Saturday, December 30, 2017

Expect America's Tensions with China and Russia to Rise in 2018 - John Bolton

by John Bolton

North Korea's nuclear weapons program is where China has most disappointed the White House.

Yesterday's 2017 review and forecast for 2018 focused on the most urgent challenges the Trump administration faces: the volatile Middle East, international terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Today, we examine the strategic threats posed by China and Russia and one of President Trump's continuing priorities: preserving and enhancing American sovereignty.

Russia and China will be among the Trump administration's key strategic challenges in the coming year. Photo: Wikipedia.

China has likely been Trump's biggest personal disappointment in 2017, one where he thought that major improvements might be possible, especially in international trade. Despite significant investments of time and attention to President Xi Jinping, now empowered in ways unprecedented since Mao Tse Tung, very little has changed in Beijing's foreign policy, bilaterally or globally. There is no evidence of improved trade relations, or any effort by China to curb its abuses, such as pirating intellectual property, government discrimination against foreign traders and investors, or biased judicial fora.

Even worse, Beijing's belligerent steps to annex the South China Sea and threaten Japan and Taiwan in the East China Sea continued unabated, or even accelerated in 2017. In all probability, therefore, 2018 will see tensions ratchet up in these critical regions, as America (and hopefully others) defend against thinly veiled Chinese military aggression. Japan in particular has reached its limits as China has increased its capabilities across the full military spectrum, including at sea, in space and cyberwarfare.

Taiwan is not far behind. Even South Korea's Moon Jae In may be growing disenchanted with Beijing as it seeks to constrain Seoul's strategic defense options. And make no mistake, what China is doing in its littoral periphery is closely watched in India, where the rise of Chinese economic and military power is increasingly worrying. The Trump administration should closely monitor all these flash points along China's frontiers, any one of which could provoke a major military confrontation, if not next year, soon thereafter.

North Korea's nuclear weapons program is where China has most disappointed the White House. Xi Jinping has played the United States just like his predecessors, promising increased pressure on Pyongyang but not delivering nearly enough. The most encouraging news came as 2017 ended, in the revelation that Chinese and American military officers have discussed possible scenarios involving regime collapse or military conflict in North Korea. While unclear how far these talks have progressed, the mere fact that China is engaging in them shows a new level of awareness of how explosive the situation is. So, 2018 will be critical not only regarding North Korea's nuclear weapons threat but also whether Sino-American relations improve or take a distinct turn for the worse.

On Russia, the president has not given up on Vladimir Putin, at least not yet, but that may well come in 2018. Putin is an old-school, hard-edged, national interest-centered Russian leader, defending the "rodina" (the motherland), not a discredited ideology. Confronted with U.S. strength, Putin knows when to pull back, and he is, when it suits him, even capable of making and keeping deals. But there is no point in romanticizing the Moscow-Washington dynamic. It must be based not on personal relationships but on realpolitik.

No better proof exists than Russia's reaction to Trump's recent decision to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine, which is now a war zone entirely because of Russian aggression. To hear Moscow react to Trump's weapons decision, however, one would think he was responsible for increased hostilities. President Obama should have acted at the first evidence of Russia's military incursion into Ukraine, and even Trump's aid is a small step compared to President Bush's 2008 proposal to move Kiev quickly toward NATO membership. Nonetheless, every independent state that emerged from the Soviet Union, NATO member or not, is obsessed with how America handles Ukraine. They should be, because the Kremlin's calculus about their futures will almost certainly turn on whether Trump draws a line on Moscow's adventurism in Ukraine.

Just as troubling as Russia's menace in Eastern and Central Europe is its reemergence as a great power player in the Middle East. Just weeks ago, the Russian Duma ratified an agreement greatly expanding Russia's naval station at Tartus, Syria. In 2015, Obama stood dumbfounded as Russia built a significant air base in nearby Latakia, thus cementing the intrusion of Russia's military presence in the Middle East to an extent not seen since Anwar Sadat expelled Soviet military advisers and brought Egypt into the Western orbit in the 1970s.

This expansion constitutes a significant power projection for the Kremlin. Indeed, it seems clear that Russia's support (even more than Iran's) for Syria's Assad regime has kept the dictatorship in power. Russia's assertiveness in 2017 also empowered Tehran, even as the ISIS caliphate was destroyed, to create an arc of Shia military power from Iran, through Iraq and Syria, linking up with Hezbollah in Lebanon. This Russian-Iranian axis should rank alongside Iran's nuclear-weapons program on America's list of threats emanating from the Middle East.

Finally, the pure folly of both the U.N. Security Council and the General Assembly crossing the United States on the Jerusalem embassy decision was a mistake of potentially devastating consequences for the United Nations. Combined with the International Criminal Court's November decision to move toward investigating alleged U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, there is now ample space for the White House to expand on the president's focus on protecting American sovereignty.

Trump's first insight into the rage for "global governance" among the high minded came on trade issues, and his concern for the World Trade Organization's adjudication mechanism. These are substantial and legitimate, but the broader issues of "who governs" and the challenges to constitutional, representative government from international bodies and treaties that expressly seek to advance global governing institutions are real and growing. America has long been an obstacle to these efforts, due to our quaint attachment to our Constitution and the exceptionalist notion that we don't need international treaties to "improve" it.

No recent president has made the sovereignty point as strongly as Trump, and the United Nations and International Criminal Court actions in 2017 now afford him a chance to make decisive political and financial responses in 2018. If 2017 was a tumultuous year internationally, 2018 could make it seem calm by comparison.

This article first appeared in The Hill

John R. Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and as undersecretary for arms control and international security affairs at the U.S. Department of State under President George W. Bush. He is now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

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New videos show Iran's angry people protesting dictatorship well beyond Tehran - Hassan Mahmoudi

by Hassan Mahmoudi

In Iran, protests against the mullah regime are moving well beyond Tehran.  Here are some fresh videos of Iranian protests in Mashhad and Kermanshah

Thousands of Iranians chanted anti-regime slogans, against even President Hassan Rouhani, in protests that spread throughout Iran's most important cities.

One of these was the northeastern city of Mashhad on Thursday, Dec. 28. Mashhad is the second most populous city in Iran and capital of the restive Razavi Khorasan Province. The residents of Mashhad were protesting against the rising cost of living.

Many more of the protests can be seen here.

The demonstration of the people of Mashhad spread quickly to a vast area of the city, with the participation of about 10,000 people. Demonstrators, who included men, women, elderly people, youths, and children, chanted, "No to high prices" and "Rouhani's government with empty promises." The presence of women in this gathering was remarkable.

There were angry chants of "Death to the Dictator" and "Death to Rouhani."

In yesterday's demonstrations in Mashhad, the regime’s Revolutionary Guard (IRGC) forces, Basij militia on motorcycles, plainclothes guards, and riot police arrested a large number of protesters. The number of detainees in Mashhad was at least 100.

Mohammad Rahim Nowrouzian, the governor of Mashhad, terrified of the people's anger, yelled that the demonstration was "illegal" and said "it was planned by the state's opponents and counter-revolutionaries."

Iran's regime is well known for its failure to respect human rights. Here is a video made for International Human Rights Day last Dec. 10 describing the scope of the brutality:

Mashhad is worth looking at because it is an important city in Iran. But it wasn't the only one.

Thousands of Iranians chanted anti-regime slogans, including "Death to the dictator" and "Death to Rouhani," in the western city of Kermanshah on Friday, Dec. 29.

Click on the full report here.

Hassan Mahmoudi is a human rights advocate, specializing in political and economic issues relating to Iran and the Middle East. @hassan_mahmou1


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Facing a Tamimi government - Caroline Glick

by Caroline Glick

In a very real sense, the Tamimi family is at the nexus of a global war against Israel.


This week, the Tamimi clan from Nabi Saleh beset Israel once again. Ahed Tamimi, the family’s teenaged golden girl, and her mother, Nariman, once again posted videos of themselves slapping and cursing hapless IDF soldiers.

The photogenic Ahed has been doing this number since she was a little girl.

There are two components of the Palestinian war to annihilate Israel: terrorism and propaganda. The two are integrally linked. The ties are nowhere more apparent than in the actions of the Tamimi family.

Six weeks after Israel signed the Oslo Accords with the PLO on the White House lawn on September 13, 1993, Chaim Mizrahi from Beit El went to buy eggs from a farmer in Ramallah, as he had every week for years.

Two of Ahed’s cousins, Said and Nizar Tamimi, were there. They stabbed Mizrahi, stuffed him in the trunk of his car and burned him alive.

In August 2001, Ahed’s aunt Ahlam Tamimi masterminded the massacre at a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem. She chose Sbarro because it was popular among families with young children. She brought the suicide bomber to the restaurant and he blew himself up, killing 15 people, among them seven children, and wounded 130.

Today all three of the Tamimi murderers are out of jail. The Obama administration forced Israel to release Said along with several hundred other terrorists to prove it was committed to peace in 2013.

Ahlam and Nizar were released in 2011 as part of Israel’s 1,000-terrorists-for-one-hostage-soldier Gilad Schalit deal.

Ahlam and Nizar were deported to Jordan and they got married soon after. The two wed in a fancy ceremony that was posted online. Ahed, Bassem and Nariman feature prominently in the wedding.

The video shows Nariman and Ahed standing on a stage with Ahlam as Ahed gazes worshipfully at her baby-killing aunt.

Shortly after she set up shop in Amman, Ahlam began hosting a TV show on Hamas’s terror channel.

She is also celebrated by the Jordanian regime.

As Arnold Roth, whose daughter Malki was among the seven children murdered at Sbarro, reported on his website, Jordanian Prince Ali’s wife, former CNN reporter Princess Rym Ali raised donations from the governments of Europe, Australia and Canada to establish a journalism school in Amman. On every page of the Jordanian Media Institute’s website, Ahlam Tamimi is presented as a “Success Model.”

Three of Ahlam’s victims were US citizens. King Abdullah has rejected repeated US requests to extradite her for trial.

Back in Nabi Saleh, Nariman and Bassem and their kids man the barricades against Israel, for their sponsors.

In 2012, Bassam was convicted of inciting a riot against IDF soldiers. An observer from the EU was present throughout his trial.

Then-EU foreign affairs commissioner Catherine Ashton touted Bassem as a “human rights defender.”

Bassem and Nariman are “volunteers” in B’Tselem’s “camera project.”

B’Tselem, an anti-Israel political warfare group funded by the EU, EU member governments, the State Department and far-left American groups, distributes video cameras to Palestinians and trains them to use them. It then posts their films online to advance its one-sided propaganda offensive against Israel.

In 2015, a consortium of anti-Israel groups including Amnesty International, Code Pink and Jewish Voices for Peace brought Bassem Tamimi to the US on a speaking tour.

In one particularly hair-raising episode, reported by Legal Insurrection at the time, Tamimi addressed an audience of third-graders in Ithaca, New York.

He urged the children to support terrorism against Israel and to join the war against the Jewish state.

Videos of Ahed were a prominent component of his presentation.

The Turkish government is also a big supporter of the Tamimi brood. After a past video of Ahed hitting and cursing Israeli forces was posted online, she and her parents were brought to Ankara to receive recognition from Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In a very real sense, the Tamimi family is at the nexus of a global war against Israel.

The Tamimis have connections with nearly every government and group involved in that war. The Israeli and American Left, the EU, Jordan and Turkey and of course Hamas and the PLO all support them.

The IDF arrested Ahed and Nariman three days after they posted their latest assault film online. On Wednesday, PLO chief and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas called Bassem Tamimi to congratulate him on his daughter’s performance and to inquire about her welfare.

This then brings us to Abbas, the moderate Palestinian man of peace.

Since he succeeded Yasser Arafat as head of the PLO and the Palestinian Authority in 2004, Abbas has been touted as a moderate man of peace by everybody who is anybody – including by successive Israeli governments. This appraisal was never been based on discernible reality. Abbas refused generous offers of peace and Palestinian statehood both from then-prime minister Ehud Olmert in 2008 and from then-president Barack Obama in 2014. He has refused to negotiate with Israel for the past nine years. And he has continuously sponsored, rewarded, funded, incited and ordered terrorist attacks against Israel. In addition has led the international political war against Israel on every available stage worldwide for decades.

And now, Abbas, the flimsy fig leaf of imaginary Palestinian moderation, is about to exit the stage.

Both his apparatchiks and his enemies believe that the 84-year-old dictator is not long for this world.

So the time has arrived for Israel to think about what happens after he exits the stage. How are we supposed to contemplate our post-Abbas relations with the Palestinians? This brings us to UNRWA, and demography.

This week, the Lebanese and Palestinian census bureaus published a joint census of the number of Palestinians in Lebanon. According to UNRWA, the UN agency charged with subsidizing so-called Palestinian refugees, there are 449,957 Palestinians in Lebanon. Yet according to the Lebanese and the Palestinians themselves, there are only 174,535 Palestinians in the country. In other words, the actual number of Palestinians in Lebanon is a mere 38% of what UNRWA claims.

These data are important not merely because they show that UNRWA has been defrauding its donors, since it receives funding based on the number of Palestinians it cares for. The data are important because they highlight the fraudulent nature of Palestinian demographic data.

Just as UNRWA massively exaggerated the number of Palestinians in Lebanon, so the PA massively exaggerated the number of Palestinians living in Judea and Samaria.

According to the American-Israel Demographic Research Group, a group of volunteer researchers who studied PA population data 12 years ago, the PA deliberately exaggerates the number of Palestinians living in Judea, Samaria and Gaza by more than a million people.

The PA counts Jerusalem’s Arabs even though they are included in Israel’s population data. It includes some 400,000 Palestinians who live abroad in its population rolls.

The PA pretends there is no emigration from the PA despite the fact that some 17,000 Palestinians emigrate annually.

And it overstates Palestinian birthrates.

Through these false data, the PA manufactured the argument that the number of Arabs living west of the Jordan River is equal to the number of Jews.

The Rabin-Peres governmen adopted this claim wholesale in the 1990s as a means to persuade the public that Israel has no option other than withdrawing from the territories if it wishes to remain a state where Jews are the majority of the population.

Despite the fact that leading international demographers have accepted the American-Israel Demographic Research Group’s findings, successive Israeli governments have refused to question the PA’s data or to carry out an independent assessment of the size of the Palestinian population either in Gaza or in Judea and Samaria.

Consequently, for the past 20 years, Israel’s public discourse, like the discourse throughout the West regarding the Palestinian conflict with Israel, is based on demographic data that is demonstrably inflated in order to present Israel with a binary choice.

Israel can remain in Judea and Samaria and choose between ceasing to be a democracy or ceasing to be a Jewish state; or it can quit the areas and retain its Jewish, democratic character.

The UNRWA fraud in Lebanon show that the fallacious PA population data are part of a larger strategy of inflating the number of Palestinians for political and monetary gain. They also show that the binary options Israel has accepted for 20 years are far from the only options it faces. The only thing Israel needs to do to develop those other options is to decide it wishes to do so. And its first step toward accomplishing the goal is to conduct a credible assessment of the Palestinian population in Judea and Samaria.

Israel needs to act now not merely because Abbas is not long for this world. It is urgent as well because as Israel sits on its hands, other key players are making it clear where they fall on this issue.

The EU for one, knows what it wants.

This week the government narrowly averted a major diplomatic blunder when Culture Minister Miri Regev blocked the government from automatically approving a new agreement with the EU.

Regev rejected its automatic approval, citing the fact that the EU insists that Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, Judea and Samaria and their residents cannot participate in the program covered by the agreement.

As NGO Monitor president Prof. Gerald Steinberg reported in Israel Hayom this week, if approved, the “Cross-border Cooperation within the European Neighborhood Instrument (ENI): Mediterranean Sea Basin Program 2014-2020” will serve as an instrument for the EU to continue to transfer millions of euros each year to anti-Israel groups to carry out its war of subversion against Israel and its democratic system.

Steinberg noted that since 1995, the EU has used previous versions of this agreement to transfer tens of millions of euros to terrorism-supporting groups and groups actively involved in Israeli politics and inciting Israel’s Arab community to join the war against the Jewish state.

Given the EU’s record, it can be taken for granted that the EU will only support a successor to Abbas who, like Abbas, will advance the EU’s campaigns to weaken Israel and delegitimize its very existence.

Is this what Israel wants, too? For decades, by not taking a firm stand against the EU’s hostility, by going along with the fiction that there are 3 million Palestinians in Judea and Samaria, by accepting the lie that Abbas is a moderate and the PLO isn’t a terrorist organization, Israel has chosen to follow the herd. Israel has chosen not to think about its long-term interests. It has chosen not to determine its destiny.

At certain points this policy of passivity made sense. But the day is rapidly approaching where the price for not choosing will far outstrip the advantages of keeping our heads down. If we don’t want to end up with a Tamimi regime in Ramallah, the time to consider our true options is upon us.

Originally published in The Jerusalem Post. 

Caroline Glick


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Russia also selling oil to North Korea on the sly - Rick Moran

by Rick Moran

Moscow joins Beijing in undermining U.N. sanctions.

Reuters is reporting Western European security sources saying Russian vessels are selling oil products to North Korea via ship-to-ship transfers. The news comes after senior U.S. intelligence officials confirmed that Chinese ships are also selling oil in international waters to the Kim regime.

Both China and Russia are permanent members of the U.N. Security Council and voted to sanction North Korea by shutting off its access to oil.
The sales of oil or oil products from Russia, the world's second biggest oil exporter and a veto-wielding member of the United Nations Security Council, breach U.N. sanctions, the security sources said.
The transfers in October and November indicate that smuggling from Russia to North Korea has evolved to loading cargoes at sea since Reuters reported in September that North Korean ships were sailing directly from Russia to their homeland.
"Russian vessels have made ship-to-ship transfers of petrochemicals to North Korean vessels on several occasions this year in breach of sanctions," the first security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.
A second source, who independently confirmed the existence of the Russian ship-to-ship fuel trade with North Korea, said there was no evidence of Russian state involvement in the latest transfers.
"There is no evidence that this is backed by the Russian state[,] but these Russian vessels are giving a lifeline to the North Koreans," the second European security source said.
The two security sources cited naval intelligence and satellite imagery of the vessels operating out of Russian Far Eastern ports on the Pacific but declined to disclose further details to Reuters, saying [they are] classified.
Russia's Foreign Ministry and the Russian Customs Service both declined to comment when asked on Wednesday if Russian ships had supplied fuel to North Korean vessels. The owner of one ship accused of smuggling oil to North Korea denied any such activity.
The latest report came as China, responding on Friday to criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump, denied [that] it had illicitly shipped oil products to North Korea.
It's hard to accept Russian and Chinese government denials at face value. The economies of both countries – one communist, the other authoritarian – are tightly controlled. The idea that trade involving millions of dollars would go unnoticed by both regimes is difficult to believe.

More likely, the governments of China and Russia are turning a blind eye to the transactions. They are given plausible deniability while enriching themselves and their cronies by selling oil – no doubt at a premium price. 

Meanwhile, our sanctions regime is being undermined by the two nations who could, if they chose, help us the most in causing pain to the Kim regime. Since the North Korean government doesn't care about sanctions impact on its citizen, the only thing that matters is that the regime – and its top leadership – survive. As long as there is enough oil to power their limos, heat their residences, and feed the top echelons of North Korean society, Kim will be impervious to sanctions, making war more and more inevitable.

Rick Moran


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2017: A Year Of Success And Achievement For The IDF - Ari Lieberman

by Ari Lieberman

From technological breakthroughs to operational successes, the IDF shows why it’s at the top of the food chain.

2017 was a busy year for the Israel Defense Forces. There were threats emanating from both north and south, above and below ground, from state and non-state actors. There is of course, always room for improvement but the IDF can reflect on the past year with satisfaction in the knowledge that it protected its citizens from genocidal threats and improved its tactical and strategic capabilities by successful integration of new, technologically advanced weapon systems. Let us review some of these achievements with the caveat that there are some successes that are understandably not talked about in open circles or shared with the general public.

Gaza Tunnels – Israel has always been cognizant of the challenges posed by tunnels dug by Hamas terrorists or its affiliates but its recognition of the emerging threat came to sharper focus with Operation Protective Edge in 2014. During that operation, the IDF uncovered and destroyed some 34 tunnels. The 2014 Gaza war forced Hamas to prematurely reveal its hand. Had the war not broken out when it did, it is probable that at some later date Hamas would have carried out a mega attack in Israeli territory involving mass murder and kidnapping. The war pre-empted Hamas’s plans. The tunnel challenge compelled Israel to invest more resources in developing technologies to counter the threat and that investment is paying dividends. This past year, Israel caused a number of tunnels in the midst of construction to collapse. In December, the IDF destroyed a Hamas tunnel that it had been monitoring. In October, the IDF destroyed a tunnel belonging to the Gaza-based Palestinian Islamic Jihad, killing 12 PIJ and 2 Hamas operatives. In the meantime, Israel is in the midst of constructing an anti-tunnel barrier equipped with sophisticated sensors. As the work progresses, the IDF expects to uncover more tunnels.

Iron Dome – Since the conclusion of Operation Protective Edge, Hamas has been wary of firing rockets into Israel for fear of Israeli retaliation. However, following America’s surprise recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Hamas turned a blind eye toward the nefarious actions of other Gaza-based Islamist groups and failed to prevent them from firing rockets. Iron Dome once again proved its mettle intercepting a number of rockets, downing only those rockets determined to have the most menacing trajectories. In November, the Israeli Navy announced the deployment of the Iron Dome system on its sea platforms. The Israeli Navy is tasked with protecting Israel’s vast sea lanes and offshore gas platforms. Iron Dome will significantly enhance the Navy’s ability to perform this vital role.

F-35 Adir – Israel has taken delivery of the F-35 stealth fighter-bomber, the first air force outside of the U.S. Air Force to do so. Israel currently operates nine of these 5th generation fighters and plans to acquire a total of 50. The plane is already believed to have been put to operational use. Some have criticized its prohibitive cost but the aircraft’s stealth characteristics and sophisticated avionics ensure that both plane and pilot will survive even in the most challenging of circumstances thus justifying the cost. There is currently nothing in the world that matches the F-35 in terms of the plane’s advanced technological features and stealth characteristics. The Russians and Chinese are at least eight years behind in this regard.

Golan Threats – Israel is keeping close tabs on its enemies to the northeast. Periodically, fighting across the border on the Syrian side results in spillover into the Israeli side and when that happens, the IDF is always ready. Israel holds Assad responsible for maintaining quiet along the border and any disruption is generally met with an immediate and devastating response. On June24 and 25, the IDF destroyed two Syrian tanks, two artillery pieces, an ammunition truck and a heavy machinegun outpost in response to spillover fire. On July 1, Israel destroyed a Syrian artillery position in response to two errant shells. On October 21, the IDF destroyed three artillery pieces in response to five projectiles landing on the Israeli side. The Syrians are aware of Israel’s capabilities and it appears that the swift and devastating Israeli actions in response to Syrian transgressions have had the desired effect on Assad. He’s been behaving himself, more or less.

Trophy APS – The U.S. Army announced that it will be fitting a brigade of over 80 of its M1A2 Abrams tanks with the Israel Trophy Armor Protection System (APS). The Trophy APS can intercept anti-tank rockets and missiles and can also rapidly calculate the source of fire based on the missile’s flight path. It was successfully employed during operation Protective Edge, intercepting multiple threats. In fact, not a single Merkava tank was hit by anti-tank fire. There is no greater advertisement for an Israeli weapons platform than getting the seal of approval from the U.S. Army. The Army’s acquisition of the Trophy will almost certainly lead to further foreign sales to friendly, reliable nations and this will further drive down the cost of the system while enhancing the security of the West.

Preventing WMD Proliferation – On September 7, Syria’s al-Tala’i military research facility located in Masyaf was reduced to ash and flames. According to Western intelligence sources, al-Tala’i is a center for the production of chemical weapons. There was speculation that Syria was prepared to hand over the facility to its ally, Hezbollah. This was a situation that Israel was not prepared to accept and so, Israel acted resolutely. That’s one less WMD facility that the world has to worry about.

Spike-Equipped Apaches – For the first time, the IDF cleared for publication photos of IDF Apache attack helicopters equipped with the NLOS (Non-Line Of Sight) variant of the Spike missile. During the 2014 Gaza war, Israeli Apaches were equipped with Hellfire missiles but Obama delayed resupply of depleted Israeli stocks. Consequently, Israel decided that it would no longer subject itself to the whims of an irrational leader and decided to equip its Apaches with its domestically produced Spike. The Non-Line Of Sight option means the target can be hit without the operator actually seeing the target and the missile can be guided via a laser designator or real-time wireless data link. The operator can also abort the mission after launch or change targets. This is an important feature that enables the operator to limit collateral damage should civilians suddenly appear or alternatively, to direct the missile mid-flight toward a more valuable or dangerous target. The Spike’s guidance system is superior to the Hellfire’s. The Spike NLOS also has a greater range than the Hellfire, enabling the Apache to fire from greater distances thus making it less vulnerable to SAM or AAA fire.

Successful Combat Deployment of Arrow – In mid-March the Israeli Air Force launched a series of airstrikes targeting a Hezbollah weapons convoy and other military facilities believed to be housing weapons slated to be delivered to the terror group. The airstrikes focused on a Syrian airbase known as T4 near the city of Palmyra. The airbase is used by Iran as a transit point for arms shipments to Hezbollah. The targets were destroyed but Syrian anti-aircraft units fired 3 to 4 SAM-5 anti-aircraft missiles at the Israeli fighters. The aircraft evaded the missiles but one missile, with its 478lb. warhead, came dangerously close to landing in Israel. Israel fired an Arrow anti-ballistic missile (the IDF did not disclose whether it was the II or III variant) at the SAM-5, intercepting it midflight and sending it crashing into Jordan. It was the first time that the Arrow was used in combat and it passed its first test with flying colors.

Senior Terror Commanders Liquidated – Terrorists who seek to harm the Jewish State generally have short lifespans as demonstrated by two IDF operations this year. Yasser al-Sayed was a pro-Assad militia commander who was coordinating planned attacks against Israel with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. His life was cut short in mid-March by a missile while driving along the Damascus- Quneitra road near the town of Khan Arnaba. The liquidation of Mazen Faqha, also in March, was conducted under more mysterious circumstances. In 2002, he recruited a suicide bomber to carry out a suicide attack that left nine Israelis dead. Later that year, he was apprehended by Israeli security forces after an intensive dragnet. He received nine life sentences for his role in the bombing only to be released in 2011 in the deleterious Gilad Schalit prisoner exchange where some 1,000 terrorists were released for the captive Israeli. After his release, he rejoined Hamas and resumed his terror activities. He was killed just outside his home in the Gaza City neighborhood of Tel Al Hawa, and no one saw or heard anything. It was a clean kill with no collateral damage. As is its wont, Israel had no comment on Faqha’s death but the liquidation bears all the hallmarks of an Israeli covert op. The killing of Mazen Faqha left Hamas unhinged and nervous and that in the final analysis may be more beneficial to Israel than his death for it sowed the seeds of fear and distrust within the highest echelons of Hamas.

Al Kiswa Strike – Israel has drawn several red lines in Syria but among its most important is its determination to keep Iran and Hezbollah as far as possible from the Golan border. An Israeli raid against an Iranian military base just south of Damascus near the town of Al-Kiswah, underscores this point. Al-Kiswah lies just 31 miles from the Israeli border and it needed to be eliminated. Satellite imagery showing before and after photos of Al-Kiswah demonstrates in no uncertain terms that Israel means business. At least 12 Iranians were killed in the blasts.

Operational Deployment of Arrow III and David’s Sling – Israel’s David’s Sling became fully operational in April. David’s Sling is an anti-missile system designed to close the gap between the Arrow II, III and the Iron Dome. As noted, Iron Dome intercepts shorter range rockets. Arrow is designed to intercept long-range ballistic missiles while exo-atmospheric. David’s Sling will be used to intercept tactical ballistic missiles and cruise missiles with ranges of between 40 km. to 300 km. The Arrow III became operational in January and could be adopted for anti-Satellite roles.

Israel is on the frontlines in the fight against those who wish to destroy Western civilization. While 2017 represents a successful year for the IDF, its commanders know that they cannot for a second rest on their laurels for Israel’s enemies – from Hamas to Hezbollah, the Islamic State to the Islamic Republic – will spare no effort to inflict harm on the Jewish State and the West.

Ari Lieberman is an attorney and former prosecutor who has authored numerous articles and publications on matters concerning the Middle East and is considered an authority on geo-political and military developments affecting the region.


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Debunking Lies About Immigration and “Family Reunification” - Michael Cutler

by Michael Cutler

Time to put the interests of American families first.

It has taken decades of concerted efforts by the immigration anarchists to get America to the dangerous point where it is today.  
Currently America has a population of unknown millions of illegal aliens who entered the United States covertly and without vetting by running our borders. Their presence in the United States and their very identities are unknown and unknowable.
We also have millions of illegal aliens who violated the terms of their lawful admissions into the United States and have gone “missing in America.” 
Incredibly so-called “Sanctuary Cities” and “Sanctuary States” harbor and shield these illegal aliens from detection by the Department of Homeland Security and its component immigration law enforcement agencies, even as mayors of those cities demand to be given federal funds to combat crime and protect their residents against international terrorists they may be harboring.
Securing our nation’s borders and enforcing our immigration laws from within the interior of the United States has nothing to do with racism, bigotry or xenophobia, the lie most often spewed by immigration anarchists, but has everything to do with national security, public safety and public health.
Our immigration laws have nothing to do with race, religion or ethnicity.  A review of Title 8 U.S. Code § 1182 will quickly lay waste to the notion that our immigration laws are about racism or bigotry.  That section of law enumerates the grounds of inadmissibility of aliens without considering their race, religion or ethnicity.
Among the categories of such aliens to be excluded are those who have dangerous communicable diseases, are seriously mentally ill, are criminals, fugitives, spies, terrorists or have been previously deported from the United States and have not been granted authorization since deportation to reenter the United States.  That section of law also protects American workers from unfair foreign competition.
The primary goal of all five branches of the U.S. military is to keep America’s enemies as far from our shores as possible. However, in this era of terrorism and asymmetrical warfare, terrorists don’t engage in conventional warfare against our military, but seek to enter the United States by whatever means that they can, to carry out deadly terrorist attacks against our civilian population. 
During World War II Nazi saboteurs came to America on German U-boats and used other covert means to infiltrate the U.S. to spy and commit acts of sabotage.  Today, the terrorists most often enter the United States through ports of entry.
However, all means of entering the United States, both legal means and illegal means, can and have provided terrorists and transnational criminals and fugitives with access to the United States.
As I have frequently noted, the United States has fifty “border states.”  Any state that lies along America’s northern or southern borders are border states as are those states that have access to America’s 95,000 miles of coastline.  Finally, any state that has an international airport is also a border state.
Therefore the mission of immigration law enforcement is to back up the military by making the borders of the United States our first and last line of defense against America’s foes and those foreign nationals who would pose a threat to the safety and well-being of America and Americans.
On September 11, 2001 just nineteen terrorists inflicted more casualties on the United States than did the entire Japanese fleet at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941 and the death toll from the attacks of 9/11 continues to climb.  
On December 14, 2017 the New York Post reported that a 9/11 first responder killed himself after a battle with lung disease.  That “first responder” was Douglas Greenwood, the NYPD Captain who led the first responders who dug through the mountain of rubble at “Ground Zero” that came to be known as “the pile” searching at first for survivors and then for human remains. His disease not unlike so many others, was attributed to exposure to the toxins released with the World Trade Center complex was destroyed by two hijacked airliners on 9/11.
Today much has been made about chain migration and the underlying principle of “family reunification.”  The idea is that if an alien is granted lawful immigrant status and subsequently becomes a United States citizen, he/she may then petition the U.S. government to have their brothers and sisters become resident aliens along with all of their spouses and minor children.
The incredible lie is that it is unfair for aliens to legally immigrate to the United States and thus be separated from their families. The Obama administration went even beyond the provisions of the immigration laws and mandated that so-called illegal alien “unaccompanied minors” be permitted to enter the United States to be “reunified” with their illegal alien family members who were already living illegally in the United States.
Under current immigration laws, aliens who become lawful immigrants are able to bring their nuclear families with them as immigrants.  This means that their spouses and minor children are also granted Alien Registration Cards (Green Cards).  This makes perfect sense.
However, when lawful immigrants become United States citizens, they are then entitled to petition to have their parents and all of their brothers and sisters admitted as lawful immigrants in their own rights.  Furthermore, their siblings are also entitled, as immigrants, to have all of their spouses and minor children granted green cards as well.
Because of this, one newly-minted U.S. citizen can ultimately provide lawful immigrant status to dozens of extended family members.
Under this visa program, the impact that such massive numbers of immigrants will have on job prospects for America workers is not taken into account.  Simply by virtue of a familial 
relationships, the United States admits large numbers of aliens who may compete unfairly with American workers.
Flooding American schools with non-English speaking children creates a hardship for school districts and the students who attend those beleaguered schools.
In December 2007 the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) published an important report, “The Impact of Unauthorized Immigrants on the Budgets of State and Local Governments” that found that it costs between 20 percent and 40 percent extra to educate students who lack English language proficiency. 
We need to take a moment to consider how insane the notion of providing green cards to extended family members of naturalized citizens truly is given how this impacts America and Americans.
To shed light on the absurdity of the false narrative created by the open borders/immigration anarchists that it is reasonable to provide green cards to extended family members to reunite families in the United States, we ought to consider that is not uncommon in America for children to grow up and voluntarily take jobs across the United States and even, outside the United States. 
Those children are free to return home for holidays and to attend family functions.  Similarly, members of their families may opt to travel to visit with them in their new homes across the United States.
This is comparable to the alien who makes the willful decision to immigrate to America.  These immigrants and naturalized citizens are certainly free to travel back to their home countries to spend time with their families whenever they wish.
Additionally --  and this is the part of the immigration issue that is never discussed -- there are two forms of visas that can be granted to aliens: immigrant visas and nonimmigrant visas.
Each year the United States provides approximately one million aliens with lawful immigrant status.  Immigrant visas immediately place the alien on the pathway to citizenship.  However, each year tens of millions of nonimmigrant (temporary) foreign visitors are admitted into the United States as tourists, foreign students and authorized temporary workers.
Family members of naturalized citizens are free to travel to the United States, presuming that they have no criminal histories, or other such factors in their backgrounds, as nonimmigrant visitors.
They can be granted tourist visas or, if they are citizens of one of the 38 Visa Waiver Countries, don’t require visas to spend up to 90 days in the United States to visit with their family members who have become naturalized citizens.
As tourists they may not work in the United States, but they certainly can spend time with their family members here.
Back when I was an Immigration Inspector at the beginning of my career with the INS it was not uncommon form many foreign visitors to travel to the United States on tourist visas to visit for a temporary period with their family members who had immigrated to the United States.
Today the news media and advocates for open border and immigration anarchy refuse to discuss this aspect of the lawful immigration program because it provides a “solution” to a problem that really does not exist.
Current immigration laws are not incompatible with the compassion of our nation.  
Nonimmigrant visas can enable families to be reunited in a way that does not undermine the lives and livelihoods of Americans and the sovereignty and security of our nation.  However, this runs contrary to the immigration anarchists who are often improperly referred to as being “pro-immigrant” by the compliant globalist media. 

Michael Cutler


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How Palestinians Silence Palestinians - Khaled Abu Toameh

by Khaled Abu Toameh

This is about how Palestinian leaders continue to march their people towards yet more harm and grief.

  • Mohammed Al-Dayeh has been under interrogation on suspicion of establishing and managing two Facebook pages -- "Sons of the Martyrs" and "No to Corruption." The Palestinian Authority claims that both accounts were used to wage a smear campaign against top Palestinian officials and accuse them of financial and administrative corruption.
  • There is only one small problem regarding the charges against Al-Dayeh: The man cannot read or write, and as such there is no way he could have posted the offensive remarks on Facebook.
  • This is about how Palestinian leaders continue to march their people towards yet more harm and grief. This is also about the ongoing failure of the international community to note any of the above.
Most people probably do not know him by name, but the image of Mohammed Al-Dayeh was a public one for many years. The tough-looking, mustachioed man in military garb served as the trusted bodyguard of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat.

His proximity to Arafat turned Al-Dayeh into one of the most powerful figures in the PLO leadership, especially during the 1990s and 2000s. If you wanted anything from Arafat -- from money to springing your son from prison -- Al-Dayeh was your man.

Mohammed Al-Dayeh (center), standing next to then-Palestinian Authority President Yasser Arafat in Ramallah, March 29, 2001. (Photo credit: JAMAL ARURI/AFP/Getty Images)

He was glued to Arafat night and day. He accompanied him on his persistent globe-trotting. You can hardly find a photo of Arafat without Al-Dayeh. Insiders say Arafat "adopted" him after he was orphaned from his parents during the civil war in Lebanon.

Al-Dayeh's fall from grace was rapid once his boss, Arafat, died in 2004. This is typical for dictatorial regimes that are run as a one-man show. Arafat managed the Palestinian Authority (and PLO) as if it were his private fiefdom. When the emperor falls, so do many of those around him, particularly his personal picks.

In the past week, Palestinians were surprised to learn that the man who was an icon of power of the Arafat era was now being held in detention in a Palestinian Authority prison in Ramallah. Reports about the incarceration of Al-Dayeh first appeared on social media, and many Palestinians were convinced that these were just rumors and gossip. How could the man once so loved by Arafat be behind bars? What crime did Al-Dayeh, who holds the rank of "brigadier-general" in the Palestinian Authority, commit? It would have to have been quite a misstep on Al-Dayeh's part.

The talk that Al-Dayeh would soon be prosecuted before a Palestinian Authority "military" court aroused further surprise. Was the former bodyguard arrested, many wondered, for committing a serious security-related offense?

Speculation on the Palestinian street even reached the point of considering whether Al-Dayeh was being charged with spying for Israel. Or, perhaps this was the man who had put the "poison" in Arafat's soup and which, according to the conspiracy theorists, led to the death of their beloved leader and hero – Arafat.

For years, Palestinian leaders and officials have been telling us, without any evidence, that Israel was behind the "assassination" of Arafat and that it was carried out with the help of a Palestinian, whose identity remains unknown to this day. Could it be, they wondered, Al-Dayeh?

None of the above. Al-Dayeh apparently did not commit any crime against Palestinian security. Nor was he involved in the "assassination" of his father figure and boss.

According to Al-Dayeh's lawyer, Rawya Abu Zuheiri, her client is suspected of "bad-mouthing" senior officials and criticizing corruption of Palestinian leaders on Facebook. Al-Dayeh, she said, has been under interrogation on suspicion of establishing and managing two Facebook pages – "Sons of the Martyrs" and "No to Corruption." The Palestinian Authority claims that both accounts were used to wage a smear campaign against top Palestinian officials and accuse them of financial and administrative corruption.

Such are the main charges against Al-Dayeh; they are not related to any security issues, according to his lawyer. He has been ordered remanded into custody for 15 days for violating the Palestinian Authority's controversial Electronic Crimes Law. His lawyer, however, says there is only one small problem regarding the charges against Al-Dayeh: The man cannot read or write, and as such there is no way he could have posted the offensive remarks on Facebook. In other words, the lawyer is telling is that the man who was entrusted with the personal security of Arafat and was his closest confidant is illiterate.

Al-Dayeh is understandably upset by his detention. In response to the humiliation, he has gone on hunger strike. Some reports, which seem to be deliberately exaggerated, claim that Al-Dayeh's health condition has deteriorated as a result of the hunger strike and that he is now being treated in a Palestinian hospital.

The real story here, however, is not about Al-Dayeh the man. This is about freedom of speech and corruption in the Palestinian Authority. It is about how Palestinian leaders are suppressing any form of criticism.

Al-Dayeh may not be a saint, but his arrest is aimed at sending a message to Palestinians that no one is immune from the long arm of the Palestinian Authority. You can be the most decorated Palestinian and a symbol of the Arafat era, but once you criticize Palestinian leaders or write about corruption, you will find yourself behind bars and facing military trial.

Even if the charges are true, Al-Dayeh's case should have been settled through a civilian lawsuit and not through secret military trials that are reminiscent of totalitarian regimes. If anyone felt offended by Al-Dayeh and the Facebook pages he allegedly managed, he or she could have filed a libel lawsuit.

Al-Dayeh is the latest victim of the Abbas's Electronic Crimes Law, which grants his security forces wide powers to clamp down on Facebook and Twitter users who dare to express their critical views of Palestinian leaders in public. Several journalists and political activists have already been arrested or summoned for interrogation on suspicion of violating the new law. Consequently, many Palestinians are today afraid to post any comment on social media that could hurt the feeling of a senior official sitting in Abbas's headquarters in Ramallah.

Al-Dayeh is far from the main protagonist here -- although his personal story might make for interesting reading. This is about the silencing of critics. This is about human rights violations perpetrated not only by the Palestinian Authority, but by Hamas as well. This is about how Palestinian leaders continue to march their people towards yet more harm and grief. This is also about the ongoing failure of the international community to note any of the above. Al-Dayeh is just a bit player, then, in a much, much greater dictatorial drama.
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Khaled Abu Toameh, an award-winning journalist, is based in Jerusalem.


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Frontpage Magazine's Man of the Year: President Trump - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

2017 was the year that the United States of America got up off its knees.

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is an investigative journalist and writer focusing on the radical left and Islamic terrorism.

It’s that time of the year when media outlets write up the people and trends who defined the year while ignoring the man who redefined it. 

2017 was the year that the United States of America got up off its knees. It was the year that we stopped following the world and started leading it. It was the year that our booming economy accomplished the impossible. It was the year that we became a great nation again.

And one man is responsible for that. 

President Trump promised to make America great again. And every day, it’s happening. Factory workers and small businessmen, farmers and ranchers, soldiers and police officers are waking up to a renewed America. Time chose a social justice hashtag as its ‘Thing of the Year’.  We’re choosing the man who turned the country around as our “Man of the Year”. 

When President Trump promised 4% economic growth, the media herded together economists to prove it couldn’t happen. CNN surveyed 11 economists and Bloomberg asked 80 economists. They agreed it was impossible. 2% growth was the best that we could hope for. And we would have to get used to that.

And then the GDP growth estimate for the fourth quarter of 2017 approached 4%.

Americans are realizing that maybe we don’t have to just get used to dividing up the last torn shreds of a failing economy between leftist crony billionaires and their officially entitled victim groups.

Maybe we can do better.

The S&P 500 Index has gone up 20% this year and the Dow is up 25%. Holiday shopping season sales are up almost 5% over last year. Consumer confidence is at a 17-year high. The unemployment rate is at a 17-year low. The manufacturing industry just had its best month of job gains for the year.

All of this isn’t just a matter of dollars and cents. It’s the knowledge that things are getting better. You can’t fake it. The media spent eight years promising a recovery that no one believed in. Obama announced that the recovery had happened more times than he ended the Iraq War. And just like the end of the war, it never happened. It’s happening now because people are living a better future.

Call it… making America great again. Not for government officials, but for ordinary Americans.

Obama made life great for government bureaucrats. In the era of hope and steal, the bedroom communities of Washington D.C. became the wealthiest counties in the country. Americans lost their jobs, veterans lost their lives and the government bureaucracy grew fat on their misery.

While the VA was killing veterans by putting them on waiting lists to save money, it paid out $142 million in bonuses. The EPA did its best to kill the economy while profiting from its misdeeds. It paid 8 employees $1 million to do nothing. One EPA employee managed to rip off the government to the tune of almost $1 million while pretending to be a CIA agent. Now the free ride for the swamp is finally over.

Under Obama, the IRS handed out $100 million in bonuses to its employees. Tens of thousands of dollars went to Lois Lerner who had targeted conservative groups. Under Trump, the former IRS commish, on whose watch the targeting happened, is warning that tax reform will be a disaster for the IRS. Meanwhile after tax reform, millions of people across the country are getting $1,000 bonuses.
That’s what the Trump economy looks like.

Obama spent us deep into debt and told us to hope. Trump isn’t telling us to hope. He’s actually delivering. That’s why his political opponents are so afraid and so desperate to bring him down. Incumbents rarely lose elections. And incumbents with a booming economy at their backs are bulletproof. The Democrats have bet everything on their Russia conspiracy theories because they know that Trump will be able to ask Americans the same exact question that Reagan did in 1980 and 1984.

"Are you better off than you were 4 years ago?”

And they know what the answer will be. Especially once the tax cuts kick in. That’s why they’re afraid.

“Is it easier for you to go and buy things in the stores than it was four years ago? Is there more or less unemployment in the country than there was four years ago? Is America as respected throughout the world as it was? Do you feel that our security is as safe, that we're as strong as we were four years ago?”

We can see those answers right now. You won’t see them on CNN which is breathlessly thrilling leftist #resistance viewers with the latest Mueller coup leaks. You won’t read about them in the New York Times. But you can see it in shopping malls, at the United Nations, in the front lines of the war against ISIS and Al Qaeda, in the faces of police officers and the bright eyes of children receiving their presents. 

Today we can ask, “Are you better off than you were last year?” And it’s easy to see the answer. You don’t look for it in the soaring rhetoric of a politician or the tea leaves of the experts. It’s there in the busy aisles of big box stores, the crowded planes, the bustling factories and the booming market.

It’s a spirit that’s in the air. It’s not hope. It’s reality. 

And it’s why President Donald J. Trump is Front Page’s Man of the Year.

Obama’s rise to power was a revolution against America. Trump’s first year was an American revolution.

The Obama revolution paid out its benefits in stolen money. Trillions were stolen from taxpayers, homeowners, car owners, workers and small businessmen and redistributed to his friends and political cronies, to migrants and the welfare class, to Iran and other Islamic terrorists, and to the Green Mob.

Trump’s revolution is taking the government boot off American necks. Its benefits are paid out by putting an end to the political oppression, repression, thievery and exploitation of the past. That mea ns lower taxes and fewer regulations. It means that our troops can decide how to kill terrorists and Israel can decide what its capital is. And you can decide how to spend your own money.

Whether you’re in Alaska or Florida, deep in the Maine winter or basking in seventy degree temperatures in Arizona, take a deep breath of that air. It tastes of freedom.

The new American revolution wasn’t accompanied by rifle fire. Instead it came when millions of Americans voted for their freedom. And, for the first time in some time, freedom followed.

That’s why the economy is booming. It’s why there’s a new spirit of confidence in the air.

Free people can solve more problems than any government agency. They can create more wealth than any government bureaucrat. Government doesn’t make America great. Americans make it great.

The Trump revolution has unleashed millions of Americans to renew our nation’s greatness.

And that is why we recognize President Donald J. Trump as the man whose impact on this country defined the past year. It was a year of revolution, of liberation, of industry and achievement. 

It was a year that made America great. 

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


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