Archive for the ‘Gulf states’ category

More Middle East changes

November 23, 2017

More Middle East changes | Anne’s Opinions, 23rd November 2017
In some good news related to my previous post, the Trump administration has threatened to close down the PLO offices in Washington in retaliation for the PA attempting to bring Israelis to the International Criminal Court:

The Palestinian Authority (PA) on Saturday night expressed its surprise over threats by the United States to shut down the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) office in Washington.

On Friday, the Associated Press reported that the Trump administration had put the PLO on notice that it will shutter their office in Washington unless they entered serious peace talks with Israel.

According to AP, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has determined that the Palestinians ran afoul of a provision in a U.S. law that says the PLO mission must close if the Palestinians try to get the International Criminal Court to prosecute Israelis for crimes against Palestinians.

A State Department official said that in September, PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas crossed that line by calling on the ICC to investigate and prosecute Israelis.

The law now gives President Donald Trump 90 days to consider whether the Palestinians are in “direct and meaningful negotiations with Israel.” If Trump determines they are, the Palestinians can keep the office. An official told AP it was unclear whether the U.S. might close the office before the 90-day period expires, but said the mission remains open at least for now.

The Palestinians then threatened to cut their ties to Washington (a bonus as far as Israel is concerned):

“The State Department notified us in an official letter that they cannot certify the continued opening of the PLO office in Washington, DC, due to the fact that we are pursuing the ICC,” Erekat told Israeli public broadcaster Kan.

“We responded to them in an official letter that in case they officially close the office of the PLO in Washington, DC, we will put on hold all communications with this American administration,” he added.

Watch Saeb Erekat’s statement here:

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, a spokesman for Abbas, said on Saturday night the surprise stems from the fact that the meetings between Abbas and Trump were characterized by a full understanding of the steps necessary to create an atmosphere that would allow the resumption of the peace process.

He said that the American threat represented an unprecedented step in the history of U.S.-Palestinian relations and could have dangerous implications for the peace process and the relations between the United States and Arab countries.

Reports of the threat to shut down the PLO mission in Washington came several days after the House Foreign Affairs Committee unanimously approved the Taylor Force Act.

The bill, named for U.S. army veteran Taylor Force, who was murdered in a terrorist stabbing attack in Tel Aviv in March, 2016, would cut funding to the PA unless it stopped its payments to terrorists and their families.

All I can say is it’s about time that someone finally held the PLO and the PA to account for their support of terrorism and for scuppering the peace talks with Israel every step of the way.

Bassam Tawil, a Middle East-based Muslim, explains in the Gatestone Institute why the Palestinians will not accede to any demands made upon them by Trump or any other American administration:

  • The Palestinians have made up their mind: The Trump peace plan is bad for us and we will not accept it. The plan is bad because it does not force Israel to give the Palestinians everything.
  • If and when the Trump administration makes public its peace plan, the Palestinians will be the first to reject it, simply because it does not meet all their demands.
  • Trump will soon learn that for Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinians, 99% is just not enough.

Caroline Glick talks about holding the State Department to account as an extension of the threat to close the PLO mission:

Aside from the fact that the US has refused to hold the PLO accountable for its actions for a quarter century, the PLO has another good reason to be shocked by Tillerson’s letter: the US consulate in Jerusalem operates as almost a mirror to the PLO mission in Washington.

And yet, as Yisrael Medad has exhaustively documented, the Jerusalem consulate maintains an effective boycott of both these dual nationals and Israeli nationals who live in its area of operation. All of the consulate’s activities for US citizens are directed specifically and openly toward “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

The consulate also openly rejects the notion that Israel and Jews have ties to its area of operations. For instance, Blome went on a hike around Judea and Samaria in July where he effectively erased the Jewish heritage sites in the areas. The consulate echoed UNESCO’s Jew-free version of the history of the land of Israel in a press release that celebrated his walk along the “Masar Ibrahim Al-Khalil” trail in celebration of “the connection of the people with the land.” Jews were not mentioned in the press release. And the historical name of the route he took is “Abraham’s path.”

Scholarships to study in the US and jobs listed on the website are open to “Palestinian residents of Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

In other words, while the PLO missions are pushing the BDS agenda in the US, the US consulate in Jerusalem is implementing it on the ground in Israel.

In a congressional hearing on the issue of moving the embassy to Jerusalem on November 8, Rep. Ron DeSantis said that transfer of the embassy may be delayed due to the Trump administration’s “efforts to pursue a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Arabs.”

DeSantis argued that until the embassy is moved the Trump administration should take “incremental steps” that move it toward the goal.

Among the steps he advocated, DeSantis said “the American consulates in Jerusalem should report to the American embassy in Israel, not directly to the State Department.”

Tillerson’s letter to Zomlot was shocking because it represented the first time since 1993 that the PLO has been held accountable for its actions. The time has come for the State Department, too, to be held accountable for its behavior. And the best way to start this process is to follow DeSantis’s advice, subordinate the US consulates in Jerusalem to the US ambassador and end their boycott of Jews – US citizens and non-citizens – who live in the Jerusalem area, in Judea and Samaria.

With this in mind it is nothing short of astonishing that the following video appeared, in which Kuwaiti writer strongly defended Israel, calling it a legitimate state, not an occupier:

I think we should ask Mr. Al-Hadlaq to provide some urgently-needed background information to the State Department! Kol hakavod to him. I hope he stays safe.

Along with the daring fatwa of Saudi Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh condemning Hamas as another terror organization and forbidding fighting against Israel , is this another harbinger of better times ahead for Israel in the Middle East? I hope I’m not being too optimistic in hoping so. There have been too many of these talks, statements, interviews and fatwas to think there is not a sea-change starting to occur in the Arab world. Let us just pray it continues.

Trump’s team is on point

December 14, 2016

Trump’s team is on point, Israel Hayom, Boaz Bismuth, December 14, 2016

(Please see also, Trump picked Tillerson for tough new Iran policy. — DM)

U.S. President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, comes from outside the State Department, just like Colin Powell did under former U.S. President George W. Bush. There is one thing that should be noted, however: starting Jan. 20, both the U.S. president and the secretary of state will be outsiders, without political or diplomatic backgrounds. Get ready for changes and Washington-style inventions, like moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

Tillerson comes to the State Department with 40 years’ experience in a multinational company, ExxonMobil. For the past decade, Tillerson, who knows the world, has served as head of the company. It’s hard to say that an inexperienced person has been appointed secretary of state. Even Henry Kissinger had less international experience than Tillerson when he was appointed to the role, unless you count the number of foreign students he taught at Harvard.

Some will say that the appointment of Tillerson is problematic, especially for Israel: first of all, because of his close ties with Russian President Vladimir Putin; secondly, because of his close ties with the Gulf states; and third, because the former candidates for Trump’s secretary of state (former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, John Bolton, and even former Governor Mitt Romney) are considered more pro-Israel.

Let’s start with Russia: Tillerson might be a Putin favorite, but we can also assume this means he will always find a sympathetic ear at the Kremlin. What’s bad about that? The Obama administration sought to improve ties with Russia and was even responsible for a reboot in relations between Washington and Moscow. That reboot was so “successful” that at times we thought that Russia had resurrected the Soviet Union. We can assume that when Tillerson is in charge at the State Department, things will change. We can also assume that the president-elect and Tillerson will support the removal of sanctions currently in place against the Russians. Offered honey that sweet, the Russian bear will become much less irritable, and might continue strengthening ties with Israel.

Moving on to the Gulf states: Tillerson has worked for oil giants, so it’s obvious that he was in close contact with the Sunni Arab producers. The Gulf states, which like Iran about as much as Israel does, will explain to him that Tehran is a danger, not an opportunity. He’ll hear exactly the same thing in Jerusalem.

What tipped the scales in his favor, for Trump, was the fact that Tillerson knows how to close deals. Unlike former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, he won’t fly around the world just to try to move things along; he will get on a plane to solve problems. And possibly even help the movers get the embassy equipment from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. A new president, a new team, a new age.

Sisi and Mideast Peace

May 21, 2016

Sisi and Mideast Peace, American ThinkerC. Hart, May 21, 2016

Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi’s speech on Tuesday, May 18, set ripples through Israel’s political establishment. Speaking in the southern city of Assiut, Sisi signaled to the Arab world, the Palestinians, and Israel that it is time for an historic breakthrough in peace negotiations.

Responding immediately to Sisi’s comments, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated that he is open to working with Egypt and Arab states towards advancing the peace process, not only with the Palestinians but with the peoples of the Middle East region.

Netanyahu’s comments come on the heels of a visit to Israel by French Foreign Minister Jean-Mark Ayrault. The two men met but disagreed on how to advance peace.

France insists on hosting an international parley to force Israel and the Palestinians to come to the peace table. Israel is against the French initiative.

Netanyahu would like to go beyond the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and work directly with moderate Arab states on a comprehensive peace deal. Sisi could be instrumental in building an Arab coalition for peace which would dismiss or weaken the divisive French initiative, releasing Israel from conceding to European demands.

Former Israeli ambassador to Egypt, Zvi Mazel, is currently working as a Research Fellow at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs (JCPA). He is a Middle East expert who has represented Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as former Ambassador to Sweden and Romania, as well. This writer asked Mazel if Sisi’s comments were spontaneous or were released at this time for political reasons because he wants to strengthen Egypt’s position in the region by helping Israel.

“I don’t think there is a big design… I think that Sisi understands what is going on in the Middle East and he is identifying according to his view — a kind of possibility of advancing the peace process.”

Egypt, Saudi Arabia, the Gulf countries, and Israel have common enemies: Iran and Islamic State. Already there have been discreet diplomatic and business ties between Israel and these nations

According to Mazel, Sisi is also emerging as a strong respected leader among Egyptians despite the Western media’s portrayal of him as a dictator similar to former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

“Sisi sees himself as a president quite stable among his people. I know that this is not the way they think in the Western media — New York Times and company. They see him as a kind of military dictator; absolutely not! He’s a good man. He’s not Mubarak. He’s Sisi.”

Mazel explains that Egypt is on the way to economic sustainable development. This is what Sisi has been focused on over the past two years and he is seeing success. Unemployment has gone down, despite the fact that almost 90 million people live in Egypt and the country is poor.

“He has started something quite positive, and Sisi thinks that the time has come for Egypt to be in the international arena.”

What that means, according to Mazel, is that Egypt’s current role is still minor. Sisi is asking Israelis and Palestinians to go forward, yet he, himself, does not have a plan. But, in the future, Egypt could emerge as a larger player in the region.

Mazel is pragmatic about the short-term. “It’s a positive step for Egypt, but it is not going to change the world.”

Current peace advances that are being prepared for release are not a positive development for Israel: (a) the French Initiative; (b) a document showing the obstacles to Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts soon to be reported by the Quartet; (c) the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative that, despite being outdated, is still considered a serious option by the Arab world.

In the coming days, the Arab League plans to meet and discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Mazel thinks that Sisi’s statement was good timing for that meeting, but otherwise, was not connected to a bigger scheme.

However, on Wednesday, May 18, American Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in Egypt one day after Sisi gave his emotional speech. Some analysts believe that the U.S. is behind Sisi’s bold words, in an effort to circumvent the French from becoming a new power broker in the Middle East.

The question is whether Sisi’s encouragement will lead to Israel courting the Arab nations and the Arab nations courting Israel, while by-passing the Palestinians. Mazel thinks that kind of change is slow in coming, because the Arabs continue to entrench themselves in old positions that favor Palestinian demands.

Refusing to sit down and negotiate with Israel, the Palestinians have insisted on preconditions which the Arab League has accepted. They demand that Israel agree on the right of return for so-called Palestinian “refugees” to Israeli land; that Israel withdraw to the 1967 borders; and, that Israel stop building in West Bank settlements (Judea and Samaria). Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas also expects Israel to release hundreds of Palestinian prisoners, who have blood on their hands, serving time in Israeli jails because of terrorist attacks against the Israeli population.

So far, these unresolved issues have kept Abbas away from face-to-face negotiations with Netanyahu. However, his real diplomatic scheme is to get the international community to affirm the Palestinian position and force Israel to concede to Palestinian demands. Right now, Abbas sees the best venue to accomplish his goal as a French-sponsored future peace conference, followed by a stinging UN anti-Israel resolution.

Meanwhile, the future pressure on Israel will be to immediately stop settlement construction in order to get the peace process going. Mazel declares, “Absolutely not… we have to go on! Half a million people live there. And, they are the shield of Israel. We continue to build until there is peace.”

Mazel has a real problem with the demands of the Arab League, as well. “The Arab Peace Initiative is more or less the same as the Palestinian attitude. The ‘right of return’ is still there. It should be taken completely out. Most importantly, the Palestinians and the Arabs should recognize a Jewish State in Israel.”

Mazel is also not sure that Netanyahu’s insistence on widening his government, to provide greater stability, is a wise idea. Reportedly, Yisrael Beytenu Chairman Avigdor Liberman will soon become Israel’s new Defense Minister as Netanyahu brings several more ministers into his coalition. Mazel thinks this will not provide a wider diplomatic envelope; nor, will it help change European or Arab attitudes towards Israel; nor will it end the Boycott-Divestment-Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Then there is U.S. President Barack Obama’s failed Middle East policy, which includes his lackluster support of American allies in the region. Mazel says this policy cannot continue.

“It cannot be like that, because America is the most important power in the world… And, whoever will win the presidency, whether it will be Mrs. Clinton or Trump, both of them are in a certain way connected to the Middle East.”

Mazel believes that with 22 countries and more than 300 million people living in the region, the next U.S. president will be more engaged in leading the nations into greater stability.

In the meantime, currently 80% of the Egyptian people support Egyptian President Sisi. His nation has already made peace with Israel (along with Jordan). Helping Israel to extend an olive branch to other Arab countries will encourage Egypt to take up an important leadership role in a region that continues to be embroiled in major upheaval and violence.

 

Gulf Countries Have ‘Closed The Doors’ To Syria’s Real Refugees – So Now UN Chief Ban Ki Moon Is Lecturing Britain And America

April 2, 2016

Gulf Countries Have ‘Closed The Doors’ To Syria’s Real Refugees – So Now UN Chief Ban Ki Moon Is Lecturing Britain And America, BreitbartRaheelm Kassam, March 30, 2016

Ban ki Moon 1Getty

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon has surfaced, once again to lecture the Anglosphere and the Western world about its “duties” to hurriedly absorb nearly half a million more Syrian migrants. The war-torn country’s surrounding nations, he argues, have done the heavy lifting already. Now the U.N. chief wants you and your communities to do more.

There is a misconception that all Syria’s neighbours have shrugged their shoulders towards their Muslim brethren, scorning the Ummah out of rugged self interest. It’s not strictly true. But the dichotomy presented – that it is us or them – is a false one, and one that European and American leaders should not be afraid to reject outright.

The New York Times reports that the Sec. General opened a conference in Geneva today, demanding “an exponential increase in global solidarity”, insisting that “Neighboring countries have done far more than their share” and imploring “Others [to] now step up.”

And of course the stress was on European Union member states and the United States of America to do more. The news follows quickly on the heels of Oxfam – one of the world’s most political charities – demanding that France, the United Kingdom, the United States, the Netherlands, and Denmark all take in more “refugees” and faster.

Of course of the nearly 5 million fleeing Syria, most of these remain in the Middle East, with countries like Lebanon, Turkey, Egypt, and Jordan inundated by their neighbours. In part, this is what has spurred Turkey on to shipping their problems off into Europe –especially the Kurdish one.

It is noteworthy too, that Oxfam and Ban Ki Moon’s criticisms were levelled at Western nations not because we have the infrastructure or capability to deal with the influx (we don’t) – but because we are, apparently, “rich”. (We’ll just casually ignore our gargantuan debt crisis for the moment, shall we?)

But while the United Nations lumps the responsibility onto the West, you might ask why countries like Saudi Arabia, which claims to have absorbed around half a million Syrians, do not provide any data to support their statements. Indeed, in 2013, net migration of those deemed to be Syrian nationals stood at around just 20,000, with criticism aimed at the country for only accepting Syrians who already have families in the Kingdom.

A cartoon by Saudi artist Abdullah Jaber which reads, "Why don't you open your door? Don't be heartless!" is seen in this undated handout illustration released to the media on Wednesday, Sept. 02, 2015. As more Syrians suffocate and drown on the risky journey to Europe, a backlash is brewing against Gulf states, wealthy and overwhelmingly Sunni like the refugees, for not offering to host any of them. Source: Abdullah Jaber for Makkah newspaper EDITOR'S NOTE: NO SALES. EDITORIAL USE ONLY

A cartoon by Saudi artist Abdullah Jaber which reads, “Why don’t you open your door? Don’t be heartless!” is seen in this undated handout illustration released to the media on Wednesday, Sept. 02, 2015. As more Syrians suffocate and drown on the risky journey to Europe, a backlash is brewing against Gulf states, wealthy and overwhelmingly Sunni like the refugees, for not offering to host any of them. Source: Abdullah Jaber for Makkah newspaper EDITOR’S NOTE: NO SALES. EDITORIAL USE ONLY

In fact countries that could take more, and haven’t remain free of criticism, presumably because they aren’t signatories to the 1951 UN Refugee Convention. This isn’t a sign that we are better. It’s a sign that we are dumber. We as Western nations afford moral and political equivalence for almost all other countries around the world nowadays (most recently, Cuba and Iran) but we don’t make the same demands of these countries as we place upon ourselves.

What about Malaysia? Why can’t they take more migrants and refugees?

Indonesia? India? China? Argentina?

Has Ban Ki Moon lobbied his home nation, South Korea?

It’s almost as if there’s a whole world out there.

But the onus is, apparently, on Britain, France, and America. We are destined to follow Germany’s lead, a country now inundated with migrants not just from Syria, because Mrs. Merkel stupidly threw her doors open and declared, “Come one, come all!”

Perhaps we should look to the words of Batal, a Syrian refugee who spoke to Bloomberg, for why the pressure is being placed on Western countries and the Anglosphere: “In Europe, I can get treatment for my polio, educate my children, have shelter and live an honorable life… Gulf countries have closed their doors in the face of Syrians.”

Saudi Journalist: Iran – Not Israel – Is The Gulf States’ No. 1 [Enemy]

March 11, 2016

Saudi Journalist: Iran – Not Israel – Is The Gulf States’ No. 1, MEMRI, March 11, 2016

On March 8, 2016, Saudi journalist Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh wrote in his column in the Saudi daily Al-Jazirah that today, Iran is the No. 1 enemy of Saudi Arabia and the Gulf countries, supplanting the historical enemy Israel. Any citizen of the Gulf who disagrees with this assessment, he added, is a traitor.

Arguing that Iran is exploiting the Palestinian issue as a pretext for “infiltrating deep into the Arab world, shredding its Arab fabric, and dragging Arab society into supporting its expansionary plan,” he emphasized that the Palestinians should expect no salvation from Iran. He also warned the Gulf Shi’ites that they were mere pawns for Iran, which was using them to promote Persian national aspirations.

Below are translated excerpts from Aal Al-Sheikh’s column:[1]

27120Muhammad Aal Al-Sheikh (image: Kn19.com)

“The Persian enemy is Enemy No. 1, and the Zionist enemy is [only] Enemy No. 2. We must present this truth directly, flattering no one, to all those [who try] to extort us with the tale that Israel is the Arabs’ Enemy No. 1 and that Iran supports us on the Palestinian issue. This tale could still be true vis-à-vis the Arabs to the north [of the Arabian Peninsula], and in Egypt, because Israel threatens [Egypt] and its security and stability. But as for the [Saudi] kingdom and the Gulf states, it is Iran, not Israel, that tops the list of the enemies and the dangers that lie in wait for us, face us and threaten us. Iran is exploiting the issue of the Palestinians and the liberation [of Palestine] as a pretext for infiltrating deep into the Arab [world], shredding its Arab fabric, and dragging Arab [society] into supporting its expansionary plan.

“It is true that the Palestinian issue has throughout history been the No. 1 Arab cause, and liberating Jerusalem from the yoke of the Israeli occupation has doubtless been the No. 1 issue for us, with nothing more important. However, at this time, and in light of the Persian ambition that the extremist Muslim Iranian government is backing with all its resources and for which it is mobilizing all its forces and capabilities, the Persian enemy takes priority – and must take priority – over the Israeli danger.

“For example, when [former Iraqi president] Saddam [Hussein] invaded Kuwait, occupied its territory, expropriated its sovereignty, and annexed it to Iraq, Kuwait’s Enemy No. 1, and the No. 1 enemy of the [rest of] our  Gulf countries, was not Israel but Saddam’s Iraq. Furthermore, I am not ashamed to say that anyone in the Gulf, particularly among the Kuwaitis, who prioritized liberating Palestine over liberating Kuwait from the claws of the Iraqi occupier was considered a clear traitor. The Lebanese need to realize this, as do the Egyptians and the Palestinians…

“I do not think that any reasonable Gulf resident would consider the danger [posed by] the Zionist enemy to be greater than [that posed by] the Persian enemy. The Palestinians, Lebanese, and Syrians, whose land is wholly or partially occupied by Israel, are expecting us – for whatever reasons and excuses – to be courteous towards them and to prioritize the Israeli danger over that posed by the Persian enemy. They are delusional.

“Moreover, let me say this bluntly: Any citizen of any of the five Gulf states who prioritizes the Israeli danger over that of the Persian enemy, whether from a pan-Arab or an Islamist perspective, is sacrificing his homeland, its security, its stability and perhaps its very existence for his neighbor’s cause. By any national standard, this is absolute treason.

“This issue has to do with our very existence, and there is no bargaining over it or dismissing or neglecting it. It is a matter on which the Gulf residents, whether Sunni or Shi’ite, agree equally. I know that for a minority among the ordinary Gulf Shi’ites, sectarian affiliation is the most important factor, and they place it above national affiliation. To them I say: The Persians have no interest in sect or even in religion. What really interests them is utilizing [your] sectarian [affiliation] as a lure to mobilize you against your homeland, as a fifth column. Take, for example, the Arabs of the Ahwaz [district in Iran].[2] Although they are Twelver Shi’ites, they are oppressed and excluded [in their own homeland], and the Persians are eradicating their [Arab] identity and with it their human rights. The regions [of Iran] where they live are the least developed and have the highest rates of poverty and unemployment – [even though] they are [the country’s] richest in natural resources. Were sect and faith important [to the Persians], they would not be fighting the [Ahwazi] identity and heritage and forcing [the Ahwazis] to assimilate into a Persian identity, and would not be stopping them from speaking their language [Arabic], the language of the Koran… The [Persians’] goal and purpose is to [advance] the Persian race’s control [in the region] and to establish a Persian empire with Baghdad as its capital – as a Persian religious scholar said in a documented press release…”[3]

 

Endnotes:

[1] Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), March 8, 2016.

[2] On recent Arab efforts to promote the cession of Ahwaz from Iran, see MEMRI Inquiry & Analysis No.1233,

MPs In Gulf Countries Urge Recognition Of Ahwaz Province In Iran As Occupied Arab Country, March 9, 2016.

[3] Possibly a reference to a March 2015 statement by Ali Younesi, advisor to Iranian President Hassan Rohani, in which he said that Iran is now again an empire and its capital is Iraq. See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 5991, Advisor To Iranian President Rohani: Iran Is An Empire, Iraq Is Our Capital; We Will Defend All The Peoples Of The Region; Iranian Islam Is Pure Islam – Devoid Of Arabism, Racism, Nationalism, March 9, 2015.

Arab Knesset Members back Hezbollah

March 7, 2016

Arab Knesset Members back Hezbollah, Israel National News, David Rosenberg, March 7, 2016

Arab Joint ListArab Joint List MKs Miriam Alster/Flash 90

Knesset members representing the Arab Joint List party issued a formal condemnation on Monday of the decision by a number of Arab states labeling Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

Last week, the Gulf Cooperation Council, which represents Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Oman voted to recognize the radical Iran-proxy Shi’ite organization as a terrorist group, joining the United States, France, and Canada among others in labeling Hezbollah a terrorist organization.

Hezbollah, which enjoys representation in the Lebanese parliament, has organized terror attacks against not only Israel, but Western powers including the massive 1983 Beirut barracks bombing, which left more than 300 dead, including hundreds of US Marines and dozens of French soldiers.

The Joint List, however, rejected the designation of Hezbollah as a terror group, blasting the decision as an endorsement of the “occupation” and claiming that it “could serve Israel’s interests”. Ignoring the organization’s history, the Joint List asserted there were no grounds to condemn Hezbollah.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) responded to the Joint List’s condemnation saying “It’s simply unbelievable that Knesset members would harm Israel’s interests.”

Katz blasted the Joint List’s leadership, drawing parallels to disgraced former MK Azmi Bishara. Bishara, the founder of the Balad faction currently within the Joint List, fled Israel in 2007 after it was revealed he had provided technical support to Hezbollah during the 2006 war with Lebanon, when he guided its missiles to hit Israeli civilians.

“Ayman Odeh and Jamal Zahalka, go join Azmi Bishara in Qatar or Syria – that’s the place for traitors to our country.”

Iran Slams PGCC’s Statement against Hezbollah

March 3, 2016

Iran Slams PGCC’s Statement against Hezbollah, Tasnim News Agency, March 3, 2016

Iran and Hezbollah

TEHRAN (Tasnim) – Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Hossein Jaberi Ansari on Thursday strongly denounced a recent move by the Persian Gulf Cooperation Council to call the Lebanese Resistance Movement, Hezbollah, a terrorist group, saying such stances are against the interests of the Muslim world.

“The Lebanese Islamic Resistance Movement, Hezbollah, ended decades of lethargy in countering the occupiers of Palestine through perseverance and resistance to the Zionist regime and all-out solidarity with the innocent nation and resistance movement of Palestine,” Jaberi Ansari said Thursday.

It was Hezbollah that gained the first major victory of Arabs and Muslims in the history of anti-Zionist conflict and turned to the distinguished symbol of resistance to the occupation and racism of Zionism, he underlined.

The Iranian spokesman added that Hezbollah is “the living and diligent representative” of the Muslims’ lasting aspirations to achieve independence, freedom, justice, honor, dignity, and fight against tyranny, occupation, racism, and state-sponsored terrorism of the Zionist regime and the Takfiri blind terrorism and extremism.

The opposition of certain Arab governments with such a movement does not justify their conformity to the occupiers of Palestine in labeling the Resistance movement a terrorist group, he stated.

Jaberi Ansari went on to say that those making such stances are “intentionally or unintentionally” acting against the interests of Muslim countries.

Earlier today, Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister for Arab and African Affairs Hossein Amir Abdollahian also said those who recently declared Hezbollah a terrorist group are damaging the unity and security of Lebanon.

“Referring to Hezbollah, the most influential resistance movement, as a terrorist group, and ignoring the Zionist regime’s crimes is a new mistake that is not in the interest of regional stability and security,” Amir Abdollahian said.

The Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf on Wednesday declared Hezbollah movement, which has been fighting terrorist groups in Syria and the Israeli occupation, a “terrorist group.”

The six-nation (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council officially added Hezbollah and all groups affiliated to its so-called list of “terrorist” organizations.

Why the Iran nuclear deal will mean war

September 8, 2015

Why the Iran nuclear deal will mean war, Front Page Magazine, Daniel Greenfield, September 8, 2015

mars-mushroom-562873

Iran . . . is not looking for a deterrent weapon against its neighbors. With the fall of Saddam, it faces no serious threat of invasion by Sunni forces. Today its nuclear program can have no other purpose except to expand its power and territory while forcing the United States out of the region. Nuking Israel would help seal its right to rule over the Muslim world while intimidating its enemies.

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

Like a snake oil salesman trying to move a gallon of lies by promising that it’s either buy the bottle or die, Obama sold the Iran deal as the only alternative to war. In fact the deal is a certain road to war.

Or as Churchill said, “You were given the choice between war and dishonor. You chose dishonor, and you will have war.” Before long, the British and French were facing Czech tanks redesignated as Panzers that had been seized as part of the Nazi spoils of appeasement.

When Obama claimed that the Iran nuclear deal was the only alternative to war, he was lying in more ways than one. The United States has already been dragged into Iran’s war for control of Iraq. That war was one of the levers that Iran exploited to get its way on its nuclear program. Iran also came close to dragging us into its war in Syria and we are hovering on the edge of being dragged into Yemen.

Iran and ISIS have done a thorough job of carving up entire countries into Shiite and Sunni blocs. And there’s no sign that this Islamic realignment of the Sykes Picot borders is going to stop. If the process continues, the scale and scope of the war will expand and transform the region away from nation states.

Everyone will have a choice between backing a Sunni ISIS or a Shiite ISIS. Obama chose the Shiite ISIS.

This would be happening even without the deal, but Iran’s victory and Obama’s appeasement will speed up the process. Russia is blatantly joining the Shiite military coalition as part of Tehran’s victory celebration. And the Russians aren’t there just to protect Assad, but to push America out of the region. As areas of operations overlap, there will be incidents. And Obama will back off once again.

But it’s not just about Syria. Iran promised its Russian and Chinese backers that they will benefit from a major regional realignment. Nations allied with the US will be overthrown or suppressed. And once that process really gets underway and will begin to threaten oil supplies, even a Democrat won’t be able to stay out. But by then America will have little credibility, few allies and major strategic disadvantages.

The real test won’t be in Syria. It has already come and gone in Yemen. It will probably come in Bahrain. Bahrain has a majority Shiite population and is the home of the Fifth Fleet. During the Arab Spring the Saudis put down Iran’s “civilian” uprising in Bahrain using tanks. The next time, it won’t be that easy for the House of Khalifa or the House of Saud. If there’s one thing that Iran knows it’s how to arm and train insurgencies and this time around its bid for a takeover of Bahrain will have Russian backing.

Iran’s Islamic Front for the Liberation of Bahrain played a significant role in the Arab Spring protests under the umbrella of political Islam and human rights organizations. Iran’s ideal game plan would be for its front groups to win Western political backing for a takeover the way that the Muslim Brotherhood did in Egypt. Turning over Bahrain to admirers of the Iranian Revolution would seem insane, but so was turning over Iran to Khomeini or Egypt to Al Qaeda’s parent Muslim Brotherhood organization.

The Saudis have had to consider the possibility that Obama, Hillary or Biden would back Iran over the Saudis in Bahrain as they did in Iraq and Yemen. And they have been making their own plans.

Some months after Iran’s Ahmadinejad visited Cairo and met with the Muslim Brotherhood’s Morsi, the Saudis reversed the Qatari-Obama coup that had put the Muslim Brotherhood in power. As the deadline for last year’s negotiations with Iran approached, the Saudis began dumping oil to hurt Russia and Iran. A similar Saudi move against Iran had helped bring on the Islamic Revolution. The Saudis probably don’t expect to undo that disaster, but they were hoping to offset any Obama-backed Iranian recovery.

Instead of fighting to keep sanctions in place, the Saudis were instead poisoning the well.

Whether he understood it or not, by signing off on Iran’s Shiite bomb, Obama was also signing off on an Egyptian-Saudi Sunni bomb. Israel’s nuclear capability was tacitly understood as a defensive weapon of last resort that would not trigger a regional arms race. Genocidal military invasions of Israel came to an end and any weapons remained under wraps.

Iran however is not looking for a deterrent weapon against its neighbors. With the fall of Saddam, it faces no serious threat of invasion by Sunni forces. Today its nuclear program can have no other purpose except to expand its power and territory while forcing the United States out of the region. Nuking Israel would help seal its right to rule over the Muslim world while intimidating its enemies.

A Middle Eastern MAD with Iranians and Saudis in a nuclear standoff would be bad enough, but both powers have a long history of using terrorists to do their dirty work. And the transfer of nuclear materials to terrorists is a lot harder to track than ICBM launches.

Iran and Saudi Arabia getting the bomb won’t be the end. It will only be the beginning. A decade ago, Iran had already funneled a billion dollars into helping Syria get its own nuclear reactor. A nuclear Iran will expand its points of proliferation to the Shiite regime in Baghdad, to Hezbollah in Lebanon and any other Shiite allied states it can set up. The Saudis will expand their own nuclear capabilities to their GCC allies and Egypt so that instead of two nuclear powers, there may be as many as ten nuclear nations.

Imagine the Cold War in miniature with a lot more proliferation and Jihadists with nukes on both sides.

That is what the Iran nuclear deal really means. Every Sunni kingdom will be glaring out from under its own nuclear shield as petty tyrants keep one finger on the populace and the other on the button. A single popular uprising could see nuclear weapons in the hands of Al Qaeda or ISIS.

On the other side, Iran will be aggressively expanding its influence while engaging in escalating naval confrontations with America and its allies. It’s possible that Obama, Biden or Hillary will be able to run away fast enough to avoid a war, but they won’t be able to avoid the resulting economic chaos. And the war will follow them home as Muslim countries have a history of settling their scores by aiming at more “legitimate” non-Muslim targets. That is how 9/11 happened as part of a Saudi power struggle.

And if the United States stays, our people will be trying to keep the peace in a region gone nuclear where American bases will be prime targets for Iran and its terrorist allies. The United States will retaliate against a nuclear strike directly from Iran, but what if it comes from one of the Hezbollahs?

The question isn’t whether there will be a war. It’s how bad the war will be.

That is what Churchill understood and Chamberlain didn’t. While Churchill had fought in Afghanistan against the forerunners of the Taliban, Chamberlain had run family businesses. He saw the military as an unnecessary expense and war as something that could be negotiated away. Churchill knew better.

We are up against something similar today.

The Middle East has exploded before. It will explode again. All we’ve been doing is keeping the lid on. Obama’s surrender means that we won’t control how that explosion happens, but it won’t stop us from getting dragged in anyway once the bombs start going off.

Obama’s advisers have told him to outsource American foreign policy to Tehran. And that’s what he did. Turning over your power to your enemy won’t make him your friend. It won’t stop a war.

It will make the war much worse.

Should Israel and its Arab neighbors form an alliance against Iran?

September 3, 2015

Should Israel and its Arab neighbors form an alliance against Iran? The Hill, Eli Verschleiser, September 3, 2015

Could a nuclear deal with Iran accomplish more than decades of diplomacy in the Middle East and, rather ironically, create new alliances between Israel and Arab neighbors?

That’s a key question as we gear up for the battle on Capitol Hill over President Barack Obama’s controversial pact with Tehran to limit uranium enrichment in return for lifting of sanctions. Critics say the agreement paves the way for a double reward of Tehran— a huge influx of cash and an eventual, unfettered path toward nuclear arms.

Neither the Saudis, the Kuwaitis, nor the United Arab Emirates or for that matter any of the other Persian Gulf states are too excited about the prospect of a nuclear-armed Iran. The role of Iran in the conflicts in Iraq and Syria, and the rise of Islamic State terror and the Muslim Brotherhood, have become a much bigger problem for Arab leaders than the tired conflict with Israel. Those countries have a Sunni majority, while Persian Iran is led by rival Shia Muslims.

Iran, of course, is also a major oil rival for the Gulf States and became more powerful following the fall of Saddam Hussein’s Iraq.

The Saudis have been publicly moderate on the deal but said to be privately angry over it. Epitomizing the old Middle East adage that the enemy of my enemy is my friend, the Saudis were reported to have offered Israel the ability to use their airspace to strike at Iran. This is a crucial step in keeping a military option on the table as it would save time and fuel if such a strike were necessary. “The Saudi authorities are completely coordinated with Israel on all matters related to Iran,” a European official was quoted as saying in an Israeli TV report.

Clearly momentum for alignment with Israel in some form is building.

“To all those who think the Persian state, and the regime of the Rule of the Imprudent… the dictatorial fascist Persian regime which controls it, is a friendly country, whereas Israel is an enemy country, I say that a prudent enemy is better than an imprudent one.”

Those words were written by Abdallah Al-Hadlaq in the official newspaper of Kuwait, Al-Watan.

It is not the first time the author has expressed support for ties with Israel. As far back as 2009 he called on his government and other Gulf states to put aside their differences with Jerusalem and forge an alliance against Iran.

But the fact that his column was published in a government daily in a country without full press freedom speaks volumes.

“The state of Israel and its various governments have waged more than five wars with the Arabs, yet never in the course of these wars did Israel think to use its nuclear weapons against its Arab enemies,” Al-Hadlaq wrote. “Conversely, if the Persian state, with its stupid, rash and fascist regime that hides behind a religious guise, ever develops nuclear weapons, it will not hesitate to use nuclear bombs against the Arab Gulf states in the first conflict that arises.”

Were the Saudis to show leadership in rallying other Sunni-led states against Iran it could have a significant impact on a new order in the Middle East.

Furthermore the new coalition could collectively work wonders to get rid of ISIS, as Jordan’s King Abdullah recently declared in a CNN interview that the war against ISIS ‘is our war’. The Iranian nuclear threat and the ISIS threat can top the agenda in this new coalition.

“Iran does have enough politico-military and economic potential to counter-balance Saudi led “Sunni” states in the Middle East and beyond,” wrote Salman Rafi Sheikh in an essay for the magazine Eastern Outlook last March. “It is precisely for this very reason that Saudi Arabia’s anxiety about an agreement has fueled a flurry of intense diplomacy in recent days to bolster unity among “Sunni” states in the Middle East in the face of “shared threats”, especially those emanating from Iran.”

Rafi Sheikh, a research-analyst of International Relations and Pakistan’s foreign and domestic affairs, noted that “this deal is most likely to send political jolts across the entire Middle Eastern political landscape, with Saudi Arabia and Israel standing as the most sensitive areas to bear its shocks; and as such, are most likely to clutch their hands into an alliance against Iran, and by default, against the US ambitions as well.”

There is great potential for Saudi Arabia’s King Salman to rally Gulf states as well as Turkey, Egypt and Jordan to stand up to an Iran that will only become more emboldened with the huge influx of post-sanctions billions and new political bona fides that will make Tehran bolder.

Increased security cooperation as Iran bides its time for an eventual bomb –after the agreement period, or in the worst-case scenario, in violation of the agreement — may eventually lead to more nuclear proliferation in the region.

Will that mean a nuclear pact between Israel and its former enemies? That will be a fascinating development that could never have been imagined even a decade ago.

And it will truly be a sad irony if, after nearly 70 years of a solid relationship between the United States and Israel, the Jewish state had to turn to despotic regimes with little or no human rights to solidify its security position, feeling far less than confident that Washington has its back than it has in the past.

However this may simply be the beginning of an Arabic Israeli accord where both groups can begin to understand and accept each other.

Our World: The anti-peace administration

August 12, 2015

Our World: The anti-peace administration, The Jerusalem PostCaroline B. Glick, August 11, 2015

ShowImage (9)President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, and White House aides receive an update from Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Energy Ernest Moniz via teleconference in Lausanne. (photo credit:WHITE HOUSE)

The US has striven to achieve peaceable relations between the states of the Middle East for nearly 70 years. Yet today, US government is disparaging the burgeoning strategic ties between the Sunni Arab states and Israel.

In a briefing to a delegation of visiting Israeli diplomatic correspondents in Washington last week, a senior Obama administration official sneered that the only noticeable shift in Israel-Arab relations in recent years is that the current Egyptian government has been coordinating security issues “more closely” with Jerusalem than the previous one did.

“But we have yet to see that change materialize in the Gulf.”

If this is how the US views the state of Israel’s relations with the Arabs, then Israel should consider canceling its intelligence cooperation with the US. Because apparently, the Americans haven’t a clue what is happening in the Middle East.

First of all, to characterize the transformation of Israeli-Egyptian relations as a mere question of “more closely” coordinating on security issues is to vastly trivialize what has happened over the past two years.

Before then Egyptian defense minister Abdel Fattah el-Sisi overthrew the US-backed Muslim Brotherhood regime headed by Muhammad Morsi in July 2013, there was a growing sense that Morsi intended to vacate Egypt’s signature to the peace deal with Israel at the first opportunity. Just a month after Morsi ascended to power in January 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood began threatening to review Egypt’s continued commitment to the peace treaty.

The main reason Morsi did not cancel the peace deal with Israel was that Egypt was bankrupt. He needed US and international monetary support to enable his government to pay for imported grain to feed Egypt’s destitute population of 90 million.

During his year in power, Morsi used Hamas as the Brotherhood’s shock troops. He embraced Iran, inviting president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to visit Cairo in February 2013.

If Morsi were still in power today, with its $150 billion in sanctions relief Iran would have been in a position to support Egypt’s economy. So it is possible that if Morsi were still president, he would have felt he had the financial security to walk away from the peace treaty.

In happy contrast, under Sisi, Israeli-Egyptian ties are closer than they have ever been. Just last week Egyptian diplomats told Al Ahram that Israel’s support was critical for building administration support for Sisi.

Over Ramadan, Egyptian television broadcast a pro-Jewish mini-series.

Israel is closely working with the Egyptians on defeating the growing threat of Islamic State, Hamas and other Islamic terrorist groups waging a bloody insurgency against the regime in Sinai.

Last summer, it was due to the close coordination between Sisi and Israel that the US failed to force Israel to accept Hamas’s cease-fire terms, as those were represented by the Islamist regimes of Qatar and Turkey.

In part due to Israel’s critical support for Sisi’s government, and in part owing to their opposition to Iran’s rise as a regional hegemon armed with nuclear weapons, Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan have all joined Egypt in viewing Israel as a strategic partner and protector.

Last year Saudi Arabia together with the UAE and Jordan supported Israel and Egypt in opposing Hamas and its American, Turkish and Qatari defenders. Had it not been for this massive Arab support, it is very likely that Israel would have been forced to accept the US’s demands and grant Hamas control over Gaza’s international borders.

In June, as negotiations between the US and the other five powers and Iran were moving toward an agreement, the Council on Foreign Relations in New York hosted a meeting between then incoming Foreign Ministry director general Dore Gold and retired Saudi General Anwar Eshki, a former advisor to the Saudi ambassador to the US. The two revealed that over the previous 18 months, they had conducted five secret meetings to discuss Iran.

Although President Barack Obama harangued Israel in his speech at American University last Wednesday, claiming that the Israeli government is the only government that has publicly opposed his nuclear deal with the Iranians, Monday US congressmen now shuttling between Egypt and Israel told Israeli reporters that Egypt opposes the nuclear deal.

As for the Gulf states, according to the US media, last week they told visiting US Secretary of State John Kerry that they support the nuclear deal.

Kerry addressed his counterparts in the Gulf Cooperation Council.

But the fact is that the only foreign minister who expressed such support was Qatari Foreign Minister Khaled al-Attiyah. To be sure, Attiyah was charged to speak for all of his counterparts because Qatar holds the GCC’s rotating chairmanship. But given that Qatar has staked out a pro-Iranian foreign policy in stark contrast to its neighbors and GCC partners, Attiyah’s statement is impossible to take seriously without the corroboration of his colleagues.

As for Qatar’s statement of support, Qatar has worked for years to cultivate good relations with Iran. It might have been expected therefore that Attiyah’s endorsement of the deal would have been enthusiastic. But it was lukewarm at best.

In Attiyah’s words, Kerry promised that the deal would place Iran’s nuclear sites under continuous inspections. “Consequently,” he explained, “the GCC countries have welcomed on this basis what has been displayed and what has been talked about by His Excellency Mr. Kerry.”

The problem of course is that Kerry wasn’t telling the truth. And the Arabs knew he was lying. The deal does not submit Iran’s nuclear sites to a rigorous inspection regime. And the GCC, including Qatar, opposes it.

In his briefing with Israeli reporters, the high-level US official rejected the importance of the détente between Israel and its Arab neighbors because he claimed the Arabs have not changed their position regarding their view of a final peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians.

But this is also nonsense. To be sure, the official position of the Saudis and the UAE is still the so-called Arab peace initiative from 2002 which stipulates that the Arabs will only normalize relations with Israel after it has ceded Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the Golan and allowed millions of foreign-born Arabs to freely immigrate to the shrunken Jewish state. In other words, their official position is that they will only have normal relations with Israel after Israel destroys itself.

But their official position is no longer their actual position. Their actual position is to view Israel as a strategic ally.

The senior official told the Israeli reporters that in order to show that “their primary security concern is Iran,” then as far as the Arabs are concerned, “resolving some of the other issues in the region, including the Palestinian issue should be in their interest. We would like to see them more invested in moving the process forward.”

In the real world, there is no peace process. And the Palestinian factions are fighting over who gets to have better relations with Iran. Monday we learned that PA leader Mahmoud Abbas wishes to visit Iran in the coming months in the hopes of getting the money that until recently was enjoyed by his Hamas rivals.

Hamas for its part is desperate to show Tehran that it remains a loyal client. So today, no Palestinian faction shares the joint Israeli-Saudi-Egyptian interest in preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear armed regional hegemon.

The administration showed its hand in that briefing with the Israeli reporters last week. For all their talk about Middle East peace, Obama and his advisors are not at all interested in achieving it or of noticing when it has been achieved.