Saturday, March 14, 2015

Iran Deal Secrets Revealed – by Iran - Kenneth R. Timmerman

by Kenneth R. Timmerman

On issue after issue, it’s the United States – not Iran – that has given way. When Iran got caught violating the terms of the November 2013 agreement within the first two months, by enriching fresh batches of uranium to 20%, the United States pretended not to notice.

iran-nuclear-talksMuch is being made of the letter signed by 47 U.S. Senators, all of them Republican, aimed at schooling Iranian leaders in the requirements of the U.S. Constitution.

Secretary Kerry said his reaction was “utter disbelief” that the Senators would “go behind” the back of the administration during a delicate international negotiation. Some on the American Left called it “treason,” conveniently forgetting that some of their own (including Kerry, as a junior Senator) have met with enemy foreign leaders in defiance of a president of the other party on many occasions.

In an exchange with Sen. Marco Rubio at Wednesday’s Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Secretary Kerry said he had shared details of the negotiations with the Saudis and other Sunni allies, but that he wouldn’t do the same with Congress.

But Congress can just tune in the Iranian Foreign Ministry’s English language website to learn the secrets of the deal Secretary Kerry won’t reveal to them.

Addressing the Republican Senators who signed the letter, Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif warned that a “change of administration does not in any way relieve the next administration from international obligations undertaken by its predecessor…

“I wish to enlighten the authors that if the next administration revokes any agreement with the stroke of a pen, as they boast, it will have simply committed a blatant violation of international law.”

Zarif went on to reveal details of the agreement that the Obama Administration has so far kept from Congress.

His statement emphasized “that if the current negotiation with P5+1 result[s] in a Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, it will not be a bilateral agreement between Iran and the US, but rather one that will be concluded with the participation of five other countries, including all permanent members of the Security Council, and will also be endorsed by a Security Council resolution.”

Let me spell that out: The Obama administration has told Congress that it won’t submit the nuclear agreement with Iran for Congressional approval, but now Zarif is saying that it will be submitted to the United Nations, to form the basis of a United Nations Security Council resolution, presumably aimed at lifting UN sanctions on Iran.

That was too much even for Sen. Bob Corker (R, Tenn), the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who pointedly refused to join his colleagues in signing the Iran letter, even though the Senate Republican Leadership, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, had.

“There are now reports that your administration is contemplating taking an agreement, or aspects of it, to the United Nations Security Council for a vote,” Corker wrote on Thursday to Obama.

“Enabling the United Nations to consider an agreement or portions of it, while simultaneously threatening to veto legislation that would enable Congress to do the same, is a direct affront to the American people and seeks to undermine Congress’s appropriate role,” he added.

Can Obama legally circumvent Congress and go directly to the United Nations?

Undoubtedly, just as he could ignore multiple U.S. laws – and his own statements – that prevented him for granting amnesty to millions of illegal aliens by Executive Order.

But if the Iranians really believe they can find sanctuary from Congress in Turtle Bay, former White House speech writer Marc Thiessen suggests they should think again.

“The US constitution trumps international law. The US constitutional trumps the United Nations, ” he told FoxNews anchor Megyn Kelly on Thursday. “The Supreme Court has actually ruled on this.”

It should be crystal clear to anyone observing the U.S.-Iran charade what Tehran wants from these talks: absolute victory over the United States.

Iran’s “moderate” president Hassan Rouhani, a former nuclear negotiator himself, said it the day the November 2013 agreement was announced: “In #Geneva agreement world powers surrendered to Iran’s national will,” he tweeted victoriously.

Some have mistaken Iranian statements about “red lines” and rhetoric about safeguarding “scientific achievements” to mean that a sugar-coated agreement that would allow Iran to save face, all the while imposing meaningful limits of Iran’s nuclear program, is all that’s needed for peace in our time.

That simply misreads the tea leaves in Tehran.

Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who ironically may not live to see an agreement signed, has been driving the negotiations from behind the scene.

On several occasions, he has publicly steered his negotiators away from certain concessions, and succeeded in getting the U.S. – not Iran – to give way.

When the negotiations began, the U.S. was insisting that Iran comply with five United Nations Security Council resolutions and suspend all uranium enrichment. Now the discussion is on how many centrifuge Iran can spin, and more importantly, how many new generation (and more efficient) centrifuges Iran can install.

On issue after issue, it’s the United States – not Iran – that has given way. When Iran got caught violating the terms of the November 2013 agreement within the first two months, by enriching fresh batches of uranium to 20%, the United States pretended not to notice.

When the International Atomic Energy Agency revealed that Iran had produced fresh batches of 20% uranium on Jan. 20, 2014, no one called it a violation, highlighting instead Iranian steps to convert a portion of the 20% uranium into fuel rods for a research reactor.

Anyone who was been observing Iran’s nuclear cheat and retreat over the past twenty years recognizes the pattern: Iran is constantly pushing the limits, and when they get called out, they take a step backwards until they think we are no longer watching, when they do it again.

And we never punish them. Not ever.

So what does “victory” look like from Tehran?

Two words: Sanctions relief.

This is the deal-maker for the Iranian regime, the one thing they want so bad they actually will make concessions to achieve it.

But wait: even though the Iranians claim the sanctions are unjust, and that all the sanctions imposed over the past two decades must be removed instantaneously for a deal to be signed, that does not mean they will walk away if some sanctions stay in place.

“What they really care about are the financial sanctions,” an Iranian businessman familiar with the way the Tehran regime moves money told me. “As long as they can use and move dollars, the rest they don’t care about.”

Iran has lived so long with sanctions on dual use technology and weapons procurement that they have learned how to get around them. “They can get anything they want,” the businessman told me. “It may cost them 5 percent or 10 percent more, but they consider that the cost of doing business.”

So be prepared for a last minute, Hail Mary deal that will lift financial sanctions on Iran in exchange for Iranian promises not to build the bomb.

If such a deal will prevent or even delay a nuclear holocaust in the Middle East is anyone’s guess.

Kenneth R. Timmerman


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

'If Herzog Wins, Iran's Proxies will Test Israel Soon After' - Gil Ronen

by Gil Ronen

Channel 2's Middle East expert says electing Labor government will encourage Iran-backed aggression on Israel's northern, southern borders.

Ehud Yaari
Ehud Yaari
Nati Shohat , Flash 90
Channel 2's Middle East expert, Ehud Yaari, who has been reporting on Mideast affairs for over 45 years, predicted in a Friday newscast that the election of a government headed by Labor's Yitzhak Herzog will have immediate repercussions on Israel's borders.

"If a government headed by Herzog is established,” he said, “I will not be surprised if there is an attempt by the Iranian-Hezbollah-Hamas side to test it, very early on,” Yaari said in the weekly news roundup, Ulpan Shishi.

Yaari was challenged by veteran security affairs reporter Ronny Daniel, who claimed that Israel's actions are determined by the defense establishment and not by the prime ministers.

Yaari insisted on his position, explaining that “Shiite forces under Iranian command, which were brought from Iraq and Afghanistan as well, continue to bomb from the air very close to our border.” Whoever sits in Israel's prime minister's office, he explained, “will have to decide – do we let them settle down near the border or not.”

Daniel countered that Israel has already decided not to let the hostile forces “settle down” near the border, but Yaari warned that the actions currently being taken by the enemy are much more serious than the action that prompted the IAF attack in January that killed Hezbollah's Jihad Mughniyeh and an Iranian general.

Gil Ronen


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Source: Senate panel probing ‎possible Obama administration ties to anti-Netanyahu effort - Gil Ronen

by Gil Ronen

Both Democrats and Republicans in Subcommittee on Investigations have signed off on probe of funding for One Voice.
Senate building
Senate building
The Senate Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations has launched a bipartisan probe into an American nonprofit’s funding of efforts to oust Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, after the Obama administration’s State Department gave the nonprofit taxpayer-funded grants, reported Saturday.

The source was described as having “knowledge of the panel's activities.”

Both the Democratic and the Republican sides of the subcommittee have signed off on the probe, in what could be seen as a rebuke to President Obama.

Netanyahu has repeatedly claimed in the last few days that foreign governments were funneling millions of dollars, and possibly tens of millions, into the “Anyone But Bibi” campaign that is flooding advertising space. He said he was talking about European governments, however, and mostly Scandinavian ones.

The Senate probe follows a report on claims the Obama administration has been meddling in the Israeli election on behalf of groups hostile to Netanyahu.

The Senate subcommittee, which has subpoena power, is the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs’ chief investigative body. It has jurisdiction over all branches of government operations and compliance with laws.

A source familiar with the matter confirmed for that the probe was indeed underway, and that it was bipartisan.

According to the source, the probe is looking into “funding” by OneVoice Movement – a Washington-based group that has received $350,000 in recent State Department grants, and until last November was headed by a veteran diplomat from the Clinton administrations.

A subsidiary of OneVoice is the Israel-based Victory 15 campaign, itself guided by top operatives of Obama’s White House runs, which seeks to “replace the government” of Israel.

“It’s confirmed that there is a bipartisan Permanent Subcommittee inquiry into OneVoice’s funding of V15,” the source said.

In his television interview, Netanyahu said the coalition seeking to oust him is generously funded by foreign donors who are also encouraging a high voter turnout among Israel's Arab and left-wing voters in a bid to replace the existing leadership.

An expert told earlier this month the State Department indirectly funded the anti-Netanyahu campaign by providing OneVoice with the $350,000 – even though State Department officials said the funding stopped in November, ahead of the announcement of the Israeli election.

Gil Ronen


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

Israel’s Next 22 Months - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

The long-term implications of Obama’s moves to transform US support for Israel into a partisan issue cannot by wished away. It is possible that his successor as the head of the Democratic Party will hold a more sympathetic view of Israel. But it is also possible that the architecture of Democratic fund-raising and grassroots support that Obama has been building for the past six years will survive his presidency and that as a consequence, Democrats will have incentives to oppose Israel.

Obama-whoops-WCOriginally published by the Jerusalem Post

The next 22 months until President Barack Obama leaves office promise to be the most challenging period in the history of US-Israel relations.

Now unfettered by electoral concerns, over the past week Obama exposed his ill-intentions toward Israel in two different ways.

First, the Justice Department leaked its intention to indict Democratic Sen. Robert Menendez on corruption charges. Menendez is the ranking Democratic member, and the former chairman, of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. He is also the most outspoken Democratic critic of Obama’s policy of appeasing the Iranian regime.

As former US federal prosecutor Andrew McCarthy wrote this week at PJMedia, “It is perfectly reasonable to believe that Menendez may be guilty of corruption offenses and that his political opposition on Iran is factoring into the administration’s decision to charge him. Put it another way, if Menendez were running interference for Obama on the Iran deal, rather than trying to scupper it, I believe he would not be charged.”

The Menendez prosecution tells us that Obama wishes to leave office after having vastly diminished support for Israel among Democrats. And he will not hesitate to use strong-arm tactics against his fellow Democrats to achieve his goal.

We already experienced Obama’s efforts in this sphere in the lead-up to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s speech before the joint houses of Congress on March 3 with his campaign to pressure Democratic lawmakers to boycott Netanyahu’s address.

Now, with his move against Menendez, Obama made clear that support for Israel – even in the form of opposition to the nuclear armament of Iran – will be personally and politically costly for Democrats.

The long-term implications of Obama’s moves to transform US support for Israel into a partisan issue cannot by wished away. It is possible that his successor as the head of the Democratic Party will hold a more sympathetic view of Israel. But it is also possible that the architecture of Democratic fund-raising and grassroots support that Obama has been building for the past six years will survive his presidency and that as a consequence, Democrats will have incentives to oppose Israel.

The reason Obama is so keen to transform Israel into a partisan issue was made clear by the second move he made last week.

Last Thursday, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice announced that the NSC’s Middle East Coordinator Phil Gordon was stepping down and being replaced by serial Israel-basher Robert Malley.

Malley, who served as an NSC junior staffer during the Clinton administration, rose to prominence in late 2000 when, following the failed Camp David peace summit in July 2000 and the outbreak of the Palestinian terror war, Malley co-authored an op-ed in The New York Times blaming Israel and then-prime minister Ehud Barak for the failure of the negotiations.

What was most remarkable at the time about Malley’s positions was that they completely contradicted Bill Clinton’s expressed views. Clinton placed the blame for the failure of the talks squarely on then-Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat’s shoulders.

Not only did Arafat reject Barak’s unprecedented offer of Palestinian statehood and sovereignty over all of Gaza, most of Judea and Samaria and parts of Jerusalem including the Temple Mount, he refused to make a counter-offer. And then two months later, he opened the Palestinian terror war.

As Jonathan Tobin explained in Commentary this week, through his writings and public statements, Malley has legitimized Palestinian rejection of Israel’s right to exist. Malley thinks it is perfectly reasonable that the Palestinians refuse to concede their demand for free immigration of millions of foreign Arabs to the Jewish state in the framework of their concocted “right of return,” even though the clear goal of that demand is to destroy Israel. As Tobin noted, Malley believes that Palestinian terrorism against Israel is “understandable if not necessarily commendable.”

During Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign, then-senator Obama listed Malley as a member of his foreign policy team. When pro-Israel groups criticized his appointment, Obama fired Malley.

But after his 2012 reelection, no longer fearing the ramifications of embracing an openly anti-Israel adviser, one who had documented contacts with Hamas terrorists and has expressed support for recognizing the terror group, Obama appointed Malley to serve as his senior adviser for Iraq-Iran-Syria and the Gulf states. Still facing the 2014 congressional elections, Obama pledged that Malley would have no involvement in issues related to Israel and the Palestinians. But then last week, he appointed him to direct the NSC’s policy in relation to the entire Middle East, including Israel.

The deeper significance of Malley’s appointment is that it demonstrates that Obama’s goal in his remaining time in office is to realign US Middle East policy away from Israel. With his Middle East policy led by a man who thinks the Palestinian goal of destroying Israel is legitimate, Obama can be expected to expand his practice of placing all the blame for the absence of peace between Israel and the Palestinians solely on Israel’s shoulders.

Malley’s appointment indicates that there is nothing Israel can do to stem the tsunami of American pressure it is about to suffer. Electing a left-wing government to replace Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will make no difference.

Just as Malley was willing to blame Barak – a leader who went to Camp David as the head of a minority coalition, whose positions on territorial withdrawals were rejected by a wide majority of Israelis – for the absence of peace, so we can assume that he, and his boss, will blame Israel for the absence of peace over the next 22 months, regardless of who stands at the head of the next government.

In this vein we can expect the administration to expand the anti-Israel positions it has already taken.

The US position paper regarding Israeli-Palestinian negotiation that was leaked this past week to Yediot Aharonot made clear the direction Obama wishes to go. That document called for Israel to withdraw to the indefensible 1949 armistice lines, with minor revisions.

In the coming 22 months we can expect the US to use more and more coercive measures to force Israel to capitulate to its position.

The day the administration-sponsored talks began in July 2013, the EU announced it was barring its member nations from having ties with Israeli entities that operate beyond the 1949 armistice lines unless those operations involve assisting the Palestinians in their anti-Israel activities. The notion that the EU initiated an economic war against Israel the day the talks began without coordinating the move with the Obama administration is, of course, absurd.

We can expect the US to make expanded use of European economic warfare against Israel in the coming years, and to continue to give a backwind to the anti-Semitic BDS movement by escalating its libelous rhetoric conflating Israel with the apartheid regime in South Africa.

US-Israel intelligence and defense ties will also be on the chopping block.

While Obama and his advisers consistently boast that defense and intelligence ties between Israel and the US have grown during his presidency, over the past several years, those ties have suffered blow after blow. During the war with Hamas last summer, acting on direct orders from the White House, the Pentagon instituted a partial – unofficial – embargo on weapons to Israel.

As for intelligence ties, over the past month, the administration announced repeatedly that it is ending its intelligence sharing with Israel on Iran.

The Hillary Clinton email scandal has revealed that during her tenure as secretary of state, Clinton transferred top secret information regarding Israel’s operations against Iran to the New York Times. We also learned that the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is being fingered as the source of the leak regarding the Stuxnet computer virus that Israel and the US reportedly developed jointly to cripple Iran’s nuclear centrifuges.

In other words, since taking office, Obama has used the US’s intelligence ties with Israel to harm Israel’s national security on at least two occasions.

He has also used diplomacy to harm Israel. Last summer, Obama sought a diplomatic settlement of Hamas’s war with Israel that would have granted Hamas all of its war goals, including its demand for open borders and access to the international financial system.

Now of course, he is running roughshod over his bipartisan opposition, and the opposition of Israel and the Sunni Arab states, in the hopes of concluding a nuclear deal with Iran that will pave the way for the ayatollahs to develop nuclear weapons and expand their hegemonic control over the Middle East.

Amid all this, and facing 22 months of ever more hostility as Obama pursues his goal of ending the US-Israel alliance, Israelis are called on to elect a new government.

This week the consortium of former security brass that has banded together to elect a leftist government led by Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni accused Netanyahu of destroying Israel’s relations with the US. The implication was that a government led by Herzog and Livni will restore Israel’s ties to America.

Yet as Obama has made clear both throughout his tenure in office, and, over the past week through Malley’s appointment and Menendez’s indictment, Obama holds sole responsibility for the deterioration of our ties with our primary ally. And as his actions have also made clear, Herzog and Livni at the helm will receive no respite in US pressure. Their willingness to make concessions to the Palestinians that Netanyahu refuses to make will merely cause Obama to move the goalposts further down the field. Given his goal of abandoning the US alliance with Israel, no concession that Israel will deliver will suffice.

And so we need to ask ourselves, which leader will do a better job of limiting the danger and waiting Obama out while maintaining sufficient overall US support for Israel to rebuild the alliance after Obama has left the White House.

The answer, it seems, is self-evident.

The Left’s campaign to blame Netanyahu for Obama’s hostility will make it all but impossible for a Herzog-Livni government to withstand US pressure that they say will disappear the moment Netanyahu leaves office.

In contrast, as the US position paper leaked to Yediot indicated, Netanyahu has demonstrated great skill in parrying US pressure. He agreed to hold negotiations based on a US position that he rejected and went along with the talks for nine months until the Palestinians ended them. In so doing, he achieved a nine-month respite in open US pressure while exposing Palestinian radicalism and opposition to peaceful coexistence.

On the Iranian front, Netanyahu’s courageous speech before Congress last week energized Obama’s opponents to take action and forced Obama onto the defensive for the first time while expanding popular support for Israel.

It is clear that things will only get more difficult in the months ahead. But given the stakes, the choice of Israeli voters next Tuesday is an easy one.

Caroline Glick is the Director of the David Horowitz Freedom Center's Israel Security Project and the Senior Contributing Editor of The Jerusalem Post. For more information on Ms. Glick's work, visit


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

Resist the pressure - Dore Gold

by Dore Gold

Whatever government Israel elects on March 17 will have to be firm in resisting the pressures that are likely to mount. The most immediate demand to be made is that Israel withdraw to the 1967 borders, with "limited" land swaps, as the U.N. draft resolution recommended. In past interviews, such as the one he gave to the New York Times on Feb. 7, 2011, Abbas clarified that his idea of a "limited land swap" involved 1.9 percent of the West Bank. This miniscule land swap in no way could offset the huge concession he was demanding of Israel -- to agree to the 1967 borders.

There are increasing indications that Western powers will seek to renew Israeli-Palestinian negotiations right after the Israeli elections. A Haaretz diplomatic correspondent reported on March 6 that senior White House officials had told him that a new initiative was under consideration. EU foreign affairs chief Federica Mogherini is also expected to appoint an envoy to deal with the renewal of negotiations. 

At the end of December 2014, the U.N. Security Council rejected a draft resolution that demanded a 12-month deadline for completing negotiations. The future borders between Israel and a new Palestinian state, according to the proposal, were to be based on the 1967 borders with "limited" land swaps. 

The new resolution, if adopted, could be argued by some as superseding U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 from November 1967, which never required Israel to withdraw from all the territories it captured in the Six-Day War. Instead, it called for "secure and recognized boundaries" instead. 

In the years that followed, American presidents further clarified the meaning of Resolution 242 by explicitly stating that it did not require full withdrawal. Though the Palestinians initially failed to replace 242, they are expected to renew their efforts to drum up U.N. support for their draft resolution, now that new members have joined the Security Council in 2015. 

Why should Israel be concerned about all these initiatives? After all, according to those who were involved in the last round of talks, it was Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas who rejected U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry's framework agreement in March 2014 during a meeting with U.S. President Barack Obama in the Oval Office. The pressure should be on the Palestinian side. 

But unfortunately, since 2009, a pattern has emerged. At that time, Abbas wanted negotiations with Israel to pick up where they left off with former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who offered unprecedented concessions before he resigned. There was no signed agreement between Israel and the Palestinians, but Abbas wanted to pocket Olmert's proposed concessions and then demand that Israel go even further. 

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu refused to accept the Olmert document. In an effort to persuade Abbas to come to the negotiating table, the Obama administration came up with a series of gestures that Israel would offer the Palestinians: a 10-month construction freeze in the settlements, prisoner releases, and declarations by the U.S. or the Quartet that were to be based on Palestinian territorial demands (lately these have been misrepresented as Israeli positions for political purposes). 

None of these gestures ultimately worked. The Palestinians refused to enter into any sustained negotiations with Israel. It appeared that Abbas wanted the West to establish what the results of the talks would be before the talking ever began. It was assumed by most observers that he wanted that outcome guaranteed in advance. 

But a simpler explanation for his behavior would be that he was simply not interested in reaching an agreement with Israel. He was under pressure both from Hamas and from Fatah militants. There was also his competition for Palestinian leadership with Mohammed Dahlan. Today Abbas refuses to take responsibility for the Rafah passageway in the Gaza Strip -- an essential precondition for rebuilding the area after being hit during Operation Protective Edge. It appears that he just wants to be left alone.

Perhaps the most important factor affecting Abbas was the fact that as the end of his career approaches, he is wary of taking any steps could tarnish his legacy, such as conceding what the Palestinians call "the right of return." There is no reason now to believe that these considerations will change. But the U.S. and its European allies are likely to press Israel to make the negotiations more attractive to Abbas by holding out the prospect of new Israeli concessions. 

Whatever government Israel elects on March 17 will have to be firm in resisting the pressures that are likely to mount. The most immediate demand to be made is that Israel withdraw to the 1967 borders, with "limited" land swaps, as the U.N. draft resolution recommended. In past interviews, such as the one he gave to the New York Times on Feb. 7, 2011, Abbas clarified that his idea of a "limited land swap" involved 1.9 percent of the West Bank. This miniscule land swap in no way could offset the huge concession he was demanding of Israel -- to agree to the 1967 borders.

This land swap would not provide enough territory to protect Israeli settlement blocs. Leaks to Al Jazeera of past negotiations under Olmert indicate that the Palestinians refused to concede the large settlements of Ariel and Maale Adumim. In short, Abbas' land swaps would leave thousands of Israelis on territory that the Palestinians expect to be theirs. The concept of 1967 borders with land swaps is a non-starter.

The pressure on Israel to agree to a nearly full withdrawal on the basis of the 1967 lines also directly impacts Israel's security -- yet another reason for any Israeli government to resist such a demand. Ironically, just as this pressure can be expected to increase, the current chaos in the Middle East makes such a withdrawal more dangerous than ever. The vacuum created by the breakdown of several Arab states, like Syria and Iraq, has allowed for the growth of a new breed of terrorist organizations, like Islamic State, that are far more challenging than the organizations Israel fought in the past.

For example, historically, terrorist attacks were typically conducted by small squads. Since 2014, Islamic State has been operating like a proper army with battalion-size units. In Syria, Islamic State and Jabhat al-Nusra used advanced anti-tank missiles and crushed Syrian armored units, seizing all their equipment. The most advanced models of Syrian T-72 tanks may now be seen on YouTube flying the al-Qaida flag and operated by jihadist crews.

In the summer of 2014, Islamic State cells defeated four divisions of the Iraqi Army and took all their new American equipment, including Abrams tanks. Islamic State may not be able to maintain all the weaponry it captured or conduct maneuver warfare, but it demonstrated that it could stand up to an actual army. 

To make matters worse, Middle Eastern borders are melting away, allowing terrorist organizations to move across international lines and easily obtain reinforcements. This not only applies to the Syrian-Iraqi border and the old Sykes-Picot line, but also to the Iraqi-Iranian border. On March 8, Ali Younesi, adviser to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, declared that Iran was an empire and that "there was no way to divide the territory of Iran and Iraq." Younesi was not a peripheral figure but a former intelligence minister. Therefore, those in the West who argue that Israel can afford to withdraw to the 1967 borders because the conventional threat along what used to be called Israel's eastern front has vanished are simply wrong. The conventional threat has changed and evolved. 

A third reason why a future Israeli government will have to remain steadfast in the face of pressure is connected to Jerusalem. The 1967 borders run right through the heart of Israel's capital. If accepted in any way, the 1967 borders would award the Old City of Jerusalem to the Palestinians, giving them all the holiest Jewish, Christian and Muslim sites. 

In 2009, when Sweden held the rotating EU presidency, it drafted a statement on the peace process that included a call for dividing Jerusalem. Ten years earlier, when Germany held the EU presidency, its ambassador to Israel tried to revive the idea of the internationalization of Jerusalem, contained in U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181. Jerusalem is a magnet for some of the most dangerous proposals that have come from the EU, which Israel must forcefully reject.

These suggestions should look absurd from a Western perspective in light of recent developments. Since the Taliban attack on the ancient Buddhist statues in the Bamian Valley in Afghanistan in the late 1990s, the religious sites of other faiths have increasingly come under attack across the Middle East. Churches have been bombed or set on fire by jihadists in Egypt. The same has occurred in Syria and Iraq. In the previous decade, Joseph's Tomb was attacked by Palestinian mobs and the Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem was invaded by joint Hamas and Fatah forces. This environment of intolerance has been backed not just by groups on the periphery of society but by mainstream elements as well.

Unfortunately, many in the international community who will be pressing Israel to accept their proposals do not appreciate correctly how the dramatic shifts in the Middle East have altered Israel's basic requirements in any revived peace negotiations. There is a tendency to take old peace proposals from the 1990s and to try and rework them and make them relevant for today, ignoring how much the Middle East has changed. The next Israeli government will find itself pulled between the determination of the international community to implement its latest ideas and the necessities of Israel's security on the ground in a much more chaotic and unstable Middle East.

Dore Gold


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

The Islamist Way - Burak Bekdil

by Burak Bekdil

"Expansion and conquest" make one of the pillars of the Islamist doctrine. For that reason, it requires, and overtly or covertly struggles for, expanding "rights" in non-Muslim countries.
It is simply futile to expect Islamists to demonstrate a crumb of the tolerance they demand of non-Muslim nations.

Islamists often do not hide it: They love head-count democracy in lands where they make a majority; and hate it in lands where they are in the minority. They would crush other faiths, including different sects and practices of their own faith -- or no faith, for that matter -- where they are in power.

In that happy set-up, the intriguing word "tolerance" is nowhere to be seen. Respect for the minority is too rare a commodity: "This is our land, we are in the majority, we rule and we rule it as we wish; and if you don't like it, go to hell."

Surprisingly (or maybe not), Islamists happen to become dedicated warriors of tolerance, religious freedoms, human rights and all other fancy tags when they live (in their choice of) Muslim-minority countries. Just imagine what could happen if 1.5 million Israelis lived in the Gaza Strip bordering a militarily, economically and technologically mighty, larger, more populous Hamas-ruled Palestinian state with a Jewish minority. Tolerance and rights for the Jews? Would you want to be a Jew there?

Naturally, the Islamist Turkish mind is not programmed to think differently from: "Let's crush the infidels at home and seek broader rights for Muslims in non-Muslim lands in Europe, America and Asia." Pluralism, to their way of thinking, should be the respected norm -- where Muslims are in the minority. The latest Austrian law regulating Islamic practice is no exception to the Islamist's golden rule.

The new Austrian law, passed on Feb. 25, aims at integrating Muslims and fighting Islamic radicalism by promoting an "Islam with an Austrian character." It seeks to reduce outside meddling by prohibiting foreign funding for mosques, imams and Muslim organizations in Austria. It also stresses that Austrian law must take precedence over Islamic Sharia law for Muslims living in the country.

Mehmet Görmez (left), head of the Turkish government's Religious Affairs Directorate, denounced Austria's new "Islam Law" and said that Austria should instead "make an effort to remove anti-Islamic sentiments and Islamophobia." Johann Rädler (right), speaking for the Austrian People's Party, said the law "guarantees Muslims more rights, and on the other hand it serves to counteract undesirable developments."

The new law regulates at least a dozen separate issues, including relatively non-controversial matters such as Muslim holidays, Muslim cemeteries, Muslim dietary practices and the activities of Muslim clergy in hospitals, prisons and the army. The law also grants official recognition to holidays and commemoration days of the Alevis, the largest Muslim minority faith in Turkey. The Austrian state will finance lessons on the Alevi faith taught at both private and public schools.

"In this respect," writes Soeren Kern, a senior fellow at the Gatestone Institute, "the [Austrian] government has met all of the demands put forth by Muslim groups in the country."

But Turkey's Islamists and the state religious authority have once again asked for more rights -- which they meticulously avoid granting to non-Sunni believers in their own country.

Unsurprisingly, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan slammed the Austrian bill. "On the one hand you tell about the EU acquis [accumulated legislation], but on the other hand you take steps which totally oppose the EU acquis," said Erdogan.

He further said: "In Switzerland and Austria new regulations pass that [negatively] influence Muslims' lives ... as if this is in favour of Muslims..."

Echoing the same view, Turkey's EU minister, Volkan Bozkir, said: "We cannot accept any harm to Muslims because of this law."

And Professor Mehmet Görmez, head of Turkey's state-controlled, pro-Sunni religious authority, or Diyanet, issued a long statement. Basically, according to Professor Gormez: a) This law does not befit Austria or Austrian history; b) This law is the outcome of the wave of "Islamophobia" that has engulfed Europe, and; c) [His] call to the Muslims in Austria is to display their reactions within the framework of democratic rules.

Once again, the Turks were not shy about displaying their sheer hypocrisy when they demanded "broader rights" for Muslims in two European countries.

From the State Department's 2013 International Religious Freedom report:
"There were reports of abuses of religious freedom, including the imprisonment of at least one conscientious objector for his religious beliefs … The [Turkish] government did not clarify the legal authority under which the Greek Orthodox Halki seminary could reopen after being closed for more than 40 years ... Some religious groups faced restrictions registering with the government, owning property, and training their members and clergy … Although religious speech and conversions are legal, some Muslims, Christians, and Bahais faced government restrictions, surveillance, and occasional harassment for alleged proselytizing or providing religious instruction to children …
"There were reports of societal abuses and discrimination based on religious affiliation, belief, or practice. Christians, Bahais, many non-Sunni Muslims, including the sizeable Alevi population, and members of other religious minority groups faced threats and societal suspicion. Jewish leaders reported some elements of society continued to express anti-Semitic sentiments. Persons wishing to convert from Islam experienced harassment and violence from relatives and neighbors."
Turkey's Islamists slammed the Austrian law that recognizes [Muslim] Alevi holidays, while they themselves resist calls to recognize the Alevi houses of prayer, or Cemevis, or to grant abstention to Alevi schoolchildren from the compulsory religion classes that essentially teach Sunni Islam.

"Expansion and conquest" make up one the pillars of Islamist doctrine. For that reason, it requires, and overtly or covertly struggles for, "dwindling" non-Muslim populations and rights in Muslim-controlled lands and "expanding" Muslim populations and rights in non-Muslim countries. It is simply futile to expect Islamists to demonstrate a crumb of the tolerance they demand of non-Muslim nations.

Burak Bekdil, based in Ankara, is a Turkish columnist for the Hürriyet Daily and a Fellow at the Middle East Forum.

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Administration lies about degrading Islamic State leadership exposed - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

Yes, truth is the first casualty of war and the Obama administration certainly wouldn't be the first to fudge the numbers. But there is a line between propaganda to confuse the enemy and lies to confuse the American people. And this administration is guilty of some real whoppers.

Eli Lake and Josh Rogin writing in Blomberg have been able to cut through the propaganda of the Obama administration and reveal the true state of our war against the leadership of Islamic State.

We haven't touched them.
The war against the Islamic State has killed thousands of fighters and even some mid-level battlefield commanders, but the organization's senior leadership and nerve center remain largely untouched, according to U.S. military and intelligence officials.
These officials and other experts tracking the terror group tell us that the Islamic State's Shura and Sharia councils, the advisory bodies that help inform the major decisions of the group's leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, remain intact, notwithstanding one close call in November for Baghdadi. Although airstrikes and military campaigns have killed several regional administrators and designated “governors,” the Islamic State has quickly replaced them and maintains its command-and-control capabilities.
This assessment of progress against the Islamic State differs sharply from public statements by top Obama administration officials as recently as last month, including Secretary of State John Kerry and retired General John Allen, the president's special coordinator for the coalition against the Islamic State. In February, Allen said that half the group's leaders in Iraq had been killed.
Speaking at the Munich Security Conference also in February, Kerry expanded that claim to account for the group’s leadership in Syria as well.
“We’ve disrupted their command structure, undermined its propaganda, taken out half of their senior leadership, squeezed its financing, damaged its supply networks, dispersed its personnel, and forced them to think twice before they move in an open convoy," Kerry said.
Kerry and Allen haven’t since repeated that claim about the group’s senior leadership. U.S. military officials tell us no consensus intelligence estimate supports the claim that half the Islamic State's leadership has been eliminated.
When asked about Kerry's 50 percent claim, Army Captain John J. Moore, a spokesman for U.S. Central Command, told us: "We currently don't have a percentage attached to that statistic."
Yes, truth is the first casualty of war and the Obama administration certainly wouldn't be the first to fudge the numbers. But there is a line between propaganda to confuse the enemy and lies to confuse the American people. And this administration is guilty of some real whoppers.
Experts told us Kerry’s estimate is tough to understand, because defining the Islamic State’s “leadership” is subjective. Cole Bunzel, a Princeton University scholar of Near Eastern Studies who closely follows Islamic State, said its leadership structure is opaque, and not much is known about the true membership of its Shura and Sharia councils, which play an important role in the organization. When the Islamic State has announced major decisions, such as its decision to expand into Syria or declare itself a caliphate, said Bunzel, it has made clear that one or both of those councils were consulted by Baghdadi.
"I am very skeptical of the claim that the coalition has killed 50 percent of the leadership of the Islamic State, whatever that means,” said Bunzel.
The war against IS in Iraq is technically going better. The shia militias and Kurdish peshmerga look like they're ready to retake Tikrit, which would be the first major victory of the war. But empowering the shias in Sunni territory opens a can of worms that creates tensions between the two sides and could lead to serious complications down the road. 

It's not helpful that we're pretending to degrade Islamic State's leadership. They know the score and take our lies to be a sign of weakness. Killing off the leadership will not win the war, however. That task will be left to boots on the ground - ours or the coalition.

Rick Moran


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Mocking Hillary in parody commercial - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

Derisive laughter is the best response to Hillary Clinton’s lame UN press conference defending her indefensible evasion of public records laws and regulations. Our friends at Reason TV have put together a clever parody of the ubiquitous PC-Matic television comercials, adapted to Hillary’s practices.

Hat tip: Lauri Regan

Thomas Lifson


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Palestinians: We Want Democratic Elections, Too - Khaled Abu Toameh

by Khaled Abu Toameh

"We really envy the Israelis. Our leaders don't want elections. They want to remain in office forever." — Veteran Palestinian journalist from Ramallah.
The truth is that neither Fatah nor Hamas is interested in holding new parliamentary and presidential elections -- each for its own reasons.

As Israelis prepare to head to the ballot boxes on March 17, Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza Strip are wondering whether they, too, will ever have the privilege of holding their own free and democratic elections.

In the past few weeks, Palestinians have launched a campaign to demand free and democratic elections. But the campaign seems thus far to have fallen on deaf ears.

All that is left for Palestinians to do is sit and watch with envy as voters in Israel practice their right to elect new representatives.

The average age of the PLO leadership is 75. The same faces have been in control of Hamas for the past two decades.

The last time the Palestinians went to the ballot boxes was in January 2006, when they voted for a new parliament, the Palestinian Legislative Council. The vote resulted in a victory for the Hamas-affiliated Change and Reform list.

Exactly one year earlier, the Palestinians had a presidential election, which brought Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas to power.

One man, one vote, one time? Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (left) and Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas (also president of the Palestinian Authority) are pictured voting in the last election for the Palestinian Legislative Council, which took place in 2006.

The next parliamentary elections were supposed to be held in 2010, while the presidential vote was scheduled to take place in 2009.

But the Palestinians have since failed to hold new parliamentary and presidential elections because of the dispute between Fatah and Hamas, which reached its peak with Hamas's violent takeover of the Gaza Strip in 2007.

Next week's election in Israel will be the fourth since 2006 -- the year Palestinians last saw the ballot boxes in their own voting stations.

The two rival Palestinian parties continue to hold each other responsible for the absence of elections.

Last week, Abbas said in a speech before the PLO Central Council in Ramallah that he was prepared to call new elections if Hamas agreed to such a move. Abbas said that Hamas was not interested in holding new elections.

In response, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Abbas was the one who was obstructing new elections and "violating the reconciliation agreement" he had signed with the Islamist movement last year.

The truth is that neither Fatah nor Hamas is interested in holding new parliamentary and presidential elections – each for its own reasons.

Abbas's Fatah faction continues to suffer from internal squabbling and divisions, which intensified after the death of its former leader, Yasser Arafat, in November 2004. Several senior Fatah officials in the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been expelled from the faction in recent years, for challenging Abbas and the old-guard representatives.

The anti-Abbas camp in Fatah is led (and apparently funded) by Mohamed Dahlan, a former security commander in the Gaza Strip who currently resides in the United Arab Emirates.

Dahlan and his loyalists have also accused Abbas of hindering efforts to hold new elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip. They contend that Abbas's only goal is to remain in power until the last day of his life.

Apart from the infighting in Fatah, Abbas's faction still needs to work hard to restore its credibility among Palestinians, especially in light of its failure to implement far-reaching reforms and inject new blood into its leadership.

Earlier this year, efforts to hold Fatah's seventh conference, to choose new representatives, failed because of "sharp" disagreements among the Fatah leaders.

Fatah leaders say that it would anyway be impossible to hold new elections while Hamas remains in control of the Gaza Strip. Fatah insists that there are no guarantees that Hamas would allow a democratic and free vote, especially at a time when it is continuing to crack down on Fatah supporters in the Gaza Strip.

Similarly, Hamas says it is opposed to new elections because it does not trust Abbas and Fatah. Hamas leaders say that there can be no free elections while the Palestinian Authority security forces continue to arrest dozens of Hamas supporters in the West Bank every week.

As Hamas and Fatah continue to fight each other, some Palestinians have decided to launch an initiative to pressure the two parties to end their dispute and agree on new elections in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Dunya Ismail, one of the organizers of the campaign, said that, "Every Palestinian should rid himself of despair and frustration, and take part in the drive to put pressure on the political leadership to hold new elections as soon as possible." She and her colleagues have taken to the streets to spread their message, but so far with little success.

Yet the Palestinians are not likely to have new elections, at least not in the foreseeable future. The power struggle between Hamas and Fatah, which only seems to be escalating, has destroyed the Palestinians' dream of building a free and democratic society.

"We say all these bad things about Israel, but at least the people there have the right to vote and enjoy democracy," remarked a veteran Palestinian journalist from Ramallah. "We really envy the Israelis. Our leaders don't want elections. They want to remain in office forever."

Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter

Khaled Abu Toameh


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Video: Why America Invaded Iraq - Prager University

by Prager University

Why did America invade Iraq in 2003? Was it for oil? Or was it because Saddam Hussein was a mass-murdering dictator who harbored terrorists and threatened the region with Weapons of Mass Destruction?


Why did America invade Iraq in 2003? Was it for oil? Or was it because Saddam Hussein was a mass-murdering dictator who harbored terrorists and threatened the region with Weapons of Mass Destruction? If it was the former, wouldn’t it have been a lot easier to just buy Iraq’s oil on the open market? And if it was the latter, why did Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and John Kerry support President Bush? Noted British historian, Andrew Roberts, has the answers.

Prager University


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