to Iran’s nuclear program.

Israeli drone strike said to have killed Palestinian IS fighter in Sinai 

Posted October 18, 2017 by josephwouk
Categories: Uncategorized

Source: Israeli drone strike said to have killed Palestinian IS fighter in Sinai | The Times of Israel

Reported strikes in northern region of Egyptian peninsula came shortly after jihadist group fired 2 rockets into the Negev

A picture taken on September 17, 2017, in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, along the border with Egypt, shows smoke billowing from Egypt’s North Sinai. (AFP/SAID KHATIB)

A Palestinian militant linked to the Islamic State jihadist group in the Sinai Peninsula has reportedly been killed by an Israeli drone in retaliation for rocket fire launched from the Egyptian territory into Israel.

Gaza native Zaher Abu Sitta was killed by the drone strike earlier this week, according to the Amaq News Agency which is linked to the IS faction in the Sinai.

The reported strikes were in the area of Rafah and Sheikh Zweid in northern Sinai, and came shortly after the firing of two rockets on Sunday night that landed in the Eshkol region of Israel causing no damage or injuries.

The Islamic State group took responsibility for the attacks.

Tribal sources in the Sinai Peninsula said Israeli planes attacked targets in the Egyptian territory a short time after rockets were fired into Israel, the Qatar-based Al-Araby Al-Jadeed media outlet reported.

Israel has not indicated or confirmed that it had responded to the rocket attack in any way.

IS often claims that Israel is assisting its opponents or directly targeting its forces in Syria.

The IS announcement that it had fired the two rockets was made by the Amaq News Agency, which is affiliated with the terror group.

IS claimed that during clashes with Egyptian forces, “Jewish” aircraft were assisting Egypt’s security forces and that it fired rockets at the Eshkol region in Israel in retaliation.

The two rockets struck areas inside the southern Eshkol region, an area that abuts both the Gaza Strip and the Sinai Peninsula, the IDF said at the time. A military spokesperson said one of the missiles had been located in an open field near the communities of Magen and Ein Habesor, but that soldiers and police were still looking for the second.

The Sinai-based offshoot of Islamic State has been waging a bloody war with Egyptian forces for years and has also occasionally directed its attacks at Israel, launching rockets at nearby Jewish communities and in one case at the southern city of Eilat.

On Sunday, members of the terrorist group carried out multiple attacks on six Egyptian checkpoints near the border, killing at least six soldiers and injuring dozens more.

Egyptian officials said the near-simultaneous attacks took place at and around the town of Sheikh Zweid, with dozens of fighters using heavy machine guns and mortars. Apache helicopter gunships were called in to repel the attackers, said the officials.

Occasionally, the terrorist group also launches rocket attacks at Israeli targets, in what many analysts believe to be shows of strength and attempts to score propaganda points.

In April, one rocket struck a greenhouse in the community of Yuval in the Eshkol region, slightly damaging the structure, but causing no injuries. Another rocket was launched at Israel by the terrorist group in May, but it struck an open field.