Friday, October 2, 2015

Concealing the Facts on Refugee Resettlement - Michael Cutler

by Michael Cutler

A case study on how the media and duplicitous politicians hide the truth from the public.

As ISIS, the Nusra Front (an al Qaeda affiliate operating in Syria) and other terror organizations continue spreading death and violence in Syria, increasing numbers of Syrians are literally running for their lives.

Europe has witnessed a tsunami of refugees and Secretary of State John Kerry has promised to increase the number of refugees that the United States will admit.

Communities that have already been accepting refugees, and not just from Syria, are questioning the wisdom of this effort and the way that refugees are being vetted. One such community is to be found in Spartanburg, South Carolina.

It is important to note that the member of the House of Representatives who represents Spartanburg in Congress is none other than Representative Trey Gowdy who also chairs the House Subcommittee on Immigration.  He has also voiced serious concerns about the way that the refugee program is being administered and has been unhappy with the lack of information being provided -- even to him as the chairman of the subcommittee that is constitutionally mandated to provide oversight over our entire immigration system.  He has been quoted as describing responses to his questions about the resettlement of refugees in Spartanburg as being “sorely inadequate.”

On June 4, 2015 the local newspaper, Spartanburg Herald Tribune ( published a report, “First refugees arrive in Spartanburg despite questions raised by Gowdy.”

As questions continued to go unanswered, I was invited to be the keynote speaker at a public forum in Spartanburg, South Carolina on the issue of the vetting process being used to screen refugees on September 20, 2015.

Among those in attendance at the town hall meeting were newspaper reporters, including one from the New York Times, Richard Fausset.

Fausset's report appeared in the September 25, 2015 edition of the New York Times under the title, “Refugee Crisis in Syria Raises Fears in South Carolina.”  Incredibly, Fausset omitted the fact that I was a participant in this town hall meeting.  I am making this point, not because I want my name to appear in the New York Times (or anywhere else for that matter), but because Fausset clearly came to the meeting with an agenda -- not to objectively report on the facts but to create misleading impressions. 

There were other speakers who addressed the large audience, however, the flyer distributed before and during the meeting announced that I would be the keynote speaker and included a brief version of my bio.  The flyer also noted the national security concerns that would be discussed during the town hall meeting that was billed as a “Refugee Resettlement Informational Summit.”

This made it clear that the primary reason for the meeting was to provide information about the vulnerabilities of the vetting process in the immigration system, which have on numerous occasions enabled terrorists to enter the United States and embed themselves.  These concerns, in fact, were prominently discussed by the 9/11 Commission in the 9/11 Commission Report and in the report issued by the 9/11 Commission staff.  I was one of many experts, in fact, who provided testimony to the 9/11 Commission -- a fact that was noted in the flyer.

There was no mention of the 9/11 Commission Report in the New York Times article, either.
It is time that, in the interest of accuracy, that the New York Times finally change its slogan, “All the news that's fit to print,” to something more fitting.  I would suggest that their new slogan should be: “You'll have a fit from what we print.”

In addition to the New York Times reporter, the local newspaper, the Spartanburg Herald Journal ( also covered the event.  On September 20, 2015 that newspaper published the article “Speakers criticize refugee resettlement program.”  It noted I was the keynote speaker but then quoted me as saying that the “immigration system is broken.”   As I recall how I explained my concerns, I said that where the immigration system is concerned, the only thing “broken” was the lack of resources and political will to actually enforce our laws.  The phrase, “broken immigration system” is generally used by advocates for Comprehensive Immigration Reform. I am adamantly opposed to such a massive amnesty program and have written many articles about my opposition to such an approach and have similarly voice my concerns at a number of congressional hearings.

It is disconcerting and disappointing that this reporter also neglected to report on my discussion about the nexus between immigration and national security and the numerous examples I provided during my lengthy talk about immigration. To make the point as clear as possible, I provided quotes from the 9/11 Commission Staff Report on Terrorist Travel.

The residents of Spartanburg also arranged for me to address the County Council the following day, to provide the council with my perspectives and concerns about the shortcomings and inadequacy of the vetting process being used to screen refugees who are being resettled in the United States.  This is a major area of concern for them, which was recently exacerbated by the disturbing news reports that many of the refugees who have been seeking asylum in Europe claiming to be from Syria were actually from other countries.  It has been additionally reported terrorists affiliated with ISIS and other terrorist organization have been embedded within the huge numbers of refugees flooding into Europe.

A reporter from the local CBS-affiliated television station WSPA-TV interviewed me before the council meeting and reported on the issues in an article they posted on their website the following day: “Spartanburg CO Citizens Upset As Refugees Resettle in Upstate.”

In the interest of fairness, I have to point out that the folks at WSPA-TV did something unusual.  While my segment on the video that was broadcast on that station only lasted a few seconds, the print version of the report included a link to my personal website so that anyone interested in my perspectives and concerns could easily find my articles and other materials.  I have to commend the reporter Christine Scarpelli and her superiors for providing that link to my website in their report.  Televised news reports don't provide enough information, so providing the link to my website was certainly a pleasant surprise.

Prior to the County Council hearing members of the community reached out to the council and asked that, inasmuch as only 30 minutes are provided for an opportunity for members of the community to speak about issues and that each person is limited to three minutes, that anyone who had signed up to address the council should be able to yield their time to me so that I could provide some in-depth information about the vetting process and concerns about how this process is largely ineffective under the circumstances that currently exist in Syria.  

It was believed that this was going to be permitted and I prepared my remarks for the meeting accordingly.  However, once the council was called into session and the issue of the refugee resettlement program came up, the first member of the community who was called immediately said that he wanted to yield his time to me.  The chairman of the council, Jeffrey Horton, glared at the member of the community and said curtly, “If you want to yield your time you may sit down, but your time will not go to Mr. Cutler.”  He went on to say that I would only get three minutes.  When other members of the community objected, saying that they had been told I would be given their time to speak, Horton became downright nasty, glared at his fellow citizens and said that he would end the proceedings if everyone did not sit down and keep quiet.

What a wonderful demonstration of representative government! 

I had to quickly decide what I could cram into just three minutes.  I decided to make note of the fact that just as the late Speaker of the House of Representatives Tip O'Neill famously remarked, “All politics is local” I told them that I had come to Spartanburg to remind the members of the council that all law enforcement is also, ultimately, local.  I told them that while it is certainly true that the United States of America was attacked on September 11, 2001 that my home town, New York City, bore the brunt of that horrific attack.  I then pointed to each of the 7 members of the council and told them that they each bear responsibility for the actions or lack of actions and would be held accountable by the same people who voted them into office.  I told them that they would be directly accountable if their failures to act on behalf of the wishes of the residents of the community, who they swore to represent, ultimately cost the lives or the well-being of those residents that they would be made completely accountable.

Finally I provided a bit about my background, that my grandmother had been killed during the Holocaust and that I certainly had great concern about the plight of refugees, but that a government's primary concern must be the well-being of its citizens.  I pointed out how terrorists such as Faisal Shahzad, the “Times Square Bomber,” and one of the Tsarnaev brothers, who attacked the Boston Marathon, had been granted United States citizenship just months before they participated in deadly terrorist attacks.

Prior to the beginning of the session I provided each of the members of the council with the print version of the latest edition (Summer 2015) of the quarterly journal The Social Contract that included my article, “The 9/11 Commission Report and Immigration: An Assessment, Fourteen Years after the Attacks” and so I concluded by telling them that if they were not going to extend the courtesy of giving me more than 30 minutes -- something that is almost always done when I have appeared before other state and local legislative hearings across the United States -- that at the least they could promise to read my article to understand the nexus between immigration, national security and the findings of the 9/11 Commission.

Every other person who followed me to the podium to address the council, made it clear that they were outraged by the conduct of the council and that they would never forget what had taken place that day.

As I left the building with the folks who arranged for my travel to Spartanburg, we encountered Bob Walker, a member of the council, in the parking lot.  He was holding his copy of The Social Contract, I approached him and told him I would be glad to answer any questions he might have after he read the article and he half-jokingly asked me how I knew he was able to read.  As you might imagine, a dozen retorts came to mind but I said nothing -- my goal was to try to persuade these people not engage in an insult session. 

Walker then went on to make it clear that he had no interest in reading the article and bombarded us with one wisecrack after another, arrogantly smirking throughout our encounter.  The folks who were with me were flabbergasted, but they told me that he had been a politician for most of his life and that this is the sort of attitude they had come to expect from almost all politicians.

Does anyone really wonder why political outsiders are so appealing to voters this year?

Of course not all politicians are “bad guys.” It is just that far too many are.

After my appearance before the Spartanburg County Council I was invited to attend a local women's Republican Club meeting where Rep. Gowdy was the featured speaker. The folks at this event, in stark contrast with the members of the county council, could not have been more welcoming or gracious.

I had the opportunity to ask Trey Gowdy a couple of questions and then I met with him and his colleague Mick Mulvaney, who was also in attendance, afterwards.  

Although I have previously spoken with Trey when he had phoned me on a couple of occasions to discuss immigration and related issues and we have exchanged emails, this was the first time I ever met him in person.

It is clear that Trey truly understands the issues and is battling the administration to deal with the myriad failures of the immigration system.  In my judgment these failures, that have subverted the immigration system, have been carefully crafted by Mr. Obama to achieve political objectives.  

Obama's executive orders, policy decisions and other strategies have created a perilous situation for our nation and our citizens.

On September 15, 2015 I wrote an article for FrontPage Magazine that explored how the failures of the refugee program were undermining national security.  My article was entitled, “The Refugee Crisis Must Not Undermine U.S. National Security."

Since that article was published, more evidence as surfaced that shows just how inadequate our efforts to vet individuals from Syria are.

On September 23, 2015 CBS news reported, “U.S.-trained Syria rebels lose officer, investigate al Qaeda claims.”  This article included this quote:

 The U.S.-based SITE intelligence group, which monitors militant websites, said supporters of the Nusra Front first reported that a group of those newly trained by America had handed over their weapons to the militants after they were arrested. The report made no mention of a defecting officer.
Other supporters of the Nusra Front posted pictures of what they said were weapons seized from the U.S. trained rebels.
In response to the allegations, Division 30 posted a statement on its Facebook page saying it is investigating. If allegations are true, the group said, it will refer the officer in question to a military tribunal on charges of treason because the weapons "belong to the Syrian people." The group acknowledged losing contact with the officer but denied any contacts with al Qaeda's affiliate.
The Times of London reports that the chief of staff of Division 30, Colonel Mohammad al-Daher, confirmed the reports of the mass defection in an interview from Turkey, and he slammed the American effort on the ground. 
"The program of establishing and training 30th Division is not serious: 30th Division was not well equipped to go into action," he said, adding the force had been infiltrated by Islamic extremists. 
The program to train and equip fighters on the ground aligned with the U.S. aim of ridding the country of ISIS has been pilloried on Capitol Hill. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., called the program an "abysmal failure" last week.

The fact there are reports that rebels we have been training and outfitting with weapons have been infiltrated by Islamic extremists should end any debate about the lack of integrity to the screening process.

It has been suggested by many, including Senator Jeff Sessions, that it would be far safer for the United States -- and far more cost-effective -- to provide safe refuge for refugees overseas rather than bring them to the United States.  Caution and commonsense would dictate that this is the best way for the United States to save the lives of those whose lives are in jeopardy, without creating a national security nightmare for the United States.

Perhaps ironically, on September 11, 2015, the National Review published an article, “Jeff Sessions: Let Middle East Shelter Syrian Refugees” that also quoted Senator Chuck Grassley and his concerns about the dangers of importing thousands of refugees into the United States when it has been made abundantly clear that the FBI and other agencies are unable to effectively vet these people.  

Ever since the terror attacks of 9/11 our leaders have repeatedly told us that for the United States to be safe our nation must “get it right 100% of the time.”  In order to attack us, these same politicians from both political parties have told us that the terrorists only have to get it right once. 

Every person admitted into the United States provides the terrorists with an opportunity for getting it right.  Consider how much damage and how many casualties were slaughtered by just 19 terrorists on September 11, 2001.  Consider that just 19 terrorists killed as many people on 9/11 as the Japanese military inflicted on the United States on December 7, 1941 at Pearl Harbor.

Consider the carnage and havoc created by the two Tsarnaev brothers.  Both attacks were carried out by aliens from the Middle East who easily gamed the immigration system.

Senator Sessions also laid out the financial costs and burdens that the ill-conceived refugee resettlement program would impose on our nation and on communities across the United States.

Neither Senator Sessions nor Senator Grassley have suggested that the United States should ignore the plight of these desperate people -- only that the best solution is not to bring them here, but provide for them overseas to save not only money, but potentially, something of far greater, indeed, inestimable value: American lives.

My dad taught me that throughout my life I must teach those I encountered how they should treat me by consistently demonstrating what I was willing to accept and not willing to accept.  If I complained that a classmate or someone else was being unfair, he would tell me to stop complaining because it was more than likely my own fault for allowing the situation to develop.

I strongly suggest you follow my dad's sage advice.  Politicians who are unwilling to truly represent us are insubordinate and are undermining national security and endangering the future of our nation.  They are also endangering our future and especially the future of our children and their children.  Such politicians must be sent packing.

That is what elections are for!

Michael Cutler


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

Obama's show of weakness - Prof. Abraham Ben-Zvi

by Prof. Abraham Ben-Zvi

Failed Mideast policies have left the U.S. begging Russia for a seat at the table where Syria's fate will be determined.

U.S. President Barack Obama's address to the U.N. General Assembly on Monday was his worst and most embarrassing yet. Despite the fact that it has been seven years since he was elected president, it seems Obama has yet to learn anything from his growing list of failures, especially when it comes to foreign policy. 

Obama continues to naively preach about the importance of traditional diplomacy and broad international cooperation as a prerequisite to conflict resolution; and he does so despite the fact that his decision to prematurely withdraw American troops from Iraq, compounded by his aversion to putting boots on the ground in Syria, have done nothing but breed violence, fanaticism and radical Islamism in the Middle East.

Against the backdrop of the bloody conflicts in Syria, Iraq and Yemen, Obama delivered a disconnected and utterly surreal speech before the U.N., lauding democracy and international agreements, even deficient, hollow ones, like the nuclear deal with Iran.

Beyond the sanctimonious sermon to nations and movements without any loyalty to the principles of Western democracy, Obama's speech lacked any new message. On the contrary -- he essentially legitimized Russia's military presence in Syria, and the pivotal role Moscow has appropriated in the region due to American inaction against Syrian President Bashar Assad.

This inexcusable failure, which followed Washington's acquiescence in allowing Russian President Vladimir Putin become the new mediator in the chemical warfare crisis in Syria in 2013, has afforded Moscow a coveted opportunity to become a major player in the Middle East, one shaping a new political and security reality.

The U.S. has been relegated to dragging its feet in a trail blazed by the Russian leader, as Washington is left to practically beg Moscow for a seat at the table where Assad's fate will be determined. 

Indeed, if you strip the envelope of democracy vs. dictatorship from Obama's speech, it becomes more than evident that he is not only willing to foster partnerships with tyrants and oppressive regimes, but also that the dispute between the White House and the Kremlin over Syria is marginal, as it focuses on Assad's status in the new political order that will be forged in Syria once the fighting subsides.

The American Gulliver, it seems, is coming to terms with the end of the single-world power hegemony. While the Russian military airlift to Syria continues in full swing, Obama is content with philosophical reflections on the desired nature of the new world order, yielding to the new balance of power emerging in the war-torn country. 

One can only lament the fact that the U.S. president's incomprehensible weakness only undermines the very democratic dream he himself has outlined.

This was evident in the meeting between Obama and Putin following their respective U.N. addresses. Despite Obama's desire to give his Russian counterpart the cold shoulder, the fact the he declared before dozens of world leaders that the U.S. has "no desire to return to a cold war" took the sting out of his message.

This was nothing but an attempt at damage control over the harm caused to the U.S.'s prestige and status in the global theater by drawing new red lines to limit Russia's operation in the Middle East. The problem is that we already know how blurry those red lines are when it comes to Syria.

Prof. Abraham Ben-Zvi


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

Abbas, call us when you're serious - Dror Eydar

by Dror Eydar

Does Abbas really think he would last one minute without Israel protecting him from Hamas and Islamic State?

It is worth it to take the time to read the full text of the speech Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas gave at the U.N. General Assembly on Wednesday. The speech symbolized the Arab view of the history of our region over the past century. According to this view, the Arabs have been innocent lambs, responsible for nothing. They never rejected any peace proposals. In their eyes, the Jews came out of nowhere and destroyed a prosperous, democratic, righteous and culturally advanced state that supposedly existed peacefully here from the creation of the world until 1948.

So Abbas is threatening that he has run out of patience and Israel will bear the consequences? What consequences? What will happen that has not already happened? This reminds me of the story of Hershel of Ostropol, who threatened an innkeeper. Hershel said, "You know what happens if you refuse me? I do what my father did when someone said no to him!" After acceding to Hershel's demands, the innkeeper bravely asked, "What did your father do?" Hershel replied, "He'd go to bed hungry!"

After enumerating all of Israel's "crimes," Abbas said, "We do not respond to Israel's brutality with the same." Instead, Abbas claimed, "We are working on spreading the culture of peace and coexistence between our people and in our region." How beautiful! As the Russian writer Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn once said, "In our country, the lie has become not just a moral category, but a pillar of the state."

Abbas also asserted that Israel is preventing Muslims from worshiping on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. In fact, what has won out on the Temple Mount is the "worship" of rocks, firebombs and shrill gangs of Muslim guards who thwart the utterance of even one biblical verse at the holiest site of the Jewish people. Abbas complained about Israel's alleged "violation of the status quo since before 1967 and thereafter." Until 1967, Jews were forbidden from even entering the Old City. Is that the status quo Abbas wants to return to? And how come Abbas did not talk at the U.N. about the "dirty feet" of the Jews, like he did on Palestinian television? 

Abbas called the Jewish people an "occupying power" in Jerusalem. U.N. member states are familiar with the bible. We are an "occupying power" in the place that is the center of our being? Abbas, what is your connection to Jerusalem? What would Jerusalem be without the Jews? The sanctity of Jerusalem for Muslims stemmed from its importance to Jews. 

In his speech, Abbas called for the protection of Christian holy sites in Jerusalem. Yet, it is extremely fortunate that Abbas does not have jurisdiction over these sites. Most Christians have already fled Palestinian Authority-controlled areas. And let's not even talk about the fate of Christians in Hamas-ruled areas.

Abbas has requested economic independence (be careful, this means no more European grants) and security independence (be my guest!). Does he really think he would last even a minute without Israel protecting him from Hamas and the Islamic State group? 

Here is another Abbas gem: "Those who want to fight terrorism must start with solving the Palestinian issue." Sure -- an independent state for the gang in Ramallah will end up like Hamas-ruled Gaza and the Islamic State-controlled areas of Iraq. We in Israel are fed up with people experimenting with our future. By the way, Mr. Abbas, let's say your flag (how is it different from Jordan's?) is raised and you get an independent state. Would your situation be better or worse than it is now? Just look around the region to get your answer. Until then, you know our phone number. Call us when you are serious.

Dror Eydar


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

'Yesterday Russia Turned A New Page In The History Of The World' - MEMRI


In an article published in the Hizbullah-affiliated Lebanese daily Al-Akhbar on October 1, 2015, the chairman of the newspaper's board of directors, Ibrahim Al-Amin, predicted that Russia's air campaign in Syria will be merely a prelude to a larger military offensive involving ground operations by the Syrian Army, Iran, Hizbullah, and even the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces. Al-Amin is known to have close ties to Hizbullah, and in the past he has proven a reliable source on matters relating to the Iran-Syria-Hizbullah axis.

Ibrahim Al-Amin (source:

The following is the translation of the article: 

"...This is the first test for the granddaughter of the Eastern dynasty [i.e. Russia] since World War II, and it is the first field test of whether America's unipolar position in the world over the past quarter century has truly been broken. Above all, this is a repositioning of Russian military force in the direct labor market of the regions of 'cold' confrontation with the U.S.-led West... Today we find ourselves before the best opportunity of putting Syria on a path to a true solution, even if it be prefaced by fire.

"As for the facts, the Russian air force carried out the first missions of a working program laid out in detailed form in an existing plan of cooperation between Moscow and its allies in the war in Syria and Iraq. This is a plan that is coordinated down to the finest details with the two allies Syria and Iran, and consequently with Hizbullah [as well]... What happened yesterday, and which will soon reach its culmination, is a necessary preface to a larger military action that will include a land component undertaken by other forces in the alliance. To put it more directly, [Russia's] aerial bombardment of [the rebels'] command and control centers, major weapons arsenals, and artillery positions will be a preface to a military operation carried out by the Syrian army on the ground, with direct support from Iran and Hizbullah, and even from the Iraqi Popular Mobilization Forces... It may be emphasized that Russia's activity yesterday means clearly that all the discussions in New York didn't change an iota in the military plan of action...

"The signs of surprise and astonishment on [the faces of] the Americans, the Westerners, the Israelis, the Turks, and the Saudis are an additional proof of the weakness of the prior coordination regarding the fate of the initiatives surrounding the Syria crisis. In fact, the step taken by Russia is a kind of dare to all those who employed every violent means they could against the Syrian regime. If they decide to broaden the confrontation, they will be forced to deal with the new realities, which today are openly represented by the Russian military presence, and tomorrow will be represented by an open Iranian military presence as well... 

"This must not hide from our eyes the picture of the complicated reality, which tells us that the joy felt by the regime elements in Syria must not turn into any slackening, not on the part of the regime itself, and not on the part of all those who fight alongside it. It would be naive to consider the Russian strikes sufficient to counter the enemies. It would rather be realistic to profit from the support of Russia – which is a supporting actor, and is not [itself] a member of the axis of resistance – in order to prepare to wage harsh and decisive battles in a number of places in Syria. This is a matter that requires raising the level of readiness and mobilization, and the creation of operative means of benefitting from the Russian military arsenal that is present in or coming to Syria.

"Yesterday Russia turned a new page in the history of the world. However far its military action in the field reaches, it is the political and strategic results that will remain more important. These results will invite those who delude themselves in thinking that America is still the leader of the world and controller of its fate to revise their stance. Those who do not want to change their minds, let them stay as they wish, but they should take into account that they must rely on themselves more than at any time in the past. This goes for Syria, Iraq, Palestine, and even the Arabian Peninsula and North Africa!"  



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

Israel's 'partner in peace' unilaterally withdraws from Oslo Accords - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

Abbas deliberately blows up any chance for negotiations.

Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas told the U.N. General Assembly that the Palestinian Authority no longer feels bound by the Oslo Accords, which created the PA in the first place.  In effect, Abbas is cutting his own throat to improve his domestic standing with more radical elements. 

Abbas wants Israel to assume "full authority" as an occupying power, which may make Israeli policy even more restrictive if the Palestinians continue to agitate for access in Jerusalem and elsewhere.

Many Israelis who oppose peace with the Palestinians are certain to argue that Abbas is proving that no Palestinian government can be trusted to keep its international obligations. Worse, that argument is likely to have resonance  among moderate Israelis who would be willing to consider a peace treaty in the right circumstances.
After all, if the Palestinian Authority can simply announce that it thinks Israel has breached the Oslo Accords and that they’re no longer binding, what would stop a future Palestinian government from doing the same with respect to any future peace treaty?
In the real world of international relations, the possibility that a party can declare the other side has breached is always there. Countries sign treaties anyway because everyone understands the cost to the reputation of a party that withdraws unjustifiably.
Abbas is now taking on that reputational cost in a major way. He must know this -- and must therefore believe that the gains to his domestic legitimacy among Palestinians are worth the cost, which he personally is unlikely to take on board in his lifetime. Speculation that Abbas will step down is a constant feature of Palestinian politics, but it seems at least possible that Abbas wants to retire from office with the Oslo Accords definitively repudiated and Palestinian-Israeli security cooperation more or less ended.
There's a further twist to Abbas’s use of the UN General Assembly as a platform to withdraw from a treaty. One of the grounds for Palestine's inclusion as a “non-member observer state” in the UN, as opposed to an “observer entity,” has certainly been the statelike forms of sovereignty exercised by the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Accords. In his speech, Abbas disclaimed precisely those same forms of control, asserting that Israel must now “assume fully all its responsibility as an occupying power.” In other words, acting as a head of state, Abbas called for the dismantling of his state’s only exercise of state sovereignty. If that comes to pass, a Palestinian state may be further away, not closer.
On the surface, this seems like a pretty stupid move by Abbas.  As the Bloomberg piece points out, it makes any peace deal establishing a Palestinian state extremely remote.  But this is what the Palestinian people want.  They have no interest in "peaceful coexistence" with Israel.  They are dedicated to the destruction of the Jewish state, and anything less will not be accepted.

Abbas, like any politician, is giving the people what they want – total opposition and resistance to Israel.  And their Western stooges in Europe and the U.S. will no doubt help them as much as possible.

Rick Moran


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

Putin Plays Mideast Chess as Obama Looks On - Jonathan F. Keiler

by Jonathan F. Keiler

Incompetence is too nice a word.  Obama was never even in the game.

It is sometimes said that in negotiations with foreigners, American leaders play checkers, while their wilier opponents play chess.   There is perhaps some truth to this, as American leaders sometimes chase short-term political results, a consequence of democratic governance and constantly changing leadership.  By contrast, despotic Persians are credited with inventing chess, and in modern times autocratic Russians have been its master, and so it is tempting to say of President Obama’s dealings with those two countries that the analogy holds.

But that is way too charitable.  As Vladimir Putin skillfully reasserts Russian power and influence in the Middle East with Islamic Persian Iran as a willing partner, a more apt analogy might be that while the Russians and Iranians move their chessmen, isolating and threatening opposing pieces, Obama is not even at the table, but rather childishly looking on, as he pushes diplomatic dirt around the Middle East sandbox.

For over 150 years, a primary objective of Western diplomatic and military strategy was to keep the Russians out of the Middle East and Southwest Asia.  In the 1850s, the British and French went to war in Crimea to protect the Ottomans from Russian predation and to preserve the balance of power.  Later, the so-called “Great Game” centered on similar British efforts to frustrate Russian domination of Iran and Afghanistan.  A century later, the United States took up the task, offsetting Russian influence in newly socialist Arab dictatorships by backing Israel and more traditional Arab monarchies in the Middle East, while openly and successfully opposing the Soviet incursion into Afghanistan. 

Today, one can’t even say there remains any Western strategy regarding Russia.  Western Europe has mostly forfeited its military and political influence overseas to support decadent welfare states, even as it is being progressively and deliberately overwhelmed by millions of Islamist migrants.  Under Obama, who supports and admires Europe’s demise, the United States has increasingly joined in the decline.  The laughable Libyan campaign, “fought” by Europeans while the U.S. led from behind, set an example of pursuing a feckless, feel-good military campaign without regard for consequences or traditional strategic concerns.  Obama’s encouragement of the so-called Arab Spring and its Islamist provocateurs almost lost Egypt and did lose Syria, with catastrophic humanitarian and geopolitical results.

Putin is taking advantage of American weakness and inaction.  A half-century of successful American effort to keep the Russians out of the Middle East has been forfeit in a few months of breathtaking American diplomatic and military incompetence.  Obama’s capitulation in the Iran deal effectively completed the groundwork for the Russian move, Putin having carefully monitored America’s year-long and ineffectual air campaign against ISIS.  Putin now claims that Russia’s push into Syria is to redeem the campaign against ISIS with Russian troops fighting with Syria and Hezb'allah.  Embarrassed by Putin at the U.N., Obama gave up any pretense of strength, effectively welcoming the Russian “intervention” against ISIS.  Unexplained is why a large percentage of Russian anti-ISIS forces are heavily equipped with anti-aircraft weapons, something that even a flaccid NATO command cannot ignore, inasmuch as ISIS have an air force.  Those weapons are useful only against NATO or Israeli aircraft. 

So lost was Obama before his meeting with Putin at the U.N. that his stated strategy for dealing with the Russian strongman was to ask him what he was doing.  From the stiff and awkward body language of the president following the meeting (a painful handshake and awkward smile) it is clear that Putin told Obama at least some of the story, whether Obama liked it or not.  Most particularly, his client Bashar Assad will remain in power with Russian backing, regardless of Obama’s view on the matter.  But likely Obama had known what he was in for, and just going through the motions.  The day before, Secretary of State of State John Kerry responded to a question about how long the U.S. could tolerate the survival of Assad, saying, “… it doesn’t have to be on day one or month one or whatever.”  Right, dude, whatever.  Between Obama and Kerry, it is now fair to assume that our much muddled and irresolute Syrian policy is “whatever,” which means we just don’t care.  We take our toys and go home.  

If Obama was hoping, as he and his supporters implied, that the Iranian deal would produce a more moderate, cooperative Iran, Putin and the mullahs are doing all they can to demonstrate how wrong he was.  If he was hoping that “international pressure” and the conflict in Ukraine would moderate Putin’s aggressive strategies, he was wrong again.  And if he thinks that by quitting, he has left Putin an unwinnable game, the Russian leader aims to prove him wrong again.  And since Obama is almost always wrong when it comes to foreign policy, it’s a fool’s errand to bet against Putin. 

In chess, before going for the opponent’s king, typical strategy calls for supporting one’s important pieces, while threatening and isolating opposing pieces.  The Russians and Iranians are now going about this with a vengeance, without the United States or the West making any noticeably effective counter-moves.  Russia is backing and protecting Assad and has closely allied itself with a newly empowered (thanks largely to Obama) Iran.  Meanwhile, traditional American allies in the region, Israel, Egypt, and the Arab monarchies are indeed increasingly threatened and isolated.  The stage is being set for a Russo-Iranian endgame that could prove disastrous to America’s traditional allies and the West in general. 

 Some of Obama’s liberal supporters dismiss such analysis as over the top, and insist that Putin’s moves have more to do with domestic politics than a long-term Middle Eastern power play.  They point out Putin’s problems at home, and the relative weakness of the Russian military.  However, relative Russian weakness means little when moving into a power vacuum created by Obama’s flight from international responsibilities and, to a large extent, reality.  And besides, this has been the basic way liberals have sought to excuse Obama whenever he is pushed around by a foreign leader (which is almost always).  Putin’s got problems, so he invades Ukraine, threatens the Baltic States, and moves into Syria.  The Chinese have problems, so they push naval vessels into American waters and fortify disputed Western Pacific archipelagos.  Korea’s got problems, Iran’s got problems, and none of their aggressive actions has anything to do with the dilettante in the White House.  It’s all about solving problems at home with international temper tantrums. 

Obama has made a lot of foreign policy mistakes in office, but his capitulation on the Iranian nuclear talks followed by Russia’s move into Syria is impossible to explain away as anything but a stupendous strategic fiasco.  Incompetence is too nice a word.  Obama was never even in the game.

Jonathan F. Keiler


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Are You Expecting a New Iran? - Lawrence A. Franklin

by Lawrence A. Franklin

  • If anyone is expecting any liberalization from Rouhani, please note that he is an even more trusted regime insider than Khatami.
  • The main reason there will not be a less aggressive foreign policy is that Iran's Presidency and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which negotiated the nuclear deal, have no power over the Islamic Republic's military, police, and intelligence agencies. The Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), Ministry of Intelligence and Security (MOIS) and the Office of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei control all decisions in these arenas.
  • Unfortunately, there has been no diminution of influence or resolve among Iran's hard-liners, who control all of these institutions.
  • The military and theocratic cliques who dominate the regime will take full advantage of any opportunities created by the nuclear deal quickly and brutally to crush any attempt by Iranian reformers to expand political freedom or social reforms.

Are you expecting a new Iran? The most optimistic scenario by supporters of the nuclear deal with Iran is that the pact will bring about better relations between Tehran and Washington.

This presumptive script also suggests that Iranian pragmatists, emboldened by their success at the impending lifting of economic sanctions against Iran, will move to transform the regime's overall foreign policy. It also assumes that young supporters of President Hassan Rouhani will somehow "force" the regime to institute reforms that will lead to improved human rights as well as liberalization of the country's socially restrictive domestic policies.

In their view, apparently, as Tehran becomes more integrated, developing normal diplomatic ties with Western nation-states, its aggressively expansionist regional policy will become more tame and "manageable."

Unfortunately, considering the dark nature of the regime and its behavior during its 36 years of Islamist rule in Iran, this hope lacks any credibility. Given Iran's recent history, its unremittingly hostile statements and its continuing secretive, self-serving and antagonistic behavior, there seems ample precedent for the high-flown hopes of Western diplomats to be dashed.

After the election of Mohammad Khatami as President of Iran in 1997, many of America's most respected Iran analysts strenuously argued that the liberal evolution of Iran's revolution was already underway[1] -- wishful thinking that was also echoed by the United Kingdom's Iran analysts and diplomats.[2]

Regrettably, the opposite proved true. Scores of political dissidents were assassinated or disappeared, murdered by hard-line Iranian intelligence operatives of the Ministry of Information and Security (MOIS).[3] When liberal supporters of Khatami seized the initiative in order to accelerate the reform process, the leadership of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) published a letter threatening the dissolution of the Khatami Presidency (1997-2005). Khatami, a trusted ally and childhood friend of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, instantly stopped all attempts at reform, and watched as the MOIS and IRGC placed several of his advisors under arrest.

After the Khatami Era, the Iranian people elected, in August, 2005, the most reactionary president in the history of the regime: Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Currently, many American diplomats, Congressional lawmakers, and acquisitive international businessmen are optimistically unpacking predictions about the current Presidency of Hassan Rouhani that are similar to their predictions about Khatami. If anyone, however, is expecting any liberalization from Rouhani, please note right now that he is an even more trusted regime insider than Khatami. Rouhani has been intimately involved in all of the Islamic Republic's military, strategic and political decisions for the last 35 years.

The main reason there will not be a less aggressive foreign policy is that Iran's Presidency and Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which negotiated the nuclear deal, have no power over the Islamic Republic's military, police, and intelligence agencies.

The IRGC, MOIS, and the Office of the Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei control all decisions in these arenas.

Rouhani also cannot liberalize domestic regulations unless reforms are blessed by the theocratic institutions -- which have been quick to suppress any move to soften Iran's repressive domestic social and political laws.

These theocratic institutions -- such as the Guardian Council,[4] the Assembly of Experts,[5] and the Expediency Council[6] -- are the ideological watchdogs of the regime, and have more power than the Executive and Legislative branches of the Iranian government.

Moreover, the complex and specialized system of clerically-run courts are insulated from popular pressure.

Spot the difference...
At left, Iran's Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. At right, Iran's President, Hassan Rouhani.

The pipedreams of many so-called Iran experts have had their optimistic scenarios go up in smoke before. Robin Wright, writing in June 2009, the heyday of the now-crushed "Green Movement" protests, gushed, "What they are doing, however, is forcing Iran's Islamic regime to face the same ideals that have swept across five continents over the last quarter of a century -- the supremacy of popular will, justice, accountability and the transparency of power."

Unfortunately, there has been no diminution of influence or resolve among Iran's hard-liners, who control all of these institutions.

On the contrary, the military and theocratic cliques who dominate the regime will take full advantage of any opportunities created by the nuclear deal quickly and brutally to crush any attempt by Iranian reformers to expand political freedom or social reforms.
Dr. Lawrence A. Franklin was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve, where he was a Military Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Israel.

[1] Karim Sadjadpour, "The Future of Iran's Islamic Republic: Evolution or Revolution?," Bologna Center Journal of International Affairs.
[2] Iranian Students News Agency, 15 July 2013. Jack Straw when he was the UK's Foreign Minister under the Labor Government of Tony Blair believed that Khatami's Presidency would usher in a new era of cooperation between Iran and the West. Now as an executive member of the Iran-Britain Parliamentary Friendship Society, straw 'waxes poetic' about the Rouhani Presidency in a similar manner.
[3] Into the Shadows: Political Vigilantes in Khatami's Iran, by Michael Rubin. The Dissident Murders, p. 90. MOIS 'rogue operatives' and Fida'iyan Islam murdered several liberal intellectuals in late 1998.
[4] Council of Guardians is staffed by arch-reactionary Shia clerics and laymen who adjudicate on the Islamic and revolutionary legitimacy of all legislation passed by the Iranian Majles. The Council also passes judgment of the acceptability of every candidate for public office.
[5] The Assembly of Experts is a body of 86 high Shia clerics who serve 8 year terms and who elect and/or depose the Supreme Leader.
[6] The Council for the Discernment of Expediency is a body of policy experts that seeks a compromise solution when key institutions of the regime cannot resolve their differences.

Lawrence A. Franklin was the Iran Desk Officer for Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld. He also served on active duty with the U.S. Army and as a Colonel in the Air Force Reserve, where he was a Military Attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Israel.


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Obama Loses Another War That He 'Ended' - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

Afghanistan is turning into a disaster, just like Iraq.


A day after the Taliban had overrun the city of Kunduz, Obama told the UN that, "Ideologies are not defeated with guns, they're defeated by better ideas."

The better idea that the Taliban had was fighting a war with guns, while Obama was still searching through his hashtags for a better idea than a bullet. Instead of convening a summit on “countering violent extremism”, the Taliban retook the last of their cities to fall to the United States. 

In a single day in September, the Taliban had captured a city of a few hundred thousand people.

Tajikistan saw the fall of Kunduz coming months ago, but Obama’s vaunted intel operation was too busy cooking the books to make it seem as if he was winning in Iraq to waste time lying about another war.

In March, Obama was crediting himself with having shifted the momentum against the Taliban. Now the Taliban have shown him which way the momentum had really shifted.

Last year, he declared the war was over.  But Obama and reality have never been on speaking terms. The war had not reached a “responsible conclusion”. The fighting wasn’t over until the Taliban said so. 

Obama claimed that the combat mission of American soldiers was over and that they were only there as advisers. This comes as a surprise to the Americans who are fighting the Taliban in Kunduz, trying to relieve trapped Afghan forces. The official story is that they’re “advising” the Afghans. The real story is that Obama lied to American soldiers and to the American people.

The Afghanistan scam isn’t even a new scam. Obama pulled this same exact trick in Iraq, renaming the mission and redefining the American soldiers there as “advisers”. But ISIS let him withdraw before humiliating him by capturing a city. The Taliban haven’t been that obliging. 

After futile efforts to negotiate with Biden’s “moderate Taliban”, Obama gave up and decided to go ahead with a fake withdrawal. The Taliban responded to the fake withdrawal with a real invasion.

Like the rise of ISIS, the Taliban victory was only a surprise to the foreign policy cocktail crowd circuit. The Taliban had been moving in on the city for months. While Obama golfed, partied and selfied, the Jihadists tightened their grip on the city and its underequipped forces. The Taliban still don’t golf, but now they’re the ones partying and taking selfies in the streets of the provincial capital.

In a replay of the Iraq disaster, the Afghan forces surrendered or deserted to join the enemy. Obama’s plans for a transition have been shot to hell. His declaration that the war is over has become a joke.

And the Taliban have demonstrated that he can’t leave without their permission.

The question is what will Obama have to give the Taliban in exchange for letting him leave. The 5 Taliban commanders weren’t enough. Freeing every terrorist in Gitmo won’t do it either. Obama’s deal with Iran has sharpened the appetites of terrorists around the world.

Just like in Iraq, Obama chose to ignore the threat for as long as possible until it was on the news. Obama cooked the intel on the fight against ISIS to make it seem like he was winning, but he had been cooking the intel on Afghanistan from the very beginning.

Americans have never been told the dirty truth about his Afghan surge. 

Obama needed cover to withdraw from Iraq so he lied and claimed that the surge was needed to fight Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. His own intelligence briefings however showed that there were only around 100 Al Qaeda in the country. The surge was based on a lie and the lies didn’t stop there.

Thousands of American soldiers were killed or crippled by rules of engagement that kept them from fighting the Taliban. Obama didn’t want to beat the Taliban. He wanted to bring them to the negotiating table. That was his “better idea” than “guns”. It was a better idea built on dead American soldiers.

And the “better idea” has failed miserably. 

The negotiations with the Taliban didn’t work. The political solution failed in Afghanistan, just as it did in Iraq. And now the Taliban are rebounding, the way that ISIS did in Iraq. All Obama has left are his lies.

The official story is that our mission is no longer a combat mission. Never mind the bombs and bullets. 

Meanwhile the United States can’t provide useful support to the Afghans because the Taliban have taken a city and Obama won’t authorize air strikes on populated areas. It’s the same strategy of human shields that allowed Hamas and ISIS to hold out, and now the Taliban are using it to their advantage.

The US can’t provide air support for battles within the city. That leaves Obama with a choice between sending American soldiers into battle or carrying out air strikes on urban targets. He’s already made his decision by sending in American personnel and then lying about it. And then lying about the Taliban. 

The Taliban, according to an anonymous official source, attacked Kunduz for “publicity purposes”. 

But it’s Obama who bombs countries for “publicity purposes” as he’s doing in Iraq and Syria. The Taliban aren’t trying to recapture Afghanistan for “publicity purposes”. They are doing it to establish Islamic law.

Islamic law is the Taliban’s version of a better idea. And Islamic law is established by the gun and the sword. Obama’s better idea is the lie.

Obama lies about the motives and agendas of Islamic Jihadists. He lied about his success in Afghanistan. He lied about the end of the war, the reasons for the large American death toll and his transition plans.

In a sharp reversal, we are now the ones whose screens are full of Iraqi information ministers bellicosely yelling about all their victories. And then we’re confused when ISIS or the Taliban show up at the airport.

At the summit on “countering violent extremism”, Obama doubled down on beating the terrorists with Twitter hashtags, jobs and support for the Muslim Brotherhood. Then he proceeded to blame Ben Carson and Donald Trump for ISIS and the Taliban, claiming that the failure to build “diverse, tolerant, inclusive societies that reject anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant bigotry” leads to Muslim “extremism”.

Afghanistan is diverse, if you count only Muslims, but not remotely tolerant or inclusive.
Obama claimed that “We will ultimately prevail because we are guided by a stronger, better vision”. But this progressively bionic, “stronger, better vision” didn’t even allow Obama to see the fall of Kunduz or Mosul coming. The conviction that his ideology is on the right side of history is useful when terrorizing a bewildered GOP establishment, but the Taliban are far more convinced of their rightness than he is. In a battle between fanatics, Islamic Jihadists have more conviction than leftist community organizers.

The first American team into Afghanistan after 9/11 flew in a plane carrying the tail number 9/11/01 with orders to link up with the Northern Alliance, break the Taliban and destroy Al Qaeda.

Kunduz fell to the Northern Alliance two months after September 11. What the Bush administration managed to get done in a few months at the cost of eight lives, Obama spent six years in office undoing at the cost of thousands of American lives.  

Obama still doesn’t have a plan for winning in Afghanistan. Certainly nothing as crude as the team that flew in on a plane marked 9/11/01. But he does have a “vision”. Unlike plans, visions are worth very little. Every deluded lunatic has them. Obama’s vision is that he is bound to win because the left is right.

That’s not a plan. It’s a mental illness. 

The Taliban are just as deluded as Obama, but they make plans to carry out their vision. They don’t just give another version of the same empty speech, spew a few lies at a camera and then go golfing.

Instead they coordinate a lightning attack that takes local forces by surprise and allows them to seize a city. Like Obama, the Taliban are evil. Unlike him, they aren’t also lazy and incompetent. 

That’s why the Taliban have Kunduz, while Obama is left with his vision, his hashtags and his lies. 

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam.


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U.S. Intelligence-Gathering on ISIS Threatened in Africa - Con Coughlin

by Con Coughlin

  • The increasingly erratic conduct of one of Africa's more despotic rulers, as well as his tilt toward China, is raising serious concerns about the future of a vital American intelligence-gathering base that plays a central role in targeting al-Qaeda and Islamic State militants in countries such as Yemen and Syria.
  • It will be the first time a head of state has been ordered to appear before a British court since King Charles I of England in 1649, who was subsequently beheaded for treason.

The increasingly erratic conduct of one of Africa's more despotic rulers is raising serious concerns about the future of a vital American intelligence-gathering base that plays a central role in targeting al-Qaeda and Islamic State (ISIS) militants in countries such as Yemen and Syria.

Since coming to power 1999, President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti, in the Horn of Africa, has emerged as a vital ally of the United States, in spite of his despotic style of government and mounting criticism over his country's lamentable record on human rights.

American officials fear that President Ismail Omar Guelleh of Djibouti (left) is turning away from his alliance with the U.S., jeopardizing one America's key intelligence listening posts, which is located in Djibouti. (Image source: White House video screenshot)

Successive American administrations -- including that of President Barack Obama, who claims to champion greater democracy in Africa -- have willingly turned a blind eye to Mr. Guelleh's dictatorial style, in return for being allowed to operate the Camp Lemonnier military base that is located in the strategically-important African state.

Sited at the junction between the Gulf of Aden and the Red Sea, the sprawling Camp Lemmonier complex, which houses 4,500 U.S. military personnel and is the only U.S. military based located in Africa, has developed into one of America's key listening posts since the September 11, 2001 attacks. Apart from being a sophisticated communications centre for the Arab world and beyond, it also houses U.S. Special Forces, fighter planes and helicopters, as well as being a major operational center for drone operations in Africa and the Middle East.

But the unpredictable behaviour of Mr. Guelleh, who has been summoned to make an unprecedented appearance at a London court next month, has prompted senior counter-terrorism officials in Washington to question whether the U.S. can afford to maintain its decade-long alliance with the Djibouti strongman.

Mr. Guelleh will certainly find himself under intense scrutiny next week, after a judge at London's Commercial Court, which is hearing fraud claims lodged by the Djibouti government, took the extraordinary decision to rule that Mr. Guelleh must appear in person, rather than via video link, when the court resumes its hearings on October 5. The judge made the order after Mr. Guelleh's legal team were accused of deliberately misleading the court. It will be the first time a head of state has been ordered to appear before a British court since King Charles I of England in 1649, who was subsequently beheaded for treason.

But while this unique twist in the forthcoming legal proceedings is likely to dominate the headlines when the case resumes, it is the effect Mr. Guelleh's erratic conduct is having on Djibouti's political stability, as well as the country's worrying tilt towards China, that is causing most concern for the Pentagon.

In recent months Mr. Guelleh has intensified his efforts to form a strategic partnership with China, which is keen to expand its military presence throughout the African continent. China, which is already contracted to build a railway linking Djibouti to Ethiopia, has negotiated a $400 million deal to develop Djibouti's port facilities, a development Pentagon officials believe will lead to China establishing its own military presence just a few miles from the highly sensitive Camp Lemonnier complex.

China's foothold in Djibouti, moreover, has raised fears in Washington that Mr. Guelleh is turning away from his erstwhile ally in the U.S., with all the implications that could have for the future operational security of Camp Lemmonier.

Consequently, senior policymakers in Washington are now hoping to prevent Mr. Guelleh from running for a fourth term in office when the next round of presidential elections are held next year. Certainly, if China continues with its plans to establish a military presence in the Horn of Africa, the Pentagon will have to give serious consideration to relocating some of Camp Lemonnier's more sensitive operations elsewhere.

"The trade deal between Djibouti and China has raised serious concerns with regard to Camp Lemonnier," commented a senior U.S. security official. "There are now genuine concerns that if President Guelleh gets too close to China, then he may be tempted to impose restrictions on U.S. access to the base, which would seriously impact on the West's counter-terrorism operations against Islamic State and al-Qaeda."

If Mr. Guelleh continues with his confrontational approach towards Washington, then Mr. Obama is likely to come under pressure to press for political reform in Djibouti, thereby ending the president's long-running dictatorship. After all, it was only last July that Mr. Obama, in his keynote speech to the African Union, made a scathing attack on Africa's culture of presidents-for-life, urging the continent's leaders to follow the example of George Washington and Nelson Mandela by respecting term limits -- a warning is particularly pertinent so far as Mr. Guelleh is concerned.

Con Coughlin is the Defence Editor at Daily Telegraph, London


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