Saturday, November 25, 2017

But for the grace of God: Iran in Syria - Dr. Martin Sherman

by Dr. Martin Sherman

Only by resisting concessions on the Golan, did Israel prevent deployment of Iran on the fringes of the Galilee; only by resisting territorial concessions in the “West Bank” can Israel prevent them from deploying on the fringes of Greater Tel Aviv.

Israel has a strategic interest in disassociating Syria from the extremist axis that Iran is leading. Syria is not lost, Assad is western educated and is not a religious man. He can still join a moderate grouping. -  Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, Chief of Staff of IDF, Nov 13, 2009.
 …we should not belittle the signals of peace coming from Syria. - Ehud Barak, Israeli Defense Minister, Nov 13, 2009.

Syria is the key to regional change for us. If I was prime minister, I would pin all my hopes on Syria. – The late Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, former Israeli Defense Minister (2001-2002), May 23, 2010.

Just how appallingly wrong these assessments by the most senior echelons of the Israeli security establishment proved to be was driven home by a recent BBC report, indicating that the Iranian military is engaged in the construction of what appears to be a permanent military base in Syria. But more on these—and other—disturbing lapses in judgment a little later. 

Permanent Iranian presence in Syria?

Based on satellite images commissioned by the BBC, the report suggests extensive ongoing construction between January and October this year, just outside a site used by the Syrian army near the town of El-Kiswah, 14 km (8 miles) south of Damascus. 

It comes on the heels of evermore disturbing accounts of the increasingly pervasive presence of Iranian forces throughout Syria - with Russian endorsement and US acquiescence – together with growing concern that Tehran will soon attempt to deploy both air and naval forces, including submarines and set up weapons production plants to supply its Lebanese proxy, Hezbollah. 

In the discussion of the ramifications of these revelations, attention appeared to focus mainly on two cardinal issues: (a) The significance for the completion of the “Shi’ite arc of influence”, stretching from east of the Persian Gulf to the Mediterranean and the creation of a land-based logistical supply line from Iran to Hezbollah in Lebanon; and (b) the stern warnings issued by Israel that it would not permit an Iranian takeover of Syria, hinting that it would be prepared to use military force to prevent this.

However, there is another vital element germane to the expanding Iranian military presence in Syria—and one that has received remarkably little media attention. It is, however, one whose relevance Israel will ignore at its peril.

Inconvenient but incontrovertible fact

After all, as ominous as the current Iranian military deployment in Syria is, it might well have been far more menacing. Indeed, the fact that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is not perched on the Golan Heights, overlooking the Sea of Galilee, is solely because Israel did not fall prey to the seductive temptation of the land-for-peace formula, as urged by many, in both the international community and in its own security establishment (see introductory excerpts)—and did not cede the strategic plateau that commands the approaches to the entire north of the country. 

One can only shudder with dread at the thought of the perilous predicament the country would be in, had it heeded the call from the allegedly “enlightened and progressive”  voices, who – up until the gory events of the Syrian civil war that erupted in 2011—hailed the British trained doctor, Bashar al-Assad, as a moderate reformer, with whom a durable peace deal could be cut - f only an intransigent Israel would yield the Golan to his regime.

Indeed, it is an inconvenient—albeit incontrovertible—fact that every time Israel has relinquished/abandoned territory, to Arab control, that territory has – usually sooner rather than later – become a platform from which to launch lethal attacks against Israel - almost immediately in Gaza; within months in Judea-Samaria; within years in south Lebanon and after several decades in Sinai, now descending into the depravity and brutality of a Jihadi-controlled no-man’s land—with no good options on the horizon.

This is something Israeli policy makers dare not disregard. For as dangerous and detrimental as the outcomes of previous withdrawals proved to be, they are likely to pale into insignificance compared to consequences of territorial concession in Judea-Samara (a.k.a. the “West Bank”).  

Compounding the gravity

Indeed, even the Golan, with all its vital strategic significance, cannot match the importance of the highlands of Judea-Samaria, commanding Israel’s urban megalopolis in the coastal plain. As I have pointed out elsewhere, any forces deployed on these highlands command all of the following: major airfields (civilian and military) including the country’s only international airport; major sea ports and naval bases; vital infrastructure installations (power transmission, water systems, and communication networks); main land transport routes (road and rail); principal power plants; the national parliament and most government ministries; crucial centers of civilian administration and military command; and 80% of the civilian population and the commercial activity in the country.   

Significantly, all of these strategic objectives will be within easy range of weapons being used today against Israel from territories previously relinquished to Arab control.

Compounding the gravity of any threat entailed in Israel yielding sizeable portions of Judea-Samaria to the Palestinian-Arabs are reports of renewed ties between Iran and Hamas, purported to be “stronger than ever.”  

An Iranian proxy over-looking Tel Aviv? 

Addressing journalists in Gaza last August, Hamas leader, Yehiyeh Sinwar declared that the terror group had restored relations with Iran after a five-year rift, due to Hamas’s refusal to support Assad, and is using its newfound financial and military aid to gear up for new hostilities against Israel. According to Sinwar, "Today, the relationship with Iran is excellent, or very excellent”, adding that Iran is "the largest backer financially and militarily" of the organization’s military wing.

Clearly, were Israel to withdraw from Judea-Samaria, there is little that it could do to curtail the spread of Iranian influence. Indeed, without the IDF to prop up the corrupt kleptocracy of Fatah, it is more than likely that Hamas, increasingly an Iranian proxy in the mold of Hezbollah—despite being on opposite sides of the Sunni-Shia divide—could mount an effective challenge for power. This could be done either via the ballot (a recent Palestinian poll shows that Hamas’s Ismail Haniyeh would trounce Fatah’s Mahmoud Abbas) or by the bullet—as it did in in Gaza in 2007, and could well do again in Judea-Samaria, especially if bolstered by Iranian backing

Accordingly, just as it was only Israel’s resistance to territorial concession on the Golan that prevented the deployment of Iranian Revolutionary Guards on the fringes of the Galilee, so only by resisting territorial concessions in the “West Bank” can Israel prevent Iranian Revolutionary Guards (or any other Jihadi elements) from deploying on the fringes of Greater Tel Aviv.

Assessing new “peace initiatives”: Rank is no recommendation

These are the grim realities that any future “peace initiative” must take into consideration. 
This caveat takes on special significance in light of rumors that a new “peace” initiative is currently brewing within the Trump administration, seemingly enamored with the allure of cutting “the ultimate deal”. 

In this regard, Israel must internalize the lessons of the past and robustly resist pressures to relinquish further territory to Arab control. In particular, it must be wary of counsel from individuals and organizations, who have demonstrated, consistently and conclusively that—no matter what their past experience and seniority—their judgement cannot be trusted (see introductory excerpts). After all, as the past clearly indicates, when assessing such initiatives, rank is rarely any recommendation.

Indeed, not only have the “top brass” of Israel’s security establishment been hopelessly and hazardously wrong in appraising Assad’s role as a peace partner, they have been equally wrong in predicting his imminent fall.

Israel can ill-afford such lapses in judgement when it comes to making fateful decisions regarding concessions in Judea-Samaria that would critically imperil the vast majority of the nation’s population.  

With this in mind, it cannot for a moment forget what–but for the grace of God—our fate in the Golan would have been. 

Dr. Martin Sherman is the founder and executive director of the Israel Institute for Strategic Studies


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Palestinians vs. Trump: The Battle Begins - Bassam Tawil

by Bassam Tawil

The Palestinians have already made up their mind: Whatever comes from Trump and his Jewish team is against the interests of the Palestinians.

  • Although the full details of the proposed plan have yet to be made public, the Palestinians have already made up their mind: Whatever comes from Trump and his Jewish team is against the interests of the Palestinians.
  • The Palestinians' rhetorical attacks on the Trump administration are designed to prepare the ground for their rejection of the proposed "ultimate solution."
  • Take careful note: these warning shots may well be translated into yet another intifada against Israel under the fabricated pretext that the Americans and Israelis, with the help of some Arab countries, seek to strip the Palestinians of their rights. One wonders when the world will wake up to the fact that those rights have already been stripped from the Palestinians -- by none other than their own brainwashing, inciting and corrupt leaders.
Over the past year, the Palestinians have managed to keep under wraps their true feelings about US President Donald Trump and his Middle East envoys and advisors. In all likelihood, they were hoping that the new US administration would endorse their vision for "peace" with Israel.

Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas ensured that his spokesmen and senior officials spoke with circumspection about Trump and his Middle East advisors and envoys. The top brass of the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah felt it was worth giving Trump time to see if he was indeed gullible enough to be persuaded to throw Israel under the bus and fork over their demands.

Well, that bus has long passed.

The Palestinians are now denouncing Trump and his people for their "bias" in favor of Israel. Even more, the Palestinians are openly accusing the Trump administration of "blackmail" and of seeking to "liquidate the Palestinian cause." To top off the tone, the Palestinians are insinuating that Trump's top Jewish advisors and envoys -- Jared Kushner, Jason Greenblatt and David Friedman -- are more loyal to Israel than to the US.

The Palestinians' unprecedented rhetorical attacks on the Trump administration should be seen as a sign of how they plan to respond to the US president's plan for peace in the Middle East, which has been described as the "ultimate solution." Although the full details of the proposed plan have yet to be made public, the Palestinians have already made up their mind: Whatever comes from Trump and his Jewish team is against the interests of the Palestinians.

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas (right) meets with Jared Kushner, Senior Advisor to U.S. President Donald Trump, on June 21, 2017 in Ramallah. (Photo by Thaer Ghanaim/PPO via Getty Images)
The Palestinian tone makes it clear that the Palestinian leadership and people have already relegated Trump's peace plan to the trash-bin as nothing more than Israeli-American conspiracy, in collusion with some Arab countries, to impose a solution on the Palestinians and "liquidate" their cause.

To them, the "real" Trump is now apparent. This is how one Palestinian political analyst, Dr. Mazen Safi, reacted to Trump's proposed peace plan and what he perceives as continued US support for Israel. "The US president and his administration have removed the mask from their face," he stated. "They are paving the way for a new Israeli aggression on our people and moving the region toward an explosion."

So what is really behind the Palestinian outrage with the Trump administration?

First, the Palestinians reject the idea of "regional peace" between Israel and Arab countries. The Palestinians maintain that peace between Israel and the Arab countries should come only after, and not before, the Palestinian issue is resolved. The Palestinians fear that any peace agreements between Israel and the Arab countries would come at their expense.

Echoing this fear, the Palestinian daily Al-Quds, which often reflects the views of the Palestinian Authority leadership, pointed out that the recent Arab League foreign minsters' meeting in Cairo chose to focus on the Iranian and Hezbollah "threat," breaking from the long-standing traditional obsession of the Arabs with the Palestinian issue. The Palestinians, according to the paper, feel abandoned by their Arab brothers.

"The Arab League meeting in Cairo came out with strong positions against the Iranian threat and didn't hesitate to classify Hezbollah as a terrorist group," Al-Quds complained in an editorial. "The meeting ignored the Palestinian cause. We are facing new Arab alliances against Iran, all under American pressure. This will have a negative impact on our cause."

The Palestinian daily went on to lambast the floating Trump peace plan. It stated that the proposed plan, as published in various media outlets, "Doesn't serve our interests and aspirations."

Second, the Palestinians are furious with US threats to shut down the PLO's diplomatic mission in Washington. They see the threat as an attempt to blackmail them not file charges of war crimes against Israel with the International Criminal Court. The Palestinians also see the threat as an attempt to force them to resume peace talks with Israel unconditionally.

"The US threat to close the PLO's diplomatic mission in Washington shows disrespect for the Palestinian rights and blind bias in favor of Israel," Al-Quds said in the same editorial. "It also coincides with growing hollow talk about a US peace plan that has been endorsed by President Trump."

Third, the Palestinians are now openly talking about Trump's Jewish advisors and envoys and their "influence" on him and his administration's policies. This is something that Palestinian Authority officials had refrained from mentioning in the past year because it rings of out-and-out anti-Semitism. Now, however, Palestinian officials and political analysts do not seem to have a problem talking about the influence of the "Jewish lobby" on Trump's decision-making process and policies.

Hassan Al-Batal, a political analyst closely associated with the Palestinian Authority, referred in a recent article to what he called "the three Jewish pillars of the Trump peace plan – Trump's son-in law (Kushner), Middle East envoy (Greenblatt) and the US Ambassador to Israel (Friedman)."

Al-Batal expressed "regret" that the recent meeting of the Arab League foreign ministers chose to condemn Hezbollah and Iran. "Palestine is currently witnessing a crisis with Washington," he said.

Bassam Abu Sharif, a former advisor to Yasser Arafat, went as far as referring to Trump's Jewish advisors as a "dangerous clique."

Abu Sharif said that he had no doubt that "what Kushner and his dangerous clique are planning is destructive and inhumane." The US, he charged, has one major goal: to take full control of the Middle East and steal its resources for once and for all. This requires -- according to their scheme -- the liquidation of the Palestinian cause."

Another political analyst, Talal Okal, who is also linked to the Palestinian Authority and its leadership, accused the Trump administration of "misinformation" and attempting to "blackmail" the Palestinians. Referring to the US demand that the Palestinians refrain from filing charges against Israel with the International Criminal Court and threatening to shut down the PLO's diplomatic mission in Washington, Okal wrote:
"The US administration is practicing blackmail against the Palestinian leadership by demanding that the Palestinians engage in unconditional negotiations with Israel and that the Palestinians refrain from pursuing war crimes against Israel with the International Criminal Court. It's obvious that the Trump administration is practicing a policy of misinformation."
Palestinian political analyst Hani Habib claimed that the Trump administration was preparing to blame the Palestinians for the failure of the next peace process. The Palestinians, Habib said, "must be united in facing all forms of American-Israeli blackmail. The US administration's threat to shut down the PLO's diplomatic mission in Washington calls into question its ability to play the role of a fair and honest mediator."

In an article entitled "Cheap American Blackmail," columnist Omar Hilmi Al-Ghul complained: "The US administration is once again ignoring Palestinian rights and interests. It's shamelessly and flagrantly seeking to confiscate the Palestinians' independent decision-making process."

Al-Ghul, too, made a reference to Trump's Jewish team:
"The team surrounding Trump, which is in collusion with Israel, is acting in a way that contradicts what the Palestinian leadership wants -- to maintain bridges with the US. The American blackmail of the Palestinian leadership is cheap and miscalculated."
This conspiracy theory, which claims that Trump's team cares more about Israel than US interests, is repeated in a statement by Fatah: "The US political blackmail contravenes international laws and resolutions pertaining to the Palestinian issue in particular and the peace process in general. This US position endorses the Israeli policy to end the two-state solution."

The Palestinians' rhetorical attacks on the Trump administration are designed to prepare the ground for their rejection of the proposed "ultimate solution."

The Palestinians want it to be seen as a plan concocted by a few Jewish officials in the Trump administration who are more loyal to Israel than their own country, the US.

These officials, the Palestinians argue, have endorsed the position of the Israeli government and serve as its mouthpiece. That is why, they argue, the Palestinians are unable to accept a plan that is in effect a "Jewish-American conspiracy to eliminate the Palestinian cause."

The Palestinians are also preparing the stage to accuse some Arab countries of "collusion" with this "conspiracy" -- putting them on a collision course with Saudi Arabia.

The Palestinian message to the Arab countries, especially Saudi Arabia, should be seen as a warning shot: Collaborate with the Trump administration in the alleged scheme at your peril.

The anti-Trump Palestinian stance is sounding the death-knell for US administration's effort to achieve comprehensive peace in the Middle East. Take careful note: these warning shots may well be translated into yet another intifada against Israel under the fabricated pretext that the Americans and Israelis, with the help of some Arab countries, seek to strip the Palestinians of their rights. One wonders when the world will wake up to the fact that those rights have already been stripped from the Palestinians -- by none other than their own brainwashing, inciting and corrupt leaders.

Bassam Tawil, a Muslim, is based in the Middle East.


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Following the Trump-Russia Dossier Money - Matthew Vadum

by Matthew Vadum

Proof solidifies that Fusion GPS took money from Democrat law firms.

Unsealed bank records appear to reinforce the claim that Democrat Hillary Clinton’s campaign bought and paid for the sensational “piss-gate” dossier that used anonymous sources to smear President Trump by falsely linking him to Russia.

The dossier is the salacious, 35-page report commissioned by Democrat-aligned opposition research firm Fusion GPS. The statements in the partisan hit job were compiled by former British spy Christopher Steele and published by BuzzFeed. One claim was that Donald Trump hired prostitutes to urinate on a bed.

The dossier was just one of many particularly outrageous dirty tricks Clinton’s campaign to undercut her opponent’s campaign during the 2016 election cycle. Clinton also personally authorized the illicit efforts of socialist felon Bob Creamer and organizer Scott Foval who fomented violence at Trump campaign rallies, as James O’Keefe’s Project Veritas group revealed in undercover videos.

President Trump and his defenders have repeatedly suggested Democrats, Russia, or the FBI – or all three – may have helped fund the infamous document dump.

What’s new here are bank records from two Democrat-aligned law firms listing 112 transactions involving Fusion GPS. Clinton campaign and DNC lawyer Marc Elias reportedly hired Fusion GPS in April 2016 to conduct opposition research against Trump.

The documents were made public after Washington, D.C.-based federal Judge Richard Leon, who is presiding over a lawsuit related to Fusion’s records, ordered them unsealed. Fusion fought the unsealing request.

As the Daily Caller reports:
Perkins Coie, the law firm that represented the Clinton campaign and DNC, paid Fusion a total of $1,024,408 between May 24, 2016 and Dec. 28, 2016, the records show.
The largest payment was made just before the election. Perkins Coie made a $365,275 payment to Fusion GPS on Oct. 28, 2016, according to the records.
The records show that Fusion was also paid $523,651 by the law firm BakerHostetler between March 7, 2016 and Oct. 31, 2016.
Fusion worked for BakerHostetler to investigate Bill Browder, a London-based banker who helped push through the Magnitsky Act, a sanctions law vehemently opposed by the Kremlin.
BakerHostetler also acted for Prevezon Holdings and its owner, Russian businessman Denis Katsyv, who tried to blunt the effect of the sanctions.

Former Wall Street Journal reporter and Fusion GPS co-founder Glenn Simpson worked on the Browder project alongside Russian attorney Natalia Veselnitskaya, who famously attended a meeting at Trump Tower in Manhattan with top Trump campaign staffers on June 9, 2016. Veselnitskaya brought Simpson’s research with her to the meeting and shared it with Russia’s prosecutor general, Yuri Chaika, according to the Daily Caller.

Testifying before the House Intelligence Committee this week, Simpson said he was unaware that Veselnitskaya gave information about Browder information to Chaika or to Donald Trump Jr., the campaign’s lead person at the storied meeting. Simpson also testified that he only learned Veselnitskaya had attended the meeting when media outlets reported it.

The House Intelligence Committee is now seeking records it says are “related to Fusion’s payments to journalists who have reported on Russia issues relevant to its investigation.” The reporters’ names were not provided.

Lawyers for the committee said they want the paperwork covering nine payments to “three individual journalists … each of whom have reported on and/or been quoted in articles regarding topics related to the Committee’s investigation, some of which were published as recently as October 2017.”

Meanwhile, the mainstream media continues to promote the discredited Trump-Russia dossier in order to kneecap President Trump’s ambitious reform agenda.

Like the disgraced Dan Rather continuing to insist his fake Texas National Guard documents discrediting George W. Bush were real, scribes like Newsweek’s Jason Le Miere are still pushing the dossier and lying about it.

Le Miere lazily asserts:
The dossier, which alleged that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 election and had extensive contacts with Trump campaign officials, has been taken seriously by the FBI and special counsel Robert Mueller. While much [sic] of its claims remain unverified, including an allegation that Trump had Russian prostitutes urinate on a Moscow hotel room bed once slept on by Barack and Michelle Obama, its central thesis has been corroborated.
But has “its central thesis” been corroborated? Its central thesis was not that Russia sought to interfere in the 2016 election. Everybody already knows that. Russia is always up to no good, as intelligence experts have been saying ad nauseam, and its illicit program to promote its interests doesn’t go dormant during U.S. election cycles.

The central thesis of the dossier is, as BuzzFeed reported at the time, that Donald Trump has “deep ties to Russia.” More specifically, the media outlet focused on the “explosive” but “unverified” assertion that “the Russian government has been ‘cultivating, supporting and assisting’” him for years, gaining “compromising information about him” in the process.

In other words, the dossier states, or at least implies, the Russians have blackmail-worthy material on Trump and that he is a puppet of Russian President Vladimir Putin, forced to do Putin’s bidding or face the release of whatever kompromat the Russians have on him.

The dossier, which BuzzFeed admitted is littered with errors, claims the Russians and the Trump campaign worked closely together, yet provides only unsourced evidence and rumors. The dossier is dominated by statements identified as coming from unnamed sources in and around the Trump team, the Kremlin, and the business community. Seemingly undermining a key contention raised in the case made against Trump, a dossier document claims Russians tried, but failed, to bribe the man who later became the 45th U.S. president.

Wall Street Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel told Fox News Channel's Tucker Carlson earlier this month that, "we do a disservice when we even refer to it as a 'dossier. That gives it too much mystique. This is an oppo research document but of lower quality than even oppo research documents."
But here's where they have been particularly clever: They didn't give it to the press, they sent it to the FBI and then they briefed the press, and then the press was able to claim that this was intelligence that the FBI possessed, which gave it some air of credibility.
To call this stratagem merely “clever,” is the grossest of understatements.

From a tactical perspective, it is truly brilliant.

But even truly brilliant tactics tend to fail when they are based on lies.

Matthew Vadum, senior vice president at the investigative think tank Capital Research Center, is an award-winning investigative reporter and author of the book, "Subversion Inc.: How Obama’s ACORN Red Shirts Are Still Terrorizing and Ripping Off American Taxpayers."


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Saudi Arabia's overreach on Iran, Lebanon - Mohamad Bazzi

by Mohamad Bazzi

The Arab League meeting capped a month in which the Middle East suddenly seemed to plunge toward a wider regional conflict.

On Nov. 19, Arab foreign ministers gathered in Cairo for an hourslong gripe session against Iran and its ally, Hezbollah. The Arab leaders accused Tehran and the Lebanese Shiite movement of destabilizing the Middle East, but they fell short of agreeing on concrete action.

The Arab League meeting capped a month in which the Middle East suddenly seemed to plunge toward a wider regional conflict. Saudi Arabia charged that a missile fired at its capital from Yemen on Nov. 4 was provided to Yemeni rebels by Iran and constituted "an act of war." Saudi leaders then pushed Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri into a surprise resignation during a trip to Saudi Arabia as a way of exerting pressure on Iran and Hezbollah. "Wherever Iran is involved, there is nothing but devastation and chaos," Hariri said in his resignation speech on Nov. 4, which was broadcast from the Saudi capital, Riyadh. He added, "Iran's hands in the region will be cut off."

These actions underscore a newly aggressive Saudi foreign policy, led by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who is eager to challenge Iran more directly and has amassed tremendous power under the rule of his father, King Salman.

But forcing Hariri to resign and ratcheting up tensions with Iran over Yemen has backfired on the prince and his advisers. The lack of support from fellow Arab leaders for tougher action against Iran and Hezbollah shows that few Saudi allies are willing to confront Iran directly.

Saudi Arabia had invested years of political effort and tens of millions of dollars to support Hariri and his political movement in Lebanon, especially after the assassination of Hariri's father, Rafik, in February 2005. The elder Hariri had served as Lebanon's prime minister for more than a decade, and he became the country's most prominent Sunni leader and Saudi Arabia's most important Lebanese ally.

Saad Hariri took office in late 2016, forming a national unity government that included Hezbollah. The power-sharing agreement was approved by Iran and Saudi Arabia. But in recent months, Saudi leaders grew worried that Hariri, who has strong ties to Western and Sunni Arab leaders, was becoming a fig leaf for a government dominated by Hezbollah and its supporters, including Lebanese President Michel Aoun.

Saudi leaders thought that they would be able to push Hariri aside, withdraw political cover from Hezbollah, and make it easier for Sunni Arab states – along with the United States and Israel – to target the group. After an earlier round of sanctions, the U.S. Congress is considering a new sanctions bill targeting Hezbollah and its funders.

But after Hariri's sudden departure, Lebanese from all political factions rallied around him and insisted that his resignation was invalid because Saudi leaders coerced him. As international concern grew that Hariri was being held captive by his Saudi patrons, French President Emmanuel Macron invited him to Paris. Hariri met with Macron on Nov. 18 and returned to Lebanon for the country's Nov. 22 Independence Day celebrations.

Tensions have eased over the past week, and it's unlikely that the latest crisis will escalate into a military confrontation between Saudi Arabia and Iran. But while the prospect of direct clashes between the two regional rivals has eased, their ongoing proxy war is destabilizing the Middle East.

The two powers have backed competing factions in Iraq, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon since the United States invaded Iraq in 2003. While the conflict is partly rooted in the historical Sunni-Shiite split within Islam, it is mainly a struggle for regional political dominance between Shiite-led Iran and Sunni-led Saudi Arabia.

Their proxy battles, which now also involve other powers like Russia and the United States, are at the root of much of the death and destruction in the Middle East in recent years. They have cost hundreds of thousands of lives, especially in Syria, where more than 400,000 have been killed since the March 2011 uprising against the regime of President Bashar Assad, which is supported by Iran and Hezbollah. The Syrian war has also produced more than 5 million refugees whose search for sanctuary has triggered political crises in neighboring countries as well as Europe.

In January 2015, Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah died after 20 years in power. He was succeeded by his brother Salman, who quickly pursued a more aggressive foreign policy. Instead of relying on U.S. military intervention and battling Iran through surrogates and checkbook diplomacy, as his predecessor had done, the new king and his advisers launched a war against Houthi, mostly Shiite, rebels in Yemen in March 2015. As the war has dragged on, airstrikes by Saudi Arabia and its allies caused most of the estimated 10,000 civilian deaths.

Saudi Arabia is now bogged down in the Yemen conflict. Despite intensive airstrikes and a blockade, Riyadh and its allies still have not been able to dislodge the Houthis from Yemen's capital, Sanaa.

Yemen has become a central arena of the proxy battle, especially after Saudi Arabia's "act of war" accusation against Iran. The kingdom claimed that the ballistic missile it shot down on Nov. 4 en route to the Saudi capital had been smuggled into Yemen in parts. Saudi officials say members of Hezbollah and the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps assembled the missile and then helped Houthi rebels fire it from Yemeni territory. Iran and Hezbollah denied involvement in the missile launch.

Saudi leaders have since scaled back their efforts to declare Lebanon a hostile state. Already overstretched by Yemen and embroiled in a diplomatic crisis with Qatar, the kingdom cannot effectively challenge Hezbollah, Iran's main ally in Lebanon, without assembling a broader Arab and international coalition. But this is still a dangerous moment in the Middle East. As long as Iran and Saudi Arabia view their rivalry as a zero-sum game – where one can only gain at the expense of the other – there is a risk of miscalculation that spirals out of control.

Mohamad Bazzi is a journalism professor at New York University and former Middle East bureau chief at Newsday.

Mohamad Bazzi


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The Expanding Umbrella of Anti-Semitism - Nonie Darwish

by Nonie Darwish

Centuries before Hitler, the challenge of Jewish values seems to have threatened an Arabian notion of supremacy.

  • Islam did not trick Western nations; the West brought itself to the embrace of Islam.
  • The center of the original Islamic message seems to have been to convert, kill or drive away Christians and Jews, rather than to meet the spiritual needs of Muslims. To this day, the central preaching of Islam still appears to be an intolerance of non-Muslims.
  • What made America great is being discarded together with America's imperfect past, without acknowledging that America has taken -- and is still taking -- steps to correct its injustices, as many Middle Eastern nations have not.
  • There is a good possibility that, with the impact of Islam -- and the replacement of the active values of personal responsibility and "pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps" by the passive values of victimhood for blackmailing, redistribution and abdication to "government" -- the West's humanistic values, which welcomed Islam in the first place, may not survive.
The famous expression "Never Again" was coined after the world, during World War II, almost exterminated its Jewish population. But instead of anti-Semitism being eradicated, a worldwide rebellion against the people who gave us the Ten Commandments continues today, and has now expanded to include other groups.

While the Jewish people are still at its center, there are now also violent protests, hatred and rejection cleverly camouflaged as demonstrations against supposed "bigots," and "hate groups" -- meaning not only those who support Israel and the Jewish people, but also against those who are patriots, who love God, family and country and who want to protect their nation's sovereignty from the world's hostile forces. These individuals are now often viewed as evil, mean-spirited or racist.

Anti-Semitism is a bit more complicated than just hating Jews. Much of the world seems always to have been challenged by the values of the Torah, the Gospel and the Ten Commandments. Living according to Biblical standards of good and evil, and treating one's neighbors as oneself, is not easy for most people. There is a rebellious, dark side of human nature that every generation needs to conquer if we are to maintain a way of life based on the values set forth by the Ten Commandments and the Bible. But in the West's secular, popular culture of today, generations are being brought up believing that these values stand in the way of "progress," however that is variously defined.

Many people seem to think that the values of the Ten Commandments and the Bible are universal; that most people happily agree with them and are eager to adopt them. There seems, on the contrary, to be no shortage of individuals -- largely in the worlds of politics, entertainment and academia -- eager to find excuses to violate them while at the same time judging others by standards they would not dream of applying to themselves.

After the Holocaust against the Jews and others, some Europeans appear to have begun a rebellion against their own Biblical roots -- those that helped to create Western civilization. Many in Europe -- both wittingly and unwittingly -- not only brought Islam into Europe, but also gave it a special status of protection against criticism from their own people by calling those who criticize it "Islamophobes." Islam did not trick Western nations; the West brought itself to this embrace of Islam.

The dilemma regarding the acceptance of Judeo-Christian values has existed since the beginning of Jewish history. The Jews' commitment to valuing life as precious, not bowing to tyrants and striving for excellence -- and treating children, animals, slaves and even fields with deference and respect -- has brought them much envy. When Jews achieved success, anger against them intensified even further. Centuries before Hitler, the challenge of Jewish values seems to have threatened an Arabian notion of supremacy.

The cultural clash between Islamic values and Biblical values did not start between Europe and the Middle East, but from inside the Arabian Peninsula and directed against Christians and Jews, the "people of the book." Arabia was the last area of the Middle East to be introduced to Biblical values. Proud Arabia, however, was never going to be just another municipality of Byzantium. Arabia was not going to follow in the footsteps of Egypt and the rest of the Christian Byzantine Empire, and adopt Biblical values. A rebellion against the Bible and its values was the alternative Muhammad clearly chose.

Islam became the driving force to stop the sweeping impact of the Byzantine Empire, as well as Jewish tribes in the region. Islam found, it sometimes appears, nearly any means acceptable when it came to countering its non-Muslim enemies -- lying, terrorizing, killing, stealing the property of kafirs [unbelievers] and raping their women. The center of the original Islamic message seems to have been to convert, kill or drive away Christians and Jews rather than to meet the spiritual needs of Muslims. Muhammad won. He conquered Byzantium, chased away Christians and Jews, and left them to take their Biblical values not to Arabia but to Europe. To this day, the central preaching of Islam still appears to be an intolerance for non-Muslims.

It is not a coincidence that Adolf Hitler collaborated with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, in their mutual wish to eliminate Jews. Hitler even lamented belonging to the wrong religion:
"'It's been our misfortune to have the wrong religion,' Hitler complained to his pet architect Albert Speer. 'Why did it have to be Christianity, with its meekness and flabbiness?' Islam was a Männerreligion — a 'religion of men' — and hygienic too. The 'soldiers of Islam' received a warrior's heaven, 'a real earthly paradise' with "houris" and 'wine flowing. This, Hitler argued, was much more suited to the 'Germanic temperament' than the 'Jewish filth and priestly twaddle' of Christianity."
Hitler also said, "The Mohammedan religion too would have been more compatible to us than Christianity," and complained:
"Had Charles Martel not been victorious at Poitiers . . . then we should in all probability have been converted to Mohammedanism, that cult which glorifies the heroism and which opens up the seven Heavens to the bold warriors alone. Then the Germanic races would have conquered the world. Christianity alone prevented them from doing so."

Adolf Hitler meets with the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin al-Husseini, on November 28, 1941. (Image source: German Federal Archive)
Today the Western and feminist alliance with Islam -- the non-Muslim defense of Islamic law, sharia, and importing millions of Muslims -- seems to have become the secularists' solution to putting an end to the West's Biblical past and the revolution in ethics that founded Western civilization. The West's liberal media has made it a daily routine to support this effort.

What made America great is being discarded together with America's imperfect past, without acknowledging that America has taken -- and is still taking -- steps to correct its injustices, as many Middle Eastern nations have not.

There is a good possibility that, with the impact of Islam -- and the replacement of the active values of personal responsibility and "pulling oneself up by one's bootstraps" by the passive values of victimhood for blackmailing, redistribution and abdication to "government" -- the West's humanistic values, which welcomed Islam in the first place, may not survive.

Nonie Darwish, born and raised as a Muslim in Egypt, is the author of the book "Wholly Different; Why I Chose Biblical Values Over Islamic Values".


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South Florida Muslim Leader Posts Video in Order to “Beat the F**king Jews” - Joe Kaufman

by Joe Kaufman

How long will Crime Stoppers and Citizens’ Crime Watch continue to harbor Sofian Zakkout?

Sofian Zakkout, President of the Miami, Florida-based American Muslim Association of North America (AMANA), likes to air out his extremist views in public, regularly posting his bigoted and radical provocations onto social media. This month has been no exception, as he has taken to Facebook to belittle the members of the Jewish community with a post that refers to them as “fucking Jews.” Though many of Zakkout’s Muslim colleagues and acquaintances may sympathize with him, this should be alarming to the people who serve with him on local anti-crime boards.

On November 10th, AMANA President Sofian Abdelaziz Zakkout promoted on his personal Facebook page a video with the following description in Arabic: “The opening of the al-Aqsa Mosque after pressure on Israel. Praise be to Allah. Spread the video to beat the fucking Jews.
Israeli authorities had restricted access to the mosque, following the July 14th murder of two Israeli police officers by three Palestinian gunmen, at the entrance to the mosque. In late July, the mosque was reopened to all Palestinians.

Zakkout had taken the video from a Facebook page, which goes under the name ‘Campaign for the Victory of al-Aqsa Mosque.’ The site actively promotes Hamas and glorifies knife and vehicle-ramming attacks perpetrated by Palestinians against Israeli civilians. It publishes Hamas announcements of terrorist attacks and features a large number of Hamas-related images, including different photos of Hamas founder Ahmed Yassin, Hamas suicide bomber Reem Riyashi, and toddlers dressed in Hamas garb.

The site also features much anti-Semitic content. One photo on the site depicts three Orthodox Jewish men sitting and reading; a description on the side in Arabic labels the three “the descendants of the Jewish pigs.” Another photo portrays a Hamas member waving a flag with the statement next to him in Arabic, “Khaybar, Khaybar, O Jews, Muhammad’s army will return.” The threatening slogan is in reference to the Saudi Arabian city of Khaybar, where Muhammad’s disciples attacked and enslaved the city’s Jewish inhabitants, in the year 629.

It makes perfect sense that Zakkout would share a video from this particular site, as he too embraces both Hamas and anti-Semitism.

Regarding Hamas, Zakkout declared in Arabic in August 2014, "Hamas is in my heart and on my head." He has posted an innumerable amount of pictures onto social media of Hamas leaders, Hamas founders and Hamas militants. In July 2014, Zakkout organized a pro-Hamas rally held outside the Israeli Consulate in downtown Miami, where rally goers repeatedly shouted, “We are Hamas” and “Let’s go Hamas.” After the rally, Zakkout wrote the following in Arabic, above photos from the event: “Thank God, every day we conquer the American Jews like our conquests over the Jews of Israel!” He signed it “Br. Sofian Zakkout.”

Similar to the al-Aqsa Facebook page, Zakkout, on many occasions, has referred to Jews as “monkeys and pigs.”

In July 2017, Zakkout posted on his Facebook page a four-minute portion of a speech given by Louis Farrakhan, where Farrakhan repeatedly refers to Jews as “Satan.” Farrakhan states (with shouts of agreement from the audience), “Really, they’re not Jews. No, that’s Satan. You should learn to call them by their real name, ‘Satan.’ You’re coming face to face with Satan, the Arch Deceiver, the enemy of God, and the enemy of the righteous.”

In April 2016, Zakkout promoted a report discussing the absurd notion of Jewish involvement in the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. A photo from the report shows the burning towers with a Jewish Star affixed to one. The report begins, “It ain’t debatable!... [T]he 9/11/01 terrorist attacks on New York City and Washington D.C. were an ‘Israeli’-Jewish job.” The website which published the report, Mouqawamah Music, openly calls for “Death to Israel” and labels the Jewish religion “wicked and filth-ridden.”

In February 2016, Zakkout circulated on social media a report claiming that “the Holocaust was faked.” It begins: “The alleged ‘Holocaust’ of ‘6 million Jews’ at the hands of Adolf Hitler and National Socialist Germany during WWII is the biggest lie ever foisted upon humanity.” It was produced by The Realist Report, an anti-Jew, anti-black, anti-gay independent media outlet, which describes Hitler as “the greatest leader in modern Western history.”

Being an important figure in the Muslim community, Sofian Zakkout has been photographed with a number of other prominent Muslims. Not one of these individuals has ever publicly condemned Zakkout for his actions or statements. Given who they affiliate with, the probability is that their beliefs are the same as Zakkout’s.

More disturbing, however, are the non-Muslim groups which provide him with a facade of legitimacy, making him look like someone concerned with community welfare, when the exact opposite is the case.

Zakkout holds important positions on the boards of anti-crime organizations. He sits on the Board of Directors of Crime Stoppers of Miami-Dade County, and he is a member of the Executive Committee of Citizens’ Crime Watch of Miami-Dade County. Police and government officials sit on these boards, as well. These groups should be very concerned about Zakkout, yet the leadership from these groups has been contacted repeatedly and provided with evidence of Zakkout’s hateful incitement and the situation has been ignored time and time again.

Sofian Zakkout is a clear and present danger to the local community and national security. To have him sitting on the boards of two organizations dedicated to protecting the community’s best interests, while he undermines them, is an untenable and absurd situation. It is the job of these organizations to assist in the capture and arrest of threats to the community. It is time for them to wake up and realize that one of these threats is found among the ranks of their own.

Crime Stoppers and Citizens Crime Watch must expel Zakkout from their establishments and press law enforcement to open an investigation into his promotion of terrorism and his urging of people to “beat the fucking Jews.”

Beila Rabinowitz, Director of Militant Islam Monitor, contributed to this report.

Joe Kaufman was the 2016 Republican nominee for United States House of Representatives in Florida’s 23rd Congressional District. He is an expert in the fields of counter-terrorism, foreign affairs and energy independence for America. He has been featured on all major cable networks, including Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, CNBC, PBS and C-SPAN. Joe has been instrumental in getting terrorist charities shut down and terror-related individuals put behind bars. Exactly one month prior to the September 11 attacks, he predicted the attacks by stating in an article that “the 1993 World Trade Center bombing was no aberration” and that it would happen again.


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Sanctuary Cities and Judicial Madness - Michael Cutler

by Michael Cutler

Judge blocks Trump's effort to end sanctuary cities -- the day after a border patrol agent is bludgeoned to death.

On Sunday, November 19, 2017 two United States Border Patrol agents were attacked and one of the agents, identified as 36 year-old Rogelio Martinez, died of massive injuries to his head and body, possibly caused by rocks.  His partner, who has not yet been identified, was grievously injured but is expected to survive.

On November 20th CBS News and the Associated Press jointly reported on the attack which reportedly occurred about 110 miles southeast of El Paso Texas and 30 miles from the U.S. / Mexican border.

El Paso is directly across the U.S./Mexican border from Ciudad Juarez, one of the most violent cities in Mexico and has become synonymous with the deadly drug trade.

Meanwhile even as news reports about the deadly attack on members of the United States Border Patrol were being made public, on November 20, 2017 San Diego-Union Tribune reported, “Judge permanently blocks Trump order that cut funding to sanctuary cities.”

That disheartening and infuriating report began with this excerpt:
A federal judge has permanently blocked President Donald Trump's executive order to cut funding from cities that limit cooperation with U.S. immigration authorities.
U.S. District Court Judge William Orrick issued the ruling on Monday in lawsuits brought by two California counties, San Francisco and Santa Clara. Orrick said Trump cannot set new conditions on spending approved by Congress.
There is a clear nexus to these two events that has not been covered in the news.

Border Patrol Agent Rogelio Martinez was killed because he and his seriously injured partner were performing their sworn duties, protecting America and Americans by securing our dangerous border.

The individuals who attacked those valiant agents escaped and, for all we know, are presently hiding out in a city in the United States.  It is likely that they would feel most secure in a Sanctuary City that will happily ignore that they are illegally present in the United States.

If, indeed the this the case, that city is harboring dangerous fugitives who have already demonstrated depraved contempt for human life and the laws of our nation.

Providing fugitives with sanctuary is a violation of law and constitutes a contradiction in terms, logic and morality and places others in that community at risk.

Our immigration laws deem harboring and shielding illegal aliens from detection and related crimes to be felonies.  The statute of relevance to these crimes is Title 8, U.S.C. 1324(a) Offenses.

Consider this excerpt from that statute:
Harboring -- Subsection 1324(a)(1)(A)(iii) makes it an offense for any person who -- knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that an alien has come to, entered, or remains in the United States in violation of law, conceals harbors, or shields from detection, or attempts to conceal, harbor, or shield from detection, such alien in any place, including any building or any means of transportation.
Encouraging/Inducing -- Subsection 1324(a)(1)(A)(iv) makes it an offense for any person who -- encourages or induces an alien to come to, enter, or reside in the United States, knowing or in reckless disregard of the fact that such coming to, entry, or residence is or will be in violation of law.
Conspiracy/Aiding or Abetting -- Subsection 1324(a)(1)(A)(v) expressly makes it an offense to engage in a conspiracy to commit or aid or abet the commission of the foregoing offenses.
Illegal entry of aliens into the United States poses a direct threat to national security and public safety.  The preface of the official report,  “9/11 and Terrorist Travel - Staff Report of the National Commission on Terrorist Attacks Upon the United States” begins with the following paragraph:
It is perhaps obvious to state that terrorists cannot plan and carry out attacks in the United States if they are unable to enter the country. Yet prior to September 11, while there were efforts to enhance border security, no agency of the U.S. government thought of border security as a tool in the counterterrorism arsenal.
Indeed, even after 19 hijackers demonstrated the relative ease of obtaining a U.S. visa and gaining admission into the United States, border security still is not considered a cornerstone of national security policy. We believe, for reasons we discuss in the following pages, that it must be made one.
Immigration anarchists have come to use deceptive language to obfuscate the truth about America’s borders and immigration laws.

Aliens who evade the inspection process conducted at ports of entry conducted by CBP (Customs and Border Protection) Inspectors are not vetted and their very presence in the United States is unknown to the DHS.

Such unlawful entries are properly described as Entry Without Inspection (EWI).  However, in a turn of language that could have been produced by the fictional “Ministry of Truth” of George Orwell’s “1984,” immigration anarchists refer to such violations of our borders as “entering undocumented.”

This example of semantic artifice is as outrageous as it would be to describe a bank robber making an “undocumented withdrawal” of money from the bank that he robbed.

The terms “Sanctuary City” or “Sanctuary  State” provide an additional example of manipulation of language to achieve political objectives.

Dictionaries define a “sanctuary” as a place of refuge or safety.

Sanctuary Cities should be referred to as “Magnets for criminals, fugitives and terrorists.”

America’s immigration laws were enacted to provide refuge and safety for all who live in the United States by preventing the entry of aliens who suffer from dangerous communicable diseases, suffer extreme mental illness are criminals, terrorists, spies, fugitives, members of violent gangs or otherwise pose a threat to national security and/or public safety.

Finally, our immigration laws were enacted to protect American workers from unfair competition foreign workers.

Title 8, United States Code, Section 1182 enumerates the categories of aliens who are to be excluded and serve as the guide for CBP Inspectors at ports of entry.  A review of that statute, which is comprehended within the Immigration and Nationality Act, will verify the foregoing.

Aliens who are lawfully admitted, either as immigrants or non-immigrants need no protection from immigration law enforcement authorities.  Indeed, annually immigration officers admit approximately one million lawful immigrants and admit tens of millions of non-immigrants (temporary visitors).  Our immigration officials naturalize hundreds of thousands of immigrants each year bestowing upon them the highest honor a nation may provide to an alien, citizenship.

America’s immigration laws are utterly and totally blind as to the superficial issues of race, religion and/or ethnicity.

Furthermore, illegal entry is considered a continuing offense.  Generally when an individual commits a crime, the venue where the crime must be prosecuted is determined by the jurisdiction where the crime was committed.  This is the case for violations of laws on the local, state or federal level.  When a bank robber flees from the jurisdiction where the bank he/she robbed is located, that individual must be returned to the jurisdiction in which the robbery took place.

However, where illegal entry into the United States is concerned, the venue for prosecuting the crime is “where found.”  This is because this violation of law is a continuing offense.  An alien who runs our nation’s borders does not somehow gain lawful status by getting further from the border.

As I noted in a recent article, Sanctuary Cities Betray America, Americans and Immigrants, there is no “inverse square law” where this crime is concerned.

Immigration anarchists frequently (falsely claim) running the border is not a crime.  In fact, aliens who have been convicted of committing serious crimes and have been previously deported may face up to 20 years in prison for unlawful reentry as established in Title 8 U.S.C. 1326.

Finally, one of the key issues identified in the 9/11 Commission Report and the report 9/11 and Terrorist Travel from which I quoted earlier, was the need for effective immigration law enforcement from within the interior of the United States.

Consider this unambiguous quote from 9/11 and Terrorist Travel:
Thus, abuse of the immigration system and a lack of interior immigration enforcement were unwittingly working together to support terrorist activity. It would remain largely unknown, since no agency of the United States government analyzed terrorist travel patterns until after 9/11. This lack of attention meant that critical opportunities to disrupt terrorist travel and, therefore, deadly terrorist operations were missed.
Judge Orrick needs to read the 9/11 Commission Report and the United States Constitution, especially Article IV, Section 4 which states:
The United States shall guarantee to every state in this union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the legislature, or of the executive (when the legislature cannot be convened) against domestic violence.
Invasion has been defined in part as:
            An incursion by a large number of people or things into a place or sphere of activity:
            An unwelcome intrusion into another's domain
The oath of office taken by law enforcement officers, judges and other officials make it clear that our Constitution and our laws must all be enforced.  Our laws are not a menu from which those who take an oath of office can pick or choose as one might when ordering food in a restaurant.

Michael Cutler


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