Monday, December 11, 2017

Anti-Israel Times Square rally: ‘Muhammed’s army will return’ - Mordechai Sones




by Mordechai Sones


'Protesters started yelling about killing Jews and saying intifada is the only solution. That was the undertone for the entire march.'

A large protest held in New York City’s Times Square on Friday against US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital featured chants calling for violence and the destruction of the Jewish state, Algemeiner Journal has reported.



In video footage captured by the advocacy group Reservists on Duty (RoD), protesters clad in keffiyehs and waving Palestinian flags can be seen shouting in Arabic, “Khaybar, Khaybar, oh Jews, the army of Muhammed is returning.” The slogan refers to a 7th century battle fought by the Islamic prophet Muhammad against Jewish tribes, and is often invoked by Islamist terrorist groups including Hamas and Hezbollah.

An RoD activist who filmed the rally and requested to remain anonymous said that a few protesters were detained by police officers. “It got really heated,” the activist said. “Protesters started yelling about killing the Jews and saying intifada is the only solution. That was the undertone for the entire march, but then it really came out.”



Anti-Israel rally in Times Square
Reuters

Pro Israel protestor at Times Square rally
Reuters


Mordechai Sones

Source: https://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/239125

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IDF neutralizes Hamas terror tunnel on Gaza border - Lilach Shoval and Gadi Golan




by Lilach Shoval and Gadi Golan

IDF says tunnel was in advanced stages of completion, posed no threat to Israeli citizens.




A Hamas-dug attack tunnel recently discovered with advanced 
IDF technology
Photo: IDF Spokesperson's Unit

The IDF neutralized an attack tunnel on Saturday night that had been dug under Israel's border with Gaza, the military announced Sunday.

The tunnel, believed to have been dug by the terrorist group Hamas, was dug several hundred meters into Israeli territory from the Khan Younis area of Gaza.

The announcement, cleared by Israeli censors who had previously barred reports of detection work around the central Gaza border, followed a surge of Palestinian unrest in response to last week's U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The discovery of the tunnel comes just over a month after Israel detonated a similar cross-border attack tunnel dug by Islamic Jihad.

The latest tunnel, like its predecessors, was uncovered by the Israeli military with the help of advanced technological tools complemented by intelligence and operational efforts.

The tunnel destroyed Saturday was in advanced stages of completion, much closer to being operational than the Islamic Jihad tunnel that was destroyed a month earlier. The opening of the tunnel, which was not yet complete, was situated in an agricultural area inside Israel, several kilometers from any Israeli community.

The tunnel was not detonated, like the last tunnel that was discovered, but was neutralized in a "quiet" manner, to avoid being heard in Gaza.

After the news of the neutralization was made public Sunday, IDF Spokesman Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis remarked: "Hamas' tunnel project suffered a devastating blow tonight. Over the last few weeks, we have been working to pinpoint the exact location of the tunnel. We gained full control over the tunnel and tonight we neutralized it permanently."

The IDF stressed that the operation was conducted entirely within Israeli territory, without any entry into Gaza. Manelis noted in addition that there were no known Palestinian casualties as a result of the operation.

"We have a system, which takes time," Manelis added. "But the results are significant."

"The tunnel posed no threat to the citizens of Israel. It was kilometers away from any residential area," he said. "But this was a blatant and obvious violation of Israeli sovereignty.

"Hamas is responsible for everything that comes out of the Gaza Strip – in the air, in the sea and underground. We will not allow our sovereignty to be compromised in any way. We will take decisive action against this flagship Hamas project. I advise anyone who chooses to challenge Israeli sovereignty to take the cost into account. The tunnels will turn into death traps," Manelis pledged.

Sources in the military reported that at this stage, no weapons have been found inside the tunnel, but added that the tunnel had not been fully searched yet. According to Manelis, the construction of the tunnel was at a very high standard, equipped with electricity, communications equipment and a ventilation system.

"Hamas views tunnels as extremely important," he said.

A network of Gaza tunnels allowed Hamas gunmen to blindside Israel's superior military during the 2014 Operation Protective Edge, and Israel has since stepped up work on countermeasures.

Manelis also noted that Saturday's operation had been scheduled weeks ago and was not linked in any way to the American recognition of Jerusalem or the consequent unrest.


Lilach Shoval and Gadi Golan

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/2017/12/10/idf-neutralizes-hamas-terror-tunnel-on-gaza-border/

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Powerful Iraqi militant appears on Lebanon-Israel border - News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff




by News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff 

Lebanese PM Saad Hariri orders al-Khazali banned from country, calls visit "flagrant violation" of the law.




Shiite Iraqi militia leader Qais al-Khazali at the Fatima Gate 
on the border with Israel in southern Lebanon 
Screenshot: AP

A powerful Iranian-backed Iraqi militant commander has visited the Lebanon-Israel border expressing support for the Lebanese and Palestinians against the Jewish state and sparking harsh criticism from Lebanon's prime minister who ordered him banned from entering the country.

Qais al-Khazali is commander of the Iranian-backed Asaib Ahl al-Haq, or League of the Righteous, a group that staged spectacular attacks against U.S. troops before their withdrawal from Iraq in 2011. He appeared in military uniform in a video while touring the border with Israel along with members of Lebanon's terrorist Hezbollah group.

"We declare our full readiness to stand with the Lebanese people and the Palestinian cause against the unjust Israeli occupation that is hostile to Islam, Arabs and humanity," he said.

The visit could be seen as a message to Israel that a possible war with Hezbollah in the future would bring into the country Iran-backed fighters from around the region at a time when Iranian-backed groups have a major presence in Syria and Iraq.

The visit was blasted by Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri who said in a statement that it is a "flagrant violation" of Lebanese laws, adding that the appearance happened six days ago. Hariri ordered al-Khazali banned from entering Lebanon again.

Hariri's office said the prime minister contacted security officials to investigate the incident and prevent any person or group from carrying out any military activities on Lebanese territory.

The video was aired by Asaib Ahl al-Haq al-Ahd TV station Thursday night showing al-Khazali along with several other people in military uniforms as they showed him around areas overlooking Israeli towns and villages.

In the video, an unidentified commander, presumably from Hezbollah, gestures toward IDF outposts in northern Israel and explains to al-Khazali that they were hit by Hezbollah missiles in previous confrontations between the group and Israel.

"We are now on the border separating southern Lebanon with occupied Palestine with our brothers in Hezbollah, and announce our full preparedness to stand united … against the Israeli occupier," al-Khazali said in the video.

Al-Khazali is later seen standing next to a wall on the border near the Fatima Gate in the Lebanese border village of Kfar Kila.

Al-Khazali's Asaib Ahl al-Haq and Hezbollah are among the Iranian-backed groups that are fighting in Syria along with Syrian President Bashar Assad's forces helping in tipping the balance of power in his favor in Syria's conflict now in its seventh year.

Jawad al-Tlebawy, a spokesman for Asaib Ahl al-Haq in Baghdad, said that the trip to the Lebanon-Israel border occurred after this week's decision by U.S. President Donald Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

Hariri's office said it happened several days before Trump's decision, which has triggered widespread protests throughout the Arab and Muslim world.

A commander in an alliance between Hezbollah, Iran and Russia, said al-Khazali was accompanied by officers from Asaib Ahl al-Haq and visited the entire border with "occupied Palestine."

The commander did not say when the visit took place.

Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah said in June that any future war waged by Israel against Syria or Lebanon could draw in fighters from countries including Iran and Iraq.


News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

Source: http://www.israelhayom.com/2017/12/10/powerful-iraqi-militant-appears-on-lebanon-israel-border/

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Newsflash: Jerusalem Not on Fire! - Bassam Tawil




by Bassam Tawil

"More journalists than protesters..." — Björn Stritzel, German journalist.

  • "More journalists than protesters..." — Björn Stritzel, German journalist.
  • Protests against Israel and the US are not uncommon on the streets of Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem. But for the "war correspondents," there is nothing more exciting than standing behind burning tires and stone throwers and reporting from the heart of the "clashes." Such scenes make the journalists look as if they are in the middle of a battlefield and are risking their lives to bring the story home to their viewers. They might even receive an award for their "courageous" reporting from danger zones!
  • Jerusalem is tense, and has long been so, because the Palestinians have not yet managed to come to terms with Israel's right to exist. That is the real story. The Palestinians rage and rage for only one reason: because Israel exists. Put that in a story and publish it.
The Palestinians declared a three-day-long "rage" spree over US President Donald Trump's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Thus far, however, it seems that the real anger is showing up in the international media, not on the Palestinian street.

Question: How many foreign journalists does it take to cover the Palestinian reaction to Trump's announcement? Answer: As many as the Israel-Palestinian-conflict-obsessed-West can manage to send.

The massive presence of the international media in Jerusalem and the West Bank has taken even the Palestinians by surprise. Since Trump's announcement on December 6, dozens of additional journalists and camera crews have converged on Israel to cover "the big story."

The American Colony Hotel in Jerusalem, once a favorite haunt of international reporters, is once again packed with journalists from around the world.

Some of these reporters, including those working for American networks, have been flown in from their working posts in London, Paris, Cairo and New York to cover what many of them are already calling the "New Palestinian Intifada." But is it really a new intifada, or is it simply wishful thinking on the part of the swarm of Palestinian and foreign reporters?

In the past few days, we have seen wild exaggeration in the media as to what is really happening in and around the Old City of Jerusalem. What is evident, however, is that the number of journalists and photographers covering the protests in the city has thus far exceeded the number of Palestinian protesters.

Let us start with Friday, December 8, the final day of the announced Palestinian "rage." The Palestinian Authority, Hamas and other Palestinian groups told us to expect mass rallies and protests after Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound. So did the reporters.

By early morning, at least six television production trucks were stationed in the small parking lot outside the Damascus Gate, the main entrance to the Old City of Jerusalem. The trucks belonged to various television stations were presumably brought there to film live broadcasts of the anticipated mass protests. Another 70-80 journalists and photographers were waiting, some impatiently, for the Muslim worshippers to finish their prayers and start their protests against President Trump's announcement.

What we got in the end was a small and peaceful protest of some 40 Palestinians, who chanted slogans against Israel, the US and Arab leaders -- including Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas, who was dubbed a "traitor" and "Israeli spy."

Björn Stritzel, an honest and brave German journalist, tweeted from the scene: "More journalists than protesters after Friday prayers."

The media frenzy was echoed by several other reporters. "Three days of 'rage' have passed since Trump's Jerusalem declaration and Armageddon hasn't arrived," remarked journalist Oren Kessler. "One is loath to make predictions of continued calm in the region, but thus far the doomsday prophecies have not materialized."

French journalist Piotr Smolar, who also waited for the "big" protest, wrote: "Dozens and dozens of journalists at Damascus gate, where nothing has happened until now."

Joe Dyke, a reporter with Agence France Press (AFP), tweeted this photo showing more journalists than protesters at Damascus Gate. He wrote: "Small Palestinian protest at Damascus Gate in Jerusalem broken up by the Israeli police. They seemed to object to a picture of Trump as a toilet."

Dyke later reported that he had "just walked through Jerusalem's Old City and the situation is very calm. More police on streets but no issues as yet. Tourists milling about."

The following day, Saturday December 9, we witnessed a repetition of the same scenario in Jerusalem. The city was relatively quiet, but the presence of journalists and photographers loomed large. At noon, a small group of Palestinians (25-30) staged a protest on the main business thoroughfare of east Jerusalem, Salah Eddin Street, while chanting slogans against Israel and the US.

Here is how the journalist Seth Frantzman of The Jerusalem Post, who was at the scene, described the situation: "There are more people with cameras here than anyone clashing (with police) at the moment."

Frantzman later had this to say about the "clash": "There are as many media and onlookers taking photos here as there are youth and police waiting for the clashes."

There are nearly 300,000 Arabs living in Jerusalem, and the truth is that the vast majority did not take part in any of the small protests, which were staged deliberately as a show for the dozens of journalists who converged on the city. In fact, there were more protesters on the streets of Berlin, Cairo, Valencia (Spain) and Istanbul than in Jerusalem itself. With the exception of the two incidents at Damascus Gate and Salah Eddin Street, the remaining 28 Arab neighborhoods of Jerusalem were mostly quiet, with nothing dramatic happening.

The bored journalists were forced to don their helmets and bullet-proof vests and head to the West Bank, in the hope of capturing scenes of the "New Intifada." What they found in the West Bank, however, was not unusual: minor "clashes" between stone throwers and Israeli soldiers occur almost every day.

Protests against Israel and the US are not uncommon on the streets of Ramallah, Hebron and Bethlehem. But for the "war correspondents," there is nothing more exciting than standing behind burning tires and stone throwers and reporting from the heart of the "clashes." Such scenes make the journalists look as if they are in the middle of a battlefield and are risking their lives to bring the story home to their viewers. They might even receive an award for their "courageous" reporting from danger zones!

That is what happens when you are afraid to go to Yemen, Libya, Syria or Iraq to cover the real bloodshed.

Let us be frank. The large number of journalists dispatched to Israel expected -- even hoped -- that Trump's announcement would trigger a new Palestinian intifada.

This way, the media could blame Trump for "igniting violence," instigating instability and "derailing" the peace process. It is all about media-based Trump-hatred. Of course, it is also about media-based Israel-hatred, searching for any excuse to blame the Jews for the "suffering" of the Palestinians. The journalists, however, will not let those pesky facts get in their way; they continue to report as if Jerusalem is engulfed in flames. The reality on the ground, though, is far from that.


A Palestinian man uses a slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli border police near Ramallah, on December 9, 2017. (Photo by Chris McGrath/Getty Images)

No peace process is about to be "derailed," for the simple reason that there was not one on the first place -- and there has not been one for years. Why? Mostly thanks to Palestinian rejectionism, indoctrination and incitement. The protests and violence we are witnessing in parts of Jerusalem and the West Bank constitute daily life here. It is not as if the Palestinians have not been carrying out terror attacks against Israel all these years. And it is not as if the Palestinians used to love Israel -- or even recognized its right to exist -- until Trump made his announcement last week.

Newsflash for the journalists: There's nothing new on the Palestinian street. Palestinian threats of violence and walking out of any "peace process" is old, old news. Jerusalem is not on fire. Jerusalem is tense, and has long been so, because the Palestinians have not yet managed to come to terms with Israel's right to exist. That is the real story. The Palestinians rage and rage and rage for only one reason: because Israel exists. Put that in a story and publish it.

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/11523/jerusalem-not-on-fire

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Why Did Islamic State Kill So Many Sufis in Sinai? - Denis MacEoin




by Denis MacEoin

The massacre in Sinai was not simply another Islamic State attack on people it considered heretics -- but an assault on everyday mainstream Islam in Egypt, a declaration of apostasy for the vast majority of Egyptian Muslims.

  • A 2007 report by the Rand Corporation advised Western governments to "harness" Sufism, saying its adherents were "natural allies of the West."
  • In the end, the Sufi parties are outnumbered by those of their Salafi opponents, meaning that the brotherhoods and the wider Sufi-oriented public must look to the state for protection. In that context, it is important to stress that the massacre in Sinai was not simply another Islamic State attack on people it considered heretics (effectively, in their interpretation of Shari'a law, non-believers), but an assault on everyday mainstream Islam in Egypt, a declaration of apostasy for the vast majority of Egyptian Muslims.
The massive November 24 terrorist attack by Islamic State on a Sufi mosque in a town of little importance, Bir al-Abd, in northern Sinai, resounded across the world. Despite the presence of members of the security services, the al-Rawda mosque also serves as the local headquarters of a prominent Sufi Brotherhood founded by the local al-Jarir clan, a branch of the powerful Al-Sawarkah tribe. The number of dead, somewhat over 300, were shockingly high, yet not higher than the tolls in two earlier Islamic State massacres. In 2014, IS fighters killed 700 men of the Shu'aytat tribe in Dayr al-Zur. "Over a three-day period, vengeful fighters shelled, beheaded, crucified and shot hundreds of members of the Shaitat tribe after they dared to rise up against the extremists." In 2016, a series of bombings in Karrada, a Shi'i district of Baghdad, took some 347 lives.

Islamic State -- though defeated in Syria and Iraq -- remains a major threat in many parts of the world. Its fighters returning to Europe have carried out attacks in Brussels and Paris, and yet others have been welcomed back by naïve government agencies who hope to make them into innocent citizens again by rewarding them with benefits and housing.

In a stunning list of attacks, CNN has identified Islamic State as a global threat: Since declaring itself a caliphate in June 2014, the self-proclaimed "State" has conducted or inspired over 140 terrorist attacks in 29 countries in addition to Iraq and Syria, where its carnage has taken a much deadlier toll. Those attacks have killed and wounded thousands of people.

The massacre at Bir al-Abed is not the first time Islamic State has attacked a Sufi shrine or mosque, nor is it the first time Sufi Muslims have been attacked by Salafi hardliners. Everything and everyone deemed by IS leaders to be "unIslamic" or "insufficiently Islamic" are eligible to be killed or demolished. Ancient sites in Syria; Shi'i Muslims, their mosques and shrines in Iraq; and Yazidis in northern Syria and Iraq have all been the objects of major attacks, in many ways echoing similar massacres by the Wahhabis of Arabia in the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

It is easy to trace the recent attack to deep-seated Islamic intolerance, both scriptural and traditional. But the massacre in Sinai raises particular concerns missed by much of the media outside Egypt itself. Fundamentalist Muslims certainly do regard Sufis, Shi'is, Ahmadis, and believers in post-Islamic movements such as the Baha'is, or even followers of reformist trends of Islam as apostates worthy of death as much as they regard Hindus, Buddhists, Yazidis, Sikhs and others as targets for Muslim outrage.

Sufism, however, is more difficult to define, especially in Egypt. The Sufi form of Islam is not and has never been a sect that has broken away from the mainstream faith. Sufis believe in exactly the same things other Muslims believe. Its intellectuals and poets down the centuries have developed mystical and metaphysical ideas that have elevated Islam above its basic origins, producing some of the most outstanding thinkers in the religion. But many of these mystics have served as authorities on Islamic law, as judges, and as government officials.

From the 12th century, Sufis established growing numbers of religious brotherhoods that took Islamic practice in new directions. Sufis perform the daily prayers in mosques the same as all other Muslims. Sufis fast and go on pilgrimages just as anyone else. In the past, they would fight in jihad wars alongside (and even in advance of) others, often building their sacred centres on the borders. Most Sufis are Sunnis: there are very few Shi'i brotherhoods.

In due course, Sufism spread to every corner of the Muslim world, with particular concentrations across North Africa and the Indian sub-continent. The originally Moroccan Shadhili order remains influential as far as South Asia, the Indian Ocean, and Indonesia. One of its several branches is based in Yemen, with followers in Pakistan, India, and Myanmar. Another branch has followers in Egypt, Indonesia, Turkey, and the United States.

In 19th-century Egypt, virtually every Muslim belonged to one Sufi order or another. Clearly, it is not a negligible sect. In modern Egypt, 20% or more of the Muslim population belongs to a brotherhood, but Egyptians in general visit Sufi shrines on festivals, pray at the tombs of Sufi saints, and engage with Sufis without any great sense of difference, sharing mosques, schools, clubs, and more simply as fellow believers in Islam. According to Jonathan Brown, writing for the Carnegie Foundation: "Sufism should be seen as the default setting of Muslim religious life in Egypt".

In a recent article for The Atlantic, H. A. Hewllyer makes this point even more strongly:
Until relatively recently, it would have been unthinkable for students in Muslim communities to consider Sufism anything other than an integral part of a holistic Islamic education. The essentials of theology, practice, and spirituality — that is, Sufism — were deemed basic, core elements of even elementary Islamic instruction. And religious figures known for their commitment to Sufism would not have been considered a minority; they would have been by far the norm. Indeed, the very label of an Egyptian "Sufi minority" being bandied about since the mosque attack is a peculiar one: Sufism isn't a sect — it's integral to mainstream Sunni Islam.
Most notably, the head of Cairo's al-Azhar university, regarded as the most important Sunni institution of religious authority and Islamic law in the world, is always a Sufi shaykh. Egypt's Grand Mufti is also a leading Sufi practitioner. The Supreme Council of Sufi Orders deals with the brotherhoods at state level, as a quasi-governmental organization. This alone indicates that Sufism is very far from being a sectarian form of Islam. It may be forbidden in Wahhabi Saudi Arabia, persecuted in Iran, and hated by hardliners in Pakistan, but to most Egyptians, it is a part of everyday life.


The head of Cairo's al-Azhar University, regarded as the most important Sunni institution of religious authority and Islamic law in the world, is always a Sufi shaykh. To most Egyptians, Sufism is a part of everyday life. Pictured: Shaykh Ahmad Al-Tayeb, the current Grand Imam of al-Azhar and former president of al-Azhar University. (Photo by Steffi Loos/Getty Images)

After the revolution to overthrow President Hosni Mubarak, starting on January 25, 2011, the political situation in Egypt changed markedly. For a full year, Muslim Brotherhood-supported Mohamed Morsi served as president and rapidly shifted the country to a virtual Islamist state. In 2013, however, he was ousted in a coup led by Field Marshal Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, who became president the following year. When that happened, Egyptian Sufis placed their trust in al-Sisi to protect them from the Salafi extremists, who had been assaulting them and their holy places for many years.[1]

During this period, a more contentious political arrangement emerged, with the formation of new parties and the banning of others. The Muslim Brotherhood's political wing, the Freedom and Justice Party, which had won a massive 47.2% of votes in parliament in the 2011-2012 elections, was banned in 2014. But other radical Salafist parties emerged, forming an Islamist Bloc, in which the al-Nour party is now the largest. There were over eleven such parties, and though a lawsuit designed to ban them and other religious parties was files in 2013, it did not succeed.

For all their mystical values, Sufis have never been altogether apolitical. They are often involved in military and revolutionary activities. In Egypt, as early as 2011, some Sufi political parties were formed, beginning with the Egyptian Liberation Party (Hizb al-tahrir al-Misri).[2] The Rifa'i Order, one of the largest, created the smaller Sawt al-Hurriyya (Voice of Freedom) party. The Egyptian Liberation Party is strongly supported by the 'Azmiyya Order, but numbers in its ranks Armenians, Muslims, Copts, and Nubians. Its members have also marched alongside Coptic Christians calling for equal rights. Designed to protect the Sufi brotherhoods and the Supreme Council of Sufi Orders, it is portrayed as a reformist civic party. Its political and socio-economic policies would fit well in any Western democracy, and its opposition to extremism and violence presents a real challenge to its Salafi opponents. Indeed, a 2007 report by the Rand Corporation advised Western governments to "harness" Sufism, saying its adherents were "natural allies of the West."

The Egyptian Liberation Party and Sufis generally have been broadly supportive of President al-Sisi. At a conference in Cairo this April, the head of the 'Azmiyya Order, Shaykh 'Alaa Abu'l-'Azayem, told a journalist from Al-Monitor:
"I have told President [Abdel Fattah] al-Sisi to take care of the Sufi leaders. We are the ones who stand against terrorism, fighting not with weapons but ideas."
This is not to say that the new political activism of some orders has been universally accepted by the Sufi community as a whole. The Grand Shaykh of the Orders, 'Abd al-Hadi al-Qassabi, has been highly critical of the shift from spirituality into politics, and further rifts have followed.

In the end, the Sufi parties are outnumbered by those of their Salafi opponents, meaning that the brotherhoods and the wider Sufi-oriented public must look to the state for protection. In that context, it is important to stress that the massacre in Sinai was not simply another Islamic State attack on people it considered heretics (effectively, in their interpretation of Shari'a law, non-believers), but an assault on everyday mainstream Islam in Egypt, a declaration of apostasy for the vast majority of Egyptian Muslims.

As the core constituency for the Muslim Brotherhood and a major centre for Salafi Islam, Egypt cannot afford further divisions within its society. A breakdown of its present consensus could lead to wider strife. With Islamic State active in Libya, Sinai, and Sudan -- already a radicalized country; with Syria in a state of collapse and Lebanon in peril, controlled by Hizbullah, Gaza still controlled by Hamas, Turkey increasingly radical, IS increasingly active in Jordan, and Israel stuck in the middle, the stability of Egypt is paramount for Middle East peace. Should the Salafis allied to the Muslim Brotherhood and linked to Islamic State in Sinai take control of Egypt, we may be sure that the fragile peace treaty the country maintains with Israel will collapse. It is at all costs essential that that must not happen, not just for the sake of Israel, but for the benefit of the vast majority of the Egyptian public, as well as for the region.
Dr. Denis MacEoin taught Arabic and Islamic Studies (including Sufism) at Newcastle University. He is currently a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.

[1] For several accounts about Sufism in Egypt before 2013, see here
[2] Not to be confused with the international extremist body, Hizb ut-Tahrir.


Dr. Denis MacEoin taught Arabic and Islamic Studies (including Sufism) at Newcastle University. He is currently a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/11492/islamic-state-sinai-attack

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Venezuela's Final Chapter - Steve Campbell




by Steve Campbell

With changing oil markets, the endgame is due for Venezuela's Maduro regime.


Venezuela is rapidly collapsing under its dictator’s extreme folly and malevolence. Changing market conditions will accelerate the demise. What next?

Some further research confirms that sanctions are unnecessary. 

Shortages to the Point of Famine

The situation is so desperate in the capital that the zoo animals that are not starving to death are being routinely rustled and slaughtered for food. Venezuelan journalist Sabrina Martín reports in the Panama Post that dogs, cats, and pigeons are being hunted in Caracas (and we assume most everywhere else).
Through Twitter, Muchacho (Mayor of Chacao in Caracas) reported…
…there are people “hunting” cats and dogs in the streets, and pigeons in the plazas, to eat. This is not a joke. It is a very painful reality.
The situation created by the corrupt incompetents has already visited horrors on the Venezuelan people and there is little we can do to help. Donations of food and medicine are being seized by the regime and food distribution is now under military control. International mail has been suspended because the regime will not pay foreign airlines that carry it.

The Chavez/Maduro subjugation of Venezuela is a clear example of a Soviet-style class-warfare program aimed at reducing the population to a poverty-stricken dependent remainder that will be easy to control. Any resistance will be met by creating a population of gulag-resident absolute slaves -- to take care of all the “dirty jobs." 

To sum it all up, there is little we could do to make things worse and no need. Maduro’s malevolence is driving the populace to abject servitude and the economy to ruin.

Catastrophic Oil Production Decline

Notice the graph of total U.S. imports of crude, below:
Figure 1: Imports to the U.S. by suppliers
Clearly, U.S. oil imports are down significantly between 2005 and 2015.

Just as clearly, the suppliers have all lost ground except for Canada, which has about doubled. A recent article by Tom DiChristopher reports that Venezuela’s total exports have dropped 21-25% between Dec 2015 to Oct 2017 (see graph below) and that the state oil company Petroleos De Venezuela S.A. (PDVSA) has trouble paying its bills and fulfilling its orders.

Figure 2: Since the end of that U.S. import graph, Venezuela’s production has plummeted still more.
Banks have refused to issue letters of credit to PDVSA customers, leaving cargoes stranded. Some big refiners have reportedly canceled orders or demanded discounts because the oil PDVSA sent them didn't meet their standards. The company has been blocked from some export terminals over unpaid bills.
Another aspect is the pending completion of the Keystone XL pipeline segment. Estimates for crude to be delivered to the U.S. Gulf Coast range from 590,000 to 820,000 barrels per day. Venezuela’s exports to the U.S. are in that range and falling.

Canadian Heavy Crude is about the same as the Venezuelan stuff and quite adequate for the many refineries geared for that input. Even if Venezuela was not overrun with corrupt incompetents, their tanker shipments cannot compete in price with pipeline delivery. Add in that production has dropped to nearly a 30-year low and the Chavez-corrupt-incompetents are now being replaced with Maduro-corrupt-incompetents and it is pretty much a done deal. We are about the only cash customer for them and we have another supplier with rapidly increasing output. As pointed out by Monica Showalter, some of their own exiled “Petroleros” are up in Alberta helping to maximize efficiency for that operation.

Yet another factor is that companies are beginning to retool their refineries (many geared for the Venezuela/Alberta heavy) to accept the now-plentiful light sweet crude being produced from shale plays. It is an expensive process that will take many years, but that will also reduce the market for heavy crude. This requires the approval of the EPA and DOE, by the way. But, that should be practical now that sanity has returned to lead the federal government.

Summary

Venezuela’s oil production is falling precipitously despite increased demand and rising prices. Quality is dropping. The market for their heavy crude production is diminishing and won’t rebound anytime soon.

The regime won’t pay their bills or invest in their own infrastructure or maintenance. They have chased away international business by seizing assets or demanding services they won’t pay for. The Maduro regime has run out of “Other People’s Money.”

Their population is suffering horribly from shortages of food, medicine, and human rights. There has been no uprising only because the regime has so far treated the military better than the general population.

Endgame

Given a few years and a fair shake for the U.S./Canada oil industry (i.e., the end of Obama sanctions against our own economy), the Venezuelan problem -- left alone -- will resolve itself in one of several ways:

It is apparent that Maduro will never relent. He will drive the nation to absolute ruin. A great deal of the money sucked out of the economy has gone to Russian weapons. He seems to be following the pattern of North Korea -- belligerence while armed to the teeth and starving the populace into slavery. That could easily become the nation’s ultimate fate.

Now that almost every public and private company has been ransacked and China has cut off its easy-credit loans (backed by oil production) he may move even further toward Iran -- which may already have a missile base in Venezuela. Iranians would no doubt be happy to supply nukes to point North.
On the other hand --

A home-grown revolution putting in place some semblance of liberty and something resembling a free market economy. This is not Afghanistan. The Venezuelans had a rich economy blessed with natural resources and investment that brought jobs and prosperity. They remember that and would welcome such a realignment. 

While the fortunes of heavy crude are waning, there is a huge potential shale play in and around Lake Maracaibo that could save the day. Maduro’s cronies don’t have a clue how to develop it. The great hope for the future of Venezuela lies with the exiled Petroleros who could return -- assuming the successful overthrow of Maduro -- with enhanced competence to reconstruct the nearly destroyed industry. Some are at this moment working shale plays in the U.S.

Obviously, this is the last best prospect. So, how does that happen?


Steve Campbell is a Geophysicist who worked in Venezuela between 1989 and 1993. See his writings at Goingwalkabout.Blog

Source:http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/12/venezuelas_final_chapter_.html

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Oh, No: The Peace Process Is Dead! - Jerrold L. Sobel




by Jerrold L. Sobel

Hat tip: Darrell Simms

You can't kill something that was never alive

In the annals of Jewish history, following millennia of wandering throughout foreign lands as guests rarely accepted as natives, suffering privations too numerous to recount; December 5, 2017 will be remembered as seminal moment.

To the consternation of many, President Trump announced to the world his intention of recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. In doing so he will become the first American president to take that unprecedented step since the founding of the Jewish state in 1948.
Even before a planned speech on Wednesday proclaiming his formal recognition, the naysayers in this country, the customary anti-Israel cabal of European nations, and the Muslim World concordant only in their hatred of Israel have united in opposition to the move.

Federica Mogherini, an Italian politician and the current High Representative of the European Union, is aghast, stating:
"A way must be found, through negotiations, to resolve the status of Jerusalem as the future capital of both states.” What that way is after 69 years of wars, terrorism, and intransigent, faux negotiations Ms. Mogherini failed to mention.

Likewise, Germany’s acting foreign minister, Sigmar Gabriel chimed in: “unilateral U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would inflame Middle East tensions." One can only assume the foreign minister has been stranded on a far-off Island, unaware of the Syrian civil war, Hizb’allah taking over Lebanon, civil war in Yemen, Palestinian knifings and vehicular killings of Jews in Israel, ISIS, Hamas, the Taliban, and Iran acting as the puppeteer to all these nefarious groups. To him, recognition of Jerusalem will first “inflame the Middle East.” 

Not missing a beat, on Tuesday Palestinian national and Islamic groups issued a joint statement calling for three days of “popular anger” to protest President Trump’s move, beginning on Wednesday throughout the Palestinian territories and in demonstrations at United States embassies and consulates throughout the world. Setting aside generational recalcitrance, an educational system that lauds killing of Jews from preschoolers on up, payment of subsidies to families of shahids (martyrs) who kill Jews, naming of streets and boulevards memorializing such people. But look out Israel, look out world, now they’re really angry.

Prior to the unofficial announcement, President Trump informed “President” Abbas; entering his 9th year of an elected four-year term, of his intentions. Unsurprisingly the “former terrorist,” cofounder of Fatah, and paymaster of the 1972 Olympic massacre of Israeli athletes warned of the dangerous consequences such a decision would have to the peace process and to the peace, security, and stability of the region and of the world.”
Peace process? At the behest of President Clinton, on July 11, 2000 the Camp David summit convened. Ehud Barak offered to form a Palestinian state initially on 73% of the West Bank (that is, 27% less than the 1967 Green Line borders) and 100% of the Gaza Strip. In 10–25 years, the Palestinian state would expand to a maximum of 92% of the West Bank (91 percent of the West Bank and 1 percent from a land swap). From the Palestinian perspective this equated to an offer of a Palestinian state on a maximum of 86% of the West Bank. Unwilling to settle for anything less than 100%, Yasser Arafat nixed what even ardent supporters of the Palestinian cause said was a very good deal. Israel was willing to take a chance and give up a tangible asset, land for a Palestinian state, in return for the dream of a final peace. It wasn’t to be.

An even sweeter deal was likewise rejected by Abbas in 2008. In an interview that year by Israel’s Channel 10 he unbelievably admitted he rejected an offer from Israel’s Ehud Olmert, which included placing Jerusalem’s Old City under international control because he was not allowed to study the map. Prophetically, then Israeli Prime Minister, Olmert told him: “Remember my words, it will be 50 years before there will be another Israeli Prime Minister that will offer you what I am offering you now. Don’t miss this opportunity.”

On November 25, 2009 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared a 10-month settlement freeze as a gesture to Abbas and then President Obama after being lambasted for months by the latter that the settlement issue was the major impediment to restarting what has become to this day the cliched peace talks. Following his settlement announcement, Netanyahu implored Abbas: 

"Now is the time to begin negotiations, now is the time to move forward towards peace," he said. "Israel today has taken a far-reaching step toward peace, it is time for the Palestinians to do the same.” Although not unexpected, his admonitions fell upon deaf ears. Seeing not a scintilla of movement toward the negotiating table, Netanyahu ended the freeze on September 26, 2010. Immediately, the decidedly pro-Palestinian Obama Administration, France, Britain, and the United Nations pounced upon Israel for not extending the freeze indefinitely.

Revisionist history aside, any rational human who decries President Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as purely a political move defies credulity. Long before the 7th century Jerusalem has been the ancestral capital of the Jewish people. Despite centuries of peremptory emigration and diaspora, forced conversions, and countless invasions, Jews, both physically and spiritually have maintained a continuous relationship to Jerusalem. 

The President’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's undivided capital is quite laudable and long overdue, but in reality it’s a recognition of an existing fact. To those who will pin the inevitable violence that will surely follow his proclamation and mourn the death of the “peace movement,” be assured the aforementioned is proof there never was a peace movement. 

Jerrold L. Sobel

Source: http://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2017/12/oh_no_the_peace_process_is_dead.html

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Shurat Hadin head notes terrorist shared his intentions to commit attack on Facebook - Arutz Sheva Staff




by Arutz Sheva Staff

Shurat Hadin head notes terrorist shared his intentions to commit attack on Facebook, says social media giant permits incitement to murder.

Attorney Nitzana Darshan-Leitner, the head of the Shurat Hadin legal organization, said that social media was to blame for the terrorist stabbing attack in Jerusalem Sunday.

"Today the actual terrorist was the one who carried out the stabbing attack, but Facebook was the one who gave him the knife," said Darshan-Leitner.

"Unfortunately, more and more innocent victims continue to be added to the $1 billion lawsuit we are conducting against Facebook in US courts. Facebook does not see fit to stop the incitement on their site which leads to murder.

Darshan-Leitner continued: "What [Facebook] refuses to do voluntarily will instead be accomplished through legal means. This attack today proves that all attacks begin on Facebook."

Hours before the attack, the terrorist, a resident of the PA-controlled city of Shechem (Nabulus) in Samaria, Abu Al-Keraa, wrote on his Facebook account that he hoped to “raise the banner” for “Allah’s sake”.

“For Allah’s sake we rose up, we wish to raise the banner…to let our religion [Islam] exult once again, and to make the Al Aqsa Mosque [on the Temple Mount] once again be resplendent.”

“Please let our blood be spilled – for it is of little matter to spill one’s blood for our homeland, for Jerusalem, and for the Al Aqsa Mosque.”


Arutz Sheva Staff

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/239138

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The Mullahs Overplay the Military Card - Amir Taheri




by Amir Taheri

Beating the drums of war may sound exciting for a while; but, in time, its hollowness is bound to become clear.

Faced with mounting domestic problems and diplomatic isolation to prolong its hold on power the leadership in Tehran is increasingly depending on the military establishment. Highlighting this growing dependence is the "Supreme Guide" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei who has held conclaves with the military chiefs on three occasions in less than a month during which signs of the military's ascendancy within the regime's power structures have multiplied.

One sign was Khamenei's decision to ask the newly appointed Chief of Staff General Muhammad Hussein Baqeri to take over the key issues of cooperation with Russia and Turkey over Syria to the exclusion of President Hassan Rouhani and his administration. Baqeri has also launched an ambitious project for the creation of a de facto military alliance with Turkey, Iraq and Pakistan, with Russia as an outsider-supporter, in direct contradiction to Rouhani's repeatedly asserted hope of accommodation with Western powers.

Another sign was Khamenei's decision to write a personal letter to General Qassem Soleimani, the man in charge of "exporting the revolution" through his Quds (Jerusalem) Force and the various branches of "Hezbollah" under his command in Lebanon, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

In his letter, Khamenei credits Soleimani with having "destroyed" the alleged Caliphate (Da'esh in Arabic), and gives him the mission to pursue an even more aggressive strategy to extend the "recent victories" to the rest of the region. Once again, Khamenei's instructions make nonsense of Rouhani's repeated claims that Iran is seeking an end to tensions with neighboring nations.


Iranian "Supreme Guide" Ayatollah Ali Khamenei meets with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani on June 22, 2016. (Image source: Khamenei.ir)

As of humiliating the official government on issues of foreign policy were not enough, Khamenei has asked the military to take-over the task of providing relief and, later, reconstruction in the recent deadly earthquake that shattered parts of five provinces.

The implicit message, hammered in by Revolutionary Guards' Commander General Muhammad-Ali Aziz-Jaafari, is that when it comes to dealing with a major emergency, the civilian authorities are worse than useless.

To emphasize the rising profile of the military in Tehran's power structures, Khamenei has ordered a whopping 14 per cent increase in defense and security budgets with a substantial rise in expenditure on the development of a new generation of missiles with help from North Korea. Here, too, the "Supreme Guide" rides roughshod over the official government's policy of trying to persuade the European Union and, hopefully even the United States, that Iran has slowed down in its missile projects as a goodwill gesture towards the P5+1 group which drafted the so-called nuclear deal.

Meeting 52 top military commanders, including General Baqeri in Tehran last Sunday, Khamenei declared the armed forces to be" in the forefront" of what he termed " the victories of the revolution on all fronts." He also decreed that the military should have the first right of refusal in recruiting "personnel of the highest quality."

Khamenei's growing reliance on the military may be tactically astute.

The Khomeinist regime has lost much of its popular base and, judging by rising social and economic tension across the nation, is often on the defensive on domestic issues. The old narrative of the revolution as a Robin Hood exercise to rob the rich and give to the poor is exposed as sham.

Official data clearly show that under the mullahs the rich have become richer and the poor poorer. Rampant corruption often highlighted by state-controlled media adds to the popular sentiment that a new nomenclature, firmly in place, is intent on robbing the nation on a massive scale. In the past few weeks alone at least 12 senior officials accused of embezzlement on an astronomical scale have fled to Austria and Canada.

Growing unemployment, rising inflation and the plummeting value of the national currency punch further holes in any narrative of revolutionary success in areas that matter to the ordinary citizen.

Thus the regime is developing a new narrative based on the claim that the terrorism that is rampant in so many parts of the world l most notably in the Middle East, is also threatening Iran and that only the military-security elite could protect the nation against it.

"We are fighting away from our borders so that we don't have to fight in our cities," said General Hossein Salami, number-two to Gen. Aziz-Jaafari.

However, at least in medium- and long-terms such a narrative is unlikely to produce the desired effects. In any properly organized and governed country the armed forces are not in the "front line" of the nation's fight for security, let alone survival.

The "front lines" always consist of a nation's diplomacy, economic power, social cohesion and cultural appeal. In other words, a nation's military forces do not operate in a vacuum but in a broader context of socio-political reality. In that context, Iran today is more vulnerable than at any time since the 1940s. Khamenei expects the military to fill all the gaps created by decades of political and economic failure; and that is simply too much to ask.

The "Supreme Guide" may also be wrong on another score. In any country the various institutions of state evolve at roughly the same level. You cannot have an excellent military and a third-rate civil service, judiciary and economy. Systems that solely focus on military excellence never achieve anything beyond transient success.

One example is Sparta, which had the ancient world's highest-rated military, but disappeared from history whereas Athens, with its ramshackle citizen-armies, survived the Persian, Macedonian, Roman and Byzantine Empires. Another example was Napoleon Bonaparte, whose military machine set the whole of Europe ablaze while he ended in humiliation and death in exile.

And who could fail to be impressed by the Operation Barbarossa, launched by Nazi Germany against the Soviet Union in 1941? And yet the end result was Berlin, the Nazi capital, as the biggest heap of ruins in history.

In Iran's case, Khamenei is playing -- even overplaying -- the military card for narrow political reasons, at a time that Iran does not face any serious military threat to its national security and integrity. Beating the drums of war may sound exciting for a while; but, in time, its hollowness is bound to become clear.
This article first appeared in Asharq Al Awsat

Amir Taheri, formerly editor of Iran's premier newspaper, Kayhan, before the Iranian revolution of 1979, is a prominent author based on Europe. He is the Chairman of Gatestone Europe.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/11522/iran-military-meetings

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