Archive for July 12, 2018

If ‘everyone’ has good relations with Russia, Nord Stream may be ‘less of a problem’ – Trump to NATO

July 12, 2018
Sergey Guneev / Sputnik
Donald Trump, who chastised Germany for buying energy from Russia and extending the natural gas pipeline connecting the two countries, indicated he may reconsider his stance if “everybody” has a good relationship with Russia.

US President Donald Trump hinted at the change of heart at a media conference following the NATO summit in Brussels.

“Frankly, maybe everybody is going to have a good relationship with Russia, so there will be a lot less problem with the pipeline. But to me it was a major point of contention. We discussed it at length today. Germany has agreed to do a lot better than they were doing,” he said.

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© Hannibal Hanschke

Trump was referring to what he described as Germany’s pledge to spend more on defense along with other NATO members, which he sees as a major win for his administration.

Speaking to journalists, Trump seemed pleased with himself for attacking Germany on its energy import from Russia during the first day of the summit.

“I brought it up. Nobody brought it up but me,” he said. “Actually, I think the world is talking about it now maybe more than anything else.”

On Wednesday, Trump called Germany a “captive” of Russia for buying Russian natural gas. The remark was rejected by top German officials, including Chancellor Angela Merkel, who said Berlin conducts an independent foreign policy and was not a captive of any country.

READ MORE: Merkel slams Trump’s ‘Russian captive’ comment, defends Berlin’s ‘independent policies’

Germany insists that its trade with Russia is a national issue and not that of NATO or the EU, and its allies in Western Europe seem to agree. French President Emmanuel Macron, who spoke to the media after Trump on Thursday, said he personally didn’t find Trump’s remarks about Germany shocking but believed that countries should “take such decision in a sovereign manner.”

“Mr. Trump shared his point of view. An ally has the right to speak about strategic issues,” Macron said.

Russia and Germany are currently connected directly by the Nord Stream, an underwater pipeline through the Baltic Sea. A second pipeline that would double the capacity of the first one is currently under construction. The US opposes the project, claiming it would give Russia more leverage over Europe. Officials in Germany and Russia say the US is simply trying to wrestle its way into the European energy market and sell its own liquefied natural gas.

Trump’s targeting of Russian-European energy cooperation, and Merkel personally, during a NATO summit is simply a publicity stunt that would have no tangible effect on the energy trade itself, according to Vladislav Belov, the head of the Center for German Studies at the Moscow-based Institute of Europe.

“Trump linked defense spending of the US with German spending on Russian hydrocarbons. Apparently he sees this as a matter of security that Germany spends money on gas and not on defense. It’s a typical Trump dilettante approach,” he told RT.

Belov said there was “zero chance” that Germany would bend to Trump’s pressure on the pipeline project, regardless of how he attacks the German chancellor. “Trump’s hostile rhetoric towards Merkel proves that apparently Obama forgot to hand over the secret dossier with compromising materials against her, which some conspiracy theorists in Russia claim must exist,” he joked.

Ireland passes BDS law against trade with Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria

July 12, 2018

By – on

The Boycott, Divest, Sanction [Israel] movement is this century’s Nazi movement, only on a worldwide scale. Same tactics, same viciousness, same lies, same thuggery — the Germans employed the same tactics. Preceding Kristallnacht, the Nazis held several days calling for Germans to boycott Jewish-owned businesses. This was the direct antecedent to the BDS movement. This is no different.

This century’s Nazi officials are in the Irish parliament.

“Ireland to pass BDS law against Jewish businesses in ‘occupied territories,’” by Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News, July 4, 2018 (thanks to Mark):

An Irish law against importing goods and services from “occupied territories” was carefully worded so that it would apply only to the Jewish state, its sponsor said.

The second-largest party in Ireland’s parliament announced Wednesday that it will support a pro-BDS bill coming to a vote later this month, thus guaranteeing its passage.

Fianna Fáil will join the largest opposition party, Sinn Féin, and others in passing what is officially called the Control of Economic Activity (Occupied Territories) Act of 2018. Although it does not mention Israel, or even “Palestine,” by name, its sponsor, Senator Frances Black (Independent), has openly noted that its wording was carefully formulated so that it would only apply to the Jewish state.

This means that the law, which would affect Judea and Samaria, eastern Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, does not cover areas such as Turkey’s longtime occupation of northern Cyprus or Russia’s more recent occupation of the Crimea.

As reported in JNS, a spokesman for the Irish pro-Israel group Irish4Israel said that the bill “was endorsed by trade unions and others and had the support of many smaller parties. The motivation is a naive hope to show solidarity with the Palestinians” due to “an Irish obsession to identify with the perceived underdog.”

Fianna Fáil’s Niall Collins said that “passing the Occupied Territories Bill has the potential to send a strong message that the issue of illegal settlements is being taken seriously and needs to be addressed.”
‘Closing doors will not facilitate Ireland’s influence’

Israel’s embassy in Ireland blasted the bill in a statement as an “immoral” one that “will not do any good.” Legislation that promotes any kind of boycott, it continued, “should be rejected as it does nothing to achieve peace but rather empowers the Hamas terrorists as well as those Palestinians who refuse to come to the negotiating table.”

In addition, the embassy noted, “Closing doors will not in any way facilitate Ireland’s role and influence.”

An interesting point about the proposed legislation is that it runs counter to the law of the European Union (of which Ireland is a member), which states that all EU countries must have a common trade policy. In explaining why parliament should go ahead with it anyway, Black told Ireland’s, “I feel if we wait for the EU to take the lead, we could be waiting forever.”…

“Israel Slams ‘Immoral’ Bill Passed by Ireland’s Senate Outlawing Trade With West Bank Jewish Communities,” Algemeiner, July 11, 2018:

Irish legislation outlawing trade with Israeli settlements could put the Irish operations of US companies like Apple (pictured) at risk from US anti-boycott rules. Photo: Reuters / Michael MacSweeney.

Legislators in Ireland’s Senate passed a bill on Wednesday that will prohibit “the import or sale of goods and services” from Jewish communities in the West Bank, deemed to have been under Israeli “occupation” since the June 1967 Six-Day War.

Passed by a vote of 25-20, the bill drew support from all Ireland’s major political parties, except the governing Fine Gael party.

Before the vote, PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi called on “the Irish people in light of our historical relationship to stand up and to reject the importation of any settlement products — because settlements are, after all, a war crime and an ongoing aggression against the Palestinian people and they want you to be complicit in this war crime.”

The Israeli Foreign Ministry summoned Ireland’s ambassador in Tel Aviv, Simon Coveney, to condemn the Senate’s “absurd” initiative. The ministry said the bill “will harm the livelihoods of many Palestinians who work in the Israeli industrial zones affected by the boycott.”

Recently-released Syrian textbooks introduce Russia as a close ally while presenting Iran and Turkey as regional competitors, suggesting that Damascus’…

The bill, which passed its second reading on Tuesday, still has eight more procedural hurdles to jump, including a vote in the Irish Parliament’s House of Representatives, before it can be signed into law by the Irish president.

Commenting on the legislation, Prof. Orde F. Kittrie — who teaches law at Arizona State University and is a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD) think tank — asserted that if “companies abide by the Irish law, they could violate U.S. law, which prohibits U.S. companies from participating in foreign boycotts that the U.S. government does not endorse.”

“The bill, if enacted, would put at risk Ireland’s economic links to the United States, which are vital to Irish prosperity,” Kittrie noted in an article for Fortune magazine….

Israeli-Syrian armed duel over Quneitra has begun 

July 12, 2018

Source: Israeli-Syrian armed duel over Quneitra has begun – DEBKAfile

Israel’s official accounts of the critical events around Quneitra  of Wednesday, July 11,   shifted ground, with bearing on the Netanyahu-Putin talks in Moscow.

The Syrian drone shot down over the Sea of Galilee was first attributed to an errant UAV from the Daraa battles 100km away. The IDF spokesman said it was tracked for 15 minutes by 4 Israeli jets and 2 choppers until the Patriot interception was ordered.  DEBKAfile: The Syrians, Iranians and Hizballah have now learned from this incident that it takes the Israeli high command at least 15 minutes to use the red line to the Russian command at Khmeimim and obtain clearance. Meanwhile, although the UAV was not yet known to be unarmed, sirens were not activated to warn the thousands of holidaymakers at Sea of Galilee resorts of a possibly dangerous hostile drone overhead. The sirens only sounded when the Patriot missile blew the intruder up.

Then, after midnight, it was decided after all to retaliate for the purportedly “stray” drone intrusion. Three Israeli air strikes were conducted against Syrian army posts in the Quneitra region. DEBKAfile: The IDF seemed to have borrowed the tit-for-tat strategy long used against Palestinian terror emanating from the Gaza Strip, whose only material consequence has been the steady erosion of Israel’s military deterrence.

The immediate purpose of the overnight IAF strikes against Syria was to accentuate Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s message to President Vladimir Putin, that Israel is not budging from its demand for the full expulsion of Iranian and its proxies’ from all parts of Syria. After their talks in the Kremlin, an “Israeli official” stated: “They (Russia) have an active interest in seeing a stable Assad regime and we in getting the Iranians out. These can clash or can align.”

This formulation underlined the absence of common ground between Putin and Netanyahu. It is obvious to both parties, as well as to Bashar Assad and Gen. Qassem Soleimani, that wherever the Syrian army is to found, so too are Iranians and Hizallah.

Wednesday therefore produced three pivotal consequences:

  1. Nothing new was achieved in the Putin-Netanyahu talks aside from reaffirming their ongoing liaison in Syria to avoid military clashes between them.
  2. Nothing was settled regarding the Iranian and Hizballah presence in Syria.
  3. The military showdown between Israel and Syria over Quneitra has begun.

Senior Iranian official hails ‘strategic’ Russia ties ahead of Putin meeting

July 12, 2018

Source: Senior Iranian official hails ‘strategic’ Russia ties ahead of Putin meeting – Israel Hayom

Elbit launches new drones to combat terror in civilian arena 

July 12, 2018

Source: Elbit launches new drones to combat terror in civilian arena – Israel Hayom

Russia moving into Libya

July 12, 2018

– – Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Libyan National Army forces, under the leadership of Maj. Gen. Khalifah Haftar, is pushing for a Russian military presence in eastern Libya. (The Washington Times/File) more >

U.S. intelligence agencies are closely monitoring Russian military activities in Libya for signs that Moscow may soon build a military base in the divided North African state.

Intelligence reports indicate that Russia is planning to expand its Syrian bases at Tartus and Hemeimeem to Libya.

The possible Russian move into Libya represents the most recent failure stemming from the policies of President Obama that backed Islamist rebels who overthrew and killed Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi in 2011.

Mr. Obama has said that the failure to prepare for the aftermath of the ouster of Gadhafi was the worst mistake of his presidency. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton also came under fire for failing to provide security for Americans who were attacked and killed in Benghazi after Gadhafi’s fall.

The push for a Russian military presence in Libya is being led by retired Maj. Gen. Khalifah Haftar, whose militia forces, the Libyan National Army, control eastern Libya. Russian private military forces have been operating in eastern Libya since March 2017, including the RSB Group that has deployed several dozen armed mercenaries to join forces with Haftar militias.

News reports from Libya stated recently that the RSB Group mercenaries are engaged in advance work, scouting locations for a Russian military base in Tobruk or Benghazi.

In addition to RSB, the notorious Wagner Group of Russian mercenaries also is operating in eastern Libya, reportedly to service Gen. Haftar’s Russian-supplied weaponry. Wagner mercenaries also are helping set up an intelligence network for the general’s forces.

Libya under Gadhafi supported international terrorism, including the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103, which killed 259 people over Lockerbie, Scotland. In 2003, after the U.S. invasion of Iraq, however, Gadhafi decided to collaborate with the U.S. and Britain in giving up his nuclear weapons program in exchange for closer trade and diplomatic relations with the West.

The regime came down in 2011 as the result of the Obama administration’s policies that opposed the Gadhafi government and backed Islamist rebels.

The country spiraled into a failed state and since 2014 has been divided between two governing bodies: the Council of Deputies based in Tobruk and the Islamist General National Congress based in Tripoli. Sections of the country, which has large oil reserves, remain under the control of numerous Islamist militias.

The head of the Libyan government in Tobruk, Prime Minister Abdullah Al-Thini, said in an Arabic news interview June 27 that the U.S., Britain and Italy are “enemies of the Libyan people” because they have backed the forces promoting political Islam in Libya. Observers say the United States should back Gen. Haftar in a bid to prevent Russia from taking control over Libya.

In Moscow meeting, Netanyahu urges Putin to get Iran out of Syria

July 12, 2018

Source: In Moscow meeting, Netanyahu urges Putin to get Iran out of Syria – Israel Hayom