Saturday, July 28, 2018

Dignity for the Palestinians - Denis MacEoin

by Denis MacEoin

Trapped by allegiance to a thoroughly outdated and discredited system of international law, unwilling to exchange fantasy for realism, the Palestinians have tried everything except for what might actually make them free and prosperous: true peace with Israel.

  • Given that all Palestinian leaderships have called for a Palestinian state that will encompass and obliterate the state of Israel, it is not surprising that they cannot bear to accept any proposal that will give them only one small state (or two small states) in the territory allotted to them by the United Nations in 1947.
  • Re-imposition of Islamic waqf law will not restore Spain, Portugal, Sicily, India, Greece and all the other states of the abandoned caliphal empires to Muslim rule, and it is futile to think that is nothing more than a fantasy.
  • A recent US report revealed that there are, it seems, actually no more than 20,000 Palestinian refugees in the world.
  • In the end, it is so-called pro-Palestinian activists such as Robert Fisk or writers for papers such as The Independent, The Guardian, or the New York Times who do their utmost to persuade the world to favour Palestinian intransigence over offers of upgrading lives and international law.

Anyone who cares for Israel, who aspires to peace, who has a good understanding of the historical, ethical, political, and legal facts that underpin the right of the Jewish people to a state of which they are the indigenous people, will be familiar with the name of Robert Fisk. But not in a good way.

For decades, Fisk has been one of the most unrelenting of Israel's many haters and one of the most uncritical supporters of the rights of the Palestinians and their unending calls and actions aimed at the total destruction of Israel and the expulsion or massacre of the Jewish people living there.[1]

Fisk is a clever man. He took his PhD in 1983 from Trinity College, Dublin, an ancient and respected university. Although his doctorate was in political science on a topic related to Ireland and Britain, he has worked as the Middle East correspondent for the Times (1976-1988) and, since 1989, for the left-wing daily, The Independent.

Over the years, he has reported on many wars in many countries and has written and co-authored many books about them, all of them about their conflicts.[2]

Given his Jack-of-all trades character, it is not surprising that Fisk does not always get his facts straight, and for this he has often been criticized by people with deeper knowledge, as here or here: He is opinionated, often in an extreme way, functioning more as an activist than a reporter. According to UKMediaWatch:
Among other words we could use to describe Robert Fisk, he's clearly a curmudgeon, one who views the West's foreign policy towards the Middle East as a "cynical charade" without ever offering readers any insight into how a more noble, principled stance would take form. Though he's the Independent's Middle East 'analyst', he's more of a professional cynic than a learned student of the region. Moreover, though he feigns neutrality in his scathing attacks on political hypocrisy, his body of work clearly suggests that he sees some targets as more deserving of opprobrium than others.
Over the years, his chief target has been Israel. Wars and terrorism have never really stopped there. For Israel-bashers, there never cease to be opportunities for scathing attacks -- witness the recent condemnations of Israeli defence measures on the Gaza border, some by Fisk himself.

Fisk's obsession with Israel presents a threat to Jews elsewhere, as is well explained here by Britain's Community Security Trust, the country's leading body in charge of Jewish security:
Writing in the Independent, Robert Fisk gives a startling example of anti-Israel obsession, expressed in words that are about Jews, not Israelis. In doing so, he illustrates how far Israel's most trenchant critics will go in order to focus scrutiny and disgust upon it, rather than other targets: in this case, the extremes of Jihadi terrorism. Given the links between anti-Israel agitation and antisemitic attack levels, this rhetorical trend / temptation brings obvious risks for Jews.
Nothing seems to irritate Fisk more than attempts to bring about peace between Israel and the Palestinians, since no matter what is proposed it can never satisfy Palestinian demands. As is well known, since 2017 the United States administration has been working on a peace plan, under the supervision of Jared Kushner. The full details of the plan have not yet been revealed, but it has already come in for criticism. It need hardly be said that any peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians anyone has ever advanced has come in for criticism, not least unremittingly from the Palestinians and their supporters. Given that all Palestinian leaderships have called for a Palestinian state that will encompass and obliterate the state of Israel, it is not surprising that they cannot bear to accept any proposal that will give them only one small state (or two small states) in the territory allotted to them by the United Nations in 1947.

Not surprisingly, Fisk was one of the first to condemn what was already known of the plan, but for all the wrong reasons. He focuses on the offer that the US, assisted by Israel, Saudi Arabia and perhaps others will underwrite a major financial input into the Palestinian economy, thereby easing the lives of millions and enabling the creation of a prosperous Palestinian state. Writing on June 28, Fisk arrogantly claimed that the deal "would strip the [Palestinian] people of all their dignity." His article begins thus:
Is there no humiliation left for the Palestinians? After Oslo, after the "two state solution", after the years of Israeli occupation – of "Area A" and "Area C" to define which kind of occupation the Palestinians must live under – after the vast Jewish colonisation of land thieved from its Arab owners, after the mass killings of Gaza, and Trump's decision that Jerusalem, all of Jerusalem, must be the capital of Israel, are the Palestinians going to be asked to settle for cash and a miserable village? Is there no shame left?
He continues in the same vein for almost three pages.
"How can he [Kushner] humiliate an entire Arab people by suggesting that their freedom, sovereignty, independence, dignity, justice and nationhood are merely 'politicians' talking points'? Is there no end to this insanity?"
Insanity? To help put an end to a conflict of more than 70 years, one that has taken countless lives, including those of Palestinians, to bypass the greedy and intolerant Palestinian leadership by offering the Palestinian people a path to prosperity, peace, and lives they cannot today imagine for themselves? A peaceful resolution that could mean that the religious and nationalist fanatics who have ruled the Palestinian territories for so long may be pushed from illegitimate office and be replaced by a democratic system?

Peace and prosperity, however, evidently mean little to Fisk and his ilk. There is, for him, something much deeper here. It is, essentially, the long-established belief, here endorsed strongly by Fisk, that the Palestinians are victims -- and, not only that, the most important victims of the entire world -- forcibly victimized by Western imperialism. This imperialism, according to him, made the former land of "Palestine" [in reality under the mandate of the British: everyone born there from 1920-1948 -- Jews, Christians and Arabs -- had Palestine stamped on his passport] supposedly a colony, built by the Jewish people after the Second World War, a view that totally disregards more than 3,000 years of both history and archeology. His view is, of course, by now a dogma that has become the basis for what is, for some inexplicable reason, the core campaigning issue for left-wing would-be revolutionaries across the globe, above all in Europe and North America. From that warped perspective, to offer the Palestinians a state (or two states) and to make their lives far better than anything they or their ancestors have ever known is to humiliate them.

There is no room to elaborate fully on what this means here, but some facts and views need to be aired. No one in history has humiliated the Palestinians more than the Palestinian leadership and its many acolytes, or the thousands of Palestinian men, women and youths who have gone out to commit suicide-bombings and a vast range of other attacks on innocent Jewish Israelis. The Israelis have spent more than 70 years fighting for their survival from the wars and terrorist attacks of the Palestinians and several Arab states. Tragically, it has for decades been a source of pride for Palestinians to say they have spent that long trying to destroy a state long yearned-for and established mere years since the Jewish Holocaust, even if that now means the slaughter of another six million and more.

The suicide bombings and other assaults that lead to Palestinian deaths demonstrate a society that values a corrosive status of martyrdom above the lives of children and young people who might have gone on to the true heroism of building a nation, as so many Holocaust survivors did when taming the land of Israel to create the powerhouse that it is today. What possible honour has there ever been for brainwashed youngsters blowing themselves to pieces in cafés or cutting the throats of babies? And why are these willing "martyrs" celebrated as rock stars, football heroes, models to be emulated by children, honorary exemplars of what it means to be Arab or Muslim?

Underlying this prioritization of sacrifice, even of one's own children is an Islamic concept embraced by all Muslim terrorist movements, including Hamas, that "we love death more than you love life". In a recent Friday sermon in Chicago, Dr. Ashraf Musairat denounced adherence to non-Islamic norms, saying it was humiliating to do so and insisting that:
"All this is happening because of our distance from the religion of Allah, and because we love this world more than we love Allah and Islam, because we love our children more than we love making sacrifices for the sake of Allah, and because we love our spouses more than we love making sacrifices for the sake of Allah and Islam."
Is this the sort of humiliation Robert Fisk says is being imposed on Palestinians?
Perhaps Robert Fisk can explain what honour accrued to Palestinians when, after being given one of the most generous peace offers in history, and after having all but guaranteed for himself the highest honour in the eyes of the world, Yasir Arafat walked away from the Camp David negotiations in 2000 and soon after started the second intifada that took so many lives on both sides? As President Bill Clinton later put it: "Arafat's rejection of my proposal after Barak accepted it was an error of historic proportions." Israel has made highly successful peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. Would Fisk say that either the Egyptians or the Jordanians were humiliated by this? Quite the opposite, surely: President Anwar Sadat and King Hussein acquired the status of peacemakers. Anwar Sadat won the Nobel Peace Prize alongside his Israeli counterpart, Menachem Begin. King Hussein was admired for his long-term willingness to meet with Israeli officials on what was a long but dignified road to peace.

Pictured: Egyptian President Anwar Sadat (left) and Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin (right) acknowledge applause during a Joint Session of Congress in which U.S. President Jimmy Carter announced the results of the Camp David Accords, September 18, 1978. (Image source: Warren K. Leffler/Library of Congress)

Israel has made many generous offers of peace and mutual assistance over the years, and has repeatedly offered to give up physical territory for airy promises of peace: by handing back Sinai to the Egyptians in 1979 or fully (and painfully) pulling out of Gaza in 2005. Agreements have been reached and offers made in 1949, 1979, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2000 again (re the Golan Heights), 2008, 2009, 2010, and to the present day.[3]

But the Palestinians -- including the current Palestinian Authority leaders of the Fatah in the West Bank and the intractable Hamas fundamentalist regime in Gaza -- have never let themselves be inspired by the Egyptian and Jordanian examples even to contemplate peace or collaboration to bring the Palestinian people to a better life. Next February, Israel will become the fourth country in the world to land a spacecraft on the moon. Meanwhile, Gazans persist in sending flaming kites -- some bearing swastikas -- across the border, causing severe damage to Israeli farmland and nature reserves. Does that bring honour to Hamas or its subjects? In their own eyes, undoubtedly; but for the rest of the non-Fisk world? Swastikas are not badges of honour, quite the opposite for the vast majority of people. Destroying the environment does not contribute in the smallest measure to making Gaza a better place in which to bring up children.

Palestinians and their supporters in the West often take to the streets chanting "From the River to the Sea, Palestine will be free". The river is the Jordan; the sea, the Mediterranean. The territory in between comprises Gaza, the West Bank (of the Jordan River), and the entire state of Israel. Since the Palestinians have claimed that, although they have no prejudice against Jews, they will not tolerate Jews currently living in settlements on the West Bank (Judaea and Samaria), and that they will never agree to live alongside Israel as a Jewish state, we must ask on earth it will ever be possible to envisage a Palestinian state at all.

At the heart of this dilemma lies a so-far unbridgeable breach between how Palestinians and their supporters and Israelis and their supporters view Israel and its surrounding territories, including the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan. For the Palestinians, all Muslim states, and their Muslim supporters worldwide, the refusal to compromise rests on a basic assumption in Islamic shari'a law -- the principle that any territory, once ruled as an Islamic state, must never be allowed to pass out of Muslim hands. This is because such territory is considered a waqf, a term applied to any property or stretch of land dedicated as a religious trust in perpetuity. The principle behind this is set out clearly in Article 11 of the 1988 Covenant of Hamas:
The Islamic Resistance Movement believes that the land of Palestine is an Islamic Waqf consecrated for future Moslem generations until Judgement Day. It, or any part of it, should not be squandered: it, or any part of it, should not be given up. Neither a single Arab country nor all Arab countries, neither any king or president, nor all the kings and presidents, neither any organization nor all of them, be they Palestinian or Arab, possess the right to do that. Palestine is an Islamic Waqf land consecrated for Moslem generations until Judgement Day. This being so, who could claim to have the right to represent Moslem generations till Judgement Day?
This is the law governing the land of Palestine in the Islamic Sharia (law) and the same goes for any land the Moslems have conquered by force, because during the times of (Islamic) conquests, the Moslems consecrated these lands to Moslem generations till the Day of Judgement.
The meaning of this for Hamas is set out well by Dr. Samantha May of Aberdeen University in this article. It
"proposes that Hamas' understanding of waqf as both God's land in perpetuity and the territorial justification for an independent Palestinian state challenged Western assumptions of national territory and the monopoly of legitimate violence."
However, whether we date the modern international ordering of states, borders, treaties and the apportionment of territories from the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia that ended the Thirty-Years War, or the end of World War I in 1918, or the end of World War II in 1945 and the establishment of the United Nations in the same year, the fact is that international affairs are now deemed to be conducted and negotiated, not on the basis of any one religious law, but through the principles laid down in hundreds of documents, major legislation and international law.

Israel was brought into being on the basis of international law, first as a mandate territory through the League of Nations, then the United Nations in 1947. So was modern Syria. Likewise, Lebanon, Jordan, Iraq, Pakistan, Bangladesh, and many other Muslim and Arab states, as well as states in the Balkans and elsewhere. Tear away the fabric of international law and the treaties, conventions, and resolutions that knit it together, and any one of these could collapse through cross-national conflict. The Palestinian Arabs were offered a state in 1947, along with Israel. If they expect to have a state or states now, they can only do so on that basis. Re-imposition of Islamic waqf law will not restore Spain, Portugal, Sicily, India, Greece and all the other states of the abandoned caliphal empires to Muslim rule, and it is futile to think that is anything more than a fantasy.

Trapped by allegiance to a thoroughly outdated and discredited system of international law, unwilling to exchange fantasy for realism, the Palestinians have tried everything except for what might actually make them free and prosperous: true peace with Israel. As Bassam Tawil puts it:
By insisting on all Palestinian "national rights," including the "right of return," and by refusing to recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people, the Palestinians are in fact signalling that their true goal is to see Israel removed from the Middle East. How do we know that they want to destroy Israel? Abbas says he sees Israel as a "colonialist project that has nothing to do with Judaism."
Fisk makes much of this "right of return": "Right of Return. Forget it," he says in his article. But that is yet another fantasy. The European Court of Human Rights has just ruled that there is no such right (in the legal sense of a human right). Given that the overwhelming majority of people currently identifying themselves as Palestinian "refugees" have never set foot in the territory that became Israel.

A recent US report revealed that there are, it seems, only about 20,000 Palestinian refugees in the world.

Furthermore, it is precisely the insistence that Palestinian refugees from 1948 and generations of their descendants constitute a special category of refugee with their own refugee organization (UNWRA) that has served to perpetuate refugee status and to condemn these "refugees" to live in the humiliating conditions of refugee camps. If anyone has humiliated these people, it has not been Israel (where there are no such camps and Arabs are full and free citizens) but the host countries such as Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Gaza and the West Bank, whose rulers impose restrictions that condemn these "refugees" to endless dependence on international aid, unable to build real lives through their own endeavours.

It is highly unlikely that Jared Kushner or President Trump will achieve what so many great statesmen have floundered at. The Palestinian leaders will resist to the bitter end and the last Palestinian standing. Even with Saudi Arabia's crown prince urging Mahmoud Abbas to work for peace in line with US and Israeli proposals, nothing will satisfy the Palestinian craving for either destroying Israel or abject victimhood.

In the end, it is so-called pro-Palestinian activists such as Robert Fisk or writers for papers such as The Independent, The Guardian, or the New York Times who do their utmost to persuade the world to favour Palestinian intransigence over offers of upgrading lives and international law. And this view itself is promoted by the belief that the West is to blame for just about everything wrong, and that non-Western people must never be asked to take responsibility for their actions or indeed just about anything.
Dr. Denis MacEoin has studied, lectured on, and written extensively about the Middle East for some forty-six years. He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.

[1] For an extensive archive of Palestinian media, religious, and political anti-Israel propaganda, see Palestinian Media Watch here.
[2] Eg: Pity the Nation: Lebanon at War on the civil war; Syria: Descent into the Abyss; The Age of the Warrior; The Arab Spring Then and Now: From Hope to Despair; Robert Fisk on Afghanistan: Osama Bin Laden; Robert Fisk on Israel: the Obama Years; Robert Fisk on Algeria; Robert Fisk on Egypt; The world of Robert Fisk: Volume 1: 1989-1998 from Beirut to Bosnia, Volume 2: 1999-2008 from Kosovo to Baghdad; The Great War for Civilisation: The Conquest of the Middle East; Islamic Extremism: Middle East in Crisis. He has also written articles on the Soviet and international wars in Afghanistan, the Iran-Iraq war, the ongoing Palestinian-Israeli conflicts, the Gulf War, the Kosovo war, the war in Bosnia, and the 2003 invasion of Iraq. These regions speak very different languages – Pashto and Dari/Farsi in Afghanistan, Arabic in very different dialectical forms in Algeria, Lebanon, and Iraq, Albanian and Serbian in Kosovo, Hebrew in Israel, and Persian (Farsi) in Iran. He may have learned some Lebanese Arabic during his years in Beirut, but linguistic limitations have surely restricted the expertise he might have in any one region. Despite this, he has published, not only articles but entire books on more than one area: Lebanon; Syria; Ireland; Northern Ireland; the Arab Spring in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen and Syria; Afghanistan; Algeria and Algeria again; Egypt; the Middle East as a whole; and all the places from which he has reported.
[3] For full details of these offers, see Denis MacEoin, Dear Gary, Why You're Wrong about Israel: A Letter to an Anti-Israel Activist, London, 2012, pp. 38-45.

Dr. Denis MacEoin has studied, lectured on, and written extensively about the Middle East for some forty-six years. He is a Distinguished Senior Fellow at the Gatestone Institute.


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Sketch of Israel's flag becomes Syrian girl's symbol of gratitude - Yoav Zitun

by Yoav Zitun

Syrian children express their gratitude with drawings and one Syrian mother writes to an IDF officer: 'I hope the borders between us will one day be only geographical.'

Last week was one of the busiest weeks since the launch of the IDF's Operation Good Neighbor two years ago, as fierce fighting in the Syrian southwestern city of Deraa precipitated the flight of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees to the Israeli and Jordanian borders.

Last week was one of the busiest weeks since the launch of the IDF's Operation Good Neighbor two years ago, as fierce fighting in the Syrian southwestern city of Deraa precipitated the flight of hundreds of thousands of Syrian refugees to the Israeli and Jordanian borders.
The two phones on the desk of Lt. Col. A, who oversees the operation, almost never cease to ring. On one line he tends to constant requests from Syrian liaison officials for humanitarian aid to citizens who have fled the fighting near Deraa. On the other line, IDF military personnel are regularly keeping him apprised of the situation in the field.

Lt. Col. A, who served in the West Bank, says he didn't encounter such expressions of gratitude—including warm handshakes from Syrians—from the many Palestinians he encountered over the years who received humanitarian assistance from the IDF.
Hung on the walls of his office are pictures of his children. Opposite, is a framed picture of a Star of David that was drawn by a 9-year-old Syrian girl who suffered from severe diabetes and was taken to the Ziv Medical Center in Safed for treatment last year.

When she returned to Israel for a medical inspection, she came across Lt. Col. A. by chance. While they were taking, the girl asked to draw an Israeli flag for him, and she did so with help from her mother, who growing up was fed a daily diet of Israel-hatred.
For the 9 year old, drawing the Star of David proved a difficult task, but she was eventually able to complete the sketch, and add her own huge expression of warmth for the country with a little green heart drawn above, alongside her and the officer's names.
In recent months, quite a few such drawings have been given to IDF soldiers by Syrian children who discovered that their only place of refuge from a brutal regime proved to be a country they had been indoctrinated to loath. The drawings are perhaps the only way these children have to convey their gratitude for the Israeli hand that extended in their hour of need.

Despite the fighting in the ongoing Syrian civil war now being waged in the Syrian side of the Golan Heights, and the expected fall of rebel-held villages adjacent to Israel’s northern frontier into the hands of President Bashar Assad’s forces, the IDF has given no indication of any intention to abort Operation Good Neighbor, which was launched in June 2016 by the 210th Division of the Northern Command.
“There won't be support rallies for Israel by the border, but in another 15 years, a 19-year-old Syrian man who was operated on in Israel will see the two scars from the bullet he was hit by, and he will remember who saved his life, and he will tell his children too,” one officer from the Bashan Brigade, which carries out much of the humanitarian efforts on the border, told Ynet.  
“It took time before we built trust with them. The first delivery of food that we sent them, they burned, because according to their customs, it is forbidden for an individual to accept help with food. So we began with food for babies and from there we sent sacks of flour weighing 25 kilograms to bakeries and that opened the door to other kinds of food,” the officer explained.

White rice sent to Syria as part of Israeli aid (Photo: Yoav Zitun)
White rice sent to Syria as part of Israeli aid (Photo: Yoav Zitun)

“There were also cases when they told us that our bulgur (wheat groats) didn’t taste good, but that was alright,” he quipped. “It testified to the level of trust that had been formed. Now we send—mainly to the people who have fled—food that doesn’t need to be cooked, like cans of beans, corn and hummus.”

Coats sent to Syria as part of Israeli aid (Photo: Yoav Zitun)
Coats sent to Syria as part of Israeli aid (Photo: Yoav Zitun)
“Designing reality, creating influence” is the motto behind Operation Good Neighbor, which appears to be bearing fruit. At the end of last week, dozens of tons of food and medical supplies were sent across the border to the Syrian side of the Golan Heights.
At the same time, four Syrian children and two adults who were seriously wounded in the fighting in Daraa received medical treatment in Israel. As the fighting continues, the IDF is expecting more to come.

 (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
(Photo: Avihu Shapira)

Refugees from Deraa, the city in which the rebellion against Assad began seven years ago, have heard about Israel’s humanitarian efforts long ago, with many of the area's children receiving treatment from the IDF.
Most of the equipment that the IDF sends into Syria is donated by Israeli and foreign aid organizations and is estimated to be worth around NIS 275 million per year. Just the food sent to Syria last year was budgeted at NIS 10 million, at the IDF's expense.

“Since 2013, around 4,000 wounded Syrians have entered Israel. Some 1,300 children and 6,500 adults were treated at the clinic we established with the Americans on the border,” the officer said proudly. “Some 25,000 Syrians have received food and clothes from us, and our help has had an impact on 250,000 Syrians who live on the Syrian side of the Golan Heights."

 (Photo: Avihu Shapira)
(Photo: Avihu Shapira)

“We made it clear that we would not get involved in the war, and that we would continue supporting them with humanitarian aid later on as well. There are a few scenarios we're examining (if Assad regains control of the area), including the continuation of the aid through alternative avenues rather than directly,” the officer explained.
“This area will continue to be dangerous and that's where terrorists come in. That’s why we have an interest in ensuring that life in the Syrian part of the Golan Heights is reasonable.”
Lt. Col. A's bag, which he carries to all of his meetings, contains a letter from a 35-year-old Syrian woman written in Arabic after she was treated in Israel.
“I am grateful to the people of Israel and to the IDF for helping us and giving us medical supplies and food. I hope that the borders between us will one day be purely geographical. Yours, a stranger in my country.”

Yoav Zitun


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The Contradictions of the Russian Interference Claim - Alexander G. Markovsky

by Alexander G. Markovsky

The infamous anti-Trump dossier should be viewed as a political tool taken directly from the centuries-old manual of the Russian statecraft.

Procurator-General of the Soviet Union Roman Rudenko, who presided over a wave of trials and executions during Stalin’s terror, used to say that “the most important thing during an investigation is not to implicate ourselves.”

Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein and special counsel Robert Mueller were obviously unaware of Rudenko’s professional dictum when they indicted 12 Russian intelligence officers. According to the indictment, the Russians had interfered in the 2016 presidential election by hacking Democratic political organizations and releasing troves of stolen files in an effort to aid the Donald Trump campaign. 

The indictment has no law enforcement value; it is strictly political move designed to offer evidence of Russian meddling in the elections and therefore provide more weight to the Mueller investigation based on the questionable anti-Trump dossier.

And yet, it would be absurd and impolitic for Putin to support Trump. The Clintons were in Putin’s pocket, they sold him 20% of American uranium production. In the process, according to the FBI, the Russian officials were engaged in bribery, kickbacks, extortion, and money laundering and “routed” a hundred fifty million dollars to the Clinton Foundation in an attempt to influence the deal. During the same period, Bill Clinton was making obscene fees for speaking engagements in Moscow. The Clintons and Putin had been partners in business or crime, whichever one prefers, during her tenure as Secretary of State. So, why would Putin dump his reliable partner for Trump, whose chances to be elected were close to zero?

On July 2015, the Atlantic wrote, “Donald Trump will not be the 45th president of the United States. Nor the 46th, nor any other number you might name. The chance of his winning nomination and election is exactly zero.”

The Washington Post: “The election is in 15 days. And the electoral map just keeps looking grimmer and grimmer for Donald Trump.” No one expected Donald Trump to win, probably including Donald Trump.

Moreover, Hillary subordinated many of her policies to Russian interests. Contrary to Trump, who was a proponent of energy independence, Hillary was a strong opponent of hydrocarbons; she planned to shut down coal production and curb oil and gas production in this country. Those policies would result in the sharp rise of oil and gas prices, which would greatly benefit Russia.

Hillary was an architect of the “Reset Button Policy” which gave Putin a free ride as regards his international adventures. Trump, on the other hand, was going to substantially increase American military power to maintain its world dominant position. Hence, whether it is economically or geopolitically, Trump was not good news for Putin.

Against this background, the infamous anti-Trump dossier should be viewed as a political tool taken directly from the centuries-old manual of the Russian statecraft.

The Washington Post has confirmed this assertion: “the Fusion GPS dossier relied on senior Russian government officials for much of the dirt it compiled, including a senior Russian Foreign Ministry figure and a former top level intelligence officer still active in the Kremlin.”

Now the Russians who helped the Democrats cook up the anti-Trump phony dossier are accused of hacking DNC computers for the purpose of getting Trump elected. This contradiction should repudiate any accusation of the Russian hacking because those two actions serve mutually exclusive objectives. Putin could not be complicit in opposing and supporting Trump during the same election cycle.

Incidentally, this election hacking is not a new event. Foreigners have been regularly hacking U.S. government computers, stealing confidential information, personal data of government employees and other secret government documents. By virtue of the indictment, Mueller inadvertently exposed a pathetic frailty of the FBI, CIA and the other 16 intelligence agencies going back for decades.

Why it is different this time? This time the hackers have done CNN’s job -- “kept them honest” and exposed rampant corruption within the DNC and the U.S. government.

Mueller’s investigation became an effort to divert attention from the scope of corruption to the hackers. It also provides comfort to the Democrats -- blaming an outside influence as the only politically acceptable alibi for their defeat. Impelled by conviction, Mueller is neglecting logic and defies common sense in order to implement of what the FBI disgraced agents Peter Strzok and Lisa Page called an “insurance policy” against Trump.

We probably will never know who hacked the DNC computers and whether the revelations of the DNC’s offenses affected the outcome of the elections. But what we do know is that the truth is a pillar of our democracy. The truest test of democracy is accepting the truth regardless of its origin. Whoever made the DNC emails public provided a great service to this nation, helping the electorate make an informed decision. This is the truth, which the Democrats cannot accept. 

Alexander G. Markovsky is a senior fellow at the London Center for Policy Research and author of Anatomy of a Bolshevik and Liberal Bolshevism: America Did Not Defeat Communism, She Adopted It.


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Iran’s Saviz “cargo” ship set up Red Sea attack on Saudi tankers - debkaFile

by debkaFile

Iran ratchets up the tension at the Bab al-Mandeb

The attack on two Saudi supertankers on the Red Sea on Wednesday, July 25, was orchestrated by the Iranian Saviz, a weapons-carrying spy ship, DEBKAfile’s intelligence sources report.

Disguised as an Iranian-flagged cargo vessel, the 16,660-ton ship carries containers aboard and below decks filled with advanced surveillance gear for tracking commercial and military shipping on the Red Sea. Western and Middle East naval sources have for some weeks been watching the Saviz in a holding pattern between its home base on the Eritrean Dahlak archipelago and the Bab al-Mandeb Straits of the Red Sea.

Before the first Saudi supertanker Arsan was attacked, Saudi and United Arab Emirates intelligence intercepted signals from the Saviz informing Houthi coastal bases of the Arsen’s projected route opposite Yemen’s Red Sea coast with a timeline for when the tanker would come within range of the Yemeni rebels’ shore-based missiles. Our military sources estimate that the Houthis used Iranian C-801 or C-802 shore-to-ship missiles against both the Saudi super tankers they attacked. Only one achieved a direct hit to the Arsen’s stern almost certainly near the water line, but its warhead only partially detonated, causing a 2-3m hole in the hull. Had it penetrated any deeper and reached the 2 million barrels of oil in ship’s hold, one of the worst environmental disasters ever would have ensued. Several other Houthi missiles exploded in the water.

The day after the attacks, Iran’s Quds force chief Qassem Soleimani gloated: “The Red Sea is not secure with the presence of American troops in the area,”

Although the damage to the Arsen was indeed minimal as the Saudis claimed, they decided not to take any chances and immediately announced the suspension of oil shipping through the Red Sea and Bab al-Mandeb until conditions were secure. Oil prices shot up by one percent on the world markets. An estimated 4.8 million barrels of oil are shipped daily through the Straits of Bab al Mandeb, which is only 20km wide. Any move to block this Red Sea strait would virtually halt oil shipments from the Gulf through Egypt’s Suez Canal to the Mediterranean that are destined for Europe and the Far East.

Since October 2016, there have been eight Iranian-instigated attacks on US, Saudi and UAE warships and tankers sailing through the Red Sea. They were conducted by Houthis, who were trained in weapons and assault tactics by Iranian Revolutionary Guards and Hizballah instructors. They taught the Yemeni insurgents how to use anti-ship missiles, fast explosive boats, speedboats equipped with RPG launchers, drones and sea mines. The Houthi missile strike on a pair of Saudi tankers differed from the preceding attacks in that for the first time, Iranians were directly involved.

The US only reacted once before to this aggression: A Houthi missile base on the Red Sea shore was smashed on the orders of President Barack Obama after striking the USS Mason warship on Oct. 9, 2016.

On Friday, July 27, sources in Washington reported that the Trump administration was weighing possible military action, including expanded intervention in the Yemen war, to keep the Red Sea oil shipping route open against Iranian threats to the waterway. Administration officials denied these reports saying that any military action would be taken by US regional allies such as Saudi Arabia, and not American troops. The Iranian naval spy ship Saviz has therefore got away with threatening a key international oil route, while Tehran has proved willing to perpetrate an unimaginable environmental calamity.



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Towards an Arab NATO? - Irina Tsukerman

by Irina Tsukerman

Despite the complications, new developments show that over the long run there is a likelihood of a strategic response to -- Iran-related problems -- upgrading the scattered and divided Arab Coalition into a formal and organized infrastructure similar to NATO.

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 907, July 27, 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The Arab Coalition in Yemen is facing three internal challenges: differences between Abu Dhabi and Riyadh, Qatari meddling, and recent tensions between Saudi Arabia and Morocco. Despite these complications, new developments show that over the long run there is a likelihood of a strategic response to the stalemate in Yemen and to other Iran-related problems in the form of an upgrading of the scattered and divided Arab Coalition into a formal and organized infrastructure similar to NATO.

The Arab Coalition, which consists of Yemeni government forces, Saudi Arabia, UAE, Morocco, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Sudan, Jordan, and Academi (formerly Blackwater) mercenaries, is on the verge of a potentially decisive battle to liberate the port city of Hodeida from Houthi control. The offensive, dubbed “Golden Victory,” had been temporarily paused to allow the UN to negotiate a political resolution to the stalemate, including a Houthi withdrawal from the city. This resolution would avoid mass civilian casualties while clearing a path for the Coalition, backed by American, British, and French intelligence and logistical support, to secure the airport, which had served as the main entry point for humanitarian aid into the country as well as for Iranian missiles and other advanced weaponry. Having refocused on gaining ground on the outskirts of Hodeida and other parts of the country, the forces are bracing for what could be a long and grueling task ahead.

The war in Yemen has dragged on for three years. The Saudi-led coalition has faced numerous obstacles: untrained ground forcesrough terrain that has challenged the effectiveness of their air campaign, flawed or fluid intelligence provided by Western allies, a merciless enemy that has recruited child soldierstortured prisoners, and used civilian targets and entire towns as hostages and human shields, an influx of sophisticated weaponry and training from Iran and Hezbollah (as even the UN now admits),  as well as assorted terrorist organizations seeking to destabilize the situation. Communicating this complicated set of facts to Western states used to quick, decisive victories, while at the same time countering Iran-backed propaganda machinery and resolving internal disputes, has also been challenging.

Tensions have beset the Coalition, complicating its ability to stay focused on the mission. First, the UAE forces, which are better trained, have backed a separatist group opposed to the Saudi-backed Hadi government. The UAE’s mission and interests lean more towards combating Islamists than towards countering Iranian influence, whereas Saudi Arabia views Tehran’s support for the Houthis – who have repeatedly fired in Riyadh’s direction and whose missiles on occasion have reached it – as an existential threat.

Second, Qatar, which used to be part of the coalition, was asked to leave in 2017 following the imposition of the blockade by the Anti-Terrorism Quartet (Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, and Bahrain). Qatar’s departure split the Hadi government, some members of whom sympathized with Doha while others backed Riyadh. While many public reasons were given for the air, naval, and land blockade against Doha, which has proved largely ineffectual after a year, there has not been much discussion of the likely military reasons for kicking Qatar out of the Coalition, despite the costs.  In addition to accusations of Doha’s support for Iran, there may be evidence that Qatar was clandestinely aiding the enemy. Recently, a Qatari national was captured sneaking out of Yemen; he allegedly was an intelligence officer assisting the Houthis.

Third, recent tensions between Morocco and Saudi Arabia threaten to destabilize the Coalition, as some voices in Morocco are urging Rabat to withdraw all forces from Yemen.  The reason for the spat, which has the potential for dramatic and undesirable consequences, is multifold. According to some experts, Morocco and Saudi Arabia are competing as beacons of moderate Islam, which ultimately means competing foreign policies and lack of cohesion in coordinating commitments. That explanation, however, is inaccurate, as Morocco has sought to steer clear of regional rivalries and conflicts by developing its identity as an African, rather than a Middle Eastern, state. If that is indeed the reasoning, a friendly competition could push both countries to develop strong educational and cultural institutions that would benefit both regions.

If taken too far, however, this would be both futile and damaging as the countries share important goals and interests. Each could be a leader in their respective regions, working closely together on resolving common concerns and complementing each other’s strengths. Nevertheless, it is impossible to deny that Morocco has pursued an independent foreign policy, including refusing to participate in the blockade of Qatar, and indeed maintaining a growing trade relationship with that country.

This has irked Saudi officials, including the head of the General Sports Authority, Turki al-Sheikh, who attempted to strong-arm Morocco into following Riyadh’s lead through public comments as well as through Saudi Arabia’s support for the North American joint World Cup 2026 bid, in opposition to Morocco’s bid.

The proximate cause of the cooling in relations came out of that chain of events. Al- Sheikh, unhappy about Rabat’s continuing relationship with Doha and the supposed insufficiency of Moroccan forces in Yemen, put a great deal of energy into underscoring those grievances and supporting Donald Trump’s odd interest in the World Cup by hosting parties for EU, Middle Eastern, and FIFA officials and lobbying countries that would otherwise have sided with Morocco but ended up voting for the US instead.

As a result of these developments, Rabat, which considered these moves to be acts of betrayal, found itself too busy to participate in the Saudi-led emergency session on Yemen that took place on June 23. These developments could be damaging to the fragile balance of powers in Yemen. Iran is sure to delight in such public disagreements and to perceive the growing distrust as a sign the coalition is weakening, in Yemen and elsewhere. Likewise, these disagreements detract from battlefield cohesion. The Coalition faces the daunting tasks of demining the booby-trapped environs of Hodeida and having to fight through the streets, where Houthis have positioned themselves to maximize the damage they can inflict on incoming forces and civilians. (The alternative, attacking by water, is unlikely given that Iran sent a flotilla to the Gulf of Aden.)

Additional obstacles are mounting. The recent elimination of eight Hezbollah fighters by the Coalition confirmed the group’s direct involvement in Yemen. Elite and well-trained, Hezbollah in Yemen is tasked with transforming the Houthis into a medium-sized army capable of sophisticated operations around the world, with the Houthis quickly gaining in weapons and skills what they lack in experience. The Coalition, meanwhile, is accused of not having a coherent strategy towards retaking the city, much less securing the port to prevent future infiltration.

Because of the sophisticated nature of the enemy, the Coalition cannot afford the luxury of superficial spats over tangential matters. In every challenge, though, there is an opportunity.

Hezbollah’s growing presence in Yemen may compel US forces and the CIA to increase counterterrorism involvement and unite the fractious Coalition members around the common threat. US involvement has been limited so far to gathering intelligence, deploying Green Berets (who help identify missiles the Houthis are using against Coalition forces and Yemeni and Saudi civilians), and countering al-Qaeda and ISIS. Ironically, the relatively minor American support to the Coalition has resulted in its sometimes acting at cross purposes with Riyadh (and increasingly distancing itself from major operations, such as “Golden Victory”). The kingdom has allegedly tried to coopt some of the local groups, including al-Qaeda, as a bulwark against the Houthis.

There is no public support for increasing the American troop commitment for what is widely viewed as a proxy war against Iran (though it is no longer proxy, as both Iranians and Saudis are on the ground). Indeed, existing US involvement has been controversial in Congress, with several failed resolutions pushing for withdrawal. Moreover, increasing the US military presence to fight the Houthis directly might be considered an act of war, which could require Congressional authorization beyond the current AUMF.

However, expanding the scope of counterterrorism operations against non-state actors would not pose such challenges. Fighting Hezbollah has become a Trump administration priority, particularly as recent revelations have demonstrated its extensive presence in Latin America, collaboration with drug cartels, and infiltration into the US. Hezbollah likewise is playing a damaging role in Syria, alongside Iranian forces, Iraqi and Syrian militias, and Assad’s army.  Bahrain is not immune to infiltration, and Hezbollah has managed to utilize the Lebanese Air Force, which the Pentagon arms, to put sophisticated weapons in the service of its agenda.

Hezbollah, with the help of Iranian diplomats, in what appears to be part of a pervasive pattern of financing its operations through criminal and terrorist activities, is arming the North African separatist group Polisario, which threatens Morocco’s territorial integrity and sells illicit arms to other unstable countries. And most recently, a Vienna-based Iranian diplomat, now stripped of his diplomatic immunity, was caught in Germany for, along with cohorts in Belgium and France, plotting a terrorist attack against an Iranian opposition rally in Paris. That Hezbollah is likely involved in this plot should come as no surprise, as it has been associated with other terrorist attacks all over the world. Hezbollah and associated Iran-backed proxies have become a truly global problem that threatens the security and stability of all the allies, Western and Arab.

Until now, however, the response of the Arab Coalition has been subdued and limited, with little action beyond designating Hezbollah as an international terrorist group. In Lebanon, Hezbollah – perhaps reinvigorated by the failed coup against Hariri – has been working hard to split the Saudi and UAE-backed Sunni bloc. Furthermore, Hezbollah has become more successful at recruiting disaffected Shiites in Lebanon by taking advantage of the proliferation of drugs and lack of development, particularly in tribal areas.

There is an opportunity here for the Arab Coalition to counter this influence by infusing development aid directly into these areas and combating drug trafficking through specific, targeted means. There is also room to exploit existing divisions. This fertile area (Beka), filled with violent tribes, has been misled and deceived by Hezbollah, which has recruited foot soldiers from there while stacking the officer ranks from bigger, more central cities. And despite Hassan Nasrallah’s words of solidarity towards the Houthis, he is hiding in his bunker rather than leading the troops to battle. That is a major weakness that the Coalition can counter to demoralize the enemy through effective joint information warfare.

Tehran’s strategy of seeking to build naval bases and gain control of strategic waterways all over the world – the Strait of Hormuz, the Bab al-Mandeb, the Horn of Africa – endangers the interests of the international community far beyond the Arab Coalition. Iran relies on strong, flexible, and resilient non-state proxy groups like Hezbollah to clear the way and secure these victories. Until now, the Arab Coalition and the West have been playing whack-a-mole with terrorists, occasionally freezing accounts, arresting key figures, or blowing up bases. However, with the clear strategic vision of Hezbollah’s expanse across many continents and countries, the Arab Coalition together with the US and its allies can join forces to combat this encroaching threat. In so doing, they can deal a mortal blow to the Islamic Republic itself, severing the source of financing to its remaining proxies.

Rather than being distracted by differences and short-term, parochial goals that alienate Coalition members at the cost of its strategic interests and global security, the partners should work to create the NATO of the Arab World. The Arab NATO would be a military and security alliance dedicated to defense and insulated from economic, diplomatic, or political disputes. Such a system would also survive rival personalities and leadership changes. The US can play a vital role in the training, strengthening, and support of the nascent Arab NATO, which should also cultivate willing and capable partners against common enemies. Hezbollah’s role in conflicts that threaten everyone concerned would be a great place to start.

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

Irina Tsukerman is a human rights and national security attorney based in New York. She has written extensively on geopolitics and US foreign policy for a variety of American, Israeli, and other international publications.


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Remembrance of Russia’s Past Meddling - Lloyd Billingsley

by Lloyd Billingsley

Ignoring real Russian interventions, manufacturing fake Russian collusion.

Way back in 1919, the Russians established the Communist International, the Comintern, to control the foreign political parties they funded. As insiders explained, the Party was like the Brooklyn Bridge, “suspended by cables.” By 1924 the Russian Communists were intervening in American elections by running their own candidates. 

Ben Gitlow, their candidate for vice-president in 1924 and 1928, wrote of the quest to place the world “country by country,” under the sway of the government in Moscow. William Z. Foster author of Toward Soviet America, was the Communist candidate for president in 1924, 1928, and 1932. None of these election efforts prompted a special investigation by the federal government, which had not yet recognized Communist Russia.

In 1932, Stalin deployed the world’s first man-made famine to killed millions of Ukrainians. Walter Duranty of the New York Times wrote that no such famine took place and that fake news helped the USSR gain official U.S. recognition in 1933. That opened up other possibilities for intervention.
The curiosity is not that there were undoubtedly many Reds that made government their vocation, but that the entire Communist Party was not on the federal payroll.” That was the view of Robert Vaughn, in his PhD thesis on showbusiness blacklisting. Key players included Stalinist agents Alger Hiss in the State Department and Harry Dexter White in Treasury. 

Earl Browder was the Russians’ choice for president in 1936 and 1940, and that year the Party backed the Stalin-Hitler Pact, defended the Nazi and Soviet invasion of Poland, and strove to block U.S. aid to embattled Britain. Still, the federal government launched no official investigation of Russian meddling. 

In 1948 the Russian Communists backed Henry Wallace of the Progressive Party. Wallace lost to Harry Truman, who defeated Republican Thomas Dewey. Despite the Cold War escalation of the time, the U.S. federal government mounted no official investigation of the 1948 election. In 1952, the Russian Communists backed Progressive Party candidate Vincent Hallinan for president.

In 1968 the Russians returned to Communist Party candidate Charlene Mitchell, an African American who since 1946 backed the all-white, all-male dictatorship of the Soviet Union. In 1968 Mitchell touted a “revolutionary transformation of this society.” The poor people and black people, she said “must have the right to defend themselves, and that means with arms if necessary.” That call to violence, and open support for a foreign dictatorship, prompted no federal investigation.

In 1972 the Russian Communists backed old-line Stalinist Gus Hall for President of the United States. Hall was also the Russians’ candidate in 1976, 20 years after Khrushchev revealed Stalin’s massive atrocities and long after Russian invasions of Hungary and Czechoslovakia, still under Russian control. With that record, and the campaign against dissidents such as Yuri Glazov at its height, it took a special kind of person to vote for Communist candidate Gus Hall. College student John Brennan was up to the task.

In 1979 African American Communist Angela Davis won the Lenin Peace Prize and the following year she ran for vice president on the ticket with Gus Hall. The same pair ran again in 1984, at a time when the Russians were on the march in Africa, Central America and Afghanistan. Even so, the federal government did not empower any special counsel to investigate Russian election meddling. After 1988, one Marxist site notes, “voters urged to support the Democratic Party.”

Democrat candidates were for the most part liberals until 2008. The former Barry Soetoro’s beloved “Frank” from Dreams from My Father was the Communist Frank Marshall Davis, a faithful agent of Russia’s all-white Communist dictatorship. So it made sense that early in his first term POTUS 44 canceled the European missile defense that so troubled Russia.

In 2012 POTUS 44 told Russian president Dimitry Medvedev that he would have “more flexibility” on the missile shield after the election. That open example of collusion prompted no investigation and no special counsel. That only happened after upstart Donald Trump defeated Democrat Hillary Clinton in 2016.

America’s own intelligence and law-enforcement agencies tasked FBI counterintelligence boss Peter Strzok to launch a “MidYear Exam” operation to clear Hillary Clinton from criminal charges. Then the deep-state axis shifted to “Crossfire Hurricane,” the Russia collusion investigation designed to discredit Trump and drive him from office.

After the president’s summit with Putin last week, John Brennan tweeted, “Donald Trump's press conference performance in Helsinki rises to & exceeds the threshold of 'high crimes & misdemeanors.’ It was nothing short of treasonous.” Sen. Steny Hoyer agreed and Democrat Steve Cohen, who wanted a Purple Heart for Peter Strzok, was calling for a military coup.  

This is what happens when the nation allows a Gus Hall voter to become head of the CIA.  This is what happens when the nation neglects actual Russian spying and instead manufactures fake collusion. This is what happens when a president deploys the deep state to install his designated successor, all part of the fundamental transformation of America the Democrats’ candidate spoke of in 2008.

Despite revelations from Strzok and Page, that conflict rages on. As the president says, we’ll see what happens.

Lloyd Billingsley is the author of the new crime book, Lethal Injections: Elizabeth Tracy Mae Wettlaufer, Canada’s Serial Killer Nurse, and the recently updated Barack ‘em Up: A Literary Investigation.


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