Archive for February 8, 2018

Video: TOM FITTON: “PICK YOUR POISON” – Obama Abused Either Clinton or Russia FBI Investigation

February 8, 2018

Video: TOM FITTON: “PICK YOUR POISON” – Obama Abused Either Clinton or Russia FBI Investigation, February 8, 2018

(Hillary, Comey and the rest would never lie. Any fool knows that. Please see also, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PUTQQSxLpEU. — DM)

 

And more on Antisemitism on the British Left

February 8, 2018

And more on Antisemitism on the British Left | Anne’s Opinions, 8th February 2018

I apologize if I seem to be banging on about this subject of the antisemitism that has taken over the British Labour Party, but every time I think they have hit bottom, they dig some more.

Here are a few articles worth reading, and what makes a couple of them stand out is that they were written by non-Jews. The antisemitism has reached such levels that even the Gentiles are protesting.

Labour MP John Mann (who has a respectable record fighting antisemitism in his party and is the Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Antisemitism) writes “I’m not Jewish but whatever I talk about I receive antisemitic abuse“:

Labour MP John Mann

I made my Question Time debut last week as a Labour MP. I was asked about Theresa May, about Brexit, about allegations of rape and how to deal with them and about statues of Margaret Thatcher. I talked about my work as a constituency MP, and as the longest-serving member of the Treasury Select Committee. I discussed my work against child sexual exploitation and abuse and spoke about the economy and immigration. And yet, when I looked at my phone, I found I had received anti-Jewish abuse and an antisemitic death threat on social media. I am not Jewish, I didn’t talk about Jews and I didn’t discuss the Middle East.

This isn’t the first time. I can speak out about knife crime and drugs and the tweets come in – “who is paying you to do your work” “Why don’t you admit you’re in the pay of the Israeli government” and the like. It is not just tweets though. One Labour party member called me a “CIA *******” for dealing with the “antisemitism nonsense” following an appearance I made on the Daily Politics at Labour party conference talking about the Brexit. Not all, but the vast majority of these attacks have come from self-identified “left-wing” activists or Labour party supporters.

Anti-Jewish hate and invective is becoming so obsessive, so fervent that irrespective of what an anti-racist activist is discussing, antisemitism is the online reaction. Last week, Phillip Collins, in the Times, highlighted the problem of Left wing antisemitism and the obsessive hate of Israel. He pointed out that most of the statements people make are not actionable. The death threat I received will be, but much of the abuse fell into the other category. As he said: the “tone of voice, the severity, the passion, the elevation of an issue that should be one among many to a defining idea of political identity.” ”It connects to a loathing of America and of capitalism and of alleged western interference in the Middle East. For the uncomplicated racist, hatred of the undesirable people is the starting point. For the complicated, confused leftist, the denigration of a people is their conclusion.”

But now it’s one step further. There’s a group-focussed enmity. Anyone who calls out racism, or seeks to address anti-Jewish hatred is a target. It’s even now the case that allegations of antisemitism are being inferred or created and attributed to Jews in order to try and diminish the charge when one has not been made. This of course, undermines victims of antisemitism and their right to define such abuse and call out the abusers.

I expect Labour to call out the anti-Semites. When someone with a public platform in the party tweets a racist slur or alleges antisemitism is fabricated, they must be called out. Each and every Labour MP has a duty to speak. We cannot ask other party’s to deal with issues of antisemitism in their parties if we don’t call it out in our own.

We all have a responsibility to call out antisemitism. Any MP should be able to appear on a public show about the key policy issues of our time without being subjected to racist abuse. If we can’t defeat racism, then it’s not the politicians we need to be questioning but rather our future as a civilised society.

Philip Collins in the London Times, quoted above in John Mann’s article, writes that Labour’s Antisemitism is worse than it looks (£): (h/t Benji P). He begins his piece with a reflection on Howard Jacobson’s The Finkler Question, and continues (emphases are added):

The political left in Britain has a serious problem with the Finkler question and it erupted again this week. A dispute has broken out which has the unlikely cast of the renowned cat-impersonator George Galloway, the comedian and writer David Baddiel and the founder of Momentum and member of the Labour Party governing body, Jon Lansman. Mr Galloway started it by calling Baddiel “a vile Israel-fanatic” which accusation he later refined to suggest that Baddiel was prone to using the label of “antisemite” as a slander. Mr Lansman waded in to declare his solidarity with Baddiel who, as a “non-Zionist” is neither vile nor a fanatic.

Mr Galloway responded to Mr Lansman’s implication that he was antisemitic with a threat to sue for defamation. If this unseemly case ever wastes the time of British justice I will root without equivocation for Mr Lansman. That said, this brief exchange was by no means a contest between a knight and a knave and, if Mr Lansman is to become a power in the land, we need to understand the full implications of his position.

Mr Galloway signed off with a threat that revealed his confidence that his view is widely shared on the left. He suggested that he would call Jeremy Corbyn as a witness in his defence. Indeed, Mr Galloway is right to suppose that Mr Corbyn shares a less vehemently expressed version of his own confused certainty. Mr Galloway is never overtly antisemitic — he is far too canny for that. Instead, he alleges that Israel is a country born of colonial conquest which means that the Zionists are the racists. To this historical fiction, the Galloway leftists usually add a critique of acquisitive capitalism which elides neatly with the perennial tropes of antisemitism: the usurious, monied, wandering Jew. You can get a glimpse of a whole pathology without anyone ever actually spelling it out.

This is a familiar and dismal story yet perhaps it was Mr Lansman’s contribution that was the more intriguing, and not just because he is now a central figure in Labour’s command structure. Mr Lansman leapt to support Baddiel on the stated proviso that the latter was not a Zionist. The implied logic here is that, if Baddiel were vocal about the right of Israel to exist, then solidarity with him might be withdrawn. He merits support, in other words, not because calling someone a vile Israel-fanatic is diabolical but because he is on the right side of the imperial argument.

Zionism, which in fact originated as a liberation movement and the search for a place of safety, is recast, by Mr Lansman’s implication, as an ideology of oppression rooted in an act of conquest in 1967. The two thousand years of migration, the sense of the return as a spiritual as well as a geographical exercise, are ignored. This looks like power politics pure and simple. Baddiel has shown himself not to be complicit and has therefore proved his credentials as someone worthy of solidarity. Not as a Jew but as a “non-Zionist”. As Howard Jacobson has said, “those who say they are against Zionism but not Jews are speaking in riddles”. It seems to me that Mr Lansman reveals as much with his defence as Mr Galloway does with his attack.

The Labour Party is led, indeed, by a man who only ever talked to one side, who called himself a friend of Hamas, a body which seeks the destruction of the Jewish state; a man who happily took money from Press TV, a channel owned and controlled by the Iranian government which denies the truth of the Holocaust. The home affairs select committee concluded that institutional antisemitism thrived in the Labour Party. Mr Corbyn did commission a report into the issue but it proved to be a lot better at getting Shami Chakrabarti into the Labour Party than getting antisemites out.

This is not the sort of prejudice that can be settled in court. Only the true cranks voice straightforwardly actionable statements of hatred.

Here are the key words which were quoted by John Mann:

The left’s antisemitism is in the tone of voice, the severity, the passion, the elevation of an issue that should be one among many to a defining idea of political identity.

It connects to a loathing of America and of capitalism and of alleged western interference in the Middle East. For the uncomplicated racist, hatred of the undesirable people is the starting point. For the complicated, confused leftist, the denigration of a people is their conclusion. The ingenious ones among them even sound as though they arrive at their argument with great reluctance. This is the mindset that might one day inform British foreign policy and, if that is a realistic prospect, then it is the errors hidden in Mr Lansman’s world view that will matter more than the errors evident in Mr Galloway’s.

Since Mr. Collins cites Howard Jacobson’s book, it is only fitting to quote Howard Jacobson in his own New Statesman article on modern antisemitism: To truly remember the Holocaust, we must stay alert to prejudice”:

Modern antisemitism – same as the old

The modern anti-Semite is more subtle than his great-grandparents. He doesn’t smash our windows or our bones. He insinuates himself into consciences that are already troubled and works on spirits that are already half-broken. And we are too responsive to his serpent insinuations. When the history of Jew-hating in our time comes to be written, Jewish collusion in it will feature heavily.

To the question I don’t have – but is something like, “How do any of us, as Jews, fulfil the great task imposed on us?” – here is my part-answer: stop apologising and resist the sirens who would lure you on to the rocks of guilt and self-dislike, singing of Jewish materialism, Jewish legalism, Jewish exclusivism, Jewish supremacism, Jewish imperialism, Zionism…

Decisive in Corbyn’s emergence as a folk hero is the triumphant amnesia of the young. Of the history of socialism in the 20th century, of the dogmas that still exert a hold on ideologues such as Corbyn, causing him to turn his face away whenever words such as Jew, Israel or anti-Semitism are spoken – some boast of knowing nothing. What does it matter? We weren’t there. “What you don’t understand about my generation,” one young journalist wrote after last year’s election, “is that we don’t know or remember who Gerry Adams or Hezbollah were – so when you tell us that Jeremy Corbyn was their friend, we don’t care.”

Considering how easy the Internet has made it to find out about the past, such ignorance is surprising. But every promise of enlightenment the Internet has made, social media has broken. It revels in the selfish minutiae of the now; having neither eyes nor ears, its stock in trade is malicious rumour. People retweet what they will not take the time to confirm – a slander; a conspiracy theory, of which the Holohoax is just one; or a malevolent meme such as that posted by a Labour politician three years ago – “I have often said the Holocaust victims who died with dignity must be turning in their graves at the horrors done in the name of Judaism.”

How are we to describe the obscenity of that? Can the tweeter truly be so ignorant of what went on in the camps that she can speak, nostalgically, of Jews dying in them with dignity? Or is there method in the ignorance, truth playing second fiddle to propaganda – Jews dying with dignity in the horrorless Holocaust only to show up how little dignity Jews of our age grant those they kill in horror-filled Israel?

Thus the moral seesaw on which Holocaust relativists love to frolic – the contestable atrocity that was the Holocaust now rising, now falling, but always ultimately outweighed by the incontestable outrage that is Zionism. It was played upon again in a fringe meeting at last year’s Labour Party Conference where that prize catch, an Israeli anti-Zionist, argued for the necessity for the party to discuss everything openly, including the Holocaust. “Holocaust yes or no?” he posited, as though the truth of Auschwitz waited on a thumbs up/thumbs down decision. Holocaust: like or dislike? It was a line of enquiry that was given a definitive thumbs up later in the day when a distinguished British film director and member of the Labour Party appeared on the BBC to defend it.

And one more item to finish up (for now – this appears to be an unending subject): it emerges that during the debate in the British Parliament about whether to ban Hezbollah in its entirety or “only” its “military wing“, the Shadow Home Secretary, Labour’s Diane Abbot, ordered Labour MPs to oppose a total ban of Hezbollah!

Jeremy Corbyn famously called Hezbollah “friends” during a meeting in Parliament in 2009.

Ahead of the debate the Shadow Home Secretary sent a briefing note to Labour MPs urging them to not to back the motion because it would hinder peace talks in the Middle East.

Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbot with Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn

 

The document – obtained by the Jewish Chronicle – read: “There is a balance between making absolutely clear our abhorrence of using violence to achieve political ends and at the same time encouraging organisations down an effective democratic path.

“Full proscription could be a move against dialogue and meaningful peace negotiations in the Middle East.”

Jennifer Gerber, head of Labour Friends of Israel, slammed the Labour frontbench for actively ordering its MPs to block the banning of Hezbollah.

She said: “It is sadly unsurprising that the Labour frontbench would issue a statement on Hezbollah which fails to support banning the terror group in its entirety, and which makes no reference to its virulent antisemitism, its desire to annihilate Israel and its appalling role in propping up Assad’s murderous regime in Syria.

“It is, moreover, utterly delusional to think that, having wreaked death and destruction throughout the region, Hezbollah can play any role in promoting peace. We would urge Labour’s leadership to listen to this afternoon’s debate and reconsider its position.”

Reading the stories above, wading through pages of antisemitic tweets, comments and facebook posts from people who are “only anti-Zionist, I have nothing against Jews”, I don’t know whether to boggle at their ignorance, their stupidity or their malice.

Confronted on CNN, Holocaust-denying GOP House candidate calls Shoah ‘poppycock’

February 8, 2018

‘You Jews media, you’ve gone absolutely nuts,’ former American Nazi Party chair Arthur Jones says. ‘You think that Adolf Hitler has revived from the grave or something’

Today, 6:06 pm

https://www.timesofisrael.com/confronted-on-cnn-holocaust-denying-gop-house-candidate-calls-shoah-poppycock/

Neo-Nazi leader and US House candidate Arthur Jones (right) appears on CNN New Day on February 7, 2018 (Screen capture)

WASHINGTON — An outspoken Holocaust denier and anti-Semite poised to become the Republican nominee for a US House seat reiterated his vitriolic views on Thursday, when he was confronted by on CNN.

In a six-minute segment with Alisyn Camerota during the news network’s morning program, Arthur Jones, a former chair of the American Nazi Party, dismissed the Holocaust as “poppycock” and a “scam,” blamed the pro-Israel lobby for miring America in endless Middle East wars, and said the Jews controlled the nation’s government, its economy and the media.

WASHINGTON — An outspoken Holocaust denier and anti-Semite poised to become the Republican nominee for a US House seat reiterated his vitriolic views on Thursday, when he was confronted by on CNN.

In a six-minute segment with Alisyn Camerota during the news network’s morning program, Arthur Jones, a former chair of the American Nazi Party, dismissed the Holocaust as “poppycock” and a “scam,” blamed the pro-Israel lobby for miring America in endless Middle East wars, and said the Jews controlled the nation’s government, its economy and the media.

“It is shocking to hear how vocally and unapologetically racist you are,” Camerota began the segment, after airing remarks he made at a neo-Nazi rally last April. “Are you a Nazi?”

After staying that he had not had any affiliation with a “national socialist organization” for 15-20 years, Jones answered: “I don’t call myself a Nazi. I call myself an American patriot and statesman.”

He did, however, stress that he only belonged to one organization — his own, the America First Committee.

A crowd of over 4,000 people filled the Gospel Tabernacle in Fort Wayne, Indiana, to hear Col. Charles Lindbergh, seen on the speaker’s stand in the center, address a rally of the America First Committee. (AP Photo/File)

The group’s name is an homage to the Nazi sympathizer and white supremacist Charles Lindbergh, a spokesman for the original America First Committee, which advocated against US entry into World War II.

“You can call it whatever you want, Mr. Jones, but your website is filled with the most vile, rancid rhetoric I think I’ve ever read,” Camerota shot back.

(His campaign website, indeed, has a page devoted to “The Holocaust Racket,” espousing anti-Semitic conspiracy theories and calling Jews “blood-thirsty criminal vampires.”)

Jones, for his part, took exception to Camerota’s characterization of his views.

“It’s not vile and rancid. It’s the truth,” he said. “There’s nothing on that website that’s not true. I personally put that stuff on there. I personally picked out the articles on there, because they’re true. Now I can’t help that you don’t want to accept the truth. You Jews media, you’ve gone absolutely nuts. You think that Adolf Hitler has revived from the grave or something. It’s one man, one man, myself, that’s standing for the truth. And the news media can’t stand that. The Democrats and the Republicans. The cursed two-party, Jew-party system can’t stand it.”

Since the 1990s, Jones has been a perennial candidate for Illinois’ 3rd Congressional district, which represents Chicago and its nearby southwestern suburbs.

He has never before come close to being a serious contender, but this year he’s the only GOP candidate on the ballot, leaving him poised to clinch the nomination on March 20.

When pressed Thursday on his notorious, decades-long history of Holocaust denial, Jones reverted to his oft-repeated theory that the German genocide was a Jewish invention to make money.

Neo-Nazi leader Arthur Jones speaks in Kentucky, April 2017 (YouTube screenshot)

“Yes, I deny the Holocaust,” he said. “It was an extortion racket. Pure and simple. If you did any investigation, if you did any honest investigation of the Holocaust, you’d realize that it is nothing but an international extortion racket by the Jews to bleed, blackmail, extort and terrorize their enemies. And to suck us into one war after another in Mideast.”

Cameron then cited facts from the Holocaust. “I don’t want to quote you, but here’s the deal,” she said. “You can have your own conspiracy theories, but you can’t have your own facts.”

“Not conspiracy theories, it’s the facts,” Jones screamed back. “The Jews control basically the country, the Congress, the economy, the media — ”

“Hitler perpetrated a genocide. The Auschwitz death camp existed. And the Nuremberg trial existed.”

“Poppycock! It’s poppycock! It’s a scam!”

From there, the 70-year-old retired insurance salesman held up a paper that he claimed were forged records of Holocaust survivors getting special social security benefits.

The file picture taken just after the liberation by the Soviet army in January 1945, shows a group of children wearing concentration camp uniforms including Martha Weiss who was ten years old, 6th from right, behind barbed wire fencing in the Oswiecim (Auschwitz) Nazi concentration camp. (AP Photo)

Jones’ candidacy has elicited widespread denunciation from his own party, both nationally and locally.

“We condemn this candidate and his hateful rhetoric in the strongest possible terms,” RNC spokesman Michael Ahrens told The Times of Israel in an email on Tuesday.

The Illinois Republican Party, meanwhile, has also spoken out against Jones. Its chairman Tim Schneider told the Sun-Times his party and “our country have no place for Nazis like Arthur Jones. We strongly oppose his racist views and his candidacy for any public office, including the 3rd Congressional District.”

US President Donald Trump — whom Jones called a “Jew-loving fool” — and the White House have not yet made a public statement on the candidate.

On Thursday, Camerota asked Jones how, given his hateful positions, he could represent his constituents, when his district of 700,000 included roughly 7,000 Jews.

“A handful of them are Jew Zionists, but the overall majority are white Christian patriots,” he said. “And I might add black Cristian patriots and Latino Christian patriots. And they don’t want any more wars in the Middle East. And the Israeli lobby controls the Congress of the United States and has sucked us into one war after another — and that’s what I’m running against. Not the Holocaust. I’m running against trying to prevent a Holocaust in the Middle East.”

Camerota closed the interview by mentioning his history as a failed candidate and predicted that, despite his likelihood to capture his party’s nomination because he has no opponent in the primary, this election cycle would again not see him win office.

“You have a long track record of losing,” she told him. “You lose virtually everything that you run for. You’ve run for Congress and you’ve lost — for mayor and alderman. We’re not in the business of predicting the news. But I can say that you will lose this race. You couldn’t win dog catcher.”

US air, artillery strike Hizballah, Iranian forces in E. Syria 

February 8, 2018

Source: US air, artillery strike Hizballah, Iranian forces in E. Syria – DEBKAfile

The US and Russia took military action in the last 48 hours to show the bit-players in the Syrian war that they are not calling the shots for the next moves. The objects of this lesson were the Assad regime, Turkey, Iran and Hizballah.
On Wednesday night and Thursday morning, Jan. 7-8, members of the US 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit fired M777 Howitzer guns, backed by air strikes, against Hizballah and pro-Iranian Shiite militia forces operating in the Deir ez-Zour region east of the Euphrates River. Russian forces may also have been involved in the clash, say sources in Washington. According to the official US-led coalition communique, pro-Assad forces attacked a headquarters of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) east of the Euphrates, which is the deconfliction line separating the US area of operations from that of Russia and the Assad regime, and suffered 100 dead in the US counter-attack.

DEBKAfile’s military and intelligence sources disclose that the official US communique revealed a small corner of the clandestine campaign US forces are currently waging against the Assad regime’s army and its pro-Iranian allies on two fronts east of the Euphrates River.
Deir ez-Zour: Here, the US is engaged in a concentrated effort to arm and supply logistics to the SDF and the Kurdish YPG for two missions: the fight against Islamic State and a solid front to contain the Syrian, Iranian and Hizballah forces operating in the region. DEBKA Weekly’s military sources reveal that, in this sector, the US contingent is not content with delivering training and supplies; it also provides artillery and air support, labeled “preventive fire,” to help the local forces keep Assad’s army and its allies pinned down in their positions. This holds them back from continuing their easterly advance to the Iraqi border. The slightest movement outside those lines draws sustained American fire.

Al-Tanf Front, SE Syria: This is the most active front. Hardly a day goes by without pressure from Russian special forces, Syrian troops, Hizballah, or local groups.  A combined Russian-Syrian-Hizballah push has long sought to drive the Americans out of Al-Tanf, because it is the key to free and safe passage from southeastern Syria into western Iraq and northern Jordan. However, the US garrison isn’t budging – even when it comes under live artillery fire and air strikes.

On Thursday, Jan. 8, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan put in a call to Vladimir Putin in Moscow in search of an understanding with the Russian president on coordination between their air and air defense forces in Syria. DEBKAfile’s military sources report that the call had become urgent, since it looked as though Russia was preparing its air force and air defense systems to hit the Turkish warplanes that were providing air support for the Turkish anti-Kurdish operation in Afrin.

On Tuesday, Russian forces took over the Syrian Abu Dhuhour Airport east of Idlib and moved in Russian planes and helicopters. Elsewhere in Syria, they deployed their air defense weapons systems to new positions in the Aleppo and Idlib regions. A Syrian military spokesman announced that all parts of northern Syria were now covered by a comprehensive anti-missile shield. Afrin air space had suddenly become an effective no-fly zone for Turkish air force operations. This was Moscow’s punishment for the downing on Feb. 3, of a Russian Sukhoi 25 Frogfoot ground attack aircraft over the town of Maasran in northern Idlib by Hayat Tahrir Al Sham rebels, firing a ground-to-air man-portable missile. The Russians believe that Turkey gave the rebel group those missiles.

The Kremlin issued a communique after the Putin-Erdogan conversation stating that they had agreed to establish a Tension Reduction Zone in Idlib. But our sources report that the main part of the conversation was far from accord. Putin’s demanded that Erdogan call off the Turkish campaign in Afrin, repeating the demand issued Wednesday by Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani. Therefore, if Erdogan decides nevertheless to carry on with his anti-Kurd campaign in northern Syria, he will find himself not only up against the Trump administration, but also his allies, Russia and Iran.

Iran will never renegotiate nuclear deal, president says 

February 8, 2018

Source: Iran will never renegotiate nuclear deal, president says – Israel Hayom

Know thy enemy 

February 8, 2018

Source: Know thy enemy – Israel Hayom

Yoav Limor

Many experts now tend to view Israel’s borders with Syria and Lebanon as a single entity – the northern sector – which may become the scene of the future “northern war.” Given the increasing interests shared by Syrian President Bashar Assad and the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terrorist group, inspired by their mutual Iranian patron, this is a reasonable scenario.

Hezbollah has taken an active part in the bloody civil war in Syria, fighting alongside Assad’s forces. The war has claimed 1,700 of the terrorist group’s operatives, and if Hezbollah finds itself in trouble with Israel, it will expect Syria’s assistance.

Israel understands this alliance, but at this time, most defense officials still prefer to separate the two fronts. The policies pursued vis-à-vis Lebanon consist mostly of dialogue, while those practiced opposite Syria comprise – according to foreign media reports – of missiles.

This stems from the difference between the sectors and the potential threat each of them poses.

Israel feels it can act freely to neutralize threats from Syria. Over the past few years, foreign reports have attributed dozens of strikes on Syrian soil to Israel, including one as recent as Wednesday, none of which garnered a significant Syrian response. Assad is busy rebuilding his regime and his country, and apart from nonthreatening anti-aircraft fire and a few feeble statements in the media, he is careful not to risk a full-fledged confrontation with Israel.

The situation in Lebanon is different, as Hezbollah would not hesitate to retaliate over an Israeli strike. For this reason, Israel is careful to target the terrorist group from Syrian soil, which allows the IDF to thwart weapon shipments to Hezbollah without risking a full-on confrontation.

Iran understands this as well, which is why it is pursuing the construction of weapon production facilities in Lebanon.

Israel is not oblivious to Iran’s efforts. While this plan is still years from becoming an actual threat, Israel has made it clear that unless the construction of these sites comes to a halt, Israel will act to decommission them, which could lead to war. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, in their meetings with world leaders, have repeatedly warned that Israel will not tolerate Iran’s efforts to tighten its grip on Syria and Lebanon.

This war of words is aimed not only for Hezbollah and Iran’s ears but also for Lebanon. The country is set to hold elections on May 6 and the results are already predicted to prompt a new political crisis.

Israel’s message to Lebanon is clear: Hezbollah is dragging you toward the abyss. The Shiite terrorist group, of course, responds in equally menacing rhetoric, both directly and via the Lebanese government, which is boisterously protesting Israel’s construction of a wall on the Israeli side of the countries’ shared border.

The wall is being built to make it harder for Hezbollah to target Israel in the future, but Lebanon claims the construction violates its sovereignty on 13 points along the border. Beirut’s real struggle, however, is maritime, where it has a long-standing dispute with Israel over an area containing natural gas deposits. This particular hot potato has been turned over to UNIFIL, the U.N.’s peacekeeping force in Lebanon, to mediate.

Israel, for its part, is determined to continue with the border wall project, but it is aware that the work could be used as a pretext to provoke an undesirable escalation. The challenge in the near future will be to continue using only dialogue opposite Lebanon and avoiding using the language of strikes reserved for Syria.

Erdogan: Turkey’s Syria op will move to Idlib after mission completed in Afrin

February 8, 2018
https://www.rt.com/news/418196-erdogan-afrin-operation-idlib/
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has promised to take Ankara’s Syria operation to Idlib after completing the current mission in Afrin, where they are targeting Kurdish militants.

We want our Syrian brothers and sisters to return to their land, and now we want to do the same in Idlib what we have done in Afrin,” Erdogan said.

It’s not the first time the Turkish leader has stated that the campaign against Kurdish militia in Syria could actually spread beyond Afrin.

Read more

Erdogan in Amasya on January 28

Our heroic soldiers…are making history today in Afrin. And they will make history tomorrow wherever there are terrorists along our borders,” the Turkish President said late last month.

On January 20, the Turkish General Staff officially declared the start of the military campaign in Syria’s northwestern Afrin region, calling it ‘Operation Olive Branch’. Ankara launched airstrikes against Kurdish positions, with Turkish troops advancing into the Kurd-held territories. The Turkish armed forces are supported by the Free Syrian Army (FSA) – an Ankara-backed paramilitary opposition group which consists mainly of Syrian Arab and Syrian Turkmen groups, which hold the territories in Afrin.

The Turkish General Staff said last week that as many as 899 fighters of the Syrian Kurdish militias – which they said included the People’s Protection Units (YPG), Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) militants and Islamic State (IS, former ISIS) terrorists – were “neutralized” since the launch of Operation Olive Branch.

Formed as an armed wing of the Syrian Kurdish Democratic Union Party, the YPG rapidly expanded during the Syrian civil war. The group also fought against IS and received backing from the US-led coalition, which supplied them with weapons.

Such US support has greatly contributed to ongoing hostilities in the Afrin region, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Thursday.

“The US backing of their ‘clients’ in violation of Washington’s statements in support of the Syrian Arab Republic’s territorial integrity have led to the escalation in the Afrin region, where there are no government troops at all at the moment,” the Ministry said.

In a telephone conversation earlier on Thursday, Erdogan spoke with Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding the situation in Syria. They agreed to hold another three-way summit on Syria with Russia, Turkey and Iran; a source in Erdogan’s administration said. The event is expected to take place in Istanbul.

Erdogan and Putin have also discussed the need to expedite the establishment of observation posts in the de-escalation zone of Idlib governorate, Turkish media report.

In early October, Turkish military forces were deployed to Idlib province to monitor one of four de-escalations zones located there. The proposal to establish the zones, championed by Russia, was finalized in September at a round of Syrian peace talks in Astana.

The first three-way summit between the leaders of Russia, Turkey and Iran, which was aimed at ending the bloodshed in Syria, took place in the southern Russian resort of Sochi in November.