Archive for March 20, 2017

Muslim woman called “Nazi scum” by leftists

March 20, 2017

Muslim woman called “Nazi scum” by leftists, Rebel Media via YouTube, March 20, 2017

(A Muslim woman from Pakistan, who does not want Sharia law or other Islamist “benefits” in Canada, characterized as Islamophobic and ignorant by Canadian leftists who have never been to Pakistan. Is she a “real” or “fake” Muslim? — DM)

 

Facing Trump Administration, Iran Shows Fear And Military Self-Restraint, Halts Provocations, Threats, And Incitement – While Boosting Morale At Home And Delegating The Bulk Of Conflict To Its Proxies

March 20, 2017

Facing Trump Administration, Iran Shows Fear And Military Self-Restraint, Halts Provocations, Threats, And Incitement – While Boosting Morale At Home And Delegating The Bulk Of Conflict To Its Proxies, MEMRIA. Savyon and Yigal Carmon* March 20, 2017

Introduction

Since the establishment of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump, which is known to be against Iran’s revolutionary regime, Iran has faced a new reality. On the one hand, the U.S. is acting to organize the Gulf countries and Arab countries into an arrangement that Arab media have dubbed an “Arab NATO” which is aimed against Iran. On the other hand, Iran senses that despite the Iran-Russia cooperation in recent years and in various areas, Russia is abandoning it for its other vital interests, such as an understanding with the U.S. in order to advance the lifting of the sanctions against it, and an understanding with Turkey as its top regional partner.[1]

These developments have given rise in Tehran to a sense that it is besieged and under an emerging existential threat, in light of the crystallization of a comprehensive U.S.-Russia-Arab (including Israel) front against the Iranian revolutionary regime.

This report will review the overall Iranian reaction to this new situation:

The Iranian Response To The New Developments

Iran’s response to these new developments is characterized by fear of U.S. activity against its regime, as can be seen in several areas:

1. Considerable military restraint and a halt to long-range missile tests, in response to the warning by President Trump: Following Iran’s failed January 29, 2017 launch of its long-range Khorramshahr missile, the Trump administration announced that Iran was being “put on notice.” At that time, Iran had been making preparations to launch yet another long-range missile, and had made the practical arrangements for doing so; the launch was cancelled following the U.S. warning. Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) Aerospace Force commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh complained, on March 9, that Iran had been so firmly deterred that it is even refraining from using a missile to launch a satellite into orbit: “We have a missile for non-military purposes for launching satellites. But it is being put into storage because of America’s angry tone?! … How much longer will we be blackmailed and forced to compromise? If we do not change our strategy, and continue to operate according to orders from officials who are stuck in the mud, our situation will deteriorate daily.”[2]

The satellite images below, taken by ImageSat International (ISI),[3] show the launch site in Semnan. The first image, taken January 17, shows the launch site and launch pedestal as inactive; it also shows, on the ground, the emblem of the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) and the emblem of the Simorgh (“Phoenix”) orbital carrier rocket that is used to launch satellites. The second image, taken February 3, shows the launch pedestal ready for launch and many vehicles at the launch site.

Left to right: Image 1: Launch site in Semnan showing inactive launch pedestal, with emblems, taken January 17, 2017; Image 2: Launch site showing pedestal ready for launch and vehicles surrounding the site, taken February 3, 2017.

Images 3 and 4 below, also taken February 3, show the integration facility during a visit by a VIP in advance of the launch. The VIP’s vehicle, and many others, including jeeps from the VIP’s motorcade, can be seen.

Left to right: Images 3 and 4, showing integration facility during the VIP’s visit; taken February 3, 2017.

Image 5, taken two days later, on February 5, shows that the launch site is again inactive.

Image 5 – launch site again inactive, taken February 3, 2017.

The day after the cancellation of the missile launch, on February 4, IRGC Aerospace Force commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh said: “America is looking for excuses surrounding our missile tests, because the enemy has set its sights on [harming] our security. The enemy deals with issues such as [our] nuclear capabilities and science, the might of [our] missiles, and so on. These are all merely excuses [to justify] their hostility towards the Islamic regime and the Iranian nation.”[4]

Also indicating Iran’s military self-restraint were February 9, 2017 statements by Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan. On the eve of Iran’s Revolution Day, he spoke about “the new claim by American elements and media outlets regarding an additional missile test by Iran. These false claims,” he added, “are a type of creating an enemy and Iranophobia. This is planned by the Zionist regime, which incites while spreading lies.

“First, this is a false claim, and nothing like [such a missile launch] happened; second, even if such a test was conducted, it had nothing to do with them at all; and third, Iran’s missile program is a standard program, and missile tests are part of these plans, which are made in advance; these tests are conducted in order to maintain our country’s defensive readiness.”[5]

  1. A halt to provocations against U.S. Navy vessels, and even an official IRGC statement that responsibility for handling the crews of foreign vessel apprehended penetrating Iranian territorial waters was being transferred from the IRGC to the civilian Ports & Maritime Organization (PMO): This is due to fear of a harsh response by the Trump administration to humiliation of American captives – as happened in January 2016, even though there had been no real response to this from the Obama administration.[6]
  2. A halt to public threats to burn and sink U.S. Navy vessels in the Persian Gulf,[7] and a near-total moratorium on hostile anti-U.S. statements: The slogan “death to America” has disappeared almost entirely from the official discourse of regime spokesmen, including Iranian Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei himself,[8] as have public burnings of the American flag.[9]

In a March 16, 2017 article, the ideological camp mouthpiece Kayhan attacked the government of Iranian President Hassan Rohani, stating that the government is claiming that “when Trump was elected, [Rohani government officials] said that Trump was unpredictable and makes unconsidered decisions – and that is why it is better for us to refrain from saying anything to offend him…”[10]

  1. Boosting morale and persuading Iranians of the might of their country and of the need for faith in God and in the armed forces’ ability to face down the U.S.: One example of this was a television interview with Defense Minister Dehghan on February 7, 2017, on the eve of Revolution Day. In it, Dehghan said that today, that is, after Trump took office, Iran is on the defensive against the American threat: “We consider defense to be necessary for our country, for other Muslim countries, and for Muslims [in general]… It is certain that the enemies are lying in wait for our regime. It is our duty to equip ourselves to the point that no one dares threaten us, blackmail us, or attack our country. All defensive elements, together with the nation as a whole, stand against the enemy to prevent an attack by it, and if the enemy attacks, we will punish it…

“The countries around us are no threat to us. The threat to us is an extra-regional threat known as the regime of arrogance [i.e. the U.S.], which is why we must acquire anything that gives us the upper hand – that is, asymmetric warfare. We must operate so that on the designated day [when war breaks out], not only will we not be caught off guard strategically, but we will surprise the enemy and inflict the maximum damage on it…”[11]

One example of efforts to boost national morale was a speech by IRGC Deputy Commander Hossein Salami, who had often issued threats to the U.S. and had said that Iran would destroy its forces in the Gulf. On February 2, 2017, Salami highlighted Iran’s defensive capabilities in light of the uniting of ranks by its enemies: “Today, the enemies have joined forces against our great revolution, but their plans have been defeated. The entire world wants to wipe us off the geographical map… but the martyrs have shown that any superpower can be confronted with reliance on faith, with Islam, and with obedience to the leader. By relying on jihad and martyrdom, we can confront any power and defend the honor of Muslims.

“Our glorious history is full of victories over the arrogance [i.e. the U.S.]… The Islamic regime of Iran has succeeded in gaining major influence in the Islamic world… Our nation is so mighty… We are involved in a great jihad, and as long as the Muslims [meaning the Shi’ites] dream of martyrdom and rely on the directives of the Koran, which light our way, we will never be defeated, but we will defeat the enemy…

“Iran’s mighty missile force is included in the list of unprecedented global deterrents. If the enemy fears our nuclear might, it can flee to the bomb shelters.

“The Iranian nation has learned to create might by reliance on internal faith… Every day, the number of defensive missiles, warships, and launchers increases. The air, land, and sea are under the control of this nation… here, in the land of heroes and martyrs.”[12]

Also in his February 4 speech, IRGC Aerospace Force commander Amir Ali Hajizadeh highlighted Iran’s ability to withstand an American attack: “The threats to Iran made by certain American elements are merely boasts. Due to my knowledge of the capabilities of our armed forces, I confidently say that a foreign threat will not influence our Islamic regime. We rely on the infinite might of God, while America relies on earthly equipment and might. We will emerge victorious from the arena in any possible scenario. We will not hesitate for a single moment in creating and strengthening our defensive capabilities… 24 hours a day, we work to defend the security of the nation, and if the enemy makes the smallest error, our missiles will land on its head like a thunderclap.”[13]

  1. Strengthening the resistance front and delegating the fight against Iran’s enemies – the West, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf states – to Iran’s proxies: These proxies include the Shi’ite militias in Iraq and the Houthis in Yemen, as well as Syria, Hizbullah, and the Palestinian organizations, which are operated by Iran, to revive the battlefront against Israel (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6811, Iran Prepares Militarily And Politically Vis-à-vis Trump Administration: Strategic Alliance With Russia, Dragging Israel Into War With Hizbullah, Palestinians, March 3, 2017).

The Iran-backed Houthis in Yemen have recently been firing missiles at Saudi Arabia: On March 17, the Houthis fired a medium-range ballistic missile at an Aramco facility in Jazan, Saudi Arabia.[14] Also on March 17, the Houthis fired three missiles at a mosque in an army base in Ma’rib Governorate during Friday prayers. The attack killed and wounded dozens of officers and soldiers.[15] Additionally, a locally made Yemeni Borkan-2 missile was fired at the King Salman airbase in Riyadh.[16]

Further, the Syrian regime has been escalating its responses to Israeli attacks on convoys transferring strategic missiles from Iran to Hizbullah. Unlike in the past, this week the Syrian regime fired anti-aircraft missiles at Israeli aircraft. MEMRI assesses that this was the result of Iranian pressure on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad and on Hizbullah to respond in accordance with Iranian policy in order to spark a military confrontation with Israel.

Furthermore, it should be mentioned that as part of the Iranian regime’s efforts to revive the Palestinian front against Israel, on February 21, 2017, Tehran held the Sixth Conference in Support of the Palestinian Intifada. In his opening remarks at the conference, Supreme Leader Khamenei stressed the need to assist resistance movements in their military struggle against Israel, and said that Iran’s aid to these movements is directly tied to the level of these movements’ commitment to the principles of “resistance” (i.e. the struggle against Israel). He especially highlighted the need to continue aiding the resistance in the West bank, saying: “The main pivot of the Resistance is the steadfastness and endurance of the Palestinian people who have raised courageous and resistant children. Meeting the needs of the Palestinian people and Palestinian resistance is an important and vital responsibility which should be carried out by all of us. In doing so, we should not ignore the basic needs of the Resistance in the West Bank because the West Bank shoulders the main burden of the suppressed intifada.” (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6795, Khamenei In Speech At Iran’s Sixth International Conference In Support Of Palestinian Intifada: ‘We [Stand] With Every Group That Is Steadfast On This Path [Of Resistance]’; ‘Cancerous Tumor’ Israel Must Be Cured In Several Phases, February 21, 2017).

It should also be mentioned that as part of Iranian efforts against Israel, Hizbullah secretary-general Hassan Nasrallah has recently made aggressive statements about Israel in interviews with Iranian and Lebanese media.

  1. Attempting to connect Russia to Iran in a strategic alliance (see MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6795, Iran Prepares Militarily And Politically Vis-à-vis Trump Administration: Strategic Alliance With Russia, Dragging Israel Into War With Hizbullah, Palestinians, March 3, 2017).
  2. Clinging insistently to the JCPOA, even in light of actions by the U.S. that Iranian representatives had once stated would lead Iran to revert to a pre-JCPOA situation.

Moreover, in this context, MEMRI assesses that Iran will under no circumstances withdraw from the JCPOA, even if the Trump administration increases the sanctions against it, and even if the U.S. takes military action against Iranian interests in the region. This is because the JCPOA is an historic achievement for Iran, since it grants it the status of a nuclear state. Furthermore, according to the Iranian regime mouthpiece Kayhan, the Rohani government had presented the JCPOA as a tool to prevent a war against the Iranian regime.[17]

 

*A. Savyon is Director of the MEMRI Iranian Media Project; Y. Carmon is President of MEMRI.

 

[1] See MEMRI Inquiry and Analysis No. 1303, ‘Iran Diplomacy’ Following Tripartite U.S.-Russia-Turkey Military Chiefs of Staff Meeting: ‘If You Aren’t Sitting At The Table, You Are Being Eaten At The Table,‘ March 15, 2017.

[2] Tasnim (Iran), March 9, 2017.

[3] ISI – ImageSat International – is a privately owned company which provides confidential earth imagery acquisition under prioritized tasking management with very high resolution image quality.

[4] Tasnim (Iran), February 4, 2017.

[5] Asr-e-Iran (Iran), February 9, 2017.

[6] According to IRGC Navy commander Ali Fadavi, the IRGC signed an agreement with the Ports and Maritime Organization of Iran (PMO) under which the crews of all foreign naval vessels penetrating Iranian territorial waters and captured by the IRGC would be handed over to the PMO. Defapress.ir February 27, 2017.

[7] An isolated incident on March 4, 2017 saw IRGC boats approach an American destroyer, forcing it to change course. The Iranians later argued that the incident came about because the destroyer had deviated from its regular path. Tasnim (Iran), March 8, 2017.

[8] Assembly of Experts head and Guardian Council secretary Ayatollah Ahmad Jannati was the one official who did use the “death to America” slogan during a Revolution Day parade on February 10, 2017. He said: “Today, we all chant the slogan ‘death to America’ and trample its flag. This means we will not compromise nor back down to evil. We are not alone in the world, and throughout the world there are many nations that trample the American flag. Hostility towards America is the slogan of all those who are oppressed and desire freedom. We will never end our hostility towards evil, and we will always chant the slogan ‘no to humiliation.'” Fars (Iran), February 10, 2017.

[9] It should be noted that some attempted to justify this by calling it a sign of respect for the American people who voted against Trump.

[10] Kayhan (Iran), March 16, 2017. It should be mentioned that while the ideological camp’s hawks, such as the IRGC and Kayhan, accuse the pragmatic camp and President Rohani of responsibility for this policy of self-restraint, Supreme Leader Khamenei consents to this policy, and even leads it himself.

[11] Tasnim (Iran), February 8, 2017.

[12] Tasnim (Iran), February 2, 2017.

[13] Tasnim (Iran), February 4, 2017.

[14] Al-Akhbar (Lebanon), March 18, 2017.

[15] ‘Okaz (Saudi Arabia), March 18, 2017.

[16] Al-Quds Al-Arabi (London), March 18, 2017.

[17] Kayhan (Iran), March 16, 2017.

Where is the America in which I grew up?

March 20, 2017

Where is the America in which I grew up? Israel National News, Joe David, March 20, 2017

(I was born in America a bit more than seventy-five years ago and feel the same way. Will America recover? Can she?  Will the “Deep State” allow it? Please see also,
I Will Name Names’: Infighting At EPA Drives Top Official To Resign and To Truly Beat The Bureaucrats, Trump Needs To Shut Their Agencies Down. President Trump needs all of the help he can get, and even that may be insufficient.– DM)

Some believe that it may be too late to stop this cozy triumvirate from achieving their goal, because they are too rooted for one president alone to handle. But one thing is for sure, whether the president wins or loses, the deep state’s cover has been blown. Thanks to the messaging of one brave man the America has wised up to what is happening and what is at stake. Hopefully that means that there will never be any turning back for the country and it will always be looking forward toward achieving a freer and healthier tomorrow.

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The America I knew growing up is rapidly disappearing. Law and order is being replaced by mob rule. A madness has claimed the country, introduced in recent years by hate groups who are dedicated to using violent protests to cause political instability. In a frenzy of madness, often triggered by just an innuendo, these groups want to crush all opposition to their agenda. For astute observers of our culture, this doesn’t come as a surprise. Our great universities, which were once citadels of reason, a safe place for open discourse, have abandoned both – and they have become instead centers for cultivating insurrection, with minimal tolerance for truth and clear thinking.

As a result of the events in the last eight years, I have come to the conclusion that my beloved country – the land of liberty, once ruled by freedom of speech, law and order, and a constitutional government – is being irreparably compromised by rebellion. In just a matter of a few years, many Americans have tossed aside sense and have joyfully embraced mob violence (examples, Berkeley University, inauguration riotsMichael Savage attack, and much, much more). The lessons in history on the fall of great nations have all been ignored – for those lucky enough to have once learned these lessons in school.

Every scheme that man could conceive to break a nation is being used today by agitators (i.e., followers of Saul Alinsky) in their eagerness to wipe away our liberties and independence in their move toward complete political control.

The strong, proud country of yesteryear, which once produced wealthy entrepreneurs and productive workers, is rapidly vanishing. Its citizens are demanding entitlement programs over honest employment, and, to get their way, they are using divisive rhetoric and action. Progressive leaders have spawned a lazy generation of lazy parasites who expect everything to be given to them – from housing and food to university education and medical plans. (Several supporters: Bernie SandersElizabeth Warren, and other left-wingers.)

What few resources that haven’t been squandered on federal aid programs (international and domestic) are insufficient to sustain us for long. America has seriously been weakened by poor management, and today it faces the world, impoverished and vulnerable, a cripple on broken crutches about to collapse (from the load of a nearly 20-trillion-dollar National debt).

Reaching this state didn’t occur overnight nor was it a result of one or two leaders. It was achieved over the years by the focused efforts of universities committed to turning students into social reformers obsessed with deconstructing a great nation To quote David Horowitz in his March 14, 2017, letter to his readers, we have reached this point “through silent planning, crafty messaging using pop culture as their vehicle, and the subtle brainwashing of the most impressionable group of people in our society – students.”

Our great universities aren’t completely to blame for what is happening in our country. If they were, their mistakes and deceits would have been exposed and corrected by a fair-minded media. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case. Instead, the universities have been protected by a mass media, stripped of objectivity and impartiality and bent on advancing their views with minimal respect for truth. As a result, educators have been free to do whatever they like, while journalists aggressively discredit anyone who challenges them. (Review almost any news spin on major school issues.)

Protecting these two deceivers from their questionable activities is a shadow government, made up of federal, state, and local workers who remain securely positioned, regardless of who is in the White House. This shadow government or deep state, as it is currently being called, has compiled over the years sufficient data on all us (by tapping into our emails, phone and medical records, and more) in order to silence us, when necessary.

Until recently, its existence was never obvious. The country moved along quietly, controlled by this shadow government, its citizens under the illusion that their freedom and independence was secure. From time to time there would be a news-breaking scandal when someone in position would question the decision of the deep state. But before the truth could be examined closely, the whistleblower would be compromised and the matter would come to a swift end.

Then, one man entered the political scene about a year ago who recently stepped into the Oval Office, a flawed but determined man, with one obsession, to turn America around and clean the swamp. Almost immediately, all hell broke loose across the country.

In an effort to discredit the man, everything positive that he was trying to do for the country was overshadowed by vicious innuendo and news stories. A sex tape, tax reports, an alleged Russian connection, and more were used against him to build a major scandal. In the establishment’s effort to bring him down, it exposed itself for what it really was attempting to do. That became obvious recently, when someone in position released highly classified CIA information. This information which was leaked to WikiLeaks by someone like an Edward Snowden, buried in the deep state, revealed the establishment’s true intent: not just to discredit a man, but to break a nation.

Some believe that it may be too late to stop this cozy triumvirate from achieving their goal, because they are too rooted for one president alone to handle. But one thing is for sure, whether the president wins or loses, the deep state’s cover has been blown. Thanks to the messaging of one brave man the America has wised up to what is happening and what is at stake. Hopefully that means that there will never be any turning back for the country and it will always be looking forward toward achieving a freer and healthier tomorrow.

Turkey’s Holy War

March 20, 2017

Turkey’s Holy War, Front Page MagazineRobert Ellis, March 20, 1017

(What common interests do Trump’s America and Erdogan’s Turkey have? Are they sufficient to warrant cooperation with Turkey in any area? — DM)

In Islamic eschatology the Mahdi (‘messiah’) plays a prominent role. For the Iranian Shia he is already born and has hidden down a well for over a millennium, waiting for the right time to emerge. Turkish Sunnis already have a candidate, breathing fire and brimstone and ready to purge the world.

At least, so it would seem, to judge from the campaign Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has waged against unbelievers who have dared to block his plans to become the country’s all-powerful leader. 

On April 16 a referendum will be held in Turkey, where voters can decide on constitutional amendments which will remove all cumbersome checks and balances to Erdoğan’s power. In his campaign to secure a ‘yes’, Erdoğan has admitted he has been planning for such a system since he was mayor of Istanbul in the 1990s. Furthermore, that his plans for an executive presidency will concentrate all power in the hands of one person.

This “Turkish-style” presidential system means Erdoğan will have the power to appoint and dismiss ministers and high-level state officials without the need for parliamentary approval. He will also be able to declare a state of emergency, issue decrees, dissolve parliament and call elections without being held to account. The president will not only be head of state but also head of government – the post of prime minister will be abolished, and in effect the judiciary will be subject to his control.

What is particularly alarming, as the Venice Commission (the Council of Europe’s advisory body) has pointed out, the way the new constitution is configured means the president could stay in office for a potentially unlimited period of time.

The current conflict with Europe derives from Erdoğan’s insistence to extend his referendum campaign to the Turkish diaspora (there are about two and a half million Turks eligible to vote in Turkey in various European countries). However, as not all Turks are Erdoğan supporters, there is the danger of clashes, which could destabilize forthcoming elections in France and Germany, and latest in Holland.

Erdoğan has reacted violently to Germany and Holland’s refusal to allow him and his ministers to hold rallies, accusing Germany of “Nazi methods” and Holland of being “Nazi remnants” and “fascists” as well as “a banana republic.” This may go down well with Erdoğan’s supporters but not in Europe, where relations with Turkey are already strained.

But Erdoğan has stepped up the rhetoric. In a spectacular example of projection Erdoğan has claimed that “the spirit of fascism is running wild on the streets of Europe” and has compared the banning of rallies to the treatment of Jews during the Second World War. Here Erdoğan conveniently ignores that there has been a state of emergency in Turkey since the abortive coup last July, where public assemblies are banned and free speech is stifled. Also the fact that more than 135,000 have lost their jobs and over 140,000 have been detained or arrested in the ongoing purge of the Gülen movement, which has been held responsible for the coup.

Naysayers have been stigmatized as siding with the coup plotters, and the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and the Gülen movement have been accused of backing the ‘no’ campaign. A prominent cleric has also branded opponents of the constitutional amendments as “opponents of Islam.”

Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Çavuşoğlu has warned of “holy wars” in Europe and Erdoğan has spoken of a struggle between the cross and the crescent, after the European Court of Justice allowed employers to ban the Islamic headscarf along with other religious symbols. As Turkey is term president of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), President Erdoğan also intends to mobilize the OIC against Euro-fascism.

President Trump has not yet formulated a policy against radical Islamic terrorism but until now has left it to his generals to decide policy in the war against ISIL.

Here Turkey plays a key role, especially as Turkish forces in support of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) occupy an area in northern Syria, driving a wedge between two Kurdish autonomous areas. The question is whether the US in its drive to take Raqqa will continue to support the predominantly Kurdish Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) or agree to cooperate with Turkey. The issue is still open to debate but will not be decided until after Turkey’s referendum in April.

In the meantime, the Trump administration has decided to send Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to meet with Turkey’s leaders at the end of the month. Whether this will be enough to assuage Turkish fears remains to be seen.

Taiwan Receives U.S. Navy Frigates, Plans Purchase of American Fighter Jets

March 20, 2017

Taiwan Receives U.S. Navy Frigates, Plans Purchase of American Fighter Jets, Breitbart, Frances Martel, March 20, 2017

AP/Daniel Morel

The government of Taiwan is planning to request the purchase of new fighter aircraft from the United States, The Guardian reported today, just as it completes the transfer of two decommissioned U.S. Navy frigates. The move comes amid concerns that the Communist Party in Beijing is seeking to crack down on the pro-independence government of President Tsai Ing-wen.

The Guardian cites Taiwanese Defense Minister Feng Shih-kuan as alerting the nation’s legislature that his government is seeking to purchase more modern aircraft to replace its currently fleet of F-16s. Feng’s request for more modern aircraft was a response to a review of Taiwan’s defense capabilities recently released by his ministry and published every four years. The review warned that the Chinese government had significantly expanded its ability to attack Taiwan is necessary. China has invested heavily in military construction in the South China Sea, particularly in regions that are not sovereign Chinese territory but China insists has belonged to them since ancient times.”

The fighter jet purchases are part of a greater proposed defense spending increase in the year’s budget. The South China Morning Post reports that Taiwan is looking to increase its defense spending from two to three percent of its GDP in 2018, a high not seen since 1999. This would mean spending up to $11.4 billion on defense. Tsai’s predecessor, the Kuomintang Party’s Ma Jing-yeou, took a conciliatory approach to relations with Beijing.

The Guardian notes that China is proposing a seven percent increase in its defense spending to $151 billion.

The budget announcement also featured the revelation that Taiwan was now capable of launching missiles that can hit the Chinese mainland, a distance of nearly one thousand miles.

Taiwan recently expanded its naval capability by receiving two decommissioned American Oliver Hazard Perry-class frigates, who began their sail out of American port on March 9. The frigates are expected to begin active duty for the Taiwanese defense forces in May.

The Chinese government appears concerned with Taiwan’s moves to protect itself from a mainland invasion. State propaganda outlet Global Times published a column Friday warning Taipei to abandon hopes of being recognized as a sovereign nation and instead accept the status China insists it has as a rogue province. “No soldiers believe Taiwan forces are capable to defend the island if the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) launches a comprehensive offensive against Taiwan,” the column reads. “As long as the Tsai government accepts of the 1992 Consensus, the island’s security will be ensured. The eight-year-tenure of Ma Ying-Jeou is the most secure period Taiwan has enjoyed since entering the 21st century.”

“Therefore, the most important thing for Taiwan is not to provoke the one-China policy. This is the correct political way to protect the island’s security,” the column concludes.

Taiwan did just that late last year following the election of President Donald Trump in the United States. President Tsai called Trump to congratulate him on his election victory and Trump, in an unprecedented move, accepted the call, implying he understood Tsai to be a fellow head of state. The Chinese communist government condemned Tsai and insisted in assurances from Washington that the Trump administration would not abandon the “One China” policy, which demands foreign nations also deny Taiwan’s sovereignty. Trump reportedly agreed to the One China policy in a February phone call with President Xi Jinping.

Tsai, meanwhile, has insisted on respect for her nation’s self-governance. In a speech in January, Tsai condemned Beijing for “going back to the old path of dividing, coercing, and even threatening and intimidating Taiwan.” “For the sake of safeguarding regional peace and prosperity, I want to once again reiterate that our commitments will not change, and our goodwill will not change. But we will not bow to pressure, and we will of course not revert to the old path of confrontation,” she promised.

FULL MEASURE: March 19, 2017 – No Return

March 20, 2017

FULL MEASURE: March 19, 2017 – No Return via YouTube, March 20, 2017

(Thirty countries, to the citizens of which America issues visas, refuse to accept the repatriation of their citizens guilty of substantial criminal activity in America. The video suggests solutions. — DM)

 

Palestinians: Abbas’s Empty Promises

March 20, 2017

Palestinians: Abbas’s Empty Promises, Gatestone Institute, Khaled Abu Toameh, March 20, 2017

Abbas’s modus operandi is to flee from his problems at home by presenting himself to the international community as a leader who seeks peace. With every lick of the flames that threaten to engulf his palace of deception, the 82-year-old Abbas runs to seek sympathy among world leaders and international public opinion. Abbas’s promises of peace are as empty as the political sway he parades to his Western donors.

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Notably, these calls in favor of an armed struggle against Israel were coming from the streets of Ramallah and not the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Abbas can make all the promises in the world to the new US envoy. Fulfillment of any of them, however, is a different story altogether.

Abbas knows anyhow that he would never be able to win the support of a majority of Palestinians for any peace agreement he signs with Israel. No Palestinian leader is authorized to offer any concessions to Israel in return for peace.

On the eve of US envoy Jason Greenblatt’s visit to Ramallah last week, hundreds of Palestinians demonstrated in the city, calling on Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas to resign. The protesters also condemned the ongoing security cooperation between the PA and Israel.

“Listen, listen to us, Abbas; collect your dogs and leave us alone,” the Palestinian protesters chanted during what has been described as the largest anti-Abbas demonstration in Ramallah in recent years. They also called for the abrogation of the Oslo Accords with Israel, and denounced Abbas as a “coward” and an agent of the Americans.

It is not clear if Greenblatt had been aware of the large anti-Abbas demonstration, which came in protest against PA security forces’ violent crackdown on peaceful demonstrators in Ramallah a few days earlier.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right) meets with US envoy Jason Greenblatt (left), in Ramallah, on March 14, 2017. (Image source: NTDTV video screenshot)

At that protest, PA security officers used excessive force to disperse Palestinians who were demonstrating against the PA’s decision to prosecute four Palestinians for illegal possession of weapons. PA security forces arrested — and later released — the four suspects, although they had reportedly planned to carry out an attack against Israelis. One of the suspects, Basel Al-Araj, was killed in an armed clash with Israeli soldiers. (Al-Araj was wanted by Israel for planning an attack on Israelis. When Israeli soldiers surrounded the house where he was hiding, he opened fire from at them before he was killed.)

The killing of Al-Araj and the PA’s decision to prosecute his friends triggered the first protest that was brutally suppressed by the PA security forces. The second demonstration in Ramallah, a few days later, came in response to the excessive use of force by the PA security forces against the protesters.

The protests in Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinians, are yet another sign of growing discontent among Palestinians with Abbas and his autocratic regime. The Palestinians are particularly enraged over the Palestinian Authority’s security coordination with Israel, which is primarily aimed at combating terrorism and preventing Hamas from seizing control over the West Bank.

Yet this was far from a simple a protest against Abbas and his security forces. It was also a rallying cry for pursuing with further vigor the armed struggle against Israel.

“No to peace and no to all the nonsense, we want bullets and rockets,” some of the protesters chanted. Notably, these calls in favor of an armed struggle against Israel were coming from the streets of Ramallah and not the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

The protests also reflect Palestinians’ rejection of the so-called peace process with Israel. In addition to the calls on Abbas to step down, the protesters demanded as well that the PA leadership cancel all agreements with Israel, first and foremost the Oslo Accords.

In other words, Palestinians are trying extremely hard to get their message across: Israel is our enemy, not our peace partner.

In a desperate bid to contain the growing resentment on the Palestinian street, Abbas ordered an inquiry into the police violence against the Ramallah protesters. In that episode, journalists and lawyers, too, were among those who were brutally beaten by Abbas’s security officers.

Still, many Palestinians voiced skepticism about Abbas’s intentions, and pointed out that previous commissions of inquiry into police violence have rarely led to punitive measures against those responsible. “The formation of a commission of inquiry into the police violence is another attempt by Abbas to contain the anger of the Palestinian street and avoid an intifada against his regime,” remarked a Palestinian journalist in Ramallah. “Abbas’s Zionist Palestinian Authority poses a threat to the Palestinian cause.”

As Abbas was meeting with the US envoy, a public opinion poll published in Ramallah showed that a majority of 64% of Palestinians would like to see their president resign. Another 61% of Palestinians expressed dissatisfaction with Abbas’s performance. The poll also found that if presidential elections were held in the West Bank and Gaza Strip today, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh would receive the same percentage of votes as Abbas.

None of this — not the protests of rage and not the Palestinians’ expressions of disgust — appears to bother Abbas.

This is a president who seems utterly unconnected to reality — namely that a large number of Palestinians are disillusioned with him and see him as a puppet in the hands of Israel and the US. For now, he does not seem to care what his people think about him. But in the long run, he would never be able to deliver on any peace process with Israel without the backing of his people. Like his predecessor, Yasser Arafat, he does not want to go down in history as a “traitor” who sold out to Israel and the Jews.

Abbas, whose four-year-term term in office expired back in January 2009, is reported to have told the US envoy that a “historic” peace deal with Israel is possible. According to a statement released by the US Consulate in Jerusalem, Abbas also “committed to preventing inflammatory rhetoric and incitement (against Israel).”

So here is a Palestinian leader mouthing off about a “historic” deal with Israel, while only a few hundred meters away his people have made their message of rejection — of him and of peace — clear as a bell.

In a further irony, here is a Palestinian leader talking about preventing incitement while he and his media outlets and senior officials still spearhead a campaign to delegitimize and isolate Israel.

Just this week, Abbas decided to decorate for “bravery” senior UN official Rima Khalaf for publishing a controversial report that accuses Israel of “apartheid.” Khalaf has become a hero in the eyes of many Palestinians because of her report and subsequent resignation.

Abbas’s foreign minister, Riad Malki, has meanwhile voiced outrage over the UN secretary-general’s decision to drop the “apartheid” report (the reason Khalaf resigned). Malki said that the PA leadership has instructed all its embassies and representatives around the world to distribute the report as evidence of Israeli “crimes” against the Palestinians.

Abbas’s pledge to prevent inflammatory rhetoric against Israel seems to have missed his editors and journalists.

Take, for example, the Palestinian Authority-controlled media’s response to last week’s Jerusalem marathon. In the PA media, the sports event is depicted as part of Israel’s scheme to “Judaize” Jerusalem and change the “Arab and Islamic character” of the city.

In addition, Abbas’s media continues to portray visits by Jews to the Temple Mount as “provocative invasions” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. The Jewish visitors are described as “settler gangs” who carry out “suspicious tours” of Islamic religious sites. It is precisely this kind of terminology that is driving many Palestinians to carry out stabbings and car-rammings against Israelis.

Abbas can make all the promises in the world to the new US envoy. Fulfillment of any of them, however, is a different story altogether.

Abbas has had multiple opportunities to reach a “historic” deal with Israel, yet he has never delivered. Quite the contrary: he has repeatedly rejected offers for holding direct talks with Israel, insisting instead on pursuing his campaign to internationalize the conflict with the hope of imposing a solution on Israel.

Abbas knows anyhow that he would never be able to win the support of a majority of Palestinians for any peace agreement he signs with Israel. No Palestinian leader is authorized to offer any concessions to Israel in return for peace.

The “cordial” and “positive” meeting with the new US envoy will change nothing — certainly not Abbas’s stripes.

Abbas’s modus operandi is to flee from his problems at home by presenting himself to the international community as a leader who seeks peace. With every lick of the flames that threaten to engulf his palace of deception, the 82-year-old Abbas runs to seek sympathy among world leaders and international public opinion. Abbas’s promises of peace are as empty as the political sway he parades to his Western donors.