Archive for July 1, 2017

Cartoons and Video of the Day

July 1, 2017

Via LatmaTV

 

H/t Vermont Loon Watch

 

 

Via Stilton’s Place

 

H/t Freedom is Just Another Word

 

 

H/t Power Line

 

 

Today in Collusion

July 1, 2017

Today in Collusion, Power LineScott Johnson, July 1, 2017

(Huh? “If you’re confused, I’d ordinarily suggest that you go back and read the report a time or two. But life is short and rereading would not much clarify this spaghetti bowl hurled against the wall, in the hope that some of the Flynn sauce might stick.” — DM)

Lee Smith notes in his Tablet column “The strange tale of Jay Solomon” that the news side of the Wall Street Journal is straining to join the opposition to the Trump administration led by the Washington Post and the New York Times. “As one senior D.C. reporter told me recently,” Lee writes, “‘lots of Journal reporters want to join the anti-Trump resistance but they can’t do that because the editorial board thinks the Trump Russia narrative is absurd, as does the readership.’”

In yesterday’s paper, the Journal made a downpayment on membership dues in the Resistance with Shane Harris’s story “GOP operative sought Clinton emails from hackers, implied a connection to Flynn.” Harris’s story is behind the Journal’s subscription paywall, but the New York Post has an accessible summary by Todd Venezia here.

Andy McCarthy breaks down Harris’s story in his weekly NRO column here. Here is his summary and first pass at it:

About ten days before he died in mid-May, an 81-year-old man who did not work for the Trump campaign told the Journal he had speculated that, but did not know whether, 33,000 of Hillary Clinton’s e-mails had been hacked from her homebrew server. The now-deceased man, “a longtime Republican opposition researcher” named Peter W. Smith, had theorized that the e-mails must have been stolen, “likely by Russian hackers.” But he had no idea if this was actually so, and he himself certainly had nothing to do with stealing them.

Smith’s desire to obtain the hacked emails, if there were any, peaked around Labor Day 2016 — i.e., during the last weeks of the campaign. This was many months after the FBI had taken physical custody of Clinton’s homebrew server and other devices containing her e-mails. It was also two months after the Bureau’s then-director, James Comey, had told the country that the FBI had found no evidence that Clinton had been hacked . . . but that her carelessness about communications security, coupled with the proficiency of hackers in avoiding detection, meant her e-mails could well have been compromised throughout her years as secretary of state.

In other words, Peter W. Smith was one of about 320 million people in the United States who figured that Clinton’s e-mails had been hacked — by Russia, China, Iran, ISIS, the NSA, the latest iteration of “Guccifer,” and maybe even that nerdy kid down at Starbucks with “Feel the Bern” stickers on his laptop.

Besides having no relationship with Trump, Smith also had no relationship with the Russian regime. Besides not knowing whether the Clinton e-mails were actually hacked, he also had no idea whether the Kremlin or anyone close to Vladimir Putin had obtained the e-mails. In short, he wouldn’t have been able to tell you whether Trump and Putin were colluding with each other because he wasn’t colluding with either one of them.

But — here comes the blockbuster info — Smith was colluding with Michael Flynn. Or at least he kinda, sorta was . . . except for, you know, the Journal’s grudging acknowledgement that, well, okay, Smith never actually told the paper that Flynn was involved in what the report calls “Smith’s operation.”

It’s a long column. As ancient history is involved, Andy helpfully fills in the backstory to Harris’s article:

The Journal does not see fit to remind readers that the 33,000 e-mails Smith was trying to dig up were the ones Clinton had tried to destroy, even though they contained records of government business (which it is a felony to destroy), contained at least some classified information (which it is a felony to mishandle), and had been requested by congressional committees (whose proceedings it is a felony to obstruct by destroying evidence).

These penal inconveniences aside, there were also explosive political implications. Clinton had insisted that the e-mails in question were strictly of a personal nature, involving yoga routines, daughter Chelsea’s wedding, and the like. She maintained that she had turned over any and all government-related e-mails to the State Department. She had also laughably claimed that her homebrew server system was adequately secure. And there is every reason to believe many of these destroyed e-mails related to Clinton Foundation business — the Bill and Hill scheme to monetize their “public service” — which was liberally commingled with government business during Mrs. Clinton’s State Department tenure. Public disclosure of these e-mails, then, would have been very damaging, concretely demonstrating her dishonesty and unfitness.

There is every reason to believe the destroyed e-mails related to Clinton Foundation business — the Bill and Hill scheme to monetize their ‘public service’ — which was liberally commingled with government business during Mrs. Clinton’s State Department tenure. Understand: None of that is Russia’s fault, or Trump’s, or Flynn’s, or Flynn Jr.’s, or Smith’s. It was solely the fault of Hillary Clinton. She was a five-alarm disaster of a candidate. That’s why she lost.

Harris has the goods on crimes committed in connection with his story, but Harris won’t be revealing the perpetrators:

All this sound and fury turns out to be throat-clearing. The juicy news in the Journal’s report is not about Smith; it stems from yet another leak of classified information. According to “U.S. investigators” involved in the Russia probe (i.e., the Mueller investigation), there are intelligence reports that “describe Russian hackers discussing how to obtain e-mails from Mrs. Clinton’s server and then transmit them to Mr. Flynn via an intermediary.”

Who are these investigators? The Journal doesn’t tell us — the actual crime of leaking classified intelligence being of less interest than the non-crime of “collusion.” The purported Russian hackers are not identified either. Nor is Flynn’s “intermediary” — the Journal cannot say whether the leak is accurate, whether there really was an intermediary, or whether Smith could have been the intermediary. There is, moreover, no indication that any supposed Russian hacker actually made any effort to obtain the Clinton e-mails, much less that Flynn — let alone Trump — had any knowledge of or involvement in such an effort.

Quick: somebody start writing up the articles of impeachment!

Well, Harris is still on the case. The Journal has his follow-up story today (with Michael Bender and Peter Nicholas).

At the same time, Lawfare has posted the first-person account of Matt Tait, Harris’s source. “I was involved in the events that reporter Shane Harris described, and I was an unnamed source for the initial story,” Tait writes. “What’s more, I was named in, and provided the documents to Harris that formed the basis of, th[e] follow-up story…” Tait’s account is full of smoke, including the assumption that Smith had obtained the deleted Clinton emails from an unnamed person representing the “dark web.”

Tait puts it this way: “[Smith] said that his team had been contacted by someone on the ‘dark web’; that this person had the emails from Hillary Clinton’s private email server (which she had subsequently deleted), and that Smith wanted to establish if the emails were genuine.” Tait thereafter assumes that Smith had obtained the deleted emails.

“In the end,” Tait concedes, “I never saw the actual materials they’d been given, and to this day, I don’t know whether there were genuine emails, or whether Smith and his associates were deluding themselves.” Tait to the contrary notwithstanding, I can find nothing in Tait’s column to suggest he knows whether Smith had in fact obtained the deleted Clinton emails. Tait adds that it’s possible, after all, that “Smith” only “talked a very good game.”

The Brookings Institute is promoting Tait’s first-hand mystifications as some kind of a contribution this morning. That’s how I was alerted to it. Andy McCarthy hasn’t gotten to Harris’s follow-up story or to Tait’s account yet, but I think his comment in the NRO column applies generally to Harris’s follow-up Journal article and Tait’s account: “If you’re confused, I’d ordinarily suggest that you go back and read the report a time or two. But life is short and rereading would not much clarify this spaghetti bowl hurled against the wall, in the hope that some of the Flynn sauce might stick.”

Gulf Press: Qatar, Iran Using Palestinians As Pawns

July 1, 2017

Source: Gulf Press: Qatar, Iran Using Palestinians As Pawns

The articles, which come at a time of tension between Qatar and its neighbors in the region, blamed Hamas for firing the rockets into Israel, and further claimed that the terror group was escalating the situation in Gaza with the cynical purpose of serving the interests of its three patrons – Iran, Qatar and Turkey.

Muhammad Al-Hamadi, editor of the UAE daily Al-Ittihad, wrote in Wednesday’s editorial that “those who trade in the Palestinian problem, who are themselves in trouble … thought that it would be a good way to divert the Arabs’ attention away from Qatar and focus it [instead] on Gaza and its residents who are being bombarded with missiles by the Israeli enemy.”

He added that while the Arab world, especially Hamas’ patron nations, cried wolf about Gaza having been bombarded by Israel on Tuesday, witnesses within the coastal enclave itself contradicted those reports, saying that the Gaza Strip “was not bombarded and that only two Israeli missiles were fired in response to the rocket fired from Gaza into Israel.”

“This conduct of Qatar and its allies, in Palestine and elsewhere, is despicable. How disgraceful it is that some are willing to toy with the lives of innocents and with the future of small children in Gaza in order to achieve political aims,” Al-Hamadi wrote in the article translated by the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI).

According to Al-Hamadi, Iran, Qatar and Turkey are responsible for the “hundreds and even thousands of innocent Palestinians who have been martyred or wounded and crippled.”

He further claimed that millions of dollars are raised in those Arab and Muslim countries, ostensibly to assist the Palestinians, yet Gazans receive “only crumbs” from those donations, with the lion’s share going to those countries’ “loyal partner” Hamas.

Al-Hamadi slammed the propaganda spread by Qatar-based network Al Jazeera, but said that today people have stopped trusting it as a news source.

“Nobody has a monopoly on the facts, and it is no longer possible to deceive the peoples. That is what the Palestinian people discovered” this week, Al-Hamadi wrote. He states that the average Gazan is waking up to the fact that he is being exploited and dragged into a new confrontation with Israel, while those behind the escalation “stay in five-star hotels in Doha and Istanbul and in other capitals that shelter the leaders of the Muslim Brotherhood and of terror.”

Writing in Saudi Arabia’s Okaz newspaper, columnist Hani Al-Zahiri claimed that Hamas, and not Israel, is the Palestinians’ primary enemy because it turns ordinary civilians into human shields.

He slammed Iran and Qatar for their “terrible” policy of gambling with the lives and cause of the Palestinians. These two regimes, wrote Al-Zahiri, allowed Hamas, a Muslim Brotherhood proxy, to “turn the innocent residents [of Gaza] into a human shield for the Hamas leadership.”

He continued by saying the Israeli strikes come as a direct response to Hamas rockets and used the metaphor of a kidnapped girl – with the young girl being Gaza and the kidnapper Hamas.

“The portly Hamas leaders meet in Doha and Tehran, laugh around tables laden with delicacies and order their young [fighters] to open the gates of hell to the Palestinians” by shooting rockets at Israel.

According to Al-Zahiri, Qatar and Iran are the ones setting off the “tinderbox” that is Hamas to attack Israel as part of “a despicable attempt and a new political gamble by the Qatari regime, aimed at easing the noose of the Gulf boycott.”

 

Turkey’s power-play in Qatar leads to warmer relations with Iran

July 1, 2017

Source: Turkey’s power-play in Qatar leads to warmer relations with Iran – Arab-Israeli Conflict – Jerusalem Post

BySeth J. Frantzman
July 1, 2017 15:02
The Qatar-Turkey alliance creates a third side to the Middle East’s regional struggles and will affect Israel.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of his ruling AK Party (AKP), June 13 2017.
Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan addresses members of parliament from his ruling AK Party (AKP) during a meeting at the Turkish parliament in Ankara, Turkey, June 13, 2017. . (photo credit:KAYHAN OZER/PRESIDENTIAL PALACE/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)

On June 17th the Iranian ambassador to Turkey said that Tehran wanted to cooperate with Turkey in the struggle against terrorism. According to a report at the Daily Sabah Mohammad Ebrahim Taherian Fard was asked if his country views Kurdish groups in Syria, the People’s Protection Units and Democratic Union Party, as terrorists, the way Ankara does. “[Iran] describes the PKK, the PYD and the YPG to be terrorist groups,” the ambassador said.

The latest Iranian comments, as well as Turkey’s decision to send troops to Qatar amidst a dispute with Saudi Arabia represent the creation of a new Qatar-Turkey-Iranian sphere of influence that has a potential to influence the region and Israel.

Qatar and Turkey have both had close relations with Hamas over the last decade. The creation of a new warm relationship between Doha, Ankara and Tehran could threaten Israel and could bring Jerusalem closer to Riyadh and Cairo. It also marks a departure from the narrative that the Middle East is divided between a Sunni-led alliance in Riyadh and a Shia-led alliance in Tehran.

By aligning itself with Turkey in views on these left wing Kurdish groups in Syria, Iran is sending an important message. Several months ago experts and commentators were suggesting that Iran’s influence in Syria and its attempt to construct a “road to the sea” would go through Sinjar in Iraq and via Rojava in Syria, two areas where the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) and the YPG are influential. Now Iran has pulled a 180-degree policy shift. It wants to warm relations with Ankara.

Over the last decade Iran and Turkey have often been at odds over policies in the region. In 2012 Iran’s Press TV ran a segment blaming Turkey for “executing Saudi and Qatari plans of instigating and stirring up sectarian violence” in Iraq and Syria. In January 2016 Turkey complained to Iran over Iranian press comments critisizing Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the execution of a Shia cleric in Saudi Arabia.

To smooth things over, in 2016 Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu visited Tehran to discuss their differences in Syria, where Iran backs Bashar al-Assad and Turkey supports the rebellion. However in 2017 Turkish foreign minister Mevlut Cavusogly told the Munich security conference that Iran had a “sectarian policy” undermining Turkish allies in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Iran foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi responded by intimidating that Turkey “supported terrorist groups.” Iran condemned a Turkish air raid in Iraq in April that targeted the PKK.

Things changed when Turkey had to choose between Qatar and Saudi Arabia in the Gulf crises that erupted on June 5th when Saudi Arabia and a half dozen other countries severed relations with Qatar and began to isolate it by closing its only land border.

Within two weeks Turkey sent solders to Qatar and supplied food to the small state. Al-Jazeera reports that up to 1,000 Turkish troops may be deployed. Qatar is accused by commentators in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates of working closely with Iran and supporting extremists in the region, including the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. In late May, as the UAE and Saudi were planning their moves against Qatar, Gulf News claimed that the Emir of Qatar, Shaikh Tamim Bin Hamad al-Thani had “described Hamas and Hezbollah as legitimate resistance movements.”

The Qatar crises brings Turkey and Iran closer. Turkey has sought a way to solve the crises in discussions with Donald Trump on Friday and called on Saudi Arabia to relax its policy. Qatar’s defense minister visited Turkey over the weekend. Erdogan has also said that it considers a 13-point list of demands presented to Qatar as “against international law.” At the same time Iranian leader Hassan Rouhani recently condemned the “siege of Qatar.”

In recent years the Middle East has been seen through a sectarian lens. Iran, Syria, Hezbollah and Houthis in Yemen on one side are opposed by Sunni states. Conflict in Iraq and Syria symbolize this cleavage. However the relations between Qatar, Iran and Turkey creates a third sphere and counterbalance to the sectarian divide. Both Turkey and Qatar supported the rebels against Assad and both have close relations with Hamas. Iran also support Hamas financially. Qatar has had cordial relations with Hezbollah in the past.

The US Embassy in Qatar warned in diplomatic cables in 2009 that Qatar was “maintaining relations with bad actors such as Hezbollah and the Iranians helps ensure Qatar’s security by serving as an insurance policy against attack.” Today Qatar has Turkish troops as that security. The question is how deeply the Qatar-Turkey nexus strengthens Iran’s hand and creates a third side to the Middle East.

The effect on Israel in this puzzle is that Israel continues to grow close to Saudi Arabia. However Israel has relations with Turkey which means Turkey is a key trading partner and a important actor in regional security. In the past Turkey has sought to play a role in the Gaza Strip. In 2009 an unnamed western official was quoted in Time Magazine as saying Turkey could send peacekeeping troops to Gaza. “Turkey has done a good job as part of military contingents in Lebanon and Afghanistan. Their ability to talk to all sides.”

Today Jerusalem is happy no Turkish peacekeepers ended up in Gaza or Israel would find itself facing Turkish troops the way Saudi is at the border of Qatar. Recognizing the Turkey-Qatar-Iran relationship is a key for Jerusalem today in weighing its policy approaches to Saudi Arabia and also tensions in Syria and along the Lebanese border.

 

Israel visit: In reorienting India’s foreign policy, Narendra Modi is responding to history and realpolitik

July 1, 2017

Source: Israel visit: In reorienting India’s foreign policy, Narendra Modi is responding to history and realpolitik

Narendra Modi is a man with a deep sense of history. Anyone who listened to his GST-eve midnight speech at the Parliament’s Central Hall during the special session on Friday would notice his effort to place himself at the crossroads of history as a change-agent authoring a new chapter in the nation-building process.

This is not an isolated effort but another reinforcement of the narrative that he is a milestone man bent on building a ‘new India’. Whether or not that narrative is justified is a debate not central to this argument.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi. PTIPrime Minister Narendra Modi. PTI

We note that foreign policy lies at the centre of the structural changes he is trying to initiate. Old axioms are being questioned, tested for efficacy in a rapidly changing global order and cast aside if found to be incompatible. His upcoming Israel visit — the first by an Indian prime minister since 25 years of full bilateral diplomatic relations — is one such epochal event that may trigger further intuitive changes.

As India grows strategically closer to the US, its foreign policy too is aligning slowly but surely with the American axis. A reorientation is under way as India shakes off its non-alignment stance to strike a multi-alignment pose but with a tilt towards US sphere of influence.

This is evident from the way Modi is courting European middle powers Germany, France and Spain as a hedge against the uncertainty of Donald Trump-era but simultaneously striving for greater synergy with the US and its key allies like Israel.

It would be a mistake, however, to see these changes as the imprimatur of a man trying to replace the Nehruvian order just because he is in a position to do so. The visit to Israel, for instance, isn’t context free. It is the natural culmination of the gradual shift in India’s Israel policy and an inevitable response to realities that confront us.

While India had voted against Israel in July 2014 when Modi was yet to warm up to his seat, exactly a year later we notice the first pronounced deviation. New Delhi was one among only five countries to abstain from voting against Tel Aviv in Geneva on a UNHRC resolution seeking action against Israel for “committing alleged war crimes” in Gaza. As The Hindu had noted in a report, “41 countries voted in favour of the resolution against Israel, while only the US voted against it.”

This was repeated in March 2016 when India again abstained from voting against Israel at the UN, though, as The Wire had noted then, “at the same time, New Delhi voted in favour of four other resolutions criticising Israel”.

We see here a gradual, calibrated shift — not a sudden one — necessitated by several factors such as a more realistic approach towards foreign policy, an understanding of India and Israel’s growing interdependence, New Delhi’s strategic anxieties arising out of China’s rise, the coagulating Sino-Russian-Pakistan axis and a refusal to view bilateral ties solely through the spectrum of Palestinian cause.

Modi, viewed from this perspective, is interjecting oodles of realism into our foreign policy. In some ways, it is also a honest trajectory. Often in the past India’s geopolitical moves — guided by a moralist, idealist tradition — were marked by blatant hypocrisy. For four long decades, India paid lip service to the Palestinian cause while pursuing ties with Israel under the hood. It is not just the moral hypocrisy of identifying with the cause of an undivided Palestine ignoring Jewish nationalism when it had seen a partition along communal lines in its own territory (which the Congress had accepted) but also a false binary that even recognition of ties with Israel will upset our ties in Arab world. International ties are never guided by idealism.

This flawed, hypocritical approach was called out by former prime minister PV Narasimha Rao, who in 1992 took the first step by normalising ties with Israel in 1992. But if geostrategic challenges at the end of Cold War prompted Rao to author the first radical change, Modi — who faces an uncertain global order due to a retreating US and the rise of a revanchist China — has responded by growing closer to Israel, a country with which India has strong defence and counterterrorism ties.

There are bound to be repercussions and there has been. Pakistan is growing restive as Modi and Trump speak in unison about Islamabad’s rent-seeking strategy using terrorism as bargaining chip and China is growing aggressive as a closer Indo-US synergy threatens its expansionism.

Once again, though, this is not an isolationist change. If Modi is seeking to dehyphenate Israel and Palestine by not paying a trip to Ramallah, he has done it after an arduous courting of Arab world and carefully reinforcing India’s security and trade interests in West Asia.

As JNU professor PR Kumaraswamy writes in The Indian Express, “PM has actively engaged with the Middle East, beginning with his visit to the UAE in August 2015 and following on with Saudi Arabia, Iran, and Qatar the following year. A G-20 meeting took him to Turkey in November 2014 and he hosted Egyptian president Abdel Fattah al-Sisi twice. He has met Saudi and Emirati leaders often. Only last month, he hosted Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas. By keeping Israel as a last major West Asia destination, Modi has neutralized many negative voices both within the country and in the region.”

It is time we move out the false binaries in our foreign policy. Modi’s upcoming trip, that has already generated huge interest in Israel’s public, political and strategic circles — with one newspaper calling him “world’s most important PM”, has the chance to take the relationship out of closet and build a mature partnership based on shared interests and realpolitik — one that is rooted in history. We have a 2,000-year-old tie to nurture.

Iranian Missile Launch Shows Israeli Deterrence Is Working

July 1, 2017

Source: Iranian Missile Launch Shows Israeli Deterrence Is Working « LobeLog

Fateh-110_Missile_by_YPA.IR_02

Published on July 1st, 2017 | by Guest

by Shemuel Meir

An extraordinary strategic event took place last week in the Middle East, when Iran launched surface-to-surface missiles against targets in Syria. This was the first-ever missile strike directed by Iran at a country bordering on Israel.

Amazingly, all hell didn’t break loose. What happened? How did Israel view the launch of the missiles? Did it grasp its full implications? How did it respond to this dramatic turn of events? Let us try to find out.

Initial reports in Israel in the hours following the launch of the missiles on June 18, 2017 mentioned four ballistic Shahab-3 missiles, whose range of up to 1,500 kilometers can reach targets in Israel. An official Iranian statement on the launch, which said that six Zulfiqar ballistic missiles had been launched at Islamic State (ISIS) targets in Deir a-Zor, Syria, immediately brought down the anxiety levels in Israel. With their 600-kilometer operational range, Zulfiqar missiles cannot reach targets in Israel.

The next day, reports started to appear in the Israeli media, which were soon picked up worldwide, according to which there were seven missiles rather than six, only two of which struck in the vicinity of the target in Syria — three fell outside Syrian territory and two ended up way off target. The similarity of these reports seemed to be telltale sign of their common origin in a briefing for military correspondents.

Even the commentary on the reports seemed to speak almost in unison, blatantly downplaying the importance of the missile launch from Iran. Channel 2 analyst Ehud Yaari was among the first to set the tone, calling this an Iranian “failure, a flop.” Amos Yadlin, Director of The Institute for National Security Studies was quick to minimize the importance of the Iranian move, tweeting that the U.S. Air Force operation carried out the same day in Syria was “more significant than the Iranian missiles.” Yedioth Aharonoth’s senior military analyst, Alex Fishman, wrote of “an operational fiasco,” saying that Iran’s military industry had “failed miserably.” Amos Harel, military analyst for Haaretz, wrote about “a great deal less impressive than the media noise being made in Iran.” A few days later, Israeli army Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and Head of Israeli Military Intelligence “Herzi” Halevi used similar terms when speaking at the Herzliya Conference. The missile launch was seen in Israel as a tactical display, causing more of a media splash than any real damage.

It seems that the military actors and the commentators in Israel tended to overemphasize tactical-operational aspects as well as technical failures of the Iranian missiles and their low accuracy, while understating the significance of the actual occurrence. Tactical and technical malfunctions can be fixed in subsequent launches. The key strategic message that night was the missile itself: no more testing missiles inside Iranian territory, but a first operational launch of mid-range missiles from Iran into a country bordering on Israel. Iran had crossed an invisible yet strategically huge line.

The Iranian decision, it might be assumed, was taken at the highest political echelon. Making a strategic decision to fire missiles on another country is no simple thing (for any country), but what made this easier was that it came in reprisal for an obvious act of aggression committed against Iran — the terrorist attack on the parliament building in Tehran. From Iran’s standpoint, which might be supported from an international relations perspective, firing those missiles constituted defensive rather than offensive action. Iran was not perceived as the instigator. The international system had a hard time refuting the argument that the missile incident amounted to anything more than an act of self-defense as part of the global war on ISIS.

Surprisingly, the political echelon in Israel also tended to make light of the Iranian missile launch. Netanyahu, who had previously never missed a single opportunity to chastise Iran, within hours, every time it tested missiles on its territory, now chose to hold his horses. This time around, we were spared the usual statements about a flagrant violation of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) and of UN Security Council Resolution 2231, which, according to him, does not allow Iran to launch missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead. Also absent were the urgent Israeli requests addressed to Washington’s UN Ambassador UN Nikki Haley to call an urgent meeting of the Security Council and the demand new sanctions and punitive measures against Iran for what he usually defines as “flagrant violations on the missile issue.” Only a day later did we hear Netanyahu’s moderate comment — “Our security forces constantly monitor Iranian activity in the area…their actions and their words” — with no specific reference to the missiles fired the night before. Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman also responded to the missile attack with an atypical shrug of the shoulders, saying: “Israel is not worried. We are following all the developments and the events.”

This non-vehement, unexpected line in Israel’s response to Iranian missiles is an intriguing novelty. Here is a blatant case of “the dog that didn’t bark that night,” a detective-story metaphor used by Sherlock Holmes to explain to the Scotland Yard detective how he had solved the mystery based on a fact (the dog bark) that did not occur that night, i.e. a case of trying to find a logical explanation based on the absence of prominent facts that one would expect. And what can be more conspicuous than the “missing fact” in this case — the absence of a uniform, belligerent Israeli response to an event involving Iranian missiles?

There are a few possible explanations for the “missing fact.” The first would be that Prime Minister Netanyahu and analysts close to his view agree with the analyses offered on my Strategic Discourse blog hosted by Haaretz.  In my view, the Iran Deal removed the only potential existential threat to Israel. Contrary to Netanyahu’s “bad deal” approach, it is a good one. According to my analysis, conventional missiles in Iran are not a violation of either the nuclear deal or Security Council Resolution 2231 which encompasses it. Contrary to the old sanction decisions (revoked as part of the nuclear deal), with their binding prohibition on the development of missiles, Security Council Resolution 2231’s language is non-binding on the missile issue. And let us recall: in the wake of the Iran deal, which blocked the nuclear-weapon option for Iran and subjected it to a highly intrusive inspection regime, the missiles in question are conventional by definition.

Many countries in the world have conventional missiles, and Netanyahu’s axiomatic conviction that missiles are intrinsically meant to carry nuclear warheads is unfounded. Saudi Arabia also possesses conventional missiles with a range of over 1,000 kilometers. According to Iran’s security doctrine, as reflected in the statements of senior spokesmen (some of them from the Revolutionary Guard) following the agreement, its conventional missiles are there for purposes of defense and deterrence against any threat. Surprisingly, the world’s pioneering intellectual groundwork for achieving deterrence through conventional missiles can be found in the teachings of Israeli strategic thinkers Yigal Alon and Israel Tal.

Another possible explanation — and maybe much more valid — draws on the internal grammar of the strategy: communication by transmission of nonverbal messages and signals to the other side. Under this logic, the firing of the Iranian missiles at Syria was deliberately engineered in such a way as not to be perceived by the IDF as a threatening launch against targets in Israel. This signal was conveyed by the choice of missile type — a missile whose reach of several hundred kilometers does not cover Israel — and launch site. The Iranian launch site in the Kermanshah region in western Iran is geographically aligned with ISIS targets in Syria’s Deir a-Zor, and with the Mediterranean coastal strip of North Syria further down that line. This was not a direct line that continues south toward Israel.

What this explanation means is this: Israeli deterrence is working, and Iran is not keen on entering a confrontation with Israel. This is a preferred modus operandi that has also characterized Iran since its first (and so far only) direct military contact with Israel in the Quneitra sector of the Syrian Golan Heights, in an incident where the IDF killed a general from the Revolutionary Guard two years ago. Israel’s nonverbal deterring message in that incident did send a signal. There has been no direct Iranian military presence vis-à-vis Israel in the Golan ever since.

So much for the missile incident that was. Under a forward-looking analysis, it should be emphasized that the failed tactical outcome of the Iranian missile strike last week is not the crux of the story. A new strategic equation has been created, one that needs to be addressed within a complex strategic reading that must avoid uni-dimensionality: the missile issue has moved from testing and domestic showcasing of capabilities to a new phase, that of capabilities that have gone through a baptism of fire outside the Iranian border.

Shemuel Meir is a former IDF analyst and associate researcher at the Jaffee Center for Strategic Studies at Tel Aviv University. Today he is an independent researcher on nuclear and strategic issues and author of the “Strategic Discourse” blog, which appears in Haaretz. Read this post in Hebrew here. Reprinted, with permission, from +972 Magazine. Photo: Iran’s Fateh-110 missile

 

Dozens of Dems Support Bill to Create Panel That Could Remove Trump From Office

July 1, 2017

BY:
June 30, 2017 3:09 pm

Source: Dozens of Dems Support Bill to Create Panel That Could Remove Trump From Office

Fascism/communism  in the purest form ,the USA gulag in the making ?

Democratic Rep. Jamie Raskin (Md.) has introduced a bill that would create a congressional oversight commission that could declare the president incapacitated, leading to his removal from office under the Constitution’s 25th Amendment.

Twenty-four House Democrats are now backing the bill, including the ranking member of the House Judiciary Committee, Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.), Yahoo News reported Friday.

Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D., Fla.), the former chair of the Democratic National Committee, is also co-sponsoring the legislation.

The support from top Democrats for the bill comes despite House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D., Calif.) and other Democratic leaders telling more ardent members of their caucus to stop talk of impeaching President Donald Trump.

“In case of emergency, break glass,” Raskin told Yahoo News in an interview. “If you look at the record of things that have happened since January, it is truly a bizarre litany of events and outbursts.”

Raskin has expressed these concerns in recent months, suggesting in May that Trump does not have the mental capacity to serve as president and should be impeached.

Raskin’s bill calls for the creation of an “Oversight Commission on Presidential Capacity.” The panel would be nonpartisan, with members appointed by congressional leaders and composed of four physicians, four psychiatrists, and three others—such as former presidents, vice presidents, or other former senior U.S. government officials.

Raskin told Yahoo News that he has been getting increased interest from colleagues for his bill, including some Republicans who have approached him about it.

If Congress did create the body specified in Raskin’s bill, it would not be able to declare the president “unable to discharge the powers and duties” of the office without the concurrence of the vice president, due to the language of the 25th Amendment.