Friday, August 19, 2011

Israel Hit by Multiple Terrorist Attacks

by Rick Moran

Three separate terrorist attacks along the border with Egypt has killed at least 5 Israelis and wounded as many as 25.

Terrorists attacked a bus near Eliat with an RPG and detonated bombs near some IDF vehicles. There were also reports of another attack on a bus and vehicle.

Special forces engaged the terrorists killing at least 7. YNet News:

Heavy security forces presence is noted in the area, as a massive manhunt involving IDF ground forces and aircrafts is currently taking place. IDF forces reported three terrorists have been killed. It is unclear at this time if they were the only ones involved.

The Eilat Police have ordered emergency deployment in the area, and a situation room has been set up at the Yoseftal Hospital, which has declared a mass casualty event.

According to the IDF Spokesperson's Unit, soldiers were among the wounded in these incidents. IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen Benny Gantz and Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino are en route to GOC Southern Command, where they will confer with Southern Command Chief Major-General Tal Russo.

All of the roads leading to Eilat have been closed, as was the Ovda Airfield. Eilat's airport has been placed on alert.

J-Post reports some mortar fire from Egypt. The Egyptian government denies any connection to the attacks, but Defense Minister Barak claims the terrorists inflitrated from Gaza.

As Rich Baehr notes, "These types of attacks in southern Israel never occurred while Mubarak controlled things. This is only the beginning; the bloody prelude to UN action in September."

Rick Moran


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Which Model for Postwar Iraq -- Vietnam or Korea?

by Jim Guirard

At the time of America's founding, Benjamin Franklin was asked by a lady at the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention, "What have you given us, Doctor Franklin?" -- to which the wise old gentleman responded, "Madam, we have given you a republic -- if you can keep it."

If you can keep it -- that was the central challenge facing the infant American "democracy" back then. And it remains still the central question facing the infant Iraqi "democracy" struggling to steady itself at America's instigation in the Middle East.

Now that the "Iraq War" (actually the Iraq Theatre of the Global War on Terrorism) is drawing toward a major defeat for the al-Qaeda-style Sunni terrorists, the question is whether we -- America and the West -- will take all necessary steps to protect Iraq not only from its revengeful AQ enemies, but also from its even more deadly Hizballah and Revolutionary Guard enemies in neighboring Shi'a Iran.

Or will we leave Iraq vulnerable to a partial-birth abortion by the ruthless caliphate-centered Islamo-fascists and suicide mass murderers -- whether Sunnni or Shia from -- Iran, who still wish and scheme night and day to colonize and to enslave it?

Which Cold War Model to Follow

At this point, there are two Cold War models from which to choose in what has now become Cold War II -- the still-successful South Korea model of the 1950s or the tragic, congressionally mandated cut-and-run South Vietnam model of the 1970s.

(a) In the former, we and our Coalition of democracies forced the Stalinist North Koreans to "get the Hell out" and, in keeping with the 1953 Panmunjam Peace Accords, promise never to return. And, indeed, they have not. This is because we most prudently left a powerful military contingent behind to enforce that hard-won victory -- who, half a century later, are still there in that essential role. Result: a peaceful, prosperous, free-enterprise, multi-party democracy, and a valued Asian ally.

(b) In the latter case, we and our coalition of democracies subdued the Viet Cong insurgents, forcing the Communist North Vietnamese exurgents to "get the Hell out" and, in keeping with the Paris Peace Accords of 1973, promise (sort of) never to return. But we then most imprudently (at the absolute insistence of a rabidly antiwar Democrat-run Congress) left no military forces behind to enforce that hard-won victory over Soviet-backed North Vietnam.

Immediate result: a second Vietnam War two years later and a Communist victory in late April of 1975 -- followed by a virtual avalanche of colonial "dominoes" for Communism during the Carter-Mondale years. Eventual result: a still-in-place single-party Communist dictatorship -- benign and slightly "reformist" at the moment, but who knows whether that will forever be the case?

Fast-Forward to Here and Now

Fast-forward to the current situation in Iraq and the "victory" we have won over the Pakistan-based AQ-style evildoers and assorted other "foreign fighters" -- and we will now have to choose between these two very different models...

o the Truman-Eisenhower-JFK-Nixon-Reagan-Bush-McCain "stay the course" and "confirm the victory" and "protect and rear the child" model of Korea, or

o the Carter-McGovern-Kerry-Ted Kennedy-Pelosi-Obama "cut-and-run" and "no more wars ever" and "abandon this troublesome little so-called democracy" model of Vietnam.

In the U.S. Senate, the antiwar and neo-"AWOL" (Always Weak On Liberty) Democrats, led now by John Kerry, Barbara Boxer, Harry Reid, et al., will be downplaying any notion of a Bush-Petraeus-McCain long-term presence in Iraq -- and will sooner or later be slipping into the defeatist model of Vietnam and trying to blame Bush and Cheney for anything negative that ever happens there hereafter.

In the House, a similar gaggle of cut-and-run and "ACE" (Aid and Comfort to the Enemy) peaceniks will be led by former Speaker Nancy Pelosi and what remains of her fellow far-left, blame-America-first "progressives" following last year's congressional elections.

It becomes vital, therefore, that the true history of both Vietnam Wars and their Cold-War consequences be clearly understood -- so that none of today's highly partisan politicians, media commentators, and left-illiberal interest groups can scam the American public with a variety of false "lessons" of those two long-ago conflicts.

Ignoring History at Our Peril

In this case, a prime example of such deceit and distortion of history is repeated each year when we fail to memorialize the late January 1973 end of the Vietnam War -- or, more correctly, the end of "Vietnam One." That was the twelve-year war which began in the Kennedy-Johnson year of 1961 and was fought largely by U.S. combat forces. This war officially ended with the Paris Peace Accords of January 1973.

Sadly, in January of this year (typical of other recent years), not one historically correct news article or lead editorial about the end of Vietnam One appeared on that anniversary date in any major U.S. newspaper. Nor was there any detailed mention by any network "talking head" or commentator of the historical truth of a defeated North Vietnam's exodus from the South.

Four months later, however, we witnessed another anniversary date, this one widely recognized: the end of "Vietnam Two," which (a) began in early January 1975, (b) involved no U.S. combat forces at all, and (c) came to a tragic end just four months after Vietnam One on April 30, 1975.

That was when South Vietnam's capital city of Saigon fell to rampaging Soviet-supplied North Vietnamese armies -- and when televised pictures of helicopters rescuing American diplomatic personnel, Marine guards, and friendly South Vietnamese from the U.S. Embassy roof were first burned into our memories.

The deceitful tactic was and remains clear. Propagandize a first-ever "Defeat of America" when, in fact, victorious American forces had departed South Vietnam more than two years earlier -- all of which is explained in this writer's earlier truth in history article, "The Two Vietnam Wars," available here at the American Thinker and at

And the tactic may well work again if the Maliki-led government of Iraq, the U.S. Congress, and the American president do not take care to protect and preserve by whatever means necessary -- as America so unwisely failed to do in Vietnam 38 years ago -- the stability of the newborn and still fragile Iraqi "democracy" now struggling to survive and prosper.

With only five months of our Bush-era "peacekeeping" Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) left to run, and with the current Maliki-led government in Baghdad still undecided -- under extreme anti-American pressure from Islamofascist Iran -- as to whether we should be invited to retain a tripwire anti-Iran military presence beyond the end of this year, it would seem prudent for that government to follow the theme of an Arabic-language slogan recommended to senior Defense Department officials in recent days by this writer, as follows:

Akriju Amrikan ...Wa Laquina Laisa Al'An. (Go home, Americans...but not quite yet!)

Jim Guirard is a D.C.-area attorney, writer, and national security strategist,


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Female Genital Mutilation "An Obligation" According to Iraqi Muslim Cleric

by Irfan Al-Alawi

In June, the parliament of Iraq's autonomous Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) adopted a ban on domestic violence, including female genital mutilation (FGM), a "procedure" that is widespread among Iraqi Kurds. The law will come into effect once it is signed by KRG president Mesud Barzani, who represents the Kurdistan Democratic Party.

But a local cleric, Ismail Sussai, in the major Iraqi Kurdish city of Arbil, has delivered a televised sermon in which he described FGM as "obligatory," called on fathers to kill themselves, on pain of losing their "honor," if they are legally prevented from abusing their daughters for using mobile phones; and he defended the beating of wives and children.

The Kurdish cleric was particularly offended by use of mobile phones among girls, as well as by suggestions that the beating of women and children should be legislatively curbed, along with the FGM that was inflicted on the mothers and grandmothers of present-day Iraqi Kurdish leaders, and is still suffered by a majority of Kurdish girls.

He went on to threaten political opposition to the KRG if Barzani signs the law against domestic violence and FGM.

Sussai's diatribe included the claim that sanctions against FGM were forced on the Iraqi Kurds by a conference of "Jews" in the Chinese capital of Beijing -- a bizarre charge that is apparently based in the condemnation of FGM by the Fourth World Conference on Women hosted by the United Nations in Beijing in 1995.

Sussai based his argument for FGM on support for it by the Shafi'i school of Islamic jurisprudence, one of four Sunni schools. While Shafi'i legalists have declared FGM obligatory, its imposition on girls has not been uniform. Shafi'i jurisprudence is widely adhered to in Muslim communities in East Africa, as well as in Egypt and Indonesia, with additional enclaves of support in the other Arab lands, the Indian ocean, and Southeast Asia. But FGM is rare in large areas of the Muslim geographical region that recognizes Shafi'i religious law.

FGM is a pre-Islamic practice that appears to have been assimilated into Shafi'i jurisprudence through adoption of local customs. It is more common among Black Africans of differing religious affiliation, as well as Arabs in diverse areas of Saudi Arabia and its neighbours, including Egypt. Immigrants from both parts of the globe have introduced FGM into Europe and the U.S., where it is banned. Parents who insist on it may send their daughters back to their homelands for infliction of FGM, but in doing so violate the law.

Along with many Western countries, Indonesia and Egypt have prohibited FGM, although some extremist clerics in both countries emphasize their support for it in the style of the Kurdish Ismail Sussai.

FGM is unknown in the Muslim Balkans, rare in Turkey and Central Asia, and absent from India and Bangladesh. The custom is controversial and despised by most of the Islamic global community. Even the radical cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi, who is influential in Egypt, has averred that while he supports the practice in a "moderate" Islamic way "indicated" in some of the hadiths (oral commentaries) of Prophet Muhammad, "such hadiths are not confirmed to be authentic."

Muslims should work to end FGM, so-called "honour" murders, beatings, and other abuses imposed on women and children under cover of religion. With all its many problems, the intentions of Barzani's Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP), which has a secular history, and of the Kurdistan Regional Government, are correct in banning these practices.

President Barzani should sign and enforce the law against domestic violence, including its anti-FGM components, and disregard the retrograde harangues of extremist clerics like Ismail Sussai.

But members of the Shafi'i school and non-Shafi'i Muslim clerics must also recognize a duty to unambiguously repudiate "Islamic" pretexts for FGM and other family crimes.

Irfan Al-Alawi


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Islam Overtaking Catholicism in France

by Soeren Kern

Islamic mosques are being built more often in France than Roman Catholic churches, and there now are more practising Muslims in the country than practising Catholics.

Nearly 150 new mosques currently are under construction in France, home to the biggest Muslim community in Europe. The mosque-building projects are at various stages of completion, according to Mohammed Moussaoui, the president of the Muslim Council of France (CFCM), who provided the data in an August 2 interview with the French radio station RTL.

The total number of mosques in France has already doubled to more than 2,000 during just the past ten years, according to a research report "Constructing Mosques: The Governance of Islam in France and the Netherlands." France's most prominent Muslim leader, Dalil Boubakeur, who is rector of the Grand Mosque of Paris, recently called for the number of mosques in the country to be doubled again – to 4,000 – to meet growing demand.

By contrast, the Roman Catholic Church in France has built only 20 new churches during the past decade, and has formally closed more than 60 churches, many of which are destined to become mosques, according to research conducted by La Croix, a Roman Catholic daily newspaper based in Paris.

Although 64% of the French population (or 41.6 million of France's 65 million inhabitants) identifies itself as Roman Catholic, only 4.5% (or 1.9 million) of those actually are practising Catholics, according to the French Institute of Public Opinion (or Ifop, as it is usually called).

By way of comparison, 75% (or 4.5 million) of the estimated 6 million mostly ethnic North African and sub-Saharan Muslims in France identify themselves as "believers" and 41% (or 2.5 million) say they are "practising" Muslims, according to an in-depth research report on Islam in France published by Ifop on August 1. The report also says that more than 70% of the Muslims in France say they will be observing the Islamic holy month of Ramadan in 2011.

Taken together, the research data provides empirical evidence that Islam is well on its way to overtaking Roman Catholicism as the dominant religion in France.

As their numbers grow, Muslims in France are becoming far more assertive than ever before. A case in point: Muslim groups in France are now asking the Roman Catholic Church for permission to use its empty churches as a way to solve the traffic problems caused by thousands of Muslims who pray in the streets.

In a March 11 communiqué addressed to the Church of France, the National Federation of the Great Mosque of Paris, the Council of Democratic Muslims of France and a Muslim activist group called Collectif Banlieues Respect called on the Catholic Church – in a spirit of inter-religious solidarity, of course – to make its empty churches available to Muslims for Friday prayers, so that Muslims do not have to "pray in the streets" and be "held hostage to politics."

Every Friday, thousands of Muslims in Paris and other French cities close off streets and sidewalks (and by extension, close down local businesses and trap non-Muslim residents in their homes and offices) to accommodate overflowing crowds for midday prayers. Some mosques have also begun broadcasting sermons and chants of "Allah Akbar" via loudspeakers in the streets.

The weekly spectacles, which have been documented by dozens of videos posted on (here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here and here), have provoked anger and disbelief. But despite many public complaints, local authorities have declined to intervene because they are afraid of sparking riots.

The issue of illegal street prayers was catapulted to the top of the national political agenda in France in December 2010, when Marine Le Pen, the charismatic new leader of the far-right National Front party, denounced them as an "occupation without tanks or soldiers."

During a gathering in the east central French city of Lyon on December 10, Le Pen compared Muslims praying in the streets to Nazi occupation. She said: "For those who want to talk a lot about World War II, if it is about occupation, then we could also talk about it [Muslim prayers in the streets], because that is occupation of territory. It is an occupation of sections of the territory, of districts in which religious laws apply. It is an occupation. There are of course no tanks, there are no soldiers but it is nevertheless an occupation and it weighs heavily on local residents."

Many French voters agree. In fact, the issue of Muslim street prayers – and the broader question of the role of Islam in French society – has become a major issue ahead of the 2012 presidential elections. According to a survey by Ifop for the France-Soir newspaper, nearly 40% of French voters agree with Len Pen's views that Muslim prayer in the streets resembles an occupation. Another opinion poll published by Le Parisien newspaper shows that voters view Le Pen, who has criss-crossed the country arguing that France has been invaded by Muslims and betrayed by its elite, as the candidate best suited to deal with the growing problem of runaway Muslim immigration.

French President Nicolas Sarkozy, whose popularity was at 25% in July – worse than any predecessor less than a year ahead of a re-election bid, according to the TNS-Sofres polling group – has been spooked by Le Pen's advance in the opinion polls. He now seems determined not to allow Le Pen to monopolize the issue of Islam in France.

Sarkozy recently called Muslim prayers in the street "unacceptable" and said that the street cannot be allowed to become "an extension of the mosque." He also warned that the overflow of Muslim faithful on to the streets at prayer time when mosques are packed to capacity risks undermining the French secular tradition separating state and religion.

Interior Minister Claude Guéant on August 8 told Muslims who have been praying on the streets of Paris that they should utilize a disused barracks instead. "Praying in the street is something that is not acceptable," Guéant said. "It has to stop."

Meanwhile, France ushered in Ramadan by inaugurating a new mega-mosque for 2,000 worshipers in Strasbourg, where the Muslim population has reached 15%. Construction also continues apace of a new mega-mosque in Marseille, France's second-largest city where the Muslim population has reached 25% (or 250,000). The Grand Mosque – which at more than 8,300 square meters (92,000 square feet) will accommodate up to 7,000 worshippers in a vast prayer hall – is designed to be the biggest and most potent symbol of Islam's place in modern France.

Boubakeur, of the Grande Mosque of Paris, says the construction of even more mosques – paid for by French taxpayers – would ease the "pressure, frustration and the sense of injustice" felt by many French Muslims. "Open a mosque and you close a prison," says Boubakeur.

But Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has implied that the construction of mosques and minarets actually is part of a strategy for the Islamization of Europe. Publicly repeating the words of a 1912 poem written by the Turkish nationalist poet Ziya Gökalp, Erdogan said: "The mosques are our barracks, the domes our helmets, the minarets our bayonets and the faithful our soldiers."

Reflecting on the retreat of Catholicism and the rise of Islam in France, Archbishop Giuseppe Bernardini, an Italian Franciscan who heads the Izmir archdiocese in Turkey, and who has lived in the Islamic world for more than 40 years, has recounted a conversation he once had with a Muslim leader, who told him: "Thanks to your democratic laws, we will invade you. Thanks to our religious laws, we will dominate you."

Soeren Kern


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Justice Demands that Pollard's Sentence Be Commuted To Time Served

by Alan M. Dershowitz

There are several reasons why justice demands that Jonathan Pollard's sentence be commuted to time served and that he be immediately released.

The first is a legal and constitutional argument. Pollard waived his right to trial by jury in exchange for a promise by the government that it would not seek life imprisonment. The government broke that promise. It submitted a perjured affidavit by then Secretary of Defense Weinberger demanding life imprisonment and overstating the damage that Pollard had caused. This was a direct breach of the plea bargain. Unfortunately Pollard's appeal was argued to a panel that included two Jewish judges, at least one of whom aspired to the Supreme Court. The two of them wrote a scandalously inept opinion affirming the sentence, while the third, non-Jewish, judge declared it to be a gross violation of due process and basic fairness. The non-Jewish judge, who had no fear of being accused of dual loyalty, was correct. The two Jewish judges were dead wrong.

I know of no other case in American jurisprudence in which a plea bargain has been so blatantly violated and the violation approved by an appellate court. The legal remedy is enforce the plea bargain as written and impose the sentence that the government promised it would seek. If Pollard had served that sentence, he would be free by now.

Even if the law did not require Pollard's immediate release, principles of fairness and equal justice surely would. The typical sentence imposed on an American who spies for an ally of the United States is in single digits. Such sentences have been imposed on Americans who spies for Egypt and other countries that are American allies. There is no reason in justice or fairness for Pollard to have received the double digit sentence for spying for Israel. The prosecutor in this case tried to justify this sentencing disparity by arguing that since so many Americans support Israel, the need for deterrence is greater. This is an unacceptable double standard.

Finally, there are the humanitarian considerations. Pollard has served longer than any American convicted of spying for an American ally. He is very sick having undergone several surgeries. He will die in prison unless his sentence is commuted.

Why, it might be asked, is he still in prison? The answer is that two groups of people have worked hard to keep him in prison. The first is the intelligence community, led by former CIA Director George Tenet. President Clinton was apparently prepared to release Pollard toward the end of his term when Tenet, former head of the CIA, threatened to quit. This threat violated the law, which expressly prohibits a CIA Director from making policy. Tenet's illegal threat made policy and kept Pollard in prison.

The other group that worked hard to keep Pollard in prison was a group of Jewish senators who wrote to President Clinton insisting that Pollard's sentence not be shortened. President Clinton personally told me that this letter from influential Jewish senators affected his decision. Now even several of these senators are calling for Pollard's release.

Pollard's continued imprisonment, in violation of law, equality, justice and compassion, is a stain on America. This stain can be removed if President Obama commutes Pollard's sentence to time served. A commutation is different than a pardon. A pardon erases the conviction, whereas a commutation simply reduces the sentence, without in any way suggesting that the defendant was not guilty of a serious crime. Pollard has admitted his guilt, not once but several times. The first time was when he pleaded and was sentenced. More recently he has apologized, as has the Israeli government. By pleading guilty and cooperating with the investigation, Pollard spared the government the embarrassment and difficulties inherent in a spy trial. Had he not confessed his guilt, it is unlikely he would have been convicted of the most serious charge of spying, since the only direct evidence outside of his confession was the fact that he had unauthorized possession of classified material.

For helping the government in this way, he was promised that he would not have to spend the rest of his life in prison. But now he is likely to die in prison, a broken and sick man, unless President Obama does the right thing. The time has come, indeed it is long overdue, for Jonathan Pollard to receive proportional justice.

This article originally appeared in Newsmax.

Alan M. Dershowitz


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Syria Guns Down Palestinians

by Joseph Klein

Iran’s Grand Ayatollah Naser Makarem Shirazi said earlier this week that it is “the duty of all Muslims to help stabilise Syria against the destructive plots of America and Israel.” He is echoing the opinion of Iran’s supreme ruler Ayatolla Khamenei, who considers himself to be the representative of Allah on earth and the deputy of the last Islamic messiah, Imam Mahdi. Khamenei declared last spring that the protesters in Syria were “God’s enemies.”

The thugs running Iran have carried out their “Muslim duty” by intervening on the side of their Syrian ally, President Bashar al-Assad, against “God’s enemies.” They have deployed snipers in Syria, for example, to support Assad’s brutal crackdown against protesters, according to a former member of the regime’s secret police. They have sent Assad’s regime arms, riot control equipment, intelligence monitoring technical support, oil and personnel assistance from the Iranian Republican Guard. Khamenei is also reported to have ordered the transfer of $9 billion in unconditional aid to prop up Assad’s regime.

In addition, Iran agreed to fund a new multimillion-dollar military base at Latakia airport on the Syrian coast. As reported by the Telegraph:

Teams of Iranian Revolutionary Guards officers are to be stationed at Latakia on a permanent basis where they will co-ordinate the arms shipments with officials from Syria’s Mukhabarat intelligence service.

The arms are said to include machine guns, rockets and medium-range missiles.

Now it turns out that the Iranian regime, which professes to be the Palestinians’ biggest supporter, has been helping a dictator who is not only brutalizing his own citizens, but also the Palestinian refugees living in Syria in a camp not too far from where the new Iranian-funded military base will be located.

According to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, a Palestinian refugee camp near Latakia had been shelled from the sea. Several people were killed and thousands of Palestinian refugees fled or were forced to leave their living quarters. This was no accident. There was firing directly into the refugee camp. The Syrian authorities have to date refused the UN agency access to the camp where it is feared that wounded and elderly residents are stranded.

“The situation is very bad,” Christopher Gunness, spokesman for the UN Relief and Works Agency, said. “We have a handful of confirmed deaths and nearly 20 injured…There are more than 10,000 residents of the camp, and half of them left out of fear of incoming fire from the land and sea. We don’t know where they are, and we’re the ones responsible for them. We’re just desperately trying to find out where everyone is.”

The Syrian security forces have reportedly herded thousands of Syrians and Palestinian refugees into a stadium and taken away their identification cards and cell phones. Based on what Syrian forces have done in previous city stadium round-ups, executions are expected.

The Syrians have hypocritically used the United Nations to excoriate Israel’s treatment of the Palestinian people. So have the Iranians.

For example, in explaining its vote last November on an anti-Israeli draft resolution, the Syrian representative declared that Israel must be compelled to put “an end to violating the human rights of the Palestinian people systematically and its excessive use of force… Syria will never accept that murder triumph over justice and law.”

How ironic indeed that the Syrian authorities are now ensnaring the Palestinian refugees living in Syria in a triumph of murder and persecution over justice and law. The irony is not lost on Palestinian officials, who took a rare break from their constant denunciations of Israel to condemn the Syrian crackdown.

Palestine Liberation Organization Secretary General Yasser Abed Rabbo called the targeting of Palestinians and Syrians “part of the crimes against humanity.”

Nabil Abu Rudeineh, spokesman for the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said: “We urge the Syrian authorities to stop the attack on the refugee camp immediately. It is unacceptable, we cannot accept it.”

Iran’s rulers are willing to sacrifice some Palestinian lives if it means propping up their ally Assad. They view the Syrian regime and Hezbollah, Iran’s terrorist arm in Lebanon, as major instruments to help achieve their goal of destroying Israel.

Ayatolla Khamenei has been quoted by chief commander of Iran’s Basiji forces, Brig. Gen. Mohammad-Reza Naghdi, in Fars News agency, the media outlet for Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, as declaring that “Zionists are now encircled by those who are willing to wage jihad for Islam.” The loss of Syria, with possible repercussions in neighboring Lebanon now controlled by Hezbollah, would be a major blow to Khamenei’s strategy.

What is the United Nations doing while the Syrian dictatorship, with the help of Iran, goes after its own citizens, and now even Palestinian refugees, in the latest bombardments of Latakia? It is busy rewarding the aggressors. The United Nations Development Programme is actually spending nearly a million dollars, part of which is paid for by American taxpayers, to partner with the Syrian government in modernizing the Latakia port – the very same location that Assad’s forces are so busy shelling.

In sum, Palestinians are being fired upon and forced out of their homes in the same Syrian port city, under bombardment by Assad’s forces, where Iran will be funding a military base and where the United Nations is funding a modernization program. Meanwhile, the Obama administration issues toothless statements condemning the Syrian government while keeping the U.S. ambassador in Damascus and keeping the money flowing to the UN.

Joseph Klein


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Hezbollah Official: Destroy Israel After U.S. Leaves Iraq

by Ryan Mauro

When an enemy gives insight into his strategic thinking, it pays to listen. A Hezbollah member of Lebanon’s parliament, retired Brigadier-General Walid Sakariya, predicts that Israel will be destroyed by a “Shiite crescent” in a war with hundreds of thousands of deaths. This war, he says, can only commence once two things happen: Iraq is absorbed into Iran’s bloc after a U.S. withdrawal and the Syrian regime is saved.

Sakariya says that Iraq is blocking plans to destroy Israel by acting as a “buffer zone.” Once U.S. forces completely leave, Iraq will fall to the Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah axis, permitting Iranian forces to march through its territory. A “Shiite crescent” is created, bringing together over 100 million people in a war against Israel, he explains. He recognizes the high cost of such a conflict, and predicts “hundreds of thousands” of “martyrs” and the use of nuclear weapons by Israel. To Sakariya, the prize of destroying Israel is worth that price. The war hasn’t started only because Iran’s bloc anticipates more permissible conditions.

However, Sakariya concedes that the plan to destroy Israel requires preserving Syria as a member of the “confrontation” bloc and adding Iraq. Iran has undoubtedly made achieving these objectives its top priority.

“If Syria, as a confrontation country, fails, America and the Zionist enterprise will be victorious,” he said.

The Iranian regime quickly dispatched the Revolutionary Guards to Syria to help the Assad regime cope with the uprising against it. Joint commander centers were built in Homs and in Damascus International Airport. Iran is spending $23 million to build a Revolutionary Guards base at an airport in Latakia by the end of 2012. It will be able to host planes that can deliver up to 40 tons of weapons each. Defected Syrian soldiers claim that Iran and Hezbollah are behind the executions of disloyal troops, and Iranian snipers are active on the ground.

Iran’s proxies are working hard to force a complete withdrawal of U.S. military personnel from Iraq in order to open up the opportunities mentioned by Sakariya. In June, the number of U.S. casualties spiked to the highest monthly level since 2008. The U.S. blamed the attacks on Iran, and top officials publicly warned of reprisals. Three Iranian proxies were responsible: Kaitab Hezbollah, Asaib Ahl al-Haq, and the Promised Day Brigade, a group that split from the Mehdi Army of Moqtada al-Sadr, who is also pledging to renew his jihad if U.S. forces stay.

Moqtada al-Sadr fled to Iran when the surge began. There, he earned the title of Grand Ayatollah. The Iranians clearly want to use him to lead the Iraqi Shiites. In April, he threatened to “escalate military resistance” if U.S. forces stay past the end of the year, and one of his aides said, “We are all time bombs and detonators at the hands of Moqtada al-Sadr.” He recently declared that any non-combat U.S. soldier in Iraq will be considered a legitimate target. “Whoever stays in Iraq will be treated as an unjust invader and should be opposed with military resistance,” his online statement reads.

There are strong obstacles standing in the way of Sakariya’s vision. The Iranians are undoubtedly employing every method and every technology they can to save the Assad regime in Syria, yet the protests continue to grow. Defectors claim that many more soldiers are deserting than is being reported. One defector said that 4,000 soldiers defected in Damascus alone, and hundreds of others have been imprisoned for refusing to shoot civilians. A Syrian opposition site claims that over 22,000 soldiers, including 7,000 officers have been jailed for disobeying orders.

In Iraq, Iran has been forced to downscale its proxy warfare. Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says that there has been a “dramatic reduction” of Iranian-backed attacks in recent weeks because of joint U.S.-Iraqi operations. The Iraqi government seems certain to authorize an extension of the U.S. military’s stay, with the U.S. offering to keep 8,500 to 10,000 troops in the country.

The Iraqi political environment is also unfavorable to Iran. Over 40 percent of Iraqi Shiites view Iran’s influence negatively, and only 18 percent view it positively. In the last elections in March 2010, the cross-sectarian bloc led by Iyad Allawi, a pro-American, secular Shiite, came in first place. The bloc of Prime Minister al-Maliki, who authorized offensives against Iranian proxies, came in a close second. The parties most closely aligned with Iran were defeated in a landslide.

Hezbollah MP Sakariya has done the West a favor by outlining the ambitions of the Iranian-Syrian-Hezbollah axis for the region, and identifying the linchpins of its strategy. If the fall of the Assad regime and the continued presence of the U.S. military in Iraq is what the axis is fighting against, then that is exactly what we must fight for.

Ryan Mauro


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The Lone Wolf Jihad

by Raymond Ibrahim

As we near the ten-year anniversary of the September 11, 2001 strikes, the Obama administration is stressing that the threat remains, but in a different form. In a speech at a Chamber of Commerce event yesterday, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said:

[T]he U.S. has a "layered system of security that would give us multiple ways to deter" an attack like the one a decade ago in which airplanes were weaponized. "What we see now is smaller plots," she said. "We are also seeing a rise of activities by individuals who are actually in the country, and they are acting by themselves and that kind of attack is the most difficult to prevent because there is nothing to intercept." Napolitano's comments echoed what President Obama said in an interview Tuesday in discussing the 10-year anniversary of Sept. 11…. With the nation preparing to observe the 10th anniversary of hijacked airliners crashing in New York and Washington and in the Pennsylvania countryside, Obama said the government is in a state of heightened awareness. "The biggest concern we have right now is not the launching of a major terrorist operation, although that risk is always there," the president said. "The risk that we're especially concerned over right now is the lone wolf terrorist, somebody with a single weapon being able to carry out wide-scale massacres of the sort that we saw in Norway recently," he said. "You know, when you've got one person who is deranged or driven by a hateful ideology, they can do a lot of damage, and it's a lot harder to trace those lone wolf operators."

While it is nice that the administration is able to acknowledge that jihadis are going lone wolf—that the jihad has metastasized—this report is a reminder of the administration's failed policies, policies which in many ways led to the current situation, where it is no surprise that, a decade after the strikes of 9/11, "the government is [still] in a state of heightened awareness."

For starters, rather than once attempting to understand the ideology of jihad itself and its place in Islamic history and tradition—not to malign, but for proper context, to understand what one is up against—the administration, like the one before it, preferred to take the easy, politically-correct, way out: focus on formal organizations and people—al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden, as the root source of the problem—while ignoring the jihadi elephant in the room.

Indeed, all evidence indicates that the focus remains on the tangible, the quantifiable—al-Qaeda—without wanting to look at the surrounding context which produces groups like it and even jihadi lone wolfs. In the CNN interview, "Obama said the government continues to monitor and gather information about potential terror plots, even though Al Qaeda's capabilities have been degraded." Note the ingrained "even though," as if the very demise of al-Qaeda, its total eradication, is naturally supposed to equate the demise of jihad, which is some 1400 years older than al-Qaeda.

And if ever there was talk on the context that fuels the jihad, it was always the idea that U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East was to blame (regurgitating what the jihadis themselves were saying). Likewise, it was believed that terrorism was a "foreign" problem that could never infect American Muslims, as it has nothing to do with Islam.

Yet here is Napolitano saying that "We are also seeing a rise of activities by individuals who are actually in the country." More to the point, months earlier, Attorney General Eric Holder said that "the threat has changed … to worrying about people in the United States, American citizens — raised here, born here, and who for whatever reason, have decided that they are going to become radicalized and take up arms against the nation in which they were born."

None of this is surprising, considering that the Obama administration went out of its way to ban the use of accurate words—such as jihad and Islam from national security documents—thereby epistemologically undermining American discourse on the nature of the threat.

In short, Fort Hood style attacks—both the successful one of 2009 and the unsuccessful one from weeks ago—should have been expected. Expect more to come as the lone wolf jihad runs loose.

Raymond Ibrahim, an Islam-specialist, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.


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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Mubarak Deceived Israel as Muhammad Deceived Infidels?

by Raymond Ibrahim

In light of ousted president Hosni Mubarak's ongoing trial, Western readers may be surprised to learn who some of Mubarak's staunchest defenders are: Salafi Muslims, those Muslims who practice the 7th century Islam of Muhammad, and who are often referred to as "radicals."

Sheikh Mahmoud Amer, leader of Ansar al-Sunna in Damanhur, recently appeared on the Egyptian news program Life Today arguing that, according to Sharia, it is illegal to try Mubarak, whose dealings with Israel—specifically the charge that he sold gas to it at cheap rates—were similar to the prophet Muhammad's dealing with infidel enemies. Here are translations of the most relevant excerpt:

He [Hosni Mubarak] was the imam [Muslim leader]; all his actions have their circumstances. Regarding this gas issue you are talking about, whoever said that exporting gas to enemy combatants, Jews or otherwise, is impermissible? Who among the Muslim jurists [fuqaha] said this? The prophet himself died while his armor was given to a Jew [an infidel enemy] as collateral; and in the Battle of the Trench [627], the prophet negotiated with one of the polytheist tribes [enemies] to give them dates, Medina's main source of income, just so they would quit the war—because "war is deceit"; he negotiated for this purpose . Nor did divine inspiration [Allah] come down to censure him for his actions, had such actions violated Sharia. So, show me one jurist saying that it is impermissible to deal with enemy combatants—I do not say treaty-holders, as there is a treaty between us and the Jews, but I posit that between us and the Jews is war. So who among the classic jurists said that it is impermissible to deal with combatants, buying and selling? Here are the books of jurisprudence… I say the prophet negotiated with the polytheists to give them free dates to keep their strength at bay at that time [as opposed to Mubarak, who only sold gas cheaply, Muhammad went one step further giving things for free]. So these are political and military matters, and the authority is free to pick whichever he deems most appropriate.

Along with stressing Muhammad's attempt to appease Islam's infidel enemies with gifts when the latter were stronger than the Muslims, the sheikh also stressed that Mubarak was the "sultan"—an Arabic-Islamic term of special significance, conveying a certain form of sovereign political and temporal authority in Islam, complete with dispensations unavailable to the average Muslim.

Nor are these arcane notions: al-Qaeda itself has stressed these exact points. When discussing the permissibility for Muslims to deceive infidels, the late Osama bin Laden often alluded to Muhammad's attempt to appease the infidel tribe; and Ayman Zawahiri, al-Qaeda's new leader, quotes Islam's jurists as "unanimously agreeing" that "it is forbidden to overthrow" Muslim rulers, even if they are "cruel and despotic," yet "it is obligatory to wage jihad against" Muslim rulers found to be "apostate infidels" (The Al Qaeda Reader, pgs. 26-27, 121-122, 129 ).

The non-hijabbed, Westernized-looking female host, somewhat flustered, retorted: "Excuse me sheikh, but this issue of comparing the actions of our blessed prophet and a former president, I mean, forgive me, but maybe one can't speak on or judge between similar circumstances."

Then Montaser al-Zayyat, an Islamist lawyer who regularly represents jihadists -- including, formerly, Zawahiri -- chimed in saying that he too found it hard listening to the sheikh, and insisted that Mubarak should be condemned for selling gas to the Zionists, for "this is a betrayal of the [Egyptian] people."

Eventually, the debate descended into the usual shouting and yelling, with the sheikh boasting that at least Mubarak was a hero in Egypt's 1973 war with Israel, and asking the hostess and Zayyat, "Where were you on October 6, 1973?... Did you ever shoot a single bullet at a Jew?!"

Perhaps most telling is that, while the two Muslim experts on Sharia argued over many things, there was no disagreement over two points: enmity for Israel and Jews, and the permissibility of using deceit [taqiyya] to undermine them.

Raymond Ibrahim, a widely published Islam-specialist, is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center and an Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum.


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Why Is Amnesty International Attacking Canada?

by Adam Daifallah

It is a rare occurrence when a top government official comes out – on the record – to attack a human rights group. But that is what happened last week when Canada's Immigration Minister ripped into Amnesty International after it criticized Canada's plan to crack down on alleged war criminals hiding out in Canada.

Earlier this month, the secretaries general of Amnesty International's Canadian branches, Alex Neve and Béatrice Vaugrante, wrote an open letter to Canadian government ministers Vic Toews and Jason Kenney to express outrage over Canada's recent outing of 30 men residing in Canada – all of whom who are accused of war crimes.

Their names were published on a government website, asking for people to help find them. All were missing inside Canada's borders (six have since been arrested) and are wanted for deportation.

The men the Canadian government wishes to deport are not Canadian citizens. And they are not merely accused of war crimes: a quasi-judicial panel found there were reasonable grounds to believe the men were complicit in genocide, crimes against humanity or war crimes -- and in some cases, there were voluntary admissions to these.

Cutting through the preachy jargon, the point Amnesty is making in its letter is that if Canada deports these immigrants, they probably will not face any further investigation or criminal charges;and that by deporting them, Canada may be violating its "international human rights obligations if they face the possibility of serious human rights violations." Read: If Canada sends them home, they [Editor's correction follows] may be persecuted [may not be prosecuted] in their native countries.

Kenney's response was fierce, taking the group to task on a number of fronts and rightly calling into question Amnesty's decision to single out the Canadians for scorn.

"Our primary duty as a government is to protect Canada and Canadians," wrote Kenney. "Deporting these men discharges this duty and ensures Canada will not become a sanctuary for international war criminals and serious human rights abusers."

Amnesty's preferred course of action – to prosecute these men in Canada – would cost taxpayers millions to try these men for crimes committed in other countries, often eons ago. Such a move would clog criminal courts even further than they are now. And it would give war criminals an extra incentive to try immigrating to Canada in the hopes of having a trial there, thus being able to stay longer while they wait and launch appeals.

Kenney's larger point is the key: Why is Amnesty attacking Canada? Amnesty's attack has the effect of lumping Canada in with some of the most repulsive countries Amnesty attacks, even though Canada has one of the most generous immigration systems in the world. Why focus such a disproportionate amount of energy on Canada and other free countries when there are so many unspeakable human rights violations taking place on a daily basis in unfree countries?

A quick check of the group's website shows that in the past year, Amnesty had 151 mentions of human rights issues in the United States, and yet only 140 for Iran, 20 for Cuba -- and a whopping 6 for North Korea. Perhaps Canada should aspire to be more like North Korea?

The Western democracies are paying a price for being transparent. Amnesty does not focus its energy on the biggest human rights abusers, but rather on documenting what it can to produce improvements and heighten public awareness. This is not conjecture: Amnesty confirmed in February 2007 that it reports disproportionately on more democratic and open countries with access to information rather than on worthier targets.

It must be strange to be an Amnesty donor and to see money being used to fund operations used principally to criticize one's own governments, while the organization remains relatively quiet on blood-curdling human rights abusers.

Amnesty is also lining its wallets. Earlier this year, the British newspapers revealed the salaries and bonuses given to senior Amnesty staff. Secretary General Irene Khan was paid £132,490 (USD $217,284) and received a severance package of four times that. As British parliamentarian Philip Davies noted, "I am sure people making donations to Amnesty, in the belief they are alleviating poverty, never dreamed they were subsidizing a fat cat payout. This will disillusion many benefactors."

Given this, plus its false outrage over Canada's recent move, plus Amnesty's long-standing hypocrisy in turning a blind eye to some of the most horrific human rights violators, it seems almost impossible to take Amnesty International seriously anymore.

Adam Daifallah


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Snubbing the Real Syrian Democratic Movement

by Joseph Puder

Yahoo News reported on August 2, 2011 that “Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, met this morning with members of the U.S. based Syrian opposition.” According to Sherkoh Abbas, president of the Kurdistan National Assembly of Syria (KNA-S) and a founding member of the Syrian democratic opposition group known as the Syrian Democracy Council (SDC), the “opposition members” Clinton invited are associated with the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood (MB). Abbas contends that his group of pro-Western democrats seeks to create a federal democratic Syria that would enfranchise all segments of Syrian society, would strive for peace with Israel, disassociate Syria from Iran and respect Lebanon’s sovereignty, but has been shunned by Clinton and the Obama administration.

It is perhaps not surprising to see the Obama administration snubbing pro-American allies and pandering to those nations and groups who are clearly anti-American. This past February, Obama told President Mubarak of Egypt – a country which, under his rule, had been a U.S. ally – that “he must go,” but has refrained from demanding that President Bashar Assad — an ally of Iran, a sponsor of terrorism, and an enemy of the U.S. — must also go. Nor has the Obama administration/State Department recalled its ambassador.

The Palestinian news agency, Maan, reported on February 2, 2011 that:

President Barack Obama told Egypt’s President Hosni Mubarak that he must begin to transition power “now,” hinting his offer to leave after September elections may not go far enough. Obama also made another subtle shift toward crowds amassed in Cairo and other Egyptian cities after days of rage against Mubarak’s rule, saying America had heard them, and they would certainly get the change they craved.

Obama, it seems, couldn’t grasp the Syrian people’s rage against Assad, nor feel the pain of the Syrian people with the cold-blooded murder of thousands of their countrymen and women by the Assad regime.

With atrocities too glaring to ignore, and the resistance to the Baathist regime increasing rather than subsiding, Hillary Clinton has woken up and decided that the Obama administration must react. The recognition of the opposition and condemnation of the killings has been, in fact, mere lip service and contradicts her assertions made on March 28, 2011 as reported by Bloomberg News Radio that “the elements that led to intervention in Libya – international condemnation, an Arab League call for action, a United Nations Security Council resolution – are not going to happen with Syria, in part because members of the U.S. Congress from both parties say they believe Assad is a reformer.” It would be more accurate, however, to say that it was the Obama administration that considered Assad to be a “reformer.” Moreover, both the Arab states and the U.N. condemned the atrocities in Syria. And, while Khadafy’s Libya has not endangered American troops, Assad’s Syria has actively allowed Arab-Muslim terrorists to cross the Syrian border into Iraq where they have attacked U.S. personnel.

The hypocrisy embedded in the Obama administration’s choices speaks volumes. The Huffington Post reported on February 14, 2011 that:

Under Obama’s proposal, released Monday, the State Department’s Democracy Fund would be cut by 21 percent from its current $140 million appropriation, leaving it with $111 million for fiscal 2012. Subsidies for the National Endowment for Democracy, a private nonprofit that focuses on spreading democracy, would be cut by 12 percent, from $118 million to $104 million.

The Obama administration also reduced funding for democracy and governance programming in Egypt by more than half from $50 million in 2008 to $20 million in 2009.

Sherkoh Abbas believes that the U.S., “working with Salafi groups, and the Turkish government, would create an opposition in Syria that is strictly Islamist, and thus serve Turkish economic interests in Syria, and keep the Kurdish issue as dormant in Turkey as well as in Syria.” He continued:

By placing the U.S. behind such political parties as the Muslim Brotherhood, the U.S. will lose touch with the real opposition on the ground, which seeks democracy, peace with its neighbors, economic stability, guided by a pro-Western outlook.

Abbas asserted that only a fraction of the Syrian people belong to political parties and that the MB, aided by the Islamist Turkish government, seeks to hijack the Syrian revolution.

“The Obama administration,” says Abbas, “is doing nothing to support the Syrian people’s quest for freedom and democracy, and for the idea of a federalized Syria, which could reduce the influence of the MB, isolate Hezbollah, and contain the threat of Iran in the Middle East. In our view, the only people who will benefit in maintaining the current regime in Syria are Iran, Hezbollah and Hamas.” So, why doesn’t the Obama administration support regime change in Syria or provide support for democratic groups such as the Syrian Democracy Council? Abbas believes that the Obama administration has leveraged its policy on Syria by giving Turkey a free hand to sort things out in Damascus and Aleppo.

Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, boosted by another decisive electoral victory earlier this year, has developed hegemonic ambitions for the region and beyond, and has assumed the mantle of protector of Sunni Islam. In the current upheaval in Syria, Erdogan (according to Asia Times):

made a startling claim that what happens in Syria is an “internal affair” for Turkey and not a foreign policy issue, given the 850 kilometer border between the two countries and their deep cultural and historical links. This is the first time Erdogan has hinted Turkey might intervene in Syria. It wasn’t one of those intemperate outbursts for which he is well-known. Erdogan intended it as a calculated affront to the Syrian regime and he had the Sunni Muslim Arab audience in mind.

Unlike President Obama, Sherkoh Abbas’s vision for Syria, under the leadership of the Syrian Democratic Council (SDC), would be most endearing to Americans. As he points out:

What we want is a stable, secure democratic and federal Syria, a free-market economy, peace with Israel and a country friendly towards the West. The current centralized Baathist government has proved that it is the cause of unrest, not only in Syria, but in neighboring countries and to the world as well. Syria, moreover, cannot be a stable state as long as the second largest ethnic groups – the Kurds – are marginalized and disenfranchised. If the SDC were to be in a position of power in Syria, we would respect Lebanese and Iraqi sovereignty, and we will guarantee security and peace to Israel.

Both houses of Congress, as well as the American people, must take the Obama administration to task for its policy choices. The Foreign Affairs Committee in the House of Representatives and the Senate Foreign Relations Committee should initiate immediate hearings on the State Department’s exclusion of the democratic opposition in Syria. The American people must be clear on where their country’s policy makers stand and are leading this country.

Joseph Puder


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

The Makings of a Terrorist State

by Frank Crimi

Despite a recent UN report that found the country of Eritrea, located on the Horn of Africa, to be actively planning terrorist attacks as well as funding a wide array of terror groups, the Obama administration has declined to list it as a state sponsor of terrorism.

The report by a UN monitoring group in June 2011 alleged the Eritrean government was providing military, financial and logistical support to Islamist and other militant terror organizations throughout East Africa, including Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia, and the Sudan.

The terrorist and militant groups receiving Eritrean support include Somalia’s Islamist al-Shabab and Hizbul Islam; Ethiopia’s Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) and Oromo Liberation Front (OLF); and Djibouti’s Front pour le Restauration de la Democratie (FRUD).

Eritrean support to these terror outfits include “training, people smuggling, arms trafficking, money laundering and extortion,” all facilitated by a large number of Eritrean political, military and intelligence officials. Moreover, Eritrea has established its own training camps, built for the purpose of training foreign fighters.

While Eritrea has outsourced most of the implementation of its terrorist agenda, it has proven quite willing to undertake terrorist activities on its own. That willingness was cited in the UN report as well, which alleged that the Eritrean government was behind a failed plot to bomb several civilian and government targets in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa during an African Union (AU) summit in January 2011.

According to the UN report, the Eritrean aim was to make Addis Ababa “like Baghdad” by setting off car bombs outside AU headquarters and assassinating targeted AU delegates.

For its part, the UN Security Council had already imposed sanctions against Eritrea in December 2009, which included embargoes on the delivery of military equipment, as well as a travel ban and an asset freeze on Eritrean political and military leaders. Now, the UN monitoring group is urging the UN Security Council to impose yet another round of sanctions on the Eritrean government.

While US ambassador to the UN Susan Rice said the United States was prepared to add additional sanctions, she would not say if the latest findings would be enough to place Eritrea on the State Sponsors of Terrorism List. Instead, Rice voiced concern that the sanctions not be designed so they would “harm the people of Eritrea, who are suffering enough as it is.”

Eritrea’s suffering stems from its inclusion as one of the nations severely affected by the drought in the Horn of Africa, a drought which has forced an estimated 61,000 Eritreans to find refuge in Ethiopia. Added onto that burden is Eritrea’s status as an already desperately impoverished nation, one with a gross national income per capita of $360.

Yet, despite famine and grinding poverty, Eritrea has still been able to finance a far flung terrorist support network. According to the UN report, cash transfers to al-Shabab and other groups are facilitated by a “vast and complex system” in which senior officials of the Eritrean government and ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) collect and control hundreds of millions of dollars each year in unofficial revenues.

In addition to private business arrangements involving PFDJ-run companies or business partnerships abroad, most revenues come largely from a 2 percent tax levied on the estimated 1.2 million Eritrean nationals (or 25 percent of its entire population) living overseas.

Still, the Eritrean government has categorically denied the UN charges, sloughing it off as “irresponsible interference” ginned up by the United States and Ethiopia. However, Eritrea’s past behavior puts that denial into some question.

In fact, Eritrea’s role as a destabilizing force in East Africa has been in play since 1991 when Eritrean President Issayas Afewerki led the country to independence from Ethiopia. Since then, Eritrea has at various times gone to war with Ethiopia, Yemen, Djibouti and Sudan, the most bloody conflict being a border war with Ethiopia between 1998 and 2000 that claimed over 80,000 lives.

So, given its past track record, it wasn’t too surprising that even prior to the release of the UN report, the Inter-Government Authority on Development (IGAD) — a six-country security and economic partnership that includes Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda — had called for toughened UN and African Union sanctions against Eritrea for its terrorist activities.

Ironically, however, Eritrea was once an American ally in the war on terror. In fact, Eritrea was one of the “coalition of the willing” — those nations that supported the US invasion of Iraq in 2003. That support was underscored in May 2004 by the Eritrean ambassador to the United States who said that Eritrea stood “ready to assist the United States in any way it can.”

However, by 2005 Eritrea had quickly slipped out of favor with the United States and much of the international community due to its repressive human rights abuses. So, by November 2006, Eritrean President Issayas Afewerki had reversed course and broke ties with America, claiming that the US was now “an historic enemy” of Eritrea.

At that same time, Afewerki began accelerating Eritrea’s descent into a rogue state by seeking ties with extremist groups and regimes all over the world. To that end, Afewerki began focusing Eritrea’s relations on countries like Libya, Sudan and Iran.

Most disturbing perhaps has been Eritrea’s push to become a military launch pad for Iran. Specifically, in 2008 Iranian ships and submarines reportedly deployed an undisclosed number of Iranian troops and weapons — long-range and ballistic missiles — at the Eritrean port town of Assab on the Red Sea.

The Eritrean-Iranian military agreement had been preceded by an accord between the two nations that called for Iran to “revamp, manage, and exercise complete authority” over production and maintenance of Eritrea’s oil refining facilities. As the world’s second largest importer of gasoline, Iran has been able to refine its crude oil in Assab to cover shortages it faces at home from Western sanctions on refined products.

Yet, all this nefarious activity has been unable to qualify Eritrea alongside Cuba, Syria, North Korea and Iran as a State Sponsor of Terrorism. Instead, it was named by the State Department in May 2011 as a Specially Designated Country — along with Israel — for “not cooperating fully with US anti-terrorism efforts.”

So, while some in Washington may not view Eritrea as being the greatest global threat, as demonstrated in the latest UN report, it’s certainly not been for a lack of trying.

Frank Crimi


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Erdogan: No Apology? No Thaw

by Gil Ronen

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan reacted Wednesday to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's refusal to apologize to Turkey for the Mavi Marmara affair, and told reporters: "Rejection of our decision is unacceptable. As long as Israel does not apologize, does not pay compensation and continues to place an embargo on the Palestinian people, there will be no improvement in the relations between Turkey and Israel."

Earlier Wednesday it was reported that Netanyahu turned down U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s requests and will not apologize to Turkey for the IDF’s counter terrorist action.
Senior members of the Cabinet have strongly opposed the apology that Turkey has demanded and they said that if anyone should say he is sorry, it should be Erdogan.

Likud Ministers Benny Begin and Moshe Ya’alon, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman of Yisrael Beiteinu and Interior Minister Eli Yishai of Shas have said that Israel has nothing to apologize for. There were reports that Lieberman threatened to resign if an apology was issued.

The Obama administration has been anxious to improve ties between Jerusalem and Ankara.
A United Nations report by an investigation committee headed by Geoffrey Palmer is due to be published next week. It is expected to partly blame Turkey for the confrontation on the high seas, while accusing Israel of a disproportionate action.

Gil Ronen


Copyright - Original materials copyright (c) by the authors.

Egyptian Forces Seize Sinai Weapons Depot


Egyptian security forces said they had seized a mega-factory for manufacturing weapons in the northern Sinai town of El-Arish on Tuesday night.

Explosives, rockets and other weapons were captured, and a suspect was detained at the scene, security officials told Ma'an.

The Egyptian army and police have flooded the peninsula region bordering Israel and Gaza, in an operation termed "Eagle", to clamp down on militants accused of five attacks on a gas pipeline to Israel this year.

An Egyptian police officer was killed at the end of July in a shoot out between forces and gunmen at El-Arish police station.

Six men were detained in El-Arish on Monday, and earlier Tuesday Egyptian forces apprehended four men they said were preparing another attack on the supply line to Israel.

Egyptian security officials told Ma'an that the army located the factory -- believed to be the main site for weapons production by extremists in the Sinai region -- at the western edge of El-Arish city, in a building owned by a known "jihadist", a reference to Islamic militants.

Forces raided the depot Tuesday night, and discovered amongst the projectile and explosive manufacturing equipment, three sacks of gunpowder and of urea, used to create explosives, five bags of TNT explosive, seven anti-aircraft projectiles, three rocket-propelled grenades, and 30 individual and tank mines, the officials said.

A sniper rifle belonging to the officer shot dead at the end of July was also discovered.

The forces detained a man inside the factory for interrogation, and reported that he confessed a colleague had taken the rifle after shooting the officer.

Operation Eagle targets extremists in the sparsely-populated Sinai, and extra force deployment received approval from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, following the terms of the 1979 Israel-Egypt peace treaty.

Attacks on gas pipelines to Israel, and the new regime's pledge to review all preferential supply agreements to the country, have put Israel's energy supplies on edge.

Egypt supplies ag:\israel\politics\blog\hard_nl OUT.txtbout 40 percent of Israel's natural gas, which is used to produce electricity.



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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Gaza Ministry of Interior Announces New Restrictions on NGOs


PCHR Palestinian Centre for Human Rights Press Release

PCHR Is Shocked by Declaration of the Ministry of Interior in Gaza Regarding Travel of Representatives of Programs and Projects of NGOs and Institutions

The Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) is shocked and strongly denounces the declaration issued by the Ministry of Interior and National Security in Gaza regarding the travel of representatives of programs and projects of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and institutions to the West Bank or abroad. PCHR believes that this trend, as a part of a series of decisions recently taken by the government in Gaza, is an unprecedented and unacceptable intervention in NGOs work, which implies imposing restrictions on NGOs and activists and dealing with them on security basis. As a result, the foundations of the relationship between NGOs and the government, which is regulated by the Basic Law and all other laws in force, are threatened to be undermined. PCHR calls upon Isma'il Haniya, the Prime Minister in Gaza, to immediately and personally intervene to ensure respect for the law, the relationship with NGOs and their role, and to ensure their independence.

On 10 August 2011, the General Department of Public Affairs and NGOs in the Ministry of Interior and National Security in Gaza posted a declaration on its website regarding the travel of participants through NGOs' programs and activities:

"The General Department of Public Affairs and NGOs in the Ministry of Interior and National Security announces that each person of those wishing to travel through NGOs' programs or projects to the West Bank or abroad has to refer to the General Department of Public Affairs and NGOs not less than two weeks from the date of travel. He/she also has to inform us of the following: - The destination - The period of travel - The purpose of travel, in addition to identifying the program - The target group (a list of names and data of allg:\israel\politics\blog\hard_nl OUT.txt participants) - The hosting body

This declaration was published after days of posting a news item on website of the Council of Ministers in Gaza – Secretariat General – on 02 August 2011. It stated that the government "decided not to allow any NGO or non-profit organization to implement any project that is funded by a donor without the approval of the Ministry of Interior, National Security and concerned bodies." This news was negated by the government in communications made with the Secretariat General of the Council of Ministers and with the government's spokesperson. However, it was not officially cancelled.

Additionally, on 31 May 2011, the Council of Ministers in Gaza issued a decision to make amendments to the executive bill of Charitable Associations and Community Organizations Law No. 1/2000, which has not been officially published in the official gazette yet (al-Waqa'e Newspaper in Gaza). The amendments included adding article (47 bis) which stipulates that:
"1. All the branches of local organizations shall provide to the Ministry and the Competent Ministry any documents or papers upon request; and 2. The Ministry and the Competent Ministry shall implement activities implemented by branches of local organizations to make sure that the funds of the said branches are spent for the designated purpose."
PCHR had reservations over this amendment, which substantially destroys the essence of this relationship and grants more power to the Ministry of Interior to intervene into the affairs of organizations. Further, this amendment constitutes an encroachment of the law.

PCHR strongly denounces this declaration and warns against its risks, as it violates the law and is part of the restrictions imposed on the Palestinian people due to the illegal siege; and:

1. Calls upon Mr. Isma'il Haniya, the Prime Minister in Gaza, to immediately and personally intervene to ensure respect for the law, the relationship with NGOs and their role, and to ensure their independence.;
2. Calls upon the Ministg:\israel\politics\blog\hard_nl OUT.txtry of Interior and National Security in Gaza to withdraw this trend and annul the decision immediately;
3. Stresses that the freedom of movement is ensured for all persons under the law and the constitution;
4. Rejects that the Ministry of Interior and National Security deals with NGOs' activists on security basis. PCHR expresses its concerns that this trend is part of a policy that will eventually lead to undermining the foundations of an independent and active society;
5. Believes that this trend raises a question concerning what civil society the government wants, and whether there is an appropriate environment for an independent civil society or the trend is part of persistent efforts for control and containment, which violate the spirit and text of the law.

IMRA (Independent Media Review and Analysis)


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The World of Political Discourse Aims at the Imagination

by Herbert I. London

When the president of the United States says we have to control expenditures and then advocates dramatic increases in the budget, it is perplexing.. When we are told the economy is in recovery, but according to recent reports the unemployment rate has ballooned to over 9 percent, it is confusing. When we are told we must win the war against radical Islamic forces but we will be withdrawing our troops from the Middle East, it is baffling.

This is not merely Orwellian double-speak; something else is at work. Words create a picture, but It is a picture obscured by reality. Ludwig Wittgenstein spent his life trying to show how language can be useful in understanding the world, while still remaining inexact. "The limits of my language are the limits of my world," he noted. We are presumably imprisoned by what we can say.

The mathematician Godel spoke of the "incompleteness theorem": "a statement cannot be proven," he said. In other words, there is a truth outside the limits of words and logic.

What this suggests for those who are trying to make sense of the contradictions in the political world is that language is imprecise and truth is evasive. Invariably politicians use metaphors or word pictures to convey impressions. President Obama, during the course of his presidential campaign, relied on a tabula rasa -- a blank slate -- onto which his constituents could project anything they wished he would embrace.

Citizen searching for truth realize at some point that truth cannot be final: there is always a next truth. Francis Fukuyama may discuss "the end of history," but history cannot have an end. Ultimately people try to assemble an understanding of life through the thickets of specialized terminology, political propaganda and conceptual coinage, searching for a moment of revelation.

Emerson noted that "consistency is the hobgoblin of fools;" however, inconsistency in the political realm leads inevitably to cynicism. What can you believe, what confidence can you have in leaders, when one action contradicts the next? Politics by its very nature consists of metaphors on steroids; impressions are what count. Facts give impression texture, but it is what lies beyond the logic that enters our imagination. Thomas Mann in Doctor Faustus characterized this well by noting: "All that one may well call vast, strange, extraordinary magnificent, without thereby giving it a name because it is truly nameless." This vast space ocean of the unknown, kindled Shakespeare's Midsummer Night's Dream in which Bottom says, "I have had a most rare vision. I have had a dream, past the wit of man to say what dream it was. Man is but an ass if he go about to expound this dream."

There is much that we know without knowing it. And there is much we would wish to explain, without explication. Alas the world is confusing, but our politicians have an obligation at least to make the metaphor provide us with impressions that are sound.

Herbert I. London


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