Saturday, September 2, 2017

Iran's new weapons facilities in Lebanon 'cross a red line,' Israel says - Lilach Shoval, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

by Lilach Shoval, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff

If no action is taken, Iranian weapon production lines will become operational in the foreseeable future, defense officials warn • Israel is focusing its efforts on diplomatic front, but international community is presently apathetic to Israel's position.

A Hezbollah fighter stands guard with a missile positioned nearby
Photo credit: Reuters

Lilach Shoval, News Agencies and Israel Hayom Staff


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Should Anti-trust Laws Be Used to Break Up the Social Media Giants? - Robert Spencer

by Robert Spencer

Google, Facebook and the rest wield more power than most governments.

The secular Left and the proponents of Islamic blasphemy laws have a new issue on which they are making common cause: the quest to destroy the freedom of speech, the cornerstone of our democracy. After Charlottesville, the Left sees its chance to crush all dissent, and given its alliance with Islamic supremacists, this means the implementation in the West of prohibitions on criticism of Islam, including counterterror analysis of the motivating ideology of jihad terrorists. This anti-free speech initiative, if it succeeds, will destroy free society, which cannot exist if one is unable to speak out against the tyrant.

The Left is trying to use Charlottesville as its Reichstag Fire moment to try to crush all dissent. CNN gave the Southern Poverty Law Center’s spurious “hate group” list wide play, and an effort has begun to deny all platforms to those “hate groups,” without any regard for the fact that the SPLC includes legitimate organizations that dissent from the Leftist agenda (including the David Horowitz Freedom Center and Jihad Watch) on the list along with the KKK and neo-Nazis, in an attempt to defame and destroy the legitimate groups.

Spearheading anti-free speech efforts on the Islamic side is a little-known organization that comprises most of the Muslim governments around the world today: the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which is made up of fifty-six member nations plus the Palestinian Authority and constitutes the largest voting bloc at the United Nations. The OIC has been working for years to try to compel the West to restrict the freedom of speech, and particularly the freedom to criticize Islam.

Essentially, they want to impose a key principle of Sharia — which forbids blasphemy against Allah, Muhammad, and Islam — on the entire non-Muslim world. They are advancing this initiative by trying to compel the West to criminalize “incitement to religious hatred,” which essentially means criticism of Islam; no international body has ever objected to criticism of Judaism, Christianity, or any other religion.

Aiding this OIC initiative has been the popularization of the term “Islamophobia.” Abdur-Rahman Muhammad, a former imam, writes that “this loathsome term is nothing more than a thought-terminating cliche conceived in the bowels of Muslim think tanks for the purpose of beating down critics.” Islamic groups tied to Hamas and the Muslim Brotherhood, most notably the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), have for years been wielding this term like a club to smear anyone who speaks honestly about the jihad threat; by doing so, they have intimidated many into silence.

The SPLC has eagerly taken up this term as a key element of its censorship strategy, publishing lists of key “Islamophobes” (including David Horowitz and me) that have grown so absurd that they even include a reformist Muslim, Maajid Nawaz. Nawaz and his associates are themselves not above using similar tactics, but his presence on the SPLC’s list does highlight its absurdity.

The anti-free speech initiative is also proceeding even aside from the SPLC’s hate group list. Canadian psychologist and social critic Jordan Peterson recently had his Google account revoked, without explanation, and then restored without explanation. “Maybe it was just an error,” Peterson told Tucker Carlson, “but the fact that things have been happening in such a strange way politically brings up the specter of censorship.”

And Google has been engaging in censorship. The establishment media in the West completely ignored the story, but Turkey’s Anadolu Agency reported several weeks ago that “Google’s first page results for searches of terms such as ‘jihad’, ‘shariah’ and ‘taqiyya’ now return mostly reputable explanations of the Islamic concepts. Taqiyya, which describes the circumstances under which a Muslim can conceal their belief in the face of persecution, is the sole term to feature a questionable website on the first page of results.”

“Reputable” according to whom? “Questionable” according to whom? Google is bowing to pressure from Muslims such as Texas imam Omar Suleiman, who is mentioned in the Anadolu story as the driving force behind this initiative, without considering whether those who are demanding that the search results be skewed in a particular direction might have an ulterior motive. Could it be that those who are pressuring Google want to conceal certain truths about Islam that they would prefer that non-Muslims not know?

This is a real possibility, but of course Google executives would have to study Islam themselves in order to determine whether or not these Muslims who are pressuring them are misleading them, and that’s not going to happen. Still, they could have done a bit more due diligence, and made some efforts to determine whether those being tarred as “hate groups” really deserved the label, whether the Southern Poverty Law Center was really a reliable and objective arbiter of which groups were and weren’t “hate groups,” and whether the information that Google was suppressing was really inaccurate. Instead, Google seems to have swallowed uncritically everything Omar Suleiman and the others said, and applied it as policy.

Meanwhile, Facebook’s Vice President Joel Kaplan traveled to Pakistan in July to assure the Pakistani government that it would remove “anti-Islam” material. That endeavor had already started before Kaplan’s trip. In mid-February, traffic to Jihad Watch from Facebook dropped suddenly by 90% and has never recovered. We do not post any hateful or provocative material and neither incite nor approve of violence, but Facebook is acting as judge, jury and executioner in all this. There is no appeal and no recourse.

A high-placed source in the tech industry told me: “Countries like Pakistan basically tell Facebook and Google that they either comply or the government will arrest all their employees in the country and make it illegal to use their produce. So, FB and Google are faced with either leaving the country or complying. Google famously refused to comply with the Chinese government’s censorship policies and withdrew from China at great cost to Google. Facebook is obviously less principled. By the way, this is a growing phenomenon with more and more countries moving to censor US tech companies (plus there’s been a recent vigorous campaign from the left demanding censorship in the US). They won’t cave to domestic pressures, because it makes no business sense. They will cave to foreign pressure in foreign countries, because it makes business sense.”

In his interview of Jordan Peterson, Carlson asked what governments should do with companies such as Google that are more powerful than the government itself. Peterson answered: “I’m not sure the government knows what to do.” Susan Benesch, director of the Dangerous Speech Project, said in July: “Facebook is regulating more human speech than any government does now or ever has.”

So what is to be done? In other industries the government has used anti-trust laws when free markets are threatened. Here the free marketplace of ideas is threatened. Should the anti-trust laws be invoked to break up Google and Facebook?

Robert Spencer is the director of Jihad Watch and author of the New York Times bestsellers The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam (and the Crusades) and The Truth About Muhammad. His latest book is The Complete Infidel’s Guide to Free Speech (and Its Enemies). Follow him on Twitter here. Like him on Facebook here.


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A Clarion Call for Reason - Eileen F. Toplansky

by Eileen F. Toplansky

"when altruists turn militant they become self-righteous tyrants."

That the Left could besmirch the gentle heroism and kindness depicted in this picture should be evidence enough of the malignant growth that is now casting a pall over America. It is time for Americans to put the vile genie back in its box.

In his slim volume titled A Trumpet for Reason, written in 1970, Leo Rosten gives a "ringing answer to the New Left, the New Right, the militants and extremists and romantic demagogues who have been tearing our country apart." He writes that America stands "in peril of being stampeded by the over-simplifiers, however honest; the fanatic, however idealistic; the unstable, however eloquent; and the naive, however appealing."

Why did we not learn that the "glittering nostrums of spellbinders" such as Obama would prove so disastrous to this country? Rosten wonders if "each generation [must] learn for itself that "when altruists turn militant they become self-righteous tyrants." Thus, "a few days prior to the January 20, 2017 inauguration of Republican President Donald J. Trump, James O'Keefe's investigative journalism organization, Project Veritas, released undercover video footage exposing a cohort of hard-left, self-described 'anarchists,' 'anti-capitalists,' and 'anti-fascists' who -- in an effort to undermine Trump's presidency and strike back at the 'Nazis' who they said supported him -- were plotting to disrupt the inaugural festivities with a massive protest dubbed 'DisruptJ20.' Specifically, the conspirators planned to: (a) create a series of 'clusterf**k blockades' sealing off ingress points all over the capital; (b) shut down the Washington, DC Metro lines by chaining the trains to other physical structures; (c) inject butyric acid into the vent shafts of the National Press Club; and (d) physically assault Trump backers with well-placed, debilitating punches directly to the throat."

In fact, "one of the activists… told the Washington Post, the violence 'was purposeful in its symbolism' – meaning… that 'vandalism at a Starbucks shop and a Bank of America branch were executed as attacks on capitalism and corporate greed.'"
Antifa members dress entirely in black, and their faces are covered by black masks, hoods, and scarves. According to organizers 'Antifa combines radical left-wing and anarchist politics, revulsion at racists, sexists, homophobes, anti-Semites, and Islamophobes, with the international anti-fascist culture of taking the streets and physically confronting the brownshirts of white supremacy, whoever they may be.'"

Actually, "[a]t its heart, the Antifa movement is… a communist phenomenon whose adherents – consisting predominantly of upper-middle-class white males -- believe that conservatives, particularly those who supported Donald Trump in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, are the moral equivalent of Nazis and are therefore not entitled to the free-speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment. Moreover… the movement has a strong element of anarchism as well; thus its members are commonly seen waving the red and black flag of anarcho-communism." Their intent is to totally destroy America.

Sadly, "[m]ainstream media outlets have typically refrained from acknowledging just how radical and revolutionary Antifa's objectives and practices are, portraying the movement instead as a well-intentioned alliance of idealists who seek nothing more than to thwart the evils of right-wing 'fascism.' The Washington Post, for instance, has benignly referred to Antifa and its allies as 'antifascist groups'" as has the Los Angeles Times and the New York Daily News. Other sources -- both mainstream and far left -- have painted Antifa in openly complimentary tones. For example, an April 2017 Esquire magazine article lauded the movement's 'anti-fascist' vigilantes for crashing pro-Trump demonstrations [.]"

Moreover, instead of a social order that promotes free speech, and free thought, we have university campuses becoming bastions of intolerance, violence, and sheer terror as professors assemble a "Campus Antifascist Network (CAN) to serve as a 'big tent' for 'anyone committed to fighting fascism.'" And despite the fact that Antifa groups employ violence to shut down opposing speakers, "the professors insist that they only support 'self-defense' by 'those who are being threatened by fascists.'" Their syllabus, for example, highlights writings from the Southern Poverty Law Center, (SPLC) which has become notorious for the suppression of speech. The SPLC listings of so-called extremists have included Dr. Ben Carson, Rand Paul, the Family Research Council, Charles Murray, Frank Gaffney, Cliff Kincaid of Accuracy in Media, Dinesh D'Souza, and Jeff Sessions as well as tea party and patriot organizations.
It is poignant that at the end of his book, Rosten wonders whether faculty members will ever wonder about the effect on America when a campus becomes "a sanctuary for lawbreaking and an inviolable base, a 'neutral' staging ground, for hit-and-run guerilla raids off campus." Will they have any "guilt about students who were beaten, teachers who were vilified, lecturers who were shouted down by neo-Nazi mob chantings"? Though this was written almost a half a century ago, one is reminded of Professor Melissa Click of the University of Missouri who, in 2015, demanded "some muscle" as she tried to knock down a cameraman and eject a journalist.

That the "guardians, both in the universities and elsewhere, have lost the will and the self-confidence to defend the institutions they are meant to lead… will by their own actions destroy the universities and everything they stand for." And, in fact, enrollment is down in universities. Whereas in 1970 Rosten reminded us that "if a whiff of the Weimar republic lies over Britain today, it is not difficult to discern where the blame lies," Melanie Phillips chronicles the eclipse of reason in the West today.

Ever prescient, Rosten emphasized that "the products of 'liberated' curriculums will be bitterly disappointed, unless they retreat into a permanent break with reality.'"

Think snowflakes, perhaps?

In the book titled Cartoonists Against the Holocaust authors Rafael Medoff and Craig Yoe collected cartoons of American political cartoonists who highlighted the acts of real Nazis. A 1933 political cartoon from the Jewish Daily Bulletin where Hitler, Goebbels, and Goering watch as a Nazi thug stomps on an innocent is a mirror image of what the Antifa thugs do today as they repeatedly prove that they are the true totalitarians.

And the black-clad hoodlums who claim allegiance to Marxism need to be reminded that "wherever [their] heroes -- Marx, Mao, Che -- have prevailed, students, writers, teachers, scientists have been punished with hard labor or death. For what? For their opinions, For their poems. For their stories. For insufficient subservience to monolithic dogma."

Yet one of "Antifa's modus operandi is deplatforming -- i.e., depriving conservatives (whom Antifa calls 'fascists') of a speaking platform, by drowning them out with bullhorns, airhorns, and group chants, or shutting down their events with 'human walls' that block anyone from attending. Moreover, Antifa encourages and practices 'doxxing,' the use of cyber attacks to first ascertain the identity of an Internet user, and to then access and make public his or her valuable personal data. Some of those digitally hounded by Antifa members have been forced virtually to seek new identities." Actually, Antifa exemplifies a "hidden, liberal-radical bigotry" often found among middle-class militants.

And then there is the intense desire to erase history. As Rosten explained, "history is not a barren chronicle of dates and names; it is the retracing of human problems, efforts, errors, successes by which we may have some context within which to think and judge, some light to guide our search for causes and effects, some signals of warning, some tested beacons with which to light our voyage toward a wider, deeper humaneness." Larry Elder explains this very well. But as statues and other American historical objects are destroyed, those who engage in this assault are no better than ISIS which obliterates historical artifacts dating back thousands of years.

In fact, "Antifa's propensity for using violence as a means of silencing its enemies is particularly significant. Utterly rejecting any notion of a free and open exchange of ideas, the movement views anyone who holds a contrary political perspective as The Enemy that must be crushed by any means necessary. Thus, in the final analysis, it can accurately be said that the Antifa communists who so passionately denounce fascism, are in fact fascists themselves."

The only force Rosten feared more than "human irrationality [was] irrationality armed with passion." He emphasized that "[i]t is time for those who believe in freedom to come to the defense of freedom -- and reason. Neither can survive if either is destroyed. And both can be destroyed if we allow demagogues, vandals, terrorists, bombers, blackmailers, and romantic bubbleheads with political hallucinations to go unchallenged."

Eileen F. Toplanskycan be reached at


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UN Chief Guterres, the Media and Palestinian Fake News - Bassam Tawil

by Bassam Tawil

Fake news is an old story in the Palestinian world. Yet recently, fake news has been taken to new heights by Palestinian spin-doctors, who have been working overtime to mislead the international community and media.

  • One of the mothers who attended the meeting with the UN chief was Latifa Abu Hmaid. Four of her sons, Nasser, Sharif, Nasr and Mohammed are serving multiple life sentences for their role in terrorism. The Palestinian Authority (PA) chose the mother of these terrorists because they are all members of President Mahmoud Abbas's ruling Fatah faction, which is regularly described by Western media outlets as a moderate and pragmatic Palestinian party that believes in the two-state solution and peace with Israel.
  • The minimum the UN chief and his aides could have done is to call out the PA leadership and condemn it for the ambush and the fabricated report from the official Palestinian news agency. Had Israel been involved in a similar incident, we would have witnessed a diplomatic crisis, prompted by the UN secretary general and his spokesmen as well as the international media. Palestinians, as usual, are given a pass.
  • The lie about "Jewish extremists" setting fire to the Al-Aqsa Mosque has become so widespread and accepted that even senior Muslim scholars such as Abbas's Grand Mufti, Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, has also been spreading the blood libel. He and most Palestinians continue to describe the Australian Christian arsonist as a "Jewish extremist."
  • According to the Palestinian propaganda machine, nearly without exception, the terrorists were on their way to buy bread for their mothers or visit their grandmothers. These were innocent victims, the story goes, arrested or shot by Israel for no reason. Then there are the lies about Israelis "planting" knives near the bodies of terrorists who stab or try to murder Jews. Western journalists and others accept these lies as facts.
Fake news is an old story in the Palestinian world. Yet recently, fake news has been taken to new heights by Palestinian spin-doctors, who have been working overtime to mislead the international community and media. A number of stories published in the past few days in the Palestinian media demonstrate the extent to which Palestinians are prepared to go to deceive the world and impact international public opinion.

Excellence is often a virtue -- except when one excels at lying. And if there is one thing at which the Palestinians have excelled in the past few decades, it is spreading lies about its conflict with Israel. The mainstream media in the West usually takes the fake-news bait -- it sells papers! -- and demonstrates tolerance, if not sympathy, toward Palestinian-produced fake news fabrications.

The most recent case of Palestinian fake news emerged during United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres's visit to Ramallah, the de facto capital of the Palestinians. The UN chief, who does not seem to be familiar with the Palestinian culture of lies, fell victim to a typical PR stunt organized by his Palestinian hosts.

According to the Wafa news agency, the official organ of the Palestinian Authority (PA), Guterres "held a meeting on Tuesday evening (August 29) with families of Palestinian martyrs and prisoners held in Israeli occupation prisons." The report said that the families called on the UN secretary-general to take rapid and serious action to save the lives of more than 6500 male and female prisoners held in Israeli prisons. Wafa then quoted Guterres as saying: "We understand the suffering of the Palestinian prisoners and we will work with the relevant parties to end their suffering."

First, it ought to be of interest that the "prisoners" and "martyrs" are Palestinians who were involved, directly and indirectly, in terror attacks. Many of the prisoners have Jewish blood on their hands and were convicted of often unspeakable crimes.

Second, it quickly became clear that the meeting between the UN chief and the Palestinian families was part of an ambush set up by his Palestinian hosts in Ramallah. According to a UN spokesman, Guterres was surprised by the sudden request of the Palestinian Authority to meet with the "mothers of detained children" but that he agreed to meet with them. To his great credit, Guterres also issued a clarification that the report in Wafa that he had expressed sympathy for the prisoners' plight was "fabricated."

Third, it is worth noting that one of the mothers who attended the meeting with the UN chief was Latifa Abu Hmaid, from the Al-Ama'ri refugee camp near Ramallah. Four of her sons, Nasser, Sharif, Nasr and Mohammed are serving multiple life sentences for their role in terrorism. The Palestinian Authority chose the mother of these terrorists because they are all members of President Mahmoud Abbas's ruling Fatah faction, which is regularly described by Western media outlets as a moderate and pragmatic Palestinian party that believes in the two-state solution and peace with Israel.

The response of the UN chief's spokesman to the "fabricated" report by Abbas's Wafa news agency and the unscheduled meeting with the families of the "prisoners" and "martyrs" is a fine example of how the Palestinian Authority manipulates the world's top diplomat. The PA and other Palestinians, however, have been getting away with this for decades.

The minimum the UN chief and his aides could have done is to call out the PA leadership and condemn it for the ambush and the fabricated report on the official Palestinian news agency. Had Israel been involved in a similar incident, we would have witnessed a diplomatic crisis, prompted by the UN secretary general and his spokesmen as well as the international media. Palestinians, as usual, are given a pass.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres during his to Ramallah, August 29, 2017. (Image source: UN Photo/Ahed Izhiman)

In another example of Palestinian fake news designed to slander Israel and win international sympathy, several Palestinian media outlets have been reporting during the past week that an Israeli female undercover agent masquerading as a nurse has been uncovered in a Palestinian hospital in Hebron.

According to the fake reports, the "nurse" was an Israeli settler who had helped the Israel Defense Forces infiltrate the hospital to arrest and shoot Palestinian fugitives. A quick check of the facts revealed that the Palestinians were apparently referring to a Western volunteer who had worked in the hospital to treat Palestinian patients. The hospital administration has strongly denied the reports, which continue to spread like fire on social media and Palestinian news websites. The purpose of the fake reports is to implicate Israel and present it as a state that shows disregard for hospitals and patients. This case shows that rumors and fake news are regularly accepted as facts in the world of the Palestinians and Arabs.

Or consider another example of how the Palestinian propaganda machine operates. On August 23, the same Palestinian news agency, Wafa, reported on the anniversary of the 1969 fire at the Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

First, the historical facts: On August 21, 1969, an Australian citizen named Denis Michael Rohan set fire to the pulpit of the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Rohan was arrested for the arson attack, tried and found to be insane. He was hospitalized in a mental institution before finally being deported from Israel in 1974.

Since 1969, however, the Palestinians have repeated the lie that Israel and Jews were behind the arson attack. The fact that Rohan was a Christian is apparently inconsequential to them.

So this year, marking the anniversary of the arson, this is what Abbas's official mouthpiece, Wafa, had this priceless piece of perjury to say: "The Al-Aqsa Mosque was torched by Jewish extremists in 1969."

The lie about "Jewish extremists" setting fire to the Al-Aqsa Mosque has become so widespread and accepted that even senior Muslim scholars such as Abbas's Grand Mufti, Sheikh Mohamed Hussein, has also been spreading the blood libel. He and most Palestinians continue to describe the Australian Christian arsonist as a "Jewish extremist."

These lies are simply a few recent examples that extend a long list of Palestinian fake news and blood libels aimed at framing Israel and inciting the world against it. Take for example, the famous Palestinian lies about terrorists: according to the Palestinian propaganda machine, nearly without exception, the terrorists were on their way to buy bread for their mothers or visit their grandmothers. These were innocent victims, the story goes, arrested or shot by Israel for no reason. Then there are the lies about Israelis "planting" knives near the bodies of terrorists who stab or try to murder Jews. Western journalists and others accept these lies as facts.

The manipulation of the UN chief in Ramallah comes as no surprise to those familiar with Palestinian tactics of deception. The question, however, remains: For how long will the international community receive with equanimity the lies that Palestinians spit in its face, lies that hour after hour, day after day, only endanger the lives of both Palestinians and Jews, promote an all-too-welcomed anti-Semitism, and worst – contrary to the claims of those who purport to want to help them -- prolong the suffering of Palestinians who dream of one day living in freedom –like their neighbors, the Israelis -- with institutions of democracy like free speech, an independent judiciary and educational system, and most of all, with accountable leadership?

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.


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The Strategic Case for Kurdistan - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

Why it may weaken US adversaries and strengthen our allies.

Originally published by the Jerusalem Post

If the leaders of Iraqi Kurdistan aren’t intimidated into standing down, on September 25, the people of Iraqi Kurdistan will go to the polls to vote on a referendum for independence.

The Kurds have been hoping to hold the referendum since 2013.

Whereas Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu restated his support for Kurdish independence earlier this month in a meeting with a delegation of visiting Republican congressmen, the Trump administration has urged Kurdish President Masoud Barzani and his colleagues to postpone the referendum indefinitely.

US Defense Secretary James Mattis, who visited with Barzani in the Kurdish capital of Erbil two weeks ago, said that the referendum would harm the campaign against Islamic State.

In his words, “Our point right now is to stay focused like a laser beam on the defeat of ISIS and to let nothing distract us.”

Another line of argument against the Kurdish referendum was advanced several weeks ago by The New York Times editorial board. The Times argued the Kurds aren’t ready for independence. Their government suffers from corruption, their economy is weak, their democratic institutions are weak and their human rights record is far from perfect.

While the Times’ claims have truth to them, the relevant question is compared to what? Compared to their neighbors, not to mention to the Times’ favored group the Palestinians, the Kurds, who have been self-governing since 1991, are paragons of good governance. Not only have they given refuge to tens of thousands of Iraqis fleeing ISIS, Iraqi Kurdistan has been an island of relative peace in a war-torn country since the US-led invasion in 2003.

Its Peshmerga forces have not only secured Kurdistan, they have been the most competent force fighting ISIS since its territorial conquests in 2014.

The same is the case of the Kurdish YPG militia in Syrian Kurdistan.

As for Mattis’s argument that the referendum, and any subsequent moves to secede from Iraq, would harm the campaign against ISIS, the first question is whether he is right.

If Mattis is concerned that the referendum will diminish Iranian and Turkish support for the campaign, then his concern is difficult to defend.

Turkey has never been a significant player in the anti-ISIS campaign. Indeed, until recently, Turkey served as ISIS’s logistical base.

As for Iran, this week Iranian-controlled Hezbollah and Lebanese military forces struck a deal to permit ISIS fighters they defeated along the Lebanese-Syrian border to safely transit Syria to ISIS-held areas along the Syrian border with Iraq. In other words, far from cooperating with the US and its allies against ISIS, Iran and its underlings are fighting a separate war to take ISIS out of their areas of influence while enabling ISIS to fight the US and its allies in other areas.

This then brings us to the real question that the US should be asking itself in relation to the Kurdish referendum. That question is whether an independent Kurdistan would advance or harm US strategic interests in the region.

Since the US and Russia concluded their cease-fire deal for Syria on July 7, Netanyahu has used every opportunity to warn that the cease-fire is a disaster.

In the interest of keeping Mattis’s “laser focus” on fighting ISIS, the US surrendered its far greater strategic interest of preventing Iran and its proxies from taking over the areas that ISIS controlled – such as the Syrian-Lebanese border and the tri-border area between Iraq, Syria and Jordan. As Netanyahu warns at every opportunity, Iran and its proxies are moving into all the areas being liberated from ISIS.

And Iran isn’t the only concern from either an Israeli or an American perspective. Turkey is also a looming threat, which will only grow if it isn’t contained.

Turkey’s rapidly accelerating anti-American trajectory is now unmistakable.

Last week during Mattis’s visit to Ankara, Turkish- supported militias in northern Syria opened fire on US forces. Not only did Turkey fail to apologize, Turkey condemned the US for retaliating against the attackers.

Moreover, last week, Turkish authorities announced they are charging US pastor Andrew Brunson with espionage, membership in a terrorist organization and attempting to destroy Turkey’s constitutional order and overthrow its parliament.

Brunson was arrested last October.

Whereas until last year’s failed military coup against the regime of President Recep Erdogan, Turkey demonstrated a firm interest in remaining a member of NATO and a strategic ally of the US, since the failed coup, Turkey has signaled that it at best, it is considering its options. US generals say that since the failed coup, they have almost no one to talk to in the Turkish military. Their interlocutors are either under arrest or too afraid to speak to them.

The regime and its supporters express both neo-Ottoman and neo-colonial aspirations, both of which place Turkey on a collision course with the US.

For instance, Melih Ecertas, the head of Erdogan AK Party’s youth wing, proclaimed that Erdogan is not merely the president of Turkey, rather he is “president of all the world’s Muslims.

So, too, Muslim Brotherhood leader Sheikh Yusuf Qaradawi called Erdogan “the hope of all Muslims and of Islam.”

Qaradawi, who lives in Qatar and is Qatar’s Al Jazeera satellite channel’s superstar preacher, has good reason to love Erdogan.

In June, Erdogan decided to make a strategic move to protect the pro-Muslim Brotherhood and pro-Iranian Qatari regime from its angry neighbors, led by Saudi Arabia. Turkey’s deployment of forces to Doha stalled the Saudi-led campaign against the Qatari regime.

If the regime survives, and if world oil prices continue to drop and so weaken Saudi economic power, Turkey’s decision to deploy its forces to Qatar could be the first step toward realizing its neo-Ottoman ambitions.

As for neo-imperialism, last October Foreign Policy reported that Turkish television now uses a map from 1918 to define Turkey’s current borders. From 1918 through 1920, Turkish territory included large portions of Iraq, among them Kurdistan and Mosul, as well as large swaths of Syria, including Aleppo.

Foreign Policy reported that use of the map indicates that as the post-World War I map of the Middle East becomes obsolete, Erdogan sees an opportunity to expand Turkish territory.

Then there are Erdogan’s moves to build strategic ties with Russia and Iran.

Last November the NATO member announced it is negotiating the purchase of an S-400 air defense system from Russia.

As for Iran, last week Maj.-Gen, Mohammad Hossein Baghari, Iran’s chief of General Staff, paid the first official visit by an Iranian army chief to Turkey since the 1979 revolution. Baghari met not only by his Turkish counterpart, Gen. Hulusi Akar, but with Erdogan as well.

Erdogan said after the meeting that he and Baghari discussed possible joint military action against the Kurds in northern Iraq, Syria and Iran.

In his words, “Joint action against terrorist groups that have become a threat is always on the agenda.

This issue has been discussed between the two military chiefs, and I discussed more broadly how this should be carried out.”

Baghari was more explicit. He effectively announced that Iran and Turkey will respond with force to the Kurdish referendum.

“Both sides stressed that if the [Kurdish] referendum would be held, it will be the basis for the start of a series of tensions and conflicts inside Iraq, the consequences of which will affect neighboring countries.”

Baghari continued, “Holding the referendum will get Iraq, but also Iran and Turkey involved and that’s why the authorities of the two countries emphasize that it is not possible and should not be done.”

This then brings us back to Israel and the US and why Netanyahu is right to support Kurdish independence and the Trump administration is wrong to oppose it.

So long as there is no significant change in the nature of the Iranian and Turkish regimes, their empowerment will come at the expense of the US, Israel and the Arab Sunni states.

The Kurds, with their powerful and experienced military forces in Iraq and Syria alike, constitute a significant check on both Iranian and Turkish power.

Several commentators argue that the Turks will respond to the Kurdish referendum by waging a war of annihilation against the Kurds in Iraq and beyond. Iran, they warn, will assist in Turkish efforts.

As far as Iran is concerned, in the near future, its central effort will remain in Syria. As for Turkey, whereas Erdogan and his followers may wish to undertake such a campaign, today it hard to imagine them succeeding.

A year after the failed coup, the Turkish military is astounding observers with its incompetent performance in Syria. Despite the fact that Turkish forces are fighting in Syria in areas adjacent to their border, they are unable to competently project their force.

Turkey’s underperformance in Syria makes clear that the Turkish armed forces, which Erdogan gutted in his purges of the officer and NCO corps in the wake of the failed coup, have not rebuilt their strength.

According to an analysis by Al-Monitor published last September, the first four rounds of purges in the immediate aftermath of the failed coup reduced the number of general officers by nearly 40%. The ratio of pilots to aircraft in the Turkish Air Force was reduced from more than three pilots per plane to less than one pilot per plane.

While Al-Monitor assessed last year that it would take up to two years for the Turkish Air Force to rebuild its pilot corps, last week it appeared that two years was a gross underestimation of the time required.

Last week the US rejected a Turkish request to have Pakistani pilots fly Turkish F-16s. The request owed to the critical shortage of pilots in the Turkish Air Force.

And Erdogan continues to purge his generals. In early August he sacked the commanders of Turkish land forces and the Turkish Navy.

Given the current state of Turkish forces on the one hand, and the battlefield competence of Kurdish forces, it is clear that the balance of the two forces has never been better for the Kurds.

If Kurdistan becomes independent with US and Israeli backing and survives, the implications for the longevity of the Erdogan regime, given the rapidly expanding size of the Kurdish minority in Turkey, are significant.

Likewise for Iran, an independent Kurdistan in Iraq will serve to contain Iranian power in Syria and potentially destabilize the Iranian regime at home.

In summary then, opponents of Kurdish independence are correct. An independent Kurdistan will destabilize the region. But contrary to their claims, this is a good thing. For the first time since 2009, destabilization will benefit the US and Israel and weaken Iran and Turkey.

Caroline Glick


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James Comey, Hillary’s Real Campaign Manager - Matthew Vadum

by Matthew Vadum

Sweet vindication -- again -- for President Trump.

The insufferable, morally preening former FBI Director James B. Comey Jr., intentionally gave Hillary Clinton’s campaign a boost last year by deciding to sabotage the email investigation by exonerating the then-candidate before key witnesses had even been interviewed, new evidence suggests.

Citing Comey’s bungling of the Clinton email investigation, President Trump unceremoniously fired him by press release on May 9, three-and-a-half years into his 10-year term. Trump was attacked in the media for not caring about Comey’s presumably hurt feelings. He based his decision on a U.S. Department of Justice memo authored by Deputy Attorney General Rod J. Rosenstein that found Comey had, among other things, usurped then-Attorney General Loretta Lynch’s authority by taking it upon himself to unilaterally clear Clinton.

Rosenstein excoriated Comey, whose side of the story has long been championed by the media. “I do not understand his refusal to accept the nearly universal judgment that he was mistaken. Almost everyone agrees that the Director made serious mistakes; it is one of the few issues that unites people of diverse perspectives.”

Comey’s endless posturing and palace intrigues damaged the FBI, causing morale to plummet. As a result, “the FBI’s reputation and credibility have suffered substantial damage, and it has affected the entire Department of Justice,” Rosenstein asserted. “That is deeply troubling to many Department employees and veterans, legislators and citizens.”

Of course, critics savaged Trump’s rationale for axing Comey at the time, claiming as the supremely silly Russian collusion conspiracy theory was gaining traction in the media, that the president was obstructing justice to save his own skin.

Exploding in huge, scary fireballs of anger visible from orbit, they ridiculed him, calling him a budding dictator. They claimed he had created a dire constitutional crisis. They demanded his impeachment and imprisonment – or worse.

But once again it appears Trump was right about a media-saturated, manufactured matter of public controversy, one in a series that over the president’s brief time in office has whipped the yet-to-exhausted Left into a frenzy.

Upon Comey’s dismissal, Trump said the FBI “is one of our nation’s most cherished and respected institutions and today will mark a new beginning for our crown jewel of law enforcement.”

Exactly right.

As Americans are now painfully aware, the congenitally devious Clintons had created a hacker-friendly, slap-dash private email system while she headed the U.S. Department of State to frustrate Freedom of Information Act requesters, shield Hillary's correspondence from congressional oversight, and steer money to the international cash-for-future-presidential-favors clearinghouse known as the Bill, Hillary and Chelsea Clinton Foundation. The “homebrew” email servers Mrs. Clinton used are at the heart of the scandal over her mishandling of an Islamic terrorist attack in militant-infested Benghazi, Libya on the 11th anniversary of 9/11 that left four Americans, including U.S. ambassador Chris Stevens, dead.
Hillary thought she was above the law. Apparently, the new evidence shows Comey thought she was, too.

The case that the handwringing, sanctimonious Comey was thoroughly corrupt, exquisitely marinated in the swamp waters and flesh pools of decadent official Washington, was already fairly solid but with these new revelations it seems even more obvious that he was less top cop than grand inquisitor. He thought of himself as judge and jury, justice be damned. As long as he ended up looking good, all was well, in his eyes.

Senate Judiciary Committee chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and Judiciary subcommittee chairman Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) reportedly sent a letter to current FBI Director Chris Wray yesterday about Comey’s conduct as head of the FBI.

"Conclusion first, fact-gathering second—that's no way to run an investigation," read the correspondence. "The FBI should be held to a higher standard than that, especially in a matter of such great public interest and controversy."

From reading redacted transcripts of interviews conducted last fall with senior aides to Comey – his chief of staff James Rybicki and Trisha Anderson, the FBI’s principal deputy general counsel of national security and cyberlaw – Grassley’s committee discovered that as FBI chief Comey prematurely drafted a letter clearing Clinton of email-related wrongdoing.

The testimony appears to establish that Comey started working on a public statement giving Clinton a clean legal bill of health before the FBI had gotten around to speaking with 17 witnesses in the probe, including Clinton and two of her senior aides, Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson. The two senators noted that Comey began working on his exculpatory communique even before Mills and Samuelson brokered what the lawmakers called a “highly unusual” limited immunity deal with the Justice Department that prevented officials from looking into communications between the two aides and Colorado-based Platte River Networks, which oversaw Clinton’s unusual email system after she left Foggy Bottom to run for president.

"According to the unredacted portions of the transcripts, it appears that in April or early May of 2016, Mr. Comey had already decided he would issue a statement exonerating Secretary Clinton," the letter by Grassley and Graham stated.
That was long before FBI agents finished their work. Mr. Comey even circulated an early draft statement to select members of senior FBI leadership. The outcome of an investigation should not be prejudged while FBI agents are still hard at work trying to gather the facts.
As Daniel Greenfield freshly opined:
There was never any serious possibility that Hillary Clinton would have been indicted. And we know that. But throughout the process, Comey pretended that he was dotting all the i's and crossing all the t's. But it was all a show. Comey and his top people knew what the outcome would be ahead of time. They were just going through the motions.
Tom Fitton, president of Judicial Watch, told Fox News Channel’s Tucker Carlson last night that the new evidence "shows the investigation truly was a sham."

Fitton added that the FBI also appears to have helped to pay for opposition research against Trump. He was referring to the Russian "piss-gate" dossier published by cat-video website BuzzFeed. "They started paying, it looks like, the expert behind the dodgy dossier ... during the campaign."

"We asked the FBI for documents about any payments they made to the author of the Trump-Russia dossier and they came back to us and they said we can't even confirm or deny whether any such documents exist.”

The FBI is not being run, Fitton said, by "someone with the interest of the American people [in mind] in terms of getting some transparency about the misconduct of the FBI during the Obama administration as they were working to, really, nail Trump through this really awkward – and let's put it this way – conspiratorial relationship with the authors of the Trump dossier.”

By now politics junkies don’t need to be reminded it was at an unusual, much-watched presser on July 5, 2016, that Comey acknowledged the massive body of evidence that was accumulating against Clinton and described it at some length. He stipulated that the former secretary of state probably broke the law when she used hacker-friendly private email servers to conduct official business.

But after airing this very dirty laundry, Comey inexplicably gave Clinton a pass. “Although there is evidence of potential violations of the statutes regarding the handling of classified information, our judgment is that no reasonable prosecutor would bring such a case.”

Guided by politics, not the law, Comey pontificated that Clinton and her aides were “extremely careless” in their handling of classified documents but that there was no evidence of criminal intent. He made this statement even though the relevant national security statute does not actually require intent: mishandling intelligence, even inadvertently, is enough to land people with less pull than Hillary has, in hot water.

As former federal prosecutor Andrew C. McCarthy wrote at the time, “the FBI rewrote the statute, inserting an intent element that Congress did not require.”

So, as it turns out, Comey was ripped from his powerful perch in the nick of time.

Some critics say the media-savvy, morally preening Comey presided over a J. Edgar Hoover-like reign of terror while he ran the FBI.

Comey was far more powerful than an FBI director ought to be. When the president fired Comey, Brit Hume observed, “For better or worse, no FBI director since J. Edgar Hoover had taken so large a role in the political life of this country as James Comey.”

Around the same time Tucker Carlson was positively scathing in his assessment of Comey’s tenure. He said lawmakers on both sides of the aisle were intimidated by Comey – and for good reason.
Just how powerful was James Comey? Let’s put it this way: He was feared in a way that no appointed bureaucrat should ever be feared in a free society. Time and again elected lawmakers on both sides came on this show and expressed worry and concern about his behavior, but they did so only during commercial breaks with the cameras off. Why? Because they were terrified at the prospect of criticizing him in public. They certainly don’t have that fear of the sitting president of the United States and that tells you everything you need to know about Jim Comey.
That sounds about right.

Matthew Vadum


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Mattis Is No Good - David Archibald

by David Archibald

Trump, like Lincoln, is going to have to keep firing his generals until he gets someone who is on his side.

And neither is Rex Tillerson. But let’s consider Mattis first. James Mattis has made a couple of moves which can only be explained by his being quite ill-intentioned. Firstly, in written testimony to his Senate confirmation hearings Mattis stated that “Climate change is impacting stability in areas of the world where our troops are operating today.” So Mattis believes in global warming. The wonderful thing about global warming is that is a basic litmus test for our public officials, especially for someone so well read as General Mattis. Anyone who still believes what they read in newspapers could be forgiven for thinking and stating that global warming is real and happening.

But General Mattis would have read up on the matter enough to know that it is a discredited scam, and then decided he would come out as a true believer anyway knowing full well the political consequences of that. Global warming was Obama’s leitmotif. In his global warming stance, General Mattis may have declared his allegiance to the old regime.

And then there is the matter of Anne Patterson who, as U.S. ambassador to Egypt from 2011 to 2013, was an enthusiastic supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood. The Egyptian people hated her while she was there, hated her as much as they hated Obama. Ms. Patterson was fully on board with Obama’s desire for Islamists to take over the Middle East. And despite knowing this, as he must have done, Mattis nominated her for the post of undersecretary of defense for policy. Why would any intelligent person do this, unless they had some ulterior motive which was completely at odds to the ethos of the Trump administration?

If you can judge a man by the company he keeps, Mattis scores poorly on that as well. Currently Mattis is Secretary of Defense, General John Nicholson is in charge of the Afghanistan campaign, General Joseph Dunford is Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and General Joseph Votel is commander of CENTCOM. Back in 2007, then Colonel Nicholson was in charge of Task Force Spartan, which had responsibility for a patch of Afghanistan that included a village called Bati Kot. On March 4, 2007, a Marine special operations company, Fox Company, was ambushed at Bati Kot, successfully fought their way out of the engagement and returned to base. Whereupon they found that they were falsely accused of indiscriminately killing civilians. Within days, Fox Company was ordered out of the war zone under a cloud of shame.

In May 2007, then Colonel Nicholson addressed the Pentagon press corps via satellite from Afghanistan, saying that what the Marine unit had done in Bati Kot represented "a stain on our honor" and a "terrible, terrible mistake’. Though later exonerated by a court of inquiry at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, the Marines of Fox Company had their reputations and careers ruined.

Such is our now-general Nicholson who used an opportunity to thrash the reputations of some under his command so as to appear virtuous, and thus advance his own career. His chief enabler at the time was Votel, then Deputy Commander of Regional Command -- East, to whom he reported. Mattis, then CENTCOM commander, and Dunford, then ISAF commander, were also involved in the witch hunt. In 2016, General Nicholson told the Senate Armed Services Committee that "Since 9/11, the U.S. campaign in Afghanistan has largely defined my service." So that is 17 years of failure and counting.

Trump, like Lincoln, is going to have to keep firing his generals until he gets someone who is on his side.

Tillerson also chose poorly on the subject of global warming. As CEO of Exxon, and an engineer himself, he would have had access to very good analyses on the subject and would have been aware of the political goals of the warmers in destroying the wealth of his shareholders and countrymen. But as one of Lenin’s useful idiots he became a promoter of global warming hysteria and applied Exxon’s considerable resources to that end. That is understandable in that a lot of CEOs these days are heavily into virtue signalling, but not forgivable. And let’s revisit Tillerson’s role in bringing gay troop leaders to the Boy Scouts of America in 2013. Now, gays are part of humanity and will be with us to the end of time, but only someone with an aberrant moral compass would think they should be left in charge of young boys, especially the ones who want to be troop leaders. 

Tillerson hasn’t done anything wonderful yet as Secretary of State and on his current trajectory is unlikely to. President Trump has enough momentum from inspired appointments such as Scott Pruitt to head the EPA that he can afford to start changing out people who shouldn’t have been chosen in the first place. 

David Archibald's latest book is American Gripen: The Solution to the F-35 Nightmare.


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