Friday, January 5, 2018

Is Hezbollah Eating the Iranian People's Bread? - Yves Mamou

by Yves Mamou

Without Iranian subsidies, Hezbollah would be just a narco-mafia.

  • Ironically, Iran's receiving more than $100 billion in frozen assets succeeded in breaking the solidarity between the Iranian people and the Ayatollahs' regime better than the sanctions did.
  • Without Iranian money, Hezbollah would not exist. At least, not exist as an Iranian foreign legion, militarily engaged against Israel and in other Middle East regional conflicts. Without Iranian subsidies, Hezbollah would be just a narco-mafia.
  • Hezbollah has developed deep connections to Mexican and Colombian drug cartels, directly to facilitate the distribution of drugs throughout the Middle East and the US.
In the holy city of Qom in Iran, on December 30, 2017, anti-regime demonstrators shouted "Death to Hezbollah", "Aren't you ashamed Khamenei? Get out of Syria and take care of us", and "Not Gaza, or Lebanon".

In an Islamic country, whose official slogan is "Death to America" and "Death to Israel", to see Iranian people shouting "Death to Hezbollah" is totally surreal.

By wishing "Death to Hezbollah", Iranians demonstrators were not only protesting a "rise of the price of eggs" as the Ayatollahs' propaganda machine tried to claim. The demonstrators were demanding that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spend Iranian money for Iranian people -- and only for Iranian people.

Ironically, Iran's receiving more than $100 billion in frozen assets for the hapless "nuclear deal" succeeded in breaking the solidarity between Iranian people and the Ayatollahs' regime better than the sanctions did. During the tough time of sanctions, the Iranian people stood by their leaders. The people only broke with their leaders when they saw that the "liberated" money was benefiting everyone but them.

Is Hezbollah eating the Iranian people's bread? The answer is yes, absolutely. Hezbollah is an Iranian foreign legion, a tool of an imperialist Shia war being conducted in Syria, Iraq, Yemen and against Israel. This Arab Shia army was created in Lebanon by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1982, right after Israeli defense forces expelled the PLO from Lebanon. The aim of this Arab Shia legion was to demonstrate to Sunni Muslim Arabs in the Middle East that Shia Iran was a better fighter against the "Zionist entity" than any Sunni regime.

Pictured: Portraits of Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah (left) and Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei (right) in Beirut, Lebanon, in 2006. (Photo by Marco Di Lauro/Getty Images)

Over the years, the small militia of 1982 grew to an expensive army, with more 150,000 missiles targeting at Israel, and able to defeat ISIS in Syria.

How much money is Hezbollah costing Iran? Before quoting an amount, please remember that Hezbollah is not only a 30,000 to 50,000-man fighting army. Hezbollah is also a social system with hospitals, welfare institutions, well-diggers for farmers, religious schools for boys and girls, a media conglomerate (television channels, radios, websites), a private telecommunications network inside Lebanon, and with the cyber-warfare capability to destabilize countries or companies. Hezbollah, in other words, is a state within the state of Lebanon, and the "patron" of the Shia community there.
Until 2005, experts guessed that Iran was giving about $200 million a year to Hezbollah. Matthew Levitt, a specialist on Hezbollah, wrote:
"Recently, Western diplomats and analysts in Lebanon estimated Hezbollah receives closer to $200 million a year from Iran... Some of this financial support comes in the form of cash funds, while much is believed to come in the form of material goods such as weapons. Iranian cargo planes deliver sophisticated weaponry, from rockets to small arms, to Hezbollah in regular flights to Damascus from Tehran. These weapons are offloaded in Syria and trucked to Hezbollah camps in Lebanon's Bekaa Valley. In the wake of the death of Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat, Hezbollah reportedly received an additional $22 million from Iranian intelligence to support Palestinian terrorist groups and foment instability."
Different Iranian "charitable" foundations, many of them controlled directly by Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei, also fund Hezbollah's hospitals and charities in Lebanon. The amount of money difficult to quantify because it does not appear in any official budget. It certainly represents many millions of dollars.

Of course, as the military role of Hezbollah expanded, the cost of funding it increased, from $300 million to $1 billion annually.

In short, without Iranian money, Hezbollah would not exist. At least, not as an Iranian foreign legion, militarily engaged against Israel and in other Middle East regional conflicts. Without Iranian subsidies, Hezbollah would be only a narco-mafia. It is a characteristic of this Shia militia to have been able to find alternative financing to compensate for the ups and downs of Iranian financing each time it was necessary.

Another source of Hezbollah's funding is cocaine-trafficking. Over time, Hezbollah has developed deep connections to Mexican and Colombian drug cartels, directly to facilitate the distribution of drugs throughout the Middle East and the US. The Obama administration quashed a huge Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) investigation into drug-running, arms-smuggling, human trafficking, and other criminal enterprises from which Hezbollah was profiting around the world, according to a bombshell report by Josh Meyers in Politico in December 2017. For the Obama White House, blocking the DEA investigation was a decisive move to help finalize its "nuclear deal" with Iran.

How much money does Hezbollah make from cocaine? Again, it is difficult to say. From 2007 to 2011, for example, Hezbollah networks were involved in a $300-million scheme purchasing used vehicles in the U.S. to ship to West Africa for sale. Earnings from the car sales were commingled with drug profits and sent to currency-exchange houses for laundering.

Among other trafficking, according to Interpol, Hezbollah also counterfeits goods (car brakes, clothes, pharmaceuticals, money). As early as 2003, Interpol warned of links between counterfeiting and terrorism, and between counterfeiting and Hezbollah :
"In documents prepared for his testimony on 16 July before the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on International Relations, INTERPOL Secretary General Ronald K. Noble, said the problem may become more serious in future and he called for enhanced efforts, including a new partnership between industry and police, to combat it...
"The INTERPOL document presented to the Congressional Committee indicated that a wide range of groups - including Al-Qaeda, Hezbollah, Chechen separatists, ethnic Albanian extremists in Kosovo, and paramilitaries in Northern Ireland - have been found to profit from the production or sale of counterfeit goods."
Hezbollah also raises funds from the Shia diaspora communities in Africa, Europe, Northern America and is running
"an extensive network of commercial and illicit businesses around the globe, including in South America and Africa, which may morph into new enterprises to avoid scrutiny. By using shell companies, and by renaming companies to avoid U.S. sanctions, Hezbollah-linked groups can continue to access the international financial system and transact with an ever-growing network of companies. The U.S. Treasury Department has designated dozens of Lebanon-based firms for supporting Hezbollah, including real estate firms and auto care companies. It is likely the group will continue its money laundering operations, growing into new fields and businesses in the future."
Even if Iran cuts its subsidies to its proxy, Hezbollah's 150,000 missiles will presumably remain in Lebanon as a permanent threat against Israel. Meanwhile, the Hezbollah Shia drug cartel will just have to work harder to feed its fighters.

Yves Mamou is an author and journalist based in France. He is the author of "Hezbollah, dernier acte", ("Hezbollah: The Final Act").


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Palestinians: Always on the Wrong Side - Bassam Tawil

by Bassam Tawil

The Indians realize now that Israel is their ally in the war on terrorism -- certainly not the Palestinians, who again and again align themselves with those who seek death and destruction.

  • Palestinians also took to the streets to celebrate the 9/11 attacks carried out by al-Qaeda.
  • Another sign of Palestinian support for dictators and terrorists emerged in August 2017, when President Mahmoud Abbas sent the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, a telegram congratulating him for "Liberation Day."
  • Something good has come out of the fiasco surrounding the Palestinian ambassador's association with a global terrorist: The Indians realize now that Israel is their ally in the war on terrorism -- certainly not the Palestinians, who again and again align themselves with those who seek death and destruction.
The Palestinians have an old and nasty habit of placing themselves on the wrong side of history and aligning themselves with tyrannical leaders and regimes. Every time the Palestinians make the wrong choice, they end up paying a heavy price. Yet, they do not seem to learn from their mistakes.

The latest example of Palestinian misjudgments surfaced last week when the Palestinian Authority "ambassador" to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, shared a stage with UN-designated terrorist and Jamat-ul-Dawa leader Hafiz Saeed.

The two men appeared together at a rally that was held to protest US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. Thousands attended the rally in Rawalpindi, which was organized by the Defense of Pakistan Council, an alliance of religious parties dominated by Saeed's group.

Jamat-ul-Dawa has been blamed for the 2008 Mumbai attacks, which killed 166 people. Saeed is wanted by the US, which has offered a $10 million reward for his arrest. Pakistan, however, has turned down extradition requests and allows the terrorist to operate freely.

The appearance of the Palestinian Authority ambassador alongside Saeed drew sharp criticism from many Pakistanis and Indians alike.

Tarek Fatah, a Canadian-Indian writer and liberal activist who was born in Karachi, Pakistan, tweeted:
"Palestinian Ambassador to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, joins wanted jihadi terrorist Hafiz Seed on stage. Was the Palestinian Authority aware that Hafiz Saeed is the man who ordered the 2008 Mumbai attacks? Did the Palestinian Authority authorize this validation of India's enemy No. 1?"
Thousands took to social media to express their outrage over the joint appearance of the PA envoy and the wanted terrorist. Many Indians criticized their government for voting against US President Donald Trump's announcement recognizing Jerusalem as Israel's capital in the UN General Assembly. They also called on the Indian government to correct its mistake by strengthening its ties with Israel.

Anil Kumar Sharma wrote:
"Palestinians have slapped across the face the Indian government, which has recently betrayed Israel by voting in favor of the Palestinians (at the UN General Assembly). Hope this would jolt the Indian government to see the ground realities and formulate a totally pro-Israeli West Asia policy and follow US and move our embassy to Jerusalem."
Amitava Sarker commented: "India should have a strong practical policy on the Middle East. Again, we should know that progressive Israel is our friend and not fundamental Muslim countries."

Arvind Singh tweeted: "This is the proof that Palestinians support terrorism. We support them instead of supporting our friend, Israel."

Bobby Kapoor: "India sides with Palestine as recently as the UN vote while the Palestinian Authority sides with a global terrorist. India should review its policy towards Palestine."

Dhiraj Punj: "Huge embarrassment for Indians individually and for India as a nation. India votes for Palestine, and they (Palestinians) join Hafiz Saeed. Foreign policy disaster!!!"

Gpebble: "The Indian government must support Jerusalem as Israel's capital in response to this ugly brotherhood of Palestine and Hafiz Saeed the terrorist generator."

Harvey Kribs: "Palestinians are Islamic supremacists who seek Islamic hegemony in the Middle East in the same way Islamic terrorists seek Islamic hegemony in South Asia. If one puts an end to Palestinianism, the rest of the radical Islamists will fall by the wayside."

Alarmed by the strong reactions, the Palestinian Authority, in an unprecedented move, announced that it was recalling its ambassador to Pakistan.

A statement issued by the Palestinian Authority in Ramallah said that the Palestinians were committed to preserving their good relations with India. "Palestine is keen on supporting India's war against terrorism," the statement read. "Palestine and India are true partners in the war on terrorism." The Palestinian Authority claimed that the participation of its ambassador in the rally alongside Hafiz Saeed was an "unintentional and inexcusable error."

An "unintentional error"?

How, precisely, was the ambassador unaware of Hafiz Saeed's presence at the rally when he posed proudly for a "photo op" with the terrorist?

The Palestinians have a long record of making such "mistakes." Forging alliances with mass murderers and terrorists goes back to the days of Haj Amin Al-Husseini, the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who had close ties with Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany. According to British records, Husseini told Hitler during a meeting in 1941: "The Arabs were Germany's natural friends because they had the same enemies as had Germany, namely the English, the Jews, and the Communists." He also thanked Hitler for supporting "the elimination of the Jewish national home."

Later, the Palestinians threw in their lot with the Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein and supported his invasion of Kuwait in 1990. Kuwait was one of many wealthy Arab countries that used to provide the Palestinians with billions of dollars in aid every year. When Kuwait was liberated a year later by the US-led coalition, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were deported from Kuwait and other Gulf countries. When Saddam fired rockets at Israel during the first Gulf War, the Palestinians took to the streets to dance and cheer.

Palestinians also took to the streets to celebrate the 9/11 attacks carried out by al-Qaeda. In the past decade, they have also rejoiced each time Hamas or Hezbollah fired rockets or carried out suicide attacks against Israel. Scenes of Palestinians handing out sweets in the aftermath of suicide bombings and other terror attacks are commonplace on the Palestinian street.

Another sign of Palestinian support for dictators and terrorists emerged in August 2017, when President Mahmoud Abbas sent the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-Un, a telegram congratulating him for "Liberation Day." In his letter, Abbas said the Korean people "sacrificed the most precious sacrifices for its freedom and honor" and expressed his appreciation to the support North Korea has shown the Palestinian people in their fight for freedom."

So, Palestinian history is packed with support for terrorists and despots. The Palestinian Authority ambassador's participation in a rally together with Hafiz Saeed was anything but an "unintentional mistake." In fact, it reflects a long-standing Palestinian tradition of siding with evil and ruthless leaders, regimes, groups and terrorists.

The response from many Indians is encouraging. Something good has come out of the fiasco surrounding the Palestinian ambassador's association with a global terrorist: the Indians now know the depth of Palestinian admiration for, and glorification of, terrorists and their thirst for violence. The Indians also realize now that Israel is their ally in the war on terrorism -- certainly not the Palestinians, who again and again align themselves with those who seek death and destruction.

Tarek Fatah, a Canadian-Indian writer and liberal activist who was born in Karachi, Pakistan, tweeted: "Palestinian Ambassador to Pakistan, Walid Abu Ali, joins wanted jihadi terrorist Hafiz Seed on stage. Was the Palestinian Authority aware that Hafiz Saeed is the man who ordered the 2008 Mumbai attacks? Did the Palestinian Authority authorize this validation of India's enemy No. 1?" (Image source: Tarek Fatah/Wikimedia Commons)

Bassam Tawil is a Muslim based in the Middle East.


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Uncovering vote fraud: Plan B begins - Thomas Lifson

by Thomas Lifson

If those running the progressive left think stonewalling the Election Integrity Commission was smart, they have outsmarted themselves.  They are not going to like Plan B.  Not.  At.  All.

Before progressives start celebrating the dissolution of the Election Integrity Commission, they had better figure out what lies ahead. President Trump announced late yesterday that the Election Integrity Commission, headed by Kansas secretary of state Kris Kobach, will be dissolved.
"Rather than engage in endless legal battles at taxpayer expense, today President Donald J. Trump signed an executive order to dissolve the Commission, and he has asked the Department of Homeland Security to review its initial findings and determine next courses of action," White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement.
The commission, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Kansas [s]ecretary of [s]tate Kris Kobach, had asked all 50 states and the District of Columbia to hand over reams of personal voter data, including voters' names, voting histories[,] and party affiliations.
If the left thinks it's home free, and that this announcement is a victory, it had better remember whom it is dealing with: a man who is accustomed to encountering obstacles and overcoming them – one way or another. Kris Kobach and Donald Trump are in sync.
Kobach characterized the decision to dissolve the bipartisan group as a "tactical change" and argued DHS can pursue an investigation of election fraud more quickly and efficiently.
Kobach expanded on this with Breitbart:
"What's happening is a tactical shift where the mission of the commission is being handed off to Homeland Security without the stonewalling by Democrats," Kobach told Breitbart News.
"I'll be working closely with the White House and DHS to ensure [that] the investigations continue," Kobach continued.
I think the left has outsmarted itself by making alleged "Russian hacking" of the election a national security issue. This opens the door for DHS – armed with far more investigatory power than any commission might exercise – to go full bore at election fraud. President Trump tried it the nice way, only to encounter obstruction. Now it is time for Plan B, and I am pretty sure that Democrats will not like it at all.

And it is not as though there are no problems:
Kobach, who served as vice chairman of the voter fraud commission, blasted organizations like the ACLU and NAACP, along with Democrats in Congress and on the commission who attempted to halt the panel in its tracks.
"They have absolutely no interest in stopping voter fraud," Kobach said. "It's truly extraordinary that one party in our system has made clear that they don't care."
"Some people on the [l]eft were getting uncomfortable about how much we were finding out," Kobach continued.
Thus far, the voter fraud commission has revealed:
  • 938 convictions for voter fraud since the year 2000
  • Fewer than 1 in 100 cases ends in a conviction
  • In Kansas, alone, there are 127 known cases of non-citizen aliens registering to vote
  • In 21 states, there were 8,471 cases of double[-]voting discovered
The commission will now more soundly operate without hold-ups in courts, lawsuits, and political battles, a move that Kobach says Democrats brought onto themselves.
"The investigations will continue now, but they won't be able to stall [it] through litigation," Kobach told Breitbart News.
Those running the progressive left understand the stakes in vote fraud: their power. That is why this move toward energetic investigation under the mantle of national security may be far more fateful than it appears on the surface. Before trying to obstruct President Trump, be careful what you wish for.

Thomas Lifson


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Egypt: State-Run Media vs. President el-Sisi - A. Z. Mohamed

by A. Z. Mohamed

Egypt's state-run press persists in the practice of condemning the United States and Israel -- an attitude that contradicts President el-Sisi's positions and vision for reforming Islam

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi responded to U.S. President Donald Trump's official recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital with cautious pessimism. He warned his ally in the White House not to take measures that would undermine prospects for peace in the Middle East. The delicate balancing act he has been performing, to avoid jeopardizing his relationship with Washington, and at the same time not antagonize the Palestinians and much of the Egyptian public, was probably to be expected.

Not expected was the depth of extremist anti-American and anti-Israel sentiment spread by Egypt's state-run media. Two particularly jarring examples illustrate this disturbing trend.

The first was from television host Ahmed Moussa, on the Sada Elbalad network, who proceeded to denounce the United States as the world's bully, an international thug that supposedly both manages terrorism and manipulates it to justify its policies. He claimed that it was Egypt that led the world against Trump's Jerusalem declaration, and that the U.S. was trying to control Egypt by lodging false accusations of human rights violations and discrimination against Christians. He actually said this in spite of "what have now become regular assaults by Islamic militants on the country's Coptic community."

The second, and even more disturbing, example was a broadcast by Al Nahar TV's Gaber Al-Armouti. First, Al-Armouti celebrated a prayer delivered during the Friday sermon at Cairo's Al-Azhar Grand Mosque, by its imam, Mohammed Zaki: "May Allah doom Trump with defeat." Then he said he wished that the imam had cursed Israel, its prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and all of its people. He subsequently praised the female teenage Palestinian provocateur, Ahed Tamimi, who slapped an Israeli soldier and called him a "moron and son of moron." When her father, during a phone interview with Al-Armouti, said that his daughter's attorney is Israeli and trustworthy, the host ignored the comment, and repeatedly yelled, "Zionist occupation," and "Zionist enemy," referring to Israelis as kelab (the derogatory Arabic word for "dog.")

Al-Armouti also decried that many Egyptians and other Arabs follow the IDF spokesman to the Arab press, Maj. Avichay Adraee, on social media, and share his "vicious" tweets, posts and news items. He then cursed Adraee, and expressed the wish that he be burned "in life and the afterlife." He also denounced all Israeli normalization initiatives as fake, claiming that their goal is to destroy Arabs and their countries; and said that ISIS has clear connections with Israel, which he called the "first, last, worst, and most dangerous enemy" and "son of bitch."

He concluded by stating, "Our enemies are not Qatar or Turkey; ultimately, we will reconcile with them. Only Israel will always be our enemy." He finished off with the prayer: "Allah, our God, kill Netanyahu and destroy his state!"

A few months ago, Israel's ambassador in Cairo, David Govrin, pointed to a shift in the Egyptian media's attitude towards Israel. "[The number of] poisonously critical articles and anti-Semitic cartoons has declined compared to the 1990s," Govrin said, during a lecture at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. This may be true, but it does not explain how it is that the state-run press persists in the practice of condemning the United States and Israel -- an attitude that contradicts el-Sisi's positions and vision for reforming Islam.

This is one of the conflicts that still beleaguer Egyptian society -- or perhaps signs of a growing power struggle. What is urgently needed -- to keep the next generation from being brainwashed by hate-filled, anti-Western propaganda -- is for all the pro-peace voices in the country's media to work together and in conjunction with the el-Sisi government, to report the news and present the facts in an objective and professional way.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

A. Z. Mohamed is a Muslim born and raised in the Middle East.


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Here is what's holding back China's plans for world domination - David Archibald

by David Archibald

Coal is China's main constraint on her ambition to subjugate Asia.

There is no doubt that China wants to subjugate Asia, echoing Japan's role during World War II. For those who think China's economy might overtake the United States economy, and thus make China a more formidable adversary, this article aims to provide detail on China's main constraint in that ambition: that its domestic coal production is near its peak and will then go into long-term decline.

Even if China can keep its energy supply constant with an accelerated expansion of its nuclear power sector, the cost of producing coal from deeper mines will mean that the costs of industrial production will rise due to higher feedstock costs. One of the reasons that China produces the world's cheapest solar panels, for example, is because it has some of the world's cheapest coal-fired power. German solar panel-producers are hobbled by that country's energiewende, which, translated from the German, means the miracle required to replace coal and nuclear power with sunbeams and breezes and still have a functioning economy.

Figure 1: The United States and China: Primary Energy Consumption by fuel in 2016.
To put China's situation in perspective, Figure 1 shows the contributions to total energy supply in China and the United States in 2016 expressed in millions of tonnes of oil equivalent (data from the 2017 BP Statistical Review of World Energy). [Editor's note: One tonne, or metric ton, is equal to about 1.102 U.S. tons.] Coal absolutely dominates China's energy supply. This would be good for China if its coal were going to last a long time. But China is depleting is coal endowment rapidly.

Figure 2: World Coal Production, 1830-2014.
One of the reasons why the U.K. dominated the Industrial Revolution is because it was the major coal-producer on the planet at the time. China now dominates world coal production with half the total.

Figure 3: UK Coal and Oil Production, 1853-2016.
What goes up in fossil fuel production must eventually come down. A classic case of that is the U.K., which provides two fossil fuel production peaks. That country's coal production peaked in 1913 and, over the subsequent century, fell to a little over one hundredth of the peak production rate. 

Figure 4: China's domestic coal supply, 1950-2100.
Figure 4 is taken from a review written by five Chinese academics of physical supply and energy return on investment of fossil fuels in China. The solid blue area is their best estimate of China's future coal production, with the peak year just two years away in 2020. Then, after 2030, production is expected to fall about half as fast as it rose from 2000 to 2012.

The implications of this are profound. According to the theory of resource extraction, the coal that is easiest to mine is mined first, and then, after half of the total resource is mined and consumed, operating costs per tonne start rising as supply falls. The era of the cheap energy that fueled China's economic expansion in the 21st century is almost over. Note the little spike in production on the graph in 1960, which was due to the Great Leap Forward.

Figure 5: China Fuel Consumption, 1965-2030.
China is now the largest oil-importer at eight million barrels per day. Up to one million barrels per day of this has been going into building the country's strategic petroleum reserve. China wants to avoid some of Japan's mistakes in World War II, and thus its strategic petroleum reserve is thought to be close to one billion barrels. This includes a cargo of crude sold from the U.S. Strategic Petroleum Reserve at Bryan Mound that was unloaded at the port of Qingdao in China. Selling down one's strategic reserves ahead of an event that will call upon strategic reserves is unwise. China's domestic oil production peaked in 2015 at four million barrels per day and is now in long-term decline, falling at about 250,000 barrels per day per annum. The forecast has oil consumption flat in line with an economy that is growing at Japanese-type rates. Any increase in demand will increase China's import dependency, though it does have a coal-to-liquids industry that could produce up to a million barrels per day.

China's coal production increased at 8.3% per annum from 2000 to 2012, with economic growth at about the same rate over that period. The production peak is expected to be in 2020, with a moderate initial rate of decline that accelerates to 60 million tonnes per annum from 2028. For electric power production, part of that decline will be made good by China's nuclear power plant build. As the cost of coal rises in China, the economics of nuclear power will improve. But if China wants to have any economic growth from here, it will have to either start importing a lot of coal or accelerate its nuclear plant build.

Either way, the salad days of China's economic growth are over. In fact, the Chinese will have to paddle harder, year after year, to stop economic contraction.

David Archibald is the author of American Gripen: The Solution to the F-35 Nightmare.


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How Iran Became the Dominant Power in the Middle East - Prof. Benjamin Miller

by Prof. Benjamin Miller

Developments over the past few decades, culminating in the American intervention in Iraq and the “Arab Spring,” have resulted in major Iranian achievements irrespective of the nuclear issue.

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 706, January 4, 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Iran has emerged as the big winner of the so-called “Arab Spring.” Russia also benefited greatly – it achieved its aims in Syria by helping to preserve the Assad regime, and in the process, became the key broker of the postwar settlement – but Tehran made major gains not only in Syria but in Iraq, Yemen, and Lebanon as well.

Iran has emerged as the winner of the so-called “Arab Spring,” a state of affairs some lay at the feet of the Obama administration. When the US administration (together with five other powers) signed a nuclear accord with Tehran to curb its nuclear program, it did not insist on a halt to Iran’s assorted aggressions in the Middle East.

But Obama is not entirely to blame for Iran’s success. In each of the four Arab countries in which Tehran has made incursions, its rivals inadvertently played a key role in strengthening the Iranian position through the trans-border Shiite connection.

In other words, interventions by other foreign powers unintentionally strengthened the pro-Iranian Shiite group in each of the countries in question. In some cases (though not all), the outcome was influenced by nationalist opposition to foreign interference. In all four cases, however, the interventions reinforced a regional transnational sectarian connection that is enabling the fulfillment of Iranian aspirations to become the dominant force in the Middle East.

How have the other intervening powers helped Iran win the Middle East game (at least for now)?


In the case of Iraq, another enemy of the Islamic Republic accidentally brought about Iranian dominance in a country that used to be a major rival. In this instance it was the US that played the key role. Following their 2003 occupation of Iraq, the Americans tried to democratize the country. But elections in an ethnically and religiously fragmented state like Iraq mean that the largest ethnic or sectarian group is going to win.

The Shiites are the majority group in a polarized Iraq, and some of their leaders are allies of the Iranian Shiite regime. This trans-border connection has guaranteed significant Iranian influence in Iraq. Thus, the US invasion and democratization project in Iraq brought to power forces allied with its main enemy in the region – even if the alliance with Tehran is not welcomed by all Iraqis, including some Shiites.


The third case of an external intervention that resulted in growing Iranian influence is the Russian involvement in Syria. In this instance, the intervening power is not an enemy of Iran’s – at the moment. It was one for a very long time, however, and the future of the alliance is uncertain.

At any rate, the Russian bombing in 2015 was the decisive factor that ultimately brought about the victory of the Assad regime in the Syrian civil war. This is the case even though Tehran, Hezbollah, and other Iranian-led Shiite militias had been fighting alongside the regime since well before the Russian bombing started.

As in the other cases, the support of Iran and its Shiite allies for the Alawite regime in Damascus is based at least partly on a common sectarian affiliation, as the Alawites are considered an offshoot of Shiite Islam. The Assad regime’s dependence on the Iranian/Shiite militias’ support seems to guarantee that Tehran will remain a major influence in Syria.

While the Russian bombing provided the coup de grĂ¢ce, the Iranians and their allies continue to provide the ground forces necessary to preserve the regime. Israel is worried that the regime’s debt to Iran will translate into a continuous Iranian/Hezbollah military presence in Syria near the border with the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights. Recent Russian statements seem to indicate Moscow’s acceptance of such a military presence. This forward military deployment of Iran and its allies creates the potential for escalation, whether intended or inadvertent.


Finally, there is the case of the war in Yemen, which grinds on at great cost to the civilian population. We can’t be sure about the outcome as the war is still ongoing, but at least one thing is clear: The persistent bombing by the Saudi-led Sunni coalition has failed to remove from power the Shiite-affiliated Houthis, who still control a considerable part of the country. Moreover, the Sunni military campaign against them has reinforced the Houthis’ alliance with Tehran and probably alienated a large proportion of the Yemeni population from the Saudis and their Sunni allies, creating another bastion of Iranian influence in the Arab world.

In this case the stronghold is adjacent to Iran’s number one opponent in the Arab world: Saudi Arabia. Here, too, the situation contains the potential for an escalation in which the Iranian-Saudi cold war turns hot.


The instability and polarization that characterize the Middle East raise doubts about the future of the Iranian rise. Still, developments over the past few decades, culminating in the American intervention in Iraq and the “Arab Spring,” have resulted in major Iranian achievements irrespective of the nuclear issue. The causes of these gains in the four countries discussed here are 1) the sectarian divisions in the region, particularly the trans-border Shiite connection; and 2) the effects of external intervention.

In most cases, those effects – which were based on nationalist/sectarian resentment of the external intervening force – were unintended. In the Syrian instance, however, the outcome reflects the military victory of the intervening force.  In all four cases, Iran is the regional power that has gained the most.

This poses a major challenge to Riyadh and its Sunni allies, as well as to Israel. It largely explains the recent Saudi-Israeli rapprochement, manifested in the recent, unprecedented interview of Israeli Chief of Staff Lt. General Gadi Eisenkot by a Saudi news outlet. In the interview, Eisenkot highlighted the perception of the Iranian threat shared by the two parties and declared Israel’s willingness to share intelligence with Riyadh. Such developments could augur a major realignment in the Middle East with far-reaching implications for both war and peace.

For war, the key implication is the rising likelihood of a confrontation between Israel and Iranian allies in Syria and Lebanon, notably Hezbollah, although mutual deterrence is likely to reduce the probability of actual fighting.

For peace, the emerging Israeli-Saudi/Sunni alliance, based on the “enemy of my enemy is my friend” principle, creates the potential for progress in the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. But in that context, there is a crucial role for the Trump administration, which maintains good relations with both Israel and the Saudis.

This will be a key challenge for the US administration, which thus far has essentially maintained US disengagement from the Middle East. That disengagement is likely to accelerate with the destruction of ISIS in Syria and Iraq. The new developments in Israeli-Sunni relations create a great opportunity for the administration. It might be tempted to take advantage of it to rack up some accomplishments in foreign policy, which have been sparse so far.

BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

Prof. Benjamin Miller is a professor of International Relations at the School of Political Sciences, the University of Haifa.


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What We Get For the Hundreds of Millions We Give to Terrorists - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

Arts, appeasement and AIDS bombs.

“We pay the Palestinians HUNDRED OF MILLIONS OF DOLLARS a year and get no appreciation or respect,” President Trump tweeted. “With the Palestinians no longer willing to talk peace, why should we make any of these massive future payments to them?”

The President of the United States has a very good point. But it’s not as if the Islamic terrorists in the West Bank and Gazan territories of Israel have ever been willing to do more than occasionally talk peace before getting bored and stomping away from the table. And then stabbing a few children to death.

The United States has paid the PLO’s Palestinian Authority billions to occasionally pretend to talk about peace. There isn’t a dollar amount high enough to get the terrorists to actually agree to peace. 

We know two things about the terrorist leader who will succeed Arafat and Abbas. His name will start with an ‘A’ and like Arafat and Abbas, he’ll wait around for the perfect moment in a peace negotiation with a lefty president before, as Arafat did to Clinton and Abbas did to Obama, breaking it all up.

And that’s one of the priceless things that the fake terror statelet of the Palestinian Authority gives us for our hundreds of millions of dollars. Every decade its leader will lead on a lefty and then leave him at the altar. It may cost us another few billion, but somewhere around 2026, President Cory Booker will be certain that he’s finally solved the Palestinian problem only to sit there confused with egg on his face.

Is that worth hundreds of millions of dollars a year? Maybe not. But it’s also a good lesson to lefties that they don’t understand the Muslim world and that no matter how hard they try, they never will.

But that’s not all that we get for our money.

The peace process with the PLO was the original test case for the Arab Spring and the Iran Deal. All three were founded on the same stupid belief that if you give the terrorists almost everything they want, they won’t kill you. Every year that passes shows that no matter what you give them, the terrorists will kill you. Bribing killers doesn’t work. Meeting their demands is impossible because there are always more.

If we had paid more attention to Arafat’s lying smirk, maybe we wouldn’t have fallen for the Arab Spring or the Iran Deal. And that’s another thing that the terrorists give us in exchange for all our hundreds of millions of dollars a year. The Palestinian Authority is a living museum of terrorist treachery. Its peace negotiations are an ongoing demonstration of the folly of appeasing terrorists.

Most small children learn not to put their hands on a hot stove at a very young age. Unfortunately none of them become politicians. And so every time a new president starts thinking about appeasing Islamic terrorists by letting them take over Egypt or develop nuclear weapons, he can test his terrorist appeasement theories in the confines of the smaller sandbox of the West Bank and Gaza. 

Decades of testing have thus far produced no peace and no smarter politicians. After a few hundred years of peace negotiations, there still won’t be any peace. But maybe there will be smarter politicians. 

Of the two impossible things in this scenario, smarter politicians are more plausible than nicer terrorists.

If we can just keep the peace process going for another few centuries, maybe our distant descendants will finally figure out that appeasing terrorists really doesn’t work. Not even if you offer them parts of Jerusalem, freeze settlements and agree to build a giant statue of Mohammed’s flying demon horse.

But that’s not all that we get from the hundreds of millions of dollars that we lavish on terrorist welfare. 

Consider the arts. 

The PLO’s takeover of the territories in ’67 Israel unleashed an unprecedented burst of artistic creativity. There’s hardly a gray concrete wall anywhere in Ramallah that isn’t decorated with murals of a smiling Arafat beaming down on the wretched suckers he spent his life ripping off. And then there are the posters of the suicide bombers, the ritual burnings of American flags and the Jihadist poetry readings.

“Our blood is food for the revolution/Yasser Arafat, for you we shall die” and “Sons of Zion, most evil among creation/barbaric apes and wretched ‎pigs” are examples of the arts that we subsidize. And while those poems may sound pretty horrible, they’re still better than what we get for our money at the NEA.

And then there’s the pioneering technological research being carried out by top PLO scientists.

Before the Car Jihad could be efficiently deployed on the streets of New York, Nice, Barcelona and London, it was field tested by expert Palestinian researchers in Jerusalem. Suicide bombings, airline hijackings and many of the other tools of the modern Islamic terrorist were refined in the PLO lab. 

The hundreds of millions of dollars we spend each year funding the PLO is an investment in new terror tools and techniques. The terrorists of tomorrow are counting on us to fund their research. And every dollar we give the Palestinian Authority is an investment in helping the terrorists kill us in new and interesting ways. The possibilities are as horrifying as they are endless.

Back in ’04, a member of the PLO’s Fatah faction tried to build an AIDS bomb. 

Rami Abdullah, an engineering student, wanted to blow himself up while carrying blood from a donor infected with AIDS. "After a period, it will kill a lot of people," he explained.

Abdullah has already promised that if he gets out, he’ll try to live the dream of building an AIDS bomb.

An AIDS bomb plot by Tanzim, the most violent terror arm of the Palestinian Authority, was planned over Passover back then. But the lab Jihadis never figured out how to make it work. One day though, if we keep funding them, they might figure it out. And then we too can enjoy AIDS bombs in our cities.

And isn’t that worth a mere few hundred million dollars a year?

We could stop funding terrorists. Also we could stop smoking, running full tilt into glass doors and finally pull off that New Year’s resolution to stop drinking antifreeze. Those would all be good ideas. And they would make us safer and happier. So you can expect Washington D.C. to reject them out of hand.

The experts are convinced that if we don’t fund the terrorists, they’ll behave even worse. So far we haven’t actually tested this theory. No one wants to find out what they can come up with that’s worse than an AIDS bomb. 

But if anyone in Washington D.C. can stop doing that stupid thing all the experts insist we need to do, it’s President Trump. And so just maybe this can be the year we stop running into glass doors, drinking antifreeze and funding terrorists. We may lose out on some Arafat murals and AIDS bombs, but the Americans who are regularly killed every year by Palestinian Islamic terrorists will thank him for it.

And if not, we can always look forward to President Elizabeth Warren being humiliated by President Ahmed of the PLO as he walks away from the table despite being offered 99% of Israel and Netanyahu’s first-born son. And then unleashes toddler stone throwers and AIDS suicide bombers across Jerusalem.

Because that’s what we get for our hundreds of millions of dollars. That’s all we’ll ever get from the PLO.

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


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Are Iranians Really Protesting Against Islam? - Raymond Ibrahim

by Raymond Ibrahim

What's behind their social, political, and even economic grievances.

What began on December 28 as local protests against high food prices in the northern city of Mashhad, Iran, has spiraled into mass protests consisting of some hundreds of thousands of Iranians in some two dozen cities, including if not especially Tehran, the seat of government.  So far over 20 people have been killed and many hundreds arrested in what has been widely described as “the most serious internal crisis the country has faced this decade.”

The protests have morphed from mundane topics concerning the economy to more existential topics concerning Islamic leadership. Reportedly hundreds of thousands of protesters have been heard shouting “We don’t want an Islamic Republic,” and calling blessings on Reza Shah, the staunch secularist and political reformer who did much to Westernize Iran, until his son and successor, Muhammad Reza Shah was deposed during the Islamic Revolution of 1979.   According to Mideast media, women—such as Maryam Rajavi—are spearheading the current protests (and symbolically rejecting Islamic impositions by publicly removing their hijabs).    

Even the Iranian regime sees the current unrest as a revolt against Islam.  In his initial remarks after demonstrations first erupted, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei said, “All those who are against the Islamic Republic … have all joined forces in order to create problems for the Islamic Republic and the Islamic Revolution” (note the recurrent and telling adjective “Islamic”).

Even so, “mainstream media” see growing poverty and frustration at the lack of social freedoms as the only reasons behind the current unrest.  Overlooked in their analysis is that, because Islam is not meant to be a “spiritual thing” one does privately, but is rather a complete system of governance, permeating the whole of private and social life, the ongoing protests in Iran, while ostensibly revolving around economic, social, and political issues, are ultimately protests against Islamic teachings concerning economic, social, and political issues, which the Islamic Republic of Iran has been imposing on the populace since coming to power in 1979.
This is evident even in the new rallying cry of the protestors—“Death to the Dictator”—in reference to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei himself.  By its very nature, Islamic law—both Sunni and Shia—calls for dictatorial rule.  So long as the caliph, sultan, or emir governs society according to Sharia, Muslims must obey him—even if he is a despicable and cruel personage.  After examining a number of Islamic rulings from authoritative exegetes, as well as a number of statements attributed to Muslim prophet Muhammad and in the Koran concerning the importance for Muslims to follow Islamic law—which is the only relevant question of when Muslims should and should not seek to overthrow their ruler—Ayman al-Zawahiri writes,

To summarize: It is forbidden to overthrow a tyrant, but it is a duty to overthrow an infidel. If the ruler is despotic, it is unlawful for a Muslim to rally other Muslims in order to condemn him, for if they do so then they become the aggressors and it becomes incumbent for the sultan to fight them (Al Qaeda Reader, p. 122).

As it happens, the social oppression currently being protested against in Iran—from second-class status for women, to bans on all forms of expression critical of Islam, its prophet, and his representative on earth—is mandated by Islamic law, making the protestors “the aggressors.”

But even the economic aspects of the protests are largely by-products of Islamist aspirations.  As Donald Trump tweeted last Friday, the Iranian “people are finally getting wise as to how their money and wealth is being stolen and squandered on terrorism. Looks like they will not take it any longer.” Indeed, the economic suffering of the people has come at a time when the regime has grown rich—not least by Obama giving them over $100 billion as part of a nuclear deal.  The reason for this disparity is that the regime has been and continues to spend much of its wealth in trying to realize its stated Islamic ideals; it prefers supporting Hezbollah (currently Forbes wealthiest terrorist organization) and Hamas (third wealthiest) against the nearest “infidel” enemy, Israel, in the name of and for the greater glory of Islam, rather than feed its people.   

Incidentally, because the right to protest is a given in the West, and thus occurs often, including over trivial and/or absurd matters—as when university students planned a “sh*t-in,” occupying restrooms as a way of demanding more “gender-neutral facilities”—the grave consequences of the current protests in Iran are indicative of just how fed up Iranians are—and the fatal risks they are willing to take—which, unsurprisingly, also trace back to Islam:   

Protesters could also potentially face the death penalty when their cases come to trial, according to the head of Tehran's Revolutionary Court, the AP reported. Iran’s semiofficial Tasnim news agency quoted Mousa Ghazanfarabadi as saying: “Obviously one of their charges can be Moharebeh,” or waging war against God [Allah], which is a death penalty offense in Iran.
Moharebeh is precisely what al-Zawahiri was referring to in the above excerpt: the only legitimate reason to overthrow an Islamic ruler is his failure to govern according to Islam—which Khamenei and his regime can hardly be accused of. Seeking to depose him because he is personally corrupt, despotic, cruel, or spending more money on jihad than food is forbidden, and makes the protestors aggressors against Allah, a crime worthy of punishment, including death.

Raymond Ibrahim is a Shillman Fellow at the David Horowitz Freedom Center, a Judith Friedman Rosen Writing Fellow at the Middle East Forum and a CBN News contributor. He is the author of Crucified Again: Exposing Islam’s New War on Christians (2013) and The Al Qaeda Reader (2007).


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The 2018 Winter Olympics and North Korea - Dr. Alon Levkowitz

by Dr. Alon Levkowitz

Pyongyang is changing its strategy towards Seoul in order to earn credit that it can use to ease sanctions without sacrificing deterrence.

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 707, January 4, 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The good news is that the 2018 Winter Olympics, which will be held in PyeongChang, South Korea, might serve as a venue for confidence-building measures towards negotiations between South and North Korea. The bad news is that North Korea has no intention of giving up its nuclear and missile capabilities. Pyongyang is changing its strategy towards Seoul in order to earn credit that it can use to ease sanctions without sacrificing deterrence. 

On February 9, 2018, the Winter Olympic Games will begin in PyeongChang, South Korea. South Korean President Moon Jae-in has said he hopes Pyongyang will overcome the various political and security issues and join the Games. The Olympics could set the scene for confidence-building measures (CBM) that ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula ahead of restarting negotiations between Pyongyang and Seoul.

The door to the Winter Olympics was left open for Pyongyang, even after it missed the deadline. In a speech at the start of 2018, Kim Jung-un stated that barring unexpected developments, North Korea will indeed send a delegation.

According to analysts, North Korea’s participation in the Games would be part of a “peaceful offensive” strategy that is itself part of a dual strategic policy: on the one hand, to strengthen North Korean deterrence against Washington; and on the other, to promote the “pacific” side of North Korea to gain credit in Seoul and Washington without giving up the nuclear arsenal.

For South Korea, as for any state that wins the right to host the Olympics, the event serves as a venue in which the hosting country can present to the world its economic, technological, sports, and tourist attractions, as well as its cultural achievements. The global media coverage of the Games gives the state an opportunity to project a positive “brand.” Seoul hopes the PyeongChang Games will allow it to present South Korea in its best light – without focusing on the nuclear or missile crisis with North Korea.

One of Seoul’s biggest concerns is that Pyongyang will not abide by the Olympic spirit of peace among nations and might conduct long-range missile (ICBM) or nuclear tests either before or during the Games. If it does so, Pyongyang will seize global attention and embarrass both Washington and Seoul. For the time being, Pyongyang plans to attend the Games because it believes it is in North Korea’s interest to be there, but in the case of Kim Jong-un, anything can change at any moment.

President Moon offered to postpone the upcoming South Korean military exercise with US forces in the region in order to ease tensions on the Peninsula. US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson stated a few times that Washington is willing to come back to the negotiations table with Pyongyang. North Korea did not respond to any of these offers.

Washington and Seoul are extending a hand to Pyongyang, but at the same time, they have begun to prepare the military option, and Washington passed new economic sanctions on North Korea at the UNSC. Moscow and Beijing, which have not supported increasing sanctions in the past, did not veto them this time – but it is by no means assured that they will fully implement them, as they have failed to do so in the past.

If the economic sanctions on North Korea are fully implemented, the economy will be downsized in the long run and Pyongyang will be forced to respond. It will provoke or offer tactical concessions, but has no intention of giving up its nuclear or missile capabilities.

Another deterrent layer is the messaging of President Donald Trump and National Security Advisor General HR McMaster, who have stated that the military option is on the table. The mixed signals sent by the US raise concerns in the region that either Pyongyang or Washington will misunderstand the other and a conflict will erupt unintentionally.

The PyeongChang Winter Olympics could conceivably be the venue for the beginning of incremental change in the Korean Peninsula – but Pyongyang is playing a different ballgame. Its main rival is Washington, not Seoul.

Kim Jung-un hinted in his New Year speech that Pyongyang has reached its final goal of obtaining credible nuclear deterrence versus the US. North Korea will now seek ways to negotiate with Washington on a new agreement that will ease the sanctions by offering tactical concessions without sacrificing its nuclear and missile capabilities. Attending the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics is a way for Pyongyang to begin to pursue this strategy.

Whereas over the past few months, Pyongyang has ignored offers by President Moon, it will be now willing to entertain offers to begin negotiations. Kim understands that in doing so, he can maximize profits without paying much of a price.

BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

Dr. Alon Levkowitz, a research associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies, is an expert on East Asian security, the Korean Peninsula, and Asian international organizations.


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