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Jimmy Carter: Media tougher on Trump than any other president in memory

October 23, 2017

Source: Jimmy Carter: Media tougher on Trump than any other president in memory | Fox News

Former President Jimmy Carter says the media have been tougher on President Trump than any other president he can remember.

Jimmy Carter, the liberal 93-year-old former president, surprisingly sided with President Trump when he told The New York Times that the media have been been too hostile on the current commander-in-chief.

“I think the media have been harder on Trump than any other president certainly that I’ve known about,” Carter told The New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd. The 39th president served one term from 1977 to 1981.

Carter added that he thought the media “feel free to claim that Trump is mentally deranged and everything else without hesitation.”

The former president also pushed back on accusations of Russian collusion in the 2016 presidential election, saying: “I don’t think there’s any evidence that what the Russians did changed enough votes, or any votes.” He said his wife, Rosalynn, disagreed with him, before he added, “We voted for [Bernie] Sanders” in the primary.

Carter also doesn’t believe the current president’s “America First” strategy is out of step with the larger world, spoiling international relations. “Well, he might be escalating it but I think that precedes Trump,” he told the Times. “The United States has been the dominant character in the whole world and now we’re not anymore. And we’re not going to be. Russia’s coming back and India and China are coming forward.”

Carter also said he’s willing to go to North Korea on a diplomatic mission amid the escalating tensions over nuclear weapons.

“I don’t know what they’ll do,” he said of North Korea. “Because they want to save their regime. And we greatly overestimate China’s influence on North Korea. Particularly to Kim Jong Un. He’s never, so far as I know, been to China.”

He called the North Korean dictator “unpredictable.”

In September, Carter expressed optimism that Trump might break a legislative logjam with his six-month deadline for Congress to address the immigration status of 800,000-plus U.S. residents who were brought to the country illegally as children.

Carter told Emory University students that the “pressures and the publicity that Trump has brought to the immigration issue” could even yield comprehensive immigration law changes that Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama could not muster.

He blamed both major parties for an inability to pass any major immigration law overhaul since a 1986 law signed by President Ronald Reagan.

“I don’t see that as a hopeless cause,” Carter said. He added that Trump’s critics, including himself, “have to give him credit when he does some things that are not as bad” as they are depicted.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lobbies for Iraqi Kurds

October 23, 2017

Source: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu lobbies for Iraqi Kurds – Israel News – Jerusalem Post

 OCTOBER 22, 2017 00:23
The leader has raised the question of the Kurds’ independence with Putin and Merkel.
Prime Minister Netanyahu lobbies for Iraqi Kurds

 Kurds celebrate to show their support for the upcoming September 25th independence referendum in Erbil, Iraq September 22, 2017.. (photo credit:REUTERS)

National Security Council head Meir Ben-Shabbat returned on Friday from visits to Washington and Moscow where the fate of the Kurds in Iraq, as well as Syria and Iran, featured prominently on the agenda.

The discussions in both capitals came amid rising tensions in the north as Israel struck Syrian targets three times over the past week.

In Washington, Ben-Shabbat met with his US counterpart, H.R. McMaster, and other senior Trump administration officials. From there, he went to Moscow, leading an Israeli delegation that included IDF and Defense and Foreign Ministry officials who met with their Russian counterparts.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin and a week earlier with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, raising the issue of Kurdish independence in Iraq and stressing that they were a pro-Western people who deserved independence, government officials said.

Netanyahu came out in favor of the Iraqi Kurd push for independence last month, ahead of a referendum there, one of the only world leaders to do so, and has since been lobbying others to prevent the Kurds from losing ground to the Iraqi Army, which retook the oil-rich Kirkuk region last week.

Intelligence Minister Israel Katz told Tel Aviv radio station 102 FM on Friday that the current priority is “to prevent an attack on the Kurds, extermination of the Kurds and any harm to them, their autonomy and region, something that Turkey and Iran and internal Shi’ite and other powers in Iraq and part of the Iraqi government want.”

The United Nations has voiced concern over reports that civilians, mainly Kurds, are being driven out of parts of northern Iraq retaken by central government forces and their houses and businesses looted and destroyed.

“The prime minister is certainly engaging the United States, Russia, Germany and France to stop the Kurds from being harmed,” Katz said.

Reuters contributed to this report.

Globes English – Has Israel been Trumped?

October 23, 2017

Source: Globes English – Has Israel been Trumped?

Nine months into Donald Trump’s administration in the US, the advantages to Israel look meager compared with expectations.

Nine months have now passed since Donald Trump was inaugurated president of the United States. Can any sort of pattern be discerned about any aspect of administration policy, domestic or foreign? On the domestic side, he has tried to implement several of his campaign promises, with mixed results, and those results entirely the result of executive orders, the extensive use of which by the Obama administration he had criticized. Immigration reform and Obamacare health policy reform he has implemented partially through executive action. So far nothing has been accomplished in the area of tax reform, but the jury is still out on that one.

In the international arena, the Trump administration has taken anti-free trade steps and may take others, in Asia and Latin America. It has had no success whatever in countering aggressive moves by North Korea, China or Russia. In the Middle East, however, steps have been taken and in some cases avoided, which are of significance. These include rapprochement with Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States, continued military involvement in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, despite campaign promises, and most significantly, the so-called “decertification” of the Iran deal.

The refusal to support the government of the Kurdish region of Iraq in its dispute with the Iraqi government, besides being a moral outrage, can only be considered a continuation of the Obama policy of punishing friends while favoring enemies. There is no doubt that if the US had told the Iraqis not to attack Kirkuk they would not have done so. Along the same lines is the financial penalty imposed on the al-Sisi government of Egypt as a result of its civil rights record, overlooking its strong domestic and regional anti-extremist and anti-terrorist actions.

What of Israel? Campaign promises included recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, concentrating on Israel’s regional role at the expense of the will-o-the-wisp of the “two-state solution” in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and in general terms greatly improving relations with Israel, which were toxic during the Obama administration.

The Israeli government and much of the Israeli public were ecstatic when Trump unexpectedly won the election of November 2016. In the nine months since his inauguration, what has actually happened? The American embassy is still in Tel Aviv, and Trump has bought into the delusion that a “deal” is possible between the Palestinian Authority and Israel (reportedly on the urging of Ron Lauder), so that much diplomatic energy is totally wasted in this quixotic quest. On the positive side, there is the decertification of Iranian compliance with the infamous “deal”, and with exquisitely bad timing the American withdrawal from UNESCO, copy-catted by Jerusalem, just before a French Jewish woman was elected head of that body. A short list indeed, since the Iranian decertification decision was made due to a Trump pledge that had nothing particularly to do with Israel, and a UNESCO decision that will very likely be reversed before it goes into effect. Yes, the general atmosphere of US-Israeli relations has improved, but that is about it.

The Trump administration is less than a year old, but as of now, the answer to the question posed in the title of this column, has got to be “yes”.

On the other hand, it is not a bad thing when anticipatory euphoria is replaced by hard reality. Operating on the basis of the first can only lead to disappointment; operating on the basis of reality leads to the achievement of limited, but realistic, goals. Military, security and intelligence cooperation continues, as indeed it did under Obama, and that is what really counts at the end of the day.

Norman A. Bailey, Ph.D., is Professor of Economics and National Security, The National Security Studies Center, University of Haifa, and Adjunct Professor of Economic Statecraft, The Institute of World Politics, Washington, DC. He was formerly with the US National Security Council and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The views he expresses are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of “Globes.”

Egypt declares three-month emergency after Muslim Brotherhood mass terror attack – DEBKAfile

October 23, 2017

Loud cries of vengeance rose from the many funerals across Egypt Sunday, Oct. 22, as the victims of a Muslim Brotherhood massacre, which rose from 55 to 58, were laid to rest. The government declared a three-month state of emergency after discovering that an armed underground of the Muslim Brotherhood (Hasm)  had established a secret base in the El-Wahat El-Bahariya Oasis in the Western Desert. There, mega-terror attacks were being plotted. Among the targets was the highway from Cairo the desert. Two brigadier generals were among the victims, as well as one colonel and three lieutenant colonels. They were all members of the Interior Ministry’s elite security force, which had been trained to combat terrorists.
The stunning attack on this elite force Friday revealed for the first time the scale and spread of Hasm’s deadly operations in Egypt. Until now, only a few isolated cells had been suspected. Egyptian’s intelligence and security agencies had no notion that Hasm had developed a wide-reaching terrorist infrastructure, or that it was capable of seizing a major highway before anyone realized what was happening.
The few injured police officers who survived gave chilling accounts of their experience at the hands of the Brotherhood assailants. Some of the injured men were forced to give up their firearms in surrender and were were then summarily shot dead with those same weapons.
DEBKAfile’s first report on this attack was published on Saturday, Oct. 21  

An armed group of Egypt’s banned Muslim Brotherhood was reported to have waylaid an Egyptian convoy heading for its oasis hideout on Friday and murdered 55 policemen. The only survivors were 14 injured men.
But some of the evidence also points to the Islamic State as the perpetrators.

The police convoy was attacked while driving on the El-Wahat Highway from Cairo to Giza on its way to raid  a secret hideout of the banned Muslim Brotherhood’s armed underground (Hasm) at the El-Bahariya Oasis in the Western Desert, 135 southwest of the capital.
The disaster, together with a string of deadly Islamist attacks in Sinai in recent weeks, raised tough questions about Egypt’s capacity to deal with the extremist terrorism plaguing the country. President Abdul-Fatteh El-Sisi immediately set up a commission of inquiry to find out how the casualty of Egyptian servicemen came to be so high – a well-tried device used by governments for keeping the details of a mishap dark until the immediate hue and cry dies down.

DEBKAfile’s counterterrorism sources have gleaned information that points to a merciless massacre, most likely at the hands of the Brotherhood’s armed activists. According to first reports, the policemen were killed in a shootout with the extremists during a raid of their hideout in the oasis.

The wild beauty of this vast oasis – over 2, – makes it an attraction for visitors to Cairo especially since it is just a short drive from the capital. Its sparse inhabitants are mostly Bedouin tribes with kinship ties across the border in eastern Libya, a region where the Islamic State and Al Qaeda maintain strong footholds. Because it is only visited occasionally by foreign visitors on night-time jaunts, the Brotherhood felt the oasis was far from the long arm of Egypt’s anti-terrorist forces.
After intelligence agents discovered their location, the Brotherhood cell was ready for the raid. They set up ann ambush and before the police convoy of four SUVs reached the hideout, dozens of wanted terrorists opened up with heavy machine guns, recoilless grenades and mortars, and detonated roadside bombs. The carnage was devastating.
Their tactics, involving ruthless massacre, strongly resembled the most recent Islamic State strikes against Egyptian forces in northern Sinai. On Sept. 11, 18 Egyptian troops were killed near Sheikh Zuweid.

In both these outrages, the Egyptian air force was not brought in.
If the oasis ambush was also the work of ISIS, it would indicate that these jihadists were not only terrorizing Sinai, but had also penetrated deep into the Egyptian mainland.

Source: Egypt declares three-month emergency after Muslim Brotherhood mass terror attack – DEBKAfile

Moscow’s game 

October 22, 2017

Prof. Eyal Zisser

Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu’s visit to Israel last week was an indication of the growing ties between Israel and Russia. It was the first time an Russian defense minister had visited Israel, and it showed both sides’ desire to strengthen relations and add a strategic, defense aspect to the existing political, diplomatic, cultural, and trade ties that are flourishing between the two nations.

But as the Russian defense minister was on his way to Israel, another serious incident took place on the northern front. The Syrians fired a missile at an Israeli plane that was making a standard patrol flight over Lebanon, and in response, the IDF attacked and destroyed the battery that fired the missile. The announcements that came from Damascus – including a declaration by the head of Iran’s military who visited the Syrian capital this weekend that Iran and Syria would not allow Israel to keep attacking in Syria – indicate that it’s only a matter of time before the next incident in the north. The Syrians didn’t necessarily ask for Russian permission to fire at the Israeli planes. But we can assume that Moscow is aware of and ready to accept Damascus’ new policy of harsher responses and attempting to challenge Israel every time it acts in Syrian territory. At the same time, the Russians are also aware of and willing to accept Israel’s active policy in Syria. After all, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has testified more than once that Russian President Vladimir Putin has lent a sympathetic ear to his explanations about why Israel must act against an Iranian presence in Syria and against missile shipments from Iran to Hezbollah. Putin didn’t confront Netanyahu over the issue, and all the Russians asked of Israel was to make sure that the IDF was in coordination with the Red Army to prevent the armies from clashing in Syrian space. Russia might be aware of its limited influence on both sides, and therefore prefers to allow its two friends, Israel and Syria, to keep fighting by not positioning itself between them. That also holds true for Iran, an important partner (if not an intimate friend) of Russia in the Middle East whose services Russia still needs – like it needs the services of Hezbollah – to ensure Syrian President Bashar Assad’s final victory in the Syrian war. It’s also possible that the Russians, like the Americans, are focused on their immediate goal. Washington wants to wipe out the Islamic State, whereas Moscow wants Assad’s victory. So the Russians have no interest or free time to deal with the question of “the day after.” But it’s also possible that the blows being traded between Israel and Syria are convenient for the Russians since the brawling and the fear of escalation are pushing both Jerusalem and Damascus into Russia’s arms and are making Putin the grown-up, a job the Americans forfeited long ago. The problem is that the limited, precise exchange of hits could develop into a multidimensional conflict that no one wants but both sides could find themselves in due to a miscalculation or if they raise the stakes of their responses (like the Syrians did last week, when they shot at an Israeli plane on a regular patrol mission that hadn’t even struck in Syria). The Iranian element in the equation could only make things more complicated. The U.S. is Israel’s most important ally, especially when it comes to unfettered diplomatic support and preserving Israel’s military and technological superiority over its enemies. But it appears that when it comes to finding a formula that will ensure quiet along the northern border, Moscow is now the address. We can only hope that the Russians won’t change their policy of keeping their hands to themselves in light of the fight that has broken out between the neighborhood kids to a more active policy of drawing red lines – for the Syrians and the Iranians, but primarily for Israel, which could close the window of opportunity that the Syrian war opened for the IDF to operate in Syria, even carrying out strikes to reduce future threats against Israel.

Source: Moscow’s game – Israel Hayom

Response to Syrian fire will intensify, Israel warns

October 22, 2017

Source: Response to Syrian fire will intensify, Israel warns – Israel Hayom

Israel believes rocket fire from Syria may have been deliberate

October 22, 2017

Source: Israel believes rocket fire from Syria may have been deliberate | The Times of Israel

Five projectiles were fired early Saturday; four landed relatively deep inside Israeli territory; Syria protests to the UN after Israel responds

Israeli police officers patrol near the border with Syria in the Golan Heights after four projectiles hit the area early on October 21, 2017. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Israel believes five rockets fired across the border from Syria early Saturday morning may have been deliberately launched at Israel, rather than constituting errant spillover from clashes in Syria, military sources said late Saturday.

Israel fired back into Syria, hitting three rocket launchers, in response to the rocket fire, and warned that further fire would prompt a more intensive response.

Syria, in turn, claimed that Israel had “coordinated” with terror groups, inviting them to fire into Israel as a pretext for the IDF response, and it sent letters of complaint to the United Nations.

The Israeli army said five projectiles were fired at around 5 am, and that four of them fell relatively deep inside Israeli territory. The rockets set off alarms in several locations. They landed in open ground, and caused no injury or damage. One of them landed close to an Israeli residential area.

UN soldiers patrol near the border with Syria in the Golan Heights after projectiles land on the Israeli side of the border, October 21, 2017. (Basel Awidat/Flash90)

Channel 2 news reported that although the IDF officially referred to “spillover” fire in its statements Saturday, there was “a growing sense” in the army that the Syrian fire was deliberate.

There was no fighting going on in Syria at the time of the fire, the TV report said. It added that the area from which the rockets were fired is under the control of the Syrian army. And it noted that the projectiles fell deep inside Israeli territory on the Golan Heights, one after the other, rather than close to the border.

Tensions have been particularly high on the Israeli-Syrian front of late.

Concluding a visit to Syria on Saturday, the commander of Iran’s armed forces signed a memorandum of understanding with Syrian officials in which the two allies announced plans for tighter military cooperation and coordination — notably against Israel. The sides agreed to expand cooperation on intelligence, training, technology and against what they called “Zionist-American schemes,” the Ynet news website reported.

Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, Iran’s chief of staff, has spent several days in Syria, touring war zones and meeting with high-level officials, including President Bashar Assad.

Syrian Defense Minister General Fahd al-Freij (R) meets with Chief of Staff of Iran’s armed forces, Major General Mohammad Bagheri (L), at the ministry of defense in the capital Damascus on October 18, 2017. (AFP PHOTO / STRINGER)

In what was seen as part of a determined effort to put an end to Israel’s hitherto unimpeded air superiority over Syria and Lebanon, Bagheri on Wednesday said Tehran would not tolerate violations of Syrian sovereignty by Israel and vowed that the two countries would jointly fight against Syria’s enemies. “We cannot accept a situation where the Zionist entity attacks Syria from the ground and the air,” he said.

Israel’s Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman this week hosted his Russian counterpart Sergei Shoigu, and told him that Israel will take action against Iran and its proxies if they continue to entrench themselves along the Syrian border.

Liberman, and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, are in the US this coming week for talks with US officials, with Syria and Iran high on the agenda.

Avigdor Liberman, right, and Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu shaking hands with veterans at the IDF’s Kirya headquarters in Tel Aviv on October 16, 2017. (Ariel Hermoni/Defense Ministry)

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in a rare instance of open disagreement with the Trump administration, has warned that the unfolding situation in southern Syria does not sufficiently address Iranian military ambitions in the area.

“The recent Israeli attack on the outskirts of Quneitra is a new chapter in the conspiracy between the Israeli occupation and armed terror groups, and another attempt to support these organizations,” Syria’s Foreign Ministry said in messages sent to the UN secretary general and the UN Security Council.

Damascus warned of the “dire consequences of these repeated aggressive actions, which cannot be seen as anything but support for terrorism and the criminal terror groups.”

IDF vehicles driving along the road parallel to the border fence separating the Israeli and Syrian regions of the Golan Heights, July 19, 2017. (AFP/MENAHEM KAHANA)

It further expressed “utter astonishment at the Security Council’s inability to stop these Israeli attacks and condemn them.”

The IDF vowed to intensify its responses to future fire. “Even if this is just spillover, this is an exceptional incident and the continuance of such events will be met with a more fierce Israeli response,” a statement by the IDF said.

“The IDF will not tolerate any attempt to harm the sovereignty of the State of Israel and the security of its residents, and considers the Syrian regime responsible for what is happening in its territory,” the statement concluded.

As a result of the projectile fire, missile warning sirens were heard in a number of local communities Saturday morning. The army fired back and hit three Syrian launchers.

After the IDF strike, Syria asserted that Israel had arranged for rebels to fire across the border, in order to justify an Israeli response. The Syrian army said in a statement that the attack was proof of Israel’s “cooperation with terrorist organizations in the region.”