Posted tagged ‘United States’

Condemnation will not stop Assad’s chemical war

April 5, 2017

Condemnation will not stop Assad’s chemical war, DEBKAfile, April 5, 2017

The task of locating destroying Assad’s stocks of pernicious weapon of war can only be performed by troops on the ground. And that is unlikely to happen.

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Seven nations maintain elite military units in Syria – the US, Russia, Britain, Germany, France, Jordan and Israel. American, Russian and Turkish troops are backed by air support. Had those powers decided to destroy the Syrian dictator Bashar Assad’s poison chemical arsenal, they could have combined to do so and finished the job in a few days – and this week’s horrific tragedy possibly been averted.

The death toll from the Syrian chemical warfare bombardment of the rebel-held town of Kkhan Sheikhoun Monday, April 3, is now estimated at 150 with several hundred injured, cared for in totally inadequate medical facilities. The number of child victims has raised the pitch of world condemnation  The total figure fluctuates according to source.

But the most tragic truth of all is that no one in Moscow, Washington or Ankara is ready go ahead with this operation, any more than they are focused on ending the six-year old Syrian war, which has claimed a death toll of more than 600,000 – most civilians – and the displacement of 12 million refugees. Instead, they are calling the UN Security Council into another emergency (useless) session.

The most cynical aspect of this international wringing of hands is the sorry record of the way Assad’s toxic warfare record has been handled.

On May 3, 2014, the US military reported that efforts to bring about the dismantling of the Syrian army’s chemical weapons had come to naught after Bashar Assad refused to hand over the 27 tons of sarin precursor chemicals, so long as the UN disarmament agency (OPCW) insisted on his destroying their underground storage sites..

According to DEBKAfile’s sources, 12 of those bunker facilities are still operational and barred to access by UN inspectors.

Five months later, OPCW reported that Assad’s chemical weapons stocks had been liquidated. US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov shook hands in Geneva to flashing cameras to celebrate the successful outcome of their negotiations on the subject.

This turned out to a charade, staged to cover up President Barack Obama’s decision to dodge his own red lines and abstain from action against the Assad regime if he resorted to chemical warfare.

Careful reading of the final OPCW report gives the game away: “To date, nearly 95 percent of all chemical weapon stockpiles declared by the possessor states have been destroyed under OPCW verification.” For its extensive efforts in eliminating chemical weapons, the OPCW received the 2013 Nobel Prize for Peace.

So 5 percent of the poisonous substances remained intact. In the interim four years, the Syrian ruler was able to substantially build up his depleted stocks of poison gas, the use of which also spread to the war in Iraq. The Syrian air force meanwhile began unbridled air strikes with chlorine bombs. They were replenished by Iranian freight planes landing at the Damascus military airfield and the T4 military air base near Palmyra with fresh consignments of chlorine bombs custom-made at Iran’s military industry factories.

Neither the Obama administration in Washington nor the Kremlin in Moscow lifted a finger to stop these deliveries. In the opposition camp, certain Syrian rebel groups, ISIS and Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front branch started tests on homemade chemical weapons, some of them successfully building up stocks of primitive poison weapons. Other rebel groups simply purchased Syrian chemical weapons from Syrian army officers.

Today, no international inquiry commissions would be able to establish beyond doubt the source of the chemical substances that poisoned hundreds of people in Idlib this week or determine who was ultimately responsible for this atrocity. It must be said that only the Syrian military had the ability to carry out an aerial attack like the one that struck the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun. The Russians will certainly try to use as a pretext for vetoing a condemnatory UN Security Council resolution the claim that Syrian warplanes had only struck an insurgent storehouse containing toxic substances.

The task of locating destroying Assad’s stocks of pernicious weapon of war can only be performed by troops on the ground. And that is unlikely to happen.

Has the Time Come for Amexit From the UN?

January 24, 2017

Has the Time Come for Amexit From the UN? AlgemeinerKenneth L Marcus, January 23, 2017

(The UN is rotten to the core. But what effect would a UN Security Council resolution have on America and her allies if America were no longer a member of the UN, hence of the Security Council and hence unable to veto the resolution? — DM)

unhrc1The United Nations Human Rights Council, in the Palace of Nations (Geneva). Photo: Wikimedia Commons.

Governor Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador-nominee, recently observed, “The United States is the indispensable voice of freedom. It is time that we once again find that voice.” When we do find that voice, we may need to find a better venue in which it should be heard.

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As British Prime Minister Theresa May plans a Brexit from the EU, Americans may soon ask what kind of exit we want from another international institution.

In our case, the organization is not the European Union, but the United Nations. Earlier this month, Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Ted Cruz (R-TX) introduced a bill to block taxpayer dollars from going to the UN. These senators, like many Americans, are incensed by a recent anti-Israel resolution adopted by the world body. But the US’ problems with the UN run deeper than one bad resolution. They are endemic to the institution. At some point, our elected leaders will ask whether the time has come not just to defund, but also to depart — and then replace the UN with something better.

That point may come sooner rather than later.

Today — Monday, January 23 — journalist Edwin Black is launching a national conversation about United Nations reform. At a major noon-time event in the Rayburn House Office Building on Capitol Hill, I will be pleased to join Black, US Representative Trent Franks and other concerned leaders in the launch of a new project called “The Covenant of Democratic Nations” (CDN). The event coincides with the first full workday of a new presidential administration. Additional events are planned for New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Berlin, London, Ottawa and many other cities.

More of a conversation than an institution or a treaty, the CDN asks us to consider whether the time has arrived to fundamentally rethink our involvement with international institutions.

The United Nations was established seven decades ago, in the aftermath of the Nazi horrors, to free the world from the scourge of war, to promote social progress, to encourage treaty compliance and, in the language of the United Nations Charter, “to reaffirm faith in fundamental human rights, in the dignity and worth of the human person, in the equal rights of men and women and of nations large and small.”

Yet, in the ensuing years, this corrupt, ineffective and biased body has failed at all of these goals  — but none more sadly than its pursuit of fundamental human rights.

In retrospect, the UN’s basic problems were probably unavoidable from the start, given that the institution is by design primarily a congress of undemocratic, corrupt and ineffective nations. Consider that the 2017 elected membership of the UN Human Rights Council includes Burundi, China, Cuba, Iraq, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates.

In its one-sided obsession with Israel, the United Nations has largely disregarded serious human rights violations the world over. The UN, founded with such high hopes, has responded year after year with silence and indifference to persecution, torture and violence. It has done little to nothing to respond to global brutalities and genocides. From the Cambodian genocide to the bloodbath in Syria, the United Nations has proven peculiarly unfit to the task for which it was founded.

The problem with the United Nations is not just its abject failure to accomplish its mission, but also its affirmative wrongdoing. It has condemned one single state in resolution upon resolution. That state is democratic Israel. And through it all, tyrants throughout the rest of the world continue to go ignored.

To paraphrase Hillel Neuer, the UN has become the forum at which those who condone rape lament the rights of Palestinian women; the occupiers of Tibet bemoan the disputed territories West of the Jordan River; the bombers of Yemen castigate the treatment of Gaza; and the murderers of Muslims in Syria claim to care about Muslims in little Israel.

The UN’s failings were on display last month with passage of Security Council Resolution 2334, just as those failings were previously on display when the UN passed the infamous 1975 resolution equating Zionism with racism. As then-US Ambassador to the UN Daniel Patrick Moynihan said at the time, “If there were no General Assembly, this could never have happened.”

Even the UN’s boldest critics agree that the UN does some important work. The question is whether other institutions could do it better. In Black’s vision, the CDN will review all of the United Nations’ treaties and actions. Some could be repealed, others continued and still others strengthened. The result could be a long-overdue rethinking of international law.

This doesn’t need to happen all at once. In England, Prime Minister May has chosen a “hard Brexit.” When it comes to the UN, we may have other options, and we may be well-advised to put strong new institutions in place before we withdraw from the old ones. The key however is that we should permit ourselves to think boldly and not feel imprisoned by the international status quo.

Governor Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador-nominee, recently observed, “The United States is the indispensable voice of freedom. It is time that we once again find that voice.” When we do find that voice, we may need to find a better venue in which it should be heard.

Look Who Is Gutting the First Amendment!

August 26, 2016

Look Who Is Gutting the First Amendment!

by Johanna Markind

August 26, 2016 at 5:00 am

Source: Look Who Is Gutting the First Amendment!

  • “The [American Bar Association] wants to do exactly what the text calls for: limit lawyers’ expression of viewpoints that it disapproves of. … state courts and state bars should resist the pressure to adopt it.” — Eugene Volokh, UCLA law professor and Washington Post columnist.
  • The language of Resolution 109 is “so broad it could mean anything… a kind of a speech code that restricts perfectly acceptable speech… anything you say might offend someone and therefore you can be punished for it.” — Ilya Shapiro, Cato Institute.
  • The ABA declined to answer questions for this article, as did the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU, which calls itself “our nation’s guardian of liberty,” and touts itself as fighting for “your right… to speak out – for or against – anything at all,” has not issued any statements or press releases about the model rule revision.

The struggle between free speech and speech codes that are intended to prevent harassment and discrimination appears set to leap from college campuses to law offices around the United States.

On August 8, 2016, the American Bar Association (ABA) approved resolution 109, which curtails freedom of speech. The approved resolution amended its model rule of professional conduct 8.4. It prohibits

“conduct that the lawyer knows or reasonably should know is harassment or discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, national origin, ethnicity, disability, age, sexual orientation, gender identity, marital status or socioeconomic status in conduct related to the practice of law.”

The official comment explains:

“discrimination includes harmful verbal or physical conduct that manifests bias or prejudice towards others. Harassment includes sexual harassment and derogatory or demeaning verbal or physical conduct.”

The model rule is non-binding, but has potentially great influence on professional conduct rules that state courts require lawyers to follow. Should state courts adopt the change, lawyers found to violate it could be sanctioned and possibly disbarred. Because professional rules are legally binding on lawyers, the prospect that states may regulate “verbal conduct” implicates First Amendment concerns.

The ABA declined to answer questions for this article, as did the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The ACLU, which calls itself “our nation’s guardian of liberty,” and touts itself as fighting for “your right… to speak out – for or against – anything at all,” has not issued any statements or press releases about the model rule revision.

Ilya Shapiro, Cato Institute’s senior fellow in constitutional studies and editor-in-chief of Cato’s Supreme Court Review, views the ABA resolution as “a kind of a speech code that restricts perfectly acceptable speech. It’s like safe spaces on college campuses, where anything you say might offend someone and therefore you can be punished for it.”

Many American colleges, motivated at least partly by a desire to protect members of growing minority populations on campus, have adopted speech codes. The codes have arguably fostered a culture chilling free speech, enabling people who claim offense to shut down dissenting voices. The past two years, for example, have witnessed members of a student government impeached for wearing mini-sombreros to a tequila-themed party, a college master hounded into resigning for publicly disagreeing with a college’s cautionary note not to don offensive Halloween costumes, and a professor accused of racism and pressured into taking a sabbatical for supporting the state of Israel’s fight against a recognized terrorist organization.

Paul Kazaras, assistant executive director and staff counsel to the professional guidance commission of the Philadelphia Bar Association, agrees that college speech codes are problematic, but says:

“I think this [ABA resolution] is something fundamentally different. We are talking about a profession having ethical rules that already restrict lawyers, and what’s more, Pennsylvania’s Constitution gives its Supreme Court the authority to regulate the practice of law. There needs to be a way to make sure lawyers act ethically.”

Kazaras believes the change is needed to address bias that is still pervasive in some places, which has “no place in a professional world.” By adding an affirmative duty to lawyers’ ethical obligations, Kazaras says, junior lawyers and other law office employees have a needed tool to cope with special hardships they face in rectifying harassment. According to Kazaras,

“In most workplaces, if a senior manager harasses someone below him/her, the victim can complain through HR [human resources]. HR will then approach the manager and explain, ‘You can’t do this anymore.’ That doesn’t fit within law firm culture. It’s hard for a woman, person of color, person with disabilities, etc., to say, ‘You can’t treat me that way.'”

Laws already exist regulating the work environment, Kazaras notes, and adds, “I think compliance with the new ethics rule should in fact lower the instances of litigation by employees against law firms, and that is a good thing.”

Ilya Shapiro acknowledges that lawyers are already restricted by special rules — for instance, rules limiting lawyers’ speech by requiring them to be courteous to opposing counsel and parties — but believes the proposed model rule change “goes far beyond any existing ethical guidelines. I think it’s a much bigger step” than existing rules, says Shapiro, “like boiling a frog.”

Shapiro believes the revision also “goes far beyond existing employment laws barring harassment.” Workplace harassment, Shapiro explains, “is limited to conduct so offensive and pervasive that it creates a hostile work environment.” By contrast, the language of Resolution 109 is “so broad it could mean anything.” If someone believes he or she is being harassed, Shapiro argues, that person might be able to make a colorable claim under the model rule.

Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor who authors a Washington Post column on free speech issues, has written that the new model rule is significantly broader than existing workplace harassment laws, both in terms of what statements are covered, and in what settings they may be prohibited. For example, he fears that a lawyer presenting at a continuing legal education (CLE) program, who makes a statement critical of, say, homosexuals or Muslims in the course of the program, may thereby violate professional rules based on the new ABA guideline.

Kazaras, a longtime ethics consultant for the Philadelphia Bar Association, doubts statements made for the purpose of instruction during a CLE program could lead to liability.

Regardless of how that particular issue plays out, Volokh infers from the fact that the ABA moved ahead and adopted the new model rule, despite the many objections raised, “that the ABA wants to do exactly what the text calls for: limit lawyers’ expression of viewpoints that it disapproves of.” State courts and state bars, Volokh writes, “should resist the pressure to adopt it.”

Johanna Markind is an attorney who writes about public policy and criminal justice.

Palestinian Authority Pays Terrorists, Families $140M a Year

July 7, 2016

Palestinian Authority Pays Terrorists and Their Families $140 Million a Year Palestinians using foreign aid to reward terrorists for acts that kill Israelis

BY:
July 7, 2016 5:00 am

Source: Palestinian Authority Pays Terrorists, Families $140M a Year

The Palestinian Authority spends roughly 10 percent of its annual budget paying terrorists who attack Israelis and supporting their families, according to expert testimony to congressional lawmakers.

Yigal Carmon, the president and founder of the Middle East Media Research Institute, told the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday that the Palestinian Authority is investing $137.8 million this year in salaries to terrorists jailed in Israel and payments to the families of imprisoned terrorists or suicide bombers, in violated of the Oslo peace accords with Israel.

Wednesday’s hearing took place following a months-long wave of violent attacks waged by Palestinians on Israelis in the West Bank. Last week, a Palestinian attacker broke into a home in the West Bank and stabbed to death a 13-year-old Israeli-American girl in her sleep.

There have been 250 such attacks or attempted attacks by Palestinians on Israelis since October 2015, according to the report of the Middle East Quartet—comprised of the United States, Russia, the European Union, and the United Nations—issued last week. The assaults have killed at least 30 Israelis and resulted in dozens of Palestinians being killed by Israeli police.

Official Palestinian Authority media have glorified perpetrators of these terrorist attacks. Bashar Masalha, a Palestinian who stabbed U.S. Army veteran Taylor Force to death and wounded several others in March, was hailed on official media outlets as a “martyr” at the time of his funeral.

“We welcome every drop of blood spilled in Jerusalem. This is pure blood, clean blood, blood on its way to Allah,” Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas stated last September on Palestinian television. “With the help of Allah, every martyr will be in heaven, and every wounded will get his reward.”

The Palestinian Authority has also furnished terrorists and their families with financial support weighted by the severity of the attack, a matter over which congressional lawmakers expressed outrage on Wednesday.

“These terrorists are not, in fact, lone rangers. They are not lone wolves,” said Rep. Ed Royce (R., Calif.), who chairs the committee, in opening remarks during the hearing. “Instead, these terrorists are the product of the programming done by the PA’s perverted culture that glorifies the willingness to die or to spend time in prison in pursuit of killing or maiming Israelis.”

According to Carmon’s testimony, which was informed by an analysis of the Palestinian Authority’s budget and years of research, the Palestinian Authority transfers funds to terrorist prisoners in Israeli or their families using two Palestinian Liberation Organization funds. The financial support of these individuals is mandated by law.

Prisoners must be provided a monthly salary ranging from $364 to over $3,000 during their detention, and salaries or jobs upon their release. Those who commit the most grievous attacks receive the most substantial monthly payments and are also entitled to jobs in the Palestinian Authority institution upon their release.

Carmon said that it is difficult to determine exactly what percentage of the Palestinian Authority’s annual budget is put toward this cause because of a lack of transparency, but estimated that it amounts to about 10 percent.

“It is just outrageous that they pay cold-blooded killers who murder innocent people and call them martyrs,” Rep. Eliot Engel (D., N.Y.), the committee’s ranking member, said during the hearing. “I cannot think of anything more disgusting.”

While Abbas two years ago ordered that these salaries not be paid by the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Prisoners’ Affairs but instead by the Palestinian Liberation Organization, Carmon described this as a “deliberately misleading move” to assuage concerns from donor countries worried about their money being funneled to terrorists.

“The source of the money remains the PA, which receives them from donor countries, and the overseeing body remains none other than the PA,” Carmon told lawmakers. He said that countries who provide aid to Palestine, including the United States, are “complicit” in inciting terrorism because the Palestinian Authority uses foreign donations to subsidize terrorists and their families.

“By providing this support, the PA is encouraging terrorism in violation of its Oslo commitment.

Furthermore, the PA has been using money granted by donor countries for this purpose, and by doing so, has made them complicit in encouraging terrorism as well,” Carmon said.

The United States has committed over $5 billion in bilateral economic and non-lethal aid to the Palestinians since the mid-1990s in order to prevent Palestinian terrorist groups from attacking Israel and promote piece in the West Bank, according to a Congressional Research Service report issued in March.

While U.S. law allows the government to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority for paying terrorists and their families, the Palestinian Authority has avoided this by transferring the payments to the Palestinian Liberation Organization, experts said Wednesday.

“The U.S. stipulations have … been evaded by the PA by this deceitful technique of funneling money to terrorists and their families under a different name,” said David Pollock, a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.

“I think that the United States and other countries should … reduce the amount or condition the amount of assistance that they provide to the PA without threatening to or without actually cutting it off completely,” Pollock, added, cautioning that completely ceasing aid could result in the collapse of the Palestinian Authority.

“I do think that a certain calibrated, limited amount of financial pressure applied, again, by the United States without any loopholes or escape hatches and, if possible, by European and other donors to the PA would be helpful in addressing this immediate issue,” Pollock added.

Members of Congress have pursued legislative action to address this problem. A Senate subcommittee recently approved language inserted into the fiscal year 2017 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill that would cut U.S. aid to Palestine by an amount equal to that “expended by the Palestinian Authority and the Palestine Liberation Organization and any successor or affiliated organizations, as payments for acts of terrorism by individuals who are imprisoned after being fairly tried and convicted for acts of terrorism, and by individuals who died committing acts of terrorism during the previous calendar year.”

The companion bill in the House also includes similar language. The State Department would be responsible for enforcing the law.

Israel has already implemented such action. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on Friday that the country would withhold some tax revenues that it sends to the Palestinian Authority. The amount withheld will be equal to what is “being transferred by the Palestinian Authority to terrorists and their families,” though it is unclear how much it will be.

Some members of Congress took a hardline approach toward the issue on Wednesday. Rep. Ted Yoho (R., Fla.) said that the United States should send a clear message to Palestine that “if these policies continue, we’re done.”

“We are funding hatred. We are funding terrorism,” Yoho said, labeling it “unconscionable” to provide aid to Palestine in the name of peace while the Palestinian Authority is subsidizing terrorists.

Royce said that the United States and its European allies must do more to use leverage against Palestinian Authority to halt the practice of rewarding terrorists.

“If the PA’s irresponsible behavior continues, the whole premise for funding the PA needs to be reconsidered. The U.S. needs to do better at bringing the parties together while holding the parties responsible for their actions. This has traditionally been our role,” Royce said. “Unfortunately, in recent years, the Obama administration has been hesitant to hold the PA accountable—yet has consistently pressured Israel.”

China Puts Advanced Missiles on Disputed Southeast Asian Island

February 17, 2016

China Puts Advanced Missiles on Disputed Southeast Asian Island Obama: U.S. military will sail, fly freely in South China Sea

BY:
February 17, 2016 5:00 am

Source: China Puts Advanced Missiles on Disputed Southeast Asian Island

President Obama defended U.S. naval and aircraft operations near disputed South China Sea islands claimed by China on Tuesday as new intelligence revealed Beijing recently placed advanced air defense missiles in the Paracels.

“Freedom of navigation must be upheld,” Obama said, adding “the United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, and we will support the right of all countries to do the same.”

The remarks followed a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, known as ASEAN, in Sunnylands, Calif. Obama and leaders from 10 ASEAN nations agreed to defend the sea from Chinese encroachment.

“We discussed the need for tangible steps in the South China Sea to lower tensions, including a halt to further reclamation, new construction, and militarization of disputed areas,” Obama said.

The president said the United States would continue to help regional states bolster maritime capabilities and resolve disputes peacefully and legally.

Obama said “the United States will continue to stand with those across Southeast Asia who are working to advance rule of law, good governance, accountable institutions, and the universal human rights of all people.”

At the Pentagon, defense officials said recent intelligence revealed that China deployed advanced HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles on Woody Island, in the Paracel island chain in the northwestern part of the sea.

The missile deployment was detected in the past several days, said officials familiar with reports of the deployment.

The buildup of air defense missiles highlights what defense officials said is China’s continuing militarization of disputed islands in the sea.

China has demanded a halt to all U.S. warship transits through the sea, and aerial reconnaissance flights over it.

The HQ-9 is an advanced anti-aircraft system that can also shoot down short-range missiles.

The missiles are likely to heighten tensions as they could be used against U.S. reconnaissance aircraft that frequently fly over the sea.

Retired Navy Capt. Jim Fanell, a former Pacific Fleet intelligence chief, said the HQ-9 is a formidable air defense missile that can cover 125 miles.

“We should not be surprised in the least about this turn of events, as it is in keeping with the strategic trend line of China’s ‘maritime sovereignty campaign’ that has been in place since 2010,” Fanell told the Washington Free Beacon.

China’s Navy chief, Adm. Wu Shengli, announced last month that that China would determine when and how to justify the militarization of new islands. The missiles on Woody appear to be a first step, Fanell said.

“The question now remains whether or not the U.S., Japan, Australia, and the representatives of ASEAN will continue to accede to Beijing’s bullying or will they band together in a ‘unified front’ and begin conducting joint patrols within China’s unofficially asserted territorial seas,” he said. “The time to act is fleeting, each hour, each day of delay will render the situation more dangerous or untenable.”

Rick Fisher, a China military affairs analyst, said the advanced missile deployment is a major military escalation by China in the South China Sea.

“China’s deployment of up to 64 HQ-9 surface-to-air missiles to Woody Island just before the ASEAN summit in California constitutes a major slap against ASEAN and the Obama administration,” said Fisher, who is associated with the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

“It should now be clear that Obama administration diplomacy and freedom of navigation operations are useless in stopping China from militarizing its islands in the Paracel and Spratly island groups,” he said.

China’s military has said the recent passage of a warship near Triton Island in the Parcels could trigger a further military buildup.

Fisher said China could supplement the HQ-9s with long-range YJ-62 anti-ship cruise missiles or DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles, which have a range of 870 miles.   

“Nobody is suggesting that the U.S. attack China’s dangerous island bases, but the administration can deploy sufficient counterforce to deter China from using its bases,” Fisher said.

China deployed J-11 jet fighters to Woody Island  last October.

Two months later a U.S. B-52 bomber overflew the disputed Spratly Islands, drawing a sharp rebuke from China’s government.

The commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, Adm. Harry Harris, has rejected China’s expansive South China Sea claims. Harris said in a recent speech that the South China Sea is “no more China’s than the Gulf of Mexico is Mexico’s.”

The Pentagon has said some $5.3 trillion in international trade passes through the sea each year.

China is claiming some 90 percent of the South China Sea as its maritime domain, and has built up some 3,200 acres of new islands where military facilities, including deepwater ports and airfields, are being built.

Woody Island, called Yongxing Island by China, is located about 100 miles southeast of Triton Island, where the guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur made a close-in passage on Jan. 30. The Pentagon said the transit was designed to demonstrate freedom of navigation to three claimants to the island, China, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

China has denied it is militarizing the sea and has criticized the United States for what it says are provocative freedom of navigation operations. In addition to the Curtis, the USS Lassen passed within 12 miles of Subi Reef in the Spratlys last October.

The HQ-9 deployment was first reported by Foxnews.com on Tuesday.

The missiles were revealed on commercial satellite imagery along a beach on Woody Island. The missiles were sent there between Feb. 3 and Feb. 14.

During a summit meeting between Obama and Chinese President Xi Jinping, the Beijing leader promised not to militarize newly-created South China Sea islands.

It is not clear if the September commitment included Woody Island, about 1 square mile in size that has had a military garrison since 2012.

The Communist Party-affiliated newspaper Global Times published a commentary Saturday criticizing U.S. military operations in the South China Sea as a serious political and military provocation.

“On the surface, Washington calls for international laws and norms, such as freedom of navigation, to be the guiding principle in the South China Sea,” wrote Zhang Tengjun, a research fellow at the China Institute of International Studies in Beijing.

“In fact, it tries to hype up China’s ‘threat’ to regional security and ASEAN’s interests so more ASEAN members will join a US-led front to counter China.”

Turkey calls allies to launch ground offensive in Syria, continues to hit PYD

February 16, 2016

Turkey calls allies to launch ground offensive in Syria, continues to hit PYD

February 16, 2016, Tuesday/ 17:41:49/ TODAY’S ZAMAN | ANKARA

Source: Turkey calls allies to launch ground offensive in Syria, continues to hit PYD

Turkey calls allies to launch ground offensive in Syria, continues to hit PYD

Turkish artillery struck positions in northern Syria for the fourth straight day on Tuesday. (Photo: AP)

While Ankara and Moscow continued to exchange harsh remarks on Tuesday, Turkey once again hit Democratic Union Party (PYD) targets near the town of Azaz in Syria and called on its allies, including the US, to launch a ground offensive in Syria as Russian-backed Syrian regime forces come closer to Turkey’s borders.

A Turkish official speaking to reporters in İstanbul on Tuesday said Turkey wants a ground operation in Syria.

The official who asked to remain anonymous in order to speak more freely said: “We want a ground operation. If there is a consensus, Turkey will take part. Without a ground operation it is impossible to stop this war.”

The official also ruled out a unilateral ground operation in Syria carried out by Turkey. “Turkey is not going to have a unilateral ground operation … We are discussing this with allies,” the official said.

The Turkish military has been hitting PYD targets in Syria since Saturday and continued to shell the PYD militants in Azaz near the Mennagh air base on Tuesday.

In the meantime, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad has warned Turkey and Saudi Arabia that any ground incursion in Syria will have “global repercussions” and says sending in troops will be “no picnic.”

Commenting on the agreement reached last week among the US, Russia and other world powers for a temporary cessation of hostilities in Syria, Assad said, “Cease-fires occur between armies and states, but never between a state and terrorists.”

“They say they want a cease-fire within a week. All right, who will talk to a terrorist organization if it refuses to cease fire? Who will punish it?’” he asked. Assad spoke in Damascus late Monday during a meeting with members of the Bar Association. The comments were his first since the agreement on Friday to bring about a temporary pause in fighting within a week.

Washington has ruled out a major ground operation in Syria and a large-scale joint ground operation is still unlikely. But Turkey’s request shows how swiftly a Russian-backed advance in recent weeks has transformed a conflict that has drawn in most regional and global powers.

The offensive, supported by Iranian-backed Shiite militias as well as Russian air strikes, has brought the Syrian army to within 25 kilometers (15 miles) of Turkey’s frontier. Kurdish fighters regarded by Turkey as hostile insurgents have also exploited the collapse of positions held by other rebel groups to seize ground and extend their presence along the border.

The advances have increased the risk of a military confrontation between Russia and Turkey.

Turkish artillery returned fire into Syria for a fourth day straight on Tuesday, military sources said, targeting the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) militia, which Ankara says is being backed by Moscow.

Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu spoke with his French counterpart and expressed Ankara’s dissatisfaction with the French foreign ministry’s comments regarding the Turkish operations against Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG) targets in Syria, diplomatic sources said.

Davutoğlu: Shameless Russia

Speaking at the ruling Justice and Development Party’s (AK Party) parliamentary group meeting on Tuesday, Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu gave harsh remarks targeting Russia particularly and calling Moscow “inhumane,” “merciless” and “barbaric.”

Davutoğlu said the PYD and its armed wing, the YPG, are an offshoot of the terrorist Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) and are killing people in Syria for the Russian and Syrian regimes. He stressed that Turkey will do anything to prevent the attack on Azaz and will retaliate whenever necessary.

Calling the developments in Syria “a national security threat” to Turkey, Davutoğlu said Russia is attacking Syrian rebel groups and civilians. Mentioning some of the photos that he has seen where Russian jets pounded Tel Rifaat and Azaz, Davutoğlu asked Russia what they want from this territory.

Davutoğlu said Russian jets are bombing any area around Azaz, adding that making 200 sorties around a small town like Azaz does not make sense other than if the aim was to get rid of all expired bombs in one’s stock.

“Russia is killing both civilians and Syrian rebels, as well as supporting the Syrian regime. They are also getting rid of obsolete bombs in their stock in Syria instead of destroying them in their own country. They have such a vile and inhuman plan. Russia, Assad and the PYD are cooperating and pounding the area to cut the way to the aid corridor to the Syrian people. Russia and Assad are using the PYD as a tool to change the ethnic structure. Russia has not once attacked ISIL [the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant],” said Davutoğlu.

Davutoğlu also stressed that Turkey has been shelling the PYD since Saturday and will continue to do so in order to stop a new refugee influx to Turkey. He said the latest attacks near Turkey’s border are clearly targeting Turkey and posing a threat to Europe due to an increased refugee influx.

Davutoğlu pointed out that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has finally confirmed the need to establish a no fly zone in Syria. He said if the world leaders agreed with Turkey three years ago, many lives in Syria could have been saved.

“No one should doubt that Turkey will react in the same way against anyone threatening its border security,” said Davutoğlu.
He said the PYD does not represent the Kurds in Syria and has become a legionnaire for Russia in the region with the priority of harming Turkey, especially since Turkish-Russian relations have become tense following Turkey’s shooting down of a Russian jet in November last year.

“While Russia is bombing civilians, it complains about Turkey to the UN Security Council for defending Turkish air space. It is shameless,” said Davutoğlu. He also criticized the West, particularly the US, for not openly condemning the Russian bombardment in the area. “We are not afraid to say this. Coward Russian jets committed to this bombardment. We want to see a clear attitude [from the West] against this inhuman massacre,” said Davutoğlu.

He stressed that Turkish foreign policy is not based on ethnicity. He said if Kurds have a state, it is the Turkish Republic. He recalled that Turkey has embraced the Kurdish refugees who fled from ISIL in the town of Kobani in Syria.

Davutoğlu also said that Russia is pursuing a “dirty foreign policy” by mentioning the possibility of a World War III. “If there is a threat of war in Syria, Turkey is not the one creating the environment for it,” said Davutoğlu, adding that despite the chaos in the region the Turkish government is keeping the country out of war. He claimed that Turkey is taking measures to eliminate the threats close to it in order to stay away from war.

Russia categorically rejects statements from Turkey

Moscow on Tuesday strongly rejected Turkish accusations that it had committed a war crime after the missile strikes.

“We categorically do not accept such statements, the more so as every time those making these statements are unable to prove their unfounded accusations in any way,” President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

“Our relations (with Turkey) are in a deep crisis. Russia regrets this. We are not the initiators of this.”
Turkey on Monday accused Russia of an “obvious war crime” after missile attacks in northern Syria killed scores of people and warned the YPG that it would face the “harshest reaction” if it tried to capture a town near the Turkish border.

Erdoğan to US: Choose either Turkey or the PYD as your partner

February 7, 2016

Erdoğan to US: Choose either Turkey or the PYD as your partner

February 07, 2016, Sunday/ 10:51:35/

Source: Erdoğan to US: Choose either Turkey or the PYD as your partner

Erdoğan to US: Choose either Turkey or the PYD as your partner

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. (Photo: Reuters)

In one of his strongest remarks to date, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has lambasted the US after a senior official’s visit last week to the northern Syrian town of Kobani, which is under the control of the Kurdish Democratic Union Party (PYD), and called on Washington to choose either Turkey or “terrorists in Kobani” as a partner.

Erdoğan directed severe criticism at the visit to the town by Brett McGurk, US President Barack Obama’s special envoy for the anti-Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) coalition. The visit came at a time where Geneva peace talks were taking place, and the Turkish president declared that the US should make a choice between the PYD and Turkey.

Erdoğan has called on the US and the European Union to list the major Syrian Kurdish political party and its armed wing as terrorist organizations over their affiliation with the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which is fighting against the Turkish state and which is regarded as a terrorist group by Washington and Brussels.

“Do you accept the PKK as a terrorist organization? Then why don’t you list the PYD and [People’s Protection Units] YPG as terrorist organizations, too?” Erdoğan asked while speaking to reporters on Friday on board a plane en route to Turkey from a week-long Latin America tour

This is not the first time Erdoğan has made such a call. His and other senior Turkish leaders’ calls reflect a split between Ankara and its allies over how to treat the Syrian Kurdish party and its armed faction.

The Kurdish militia the YPG has been a reliable ally in the fight against ISIL on the ground and has benefited from the US arms supply on several occasions.

While the US and EU share Turkey’s view toward the PKK and sees it as a terrorist organization, they differ in their views regarding the PYD and YPG.

During his visit, McGurk met with senior PYD and YPG officials and pledged further support for Syrian Kurds. He also visited a cemetery and paid his respects to YPG fighters killed during a months-long battle with ISIL in Kobani.

It was the first time a top US official has visited the YPG-controlled town, reflecting the type of relationship the US and the PYD enjoy. The US airdropped weapons and munitions during the siege of Kobani.

“We discovered advanced Russian, US and European weapons in PKK cells during military operations in southeastern Turkey. Where do these weapons come from?” the Turkish president asked, revealing Turkey’s growing anxiety that some of the weapons provided by the US and EU to the YPG end up in PKK hands.

“The PKK is a terrorist organization and the YPG is too. The PYD is what the PKK is. [US Vice President] Joe Biden came with an official. A national security official [Obama’s envoy]. He visits Kobani at the time of the Geneva talks and is awarded a plaque by a so-called YPG general. How can we trust [you]?” Erdoğan said, expressing his dismay over McGurk’s visit.

McGurk was given a plaque by YPG official Polat Can, a former PKK member. It sparked a harsh reaction from Ankara as Erdoğan called on the US to choose, saying, “Am I your ally or are the ‘terrorists’ in Kobani?”

Erdoğan also repeated his criticism of Russian air strikes in Syria. The Turkish president said on Friday that Russia must be held accountable for the people it has killed in Syria, arguing that Moscow and Damascus were together responsible for 400,000 deaths there.

While speaking at a joint press conference with his Senegalese counterpart during a brief stopover in the West African country on Friday, Erdoğan also dismissed a Russian statement that Turkey was preparing for an incursion in Syria, saying he is “laughing” at the claim.

Ankara has dismissed this as propaganda intended to conceal Russia’s own “crimes.”

Erdoğan said Russia was engaged in an invasion of Syria and accused it of trying to set up a “boutique state” for its longtime ally President Bashar al-Assad.

“Russia must be held accountable for the people it has killed within Syria’s borders,” the Doğan news agency quoted him as saying. “By cooperating with the regime, the number of people they have killed has reached 400,000.”

His comments are likely to further anger Moscow. Relations between Turkey, a NATO member, and Russia hit their worst low in recent memory last November after Turkey shot down a Russian warplane Ankara said had violated Turkish airspace from Syria.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Christmas Greeting – 2015

December 24, 2015

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Christmas Greeting – 2015IsraeliPM via You Tube, December 24, 2015

 

The Islamic State nuclear doomsday

December 22, 2015

The Islamic State nuclear doomsday, Jerusalem Post, Farhad Rezaei, December 21, 2015

ShowImage (19)ISIS sets sites on Washington in new video. (photo credit:ISLAMIC SOCIAL MEDIA)

Whatever strategy IS uses to obtain its doomsday weapon, “The Perfect Storm” article and other sources indicate that the organization has amassed a considerable fortune of approximately 2 billion dollars.

According to Cantlie, IS has more than enough resources to purchase NR materials from traffickers or corrupt officials in Pakistan or elsewhere.

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The emergence of jihadists known to be searching for nuclear and radiological (NR) material has lent a tone of urgency to the debate about ways to prevent nuclear terrorism. At the same time, the supply side of the equation has grown from inchoate attempts at smuggling to a more organized market in NR material. This combination of factors has arguably increased the probability of spectacular attack in the not so distant future. The reason for this assessment is based on a straightforward calculation: a nuclear or radiological device is the ultimate force multiplier and a NR attack is considered “spectacular” enough for jihadists to fulfill their divine mission.

Though not publicized, anxiety about the threat of individuals acquiring sufficient materials to perpetuate such an attack intensified after September 11, 2001. When immediately after the attack, a source codenamed “Dragonfly” informed American intelligence that al-Qaida had smuggled a nuclear device into the United States, National Security adviser Condoleezza Rice described it as a “problem from hell,” evoking a previous comment referring to the “sum of all our fears.”

Producing nuclear weapons, including the required materials – plutonium and uranium – is beyond the skills of terrorist groups. The level of skills needed for the fabrication of a sophisticated weapon are judged to pose a barrier for terrorists. However, terrorists may seek to weaponize radiological materials in other ways.

Though there is a large selection of radioactive isotopes, only a few are good candidates for terrorism: cobalt-60, strontium-90, yttrium-90, cesium-137, iridium-192, radium-226 and plutonium-238.

Two types of radiological attack are possible. First, the Simple Radiological Device (SRD) involves placing a radioactive material in a public place to create an aerosol or burning it to trigger vaporization. Second, a “dirty bomb” uses conventional explosives to disperse radiological material.

While the problem has been well articulated, preventing terrorists from shopping for illicit material has been difficult. In spite of decades of US effort to institute safeguards, the supply side of the terrorism equation has actually expanded. Following the disintegration of the Soviet Union, a haphazard business in stolen nuclear materials emerged.

The IAEA data represents only about 20 percent of all probable illicit traffic; the true number is impossible to calculate.

More worrisome, the decline in the number of cases reported may merely indicate more sophisticated operations of a maturing market. In the past two decades, criminal gangs have incorporated terrorist supplies into their traditional business such as narcotics and human trafficking.

In the realm of NR smuggling, these global networks bring together “suppliers, intermediaries and end-users.”

While the terrorism-crime nexus is global in scope, certain regional hubs hold a particular attraction for the Islamists.

The Pakistani node plays an important role for terrorists. Pakistan boasts one of the world’s fastest-growing arsenals, with weapons stored at bases spread across the country. In addition, Pakistan had embarked on the production of Tactical Nuclear Weapons (TNW), highly prized by terrorists because of their compact size and sophisticated assembly. The prospect of an “inside job” within the nuclear establishment cannot be ruled out and is high on the list of dangers.

Next in line are the conflict zones of Chechnya, Abkhazia and North Ossetia where conditions for the terrorism- crime nexus are particularly fertile. Geographical proximity to the Russian Mafia turned the region into a high-profile route in NR trade.

Criminal organizations have established sophisticated mechanisms for smuggling narcotics that could be simply adapted to trafficking NR material. Experience in avoiding detection, knowledge of safe routes and protection by corrupt officials would all assist them in the smuggling of radiological material.

Finally, with its well-established drug smuggling networks, the Turkish node offers easy access to NR shoppers. In the years up to 2009, Turkish authorities recorded 75 seizures of radioactive materials, including weapon-grade uranium (HEU), cesium-137, americium, antinomy, bismuth and scandium.

Theft of radiological material provides another opportunity. According to the IAEA, as of 2013, 2,477 incidents were reported to the agency, of which 664 involved the theft of NR material. Although stockpiles of HEU are better guarded today, they are not beyond reach of terrorist organizations.

The record of the Islamist terrorist groups demonstrates their deep commitment to creating an doomsday- style event. In this sense, terrorist organizations can be conceptualized as rational players akin to state proliferators.

On the one hand, Islamists can carry out a NR attack to cause mass casualties, create widespread economic havoc and inflict profound psychological trauma on the target population. On the other hand, jihadists consider such an attack an ideal way to precipitate Armageddon.

Abu Musab al-Suri, strategist of the jihadist movement, offered a similar postulate to establish a caliphate.

Al-Suri wanted to bring about the largest number of human casualties possible for America and its allies, a plan that involved obtaining WMD.

Influenced by al-Suri, Abu al-Harith al-Sawahiri, a member of al-Qaida in Yemen, published step-by-step instructions on a do-it-yourself plan to make a dirty bomb on the group’s Internet site.

Under Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, Islamic State moved closer to fulfilling its plan of a spectacular NR attack. At the theological level, through Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, al-Baghdadi was in tune with the Islamist revivalists who sought to create a caliphate and who proclaimed the coming apocalypse.

Apocalypse aside, violence against the West is considered an essential part of IS strategic thinking, an idea first articulated by Abu Bakr Naji who provided a strategy that jihadists could follow to create a new Islamic caliphate. Naji also advised al-Baghdadi to attack the West to draw it into a counteroffensive in a wide swath of Muslim land, a conflagration expected to generate masses of jihadi volunteers.

But al-Baghdadi was under no illusion that small-scale terrorism would provoke the West, since even 9/11 was not big enough to trigger war between the civilizations. In any event, al-Baghdadi became convinced that nothing short of a NR attack would befit the caliphate.

Writings in the IS magazine Dabiq reflected this thinking. The article “The Perfect Storm,” apparently written by the captive journalist John Cantlie, declared that IS had every intention of striking the United States using a nuclear device, surpassing all past attacks. Indeed, Abdullah Ahmed al-Meshedani, a member of IS’s highly secretive six-man war cabinet, issued a manifesto proclaiming WMD to be a high priority for the group. The document, seized by an Iraqi special forces unit, was apparently distributed among top commanders to familiarize them with the IS’s NR doctrine.

Compared to its “sister” organizations, IS is well positioned to implement its apocalyptic plans. After occupying Mosul, IS confiscated 40 kg. of low-enriched uranium (LEU) from Mosul University. While LEU is not suitable for an SRD per se, IS claimed that the group had used it to construct a dirty bomb.

Whatever strategy IS uses to obtain its doomsday weapon, “The Perfect Storm” article and other sources indicate that the organization has amassed a considerable fortune of approximately 2 billion dollars.

According to Cantlie, IS has more than enough resources to purchase NR materials from traffickers or corrupt officials in Pakistan or elsewhere.

The United States and Islam: What Is Going On?

December 22, 2015

The United States and Islam: What Is Going On? Gatestone InstituteAmir Taheri, December 22, 2015

♦ The irony is that no major power in recent history has gone out of its way as has the United States to help, respect, please and, yes, appease Islam. And, yet, no other nation has been a victim of vilification, demonization, and violence on the part of the Islamists as has the U.S.

♦ The politically correct crowd has turned Islam into a new taboo. They brand any criticism of Islam as racist, ethnocentrist or simply vile, all crammed together in the new category of “Islamophobia.” Is it Islamophobia to question a religion whose Middle East leaders often preach “Death to America” and hatred for Western values?

♦ More prevalent than Islamophobia is Islamophilia, as leftists treat Muslims as children whose feathers should not be ruffled. The Islamophilia crowd invites Americans and Europeans to sacrifice part of their own freedom in atonement of largely imaginary sins against Muslims in the colonial and imperialist era.

♦ Many Muslims resent the kind of flattery that takes them for idiots at a time that Islam and Muslims badly need to be criticized. The world needs to wake up and ask: What is going on?

With Americans still trying to absorb the shock of San Bernardino massacre, the perennial debate about “why do they hate us” is on with more intensity than ever since 9/11. The irony is that no major power in recent history has gone out of its way as has the United States to help, respect, please and, yes, appease Islam. And, yet, no other nation has been a victim of vilification, demonization, and violence on the part of the Islamists as has the U.S.

Both Presidents John Adams and Thomas Jefferson tried to appease the Islamist pirates of North Africa in the hope of persuading them to cease their raids on U.S. commercial ships and stop capturing Americans and selling them as slaves in the Mediterranean. They sent peace missions laden with gifts and cash, and flattered the pirates, successors to Kheireddin, the Red Bearded One, in almost lyrical terms. In the end, however, they had to take military action to cut the head off the snake. However, the episode was soon forgotten, except in the U.S. Marine Corps, where it became part of its folklore, and the U.S., a nation built on the principle of religious freedom, resumed its benevolent attitude towards Islam.

I remember back in the 1980s, the diplomat then in charge of the United Sates counterterrorism program, Robert Oakley, insisted that the U.S. will never be targeted by homegrown Islamist terrorists because it was “their final destination, their last best hope.”

That was the time when groups controlled by Ayatollah Khomeini kidnapped or killed Americans in the Middle East.

So what happened to make that “final destination” a stopover to paradise for martyrs?

Why do so many Muslims hate Americans to the point of wanting to massacre them in their offices as in 9/11 or at a Christmas Party at San Bernardino — despite the fact that the United States is the only major power in modern times to offer Muslims a helping hand when they needed it?

Wasn’t it President Woodrow Wilson who insisted at the end of the First World War that the main European imperial powers of the day, Great Britain and France, publicly commit to respecting the right of self-determination for nations freed from the Ottoman yoke? The Americans invented the idea of “mandates” under the League of Nations to prevent the European imperialist world-grabbers from turning their Muslim conquests in the Middle East into a new colonial galaxy. Without that, there would probably have been no independent Arab states in the Levant, at least for decades.

And wasn’t it President Harry Truman who in 1946 used eyeball-to-eyeball diplomacy against Soviet despot Josef Stalin to force him to take Russian occupation troops out of Iran’s northwestern provinces and forget about his plan of creating a Soviet Iranistan? (At the time the Soviets hadn’t yet developed a nuclear arsenal and thought twice before provoking a clash with the U.S.)

It was President Truman again who prevented the British from sharing out mandatory Palestine among their Arab clients, having already taken a big chunk of it to create an emirate for their Hashemite protégés on the east bank of the Jordan.

And it was thanks to U.S. sending the Marines in the nick of time in 1958 that both Lebanon and Jordan managed to retain their independence and avoided becoming early versions of what is Syria today.

Then we had the 1956 crisis, when Britain and France invaded Egypt to prevent the nationalization of the Suez Canal. Wasn’t it President Dwight Eisenhower who went against American’s oldest allies to let the Egyptians assert their national sovereignty?

From 1961 onwards, President John F. Kennedy exerted immense pressure on France and used his charm on General De Gaulle to accelerate progress towards Algeria’s independence. In 1997 Redha Malik, a former Prime Minister of Algeria and key negotiator with France, told me that throughout the Evian peace talks, the Algerian team knew it had “a strong friend in Washington.”

In the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, triggered by Egyptian dictator Gamal Abdul-Nasser’s quixotic attempt at imposing a blockade in the Strait of Tiran, the U.S. used its clout to persuade the Israelis to stop the war after only six days. In his memoirs, the long-standing Soviet apparatchik and future Prime Minister, Yevgeni Primakov, claims that the Israelis wanted to complete their destruction of Arab air forces by wiping out Nasser’s heavy weapons on the ground as well. It was under American pressure that the Israelis agreed to temper their appetite for victory and accepted a ceasefire under the auspices of the United Nations.

The Nasserist regime could live to fight another day, which came in 1973. In the October 1973 war, too, U.S. intervention helped restrain the Israelis, who had built up an invasion force under General Ariel Sharon a stone’s-throw from Cairo.

In the Camp David talks that led to peace between Egypt and Israel, intense pressure by President Jimmy Carter forced the Israelis to abandon plans to maintain “security enclaves” inside the Sinai Peninsula, thereby helping President Anwar Sadat recover all of Egypt’s lost territory.

In 1982 a multinational force, led by the United States, intervened in Lebanon to stop the Israeli advance beyond the Litani River. That force also helped save the lives of Yasser Arafat and his close associates in the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) when, trapped in Beirut, they risked being captured or killed by the Israelis. President Ronald Reagan even arranged for Arafat and his entourage a safe passage to Tunisia, free of charge.

During the lengthy crisis that led to the disintegration of Yugoslavia, the U.S., having at first hesitated to intervene under President George H.W. Bush, assumed a leadership position under President Bill Clinton and helped save the lives of many Muslims in Bosnia-Herzegovina, where a Serbian ethnic cleansing master plan was in full application. Later, it was also U.S. military power that helped Kosovo’s Albanian majority, overwhelmingly Muslim, achieve independence. Ethnic Albanian leader Ibrahim Rugova told me in an interview that he had counted on “Europe’s conscience to wake up” only to see that it was “the American cavalry” that in the end came to the rescue, while the Europeans “danced around the dying man.”

The U.S. was the only major power to have no state-owned oil company and thus never used its military clout to obtain a share of the Middle East’s energy resources.

Should Muslims hate Americans because they refused to disband their military bases on Islamic lands? Again, history shows that the U.S. was the only major power prepared to pack up and leave as soon as its hosts showed it the door.

In 1969, an astonished Col. Moammar Khadafy watched as the Americans closed one of their most important military bases in the Mediterranean, Wheelus, located on Libyan territory, as soon as his newly installed military government asked Washington to leave. A couple of years earlier, it had taken months of bloody battles and tens of thousands of lives before South Yemen was able to force Britain to close its base in Aden.

In 1979, the U.S. had 27,000 military personnel in Iran, operating “listening posts” set up as part of the strategic arms limitation accords to monitor Soviet missile tests. But when the new Islamic regime led by Khomeini asked the U.S. to close the listening posts, which had been approved by the Soviets as well, the Americans did no foot-dragging. The only Americans left behind were diplomats, soon to be seized as hostages by Khomeinist militants.

We witnessed a repeat of that in the 1990s on a grander scale, when the Americans simply packed up and left when the Saudis asked them to close their bases after driving Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait, tangentially also saving Saudi Arabia from Iraqi occupation.

That the U.S. was a friend of Muslims and of Islam was again illustrated when American power helped drive the Soviets out of Afghanistan and, later, liberate Afghans and Iraqis, a total of 50 million Muslims, from the vicious domination of Taliban and the Ba’ath Party.

In 2005, Iraqi Oil Minister Hussein Sharestani was publicly wondering why the Americans were not coming to “steal our oil,” which anti-U.S. propaganda claimed had been Washington’s key objective in toppling Saddam Hussein. We left there, too.

During the past six decades, the U.S. has been by far the largest donor of aid to more than 40 of the 57 Muslim-majority nations. In the 1940s and ’50s, tens of millions of Muslims were saved from starvation and famine thanks to U.S. food aid. And the Point IV program, launched by President Truman, helped eradicate a number of endemic diseases, including smallpox and malaria, which killed large numbers of Muslims each year.

Many Muslims nations have been annually receiving large checks from the U.S. for decades, among them Egypt, which gets $2 billion, and Pakistan, the homeland of San Bernardino killer Syed Farook, which gets $1 billion.

1395After the San Bernardino massacre carried out by jihadists Syed Farook (right) and Tashfeen Malik (left), the perennial debate about “why do they hate us” is on with more intensity than ever since 9/11.

When the last Islamic Caliph was driven out of Turkey in 1924, he went into exile first to France and then to the United States, where his descendants lived in New York. In fact, the last pretender to the Islamic Caliphate, Ertugul Osman V, died in Manhattan in 2009.

An open society, the U.S. has always welcomed Islamic exiles of all kinds, including some of its own bitter enemies. The only time that the pan-Islamist Hezbollah movement, founded and led by Iran, has ever held an international conference outside Iran or Lebanon was in Austin Texas in 1986, when a number of Latin American branches of the movement were created. Hundreds of former high-ranking Khomeinist civilian and military officials and clerics have ended up in the U.S. as exiles, while many others have their children attending U.S. schools and universities.

Today, half of Islamic Republic President Hassan Rouhani’s closest aides are holders of PhDs from U.S. universities, among them his Chief of Staff, Muhammad Nahavandian, a Green Card holder, and his Foreign Minister Muhammad Javad Zarif. (The other half consists of former holders of U.S. hostages in Tehran, among them Defense Minister Hussein Dehqan and Environmental director Masoumeh Ebtekar.)

Quite a few of Osama bin Laden’s 50 or so siblings are either holders of U.S. passports or green cards, along with thousands of other Saudis.

Unlike Russia, which has a 200-year history of war against Muslims, having annexed Islamic land at the rate of one square kilometer a day during the 19th century, the U.S. never annexed any Muslim-majority nation. And unlike China, which is still holding its Muslim minority, the Uighurs, in East Turkestan (Xinjiang) surrounded by a ring of steel, the U.S. is not trying to stop a Muslim nation’s aspiration after self-determination.

In the 1990s, when Saudi Arabia normalized ties with the People’s Republic of China, it shut down the offices of the Uighur exiles in Jeddah. Where did the exiles transfer to? The answer is: Washington DC, since neither Muslim nations nor Europeans would agree to host them.

Since the 1970s, the U.S. has been host to more than five million Muslims from all over the world, many of them fleeing brutal Islamist regimes in their homelands. In a conversation in 2002, Princeton Professor Bernard Lewis expressed the hope that Muslims in the United States and other Western democracies could become “beacons of enlightenment” projecting light back to their old counties. Many of us shared that hope.

Now, however, we see that the opposite is happening. Instead of exporting “light” back to the Muslim world, a growing number of Muslims in Western democracies have become importers of darkness in their new abodes.

Worse still, the politically correct crowd has turned Islam into a new taboo. They brand any criticism of Islam as racist, ethnocentrist or simply vile, all crammed together in the new category of “Islamophobia.”

Is it Islamophobia to question a religion whose Middle East leaders often preach “Death to America” and hatred for Western values?

More prevalent than Islamophobia is Islamophilia, as leftists treat Muslims as children whose feathers should not be ruffled.

The Islamophilia crowd does great disservice to both Western democracies and to Islam itself.

They invite Americans and Europeans to sacrifice part of their own freedom in atonement of largely imaginary sins against Muslims in the colonial and imperialist era. They also invite Muslims in the West to learn how to pose as victims and demand the rewards of victimhood as is the fashion in Europe and America. To the Muslim world at large, the message of Islamophilia is that Muslims need no criticism, although their faith is being transformed into a number of conflicting ideologies dedicated to violence and terror.

Never mind if Islamic theology is all but dead. To say so would be a sign of Islamophobia.

Never mind that God makes only a cameo appearance in mosque sermons almost entirely obsessed with political issues.

All that Western intellectuals or leaders need to do is stop flattering Islam, as President Obama has been doing for the past seven years, claiming that virtually anything worthwhile under the sun has its origin in Islam.

Many Muslims resent that kind of flattery, which takes them for idiots at a time that Islam and Muslims badly need to be criticized. The world needs to wake from its slumber and ask: What is going on?