Archive for October 2, 2017

Hypocrisy: A state for the Palestinians but not for the Kurds or Catalonia

October 2, 2017

Hypocrisy: A state for the Palestinians but not for the Kurds or Catalonia |Anne’s Opinions, 2nd October 2017

 

The Kurds are a nation scattered across the Middle East while their national territory was divided up by the ruling powers of a century ago and split amongst several nations, all in a manner similar to the fate of the Jews and Israel:

For decades, Kurdish politics have hinged on dreams of an independent Kurdish state. When colonial powers drew the map of the Middle East after World War I, the Kurds, who now number around 30 million, were divided among Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq.

Kurdish inhabited areas of the Middle East, crossing international borders

Since the Arab “spring” with its multiple civil wars broke out, the Kurds are the one nation that have managed to remain united and hold on tot their territory, retaking control and a semblance of independence after decades of repression by the Arab countries who previously controlled their territory. They have been amongst the prime fighters against ISIS and have stayed out of the Israeli-Arab conflict altogether.In fact Israel is very popular with the Kurds and as I have previously written, the Israeli flag is a common sight at Kurdish rallies.

The Israeli flag is flown at a rally for Kurdish independence held in Geneva, Switzerland

Last week the Kurds held a referendum amongst its people asking if they wanted independence. The answer of course was a resounding yes. However the answer from almost the entire world (the UN, the US, Iran, Iraq, Turkey) was a resounding “no”, or a hostile neutral silence. The only country that lent its solid support to the Kurdish nation was Israel.

Iraq threatened the Kurds with a flight ban if they do not hand over their airports to the Iraqi authorities:

Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi issued his ultimatum a day after the landmark vote, which he said was a “historic and strategic mistake by the Kurdish leadership.”

“I will not give up on the unity of Iraq, that is my national and constitutional duty,” he said, adding that any ban would still allow for humanitarian and other “urgent” flights.

That’s rich coming from the leader of a country which is so fractured that it barely exists any more.

Masoud Barzani, the Kurdish regional president who spearheaded the referendum, called for “dialogue” with Baghdad. “Negotiations are the right path to solve the problems, not threats or the language of force,” he said in a televised address.

The US remained cool to downright cold, refusing to recognize “illegitimate referendum“:

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson referred to the recent referendum on the independence of Kurdistan as “unilateral,” saying the vote held on September 25 lacks legitimacy.

US Secretary of State Reg Tillerson

“The United States does not recognize the Kurdistan Regional Government’s unilateral referendum held on Monday,” Tillerson said in a written statement on Friday (September 29).

Tillerson said his country supports a united, federal, democratic and prosperous Iraq.

He expressed concern over the possible “negative consequences” of the Kurdish referendum, adding the vote may hinder efforts to promote stability and prosperity for the people of the Kurdistan Region.

Tillerson said the U.S. asks all parties, including Iraq’s neighbors, to reject unilateral actions and the use of force.

“We urge calm and an end to vocal recriminations and threats of reciprocal actions. We urge Iraqi Kurdish authorities to respect the constitutionally-mandated role of the central government and we call upon the central government to reject threats or even allusion to possible use of force.”

But an interesting article in the New York Times of all places praised Israel’s endorsement of the Kurds’ bid for independence:

JERUSALEM — With a two-sentence statement supporting the Iraqi Kurds’ plan to hold a referendum on independence this Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put Israel at odds with nearly every other major player in the Middle East.

Mr. Netanyahu, who endorsed not only the referendum but also the establishment of a Kurdish state, had ample strategic reason: A breakaway Kurdistan could prove valuable to Israel against Iran, which has oppressed its own Kurdish population.

But given the interwoven history and shared emotion underlying his statement, present-day geopolitics can seem almost beside the point.

The Kurds and the Jews, it turns out, go way back.

Back past the Babylonian Captivity, in fact: The first Jews in Kurdistan, tradition holds, were among the last tribes of Israel, taken from their land in the eighth century B.C. They liked it there so much that when Cyrus the Great of Persia conquered the Babylonians and let the Jews go back home, many chose instead to stick around.

Sixteen centuries later, Saladin, a Kurd, treated the Jews humanely after he conquered Jerusalem, and notably hired a Jewish doctor, Maimonides, as his physician.

In the modern era, Kurdish Jews departed en masse for Israel when the Jewish state was created in 1948, leaving Kurdish civil society so bereft that some recall its leaders still lamenting the Jewish exodus decades later.

Ties between the two have only grown warmer and more vital since the 1960s, as Israel and the Kurds — both minorities in an inhospitable region and ever in need of international allies — have repeatedly come to each other’s aid. The Kurds have long patterned their lobbying efforts in Washington on those of Israel’s supporters.

Israeli flags often appear at Kurdish rallies, like this one in Erbil, Iraq

And while Kurdish leaders have not publicly embraced Israel in the run-up to the referendum, for fear of antagonizing the Arab world, the Israeli flag can routinely be seen at Kurdish rallies in Erbil and across Europe.

The Kurds in turn have friends and supporters all across Israel, including some 200,000 Kurdish Jews. But 83-year-old Tzuri Sagi, a retired brigadier general, has more reason than most Israelis to root for Kurdish independence.

Read the rest of that fascinating article about the ties between Israel and the Kurds.

A Jerusalem Post article also agrees with the Israeli position of supporting the Kurds bid for independence:

In the wake of Iranian aggression across the Middle East, the most effective strategy Israel can adopt is to recognize an independent Kurdistan and fully support it.

Across the Middle East Israel faces a variety of security threats, from Hezbollah in Lebanon and Assad’s regime in Syria to Hamas in the Gaza Strip and Islamic State (ISIS) in the Sinai Peninsula. These already existing threats are exasperated by Iran seeking to establish a Shi’ite Crescent from the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea.

To prop up Assad’s regime and Hezbollah, Iran needs territorial contiguity from Iran to Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This way, it can import supplies with ease to its proxies via land routes, for Israel has already demonstrated that it can infiltrate and stop Iranian sea or air shipments more easily. However, an independent Kurdistan in Syria and Iraq would territorially break up the Shi’ite Crescent, thus making it more difficult for Iran to carry out its terrorist activities across the Middle East. The Kurdistan region of Iraq led by President Masoud Barzani’s government will not permit Iranian shipments to terrorist groups to pass through its territory.

If Kurdistan becomes a full-fledged independent state in Northern Iraq and parts of Syria, the logistical obstacles for Iran will greatly increase.

It is not only for the purely practical geopolitical advantages that Israel should support the Kurds, but because it is morally right:

It is critical to note that Israel should support an independent Kurdistan because it is the moral thing to do. The Kurds were promised a country in the Treaty of Sevres but this promise was reneged on in the Treaty of Lausanne, leaving the Kurds as the largest nation on earth without a country, a reality that affects 40 million people. The Kurds have their own unique culture, history and language, which are distinct from those of their Turkish, Persian and Arab neighbors. Furthermore, in the past the Kurds had strong leaders who befriended the Jewish People, such as Saladin.

In addition, the Kurds ruled themselves in the past, under the Ayyubid dynasty and the Bohtan Emirate, to name a few. In fact, they were only absorbed by the Ottoman Empire in 1908. For this reason, the Kurds have a strong sense of nationalism.

The Kurds passionately believe that their culture, language and historic destiny can be best realized by granting them the same rights that other nations possess.

Israel’s former Ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor also praises the Kurds’ readiness for statehood (unlike, say, the Palestinians):

An independent Kurdish state would be a victory for democratic values, national self-determination and the rights of women and minorities. Is there a more iconic image of the fight against the Islamic State than that of female Kurdish peshmerga fighters doing battle on the front lines against jihadists who demand the subjugation of women? An independent Kurdish state would empower these warriors in a part of the world where women and girls are typically second-class citizens.

Kurdish Peshmerga women fighters

In addition to its commitment to gender equality, Kurdistan has also shown its commitment to minority rights. Over the past three years, Kurdistan, which is about the size of Maryland, has taken in nearly two million refugees, including Assyrians, Yazidis, Turkmen, Shabaks and Christians fleeing the Islamic State and sectarian violence in other parts of Iraq and in Syria.

Even without a formal state, the Kurds have built a society that meets many of the criteria of statehood. They are economically viable, with a well-developed energy industry. They have functioning institutions, including elections for Parliament and a relatively free media. And they’ve proved capable of defending themselves against the Islamic State without attacking others.

Kurdistan is already, in values and governance, a democratic nation in waiting. Is it a perfect Jeffersonian democracy? No. Does it have a long way to go? Yes. But in a region where tyranny is the norm, it’s on the right track.

We should all pray that Kurds are successful in their bid for independence and that there will be a peaceful solution to this brewing crisis. Israel should certainly give it as much support as it can. And shame on the world for denying this brave, big-hearted people their rightful claim to their own territory and self-determination.

Meanwhile over in Spain, Catalonians held a referendum today asking their people if they wanted independence. The answer was not clear. Nevertheless the Spanish rejected the referendum, calling it illegal, and sent in the riot police which violently repressed the independence rallies, injuring almost 500 people:

Nearly 500 people were injured Sunday as Spanish security forces attempted to shut down a referendum vote on the future of the northeastern Spanish province of Spain.

Spanish police break into a Catalonian voting booth

Catalonia, a semi-autonomous province with its own official language, held the controversial vote Sunday on whether to remain a part of the Kingdom of Spain, or to seek independence.

Catalan President Carles Puigdemont, who supports a Catalan separation from Spain, said earlier that if the referendum saw a majority of “yes” votes, he would declare an independent Catalonia within 48 hours.

While polls show some 60% of locals oppose independence from Spain, a wide majority back the plebiscite.

Girls stroll through the center of Figueras with the Spanish and a pro-independence ‘Estelada’ Catalan flag

The Spanish government, however, has declared the referendum illegal and ordered security forces to bar voters from entering polling stations.

“There has not been a referendum or anything remotely similar,” Spanish Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said.

In polling places across Catalonia, including the local capital, Barcelona, police clashed with crowds of voters as they attempted to enter voting stations.

During the clashes, officers opened fire with rubber bullets, hitting dozens of protesters.

According to The Independent, local firefighters formed human shields around voters to protect voters from police.

Catalan officials say police managed to shut down 319 voting stations across Catalonia.

“What the police are doing is a real scandal, a savagery,” said Catalan spokesperson Jordi Turull.

“The Spanish state is in a very difficult situation before the world… What the police is doing is truly an international embarrassment.”

Yet it seems that what is sauce for the goose is not sauce for the gander. Or maybe that statement should be reversed. The very independence that is rejected by the world for their own minorities is enthusiastically advanced for the Palestinians. The Kurds do not seek to replace anyone or to kill them. They simply want their own indigenous territory back in their hands and under their control. But the world rejects their bid.

The Catalonians want to run their own affairs outside of Spanish jurisdiction. Here too their bid for self-determination is rejected by the world.

But somehow, the Palestinians, who already have independence from Israel, and who run their own affairs, are considered perfectly legitimate when they demand not only independence, but an end to the State of Israel. They demand this loudly and clearly and can be heard in demonstrations across the world: “From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free”. This is no less than an Arabic “final solution” for the Jews. In case you haven’t looked at a map lately, the space between the river (Jordan) to the (Mediterranean) Sea is occupied, for want of a better word, by Israel with over 6 million Jews as well as another 2 million Muslims, Christians and other minorities.

“From the river to the sea Palestine will be free” – of Jews and of Israel. This is an Arab Final Solution

The inherent hypocrisy in this stance was called out today by Eli Dahan, Israel’s Deputy Defence Minister:

Israeli Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home) blasted the Spanish government’s crackdown against a regional referendum in the province of Catalonia Sunday, which left nearly 500 people injured, most of them pro-independence demonstrators.

Deputy Minister Ben-Dahan slammed Madrid’s crackdown on the referendum, noting Spain’s decades-long support for Palestinian statehood.

“For many years, Spain lectured us about how we need to give [national] rights to the Palestinian Arabs,” wrote Ben-Dahan on Twitter. “Today we see their hypocrisy, as [Spain] doesn’t even allow the Catalans to hold a referendum on independence.”

I found this Facebook post by Tsuriel Rashi, a lecturer at Bar Ilan University, to be particularly apt:

 

He writes:

Two states for two people
Spain and Catalonia
Kurdistan and Turkey
“They are there and we are here”.
Or is this a solution limited to a particular region?

Indeed Dr. Rashi has pointed out the world’s hypocrisy in one short pithy paragraph. “Do as I say, not do as I do” is what the world tells Israel.

It’s about time Israel told the world where to get off.

3800 Gang Members Charged in Transnational DOJ Operation

October 2, 2017

3800 Gang Members Charged in Transnational DOJ Operation, BreitbartJohn Binder, October 2, 2017

Susan Walsh/Associated Press

In February, President Trump issued the Enforcement Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking Executive Order to help crackdown on transnational gangs like MS-13.

Since signing that executive order, Sessions created a transnational network of law enforcement agencies to dismantle violent criminal cartels and gangs in the U.S. and Central America.

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A transnational operation led by Attorney General Jeff Sessions yielded charges against more than 3,800 gang members from the United States, El Salvador, Guatemala, and Honduras.

Sessions, along with law enforcement officials throughout Central America, announced that Operation Regional Shield resulted in charges against thousands of gang members from the violent El Salvadorian MS-13 and 18th Street gangs.

“MS-13 is one of the most violent and ruthless gangs in America today, endangering communities in more than 40 states,” Sessions said. “But under President Trump’s strong leadership, the Department of Justice is taking them off our streets.”

“Today, we are announcing that our partnership with law enforcement in Central America, has yielded charges against more than 3,800 gang members just in the last six months,” Sessions continued. “More than 70 of these defendants were living in the United States, from California to Ohio to Boston.”

“MS-13 coordinates across our borders to kill, rape and traffic drugs and underage girls; we’ve got to coordinate across our borders to stop them,” Session said. “That’s exactly what our courageous and professional DOJ agents and attorneys are doing. We will continue to maintain this steadfast policy and dismantle this gang.”

In March, Sessions promised to take on violent cartels and street gangs, traveling to Long Island, New York and southern California to warn MS-13 of the Department of Justice (DOJ) action that would be taken against them and their leaders.

The 3,800 gang members charged included:

  • More than 70 gang members living in the U.S., residing in California, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Ohio, and Virginia;
  • 248 gang members living in Guatemala, with six firearms seized;
  • 14 businesses and 11 luxury vehicles seized;
  • 12 money laundering MS-13 gang members; and
  • More than 1,400 gang members living in El Salvador.

Two specific cases in the operation were outlined by the DOJ:

One indictment unsealed yesterday in the District of Massachusetts charges Edwin Manica Flores aka Sugar, Chugar and Shugar, an MS-13 leader incarcerated for murder in El Salvador, with a RICO conspiracy for alleged criminal activity he directed in the United States as the leader of MS-13’s “East Coast Program.”

Charges filed in Long Island on July 19 against 17 MS-13 members for 12 murders, including the April 11 quadruple murder of four men in Central Islip; racketeering; attempted murders; assaults; obstruction of justice; arson; conspiracy to distribute marijuana; and firearms.

In February, President Trump issued the Enforcement Federal Law with Respect to Transnational Criminal Organizations and Preventing International Trafficking Executive Order to help crackdown on transnational gangs like MS-13.

Since signing that executive order, Sessions created a transnational network of law enforcement agencies to dismantle violent criminal cartels and gangs in the U.S. and Central America.

Trump is Right, Tillerson is Wasting His Time on North Korea

October 2, 2017

Trump is Right, Tillerson is Wasting His Time on North Korea, Power LinePaul Mirengoff, October 2, 2017

(Please see also, China openly discussing collapse of North Korea. — DM)

If there is any hope of changing North Korea’s behavior, it rests not with Tillerson’s diplomacy or with the direct effect of threatening Kim Jong Un. Rather, it rests with China acting out of self-interest.

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A day after Secretary of State Tillerson said he was reaching out to North Korea in hopes of starting a new dialogue, President Trump belittled the idea. He tweeted:

I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man. Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!

Trump is right. North Korea isn’t going to negotiate away its nuclear arsenal and it’s not going to freeze its nuclear program until the program has the capacity to inflict the level of damage Kim Jong Un deems necessary to deter the U.S. — namely the capacity to hit major U.S. cities.

Michael Green, President George W. Bush’s chief Asia adviser, acknowledged that “the president is right on this one in the sense that Pyongyang is clear it will not put nuclear weapons on the negotiating table, nor will the current level of sanctions likely convince them to do so. . . .”

The incoherence of Tillerson’s approach is underscored by this incoherent statement by Sen. Bob Corker:

I think that there’s more going on than meets the eye. I think Tillerson understands that every intelligence agency we have says there’s no amount of economic pressure you can put on North Korea to get them to stop this program because they view this as their survival.

If no amount of economic pressure can induce North Korea to stop its nuclear program because of its centrality to the regime’s survival, then what are the likely outcomes of Tillerson negotiating with the regime? The likely outcomes are (1) no agreement or (2) acceptance of North Korea continuing its program, in effect on North Korean terms.

These have been the outcomes of past U.S. diplomacy with North Korea. As Trump tweeted: “Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now?”

The question remains, though, why did Trump publicly undercut his Secretary of State on Twitter. According to reports, the president was furious at Tillerson for contradicting his public position that now is not the time for talks. That seems like reason enough for the president’s tweeting. It may be reason enough to sack Tillerson.

Some have suggested that Trump is attempting a good cop, bad cop approach to Kim Jong Un. It seems to be true that the North Koreans are mightily confused by conflicting signals coming from Washington. According to a number of sources, they are frantically talking to American sources in an attempt to understand the true intentions of the Trump administration. And Trump has often touted the advantages of keeping our adversaries uncertain about his intentions.

It’s far from clear, however, that this is the right approach in the context of a fledgling nuclear power led by an inexperienced ruler about whom we don’t know much. My guess is that Trump’s rhetoric will unsettle North Korea, but is no more likely than Tillerson’s diplomacy to deter it from expanding its nuclear program.

At the same time, it will not prompt Kim Jong Un to start a war he otherwise doesn’t want, as Trump’s critics suggest might happen. Where’s the advantage to the regime in that?

If one is inclined to view Trump’s rhetoric as rationally calculated to achieve a positive purpose, I think that purpose would be to influence China. If China believes Trump might launch a preemptive attack on North Korea, it might apply a stranglehold on the regime, especially if it also sees South Korea and Japan possibly moving towards developing a nuclear arsenal.

If there is any hope of changing North Korea’s behavior, it rests not with Tillerson’s diplomacy or with the direct effect of threatening Kim Jong Un. Rather, it rests with China acting out of self-interest.

Israel Takes on the SHIA Crescent

October 2, 2017

Israel Takes on the SHIA Crescent, Front Page MagazineJoseph Klein, October 2, 2017

At least, Israel has a more sympathetic ear in the Trump administration than it did in the Obama administration for raising its concerns about Iran’s growing threat, not only to Israel but to U.S. interests in the region and beyond. President Trump’s sharp denunciation of the Iranian regime during his address to the UN General Assembly represented a welcome departure from the Obama administration’s milquetoast approach to Iran. 

As the U.S.-led coalition continues to drive ISIS from its bases of operation in Syria, the Trump administration has proclaimed its intention not to allow Iran to turn Syria into its own satellite, as Iran has essentially done in Iraq. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said that the “so called liberation of areas by Assad’s forces and Iranian proxies could actually accelerate the cycle of violence and perpetuate conflict rather than get us to a sustainable outcome.” He claimed that the Trump administration’s “objectives are to weaken Iranian influence across the region broadly,” without discussing the means to accomplish those objectives.

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Despite Israel’s repeated warnings, Barack Obama’s reckless appeasement of the Iranian regime has enabled its rise as a hegemonic threat in the Middle East region as well as a threat to international peace and security. In 2009, Obama turned his back on millions of dissidents in the streets of Tehran and other Iranian cities, who were peacefully protesting the rigged election of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad as president. In 2011, Obama precipitously removed the remaining U.S. combat troops from Iraq, giving rise to ISIS’s re-emergence in Iraq from its bases in Syria. The radical Shiite Iranian regime purported to come to the “rescue” of both countries from the Sunni terrorists, turning Iraq into a virtual vassal state of the largest state sponsor of terrorism in the process. Obama’s disastrous nuclear deal with Iran legitimized Iran’s path to eventually becoming a nuclear-armed state, while immediately filling its coffers with billions of dollars to fund its aggression. 

Meanwhile, Syria has become ground zero for Iran’s execution of its regional ambitions, which is to establish its Shiite Crescent connecting with its allies, including Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. This plan has included the establishment of a land route that Iranian-backed militias secured in June, beginning on Iran’s border with Iraq and running across Iraq and Syria all the way to Syria’s Mediterranean coast. This road makes Iran’s job easier in supplying arms by land, as well as by air and sea, to prop up Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and to equip Iran’s own forces fighting inside of Syria in support of Assad. This helps explain why Iran has placed so much importance on helping the Syrian regime establish control over the Deir ez-Zor area in eastern Syria, near the Iraqi border.

“Everything depends now on the Americans’ willingness to stop this,” said an Iraqi Kurdish official who was quoted in a New Yorker article. However, U.S.-led coalition forces apparently have done next to nothing to stop this major advance in Iran’s Shiite Crescent expansion. “Obama ran down our options in Syria so thoroughly, by the time this administration took over,” said Andrew Tabler, senior fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. “The Iranian influence is spreading because they are so heavily involved in regime activities,” Tabler added. “It’s a new monster.”

Furthermore, Iran has funded and armed its terrorist proxy Hezbollah, which has sent its militia from its home base of Lebanon to fight alongside Assad’s forces.  And Iran has used Syria as a transit point for shipment of sophisticated rockets to Hezbollah in Lebanon for future use against Israeli population centers. Despite the fact that Hezbollah has American blood on its hands, the U.S.-led coalition has chosen not to do anything about Hezbollah’s presence in Syria, bought and paid for by Iran.

While Israel chose not to take sides in Syria’s civil war with military intervention of its own, it has bombed weapons storage facilities and convoys inside Syria for its own protection. Just recently, on September 7th, Israeli jets struck a Syrian weapons facility near Masyaf, which was reported to have been used for the production of chemical weapons and the storage of missiles. Israel will also do what is necessary to repel Iranian-backed forces if they edge too close to areas near the Golan Heights, shrinking the buffer between Israel and Iranian controlled territories.

However, such tactical measures may not be enough to thwart Iran’s larger ambitions. In light of intelligence reports that Assad may be ready to invite Iran to set up military bases in Syria, Israeli leaders have concluded that they cannot wait until the Trump administration decides to deal more forcefully with Iran’s growing use of Syria as a staging area for carrying out its expansionist Shiite Crescent strategy.  “Their overriding concern in Syria is the free reign that all the major players there seem willing to afford Iran and its various proxies in the country,” wrote Jonathan Spyer in an article for Foreign Policy. As long as nobody else is addressing the concern Iran’s growing control raises in a satisfactory manner, “Israel is determined to continue addressing it on its own.”

At least, Israel has a more sympathetic ear in the Trump administration than it did in the Obama administration for raising its concerns about Iran’s growing threat, not only to Israel but to U.S. interests in the region and beyond. President Trump’s sharp denunciation of the Iranian regime during his address to the UN General Assembly represented a welcome departure from the Obama administration’s milquetoast approach to Iran.

As the U.S.-led coalition continues to drive ISIS from its bases of operation in Syria, the Trump administration has proclaimed its intention not to allow Iran to turn Syria into its own satellite, as Iran has essentially done in Iraq. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said that the “so called liberation of areas by Assad’s forces and Iranian proxies could actually accelerate the cycle of violence and perpetuate conflict rather than get us to a sustainable outcome.” He claimed that the Trump administration’s “objectives are to weaken Iranian influence across the region broadly,” without discussing the means to accomplish those objectives.

Whether the Trump administration follows through remains to be seen. In the meantime, Israel will have to deal with the fallout of Iran’s ambitions in Syria itself.

The Big Middle East Lie

October 2, 2017

The Big Middle East Lie, Gatestone InstituteBassam Tawil, October 2, 2017

(For whom does the “Trump administration” speak? — DM)

Jamal’s bloody lesson, however, apparently still needs to be learned by the West, which, despite all evidence, doggedly persists in drawing an unbroken line between Palestinian terrorism and poverty.

Jamal, however, is far from the first terrorist to convey this crucial lesson: most Palestinian terrorists over the past decades were educated and had jobs.

Some Palestinian suicide bombers were nurses, schoolteachers and lawyers. Some came from middle class and even wealthy families and clans. Money and education, however, did not stop them from committing atrocities against Israelis.

Terrorists like Jamal are motivated by deep hatred for Jews and Israel. They have been indoctrinated and brainwashed by their leaders and Muslim religious clerics into believing that Jews are evil and need to be eliminated by all available means.

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Jamal wanted to murder Jews because he believed this was a noble deed that would earn him the status of shaheed (martyr) and hero among his family, friends and society. In Palestinian culture in particular, and Arab culture in general, murderers of Jews are glorified on a daily basis.

The Trump administration and Jason Greenblatt seem to have bought the lie that “It’s about money, stupid.”

No. The conflict is about Israel’s existence in the Middle East. It’s about the abiding interest in the Arab and Islamic world to destroy Israel and murder Jews.

Nimer Mahmoud Jamal, the 37-year-old Palestinian terrorist who on September 25 murdered three Israelis at the entrance to Har Adar near Jerusalem, had a permit from the Israeli authorities to work in Israel.

His family and friends say he also had a good life and was considered lucky to have been employed by Jews because he received a higher salary and was protected by Israeli labor laws.The night before Jamal set out in his murderous mission, he spent a few hours at the fitness gym in his village, located only a few miles away from Har Adar, He would always use the diet that is juicing beneficial and high in protein, he liked to take care of himself, which is why he would always follow the prohormones roids link to get his supplements.

So, Jamal, the murderer of the three Israelis (two of the victims were Arab Israelis), was not poor. He was not unemployed. In fact, according his friends, Jamal earned much more than what a senior police officer or school teacher working for the Palestinian Authority or Hamas brings home every month.

What was it, then, that drove Jamal to his murderous scheme, gunning down three young men who were supposed to be facilitating his entry into Israel? Was it because he could not provide for his children? No. Was it because his landlord was pressuring him about the rent? No: Jamal lived in a nice place of his own, complete with furniture, appliances and bedrooms that any family in the West would be proud to own.

Left: Nimer Mahmoud Jamal. Right: Har Adar. (Images source: Social media, Josh Evnin/Wikimedia Commons)

Jamal wanted to murder Jews because he believed this was a noble deed that would earn him the status of shaheed (martyr) and hero among his family, friends and society. In Palestinian culture in particular, and Arab culture in general, murderers of Jews are glorified on a daily basis.

They are touted as the lucky ones who are now in the company of Prophet Mohammed and the angels in Paradise. Male terrorists are also busy with the 72 virgins they were awarded as a prize for murdering Jews. The murderers — as Muslim clerics and leaders hammer into the heads of Palestinians — are also given access to rivers of honey and fine drinks once they set foot in their imaginary Paradise.

Jamal’s friends and family are now convinced that he has been rewarded by Allah and Prophet Mohammed in Paradise for murdering three Israelis. They do not care about his children, whom he left behind, and certainly not about the families of the three Israelis he murdered.

In his village and on social media, Jamal is being hailed as a hero and martyr. Not a single Palestinian has come out against the cowardly terror attack by a man who took advantage of a permit from the Israeli authorities to commit a terror attack.

The Jewish families that once employed Jamal as a cleaner had trusted him. They had opened their homes and hearts, as well as their wallets, to him. The Israeli authorities wanted to trust him and see him as a normal person who just wanted a job with a decent income to support his family.

But Jamal, like many other Palestinians, betrayed the trust the Jews gave him. He chose to stab in the back the same people who had gone out of their way to help him.

Sadly, this terrorist also betrayed the cause of thousands of Palestinian workers who enter Israel for work every day. These workers stand to lose the most from Jamal’s terror attack and treachery.

Luckily for them, the Israeli authorities are saying that the Har Adar murder will not affect Israel’s policy of granting permits to Palestinians to work inside Israel, because the vast majority are not involved in violence.

The Har Adar murders ought to teach us at least one thing: that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not about the economy or improving the living conditions of the Palestinians. Jamal, who had a job and freedom of movement and a lovely apartment, surely proves this point, as do the murders or attempted murders by other well-to-do terrorists such as Mohammad Atta, Osama bin Laden, Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and many others.

Jamal’s bloody lesson, however, apparently still needs to be learned by the West, which, despite all evidence, doggedly persists in drawing an unbroken line between Palestinian terrorism and poverty.

Jamal, however, is far from the first terrorist to convey this crucial lesson: most Palestinian terrorists over the past decades were educated and had jobs.

Some Palestinian suicide bombers were nurses, schoolteachers and lawyers. Some came from middle class and even wealthy families and clans. Money and education, however, did not stop them from committing atrocities against Israelis.

Terrorists like Jamal are motivated by deep hatred for Jews and Israel. They have been indoctrinated and brainwashed by their leaders and Muslim religious clerics into believing that Jews are evil and need to be eliminated by all available means.

Not a single terrorist has complained of carrying out an attack because he or she were starving, had no food for the children and were unable to buy ice cream from the local grocery store. The terrorists, in fact, spell it out as it is: they openly announce that they are motivated by their indoctrinated hatred for Israel and Jews. This is what the Palestinian, Arab and Islamic propaganda machine has done to generations of Arabs and Muslims. Officials and people in the West may deny what they hear as hard as they like; but the terrorists could not be more are honest about what their murderous motives are.

What, then, about those on the West who continue to talk about the conflict as if it were about creating new jobs and paving roads and improving infrastructure for the Palestinians? This seems to be the approach endorsed in the U.S. by Donald Trump’s administration.

There is nothing wrong, of course, with boosting the economy and creating job opportunities. This might have a moderating effect on a few Palestinians. They will be happy to see a better economy and a drop in the unemployment rate.

Such measures, however, will never change the hearts and minds of Palestinians. Palestinians will never recognize Israel’s right to exist because Americans and Europeans built them an industrial park somewhere in the West Bank.

Over the past 25 years, the Palestinians have received billions of dollars in aid from the international community. When they headed to the ballot boxes, they voted for Hamas because it told them it will destroy Israel. Palestinians are most likely to vote for Hamas once again if free and democratic elections were held tomorrow in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

We might remember this as Trump’s Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, returns to our region to discuss ways of reviving the so-called peace process between Israel and the Palestinians. The Trump administration and Jason Greenblatt seem to have bought the lie that “It’s about money, stupid.”

No. The conflict is about an unbendable refusal to allow a Jewish Israel to exist in the Middle East. It is about the abiding interest in the Arab and Islamic world to obliterate Israel and murder Jews. It is about the ongoing, bloody Arab and Islamic incitement against Israel and Jews. Jobs are not the problem, and they are not the solution. Let us pay attention to reality for a change: Jamal and his fellow terrorists can teach us something — if only we would listen.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.

Russian News Agency RIA: It Will Become Clear That The Eastern European Countries’ Fear Towards Russia Is Not Unfounded; ‘Russia Is Preparing For War’

October 2, 2017

Russian News Agency RIA: It Will Become Clear That The Eastern European Countries’ Fear Towards Russia Is Not Unfounded; ‘Russia Is Preparing For War’, MEMRI, October 1, 2017

On September 21, 2017, Russian news agency RIA published an article, titled “The West Was Right To Fear ‘Zapad-2017, For Russia Is No Longer Nice,” by journalist Irina Alksnis. According to the author, the recent Russia-Belarus joint Zapad-2017 drills (September 14-20) reflect Russian military policy towards the West.[1] “Russia is preparing for war; it is preparing in earnest. And first and foremost, on the Western axis,” writes Alksnis.

The author adds that Eastern European countries understand that “the flamboyance and overtness” of Russia’s drills indicate that Moscow is guided by the classical principle “if you want peace, prepare for war”‘. However, Alksnis stresses: “The world also knows two Russian maxims: the classical one about the rifle hanging on the wall, and the modern one: ‘Russia will never again fight on its own territory’.”

Alksnis’ analysis dispenses with the usual Russian reaction to Western apprehension over growing Russian military might. This is not irrational panic, or an attempt to divert public attention but recognition over growing Russian military might. This is not irrational panic, or an attempt to divert public attention but recognition that Russia has returned to the international arena as a dominant player and shed of its previous sentimentality. In other words Western fears prove the efficacy of Russia’s foreign and defense policies and should be viewed with satisfaction.

The following are excerpts from Alksnis’ article:[2]

Irina Alsksnis (Source: YouTube)
Zapad 2017 (Source: Sputniknews.com)

‘The Zapad-2017 Exercise Reflects A Significant And Absolutely Real Trend In The Russian Military Policy’

“The ‘Zapad-2017’ military exercise has given those Russians interested in politics plenty of new reasons for entertainment watching the extremely emotional, bordering on nervous breakdown, and reactions of our closest Western neighbors, primarily those in the Baltics. Of the latter, of course, the most noticeable was Lithuania’s reaction to the alleged violation of the republic’s airspace by Russian transport aircraft. Although one could hardly top the Polish defense minister with his declaration that ‘nuclear weapons are being used as part of the exercise’.

“It is customary in Russia to mock the nervous – sometimes downright hysterical – attitude of our Western allies to the ‘Russian threat’, and any attempts to understand it usually end with a statement along the lines of ‘They must realize it is nonsense; therefore, it is nothing but  a PR stunt for some personal gain’. Russophobic propaganda in these countries and whipping up a spiral of public fear of Russian aggression are viewed in the same context. They are seen exclusively as mechanisms for solving some of their internal problems, and in particular, transferring public attention public from really important issues to artificially inflated ones.

“Without denying that all of the above does exist, it is still worthwhile to take a closer look at the situation. And then it will turn out that for them, for the authorities and the elites of East European states, it is not a game at all.

“The truth is that they are indeed afraid of Russia. Moreover, if you look deeper, it will become clear that their fear is not unfounded. Their fear of Russia has quite serious and absolutely rational motives, which are worth understanding and recognition.

“By the way, it is not hard to do – it is enough to look at what is happening in the world through their eyes.

“Firstly, Russia has again cheated the entire world and instead of dying, having placed its resources at the disposal of the world community, has managed not only to survive but to return to the global stage in good shape.

“Secondly, the Russia that has returned is displaying manners quite uncharacteristic of its former self — absence of sentimentality concerning those it used to call fraternal peoples for centuries, and rationality that is more akin to refined cynicism. It has already made them pay (instead of the traditional forgiveness) — by trade restrictions, food import ban, and direct multi-million punitive sanctions (compliments to Bulgaria for violating the contract on the Belene nuclear power plant).

“It is enough to look at the way Russia has behaved towards Ukraine, whose people it did not simply consider fraternal but viewed as part of it very itself. In fact, Russia has chosen the most ruthless possible course of action concerning Ukraine: it has been left to its fate, and when necessary, Moscow acts in its own interests in such a way that the situation there is exacerbated.

“A quite obvious thought occurs to Russia’s neighbors: if Russia has gotten rid of sentimental feelings towards Ukraine, just how cynical can it be in its decisions and tough in its actions towards others?

“Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly — Russia is preparing for war; it is preparing in earnest, and first and foremost,on the Western axis. The Zapad-2017 exercise reflects a significant and absolutely real trend in Russian military policy.

“Russia is building up its military muscles demonstratively and at all possible speed. In addition, there are overt full-scale preparations in the sphere of mobilization arrangements and in civil defense.

“Our neighbors are capable of understanding that the flamboyance and overtness of these preparations directly indicate that Russia is guided by the classical principle ‘if you want peace, prepare for war’, that in this way it is trying to prevent a possible military conflict. But this does not put them at ease.

“Because, in addition to the Latin principle of ‘[vis pacem] para bellum’, the world also knows two Russian maxims: the classical one about the rifle hanging on the wall [in the first act that is used in the second or third act], and the modern one: ‘Russia will never again fight on its own territory’.

“Also, there is the overall global situation, which our anxious neighbors cannot ignore. The situation involves the disintegration of the prevailing hierarchy of powers, the degradation of the global hegemon, degeneration of the elites and the grand-scale increase in general instability.

And hopes that the proverbial ‘rifle on the wall’ will not fire in this situation are increasingly diminishing. Even though, as history has shown, in the end the Russians will probably manage to spin it in such a way so as to say afterwards: ‘They started it’.

“But the Baltic and Polish peoples, as well as other East Europeans, don’t feel better for all that. Because if, as they say, things go ‘boom’, they will be the first to find themselves in the wrong place. And taking into account the above-mentioned Russia’s loss of sentimentality regarding East European nations, their fears are not so ridiculous after all.

“So, one can understand the panic of the Latvian authorities over malfunctions in mobile service in their country. After all, Russia is a world leader in the sphere of electronic warfare.

“Thus, they can no longer count on ‘Russia will take pity on us’, but only on ‘Russia does not need us’.”

___________________________

[1] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7094, Zapad-2017 Exercises An Embarrassment For Belarus As Fictional State Achieves A Life Of Its Own, September 15, 2017.

See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 7097, Russia This Week – September 19, 2017, September 19, 2017.

[2] Ria.ru, September 21, 2017.

How the Democrats Set Up Puerto Rico for Disaster

October 2, 2017

How the Democrats Set Up Puerto Rico for Disaster, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, October 2, 2017

There has been no shortage of Federal aid to Puerto Rico.  There are tons of supplies sitting and rotting. There are 10,000 shipping containers in a San Juan port alone. The dysfunctional local authorities were having trouble finding the drivers to deliver them.

The Governor of Puerto Rico has said that he doesn’t need more supplies. He needs drivers. And, currently, only 20% of the truck drivers are reporting for work. Meanwhile fuel trucks can’t travel because of a curfew.

Is that Trump’s fault?

Local relief is the job of local authorities. It is not President Trump’s job to dispatch truck drivers to Puerto Rico. The White House has, by the admission of local authorities, filled every aid requestAccording to FEMA, 11,800 Federal personnel are on the ground in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. FEMA personnel have helped 843 people and entered thousands of buildings.

But Mayor Yulin Cruz keeps singing from Nagin’s old hymnal about old people being trapped and massive death tolls. But where are the 1,500 employees of San Juan’s police department? Why can’t San Juan find municipal employees who can drive a truck or evacuate the elderly?

******************************

We’ve seen this show before.

When there’s a national disaster, neighborhoods have been reduced to rubble, shelters are filled with crying families, and a Republican is in the White House, the Democrats jump into action.

Not to help, but to make political capital from a disaster that they helped cause.

After Hurricane Katrina, the media shrieked that survivors inside the New Orleans Superdome were murdering each other. But there actually wasn’t a single murder in the Superdome. And no, NBC’s Brian Williams, never saw any corpses floating past the Ritz-Carlton. The media exaggerated and lied.

New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin was all over the news shouting, “Get off your asses” and accusing the Bush administration of “spinning” while “people are dying”. The dirty Democrat demanded more resources while claiming that everything that the Federal government was doing wasn’t good enough. He called for Greyhound buses, when there were plenty of school buses in New Orleans that weren’t being used.

Much of the disaster was actually Nagin’s fault. And Ray Nagin has been convicted of his crimes.

Puerto Rico is the new New Orleans. San Juan Mayor Carmen Yulin Cruz is the new Nagin.

While media types claim that there’s a cholera outbreak in Puerto Rico (there isn’t), Yulin Cruz hops from CNN to MSNBC to accuse, demand aid, taunt Trump and throw around claims of “genocide”.

There has been no shortage of Federal aid to Puerto Rico.  There are tons of supplies sitting and rotting. There are 10,000 shipping containers in a San Juan port alone. The dysfunctional local authorities were having trouble finding the drivers to deliver them.

The Governor of Puerto Rico has said that he doesn’t need more supplies. He needs drivers. And, currently, only 20% of the truck drivers are reporting for work. Meanwhile fuel trucks can’t travel because of a curfew.

Is that Trump’s fault?

Local relief is the job of local authorities. It is not President Trump’s job to dispatch truck drivers to Puerto Rico. The White House has, by the admission of local authorities, filled every aid requestAccording to FEMA, 11,800 Federal personnel are on the ground in Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. FEMA personnel have helped 843 people and entered thousands of buildings.

But Mayor Yulin Cruz keeps singing from Nagin’s old hymnal about old people being trapped and massive death tolls. But where are the 1,500 employees of San Juan’s police department? Why can’t San Juan find municipal employees who can drive a truck or evacuate the elderly?

Yulin Cruz found the time to appear on every single cable news program, but has yet to visit a FEMA center. She poses against a backdrop of massive amounts of aid, which the local authorities can’t seem to distribute, but they did find the time to print out a “We are all dying” t-shirt for her to wear while chatting with Anderson Cooper on CNN.

Cruz is a member of the Partido Popular Democratico which is affiliated with the Democrats.

Despite being exposed to plenty of storms, Puerto Rico was obviously unprepared for the disaster, in all the ways that count, like having a Plan B for when the cell towers stop working. Like New Orleans, much of which is below sea level, the authorities had no viable plan to deal with an inevitable disaster. The PPD had one agenda. And that agenda was fighting “austerity”, not preparing for the day when the lights go out.

When Hurricane Georges hit Puerto Rico in 1998, 100% of electrical services were disrupted. Roads and bridges were destroyed. Utility workers actually had to be flown in from outside to handle repairs. (The media was much less interested in Georges because a Clinton was in the White House.) But a FEMA audit found questionable costs and no useful lessons were learned from the disaster.

In 2004, Tropical Storm Jeanne hit Puerto Rico and all the power went out. Governor Sila Calderon, the Dem politico, who had also served as Mayor of San Juan, was back to warning that there was no water or power. Two years earlier, Caldreon had pressured the United States to leave Vieques. A referendum showed 70% Puerto Rican support for withdrawal. As a result, Roosevelt Roads Naval Station was closed.

Calderon and the PPD claimed that the abandoned base would become an international airport. Instead it’s an eyesore. And there are no more Navy bases in Puerto Rico. That makes it harder to ship supplies.

But the PPD has come full circle from “US Out of Vieques” to “Why the Hell Aren’t You in Vieques?”

“I cannot fathom the thought that the greatest nation in the world cannot figure out the logistics for a small island,” Mayor Yulin Cruz rants. But it’s Puerto Rico that hasn’t figured out its own logistics.

It’s deep in debt and yet it’s completely unprepared every time a storm arrives.

President Trump dispatched vessels to Puerto Rico before the hurricane. These included the Kearsarge; one of the Navy’s big powerhouses. The USS Kearsarge Amphibious Ready Group had delivered 44,000 pounds of supplies and conducted 144 airlifts. It’s operating from Roosevelt Roads, which would have had a stable Naval presence if it wasn’t for the PPD and the left’s Vieques protests.

Military personnel are busy clearing roads. But the question is why can’t Puerto Rico do it?

And what was President Trump supposed to do about it? Was he supposed to magically ensure that Puerto Rico would be better prepared when its own authorities and Obama Inc. had failed to do so?

After Superstorm Sandy, the media flipped the script and turned its disaster coverage into a reelection commercial for Barack Obama. But the reality on the ground was a completely inept response. FEMA proved useless. Its centers shut down due to snow. Biker gangs, the local equivalent of the Cajun Navy, were much more useful. Obama took a photo op hug with a victim and then ignored her pleas for help.

But that too was business as usual.

The media has struggled to, in its own words, turn the latest disaster into Trump’s Katrina. They pivoted from initially ignoring the hurricane (just as they usually do) to accusing Trump of ignoring it. They pounded away at the Jones Act, and when that was waived, are berating Trump for not “caring enough”.

But this disaster is their puppy.

The Democrats have held the White House for eight years. If the disaster is a Federal problem, they had eight years to fix it.

They didn’t.

Governor Ricardo Rossello was an Obama delegate. He taped an ad for Hillary Clinton. Mayor Yulin Cruz is on the left. But, just like New Orleans, the local authorities somehow escape all the blame.

Trump didn’t make Puerto Rico dysfunctional. Puerto Rico has yet to come up with a functional response to a storm. And some of its dysfunctional politicians gleefully tour cable news denouncing Trump while ignoring their own people even as they exploit their suffering.

New Orleans, Houston and Puerto Rico share a common pattern. The left runs an area into the ground. And then when disaster strikes, it lashes out at a Republican in the White House. When local authorities fail to evacuate, when they don’t have a viable disaster plan, when they don’t use available resources, it’s Bush’s fault or it’s Trump’s fault. But it’s never the fault of the Democrats. Nothing ever is.

It’s the job of local authorities to deal with a disaster. The Federal government is only supposed to step in when local resources are overwhelmed. But in Puerto Rico, there seem to be no local resources.

Even expecting truck drivers to pick up supplies from the port is expecting too much.

That’s not President Trump’s fault.  If you want someone to blame, talk to the angry leftist wearing her “We are all dying” t-shirt on CNN. Maybe the same driver who delivered her shirt and her news crew, can take the time to deliver some supplies to all the dying people.