Saturday, April 10, 2021

Biden Administration to Support Palestinian Dictatorship - Khaled Abu Toameh

 

​ by Khaled Abu Toameh

The Biden administration is about to pump millions of dollars into Abbas's coffers to help him cut off the emergence of new and young leaders and to help him maintain his authoritarian rule over the Palestinians.

  • Sadly, while the Biden administration is talking about the "need to protect [Palestinian] civil society through the reduction of arrests of bloggers and dissidents," the Palestinian leadership is evidently moving in precisely the opposite direction.

  • While the Biden administration says it wants to strengthen Palestinian civil society organizations, the Palestinian leadership is working to tighten its grip on these organizations.

  • The elections are part of Abbas's attempt to curry favor with the Biden administration and present himself as a leader who cares about democracy and fair elections. The fact is that Abbas is desperate for US funding to preserve his regime and remain in power until his last day.

  • Abbas's punitive measures against [Nasser al-Kidwa, a former PA foreign minister] are aimed at sending a warning to these officials that they would meet the same fate should they run outside the Abbas-led list. Abbas is essentially announcing that anyone who challenges him will be expelled from Fatah and deprived of money and employment.

  • Instead of holding Abbas to account for his repressive measures, the Biden administration seems to be headed toward financially supporting his totalitarian regime.

  • According to the internal memo, the US is planning to resume unconditional financial aid to the Palestinians in late March or early April. This means propping up Abbas and his associates ahead of the elections and allowing them to step up their campaign of intimidation against any candidate who dares to demand reforms and an end to rampant corruption.

  • The Biden administration is about to pump millions of dollars into Abbas's coffers to help him cut off the emergence of new and young leaders and to help him maintain his authoritarian rule over the Palestinians. Once the bounty is paid, Abbas shows all signs of stepping up his repressive measures against his rivals and critics to ensure that he and his Fatah faction triumph in the elections.

The latest victim of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas's effort to intimidate his critics ahead of elections is Nasser al-Kidwa (pictured), a former PA foreign minister and a nephew of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat. Earlier this month, Abbas expelled Kidwa from Fatah and suspended PA funding to the organization he heads: the Yasser Arafat Foundation. He later fired Kidwa from his job as chairman of the foundation and ordered the arrest of his bodyguard, Qadri Ataya. (Photo by Abbas Momani/AFP via Getty Images)

The Biden administration is reportedly planning to "reset" US relations with the Palestinians.

An internal memo presented to US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on March 1 states: "As we reset US relations with the Palestinians, the Palestinian body politic is at an inflection point as it moves towards its first elections in 15 years."

The memo reintroduces some of the issues that the George W. Bush and the Barack Obama administrations pushed forward, such as the strengthening of Palestinian institutions, including civil society and media watchdogs.

The document, in addition, mentions the resumption of US financial aid to the Palestinians and "means to advance the prospects of a negotiated two-state solution."

Sadly, while the Biden administration is talking about the "need to protect [Palestinian] civil society through the reduction of arrests of bloggers and dissidents," the Palestinian leadership is evidently moving in precisely the opposite direction.

Instead of enhancing the role of civil society organizations, the Palestinian leadership is hampering their work by imposing severe restrictions on them.

Instead of boosting public freedoms and bringing democracy to its people, the Palestinian leadership is harshly punishing those who speak out against its policies.

While the Biden administration says it wants to strengthen Palestinian civil society organizations, the Palestinian leadership is working to tighten its grip on these organizations.

Recently, Palestinian civil society organizations expressed their absolute rejection of attempts by the Palestinian Authority (PA) leadership to impose severe restrictions on their work. The organizations were responding to a recent decree issued by PA President Mahmoud Abbas that effectively turns Palestinian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) into government-controlled institutions.

Abbas's decree requires the organizations to present to the PA government an "annual action plan and estimated budget." This means that the organizations will be working for the PA government and not in accordance with their vision, mission, goals or programs.

"This [decree] undermines the professionalism, independence and freedom of civic activity, including its monitoring role over the performance of the executive authority and its objective to hold this authority accountable for its violations," several Palestinian civil society organizations said in a joint statement.

"This law by decree was issued within the framework of several ongoing laws by decree that are drafted in full secrecy and behind closed doors... the law hinders the right of assembly and organization and the right to exercise activities independent of ministries and the executive authority...

"The aforementioned law by decree violates the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (Article 20) and The International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (Article 22), which confirms the basic right of freedom of association, independence of activities and financial sources. It also violates several resolutions issued by the UN Human Rights Council, including Resolution (22/6) of 21/03/2013, which calls on states not to impede the functional independence of associations and not to impose restrictions on potential sources of funding in a discriminatory manner."

Abbas's crackdown on Palestinian NGOs came as Palestinians prepare to hold their first general elections since 2006. The elections are part of Abbas's attempt to curry favor with the Biden administration and present himself as a leader who cares about democracy and fair elections. The fact is that Abbas is desperate for US funding to preserve his regime and remain in power until his last day.

The Palestinian parliamentary election has been set for May 22, while the vote for the PA presidency is scheduled to take place on July 31.

The timing of Abbas's move against the Palestinian civil society organizations is hardly coincidental. The 85-year-old Abbas wants to make sure that there is no criticism of him and his regime ahead of the elections.

Abbas is worried that Palestinian civil society organizations, which are not directly under the control of his government, would criticize him or his government on the eve of the planned elections. Such criticism, Abbas fears, will hurt his (and his ruling Fatah faction's) chances of winning the vote.

It is worth stressing that the Biden administration memo completely ignores Abbas's clampdown on the civil society organizations.

Abbas thus now feels free to crack down on any Palestinian who dares to differ with him or challenge his policies.

The latest victim of Abbas's effort to intimidate his critics ahead of the elections is Nasser al-Kidwa, a former PA foreign minister and a nephew of former PLO leader Yasser Arafat.

Earlier this month, Abbas expelled Kidwa from Fatah and suspended PA funding to the organization he heads: the Yasser Arafat Foundation. He later fired Kidwa from his job as chairman of the foundation and ordered the arrest of his bodyguard, Qadri Ataya.

Hassan Asfour, a former Palestinian cabinet minister and editor of the Palestinian news website Amad, denounced Abbas's measures against Kidwa as "political bullying."

Abbas's vengeance came in response to Kidwa's decision to form his own list to run in the parliamentary election. Kidwa is a member of the Fatah Central Committee, the highest decision-making body of Abbas's faction. Abbas was enraged because Kidwa said he wants to run on a separate list, and not as part of the Abbas-led Fatah slate.

In addition to Kidwa, a number of Fatah officials are also planning to run on separate lists in the parliamentary election. The officials are calling for a "radical change" of the Palestinian political system, a reference to the need to end Abbas's dictatorship.

Abbas's punitive measures against Kidwa are aimed at sending a warning to these officials that they would meet the same fate should they run outside the Abbas-led list. Abbas is essentially announcing that anyone who challenges him will be expelled from Fatah and deprived of money and employment.

Abbas is telling the Biden administration: Fund me to the tune of millions, my autocratic rule, assault on public freedoms and intimidation of critics and political rivals be damned.

Instead of holding Abbas to account for his repressive measures, the Biden administration seems to be headed toward financially supporting his totalitarian regime.

According to the internal memo, the US is planning to resume unconditional financial aid to the Palestinians in late March or early April. This means propping up Abbas and his associates ahead of the elections and allowing them to step up their campaign of intimidation against any candidate who dares to demand reforms and an end to rampant corruption.

The Biden administration is about to pump millions of dollars into Abbas's coffers to help him cut off the emergence of new and young leaders and to help him maintain his authoritarian rule over the Palestinians. Once the bounty is paid, Abbas shows all signs of stepping up his repressive measures against his rivals and critics to ensure that he and his Fatah faction triumph in the elections.

  • Follow Khaled Abu Toameh on Twitter

 

Khaled Abu Toameh is an award-winning journalist based in Jerusalem.

Source: https://www.gatestoneinstitute.org/17188/biden-administration-palestinian-dictatorship

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Biden’s Anti-Capitalist 'Infrastructure' Plan - Joseph Klein

 

​ by Joseph Klein

The reckless tax-and-spend Democrat Party roars back big-time.

 


President Joe Biden’s $2 trillion tax-and-spend “infrastructure” plan consists of top-down government centralized planning that has no place in America’s free market capitalist system. Biden’s proposals, which he calls the "American Jobs Plan," is to be funded through one of the most massive wealth distribution schemes in American history.

The social justice warriors will welcome the Biden plan’s focus on addressing alleged racial inequalities even though infrastructure as normally defined has nothing to do with race. The activists fighting climate change will see billions of dollars pouring into funding portions of their precious Green New Deal, but they are still not satisfied.

Investopedia defines “infrastructure” as “the basic physical systems of a business, region, or nation.” Infrastructure includes “transportation systems, communication networks, sewage, water, and electric systems.” It makes sense for the government to invest some public money in such large public works. Public funding of basic upstream research also makes sense to spur further applied research and development by the private sector that may lead to major technological innovations. Economic studies have shown that private businesses are not incentivized to invest significantly in basic research that they cannot profitably commercialize in a reasonable amount of time.

No rational definition of what constitutes infrastructure, however, would include paid leave or childcare, for example. Yet Biden and his progressive allies seem to think it does.

Biden also wants to bring back the Obama administration’s failed efforts to pick winners and losers in the energy marketplace. Obama had used stimulus money to prop up green energy firms that still went bankrupt. Taking a wrecking ball to the country’s fossil fuel industry will cost many jobs and severely disrupt the energy market to the detriment of the average American. Along with sharply raising corporate taxes that will stunt economic growth, Biden’s plan will likely destroy key elements of the country’s current economic infrastructure. A capitalist economy does a far better job without the heavy hand of government intervention.

To be fair, Biden’s plan does include an estimated $115 billion of  government money to modernize thousands of miles of highways and roads and to repair thousands of bridges. Spending on highways, roads and bridges represents the closest items in Biden’s entire plan to genuine infrastructure investments that support the nation’s transportation system.

However, Biden’s top priority with respect to transportation is a gift to the Green New Deal progressives - $174 billion for electric vehicle incentives. Telsa, General Motors and other automotive companies do not need government incentives to build electric vehicles. Telsa alone had a market cap of $649.24 billion as of April 7, 2021. Telsa’s CEO Elon Musk is the second richest person in the world today, surpassed only by Amazon’s CEO Jeff Bezos. Amazon is expanding its business with investments in the electric vehicle industry. It is outrageous for taxpayers to see their hard-earned money being used to fund electric vehicle incentives when private industry is already doing fine on its own.

In the buildings and utilities category of Biden’s “infrastructure” plan, spending on “affordable housing” is Biden’s top priority. Biden wants to spend an estimated $213 billion on this huge social justice program, which is more than double what Biden envisions spending on either high-speed broadband or modernizing the electric grid. Biden also wants to hand public schools another $100 billion on top of the extravagant largesse that schools have already received under Biden’s so-called America Rescue Plan. Biden is still paying off the teachers’ unions.

Dwarfing even these spending items is the $400 billion that Biden is allocating in his “infrastructure” plan for expanding the provision of in-home care. The expenditure of $400 billion on in-home care is almost eight times as much as Biden is planning to spend in his plan 

on domestic manufacturing, which is much closer to enhancing our nation’s economic infrastructure than in-home care. The expenditure of $400 billion on in-home care is four times as much as Biden is planning to spend combined to beef up our nation’s supply chain and semiconductor industries. The latter two investments, not spending on in-home care, would help free America’s economy from dependence on China and build a more competitive, efficient infrastructure.

Expanding in-home care may or may not serve a useful social purpose but it has nothing to do with infrastructure as that term is normally defined. Spending to expand in-home care should be removed from a bill that purports to be aimed at enhancing America’s infrastructure and instead be debated on its own merits and voted upon as part of separate legislation.

President Biden said on Wednesday that he is open to “good faith negotiations” on his so-called “infrastructure” proposals. But he added that he would “not be open to doing nothing.” We saw Biden’s my way or the highway notion of “good faith negotiations” in action when he and congressional Democrats rammed through the highly partisan America Rescue Plan through the fast-track budget reconciliation process. Republicans had no input. The America Rescue Plan was supposed to focus on coronavirus relief for the American people but became instead a wish list of progressive social justice expenditures and a payoff to the teachers’ unions.

The Democrats are considering using the same budget reconciliation process to ram Biden’s  tax -and-spend “infrastructure” proposals through Congress. This is their way of avoiding a Republican filibuster and not having to take any Republican ideas seriously.

“What I think you can safely say about the new administration three or four months in: It’s a hard left administration,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday at a press conference. “Bernie Sanders is really happy with the way this is going because they’re basically adopting his and [Sen.] Elizabeth Warren’s [D-Mass.] view of what America ought to be like on every single recommendation.”

McConnell is holding out hope that a few Democrats such as West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin will come to their senses and defect. “The good news is they have a narrow majority in the House and a really, really narrow majority in the Senate,” McConnell said, “and hopefully there will be some Democrats who share our views we ought to tackle infrastructure in a more modest way."

Biden and the Democrat majorities in the House of Representatives and Senate may trim Biden’s plan a little around the edges to secure Joe Manchin’s vote. However, with the Biden administration and the Pelosi/Schumer juggernaut applying maximum pressure on all congressional Democrats required to pass the progressive left policy agenda priorities in the so-called "infrastructure" plan, McConnell is likely to be quite disappointed. 

 

Joseph Klein

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2021/04/bidens-anti-capitalist-infrastructure-plan-joseph-klein/

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Biden’s Anti-Israel 'Point Man' Behind Plan to Fund Terrorists - Daniel Greenfield

 

​ by Daniel Greenfield

America must “regain trust and goodwill” of terrorists with taxpayer money.

 


“I was inspired by the Palestinian intifada,” Hady Amr wrote a year after September 11 while working with an anti-Israel group.

A few years later, the Beirut-born extremist had become an advisor on Muslim relations to the World Economic Forum before heading up Brookings' Doha Center for Qatar. The tiny Islamic tyranny is allied with Iran, Al Qaeda, and the Muslim Brotherhood. It’s a backer of Hamas.

The Obama administration appointed Amr as the Deputy Head of USAID's Middle East Bureau which put him in a key position to direct taxpayer money from an organization already notorious for funding pro-terrorist and anti-Israel groups.

A decade after Amr had responded to the death of a Hamas leader by ranting that "there will be thousands who will seek to avenge these brutal murders of innocents", the Obama administration made him a Deputy to its Special Envoy for Israeli Palestinian negotiations. 

Amr decamped back to Brookings during the Trump administration, becoming one of Biden’s big bundlers, joining his transition team and getting picked as Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs. Within two decades of praising the intifada against Israel and a decade of working for a think-tank deeply compromised by its pro-Hamas regime sponsor, the foreign radical had climbed to a pole position in setting the Biden administration’s policy on Israel.

Politico described Amr as “the key U.S. official dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue.” The Times of Israel called him, “Biden’s point-man on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.”

Biden’s point man didn’t waste much time.

On February 1st, it was reported that Amr had spoken with Minister Hussein al-Sheikh of the Palestinian Authority.  Al-Sheikh, a member of the PLO Central Council and of the Central Committee of the Fatah Party, had praised the top terrorist Hmeid family as a "fighting family" whose members had murdered at least 10 Israelis, and promised aid to it. 

In response to efforts to get the PLO to stop rewarding terrorists, Al-Sheikh had declared that, “If we have one dollar, we will spend it on the families of our martyrs and prisoners.”

Al-Sheikh described his conversation with Amr as "positive."

In late February, Al-Sheikh wrote a letter to Hady Amr claiming that all the terrorists, including Hamas, had committed to "peaceful popular resistance" against Israel. A Hamas official however boasted that, “the Palestinian voter will vote for those who trampled the Zionists' heads underfoot, and wrote the loftiest verses of victory with their blood and body parts.”

On March 1, Hady Amr and his team delivered their memo, The US Palestinian Reset and the Path Forward, which called for resuming aid to the terrorists, abandoning pro-Israel moves by the Trump administration, and doubling down on building a terrorist state inside Israel.

A militant anti-Israel activist from Beirut was not only defining an anti-Israel foreign policy, but, as foreign policy expert Elliot Abrams noted, the memo repeatedly used British spellings for words like "programmes", “normalise”, and “emphasise”, driving home the point that Americans were no no longer in charge of their own foreign policy even on a simple linguistic level. 

The memo's reset "with the Palestinian people and leadership”  was advanced by Amr's contacts with figures in the PLO and Fatah terrorist movements, and called for an immediate resumption of the foreign aid pipeline to the terrorist territories, including UNRWA, which has served as a front for Hamas operations, beginning in late March or early April”.

The timing held up perfectly with the State Department announcing approximately $250 million in aid to the terrorist territories in early April closely following the timetable of Amr’s memo.

“Israel strongly opposes renewing funding for UNRWA, an anti-Semitic agency that incites against Israel,” Ambassador Gilad Erdan, Israel’s representative to the UN, tweeted.

Ambassador Erdan was understating the case. UNRWA schools are routinely staffed by Hamas supporters who preach the murder of Jews and Americans, and has produced top terrorists. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood terrorist group working for UNRWA have used its facilities and signage to transport weapons, and terrorists, and to store and fire rockets at Israel. 

The funding is “consistent with who we are as a people. It also happens to be what's consistent with what's in our interest,” Ned Price, Biden’s State Department spokesman, falsely claimed. 

The $150 million for UNRWA is crucial to the strategy of restoring funding to the terrorist areas without violating the Taylor Force Act. The law, named after an American veteran murdered in Israel by an Islamic terrorist funded and celebrated by the PLO, banned further foreign aid to the terrorist entity until it stopped funding terrorists. The PLO, including Abbas and his pal, Al-Sheikh, have vehemently refused to stop funding further terrorist attacks.

The Biden administration is claiming that its funding is indirect and therefore not in violation of the Taylor Force Act even though it blatantly violates its intent. But this is an administration packed full of Obama vets who oversaw shipments of foreign currency to Iran on unmarked cargo planes in order to dodge the law against providing money to Iran’s terrorists.

Aside from UNRWA, much of the remaining cash will be funneled through USAID.

“Given the absence of USAID activity in recent years, engaging civil society actors will be critical to regaining trust and goodwill with Palestinian society,” a congressional notification argued.

Why does the United States have to pay to regain the “trust and goodwill” of terrorists?

When Price was asked about a Government Accountability Office (GAO) report that showed that USAID had not vetted the second level of grants for terrorist connections, he retorted that it “found no cases of U.S. funding going to parties, providers on the ground who failed vetting."

Of course that’s the point. There was no vetting and therefore there were no findings.

The Biden administration has made it clear that it intends to violate the Taylor Force Act up and down while claiming ignorance, and insisting that it’s not in violation because it claims it isn’t.

And the result will be more terrorism.

According to Adam Kredo of the Washington Free Beacon, a non-public State Department report admitted that the PLO had spent $342 million on subsidies for terrorists and their families. In this non-public report, the State Department admitted that the PLO was funding terrorists, that it had not ended calls for violence, and was not committed to peace, but that the aid would come anyway.

The cash began flowing even before Biden officially took office. The $2.3 trillion omnibus bill Congress passed in December which was sold as coronavirus relief for small businesses, also included $250 million in funding for "Palestinian dialogue and business" over 5 years.

The Alliance for Middle East Peace was the heaviest lobbyist for the pigout. ALLMEP is an alliance of many anti-Israel organizations, some strongly supportive of BDS. 

The $250 million will be administered by USAID which already funds anti-Israel groups.

All those millions are a down payment on a bigger set of Biden administration anti-Israel goals.

The Amr memo had also called for, “rolling back certain steps by the prior administration that bring into question our commitment or pose real barriers to a two-state solution, such as country of origin labelling”. These are euphemisms for reversing the Trump administration’s pro-Israel measures such as ending the punitive restrictions on Israeli agriculture and villages. 

The ban on labeling products imported to the United States as ‘Made in Israel’ that are grown by Jewish farmers in those parts of Israel claimed by the Islamic terrorists is likely next on the agenda. The Amr memo had also implicitly called for reopening the PLO office in Washington D.C. and a diplomatic mission to the PLO in Jerusalem. Those are also likely to come.

The Trump administration had created pro-Israel facts on the ground, while the Biden administration intends to restore the anti-Israel status quo in foreign policy one step at a time. 

After first emphasizing coronavirus relief, the cash spigot has been turned on for UNRWA and USAID. The money and the political support that comes with it will bolster the PLO and advance anti-Israel narratives, including BDS, in Israel and around the world at taxpayer expense.

But the worst is yet to come.

And the Al-Sheikh letter falsely claiming that Hamas is ready to be peaceful is the next step.

In 2019, Amr had co-written an article arguing that the United States should lay "out the terms of a three-way Hamas-Israel-PA/PLO deal now" and "build an international consensus around it."

That would mean the Biden administration and its point man developing a plan to legitimize Hamas, gaining the support of the Europeans and the Russians, and then imposing it on Israel.

Hamas, according to Amr and his co-authors, would offer Israel nothing more than a cease-fire, while Israel would have to “incentivize” by “offering a significant move” on peace.

That means more territorial concessions, including Jerusalem, and freeing more terrorists.

A year after 9/11, Hady Amr, Biden’s future “point man”, wrote that he was “inspired by the Palestinian intifada.” And through him the Biden administration is also inspired by the intifada and its war to destroy Israel and turn it into another Islamic territory ruled by the terrorists.

 

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

Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2021/04/bidens-anti-israel-point-man-behind-plan-fund-daniel-greenfield/

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That Oil Spill That Ruined Israeli Beaches Was No Accident - Hugh Fitzgerald

 

​ by Hugh Fitzgerald

And the Israelis believe they have the culprit.

 


We haven’t forgotten the oil spill in the Mediterranean, this past February, that led to hundreds of tons of tar (the thicker emulsion that results from the oil-and-water mix) coming ashore along almost all – 160 km. out of a total of 190 km. – of Israel’s coastline. The damage to marine life was extensive, to the beaches, horrific. Thick gobs of the tarry stuff, in places some four to five inches thick, along with many thousands of smaller blobs, covered the waters and the rocky shore, spread over the the beaches that for a very long time will be unfit for use. Thousands of volunteers have been working ever since, laboriously collecting the tarry globs. Sea turtles, marine birds and endangered marine mammals were some of the wildlife that have perished or have been affected by the spill.

Israel’s Environmental Protection Ministry estimates that the oil spill occurred more than 50 km. off the coast of Israel, outside its territorial waters. Not only will the waters and rocky shores be arduously difficult to clean, but the oil spill event will also continue to corrupt the Mediterranean’s natural marine ecosystem for many years to come due to the widespread nature of the incident.

Israeli investigators immediately got to work trying to determine from what ship the oil had been spilled and whether the spill was deliberate or an accident. At first they had thought it might have been a Greek ship, the Minerva Helen, which years ago had caused a similar oil spill elsewhere in the Mediterranean. But after a surprise raid on the ship by Israeli and Greek investigators, it was determined that the Minerva Helen had nothing to do with the latest oil spill off the Israeli coast.

Now the Israelis believe they have the culprit. It’s a Libyan ship that was sailing from Iran, and the oil spill was no accident. A recent report is here.

A massive oil spill off Israel’s coast last month that severely polluted its beaches was “environmental terrorism” committed by a Libyan ship sailing from Iran, Israel’s environment minister said Wednesday.

Israeli public broadcaster Kan reported that Minister Gila Gamliel said that the ship was called the Emerald and had left Iran with its transponder off, and only turned it back on when it reached the Syrian coast.

Gamliel appeared certain that the spill was not an accident, saying, “There’s someone here who wanted to cause harm, definitely.”

She described the incident as “environmental terrorism.”

Gamliel added that the ship is two decades old and would not have been allowed to dock at US or European ports.

The ship is now in Iran,” she said, and added that Israel “will demand compensation and sue for damages.”

However, an unnamed senior security official appeared to reject Gamliel’s claims, telling Kan, “There is no known Iranian involvement” with the ship.

No Iranian involvement with the ship? Gila Gamliel doesn’t agree, and her evidence is strong. The Libyan ship the Emerald, had apparently left from an Iranian port. Where was it headed? To the Mediterranean (its passage through the Suez Canal was recorded by Egyptian authorities), but not to any European port, because as Environmental Protection Minister Gila Gamliel says, it would not be allowed to dock because of its age and poor condition. So where could it have been heading? There was no evidence of its returning to a Libyan port. And why had the Emerald turned off its transponder before leaving Iran and turning it on only once it was near Syria? Clearly it had something to hide.

The ship sailed from Bandar Abbas, down the Persian Gulf, into the Gulf of Oman, around Yemen to the Red Sea, and then up to the Suez Canal, where it would have to register with Egyptian officials, declaring its port of departure. And the Egyptians would have a record of when it went through the Suez Canal into the Mediterranean. It then seems to have gone up into the Mediterranean, finding a spot some 50 km. off Israel’s coast, where any oil it spilled would be sure, because of what was known about the currents, the winds, and the tides, to end up not on Cypriot or Greek or Egyptian shores but right on the Israeli coastline, befouling its beaches and killing its marine and coastal wildlife. It was impossible to confine the damage solely to Israel. Some of the tar ended up on the beaches of southern Lebanon, but far less of the gooey substance came ashore, on a much smaller part of the country’s coastline, than it did in Israel. And as far as the Iranians were concerned, that harm to Lebanon was a small price to pay to ruin Israel’s beaches.

Environmental terrorism has been discussed by Muslim states and groups for many years. In 2012 Al Qaeda’s online magazine, Inspire, promoted environmental terrorism, offering detailed advice on how to start huge forest fires in America with timed explosives. We do not know if any of the massive forest fires in California were started by Muslim terrorists, but setting such fires was certainly widely discussed in terrorist circles. The “forest jihad” has been a continuous threat in Israel, where it is estimated that one-third of the country’s forest fires are the result of arson, an unusually large percentage.

Deliberately lighting forest fires in Europe, the US and Australia, would not only stretch emergency services, but would also leave insurance companies facing multi-billion dollar claims. Muslim terrorists, and especially Osama bin Laden, stressed the need to focus on causing colossal economic damage to the Infidel enemy. .The fires Jihadis set would also create a pollution disaster, with billions of tons of climate-change gases escaping into the atmosphere. The so-called “forest jihad” has been championed by Islamic terror strategists who believe setting fire to dry woodlands will produce maximum damage at minimum risk.

Already back in November 2007, radical Islamic forums spelled out the terrorists’ mindset in graphic terms. One of the Arabic web sites affiliated with Al Qaeda’s ideas, called “Al-Ikhlas Islamic Network,” posted a long and detailed message, in which it was argued that lighting fires is an effective form of action, justified in Islamic law. The posting instructed its audience to wage the “Forest Jihad” during the summer months, noting that “fires cause economic damage and pollution, tie up security agencies and can take months to extinguish.” Imagine, if after all the losses caused by such an event,” a jihadist organization were to claim responsibility for the forest fires,” the website says, “you can hardly begin to imagine the level of fear that would take hold of people in the United States, Europe, Russia and Australia.”

Another Al Qaeda affiliated website,”Al-Jazeeratalk.net” posted a similar message on December 27, 2007, where supporters were reminded, “not to forget the summer forest jihad”. It added: “This is an invitation to the Muslims of Europe and America, Australia and Russia to burn forests.” The message claims that the burning of trees, as a method of warfare, is permitted in Islam and it quoted from the Qur’an to support this claim. The “benefits” of the fires were to cause casualties, hit tourist income, create timber shortages for domestic, industrial use and pharmaceuticals, and stretch emergency services. And forests cannot be guarded the way that buildings can; a Jihadi can find suitable targets everywhere. Such attacks are virtually untraceable.

Another form of environmental terrorism is the poisoning of water supplies. There have been many attempts by Jihadis, but so far no mass poisoning. In May 2013, seven Muslim “chemical engineers” were found in the middle of the night trespassing at the Quabbin Reservoir, which supplies drinking water for Boston; they claimed they had simply wanted to satisfy their professional curiosity.In the middle of the night? They were ultimately released for lack of evidence; some suspect they were reconnoitering for a possible future poisoning of the Reservoir. In the same month, jihadists were caught in Canada who had planned to poison water and air supplies to murder up to 100,000 people. In October 2013 the FBI was investigating a possible water supply threat by Muslims in Wichita, Kansas. In January 2014, a Muslim broke into a water treatment plant in New Jersey. In 2015, five Muslims were charged with planning to poison the water supply in Pristina, Kosovo. In 2018 a Palestinian affiliated with the Islamic State was arrested for attempting to poison with ricin or anthrax the water supply in the Sardinian town of Macomer. These are a few of the examples we know about; how many others have occurred but not been publicly reported on, either because security officials do not want to alarm the public, or do not want to give other Muslims ideas, is impossible to calculate.

The oil spill off of Israel’s coast was a highly successful act of environmental terrorism. The Libyan ship left Iran, with its cargo of oil, travelled through the Suez Canal, where its passage was recorded – crucial to identifying the Emerald as the oil-spill culprit — and into the Mediterranean, where it stopped some 50 km. off the coast of Israel, and the crew dumped hundreds of tons of oil into the sea, which that same crew had calculated would be driven by the currents, the tides, and the winds, to pollute virtually the entire coastline of Israel. Now the Israelis claim they will sue Iran for the tens – possibly hundreds — of millions of dollars in damages. But even if they were to be successful in their suit, presumably at the World Court, there is no way to force Iran to pay; the victory would only be symbolic. The Iranians must be well-pleased.

 

Hugh Fitzgerald
Source: https://www.frontpagemag.com/fpm/2021/04/oil-spill-ruined-israeli-beaches-was-no-accident-hugh-fitzgerald/

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The New Plan to Oust Netanyahu – and its implications for Israel - Caroline Glick

 

​ by Caroline Glick

Sa’ar’s plan, which Bennett has joined, is to do to Likud members what late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did to Likud voters in 2004.

In a discussion with associates on Tuesday, Yamina chairman Naftali Bennett spoke candidly about his political plans, which, according to media reports, he is closely coordinating with New Hope party leader Gideon Sa’ar. Both Bennett and Sa’ar hail from the ideological Right and both are outspoken opponents of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and seek to unseat him as premier.

Although Bennett refused to recommend that President Reuven Rivlin confer the mandate to form a government on Netanyahu this week, he has made clear that he will join a Netanyahu-led governing coalition if Netanyahu is able to secure the two seats he lacks to build a 61-member government. In contrast, Sa’ar refuses to join a Netanyahu-led government. And for now, Sa’ar’s five colleagues in his six-member Knesset faction are boycotting Netanyahu with him.

Sa’ar has tried twice to oust Netanyahu in elections – first in the Likud’s internal leadership race and then as head of his new party in the last election. Both of his electoral bids flopped. Despite massive media support both times, the voters wouldn’t go along.

Bennett also presented himself as a prime ministerial candidate against Netanyahu in the last elections. He, too, failed to deliver the goods. Fifty-two members of Knesset told Rivlin they wish for Netanyahu to form the next government. Bennett received seven votes – his own and those of his Knesset faction – and that was only after No. 3 on his list, Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi, resigned his spot in the Knesset before being sworn in.

Although Bennett told his associates Tuesday, “we’re in” if Netanyahu manages to find two more lawmakers to join a government under his leadership, Bennett is convinced Netanyahu will fail. “It’s wishful thinking” that any members of Sa’ar’s party will return to Likud, he said. “It won’t happen.”

Netanyahu’s mandate to form a government is good for 28 days. From Bennett’s perspective, the real coalition talks will only begin after Netanyahu fails. At that point, he asserted confidently, “Someone else in Likud will be the prime minister.”

Israel Katz, Nir Barkat or Naftali Bennett are all possible candidates to replace Netanyahu, in Bennett’s view. All of them will be able to form a coalition because Sa’ar will join them – and he won’t join Netanyahu.

In other words, Sa’ar’s plan, which Bennett has joined, is to do to Likud members what late Prime Minister Ariel Sharon did to Likud voters in 2004.

In December 2003, Sharon made a 180-degree ideological shift. Earlier that year, Sharon won a landslide electoral victory by opposing Labor party leader Amram Mitzna’s plan to unilaterally withdraw from the Gaza Strip. Sharon famously said, “The fate of Tel Aviv is the fate of Netzarim,” which at the time was a frontline Israeli community in Gaza.

In December 2003, Sharon stunned the country by announcing he intended to implement Mitzna’s strategically reckless platform. And in 2004 he held a referendum among Likud members, seeking their support for his about face. Likud members rejected his plan overwhelmingly but rather than stick his plan in a drawer and forget about it, Sharon threw his voters under the bus and ran over them.

Bennett and Sa’ar, with 13 Knesset seats between them, expect that 30 Likud lawmakers will ignore their voters and work with Bennet and Sa’ar to oust Netanyahu. Bennett promises that such a move will bring the support that Sa’ar is now denying Netanyahu and so enable the formation of an “all-in right-wing government.”

It’s hard to see how their plan is more than wishful thinking.

Sa’ar is not a hot political commodity after his “new governing party” flopped at the polls. The Likud base is unstintingly pro-Netanyahu. Likud heavyweights like Katz, Barkat and Yuli Edelstein didn’t try to oust Netanyahu after the November 2019 elections, when the right-wing bloc won just 55 seats. Why would they render themselves persona non grata with their voters to cooperate with Bennett and Sa’ar?

Dubiousness aside, this is the play that Bennett and Sa’ar are running. And they are doing so in conjunction with Rivlin, who showed his hand when he said this week that if Netanyahu fails to form a government, he will consider transferring the mandate to the Knesset. Such a move would clear the way for a lawmaker who is not the head of a party to form a government.

Since this is the game being played, it is important to consider what will happen to the country if they win. Had either Bennett or Sa’ar managed to convince the public to support them instead of Netanyahu, that would be one thing. But they failed. Their plan involves gaining through parliamentary maneuvers and backroom deals what the voters denied them. And if it goes through, it will have profound impacts on both Israeli politics and Israel’s social fabric.

When Likud voters and their fellow right-wingers realized Sharon intended to use his legal – but morally comprised – power to push through his plans to expel 10,000 Israelis from their homes and transfer their land to Israel’s enemies, despite his loss in the referendum that he had called and committed to abiding by, they lost faith in the political system and in the game of democracy itself. And they were right.

Democracy only works when everyone agrees on the rules and follows them. The basic bargain is that everyone accepts that they will lose elections and power because they know that if they get the votes, they will win elections and achieve the power to govern their way. Democracy cannot long survive if a significant portion of the public believes the game is rigged against them.

The overwhelming majority of Likud voters are fervent Netanyahu supporters. So are the vast majority of voters for the Likud’s sister parties in the Right-Religious bloc he leads.

His supporters have sensed for generations that the elite classes in politics, the legal fraternity, the media, and academia hold them in contempt and seek to push them out of the public sphere. If Bennett and Sa’ar, who both hail from elitist political pedigrees, succeed in ousting Netanyahu through legal but non-electoral means, Netanyahu’s supporters will view their action as proof that the elites are out to get them. This conviction will be disastrous for Israel’s national solidarity and sense of shared national purpose.

The dangers of this loss of solidarity will be felt in short order due to the political reality that the plan’s implementation will induce.

Sharon was a popular prime minister when he founded his new Kadima party. But despite his popularity, Sharon was only able to convince a third of the Likud’s Knesset faction to leave the party with him.

There is little chance that Bennett and Sa’ar with their 13 seats will be more successful than Sharon was. Their best-case scenario would repeat Sharon’s accomplishment and 10 of Likud’s 30 lawmakers would join them in their bid to oust Netanyahu without winning over his voters.

This brings us to the prospects of forming Bennett’s “all-in right-wing government” without Netanyahu. Their bloc of 23 lawmakers, (with the 10 Likud deserters) can grow to a maximum 30 lawmakers. The two prospective pick-ups, the anti-religious Yisrael Beytenu party and the Haredi United Torah Judaism party will not sit under the same governmental roof. Both have seven seats. These 30 right-leaning lawmakers will then turn to the Left to form a government. Their most likely partners are Yesh Atid, Blue and White and Labor, which together command 32 seats.

In other words, Bennett’s “all-in right-wing government” will have a leftist majority. And if UTJ stays out, the government will also have an overwhelmingly anti-religious majority.

In his conversation with associates Tuesday, Bennett insisted that his willingness to break ranks and form a government with the Left is morally justified because Netanyahu has formed governments with the Left.

“From my perspective, there’s no difference between Avi Nissenkorn and Meirav Michaeli,” he said. Nissenkorn, is a radical leftist union boss who served as justice minister in Netanyahu’s outgoing unity government with Blue and White. Merav Michaeli is the radical leftist leader of the Labor party.

But there is a difference. Netanyahu had no government without Nissenkorn. And if he had refused to form a government with Blue and White, the center-left party was poised to use its parliamentary majority built on an alliance with the anti-Zionist Joint Arab List to pass a far-Left legislative agenda that would have altered Israel’s constitutional structure.

All Sa’ar and Bennett need to do to form an “all-in right-wing government” today is join Netanyahu’s coalition. If Bennett is committed to such a government, he can devote his energies to convincing two members of Sa’ar’s faction to join a Netanyahu-led government. He is the politician in the best position to bring them on board.

At the end of the day, there are only three possible political outcomes from last month’s elections: Bennett and Sa’ar can agree to form a right-wing government with Netanyahu, in keeping with the wishes of the voters for the Right-religious bloc of parties and in keeping with their own ideological convictions. They can form a leftist government in which they serve as a minority faction. Or, Israel can have a fifth election in August.

This then brings us back to the devastation that ousting Netanyahu through parliamentary procedure rather than at the ballot box will wreak on Israel’s national solidarity – and its strategic implications.

After Sharon split Likud and formed Kadima, his successor Ehud Olmert formed a leftist-dominated government that advocated appeasement. Its stance broadcast weakness and so invited aggression. That aggression came from the Bush administration in the form of pressure to make massive concessions to the Palestinians. Olmert collapsed under pressure and offered PLO chief Mahmoud Abbas Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.

It came as well in the form of war from Iran’s Lebanese proxy Hezbollah. Olmert, together with his radical leftist defense minister then-Labor party leader Amir Peretz and then-foreign minister and fellow Likud deserter Tzipi Livni demonstrated utter incompetence in leading the nation in war. Their helter-skelter, ill-conceived military operations and self-destructive diplomatic efforts ensured Israel’s failure to defeat Hezbollah and so set Hezbollah on course to take over the Lebanese government two years later.

The Likud voters Olmert and Livni demonized and trampled just the year before did not rally around them during the war and the public’s distrust of its leaders was impossible to set aside even in time of war.

Israel now faces the most hostile US administration in its history. The Biden administration is itself inviting aggression against Israel by empowering Iran, the Palestinians and international organizations in their campaigns against Israel. Our time is one fraught with dangers. A plan to crown a leftist government and undermine national solidarity by ousting Netanyahu without first defeating him will undoubtedly produce disastrous results for the country.

Originally published in Israel Hayom.

 

Caroline Glick

 
Source: https://carolineglick.com/the-new-plan-to-oust-netanyahu-and-its-implications-for-israel/

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The Biden crocodile comes for John Roberts - Monica Showalter

 

​ by Monica Showalter

Biden plans to pack the Supreme Court with leftists in a bid to consolidate permanent Democrat power.

Sure as the sun comes up, Joe Biden has moved to pack the Supreme Court with leftist cronies.

He denied he had any such intentions during the 2020 campaign, sometimes refusing to answer the question directly. As with everything he utters, he obfuscates. Here's what the White House statement, slipped in on a news-dump Friday, says, via Legal Insurrection with a hat tip to Instapundit:

The Commission’s purpose is to provide an analysis of the principal arguments in the contemporary public debate for and against Supreme Court reform, including an appraisal of the merits and legality of particular reform proposals. The topics it will examine include the genesis of the reform debate; the Court’s role in the Constitutional system; the length of service and turnover of justices on the Court; the membership and size of the Court; and the Court’s case selection, rules, and practices.

To ensure that the Commission’s report is comprehensive and informed by a diverse spectrum of views, it will hold public meetings to hear the views of other experts, and groups and interested individuals with varied perspectives on the issues it will be examining. The Executive Order directs that the Commission complete its report within 180 days of its first public meeting. This action is part of the Administration’s commitment to closely study measures to improve the federal judiciary, including those that would expand access the court system.

The short summary is this: The rabid left wanted a packed Supreme Court and executive-action Joe is moving fast to accommodate them.

The problems with packing the Supreme Court are manifest: Democrats can pack it now and get any political result they want. Leftist Supreme Court justices, unlike constitutionalists, unwaveringly vote the leftist way. But like the filibuster, and for that matter, election cheating, two can play that game. Republican-majority legislatures and executives can do the same thing, and the packing can continue and continue and continue, until the last judge is used up. Why not appoint all judges and any lawyer who wants to be one to the Supreme Court in that case, and get it over now?

Bottom line, the law and the courts will become the same -- shifting, malleable, and political. Laws will run one way with Republicans in power on Democrat Biden rules, and another when leftists get into the saddle. Could happen every two years if the Biden plan goes through. So much for separation of powers. Packing the court, after all, to make the laws all run his way was what rabidly left-wing Hugo Chavez did with his corruption of Venezuela's once-impartial courts, appointing a new higher court to overrule the actual top court and nullify its every ruling. Democrats take that not as a warning, but a how-to guide. Now they've got their puppet, Biden, moving to do their version of the same.

The New York Post, in an excellent editorial, warns that that is not all they can possibly do:

It’s a recipe for tit-for-tat court-packing moves, with Republicans adding yet more seats next time they have the power — or, worse still, Democrats using their current power to so skew the fundamental rules of the land to ensure permanent control of Washington and the end of our democracy.

Oh, sure, Biden will call it a commission, an inquiry, a bi-partisan measure, all just to get information. It's a camel's nose under the tent that is intended to clothe this naked power grab in the vestments of legitimacy. Rest assured the questions will be skewed all the Democrats' way. And rest even more assured that all the so-called Republicans will be RINOs, Mitt Romney or Lincoln Project types, who are already pretty well known as phonies to average Republicans. They'll be the kind of "Republicans" who said they voted for Joe Biden. 

Which is a reflection of Joe's modus operandi -- that one political skill he has to lie and avoid accountability. He never says what he means, and this will be no different.

All the same, as bad as the court-packing idea is and as bad as its outcome could be, it's hard to sympathize with the current Supreme Court, which has effectively been begging Joe Biden not to do it, not just through words, such as those of left-leaning Justice Stephen Breyer, but through the court's cowardly actions. They didn't want to take cases to resolve naked election fraud, not even one. Trump-haters such as Chief Justice John Roberts didn't want to take responsibility, didn't want to have to make a ruling, as the law would require, given that they otherwise favor following and correctly interpreting law, that might just benefit President Trump. 

If they thought that by doing that, they would make friends with Joe Biden, they were in for a surprise. Biden is a shell of a president, controlled by far-left forces who can't get elected to office on their own merits. He's going to smile nicely at them for all the good things they've done for him -- and in the end, stab them in the back, his masters effectively at the controls.

Had they had the courage to take the cases, which involved unprecedented electoral cheating and lawlessness, they might have been left alone. But they chose, and chose badly, hoping their appeasement of the cheating Bidenites would persuade them to leave tem alon. Now they stand by as Joe plans to pack the courts, hoping against hope that the leftist crocodile will still eat them last. Best wishes, cowards.

Image: Pixabay / Pixabay License

To comment, you can find the MeWe post for this article here.

 

Monica Showalter

Source: https://www.americanthinker.com/blog/2021/04/the_biden_crocodile_comes_for_john_roberts.html

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Biden's New Security Reality - Julio Rivera

 

​ by Julio Rivera

Despite a media blackout, the truth about the situation is evident, and the cartels and human traffickers are well aware of America’s new attitude towards illegal immigration and are raking in the profits

In the first few months of the Biden administration, America has seemingly sent a message internationally that the U.S. is no longer making its security a top priority, and not just at the southern border.

The current migrant crisis, which has spiraled into a human tragedy, was created by President Biden when he declared his intention to legalize as many as 11 million illegal Central American and Mexican residents of the U.S. in the wake of his victory in this past November’s election. 

This incredibly dangerous messaging from Biden, along with the administration’s decision to cease border wall construction, played a part the 78,323 encounters between border patrol and migrants in the states of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California during the month of January. Not surprisingly, this was more than twice the 36,585 border patrol encounters reported in January of 2020, according to U.S. Customs and Border Protection

Despite a media blackout, the truth about the situation is evident, and the cartels and human traffickers are well aware of America’s new attitude towards illegal immigration and are raking in the profits as they benefit from enabling human transport as well as activities related to illegal drug trafficking and other criminal activities.  

Now we’ve seen detention centers that were built to house individuals awaiting their day in court date to determine their fate in the U.S. become filled well beyond capacity. But despite this, Department of Homeland Security Chief Alejandro Mayorkas claimed just weeks ago that there was no crisis at the border, while simultaneously acknowledging that the U.S. is on pace to encounter more illegals on the southern border than at any time in the last two decades.

Hearing Mayorkas deny the obvious, especially considering that he occupies a post that is so incredibly important to the safety of Americans, should certainly do more than just raise eyebrows, especially when considering that DHS also oversees one of America’s most vital security agencies, the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA).

CISA is tasked with handling American cybersecurity and protecting our critical infrastructure, including America’s power grid. This is particularly concerning, consider that hackers from several countries including Russia and China are known to have already successfully compromised existing vulnerabilities in the energy grid. 

Adding to these matters is the fact that CISA has thus far failed to reach its full operational capacity according to a recent report from the Government Accountability Office. The report showed that the agency is yet to implement the final phase of organizational changes that were outlined as part of the CISA Act of 2018.

The act created a new organization chart, infrastructure security points of contact and incident response centers, but as of mid-February of this year, over 50 planned tasks were yet to be completed.

Additionally, organizational changes at CISA are still expected to occur at the top, as President Trump appointment Brandon Wales, who was appointed to replace the fired former director, Cristopher Krebs, is merely seen as a placeholder for Joe Biden’s eventual nominee. This leaves the agency in a somewhat compromised position, with widescale incidents like the SolarWinds hack, recent attacks from the Chinese hacking group Hafnium that affected Microsoft’s Exchange Server software as well as Advanced Persistent Threat or APT attacks against Fortinet FortiOS, that have compromised a reported nine federal agencies in addition to countless private sector entities.

The state of denial regarding the border issue that the leader of the United States’ top federal executive department directly responsible for public security is currently in invites offensive acts of aggression from not only the cartel, human traffickers and terrorists, but also state-sponsored hacking groups looking to attack America via hacks against our critical infrastructure. 

America has become a very different country than it was under President Trump just a few months ago. The new global reality sees an emboldened North Korea testing tactical guided missiles, while Iran and the international community discusses the lifting of Washington’s sanctions on the Iranian nuclear program. It didn’t take long for America’s enemies to start taking advantage of our domestic state of chaos.

Image: CISA

To comment, you can find the MeWe post for this article here.

 

Julio Rivera is a business and political strategist, the Editorial Director for Reactionary Times, and a political commentator and columnist. His writing, which is focused on cybersecurity and politics, has been published by websites including Newsmax, Townhall, American Thinker and BizPacReview.

 
Source: https://www.americanthinker.com/articles/2021/04/bidens_new_security_reality.html

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Domestic and Regional Fissures Collide in Jordan - Dr. James M. Dorsey

 

​ by Dr. James M. Dorsey

[T]he perceived threats may be twofold if unrelated: Prince Hamzah’s association with powerful conservative tribes whose leaders have, over the last decade, demanded an end to corruption; and prominent figures with close ties to Saudi Arabia.

Jordanian former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, image via Wikipedia

BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,991, April 9, 2021

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Jordanian former Crown Prince Hamzah bin Hussein has papered over a rare public dispute in the country’s ruling family in a move that is unlikely to resolve longstanding fissures in society and among Jordan’s elite and that echo multiple Middle Eastern fault lines.

Differences over socioeconomic policies, governance, and last year’s normalization of relations between Israel, the UAE, and three other Arab states, as well as leadership of the Muslim world, were laid glaringly bare by a security crackdown in Jordan that targeted not only Prince Hamzah bin Hussein, a popular, modest, and pious 41-year-old half-brother of King Abdullah, but also seemingly unrelated others perceived by the monarch as a threat.

Reading the tea leaves, the perceived threats may be twofold if unrelated: Prince Hamzah’s association with powerful conservative tribes whose leaders have, over the last decade, demanded an end to corruption; and prominent figures with close ties to Saudi Arabia.

The Saudi kingdom, home to Islam’s two holiest cities, Mecca and Medina, has been quietly maneuvring to force Jordan, the administrator of the faith’s third holiest site, Al-Haram ash-Sharif or the Temple Mount in Jerusalem, to share its role. A say in Jerusalem would significantly boost the kingdom’s claim to leadership of the Muslim world.

There is little evidence that the two forces were working together despite government assertions that it had intercepted communications between them in the days prior to last weekend’s crackdown, which prompted Prince Hamzah to speak out.

Prince Hamzah’s statement focused on domestic issues, suggesting that the government may have been most immediately concerned that he was fueling further protests—particularly on the eve of Jordan’s April 11 centenary. The concern may have created the opportunity to address threats perceived to be less imminent.

The crackdown led to the arrest of, among others, two prominent leaders of the Al-Majali tribe and political clan, long a pillar of Hashemite rule; and Bassem Awadallah, a former top aide to King Abdullah, finance minister, and envoy to Saudi Arabia, who is also an advisor to Saudi Crown Prince Muhammad bin Salman. Awadallah is a dual Jordanian-Saudi citizen.

The Washington Post reported that Saudi FM Faisal bin Farhan had requested during a visit to Amman last Tuesday that Awadallah be released and allowed to travel to the kingdom with his delegation.

Privately, many Jordanians fear that Saudi Arabia could support efforts to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict by turning the kingdom into a Palestinian state that would incorporate those parts of the occupied West Bank that would not be annexed by Israel.

Saudi Arabia has so far refused to establish diplomatic relations with Israel as long as the Palestinian issue remains unresolved. Bin Farhan reiterated the kingdom’s position earlier this month but also told CNN that relations with Israel would be “extremely helpful” and bring “tremendous benefits.”

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Jordan, hard hit by the pandemic and home to one of the world’s largest Syrian refugee contingents, were strained by King Abdullah’s refusal to embrace former US President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.

King Abdullah opposed the plan because it recognized Israeli annexation of East Jerusalem, legitimized Israeli settlements in occupied territory, and envisioned Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank.

Saudi Arabia, like other Middle Eastern countries, was quick to express support for King Abdullah.

Prince Hamzah and Awadallah were not known to be close. Tribal leaders rejected Awadallah’s privatization of telecommunications, potash, and phosphate companies during his tenure as FM as primarily benefiting the country’s allegedly corrupt elite and foreign companies.

Prince Hamzah, in an agreement mediated by his uncle, Prince Hassan bin Talal, and several other princes, pledged allegiance to King Abdullah days after releasing two clips in which he denounced corruption and poor governance that had allegedly prevailed for much of the monarch’s rule. King Abdullah acceded to the throne in 1999.

The agreement takes the immediate sting out of the rare public airing of differences within the ruling family but fails to tackle grievances of the tribes and other segments of the population.

Prince Hamzah’s declaration of fealty may be less of a concession than it would appear at first glance. The former crown prince is not believed to aspire to succeeding King Abdullah.

Moreover, protests going back to the 2011 popular Arab revolts and continuing more recently with the tribal-backed Hirak protest movement have consistently stopped short of demanding regime change.

Tribal leaders went perhaps furthest when in 2011 they issued a statement asserting corruption among members of Kuwait-born Queen Rania’s Palestinian family and demanded that King Abdullah divorce his wife.

In the government’s statement last Sunday, FM Ayman Safadi studiously avoided speaking of an attempted coup, asserting instead that the former crown prince and others had targeted “the country’s security and stability.”

Said a tribal activist: “Our issue is not the king or the family. Nobody is asking for regime change. That does not mean that our leaders have a blank check. They have to introduce real change and accommodate popular demands for transparency and accountable governance.”

View PDF

 

Dr. James M. Dorsey, a non-resident Senior Associate at the BESA Center, is a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University and co-director of the University of W├╝rzburg’s Institute for Fan Culture.

Source: https://besacenter.org/perspectives-papers/domestic-and-regional-fissures-collide-in-jordan/

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