Saturday, August 3, 2019

How Iran is Taking Over Syria - Rachel Avraham

by Rachel Avraham

And what Trump needs to do about it.

A recent survey put out by Fox News found that six in ten Americans believe that Iran poses a threat to America’s safety. These Americans are backed up in their convictions as they recently witnessed the Iranian Revolutionary Guards threatening a British warship. This came after Iran attacked a Japanese tanker, had its proxies attack an international airport in Saudi Arabia and seized a British ship.  As tensions flare in the region, it is of critical importance to recall that Iran does not merely pose a threat to the US in the Persian Gulf. The Mullahs can also harm America via their proxies in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen. Given this fact, it is of utmost importance that Americans pay attention to how the Islamic Republic is entrenching itself in Syria.

A recent report issued by the Safadi Center found that:
there has been increased infiltration by Iran-supported militias along the border with Israel. Four Lebanese Hezbollah bases were established in Southern Syria over the past year, three of them in Zara and one of them in Quneitra. 
The report claims that Hezbollah utilizes these bases in order to train new volunteers and to store weapons and armaments for the terror group. According to the Safadi Center, Hezbollah and the Iranian regime are increasingly spreading out along the Golan Heights, thus posing a strategic threat to the State of Israel:
This is done in order to realize the regional ambitions of the Iranian regime, which seeks to establish a Shia Crescent from Tehran to the Mediterranean Sea.
“Hezbollah is not satisfied with providing training bases for the regime and its volunteers,” Mendi Safadi, the head of the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights, states. He continues:
They also established militant groups and security cells in Daraa and Quneitra in order to obtain wide deployment in the region via families that support recruiting children.  This is done so that they can obtain comprehensive military control over the border in the Hermon region till Swaida via the Golan Heights and the Jordanian border. Hezbollah has recruited in recent months hundreds of residents of the Quneitra region.  In addition, other secret groups have done special training on rockets in the military academy in Aleppo and Lebanon, where participants received from Hezbollah a monthly salary of 120,000 Syrian liras in addition to military uniforms for combat missions so that they can fight alongside the Syrian military.
The report issued by the Safadi Center has been confirmed by Syrian Kurdish dissident Sherkoh Abbas, who affirms that Iran and Hezbollah not only are more and more entrenched along the border with Israel but are increasingly taking over all of Syria. He states,
Iran is in charge of Syria. Assad is a figurehead for Syria but the people who run the day to day operations in Syria are Iran. They have bases throughout the country. We see their influence in all of Syria in general. In fact, they have been working on changing the character of Syria so that it will be Shia and the demographics are changing in favor of groups allied with Iran. They are shipping in oil tankers, weapons and people. It is a fact.
“It is beyond the Israel border,” Abbas adds, stressing that: 
Iran started not just now. They supported groups and are building up their influence slowly in Syria, economic to military. Now, they fully control Syrian day to day life. It is not so easy to detect anymore. They gave citizenship to people, changed neighborhoods and they let people economically rely on them. People began to rely on them. It is not easy to detect like an army. They look Syrian. They dress like Syrians. They learned to speak Syrian Arabic. They embedded themselves in Syrian society. What Iran is doing is more a threat to Syria and the whole Middle East for they are embedded in Syria.
Abbas proclaims that eventually all of the ethnic and religious cleansing that is occurring in Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen will be a nightmare for the world to manage for a number of reasons:
This is firstly because of the refugee displacement and also the changing the landscape of the Middle East. Where are you going to strike? They are embedded in schools and hospitals. It is important for the US and Israel to realize that they need to address the Syrian issue. Any political solution is in favor of Iran. The Iranians view Syria as a way to bypass sanctions and use its ports, airports and seaports and energy sources to make it a market or to bring it from there to Iran. This is the only way to bypass the international community. Unfortunately, the US, Israelis and Europeans have not recognized it. They can put sanctions on Iran but Syria, Lebanon, Yemen and Iraq serve its needs.
Abbas also notes that as Iran extends its sphere of influence, it puts pressure on groups that are traditionally friendly to the US, such as the Christians, Kurds, Yezidis, etc. He also declares that this creates more disgruntled Sunnis, which can lead to the reemergence of ISIS or something worse:

They will make ISIS look moderate. The sooner the US and Europeans address the issue and recognize Syria as a failed state and try to have Iran’s influence reduced as well as Russia’s, there will be a better Middle East for them with less radical Islam and a smaller refugee crisis. It will allow certain sectors of Syria to prosper. That has the potential to make the Middle East safer versus burying ones head in the sand.  Now is the time to recognize these failed states as such and to support your true allies in these areas and to make sure other people don’t go the same way as Assad by finding a way to let them rebuild. That is something that needs to be addressed.    
Given that this is the reality, US President Donald Trump should not just apply more sanctions on Iran. He also needs to address how Iran is taking over Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Yemen, where it is establishing a Shia Crescent. He needs to tackle how Turkey is increasingly building an alliance with Iran.  This reality makes it pivotal for the US to keep a presence in Syria, especially as Turkey threatens to engage in a military operation if it can't come to an agreement with the US. Such a military operation combined with the Iranian threat in the rest of Syria would transform the entire Kurdish region into another Afrin, where ISIS is presently reemerging. The only way to avoid such a scenario is for the US to go after Iran’s proxies in the same manner that they go after the Iran regime itself - and to not abandon Syria to Iran.   

Rachel Avraham is a political analyst working at the Safadi Center for International Diplomacy, Research, Public Relations and Human Rights.  She is the author of “Women and Jihad: Debating Palestinian Female Suicide Bombings in the American, Israeli and Arab media.”  


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Is a Hamas-Allied Hate Group Influencing the 2020 Dem Primaries? - Daniel Greenfield

by Daniel Greenfield

The foreign election interference the Democrats don’t want to talk about.

After disrupting a Holocaust Remembrance Day event at U.C. Berkeley, Hatem Bazian told supporters to look at all the Jewish names on the buildings, "take a look at the type of names on the building around campus -- Haas, Zellerbach -- and decide who controls this university."

In 2017, Bazian, the founder of hate groups such as Students for Justice in Palestine and American Muslims for Palestine, retweeted anti-Semitic memes from a Holocaust denial Twitter account.

After the backlash, the Islamist hate group leader claimed that he had Jewish friends.

Next year, Bazian’s Jewish friends came out of the closet when he boasted through a megaphone outside Senator Kamala Harris’ office, while protesting in support of Hamas attacks on Israel, that, “AMP and IfNotNow are coming together.”

AMP was Bazian’s own hate group, whose board members had been accused of supporting Hamas. The organization has been sued by the parents of David Boim, an American teen murdered by Hamas.

IfNotNow is an anti-Israel hate group notorious for targeting Jewish charities and organizations. A member of the hate group had just recited a mock Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, for what the two hate groups falsely claimed was a massacre of civilian protesters in Gaza. In fact, Hamas had admitted that 50 of the 62 killed in the attacks on Israel were members of the terrorist organization.

Officially, If Not Now claims to be a Jewish protest movement against the “occupation”. In July, Max Berger, its radical co-founder, faced his own backlash over a tweet declaring that he, “would totally be friends with Hamas”. Berger had praised the violent Hamas riots and claimed that, “the biggest obstacle to peace in Israel-Palestine is the bigotry of American Jews.” The most politically prominent member of IfNotNow was New York State Senator Julia Salazar, the leader of a Christian campus organization, born into a Catholic family, who joined the anti-Israel hate group while falsely claiming to be Jewish.

Whether IfNotNow’s members are Jewish, there is no doubt that they make a point of targeting Jews. That’s what IfNotNow really has in common with Hatem Bazian and members of the AMP hate group.

Neveen Ayesh, the executive director of AMP-Missouri, had tweeted anti-Semitic hate such as, “#crimesworthyoftherope being a Jew", " “I hate Jews... I hate Israelis", and “I just want to spit in their faces. All of them any Jew Israeli."

As documented by Canary Mission, IfNotNow activist Hal Rose had been interviewed by Ayesh in an anti-Israel conference. Despite her collaboration with an anti-Semitic activist who had called for the murder of Jews, Rose has claimed that ICE’s attempts to detain illegal aliens are just like the Holocaust. She also defended Rep. Omar’s anti-Semitism by arguing that AIPAC’s actions “often fall into antisemitic stereotypes.”

In 2017, IfNotNow had invited Taher Herzallah of AMP to train its members on Islamophobia. Herzallah had posted that "Hamas rockets are an oppressed people's cry for help" and celebrated photos of wounded Israeli soldiers as a "beautiful site". He had even defended a California Imam’s call for killing Jews by contending that, “The Jewish community in America overwhelmingly supports Israel.”

Next year, also as documented by Canary Mission, Herzallah was back teaching IfNotNow activists about “Palestinian non-violent resistance and how our community can take action to oppose the Israeli Military's recent actions.”

At an AMP conference a few years earlier, Herzallah had asked, “What if, as Muslims we wanted to establish an Islamic state? Is that wrong? What if, as Muslims, we wanted to use violent means to resist occupation? Is that wrong?"

The partnership between AMP and If Not Now applies Hatem Bazian’s campus politics to the political process. Like Students for Justice in Palestine, a campus hate group that uses its handful of Jewish members as political shields against accusations of anti-Semitism, IfNotNow’s presence whitewashes a violently genocidal cause. And IfNotNow can go where AMP, with its history of Hamas ties, can’t.

IfNotNow co-founder Max Berger works for Senator Elizabeth Warren. IfNotNow members have been able to pose with Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders, and win their support for their hateful cause. The hate group was also able to corral Biden, Buttigieg and Booker. Though with little to show for it. But despite an outcry from the Jewish community, the Warren campaign failed to dump Berger.

IfNotNow has hired six activists to operate in New Hampshire in order to influence the 2020 election. And that’s why Canary Mission’s campaign to bring attention to its alliance with AMP is so critical.

Canary Mission, a Jewish civil rights organization exposing anti-Semitic leftist hate groups online, has launched a campaign to call attention to IfNotNow’s ties with the Hamas supporters and anti-Semitic racists of American Muslims for Palestine. Its report names 25 AMP figures who have spread anti-Semitic hate and 58 IfNotNow members who have worked with AMP.

The issue is especially urgent since IfNotNow has made it clear that it is seeking to influence the 2020 Democrat primaries and its partner, AMP, has been accused of links to a foreign terrorist organization.

Three years ago, Jonathan Schanzer, a former terror finance analyst for the Treasury Department, and a senior vice president for research at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, testified in Congress that organizations funding Hamas had gravitated to American Muslims for Palestine.

The groups in question include the Islamic Association for Palestine, which had been set up by the Muslim Brotherhood.

Hamas is also an affiliate of the Muslim Brotherhood.

He noted that, "AMP is a not-for-profit corporation, but not a federal, 501c3, tax-exempt organization. Therefore, AMP does not have to file an IRS 990 form that would make its finances more transparent."

That makes it hard to know where AMP’s funding is really coming from.

The Muslim Brotherhood is an international terrorist organization whose past members have included Osama bin Laden, along with other key Al Qaeda figures. Its political activists have a history of building networks in order to influence foreign governments and manipulate political elections.

IfNotNow is partnered with a group linked to hostile foreign political interests, and is attempting to influence the upcoming presidential election. And the same Democrats who are still warning about Russian election interference show no interest when they’re the ones being influenced.

Senator Elizabeth Warren has announced a new election security plan, but is still employing Max Berger. Warren’s failure to cut ties with Berger and his IfNotNow hate group raises questions of collusion.

In 2008, a report showing Gazans running a phone bank for Obama failed to lead to any action. If a Hamas ally is once again interfering in a presidential election, it must be meaningfully addressed.

There can be no place for supporters of a foreign terrorist group in the 2020 election.

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


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New Evidence Unveils Disturbing Facts About Hillary's Email Scandal - Deborah Weiss

by Deborah Weiss

FBI is implicated in destroying evidence to benefit Clinton.

In breaking news, the American Center for Law and Justice or ACLJ (Jay Sekulow's organization, not related to his role as the President's attorney), has obtained actual copies of the immunity agreements pertaining to Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson in the Hillary email scandal. This was a stunning litigation win, hard-fought after years of litigation by the ACLJ attorneys, who were unable to extract the documents through the normal FOIA processes, due to a lack of cooperation by the government.  

In reviewing what the agreements uncovered, keep in mind that Cheryl Mills was Secretary Clinton's Chief of Staff at the State Department and then bizarrely, she subsequently served as Clinton’s attorney, representing her in the email scandal.  Heather Samuelson worked on Hillary Clinton's 2008 campaign, and then became a Senior Advisor to her at the State Department, as well as the White House liaison. Somehow, she also became one of Clinton's personal attorneys during the email scandal.

The immunity agreements issued by the government were crafted so that the agencies could extract information from the parties, despite the fact that this is not necessary because DOJ has the power to require that the information be turned over.  Clinton kept classified emails on a private server in violation of Federal law, and the immunity agreements reveal that both Cheryl Mills and Heather Samuelson were actively involved in the cover-up of these emails as well as in the destruction of evidence. According to Jordon Sekulow, Executive Director of the ACLJ, it is extremely unusual for someone involved in a criminal cover up, who needs an immunity deal to ensure the evasion of jail time, later becomes the attorney representing the other potential criminal or co-conspirator.

The agreements issued were with DOJ and the FBI. They asserted that Mills and Samuelson would turn over the computers to them, but stipulated that they weren't turning over "custody and control". This critical point is a legal and factual bunch of bunk. The FOIA statute applies to information in the agencies' "custody and control". Anything not in their custody or control cannot be FOIA'd. It is impossible to have an agency physically have a computer and not have it in their "custody or control." Custody and control is not something that suspects have to expressly give over or agree to give over. When they give over the evidence, then obviously, as a matter of fact, they are also giving the agency "custody and control" over that evidence. Suspects cannot withhold "custody and control" by mere words or lack of consent, as consent is not required. In other words, these agreements are extremely flawed and whomever signed off on them should be investigated and perhaps prosecuted.  It is clear that the purpose of this clause was to make the arguably illegal activities of Mills and Samuelson out of the reach of FOIA --- in other words, it would be withheld from the public. This is the very definition of corruption.

Additionally, the immunity agreements were broad in scope. There were numerous charges that the agreements gave them immunity from including potential violations of the Federal Records Act, the Classified Information Act and the Espionage Act. According to the ACLJ, nobody has ever gotten immunity from the Espionage Act before. Normally, immunity is for lesser crimes like obstruction of justice, but not espionage. If Mills and Samuelson were charged and convicted of every crime from which they received immunity, they would be potentially subject to twenty-eight years in jail each.

After Clinton illegally sent classified emails on a private server and cell phones (and by the way, people have gone to jail for this even when they did so accidentally because it's that serious), and after Mills and Samuelson purposely worked to cover up and conceal both the emails and the destruction of evidence, and after they were given a sweetheart deal that nobody in history has ever gotten, they became the attorneys for Clinton, representing her in the email case. This shouldn't be allowed because it is a conflict of interests, and not only gives the appearance of impropriety, but indeed, constitutes actual impropriety.

Subsequently, Mills and Samuelson finally gave the computers over to the FBI, which per their agreements, limited the FBI’s investigation. The FBI agreed to limit a) the method by which the emails investigated would be obtained; b) the scope of files which would be investigated, and c) the timeframe parameters for investigated emails. In other words, the FBI agreed in the immunity contracts not to do a full investigation on the Clinton emails. To make matters worse, again, per the immunity agreements, the FBI agreed to destroy the computers that had the back-up emails.  As Congressman Jim Jordan referenced during the Mueller hearings recently, the FBI used bleachBit to purge the server so the information could never be accessed in the future and used hammers to smash the cell phones involved. In other words, the FBI and DOJ participated in the destruction of the evidence.  In effect, this constitutes is a conspiracy between the Obama DOJ (under Loretta Lynch) and the Comey-led FBI to cover up Clinton’s crimes.  

Shortly thereafter, Comey came out publicly and held a press conference exonerating Clinton from any criminal activity, knowing full well that she was never thoroughly investigated, and that his own agency had participated in the destruction of evidence.

To reiterate Comey’s assertions, he stated that Clinton had been "extremely careless" in her handling of classified and sensitive information, but not "grossly negligent", even though the definition of grossly negligent is extremely careless. Gross negligence is the language in the statute necessary to prosecute someone who does this and Comey inaccurately professed that no prosecutor would pursue a case based on these facts, even though those with lesser evidence have indeed been charged.

Currently, there are investigations taking place pertaining to the Clinton email scandal cover-up, as well as the origins of the Trump investigation by the Mueller team, including the roots of the FISA applications. All of the documents uncovered by the ACLJ’s legal win will constitute valuable evidence for AG Bill Barr, the IG and others. Many who follow what is really going on, on a day to day basis have been repeatedly disappointed in the biased and one-sided investigations and the cover-up or blatant disregard of critical facts implicating the pro-Clinton, anti-Trump teams.  But Bill Barr and his team are fairly new to the process. He and others, including John Durham, will finally have the opportunity to get to the bottom of all this --- and finally disclose the real collusion, corruption, and obstruction. There’s still hope.

Deborah Weiss


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Palestinians: What Is Wrong With Building a Hospital? - Bassam Tawil

by Bassam Tawil

These leaders -- have no problem sacrificing the lives of Palestinian patients on the altar of their hatred of the peace plan.

  • One would expect Palestinian leaders to have welcomed a new hospital that would serve the two million residents of the Gaza Strip. These leaders, however, have no problem sacrificing the lives of Palestinian patients on the altar of their hatred of the peace plan.
  • The Palestinian Authority leadership is right about one thing: one party in this conflict is indeed using the dispute for its own ends – but it is not the Trump administration. The only party that deserves blame is Abbas and his associates. They are rejecting a desperately needed medical facility solely in order to be able to continue to lay the blame for the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip at the doorstep of Israel.
  • The Palestinian Authority is probably the only government worldwide that views establishing a modern hospital as a "conspiracy." It now remains to be seen whether the international community will cave in to Abbas's campaign and ditch the hospital project, or decide actually to help the Palestinian people, whose leaders know only how to help themselves.

Leaders of the Palestinian Authority have reached a new depth of obsession: they are now seeking to prevent the establishment of a new hospital for their people in the Gaza Strip. Pictured: The Erez border crossing in Israel, at the border with the Gaza Strip, near which Israel, Hamas, the United Nations, Qatar and Egypt have agreed to establish the new hospital to treat Gazan patients. (Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images)

It hardly counts as news that Palestinian Authority leaders are obsessed with US President Donald J. Trump and his administration. Yet, these leaders have actually reached a new depth of obsession: they are now seeking to prevent the establishment of a new hospital for their people in the Gaza Strip.

The new field hospital, consisting of 16 departments, is slated to be built near the Erez border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Israel. The hospital was approved by Israel as part of ceasefire understandings reached during the past few weeks with the Hamas rulers of the Gaza Strip under the auspices of the United Nations, Qatar and Egypt.

The 43,000-square foot hospital will rely on the infrastructure, expertise and resources of an international NGO named Friendship and is meant to ensure a significant improvement in medical services to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Bizarrely, while Israel has approved the project, Palestinian Authority officials are trying to foil it. Palestinian Authority Minister of Health Mai Kaila, during a meeting in her West Bank office in Ramallah, reportedly told the UN Deputy Special Coordinator for Middle East Peace Process Jimmy McGoldrick on July 31 that the field hospital was part of a plan to separate the West Bank from the Gaza Strip and that the Palestinian Authority government considers the plan to build a hospital a "part of the Deal of the Century."

"If the objective of establishing this hospital is humane, it would have been better to support and develop existing hospitals in the Gaza Strip," the Palestinian minister told the UN official. "This project wears the dress of humanity while concealing a dangerous political aspect."

Kaila asked the UN official to relay a message to all relevant parties: The Palestinian Authority government has effectively washed its hands of the new hospital.

One would expect Palestinian leaders to have welcomed a new hospital that would serve the two million residents of the Gaza Strip. These leaders, however, have no problem sacrificing the lives of Palestinian patients on the altar of their hatred of the peace plan.

Palestinian Authority officials have justified their opposition to the construction of the hospital by arguing that it is designed to "separate the West Bank from the Gaza Strip."

"The hospital that Israel and the US are seeking to establish on the northern border of the Gaza Strip," the Palestinian government had already stated on July 8, "is part of ongoing attempts to solidify the separation between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank under humanitarian pretexts."

This claim is totally baseless to the point of being surreal.

What does the construction of a modern hospital have to do with the "separation" of the West Bank from the Gaza Strip? The two entities have, in fact, been politically separated from each other ever since Hamas's violent overthrow of the Palestinian Authority regime in Gaza Strip in the summer of 2007. Since then, the Palestinians have had two distinct mini-states that have, in fact, always been culturally separate: one in the West Bank, previously a part of Jordan and now under the control of President Mahmoud Abbas and his Palestinian Authority; and the other in the Gaza Strip, previously a part of Egypt, and now under the control of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

For the past two years, Abbas and other Palestinian Authority leaders have developed the habit of blaming everything they do not like on the Trump administration and its "Deal of the Century."

As far as the Palestinian Authority is concerned, even the economic portion of the Trump plan, which offers them billions of dollars to boost the Palestinian economy and improve their living conditions, is a "conspiracy" related to the "Deal of the Century."

The latest spin from the Palestinian Authority claims -- falsely – that the construction of the new hospital is also part of Trump's "Deal of the Century."

The Palestinian Authority government -- headed by Mohammed Shtayyeh, whom Abbas appointed as prime minister last month -- and in total disregard of the needs of its people in the Gaza Strip, was quick to reject the hospital project. Shtayyeh and his government do not take any decisions unless they are approved by Abbas. Those decisions are later endorsed by the Palestinian Authority leadership (including Abbas and his PLO and Fatah officials) which then publishes them in its official media outlets.

In the Palestinian Authority's campaign against the new hospital, one can see further proof of a conspiracy theory mindset that continues to plague Palestinian leaders. For the past two years, for instance, Palestinian leaders have been warning about a US-Israeli "conspiracy" to liquidate the Palestinian cause. By this, they appear to mean any peace proposal that does not comply with Palestinian national aspirations, such as an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital, as well as forcing Israel to absorb millions of the descendants of Palestinian refugees from a war that Arabs (Egypt, Lebanon, Syria, Saudi forces and Iraq) initiated in 1948.

Although no such "conspiracy" has surfaced so far, Palestinian leaders simply consider anything the Israelis or Americans offer them a "conspiracy."

When, in February, the US convened a Middle East conference in Warsaw to try to thwart Iranian aggression, the Palestinian leadership again alleged that the gathering was a "conspiracy" against Arabs. Again, no damage was caused to the Palestinians as a result of the conference; the Palestinian talk about a "conspiracy" looked irrelevant, if not ridiculous.

Some Palestinians have even gone as far as to claim that the continued rivalry between Abbas's ruling Fatah faction and Hamas is the result of a US-Israeli "conspiracy." The charge is based on the assumption that Israel and the US do not want to see the Palestinians united. This claim, of course, is also baseless: neither Israel nor the US has anything to do with the Fatah-Hamas dispute. Recurring attempts by some Arab states to end the dispute have failed only because of the unwillingness of Fatah and Hamas to make concessions to each other.

The Palestinian leaders' abhorrence of Trump and the US administration has reached a fever pitch, especially as the Americans are proceeding with their peace plan in spite of strong Palestinian opposition. The Palestinian leaders see how the Trump administration is moving forward with its plan in cooperation with some Arab states, an act Palestinian leaders view as turning their back on their Palestinian brothers.

For the past several years, the residents of the Gaza Strip have been complaining about lack of medicine and medical equipment.

If the hospital is not built, the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip will have been denied – by their own leaders – an invaluable resource.

In addition, earlier this year, the Palestinian Authority government announced that it was halting medical referrals for Palestinians to Israeli hospitals. The catastrophic move hurt only the Palestinian people.

The Palestinian Authority government illogically tried to justify its decision by saying that it had been taken in response to the sums Israel deducted from tax revenues. Israel openly states it does this in response to the payments the Palestinian government makes to families of Palestinian terrorists, "security prisoners" and suicide bombers who believe they will enter Paradise as martyrs or shahids and who were killed while carrying out attacks against Israel

The Palestinian Authority, by halting medical referrals to Israeli hospitals and depriving their people of access to excellent medical treatment in Israel, has placed the lives of thousands of their citizens at risk. Several Palestinians have denounced the decision as a "mistake," "hasty," and "uncalculated."

The Palestinian Authority leadership is right about one thing: one party in this conflict is indeed using the dispute for its own ends – but it is not the Trump administration. The only party that deserves blame is Abbas and his associates. They are rejecting a desperately needed medical facility solely in order to be able to continue to lay the blame for the suffering of the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip at the doorstep of Israel. Abbas seems to fear that a new hospital -- which has received Israeli approval – would strip him of his claim that Israel is responsible for Palestinian misery.

Abbas holds Israel responsible for the economic and humanitarian crisis in the Gaza Strip, all the while hiding the fact that for the past two years he has been imposing harsh sanctions on the residents of the Gaza Strip. His sanctions include his own suspension of the salaries of thousands of employees and social welfare assistance to many needy Palestinian families.

Also, Abbas apparently does not want to see any improvement in the living conditions of his people if they are living under the rule of Hamas. He seems to be hoping that if the situation in the Gaza Strip gets worse, the Palestinians there will eventually revolt against his rivals in Hamas and remove them from power. As Hamas remains in full control in Gaza, however, this hope seems far-fetched. There are no signs of any major challenge to its regime, except possibly from Iran. Unsurprisingly, Iran's mullahs have been using Hamas as yet another of their regional proxies, which now include the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

Finally, the Palestinian Authority has rejected the new hospital for a sad, old reason: it seems to want all international projects to be funneled exclusively under its auspices, doubtless the better to get its hands on nice chunks of money and transfer them to its leaders' personal coffers.

The Palestinian Authority is probably the only government in the world that views establishing a modern hospital as a "conspiracy." It now remains to be seen whether the international community will cave in to Abbas's campaign and ditch the hospital project, or decide actually to help the Palestinian people, whose leaders know only how to help themselves.

Bassam Tawil is an Arab Muslim based in the Middle East.


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US Natural Gas Will Soon Run the World - Todd Royal

by Todd Royal

This new soft power of energy transforms the world economically, geopolitically, and positively toward Western-aligned institutions

United States carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from the power sector and the broader economy have declined 61 percent between 2006 and 2014, mainly from "switching from coal-to-gas-powered generation," according to the U.S. Department of Energy's Second Installment of the Quadrennial Energy Review, January 2017. These environmentally sound numbers from higher use of natural gas can also be translated globally to help with pollution in countries such as China, India, and the entire continent of Africa.

The U.S. now uses natural gas converted to liquid natural gas (LNG) from shale deposits in states such as Texas, North Dakota, and Pennsylvania to transform geopolitics. Lower LNG prices stymie terrorist-financing budgets in Tehran and lower the ability for Putin's Russia to weaponize their energy assets for geopolitical adventures in Ukraine, Crimea, Syria, Central Asia, and the Middle East.

How this new soft power of energy transforms the world economically, geopolitically, and positively toward Western-aligned institutions is through increasing LNG exports, which "hit a new record high at 4.7 billion cubic feet per day in May 2019." The U.S. is approximately the world's third largest LNG exporter. Illustrating this power has seen the U.S. add four new LNG trains "with a combined capacity of 2.4Bcf/d come online since November 2018."

Countries with heavy LNG deposits can transform their national fate and redirect their foreign policy and national security initiatives without deploying their militaries. Energy economics overtakes military significance, because everyone needs the power generation and electricity that clean-burning LNG exports provide.

Positively, it means that the U.S. no longer has to rely on Middle Eastern authoritarians to power its economy, and the world order that has depended on the U.S. for global security since the end of World War II (WWII). Negatively, since the U.S. no longer needs Saudi oil or Qatari LNG, then the debate over protecting the Strait of Hormuz, where "90 percent of oil exported from the Gulf, [and] about 20 percent of the world's supply passed through," would be a non-starter.

Europe, led by Germany, is where the LNG's soft power persuasiveness is changing continent-wide dynamics. In the first half of 2019, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), "[r]oughly 40 percent of U.S. LNG exports went to Europe, and in January, Europe surpassed Asia as a buyer of U.S. LNG for the first time." This is a direct, soft power approach to countering Germany moving forward with the Russian-backed Nord Stream 2 pipeline that the U.S. and other European countries have deeply opposed.

Additionally, this newfound purchasing of U.S. LNG in Europe is another poker chip without military forces against Turkey leaning away from NATO over the purchase of the Russian S-400 anti-aircraft weapon system, and through continued encroachment by Turkish vessels off Cyprus's coast illegally drilling for oil and natural gas. This puts the entire Mediterranean security profile at risk, says "Athens' newly elected government."

But coercion and diplomatic solutions, without shots being fired, or crippling sanctions, are the opportunities the soft power of LNG provide large and small nation-states. With the U.S. since 2017 being the world's top producer of petroleum and natural gas hydrocarbons, this offers opportunities never dreamed of during the Cold War, when it was the U.S. and the West versus Russia for global supremacy.

Beating Russia at weaponization of oil and natural gas can be traced to 2009, when "U.S. natural gas production surpassed that of Russia." Russian firms heavily influenced or owned by the Kremlin — Rosneft and Gazprom — took a serious blow, which meant they no longer had free rein to manipulate prices in Central Asia, Eastern, and Western Europe whenever it suited Moscow's needs.

As an example, the first cargo delivery of LNG arrived in Poland earlier this summer from PGNiG (a Polish firm), and U.S. LNG provider Cheniere Energy at President Lech Kaczyński LNG Terminal in Świnoujście. The long-term contract, which was signed in November of 2018, will total approximately 39 bcm of natural gas over the 24-year period of the agreement.

Piotr Woźniak, president of the PGNiG Management Board, said:
Our portfolio of contracts with U.S. suppliers covers over 9 billion cubic meters of natural gas after regasification annually — that is more than we import from Russia. Such a volume strengthens Poland's energy security, but also gives us the opportunity to actively participate in LNG trading on the global market.
This bolsters "energy relations" between Poland and the U.S. without involving military friction that normally precipitates NATO movements against Russia. Instead, U.S. LNG blocks Russian energy from interfering in Polish internal affairs or economic development.

Global security and European Union foreign policy against Russian LNG will also speed ahead in the coming years and decades ahead. New oil and natural gas project spending is expected to jump fivefold in 2019, according to Wood Mackenzie. Even smaller geopolitical players like Mexico are seeking ways to boost their natural gas production 50% through government-owned oil firm Petroleo Mexicanos (PEMEX).

Fossil fuel — particularly, natural gas and/or LNG — will be at the forefront when it relates to soft power, national security, and robust economic growth for mature and emerging markets. Natural gas markets are dominated by U.S. energy decisions translated into policy more than ever before, "as Washington prosecutes a trade war with China and takes a hard line on Iran."

The dominance takes place, because U.S. gross imports of crude and natural gas have steadied or declined whereas "rising LNG exports provide another point of US entry into world energy markets." This balances world LNG markets, provides stability, and moves international energy trade forward in a soft power direction and platform over the weaponization of energy assets seen from Russia, China, and Iran.

There is an LNG, soft power drama playing out on the world stage to engage international relations. LNG keeps major wars from erupting, and that is a positive economic and human longevity aspect of energy that few people, companies and governments seem to understand these days.

Todd Royal


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France Slowly Sinking into Chaos - Guy Millière

by Guy Millière

Jonathan Turley: "France", he wrote, "has now become one of the biggest international threats to freedom of speech".

  • President Macron never says he is sorry for those who have lost an eye or a hand... from extreme police brutality. Instead, he asked the French parliament to pass a law that almost completely abolishes the right to protest and the presumption of innocence, and that allows the arrest of anyone, anywhere, even without cause. The law was passed.
  • In June, the French parliament passed another law, severely punishing anyone who says or writes something that might contain "hate speech". The law is so vague that an American legal scholar, Jonathan Turley, felt compelled to react. "France", he wrote, "has now become one of the biggest international threats to freedom of speech".
  • The main concern of Macron and the French government seems not to be the risk of riots, the public's discontent, the disappearance of Christianity, the disastrous economic situation, or Islamization and its consequences. Instead, it is climate change.
  • "The West no longer knows what it is, because it does not know and does not want to know what shaped it, what constituted it, what it was and what it is. (...) This self-asphyxiation leads naturally to a decadence that opens the way to new barbaric civilizations." — Cardinal Robert Sarah, in Le soir approche et déjà le jour baisse ("The Evening Comes, and already the Light Darkens").

French President Emmanuel Macron never says he is sorry for those who have lost an eye or a hand from extreme police brutality. Instead, he asked the French parliament to pass a law that almost completely abolishes the right to protest and the presumption of innocence, and that allows the arrest of anyone, anywhere, even without cause. The law was passed. (Photo by Kiyoshi Ota - Pool/Getty Images)

Paris, Champs-Élysées. July 14. Bastille Day. Just before the military parade begins, President Emmanuel Macron comes down the avenue in an official car to greet the crowd. Thousands of people gathered along the avenue shout "Macron resign", boo and hurl insults.

At the end of the parade, a few dozen people release yellow balloons into the sky and distribute leaflets saying "The yellow vests are not dead." The police disperse them, quickly and firmly. Moments later, hundreds of "Antifa" anarchists arrive, throw security barriers on the roadway to erect barricades, start fires and smash the storefronts of several shops. The police have a rough time mastering the situation, but early in the evening, after a few hours, they restore the calm.

A few hours later, thousands of young Arabs from the suburbs gather near the Arc de Triomphe. They have apparently come to "celebrate" in their own way the victory of an Algerian soccer team. More storefronts are smashed, more shops looted. Algerian flags are everywhere. Slogans are belted out: "Long live Algeria", "France is ours", "Death to France". Signs bearing street names are replaced by signs bearing the name of Abd El Kader, the religious and military leader who fought against the French army at the time of the colonization of Algeria. The police limit themselves to stemming the violence in the hope that it will not spread.

Around midnight, three leaders of the "yellow vest" movement come out of a police station and tell a TV reporter that they were arrested early that morning and imprisoned for the rest of the day. Their lawyer states that they did nothing wrong and were just "preventively" arrested. He emphasizes that a law passed in February 2019 allows the French police to arrest any person suspected of going to a demonstration; no authorization from a judge is necessary and no appeal possible.

On Friday, July 19, the Algerian soccer team wins again. More young Arabs gather near Arc de Triomphe to "celebrate" again. The damage is even greater than eight days before. More police show up; they do almost nothing.

On July 12, two days before Bastille Day, several hundred self-declared African illegal migrants enter the Pantheon, the monument that houses the graves of heroes who played major roles in the history of France. There, the migrants announce the birth of the "Black Vest movement". They demand the "regularization" of all illegal immigrants on French territory and free housing for each of them. The police show up but decline to intervene. Most of the demonstrators leave peacefully. A few who insult the police are arrested.

France today is a country adrift. Unrest and lawlessness continue to gain ground. Disorder has become part of daily life. Polls show that a large majority reject President Macron. They seem to hate his arrogance and be inclined not to forgive him. They seem to resent his contempt for the poor; the way he crushed the "yellow vest" movement, and for his not having paid even the slightest attention to the protesters' smallest demands, such as the right to hold a citizens' referendum like those in Switzerland. Macron can no longer go anywhere in public without risking displays of anger.

The "yellow vests" seem finally to have stopped demonstrating and given up: too many were maimed or hurt. Their discontent, however, is still there. It seems waiting to explode again.

The French police appear ferocious when dealing with peaceful protesters, but barely able to prevent groups such as "Antifa" from causing violence. Therefore, now at the end of each demonstration, "Antifa" show up. The French police seem particularly cautious when having to deal with young Arabs and illegal migrants. The police have been given orders. They know that young Arabs and illegal migrants could create large-scale riots. Three months ago, in Grenoble, the police were pursuing some young Arabs on a stolen motorcycle, who were accused of theft. While fleeing, they had an accident. Five days of mayhem began.

President Macron looks like an authoritarian leader when he faces the disgruntled poor. He never says he is sorry for those who have lost an eye or a hand or suffered irreversible brain damage from extreme police brutality. Instead, he asked the French parliament to pass a law that almost completely abolishes the right to protest, the presumption of innocence and that allows the arrest of anyone, anywhere, even without cause. The law was passed.

In June, the French parliament passed another law, severely punishing anyone who says or writes something that might contain "hate speech". The law is so vague that an American legal scholar, Jonathan Turley, felt compelled to react. "France has now become one of the biggest international threats to freedom of speech", he wrote.

Macron does not appear authoritarian, however, with violent anarchists. When facing young Arabs and illegal migrants, he looks positively weak.

He knows what the former interior minister, Gérard Collomb, said in November 2018, while resigning from government:
"Communities in France are engaging in conflict with one another more and more and it is becoming very violent... today we live side by side, I fear that tomorrow it will be face to face".
Macron also knows what former President François Hollande said after serving his term as president: "France is on the verge of partition".

Macron knows that the partition of France already exists. Most Arabs and Africans live in no-go zones, apart from the rest of the population, where they accept the presence of non-Arabs and non-Africans less and less. They do not define themselves as French, except when they say that France will belong to them. Reports show that most seem filled with a deep rejection of France and Western civilization. An increasing number seem to place their religion above their citizenship; many seem radicalized and ready to fight.

Macron seems not to want to fight. Instead, he has chosen to appease them. He is single-mindedly pursuing his plans to institutionalize Islam in France. Three months ago, the Muslim Association for Islam of France (AMIF) was created. One branch will handle the cultural expansion of Islam and take charge of "the fight against anti-Muslim racism". Another branch will be responsible for programs that train imams and build mosques. This autumn, a "Council of Imams of France" will be established. The main leaders of the AMIF are (or were until recently) members of the Muslim Brotherhood, a movement designated as a terrorist organization in Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Russia, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates -- but not in France.

Macron is aware of the demographic data. They show that the Muslim population in France will grow significantly in the coming years. (The economist Charles Gave wrote recently that by 2057, France will have a Muslim majority). Macron can see that it will soon be impossible for anyone to be elected President without relying on the Muslim vote, so he acts accordingly.

Macron apparently sees that the discontent that gave birth to the "yellow vest" movement still is there. He appears to think that repression will be enough to prevent any further uprising, and so does nothing to remedy the causes of the discontent.

The "yellow vest" movement was born of a revolt against exorbitantly high taxes on fuel, and harsh government measures against cars and motorists. These measures included reduced speed limits -- 50 mph on most highways -- and more speed-detection cameras; a sharp rise in the penalties on tickets, as well as complex and expensive annual motor vehicle controls. French taxes on fuels recently rose again and are now the highest in Europe (70% of the price paid at the pump). Other measures against the use of automobiles and motorists still in force are especially painful for the poor. They were already chased from the suburbs by intolerant newcomers, and now have to live -- and drive -- even farther from where they work.

Macron has made no decision to remedy the disastrous economic situation in France. When he was elected, taxes, duties and social charges represented almost 50% of GDP. Government spending represented 57% of GDP (the highest among developed countries). The ratio of national debt to GDP was almost 100%.

Taxes, duties, social charges and government spending remain at the same level now as when Macron came in. The debt-to-GDP ratio is 100% and growing. The French economy is not creating jobs. Poverty remains extremely high: 14% of the population earn less than 855 euros ($950) a month.

Macron pays no attention to the growing cultural disaster also seizing the country. The educational system is crumbling. An increasing percentage of students graduate from high school without knowing how to write a sentence free of errors that make incomprehensible anything they write. Christianity is disappearing. Most non-Muslim French no longer define themselves as Christians. The fire that ravaged the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris was officially an "accident," but it was only one of the many Christian religious buildings in the country that were recently destroyed. Every week, churches are vandalized -- to the general indifference of the public. In just the first half of 2019, 22 churches burned down.

The main concern of Macron and the French government seems not to be the risk of riots, the public's discontent, the disappearance of Christianity, the disastrous economic situation, or Islamization and its consequences. Instead, it is climate change. Although the amount of France's carbon dioxide emissions is infinitesimal (less than 1% of the global total), combatting "human-induced climate change" appears Macron's absolute priority.

A Swedish girl, Greta Thunberg, age 16, -- nevertheless the guru of the "fight for the climate" in Europe -- was recently invited to the French National Assembly by members of parliament who support Macron. She delivered a speech, promising that the "irreversible destruction" of the planet will begin very soon. She added that political leaders "are not mature enough" and need lessons from children. MPs who support Macron applauded warmly. She received a Prize of Freedom, just created, which will be given each year to people "fighting for the values ​​of those who landed in Normandy in 1944 to liberate Europe". It is probably reasonable to assume that not one of those who landed in Normandy in 1944 thought he was fighting to save the climate. Such minor details, however, seem beyond Macron and the parliamentarians who support him.

Macron and the French government also seem unconcerned that Jews -- driven by the rise of anti-Semitism, and understandably worried about court decisions infused with the spirit of submission to violent Islam -- continue to flee from France.

Kobili Traore, the man who murdered Sarah Halimi in 2017 while chanting suras from the Qur'an and shouting that the Jews are Sheitan (Arabic for "Satan") was found not guilty. Traore had apparently smoked cannabis before the murder, so the judges decided that he was not responsible for his acts. Traore will soon be released from prison; what happens if he smokes cannabis again?

A few weeks after the murder of Halimi, three members of a Jewish family were assaulted, tortured and held hostage in their home by a group of five men who said that "Jews have money" and "Jews must pay". The men were arrested; all were Muslim. The judge who indicted them announced that their actions were "not anti-Semitic".

On July 25, 2019 when the Israeli soccer team Maccabi Haifa was competing in Strasbourg, the French government limited the number of Israeli supporters in the stadium to 600, not one more. A thousand had bought plane tickets to come to France to attend the match. The French government also banned the waving of Israeli flags at the game or anywhere in the city. Nonetheless, in the name of "free speech", the French Department of the Interior permitted anti-Israeli demonstrations in front of the stadium, and Palestinian flags and banners saying "Death to Israel" were there. The day before the match, at a restaurant near the stadium, some Israelis were violently attacked. "The demonstrations against Israel are approved in the name of freedom of expression, but the authorities forbid supporters of Maccabi Haifa to raise the Israeli flag, it is unacceptable," said Aliza Ben Nun, Israel's ambassador to France.

The other day, a plane full of French Jews leaving France arrived in Israel. More French Jews will soon go. The departure of Jews to Israel entails sacrifices: some French real estate agents take advantage of the wish of many Jewish families to leave, so they buy and sell properties owned by Jews at a price far lower than their market value.

Macron will remain as president until May 2022. Several leaders of the parties of the center-left (such as the Socialist Party) and center-right (The Republicans) joined The Republic on the Move, the party he created two years ago. After that, the Socialist Party and The Republicans electorally collapsed. Macron's main opponent in 2022 is likely to be the same as in 2017: Marine Le Pen, the leader of the populist National Rally.

Although Macron is widely unpopular and widely hated, he will probably use the same slogans as in 2017: that he is the last bastion of hope against "chaos" and "fascism." He has a strong chance of being elected again. Anyone who reads the political program of the National Rally can see that Le Pen is not a fascist. Also, anyone who looks at the situation in France may wonder if France has not already begun to sink into chaos.

The sad situation that reigns in France is not all that different from that in many other European countries. A few weeks ago, an African cardinal, Robert Sarah, published a book, Le soir approche et déjà le jour baisse ("The evening comes, and already the light darkens"). "At the root of the collapse of the West", he writes, "there is a cultural and identity crisis. The West no longer knows what it is, because it does not know and does not want to know what shaped it, what constituted it, what it was and what it is. (...) This self-asphyxiation leads naturally to a decadence that opens the way to new barbaric civilizations."

That is exactly what is happening in France -- and Europe.

Guy Millière, a professor at the University of Paris, is the author of 27 books on France and Europe.


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