Month: September 2013

ISLAMISTS: KENYA & NIGERIA AL-SHABAAB: MURDER AND MUTILATION AT THE MALL; BOKO HARAM: WAR AGAINST ISLAMIC GHOSTS

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Contents:

 

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Al-Shabaab Breaks new Ground with Complex Nairobi AttackPaul Cruickshank and Tim Lister, CNN, Sept. 23, 2013—The Al-Shabaab assault on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, is alarming for its audacity, its scale and the sophisticated planning that went into it. Both the choice of target and method of attack exactly fit the new al Qaeda playbook.

 

Al-Shabaab Backed by Money from U.S.: Peter Bergen and David Sterman, CNN, Sept. 29, 2013—After the attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya, substantial attention was given to the some 40 Americans who have traveled to fight for Al-Shabaab in Somalia during the past several years. But much less attention has focused on Al-Shabaab's supporters in the United States who have helped to fund the terrorist group.

 

Jihadist Ritual Murder & Mutilation at the MallDawn Perlmutter, Front Page Magazine, Oct. 1, 2013—During the four-day siege in Kenya’s Westgate shopping Mall, al-Shabaab jihadists raped, tortured, beheaded, dismembered, castrated, gouged out eyes, amputated fingers and hung hostages on hooks from the roof.

 

Nigeria is at War with Islamist GhostsPeter Dörrie, Medium, Sept. 10, 2013—A war rages in northeastern Nigeria. Three months into a government-declared state of emergency, an army division of 8,000 men and a joint task force of other military and civilian security forces are trying to wrest control of large swathes of land from a fundamentalist insurgent group known as Boko Haram.

 

Psychology: Why Islam Creates Monsters : Nicolai Sennels, Jihad Watch, Sept. 27, 2013—Psychopathic people and behaviour are found within all cultures and religions. But one tops them all — by many lengths. The daily mass killings, terror, persecutions and family executions committed by the followers of Islam are nauseating, and the ingenuity behind the attacks — always looking for new and more effective ways of killing and terrorising people — is astonishing.

 

On Topic Links

 

Pretending the Problem is not ThereDouglas Murray, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 1, 2013
Al-Shabaab and Obama’s Family Push For Islamic KenyaTheodore Shoebat, Front Page Magazine, Sept. 30, 2013




AL-SHABAAB BREAKS NEW
GROUND WITH COMPLEX NAIROBI ATTACK

Paul Cruickshank and Tim Lister
CNN, Sept. 23, 2013

 
The Al-Shabaab assault on a mall in Nairobi, Kenya, is alarming for its audacity, its scale and the sophisticated planning that went into it. Both the choice of target and method of attack exactly fit the new al Qaeda playbook.
 
Few counterterrorism experts are surprised that the Somali group launched another attack in the Kenyan capital. It has threatened to take revenge ever since Kenyan forces entered Al-Shabaab's heartland in southern Somalia. Small-scale attacks, frequently with hand grenades, have already brought bloodshed to Nairobi's streets. Back in September of last year, Kenyan authorities said they had disrupted a major plot to attack public spaces in Nairobi in its final stages of planning. Authorities also broke up a plot by the group against Western tourists in the city in late 2007.
 
But the scope of the assault on the Westgate Mall — and especially its eerie similarities to the attack in Mumbai, India, in 2008 — show that Al-Shabaab has taken its ability to strike outside Somalia to a new level. Only once before has the group caused such carnage in East Africa, when bombers attacked bars and restaurants in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, on the night of the World Cup Final in 2010. More than 60 people were killed. Al-Shabaab said the attacks were in retaliation for Uganda's leading role in the African Union force supporting Somalia's weak government in Mogadishu.
 
But the attack on the Westgate Mall is very different, involving perhaps 10 or more heavily armed assailants, using multiple entrance points to lay siege to a high-profile venue in an upscale neighborhood. The assault then evolved into a hostage-taking to garner maximum publicity. Al-Shabaab says the attack took months of planning and training, and as it unfolded the group kept up a running commentary on its Twitter feed. "The Mujahideen entered #Westgate Mall today at around noon and are still inside the mall, fighting the #Kenyan Kuffar (infidels) inside their own turf," it said.
 
The operation ticks the boxes that al Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri listed in a message published just over a week ago.
 
1. Ensure the target is Western. The Westgate Mall has several Israeli establishments and is popular with expatriates. Those killed include three British citizens, two French nationals and two Canadians, their governments said. In his September 13 message, al-Zawahiri warned against attacks on non-Western states unless the regime was part of "the American forces." Kenya, with its long tradition of pro-Western governments and close relationships with Western militaries, fits that bill.
 
2. Take hostages where possible. Al-Zawahiri recommended taking "the citizens of the countries that are participating in the invasion of Muslim countries as hostages so that our prisoners may be freed in exchange."
 
3. Try to avoid Muslim casualties. Al-Shabaab claimed on its Twitter feed that the gunmen escorted Muslims out of the mall, before turning on the "disbelievers" inside. Witnesses said the gunmen at the Westgate tried to identify Muslims by asking shoppers the name of Mohammed's mother. They shot those who didn't know.
 
Nairobi is vulnerable to Al-Shabaab attacks not least because of the large Somali community, many of them refugees from the country's long-running clan warfare, that lives in the Eastleigh district. Known as "little Mogadishu," Eastleigh is now home to an estimated 250,000 Somalis. And Al-Shabaab is well established there, raising money, finding recruits and setting up safe houses.
 
Al-Shabaab also has an ally in the militant Kenyan group al Hijra, formerly the Muslim Youth Center, which has a strong presence in Eastleigh and in the coastal city of Mombasa. Investigators will be examining whether al Hijra played a role in the attack on the Westgate mall. Kenyan al Hijra militants are suspected to have been responsible for several of the small-scale terrorist attacks that have hit the country.
 
This is a worrying trend, analysts say. While Al-Shabaab's Somali fighters are not used to operating abroad, non-Somali East Africans have been training with the group in southern Somalia. Al Hijra is the most potent outgrowth of that training. Founded in an Eastleigh mosque in 2008, al Hijra took advantage of growing radicalization among a minority of Kenya's 4.3 million Muslims to build a significant presence in Nairobi and Mombasa. Investigators established the group had close links to the attacks in Kampala in July 2010. According to the U.N. Monitoring Group on Somalia, most of the operatives who conspired in the attack were Kenyan and close to al Hijra leaders.
 
A crackdown against al Hijra by Kenyan authorities, helped by the United States, has weakened the group. According to a 2013 United Nations report, "Al Hijra members were plagued by unexplained killings, disappearances, continuous 'catch and release' arrest raids and operational disruptions." But al Hijra is far from defeated. According to the U.N. report, it has established links with Al-Shabaab affiliates elsewhere in East Africa and is enlisting the services of fighters returning from Somalia "to conduct new and more complex operations." Its leadership has become closer to al Qaeda through figures such as Abubakar Shariff Ahmed, known as "Makaburi," who is said to favor large-scale attacks in Kenya in support of Al-Shabaab.
 
Al-Shabaab has other valuable alliances in the region, including the government of Eritrea, which sees it as a useful ally against its arch-enemy Ethiopia. A United Nations Monitoring Group reported in 2011 that financial records and shipping movements indicated Eritrea's support for Al-Shabaab went far beyond the humanitarian. In a 400-page report, it concluded that Eritrea's relationship with Al-Shabaab seemed designed to "legitimize and embolden the group rather than to curb its extremist orientation or encourage its participation in a political process."
 
Al-Shabaab has also established a relationship with al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula in Yemen, from which it obtains weapons and training, according to counterterrorism officials and former members of both AQAP and Al-Shabaab. One former jihadist tells CNN the relationship began in 2008 when he linked up a senior figure in Al-Shabaab, Ahmed Warsame, with the Yemeni cleric Anwar al-Awlaki.
 
In September 2011, the U.S. Africa Command warned that Al-Shabaab, Boko Haram in Nigeria and al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb were trying to synchronize their efforts to launch attacks on U.S and Western interests. The Kenyan capital became much more vulnerable to retaliation when Kenyan troops and tanks, supported by airstrikes, moved into Somalia in October 2011 in response to growing cross-border violence. Al-Shabaab immediately warned that the incursion would have "cataclysmic consequences."
 
What was meant to be a limited engagement dragged on. It took a year for Kenyan forces to capture the port of Kismayo, but in doing so they dramatically raised the stakes for Al-Shabaab. According to the U.N., Al-Shabaab used to collect an estimated $35 million to $50 million annually in custom tolls and taxes on businesses in Kismayo and two secondary ports higher up the coast — about half its entire estimated annual income.
 
Its expulsion from Kismayo changed the dynamics for Al-Shabaab. Previously the group held off plotting large-scale attacks in Kenya because of Kenya's importance for recruitment, logistics and fund-raising. Al-Shabaab commanders realized a crackdown by law enforcement on Somali interests in Kenya would be devastating to the Somali business community, creating a backlash against it in Somalia. But after they lost control of Kismayo, the gloves came off.
 
In March, Al-Shabaab warned Kenyans they would not "sleep safely" in Nairobi as long as their soldiers were in Somalia. And in the midst of the siege, the group tweeted: "For long we have waged war against the Kenyans in our land, now it's time to shift the battleground and take the war to their land." "The attack at #WestgateMall is just a very tiny fraction of what Muslims in Somalia experience at the hands of Kenyan invaders," another tweet said.
 
It's notable that Al-Shabaab was able to plan and train for such a sophisticated attack despite losing much territory in southern Somalia and around the capital, Mogadishu. As it has lost ground, the group has resorted to suicide bombings. Earlier this month it carried out a bomb attack against a restaurant popular with Westerners in Mogadishu, killing more than a dozen people. A U.N. report issued in July noted that Al-Shabaab "has shifted its strategic posture to asymmetrical warfare in both urban centres and the countryside" but added that it "continues to control most of southern and central Somalia." The report estimated the military strength of Al-Shabaab at about 5,000 fighters, with a functioning chain of command, and said it had "preserved the core of its fighting force and resources."
 
After years of infighting and feuds, the Nairobi attack may also confirm the ascendancy of Al-Shabaab's most militant faction and its leader Mukhtar Abu al Zubayr (aka Ahmed Abdi Godane). Zubayr attended a madrassa in Pakistan as a young man and merged the group with al Qaeda in February 2012. He sees Al-Shabaab as part of al Qaeda's global jihad.
 
Dissenters have defected or been killed. Sheikh Hassan Dahir Aweys of Al-Shabaab's old guard surrendered to Somali authorities. And earlier this month Zubayr reportedly ordered the killing of two Western militants who were critical of his leadership style and had aligned themselves with Aweys — Omar Hammami and Osama al Brittani. Hammami was an American from Alabama who had become a prominent mouthpiece for Al-Shabaab before publicly criticizing Zubayr last year.
 
Zubayr's increasingly tight grip on Al-Shabaab — thanks to his ruthless use of the group's intelligence wing in hunting down opponents — appears to have forestalled the collapse of Al-Shabaab, and may have made it more dangerous. Zubayr has threatened a direct attack on the United States, and last year the U.S. offered a $7 million reward for information locating him. It would be very surprising if the attack in Nairobi did not receive his blessing, and it may be a sign of things to come as Al-Shabaab takes its war to other parts of East Africa. Of more immediate concern to Kenyan authorities, in a country where political violence can explode quickly, is a likely backlash against Somali and Kenyan Muslims, which could create a new cycle of radicalization and unrest.


 




 AL-SHABAAB BACKED BY MONEY FROM U.S.
Peter Bergen and David Sterman
CNN, September 29, 2013

 
After the attack on the Westgate mall in Nairobi, Kenya, substantial attention was given to the some 40 Americans who have traveled to fight for Al-Shabaab in Somalia during the past several years. But much less attention has focused on Al-Shabaab's supporters in the United States who have helped to fund the terrorist group. Those supporters have funneled tens of thousands of dollars via money transfer businesses to the terrorist organization and have often maintained direct contact with Al-Shabaab leaders and fighters in Somalia.
 
After the 9/11 attacks, when it became clear to investigators that al Qaeda's deadly assaults on New York and Washington had cost as much as $500,000 to mount, the U.S. government became far more aggressive about trying to block funds going to terrorist organizations. Part of that process involved a determined effort to sort through which groups were terrorist organizations. On 9/11 there were only 26 terrorist groups on the State Department's list of designated Foreign Terrorist Organizations. Today there are 51, among them Al-Shabaab, which was designated in March 2008.
 
The result of that designation was that it was now illegal for a person in the United States to knowingly provide Al-Shabaab with money, training, expertise, false documentation, communications equipment, weapons or explosives, or to join the group.On that basis, a number of cases have emerged:
 
• In Rochester, Minnesota, two women from Somalia who had become naturalized U.S. citizens helped organize funding for Al-Shabaab. Hawo Hassan, a 64-year-old adult day care worker, and Amina Farah Ali, 35, set up a dedicated teleconference line to raise funds for Al-Shabaab. Hundreds of interested individuals called in to these teleconferences, and after each one Hassan and Ali recorded pledges of funds from the callers. After a teleconference on October 26, 2008, the two women received pledges from 21 individuals totaling $2,100 in funds for Al-Shabaab.
 
These teleconferences often featured Al-Shabaab figures. In one teleconference, an Al-Shabaab female leader exhorted the listening audience to send funds. In another, Mahad Karate, the head of Al-Shabaab's intelligence wing, told the members of the listening audience that jihad "is waged financially" and that their help was needed. The two female Al-Shabaab fund-raisers also went door to door in Minnesota to raise contributions, often under false pretenses claiming contributions were for war orphans in Somalia. During a phone call with her Al-Shabaab financial contact, Ali stated, "I tell the people to collect money in the name of the poor. Nobody is aware of the money I send to you."
 
Prosecutors said it was clear from the phone conversations that they monitored that the two women knew that they were raising money for Al-Shabaab, a group that had been designated a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department. Both women were convicted of providing funds to Al-Shabaab and were sentenced to lengthy prison terms this year.
 
• Similarly, Ahmed Hussein Mahamud, a 27-year-old man, raised money from the Minnesota Somali community under the pretense that the money was going to a local mosque or to help orphans in Somalia. Instead he transferred the funds to fellow conspirators who had traveled from Minnesota to fight in Somalia to help them buy weapons. He and his co-conspirators transferred $1,500 to help Al-Shabaab. Mahamud pleaded guilty last year.
 
• Nima Ali Yusuf, a 25-year-old San Diego woman, who pleaded guilty in December 2011 to sending $1,450 to help fund Al-Shabaab, was in telephone contact with some of the Somali-American men fighting in Somalia for Al-Shabaab.
 
• In 2007, Aden Hashi Ayrow, a Al-Shabaab leader, contacted Basaaly Saeed Moalin, a cabdriver in San Diego, asking him to fund his group. In January 2008, Ayrow told Moalin that he needed to know how much money was being sent monthly to his group, even if it was only $100, because even relatively small amounts of money could make a big difference in Somalia, which is one of the poorest countries in the world. To keep an Al-Shabaab foot soldier in the field only cost a dollar a day. At Ayrow's request, Moalin organized other members of the Somali-American community to help provide funding. Moalin recruited three others members of the Somali-American community and together they sent $8,500 to Al-Shabaab between 2007 and 2008. All four were later convicted of providing support to Al-Shabaab.
 
• Another Al-Shabaab supporter in St Louis, cabdriver Mohamud Abdi Yusuf, was part of a group of men that sent $21,000 to Kenya and Somalia for Al-Shabaab. Yusuf pleaded guilty to giving support to the terrorist group. Since Al-Shabaab was designated as a terrorist organization, the U.S. Justice Department has mounted "Operation Rhino" to combat Al-Shabaab's support network in the States and has convicted 12 individuals for providing funds to Al-Shabaab, according to a count by the New America Foundation.
 
This seems to have had a real deterrent effect. As a result of the publicity these cases have had in the Somali-American community, indictments for Al-Shabaab fund-raising have slowed considerably. And the last time a Somali-American was indicted for raising money for Al-Shabaab was 2011.
 

 
During the four-day siege in Kenya’s Westgate shopping Mall, al-Shabaab jihadists raped, tortured, beheaded, dismembered, castrated, gouged out eyes, amputated fingers and hung hostages on hooks from the roof. According to a forensic medical doctor, “They [the al-Shabaab attackers] removed eyes, ears, noses. Fingers are cut by pliers, noses ripped by pliers”… “Those are not allegations. Those are f****** truths,”… “They removed balls, eyes, ears, nose. They get your hand and sharpen it like a pencil then they tell you to write your name with the blood. They drive knives inside a child’s body. Actually, if you look at all the bodies, unless those ones that were escaping, fingers are cut by pliers, the noses are ripped by pliers.” There were also reports that hostages were beheaded and their heads thrown out of the windows.
 
This inexplicable savage violence is typically attributed to psychological warfare, military tactics or individual acts of brutality but for Jihadists they are justifiable sacred acts against the enemies of Islam. They are ritual murders that are consistent with a growing global Jihadist method of operation [MO]. Similar acts of torture, rape, beheading and mutilation regularly occur in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Syria and other countries. The Westgate Mall massacre is comparable to the mass murder of 166 people by members of the Islamist Jihadist group Lashkar-e-Taiba, in ten coordinated shooting and bombing attacks across Mumbai, India on November 26 -29, 2008. During their siege operation the LeT Jihadists also took the time to sexually humiliate, torture and mutilate some of the victims before shooting them dead.
 
The Jihadist M.O. is also evident in murders, honor killings and war crimes. On June 20, 2006 in al-Yusufiyah outside of Baghdad, Iraq, the bodies of American soldiers Pfc. Kristian Menchaca, 23, and Pfc. Thomas L. Tucker, 25, members of the 101st Airborne division, were found mutilated beyond recognition. Like the hostages in the Westgate shopping Mall there were reports that their eyes were gouged out, they were castrated, their ears and noses were cut off and they were beheaded.  Jihadist murders that involved throat slashing, multiple stabbings and body desecration also occurred in London and in Waltham, Massachusetts. On May 22, 2013 on the streets of London two jihadists used meat cleavers to publicly behead and disembowel a British soldier while shouting “Allahu Akbar”. On September 11, 2011 in Waltham, MA the suspects in the Boston Bombings and their Chechen friend are suspected of ritually murdering three men by slitting their throats from ear to ear with such force that they were nearly decapitated and of desecrating their mutilated corpses. [Read the entire case at Prelude to the Boston Bombing http://www.meforum.org/3618/boston-bombings-prelude]. These are just a few examples of dozens of Islamist ritual murders that involve torture, dismemberment and mutilation.
 
Islamist mutilation entails a specific kind of ritualistic crime; a collective, provocative and incendiary desecration of the enemy. Mujahideen throughout the world expend extra effort brutalizing the enemies of Islam including women and children.  To understand the significance of these violent ritualistic acts they have to be analyzed in the context of Islamist honor and shame. The primary motivations of Islamist atrocity is an irrepressible impulse to alleviate shame and a sacred duty to restore honor, serve vengeance, preserve purity, maintain tradition and save face. For Islamists honor is signified by stereotypical male characteristics such as courage, bravery, heroism, power, virility, and strength; dishonor is signified by stereotypical female characteristics such as weakness, vulnerability, helplessness and submissiveness.
 
Honor is what defines Islamists as men and psychologically is experienced as dignity and pride; conversely dishonor is indicated by female traits of weakness experienced as humiliation and shame. Islamists are in a constant struggle with fear of disgrace and maintaining manhood particularly those that are living in countries that they consider to be occupied or run by ‘un-Islamic regimes’. Emotions of weakness, helplessness, shame are always just below the surface triggered by a hypersensitivity to any real or perceived act of humiliation. Even a sideways glance can be misinterpreted as a questioning of manhood. Islamist recruitment and indoctrination functions to cultivate the honor-shame paradigm so that boys will grow to be ruthless soldiers that require blood vengeance to restore honor and maintain power.
 
The fear of even the appearance of weakness or vulnerability provides one explanation for the torture of men, women and children. For Mujahedeen mercy, compassion, sympathy and kindness symbolize weakness; cruelty, brutality, violence and atrocity symbolize strength. This explains incomprehensible cruel violent acts.  Jihadists want to evince their strength and alleviate feelings of shame. Through murder and mutilation these Islamist jihadists experience relief from a sense of humiliation.  Psychologically they equate their relief with violent atrocity. Symbolically blood cleanses their impurity. Culturally the violence is sanctioned and they are viewed as heroic. It becomes natural and moral to punish disrespect with torture, mutilation and ritual murder.  Strategically it sends a message that there is no mercy for infidel unbelievers.
 
From a Western behavioral science perspective torture, murder and mutilation are categorized as pathological acts of violence. However, from the jihadist worldview these seemingly inexplicable acts of violence are neither random nor pathological.  Atrocity has historical and theological precedents in Islam, is a socially acceptable punishment for infidels and significantly is a projection of cultural taboos. For Islamists the blood of enemies washes away dishonor, disrespect and the Western impurities that have polluted Islam.  A symbolic analysis of the types of mutilation reveals jihadists motivations. Mutilating the body is a deliberate act of defilement, impurity and stigmatization. Islamists torture hostages to humiliate and shame them. Cutting off fingers, hacking off noses, cutting out tongues, castration, and dismemberment represent power and control of the body at the moment of death. The slow destruction of the body prevents the person from having any dignity in death.
 
Rape and gang rapes are a common form of Islamist punishment including men raping other men. The symbolic meaning of male on male rape is that the victims are being turned into women, which in a machismo and homophobia culture is one of the worst forms of humiliation. Similar to prison culture the victims become their bitch. For the same reason castration is the archetypal sign of dishonor and signifies that the victim is no longer a man.  Another common form of Jihadist mutilation is gouging out eyes and/or chopping off parts of a person’s face such as lips, ears and most often the nose. It was reported that all of these atrocities were inflicted on the hostages in the Westgate Mall. 

Disfigurement has historical, symbolic and theological meaning in the context of Islamism. In fact mutilation is a form of judicial corporal punishment that occurs in many Islamic countries and includes among other things amputations, floggings, beheadings and stoning to death. In Saudi Arabia and Iran eye gouging is considered a legitimate judicial punishment. Surgically removing one or both eyes is based on the literal interpretation of lex talionis, the law of retaliation or best known from the formulation “an eye for an eye”.  There are hundreds of women in Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Turkey and other countries who are mutilated for dishonoring their families and men accused of being traitors, spies or simply designated as infidel unbelievers who are victims of similar atrocities.
 
Victims of torture and mutilations are always potential witnesses to jihadists unspoken and often imagined shame. The Somali jihadists had to gouge out the hostages eyes so they could not mock them, cut out their tongues so they could not talk about them and cut off their ears so they could not hear of their offenses. They were indoctrinated to believe that non-Muslims disregard them and think of them as less than human. This imagined disrespect is experienced as shame that originates and resides in the eyes of the innocent people who unfortunately went to the mall that day. Killing the hostages kills shame, without witnesses shame no longer exists. Honor, purity and respect is restored. Torture felt good.
 
Simply shooting the hostages would have demonstrated weakness and sympathy. Similar to gang initiations and narco-cults the Somali jihadists earned their status by brutalizing victims.  Dismemberment, eye gouging, castration, beheadings, and body desecration are marks of jihad, what genteel people use to refer to as unspeakable acts. The members of al Shabaab were able to torture and mutilate because Sharia law sanctions atrocities committed against infidel enemies of Islam. Ritualizing violence legitimizes it as acceptable punishment allowing the Somali jihadists to murder in the name of Islam.  According to Sharia Law mutilation is not a barbaric act, the violence is prescribed so brutality is transformed into a sacred ritual that cleanses impurities through bloodshed. For the al Shabaab jihadists torture and murder was not immoral but righteous blood vengeance that restored honor to Somali Muslims. Through murder and mutilation the jihadists acquire strength, alleviate dishonor and achieve heroic status as ruthless Mujahideen warriors. Torturing and killing the hostages transformed them from men ashamed of their status in life into badass Mujahideen, soldiers of Allah, respected by Islamists all over the world.
 
Dawn Perlmutter, Director and founder of Symbol & Ritual Intelligence and Associate Fellow at the Middle East Forum, is considered one of the leading subject matter experts (SME) in the areas of symbols, unfamiliar customs, ritual murder and religious violence.
 
 
Contents

 

NIGERIA IS AT WAR WITH ISLAMIST GHOSTS
Peter Dörrie

Medium, Sept. 10, 2013
 
A war rages in northeastern Nigeria. Three months into a government-declared state of emergency, an army division of 8,000 men and a joint task force of other military and civilian security forces are trying to wrest control of large swathes of land from a fundamentalist insurgent group known as Boko Haram. The
government has deployed helicopter gunships, fighter jets and armored vehicles — and battles regularly result in dozens of soldiers, insurgents and civilians being killed. It’s one of the most intense conflicts of present times and yet we know practically nothing about the enemy, its organization, goals and real developments on the ground.
 
For people following the various conflicts in Africa, Boko Haram has been a household word for some time now. The group was founded by Mohammed Yusuf in 2001 and 2002 in the Nigerian town of Maiduguri and for at least several years remained a non-violent, if radical, sect of orthodox Muslims opposing the perceived corruption and mismanagement of the Nigerian state.
 
At some point before 2009, members of the group began arming themselves and preparing for a violent uprising against the government, with the goal to introduce their interpretation of Islamic law to the north of Nigeria. The security services sprang into action and confronted members of the sect in a series of engagements that resulted in the deaths of at least 700 people, among them Yusuf, who died almost without a doubt as a result of police brutality while in custody.
 
In what was to become a recurring pattern, Boko Haram emerged strengthened and even more violent from this confrontation. The group began to systematically attack representatives of the state, security forces, prisons and civilians. Wikipedia has collated some of the largest attacks in a well-sourced timeline, but probably hundreds of smaller attacks have not been recorded by international media. All in all, at least 4,000 people have been killed by Boko Haram and the counter-violence by security forces.
A Nigerian police officer serving with a Formed Police Unit (FPU) of the African Union
 
For being such a formidable enemy, practically nothing is known with certainty about the group itself. Various splinter groups exist, but their respective organization and chains of command are opaque. Regularly, individuals emerge who claim to speak for Boko Haram, only to have that claim refuted convincingly by other people linked to the group. Outsiders — no matter if coming from the international community or Nigeria itself — are often at loss at how to observe and analyze the inner workings of the group, which in contrast to other jihadist entities like Al Qaeda does little in the way of propaganda and media outreach.
 
This ignorance includes the exact meaning of the group’s name. While “Boko Haram” is often translated as “Western education is a sin,” researcher Alex Thurston has convincingly argued that the seemingly simple term is much more complex than that, to say nothing of the group’s official Arabic name, “Ahl Al Sunna Li Al Da’wa Wa Al Jihad.”
 
Probably not even most members of Boko Haram have a firm knowledge of who belongs to them and what goals the different parts of the organization, if it can even be called that, pursue. This theory is supported by frequent reports of powerful regional politicians handing cash to people associated with Boko Haram, even though the dead leader Yussuf expressly forbade his followers to cooperate with the secular government of Nigeria. Also, bank robberies are frequently blamed on Boko Haram, even though at least some of these incidents are almost certainly the work of regular criminals.
 
For the group itself, this apparent disorganization has proved to be quite effective. Repeated attempts by the government to crack down on Boko Haram after 2009 failed, because the security services couldn’t identify any vital parts of the organization to take out. The Nigerian army and police resorted to heavy-handed tactics of repression, putting up roadblocks, shutting down markets and on occasion flattening whole town quarters with heavy weaponry, if a Boko Haram cell was suspected to be inside.
 
Military operations were frequently followed by impressive body counts of dozens of “terrorists” killed, but given the indiscriminate nature of the attacks and the resilience of Boko Haram itself, it is safe to assume that many of those “terrorists” were actually innocent bystanders or non-violent sympathizers. The brutal counter-violence by the state of course helps the recruiting effort of Boko Haram. In between offensives, the federal government or prominent religious figures tried their hand at negotiations, but all efforts to broker a compromise failed in the end due to the impossibility to identify someone, who could actually exert some influence over all parts of the jihadist group.
 
These cycles of violence have so far largely served to strengthen Boko Haram. By the beginning of this year, large swathes of Borno, Yowe and Adamawa states in the country’s northeast were essentially out of government control. In May, Nigeria’s president Goodluck Jonathan declared a state of emergency in these states and called out the big guns. In a first phase, operations of the joint task force, a cooperation between the military, intelligence services and police, intensified operations in the area and civilians were encouraged to assist the security services, essentially creating vigilante groups in many areas.
 
In a second phase, which started last week, a regular army division of over 8,000 soldiers took over the responsibility of fighting Boko Haram. A thousand of these soldiers just returned from Mali, where they took part in an operation against other jihadist groups challenging the state’s secular government. The newly created 7th Division brings armored vehicles, artillery and air support.
 
And the army is eager to show its worth: on Thursday, the army claimed to have eradicated a Boko Haram camp with 50 fighters in it. The soldiers followed the insurgents through aerial surveillance after they ambushed a group of pro-government vigilantes, killing at least 24 of them. The camp was surrounded and pounded by helicopter gunships. Apart from making clear the scale and intensity of the conflict, these reports also give an impression of the capabilities of the Nigerian armed forces….
 
Nigeria’s government and its generals hope that the new strategy of recognizing Boko Haram as a formidable fighting force and deploying a massive amount of troops and weaponry will force the most important parts of the group to the negotiation table. The result could be an amnesty for Boko Haram fighters and some form of political compromise, an approach that Nigeria has some experience with from its other insurgency, in the Niger Delta.
 
But if history is any guide, this hope seems to be unreasonable. Boko Haram is probably too splintered to be engaged in a meaningful dialogue as an organization. It is also unclear what the government could have to offer, apart from an amnesty. Other than the rebellion in the Niger Delta with its focus on economic participation, Boko Haram’s fighters are at least partly motivated by a religious, social and anti-government agenda. The Nigerian government can’t make any meaningful concessions on these issues.
 
The optimal way to go would of course be to address the underlying reasons for the insurgent’s disenchantment with the state, namely the pervasive poverty and corruption that cripples any economic opportunity for most Nigerians. But realpolitik will probably prevail and the Nigerian government will rely on its armed forces and security services to suppress any armed resistance. For this, Nigeria certainly has the capability and the will. It will just mean a lot more suffering for the people caught between the front lines.

Contents

 
PSYCHOLOGY: WHY ISLAM CREATES MONSTERS
Nicolai Sennels
Jihad Watch, Sept. 27, 2013

Psychopathic people and behaviour are found within all cultures and religions. But one tops them all — by many lengths. The daily mass killings, terror, persecutions and family executions committed by the followers of Islam are nauseating, and the ingenuity behind the attacks — always looking for new and more effective ways of killing and terrorising people — is astonishing: hijacking jumbo jets and flying them into skyscrapers, hunting unarmed and innocent people with grenades and automatic rifles in shopping malls, planting bombs in one's own body, using model airplanes as drones, attaching large rotating blades to pickup trucks and using them as human lawn movers, killing family members with acid or fire, hanging people publicly from cranes in front of cheering crowds, etc. It makes one ask oneself: what creates such lack of empathy and almost playful and creative attitude towards murdering perceived enemies? This is a question for psychologists like me.

Nobody is born a mass murderer, a rapist or a violent criminal. So what is it in the Muslim culture that influence their children in a way that make so relatively many Muslims harm other people? As a psychologist in a Danish youth prison, I had a unique chance to study the mentality of Muslims. 70 percent of youth offenders in Denmark have a Muslim background. I was able to compare them with non-Muslim clients from the same age group with more or less the same social background. I came to the conclusion that Islam and Muslim culture have certain psychological mechanisms that harm people's development and increase criminal behaviour.

I am, of course, aware that Muslims are different, and not all Muslims follow the Quran's violent and perverted message and their prophet's equally embarrassing example. But as with all other religions, Islam also influences its followers and the culture they live in.

One could talk about two groups of psychological mechanisms, that both singly and combined increase violent behaviour. One group is mainly connected with religion, which aims at indoctrinating Islamic values in children as early as possible and with whatever means necessary, including violence and intimidation. One can understand a Muslim parent's concern about his offspring's religious choices, because the sharia orders the death penalty for their children, should they pick another religion than their parents. The other group of mechanisms are more cultural and psychological. These cultural psychological mechanisms are a natural consequence of being influenced by a religion like Islam and stemming from a 1,400 year old tribal society with very limited freedom to develop beyond what the religion allows.

Brainwashing people into believing or doing things against their own human nature — such as hating or even killing innocents they do not even know — is traditionally done by combining two things: pain and repetition. The conscious infliction of psychological and physical suffering breaks down the person's resistance to the constantly repeated message. Totalitarian regimes use this method to reform political dissidents. Armies in less civilized countries use it to create ruthless soldiers, and religious sects all over the world use it to fanaticize their followers.

During numerous sessions with more than a hundred Muslim clients, I found that violence and repetition of religious messages are prevalent in Muslim families. Muslim culture simply does not have the same degree of understanding of human development as in civilized societies, and physical pain and threats are therefore often the preferred tool to raise children. This is why so many Muslim girls grow up to accept violence in their marriage, and why Muslim boys grow up to learn that violence is acceptable. And it is the main reason why nine out of ten children removed from their parents by authorities in Copenhagen are from immigrant families. The Muslim tradition of using pain and intimidation as part of disciplining children are also widely used in Muslim schools — also in the West.

Combined with countless repetitions of Quranic verses in Islamic schools and families, all this makes it very difficult for children to defend themselves against being indoctrinated to follow the Quran, even if it is against secular laws, logic, and the most basic understanding of compassion. And as we know from so many psychological studies, whatever a child is strongly influenced by at that age takes an enormous personal effort to change later in life. It is no wonder that Muslims in general, in spite of Islam's inhumane nature and obvious inability to equip its followers with humor, compassion and other attractive qualities, are stronger in their faith than any other religious group.

Not only does a traditional Islamic upbringing resemble classical brainwashing methods, but also, the culture it generates cultivates four psychological characteristics that further enable and increase violent behaviour. These four mental factors are anger, self-confidence, responsibility for oneself and intolerance.

When it comes to anger, Western societies widely agree that it is a sign of weakness. Uncontrolled explosions of this unpleasant feeling are maybe the fastest way of losing face, especially in Northern countries, and though angry people may be feared, they are never respected. In Muslim culture, anger is much more accepted, and being able to intimidate people is seen as strength and source of social status. We even see ethnic Muslim groups or countries proudly declare whole days of anger, and use expressions such as "holy anger" — a term that seems contradictory in peaceful cultures.

In Western societies, the ability to handle criticism constructively if it is justified, and with a shrug if it is misguided, is seen as an expression of self-confidence and authenticity. As everyone has noticed, this is not the case among Muslims. Here criticism, no matter how true, is seen as an attack on one's honor, and it is expected that the honor is restored by using whatever means necessary to silence the opponent. Muslims almost never attempt to counter criticism with logical arguments; instead, they try to silence the criticism by pretending to be offended or by name-calling, or by threatening or even killing the messenger.

The third psychological factor concerns responsibility for oneself, and here the psychological phenomenon "locus of control" plays a major role. People raised by Western standards generally have an inner locus of control, meaning that they experience their lives as governed by inner factors, such as one's own choices, world view, ways of handling emotions and situations, etc. Muslims are raised to experience their lives as being controlled from the outside. Everything happens "insha' Allah" — if Allah wills — and the many religious laws, traditions and powerful male authorities leave little room for individual responsibility. This is the cause for the embarrassing and world-famous Muslim victim mentality, where everybody else is blamed and to be punished for the Muslims' own self-created situation.

Finally, the fourth psychological factor making Muslims vulnerable to the violent message in the Quran concerns tolerance. While Western societies in general define a good person as being open and tolerant, Muslims are told that they are superior to non-Muslims, destined to dominate non-Muslims, and that they must distance themselves socially and emotionally from non-Muslims. The many hateful and dehumanising verses in the Quran and the Hadiths against non-Muslims closely resemble the psychological propaganda that leaders use against their own people in order to prepare them mentally for fighting and killing the enemy. Killing another person is easier if you hate him and do not perceive him as fully human.
The cultural and psychological cocktail of anger, low self-esteem, victim mentality, a willingness to be blindly guided by outer authorities, and an aggressive and discriminatory view toward non-Muslims, forced upon Muslims through pain, intimidation and mind-numbing repetitions of the Quran's almost countless verses promoting hate and violence against non-Muslims, is the reason why Islam creates monsters.

The problem with Islam and Muslim culture is that there are so many psychological factors pushing its followers towards a violent attitude against non-Muslims that a general violent clash is — at least from a psychological perspective — inevitable. With such strong pressure and such strong emotions within such a large group of people — all pitched against us — we are facing the perfect storm, and I see no possibilities of turning it around. For people to change, they have to want it, to be allowed to change, and to be able to change — and only a tiny minority of Muslims have such lucky conditions.

Far too many people underestimate the power of psychology embedded in religion and culture. As we have already seen, no army of social workers, generous welfare states, sweet-talking politicians, politically correct journalists or democracy-promoting soldiers can stop these enormous forces. Sensible laws on immigration and Islamisation in our own countries can limit the amount of suffering, but based on my education and professional experience as a psychologist for Muslims, I estimate that we will not be able to deflect or avoid this many-sided, aggressive movement against our culture.

I do believe that we, as a democratic and educated society can become focused and organised concerning the preservation of our values and constitutions, can win this ongoing conflict started by the often inbred followers of sharia. The big question is how much of our dignity, our civil rights, and our blood, money and tears will we lose in the process.

 

 
Pretending the Problem is not ThereDouglas Murray, Gatestone Institute, Oct. 1, 2013—Is it ever acceptable to tell a lie? If you believe the answer is "no" then this is an area in which you disagree with our political class. The recent terror attack in Kenya — and the reaction to it — is only the latest evidence. When it comes to the truth about Islamic violence, our politicians evidently believe the truth is something we, the general public, cannot handle.
 
Al-Shabaab and Obama’s Family Push For Islamic KenyaTheodore Shoebat, Front Page Magazine, Sept. 30, 2013—Both the al-Shabaab terrorists and the Obama family want the nation of Kenya to be under Sharia code. Al-Arab wrote that Obama’s cousin, Musa Obama, “studied Sharia in Medina” and has called “upon the Arab and Islamic states to put more effort toward aiding the Kenyan Muslim brethren, especially since there is much support coming from Western nations and Western churches.”
 

 

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DE 5773 À 5774

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

40 ans après la guerre de Kippour et 20 ans après les Accords d’Oslo :

vérités historiques et réflexions

Freddy Eytan

Le CAPE de Jérusalem, 15 septembre 2013

 

Le général Moshé Dayan, ministre de la Défense, déclarait en avril 1973 : « Je ne crois pas que dans les dix prochaines années, une nouvelle guerre éclatera avec les Arabes ». La guerre de Kippour fut déclenchée brusquement quelques mois plus tard, et Dayan évoqua dans une allusion biblique la fin du troisième Temple. En dépit de certaines informations alarmantes et d’un sérieux avertissement du roi Hussein de Jordanie sur un éventuel conflit armé, les Arabes ont surpris l’Etat juif pour la première fois. En ce jour du Grand Pardon les Israéliens ont vu la mort en face !

 

La confiance aveugle des généraux, le mépris de l’adversaire après sa forte humiliation lors de la guerre des Six Jours et l’indifférence du gouvernement face aux menaces éventuelles ont plongé le pays dans un mécontentement profond et une amère frustration. Ce fut « un tremblement de terre » qui nous guette jusqu’à ce jour, 40 ans après. Pourtant, la victoire militaire fut acquise grâce à notre foi inébranlable, notre courage et notre solidarité exemplaire. Les combats acharnés menés avec brio par le général David Elazar ont stupéfait tous les états-majors étrangers. Après 18 jours de combat, les chars de Tsahal étaient arrivés à 101 km du Caire et à 40 km de Damas !

 

La méconnaissance des intentions réelles de l’ennemi fut une nouvelle fois mise à l’épreuve, 20 ans plus tard, avec la signature sur la pelouse de la Maison Blanche des Accords d’Oslo.

 

Le général Yitzhak Rabin, héros de la guerre des Six Jours, avait signé ces accords sans aucun enthousiasme, conscient qu’ils seraient tôt ou tard bafoués par Yasser Arafat. Pour illustrer son immense dilemme et les grands risques encourus, il évoquait comme métaphore le fromage de Gruyère : cet accord comportait des manquements… Rabin a perdu la vie, assassiné par un fanatique juif ! Un crime lâche et abominable mais qui, hélas, n’aurait pas changé le cours de l’Histoire s’il avait poursuivi son mandat jusqu’au bout ! Arafat est venu avec ses troupes de Tunis en triomphateur et nous lui avions permis de s’installer à nos portes sans réellement penser au lendemain. Manipulateur et rusé comme un vieux renard, Arafat nous a bercés d’illusions ; en fait il souhaitait réaliser son pieux rêve en s’acharnant sur le va-tout de toute la Palestine ! Il aurait lancé son Intifada meurtrière même si Rabin était encore au pouvoir.

 

La gravité des accords d’Oslo réside dans la naïveté sincère des dirigeants de l’époque, en particulier Shimon Pérès et Bill Clinton. Ils pensaient que la page avec les Palestiniens était définitivement tournée et que le Proche-Orient avait enfin changé de visage. Ils avaient mis la charrue avant les bœufs et dans ce TGV de la paix, ils ont brûlé de nombreuses étapes sans s’arrêter dans les stations de la réflexion et de l’évaluation des faits. Le cérémonial a éclipsé la réalité sur le terrain et les vagues d’attentats par des bombes humaines ont plongé les Israéliens dans l’insécurité, l’anxiété et le désespoir.

 

La vision romantique d’un nouveau Proche-Orient idyllique et d’un marché commun riche et fructueux n’est hélas pas pour demain.

 

En reprenant aujourd’hui le processus de paix avec les Palestiniens nous devrions toujours nous souvenir des deux événements historiques qui ont bouleversé notre société et la donne géopolitique. Chaque décision gouvernementale, pour la guerre comme pour la paix, devrait être minutieusement étudiée et réfléchie exclusivement à l’aune de nos propres intérêts. Dans le contexte historique du Moyen-Orient notre devoir est surtout de dissiper toutes les illusions et de s’opposer farouchement aux utopies.

 

L'accord sur la Syrie : pertes et profits

Daniel Pipes

National Review Online, 17 septembre 2013

Adaptation française: Johan Bourlard

 

 

La diplomatie n'a jamais connu une suite d'événements aussi vertigineuse et changeante que celle à propos de la Syrie, qui a débuté le mercredi 21 août et s'est achevée trois semaines et demie plus tard, le samedi 14 septembre. Même s'il est trop tôt pour départager les gagnants et les perdants, on voit que Bachar al-Assad mène le jeu, ce qui laisse penser que lui, Poutine et les mollahs sortiront gagnants alors qu'Obama, Erdoğan et Israël seront les perdants.

 

Commençons par revenir sur les derniers événements :

21 août. Une attaque à l'arme chimique contre des civils se produit à Ghouta, près de Damas. Elle est apparemment l'œuvre du régime d'Assad.

 

28 août. Barack Obama signale son intention de faire usage de la force contre le régime d'Assad pour le punir d'avoir perpétré l'attaque chimique.

 

31 août. Obama fait marche arrière et demande au Congrès l'autorisation d'utiliser la force, une chose qu'il n'était pas obligé de faire.

 

Au cours de la semaine suivante, l'opposition aux frappes, tant au sein du Congrès que parmi la population, enfle à tel point qu'il devient évident qu'Obama n'obtiendra pas l'autorisation espérée.

 

9 septembre. Le secrétaire d'État John Kerry promet une attaque « incroyablement réduite » et a ajouté de façon cavalière que le contrôle international de l'armement chimique syrien pourrait écarter la nécessité d'une attaque. Une idée que les Russes se sont empressés de reprendre et d'exploiter.

 

10 septembre. Obama renonce à sa menace d'attaquer le régime syrien et retire la demande qu'il a faite au Congrès.

 

14 septembre. Les gouvernements russe et américain signent un accord établissant un « plan de démantèlement des armes chimiques syriennes » destiné à « garantir la destruction du programme d'armement chimique syrien de la façon la plus rapide et la plus sûre possible. »

 

Commençons par évaluer les choix auxquels ont été confrontés les deux principaux acteurs de ce drame :

Bachar al-Assad. Le plan de démantèlement lui permet de placer les décisions clés du processus sous l'influence de ses protecteurs (Moscou et Téhéran) et de ses conseillers (le clan Assad). Une alternative s'offre à lui : respecter ou non l'accord russo-américain et les exigences de l'Organisation pour l'interdiction des armes chimiques (OIAC) en charge du contrôle du traité sur les armes chimiques que la Syrie a promis de signer. Assad étant un dirigeant incompétent sur le plan tactique, ses actions sont difficiles à prévoir mais je m'attends à ce qu'il ne respecte pas l'accord pour les raisons suivantes : (1) Il a besoin de ces armes pour préserver son régime. (2) La guerre civile qui déchire actuellement la Syrie favorise le court-circuitage de l'OIAC. (3) L'attitude d'Obama suggère qu'il n'organisera pas de représailles. (4) Saddam Hussein a constitué un précédent intéressant en ce sens que, dans les années 1990, le jeu irakien du chat et de la souris a ralenti et fait obstacle au démantèlement d'armes de destruction massive par un régime similaire.

 

Barack Obama. Déjà sur la brèche en août 2012 avec sa menace au sujet de la « ligne rouge », le président américain se retrouve, avec le coup de poker que constitue l'accord russo-américain, à la merci de son homologue syrien. Si Assad respecte l'accord, Obama deviendra un génie de la politique étrangère pour avoir débarrassé la Syrie de son armement chimique sans coup férir. Mais si Assad ne respecte pas l'accord, ce qui est bien plus probable, Obama devra attaquer le régime pour préserver sa crédibilité en dépit de ce que cela pourra coûter et malgré les souhaits de sa base de gauche, de l'opinion du Congrès, des Nations unies, du pape, et d'autres encore, et même si cela renforce les djihadistes en Syrie et implique les États-Unis dans des opérations militaires indésirables de longue haleine. Pour ma part je pense qu'Obama passera à l'offensive mais sans causer de réels dommages tant à sa popularité qu'au régime d'Assad.

 

Bref je prédis qu'Assad ne respectera pas l'accord et qu'Obama mènera une attaque symbolique. Selon ce scénario, cela signifie pour les acteurs principaux :

Bachar al-Assad. Il pourra pérorer au sujet de sa survie à une offensive américaine et dans ce registre, il est le plus fort.

 

Barack Obama. La crédibilité de sa politique étrangère sombrera et celle des États-Unis également – surtout par rapport au dossier nucléaire iranien – à tout le moins jusqu'en 2017.

 

Vladimir Poutine. Qu'Assad se conforme ou non aux termes de l'accord, et qu'Obama passe ou non à l'offensive, le président russe ne peut pas perdre. Au contraire, il est entré en lice pour le Prix Nobel de la Paix. Il est le grand vainqueur.

 

L'Iran. Téhéran en sortira gagnant, avec la certitude que son infrastructure nucléaire échappera aux frappes américaines même si Obama met le régime d'Assad en pièces.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan. Le Premier ministre turc, en tant que leader international des partisans de la guerre, sera perdant même si Obama attaque sérieusement Assad.

Israël. Avec Obama, le pays sortira gagnant si Assad respecte l'accord et perdant dans le cas contraire, ce qui est probable.

 

Terminons par deux observations ironiques. Au lieu de résoudre la crise, l'accord russo-américain la prolonge et l'aggrave. Par ailleurs, le discours prononcé presque nonchalamment il y a un an par Obama à propos de la « ligne rouge » fut l'erreur insignifiante qui pourrait précipiter le grand fiasco diplomatique de sa présidence.

 

 

Bilan 5773 de l’économie israélienne:

le PIB a augmenté de 3,4%

Jacques Bendelac

upjf.org, 16 septembre 2013

   

Un petit air de déjà-vu: c’est l’impression qui se dégage de l’année juive écoulée : la priorité va toujours à la lutte contre le déficit public. Au cours de l’année 5773 qui vient de s’achever, le PIB a augmenté de 3,4%, le chômage s’est stabilisé à 6,7%. Si l’inflation a quasiment disparu, certains produits ont coûté plus cher au consommateur israélien comme l’alimentaire, qui a augmenté de 6,2%, ou le logement, qui s’est renchéri de 7,8% ; en revanche, l’Israélien a payé moins cher pour parler au téléphone ou pour regarder la télévision câblée.

 

Sur le marché monétaire aussi, la période qui va de septembre 2012 à août 2013 est considérée comme un succès : l’indice boursier TA-100 a augmenté de 7% et le shekel s’est renforcé de 8%.

 

Voici les principaux volets économiques qui ont été à l’ordre du jour de l’actualité en 5773 et qui le seront aussi en 5774 :

 

POLITIQUE BUDGÉTAIRE – Le nouveau gouvernement, sorti des urnes le 22 janvier dernier, a mis en place un nouveau plan d’austérité économique; relèvements des impôts directs, hausse de la TVA, coupes dans les allocations familiales, etc. Or en ce début d’année juive 5774, il s’est avéré que le trou budgétaire sera moins dramatique qu’on a voulu le croire : 3,3% du PIB, contre un déficit prévisionnel de 4,65% pour toute l’année 2013.

 

INDÉPENDANCE ENERGÉTIQUE – C’est symboliquement qu’à la veille de Pessah, le 30 mars dernier, l’exploitation du gaz du puits Tamar situé à 90 km au large des côtes israéliennes, a commencé: dorénavant, le gaz naturel coule dans le gazoduc qui le conduit jusqu’aux installations d’Ashdod. En mai dernier, le gouvernement décidait d’autoriser l’exportation de 40% du gaz exploité, laissant 60% pour la consommation intérieure.

 

AFFLUX DE CAPITAUX ÉTRANGERS – Israël est un petit pays, mais il reste attractif pour les investissements étrangers. De janvier à juin 2013, les investissements directs des étrangers en Israël se sont montés à 6,3 milliards de dollars, contre 9 milliards pour toute l’année 2012. Parmi les principales transactions de l’année, on relèvera que l’israélien Waze a été racheté par Google pour 1,3 milliard de dollars, et que le groupe Iscar a cédé 20% de son capital à Warren Buffet pour 2,1 milliards de dollars.

 

RÉFORMES STRUCTURELLES – Le coût de la vie et la contestation sociale ont incité le gouvernement israélien à lancer des grandes réformes structurelles visant à accentuer la concurrence et à réduire la bureaucratie. Il s’agit notamment de la privatisation du port d’Eilat (novembre 2012), de l’introduction de nouveaux opérateurs dans le secteur des télécoms, de l’accord de « Ciel ouvert » entre Israël et l’Union européenne visant à accroître la concurrence dans les transport aériens, du début de démantèlement des ports de Haïfa et d’Ashdod, etc.

 

MARCHÉ DE L’IMMOBILIER – La flambée de l’immobilier s’est aussi poursuivie dans le courant de l’année écoulée et le volume des crédits immobiliers s’est dangereusement envolé. Pour tenter de faire exploser la bulle immobilière, la banque centrale a pris des mesures visant à restreindre les prêts hypothécaires accordés par les banques. Mais en l’absence d’une augmentation signification des mises en chantier, le prix de l’immobilier restera encore élevé cette année.

 

ET 5774 ?

Au total, 5774 s’annonce semblable à 5773 : le PIB devrait augmenter de 3,2%, mais la consommation des ménages devrait se ralentir sous l’effet de la hausse de la fiscalité. En revanche, l’exploitation du gaz naturel devrait remplacer la consommation privée comme principal moteur de croissance. L’an prochain aussi, l’inflation restera inexistante (2%), le déficit public se stabilisera autour de 3,5% du PIB.

 

Quant aux investisseurs étrangers, ils continueront d’affirmer leur confiance dans l’économie israélienne. Par contre, la poursuite de l’instabilité géopolitique dans la région (en Egypte et en Syrie notamment), renchérira la « prime de risque » que paie l’économie israélienne pour garantir la poursuite de ses investissements.

 

Polémique entre un patriarche syrien

et un évêque français à propos de la Syrie

Jean-Marie Guénois

Le Figaro, 19 septembre 2013

 

Un patriarche chrétien syrien contre un évêque catholique français. La polémique est rare, mais elle est vive et bien réelle. Elle vient d'éclater au grand jour alors qu'elle couvait depuis le 11 septembre dernier entre le patriarche Grégoire III Laham, grec melkite catholique (chef d'une des Églises catholiques orientales) dont le cœur est à Damas en Syrie, et Mgr Claude Dagens, évêque d'Angoulême et membre de l'Académie Française.

 

Dans une lettre adressée à Mgr Dagens que le Patriarche a rendue publique le 18 septembre, ce dernier accuse l'évêque français de «paroles diffamatoires» et «d'attaques» qui, selon lui, «choquent toute une Église en attaquant son Patriarche». Il entend répondre aux propos effectivement tenus publiquement par Mgr Dagens sur les ondes de Radio Notre-Dame, le mercredi 11 septembre. Ce dernier était l'invité de Louis Daufresne dans l'émission matinale «Le Grand Témoin».

 

L'interview portait sur la Syrie. Au fil d'une réponse, Mgr Dagens a lancé: «J'étais au Synode de Rome en octobre 2012 et j'ai vu tant de fois l'illustre Patriarche Laham, chef des Grecs-Melkites à Damas, se lever. Et lorsqu'il fut décidé qu'une délégation du Vatican allait se rendre à Damas pour rencontrer des chrétiens de Syrie et rencontrer Bachar el-Assad, le téléphone a fonctionné: le cher Patriarche Laham s'est entendu avec Bachar el-Assad dont on sait qu'il est un allié, politiquement et financièrement.»

De fait, le projet d'envoi d'une délégation en Syrie – pas moins de 7 cardinaux devaient officiellement prendre le chemin de Damas – annoncé le 16 octobre 2012 par le numéro 2 du Saint-Siège, le cardinal Bertone, avorta. Ce qui sonna comme une humiliation pour le Pape Benoît XVI qui cautionnait ce projet inédit. Et qui fit perdre la face à la diplomatie du Saint-Siège.

 

Dans cette lettre que le Patriarche adresse donc à Mgr Dagens – mais aussi aux autorités romaines, à la conférence des évêques et à l'Académie Française datée du 13 septembre et seulement rendue publique le 18 septembre par ses services – Grégoire III ne répond directement pas à l'accusation: «Vous m'avez gravement et publiquement mis en cause sur les ondes de Radio Notre-Dame. Vous n'imaginez sans doute pas combien vos paroles diffamatoires ont blessé – et mis en danger – la communauté melkite si cruellement éprouvée depuis tant d'années. Quel contraste avec la sollicitude du pape François et la solidarité spirituelle si touchante de mes frères dans l'épiscopat et de tant de Français anonyme! J'ajoute que beaucoup de chrétiens d'Orient sont des francophones fervents et ont été du coup particulièrement peinés par les attaques de l'Académicien que vous êtes. De légitimes différences d'appréciation géopolitiques ne me semblent pas justifier le fait de porter violemment atteinte à la fraternité épiscopale et de choquer toute une Église en attaquant son Patriarche. Sur la brèche et faisant front à toutes les difficultés et les tragédies de ces deux dernières années, je n'ai eu de cesse d'appeler au dialogue et surtout à la réconciliation, unique planche de salut pour la Syrie et pour laquelle je suis prêt à offrir ma vie en sacrifice.»

 

Cette lettre, publiée par le service de presse du Patriarche, est accompagnée d'une note relatant toutes les interventions du Patriarche depuis le début du conflit, qui ont toujours soutenu un «dialogue» pour préserver la paix civile.

 

Joint mercredi par Le Figaro, Mgr Dagens confirme son propos tout en publiant ce communiqué : «Je répondrai au Patriarche grec-melkite Grégoire Laham si celui-ci veut bien, avec les moyens dont il dispose, faire cesser le déferlement de messages haineux et violents que je reçois depuis une semaine, à la suite du dialogue que j'ai eu sur les ondes de Radio Notre-Dame et où j'ai eu l'occasion d'évoquer les réalités suivantes: les relations historiques entre la France et la Syrie ; la mainmise de la Syrie sur le Liban ; le caractère dictatorial du régime actuel de Syrie ; les violences terribles de la guerre civile qui fait des milliers de morts et de blessés, aussi bien du côté des musulmans que des chrétiens ; mon souci pour les populations chrétiennes si éprouvées et mon souhait qu'elles ne s'en remettent pas pour leur présent et leur avenir à des régimes dictatoriaux ; mon engagement aux côtés du pape François pour que la force de la paix du Christ, qui passe par sa Passion, soit plus forte que toutes les violences et les haines de notre histoire.»

Une des voix – souvent controversée mais respectée – de l'épiscopat français

 

Pour toucher le point le plus intéressant de cette polémique, il est nécessaire de saisir le contexte de cette «sortie» de l'évêque d'Angoulême. Cet intellectuel reconnu en France et à l'étranger, historien et ancien élève de Normale sup, est aussi connu pour sa forte réactivité sur les débats de société où il demeure l'une des voix – souvent controversée mais respectée – de l'épiscopat français.

 

Premier point de contexte: les propos de l'évêque français contre le Patriarche syrien formaient une incise dans une réponse où Mgr Dagens se livrait à «une analyse politique» de la situation syrienne. Après l'attaque de la ville chrétienne syrienne de Maaloula, l'évêque cherchait à démontrer qu'elle s'inscrivait probablement dans «la propagande» du régime de Damas. Un «régime criminel et sanglant dont on sait qu'il a occupé le Liban pendant plus d'une vingtaine d'années, avec le meurtre de Rafiq Hariri et le procès empêché des tueurs de Rafiq Hariri, inspirés par le régime de Damas». Une «manipulation» donc, visant à «instrumentaliser» en «essayant de faire croire que la guerre et les violences qui se déroulent en Syrie seraient d'ordre confessionnel». Mais «c'est faux!» a martelé l'évêque.

 

Ce régime «en permanence menteur», a poursuivi l'évêque français au micro de Radio Notre-Dame, veut donc passer pour «innocent» en laissant penser qu'il défend les chrétiens contre les islamistes. Au contraire, a-t-il précisé, «le grand argument politique de Bachar el-Assad c'est premièrement, “moi ou le chaos”, deuxièmement, “guerre à Israël”, troisièmement, “résistance à l'occident”».

 

Enfin, en réponse à l'objection du journaliste selon laquelle beaucoup – à commencer par des chrétiens du Moyen-Orient – estiment que le régime de Damas demeure un rempart contre l'islamisme, l'évêque a conclu: «Ne jouez pas cette dramatisation qui est un mensonge, qui sert la propagande de Bachar el-Assad. On le sait, les chrétiens sont persécutés au Moyen-Orient, pour des raisons multiples et nous sommes solidaires, nous savons ce qui s'est passé en Irak et on ne l'oublie. Mais n'allons pas jouer de cet argument pour défendre un dictateur qui se prépare à commettre le pire et qui l'a déjà commis. On peut plus dire “nous ne savions pas”. Nous savons, depuis des mois et des semaines! Nous savons qu'une guerre civile est en train, qu'un dictateur sanglant manipule cette guerre sanglante et qu'il manipule les opinions publiques à travers le monde».

 

Second et dernier élément de contexte: tout en ayant présidé, à l'appel du Pape François et comme bon nombre de ses confrères, une veillée de prière pour la paix en Syrie le 7 septembre dans son diocèse, Mgr Dagens a été l'un des rares dans l'Église catholique a avoir pris publiquement position pour un «avertissement» armé «proportionné» sous la forme d'un «coup de semonce» dans ce pays. Il s'en est expliqué par écrit le 6 septembre alors que le débat portait sur la conduite à tenir sur l'utilisation d'arme chimique.

 

Ce fait est suffisamment rare et la polémique spectaculaire pour mériter une citation de ses propos: «Après quelques jours de réflexion, je penche pour une intervention armée, écrit Dagens. Je ne vais pas dans le sens d'une certaine opinion catholique, qui chante la ritournelle de la paix à tout prix, même si je suis pour la paix, et je présiderai, demain soir, samedi 7 septembre, la veillée de jeûne et de prière, pour la paix, selon le souhait du pape François. Je crois qu'il y a une réalité qui s'impose. D'un côté, une dictature: Bachar el-Assad que l'on n'aurait jamais dû inviter au défilé du 14 juillet sur les Champs-Élysées, il y a quelques années. Une dictature et de l'autre côté, des démocraties: la France, les États-Unis, les pays européens et d'autres pays, pas tellement au Moyen Orient.»

 

L'évêque d'Angoulême poursuivait: «Peut-on dialoguer avec Bachar el-Assad, qui sait d'avance tout ce qu'il doit faire? Je ne le sais pas. Je suis en train de lire une grande biographie allemande de Hitler, et je constate que les dictateurs sont des gens très intelligents, pas seulement des brutes, ils sont très cultivés. Bachar el-Assad est aussi très cultivé. Il a fait des études en Occident. Hitler était aussi très cultivé, très négociateur, très habile pour séduire et dominer. Avec qui dialoguer? Comment dialoguer? Je ne sais pas mais je pense que les démocraties françaises et américaines qui hésitent sont très honorables en hésitant. Nos présidents ne sont pas des chefs de clan, qui se moqueraient totalement de leurs adversaires et des risques qu'ils prennent en instrumentalisant la guerre civile dans leur propre camp. Tous les dictateurs instrumentalisent la violence et Bachar el-Assad aussi. Il me semble, après réflexion, qu'un coup de semonce, un avertissement armé, fort, limité, proportionné, est nécessaire. S'il est décidé par les États-Unis et la France, je le comprends, en espérant que cet avertissement armé pourra ouvrir la voie à des discussions politiques, même si le régime n'est pas renversé, mais là on entre dans l'hypocrisie politique. Voilà ce que je voulais dire au risque d'étonner un certain nombre de personnes.»

IRANIANS, POST-SYRIA, CHECKMATING FALL-GUY OBAMA — ROUHANI, A “MODERATE”, OFFERS NUCLEAR “DEAL” (NETANYAHU: “A TRAP”)

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

 

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The ‘Iran is Now Moderate’ JokeBarry Rubin, Jewish Press, Sept. 23, 2013—I have never understood why anyone expected any U.S. action on Iran’s nuclear program. Basically there was never any chance the U.S. would undertake any armed action or allow Israel to do so.

 

How Obama Was Checkmated by IranFouad Ajami, Bloomberg, Sept. 23, 2013— “Down is up and up is down. I feel like we have passed through the looking glass and are looking back at a backwards world,” a military historian of the modern Middle East wrote in a recent note to me about the hectic diplomacy over Syria and Iran. “Where did all the realists go? It’s as though the Cold War never took place.”

 

The Perils of an Iran Nuclear DealAmir TaheriNew York Post, Sept. 20, 2013—The White House has announced that President Obama might meet with Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, should it seem they could talk seriously about the nuclear issue. One wonders if Obama is ready for another Russian offer to “help.”

 

A Kinder, Gentler Iran?Ray Takeyh, LA Times, Sept. 20, 2013—In an autumn ritual, an Iranian president is once more coming to New York for the United Nations' annual meeting of the heads of state. Media frenzy is likely to follow, as the smiling visage of President Hassan Rouhani dominates the airways next week.

 

Netanyahu is Said to View Iran Deal as a Possible TrapMark Landler, New York Times, Sept. 22, 2013—Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, stepping up his effort to blunt a diplomatic offensive by Iran, plans to warn the United Nations next week that a nuclear deal with the Iranian government could be a trap similar to one set by North Korea eight years ago.

 

 On Topic Links

 

From Iran to Syria, Obama's Toughness Is Paying OffJeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg, Sept. 20, 2013
Rouhani Enlists Iran Jewish MP Against Hard-LinersMeir Javedanfar , Al-Monitor, Sept. 22, 2013
The Burden of Proof is on IranEphraim Asculai, Emily B. Landau, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 23, 2013
Playing by Iran's RulesJames Jay Carafano, The National Interest, Sept. 23, 2013
Tensions in Tehran: Iran’s Mullahs vs. the Revolutionary GuardsRamin Ahmadi, World Affairs, Sept./Oct. 2013


 


 
 
I have never understood why anyone expected any U.S. action on Iran’s nuclear program. Basically there was never any chance the U.S. would undertake any armed action or allow Israel to do so. That may be a good idea, and it may have been inevitable. But there was no chance in anything else, even if Barack Obama might never have been president. Here’s what was going to happen:
 
–The U.S. would impose economic sanctions. Yet there was never a chance these would fully succeed. There was too much cheating, and China, Russia, and Turkey were among there was exempt.
 
–Negotiations would fail because Iran would stall, play games, and try to use trickery. –So Iran would eventually get nuclear weapons.
 
–The U.S. would then use containment. That would not necessarily be bad but the point was containment as in the Cold War or merely a narrow containment to try to prevent use of nuclear weapons?
 
Yet now something very weird has happened: Hassan Rouhani won the election. Let’s review. Rouhani is a veteran national security official. He was backed by the regime. The voters would not be allowed a choice of a reformer so they could only vote for a phony one. Now what then happened? “President Rouhani says Iran will never develop nuclear weapons.” But that is what Iranian leaders have always claimed! The Los Angeles Times applauded that ten dissidents were released. But they weren’t , even though the newaspaper said, ”It’s Rouhani’s strongest signal yet that he aims to keep a pledge to improve ties with the West.”
 
But he didn’t do it! “Rouhani said I have full authority to make a deal with the West. But that’s what they said too! He then implied that he reversed Iran’s denial that the Nazis committed a Holocaust of Jews. But even that turned out to be a lie and here. They also had a phony New Year’s greeting to the Jews. Rouhani added a Jew to the UN delegation of Iran, no doubt to tell how well they were treated. So Rouhan loves the Jews and wants to make peace. Obama swallowed the bait, eagerly.
 
But note that Rouhani does not have a moderate record–he has bragged about fooling the West about Iran’s nuclear program before–and meanwhile Iran now has troops in Syria. What suckers Americans are. They’ll still be talking about Iranian nukes on the day they get them and probably that’s true for Syria giving up chemical weapons, too. But no it is Israel that wants to plunge the world into war.
 
The New York Times writes: “Netanyahu Scoffs at Iranian Overtures, Setting Stage for Showdown With U.S.” It is Israel that “scoffs” and that scoffing is setting up a U.S.-Israel “showdown” because America would understandably rather have a nice peace than a war with Iran. Yet there is no indication that experience shows Israel might be right. The Times writes: “Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, moved quickly to block even tentative steps by Iran and the United States to ease tensions and move toward negotiations to end the nuclear crisis, signaling what is likely to be a sustained campaign by Israel to head off any deal.”
 
But this is a lie. Netanyahu cannot “block” an initiative and if Obama wants talks he will have them. And it is assumed that the initiative will succeed “toward negotiations to end the nuclear crisis.” Peace in our time!
 
Yet there is one more piece of poison. The reader is warned that there will be “a sustained campaign by Israel to head off any deal. Israel will frantically try to head off an attempt to make peace.” Bad Israel! In fact it is obviously others who want to claim a deal is certain and that Iran wants one. Like Vladimir Putin on the Syria deal it is Rouhani that gets an op-ed, in the Washington Post instead of the Times, to make his claim and be cheered.
 
Already there has been a pay-off for Iran in a series of European Union court decisions which recommended the removal of unilateral sanctions against dozens of Iranian firms, including crucial shipping lines. The European states show they are eager to drop sanctions because of the money to be made. Rami G. Khouri writes: “The positive possibilities that could emanate from the escalating signs of a direct Iranian-American engagement are dazzling in their intensity and historic in their scope. Rarely in modern history has the Middle East region experienced such a hopeful moment as this, when one major diplomatic shift towards productive American-Iranian relations could positively impact half a dozen conflicts in the region.”
 
On what evidence? “Will Iran trade Al-Assad?, says al-Ahram. when it looks like Iran is actually escalating the civil war ”Syria deal holds a lesson for Barack Obama–talk to Iran,” says an op-ed in the Financial Times. Reuters”calls the regime a “centrist government.” The Guardian tells us: “After years of seeing their personal freedoms and political demands quashed, young Iranians hope the efforts of the new government led by President Hassan Rouhani will open up Iranian society and restore the country’s standing on the world stage.”
 
On what evidence? About the only article reminding us that Tehran is an ideological and sworn enemy of America that wants to deceive it was Ray Takeyh, an Iran expert who has worked at the National Security Council. Speaking of an article in an Iranian newspaper he said: “The article stressed that former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad‘s confrontational policies and reckless rhetoric had caused the international community to perceive Iran as threatening and dangerous. In that context, Iran’s quest for nuclear empowerment was bound to be resisted by the great powers.
 
And cleverly manipulated by the United States and Israel, the United Nations censured Iran and imposed debilitating sanctions on its fledgling economy. “The editorial went on to say that to escape this predicament, Iran had to change its image. A state that is considered ‘trustworthy and ‘accountable’ is bound to be provided with some leeway. Iran can best achieve its nuclear aspirations not by making systematic concessions on the scope of its program but by altering the overall impression of its reliability as a state.”
 
Otherwise, all problems can be settled with the Muslim Brotherhood and Iran, with the help of Russia and Turkey. Israel, in contrast, is unreliable, preferring an avoidable confrontation. Funny, so Iran no longer regards America as the Great Satan but as the Great Sucker. Beware of Iranians bearing gifts, and even more aware of Iranians that aren’t.

 
 
HOW OBAMA WAS CHECKMATED BY IRAN
Fouad Ajami
Bloomberg, Sept. 23, 2013
 
“Down is up and up is down. I feel like we have passed through the looking glass and are looking back at a backwards world,” a military historian of the modern Middle East wrote in a recent note to me about the hectic diplomacy over Syria and Iran. “Where did all the realists go? It’s as though the Cold War never took place.”
 
The logic of familiar things has been overturned. Iran President Hassan Rohani comes to New York for a meeting of the United Nations General Assembly preceded by a brilliant publicity campaign. There was an interview with NBC, with a female correspondent at that. There was an op-ed article under his name in the Washington Post. His foreign minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, sent Rosh Hashanah greetings to Jews worldwide via Twitter.
 
The Iranian president stepped forth in the nick of time, right as the Barack Obama administration was reeling from the debacle of its Syria policy. We have been here before with the skilled and tenacious guild that runs the Iranian theocracy.
 
An attractive cleric with a winning smile, Mohammad Khatami, cultured and literate, preaching the notion of a “dialogue of civilizations,” was elected president in a landslide in 1997; he was re-elected four years later. Great hopes were pinned on Khatami. He delivered an oration at the Washington National Cathedral, and his ascent was seen on both sides of the Atlantic as evidence of the mellowing of Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s revolution of 1979.
 
But the hopes invested in Khatami were to no avail. Iran pushed on with its nuclear weapons program and with its bid for greater power in neighboring states. At home, a student rebellion animated by unmistakable liberal sentiments that broke out in 1999 was crushed without mercy.
Recalling Khatami
 
Khatami was either a man powerless to defend the movement or a faithful son of the Khomeini order who was given leeway by the regime’s powers that be. He couldn’t defy the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, or run afoul of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard.

The case is now being made that Rohani is no freelancer, that he is a player of standing in the regime, and that the olive branch he carries with him has the consent of the supreme leader himself. The regime has been humbled, brought low by draconian sanctions, this line of argument goes, and has come to a reckoning with its weaknesses. There are serious and obvious flaws in this view.
 
These begin with Rohani’s biography. As pointed out by Sohrab Ahmari in the Wall Street Journal, Rohani, who was secretary of Iran’s Supreme National Security Council for 16 years, starting in 1989, “led the crackdown on a 1999 student uprising and helped the regime evade Western scrutiny of the nuclear-weapons program.” Indeed, from 2003 to 2005, Rohani was Iran’s chief negotiator over the nuclear program. To paraphrase Winston Churchill, who once proclaimed that he hadn’t become the king’s first minister in order to preside over the liquidation of the empire, Rohani hasn’t risen to the presidency of Iran to barter away the regime’s nuclear assets.
 
The assertion of the Obama administration and its chorus that the theocracy is now at a low point in its fortunes can be turned on its head. Iran has been fighting a proxy war with the U.S. over Syria, and can be said to have prevailed in that contest. The regime of Bashar al-Assad hasn’t fallen; in a moment of peril for the Syrian dictatorship, Iran dispatched the fighters of the Hezbollah militia deep into the war. They and the Revolutionary Guard turned the tide of war in Assad’s favor.
 
The supreme leader and his lieutenants watched an American leader draw a “red line” in Syria, only to blink when it counted. Masters of chess — didn’t they invent the game? — they had an exquisite sense of Obama’s dilemma. Rohani had the indecency of shedding crocodile tears for Syria in his Washington Post article, speaking of it as a “jewel of civilization” that had turned into a “scene of heartbreaking violence, including chemical weapons attacks.” So much of this violence, he doubtless knew, has been the work of the Revolutionary Guard and Hezbollah, its Lebanese satrap.
 
Iran’s clerics have nothing to lose from the diplomacy entrusted to Rohani. They bought time for their nuclear program and for their client regime in Damascus. The theocracy has erected a deep structure of power. Men such as Rohani are dispensable. There is a tenaciousness to the theocracy’s bid for power and to its survival instincts. Let Obama have his boast about the efficacy of the economic sanctions imposed on Iran. The theocracy can live with that. Since its conquest of power in 1979, it has had the perfect level of enmity with the U.S. — just enough to serve as the ideological glue of a regime built on paranoia and xenophobia without triggering a military campaign that could do it damage.
 
American officials now say that Iran can’t draw comfort from the reticence of Obama on Syria, that American vigilance would be greater on Iran’s nuclear assets than had been the case thus far over Syria’s chemical weapons. But on that diplomatic chessboard, and before a big crowd that has gathered to watch the protagonists in a standoff with high stakes, it is easy to see the American player being decisively outclassed. There is cunning aplenty in Persia, an eye for that exact moment when one’s rival has been trapped.
 
Fouad Ajami is a senior fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution.
 
Contents


 

 
The White House has announced that President Obama might meet with Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, should it seem they could talk seriously about the nuclear issue. One wonders if Obama is ready for another Russian offer to “help.”
 
In the case of Syria, Russian “assistance” has left the United States committed to a process that may or may not dispose of the Assad regime’s chemical weapons, in exchange for which Obama effectively dropped his longstanding demand that “Assad must go” (as well as sacrificing any credible threat to use force to punish Bashar al-Assad for his atrocities). Syria, of course, only used the weapons to keep Assad in power.
 
This week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov offered a preview of Moscow’s plan for “solving” the Iranian nuclear stand-off. Fars, a news agency owned by Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, quoted Lavrov about tackling the standoff over Iran’s nuclear program: “We have been in contact with Iranian partners and expect positive results soon.” Lavrov mentioned the possibility of Iran “voluntarily” suspending uranium enrichment above the 20 percent level in exchange for full recognition of its right to enrich uranium. Lavrov’s plan offers great advantages to Iran.
 
First, if America buys into it, it will abandon its freedom to develop a policy of its own on Iran.
 
Second, the five Security Council resolutions imposing sanctions on Iran would be set aside.
 
Third, the fact that Iran has been violating the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty for more than 20 years will be forgotten — just as Assad’s use of chemical weapons, a war crime and a crime against humanity, is not mentioned in the Russo-American accord.
 
Fourth, Iran will get to keep almost all of the 4,000 kilograms of uranium it has illegally enriched. To give Obama something to chew upon, Tehran may agree to transfer to Russia the uranium enriched to 20 percent. This would provide TV footage to create the illusion that Obama achieved something.
 
Fifth, as Lavrov made clear, the Iranian move would be reciprocated by a lifting of sanctions against the Islamic Republic — including the US and European Union sanctions that go beyond those imposed by the United Nations.
 
Finally, Iran will be invited to join the Geneva-2 conference on Syria, thus having its leading role in the Middle East endorsed by both Russia and America.
 
The ease with which Russia managed to seize control of US policy on Syria has encouraged Rouhani that similar results could be obtained on the Iranian issue. Rouhani and his advisers believe that Obama is desperate to make a deal with Tehran. “Obama is the best news for our revolution since Jimmy Carter,” says Hussein Seifi, a political consultant in Tehran. “We antagonized Carter and created problems for ourselves.”
 
Tehran policy circles believe that Obama was ready to concede Iran’s main demands even under President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad — but Ahmadinejad enjoyed being provocative and believed that humiliating America was more important than neutralizing it. Rouhani rejects that method.
 
He has a history of direct and indirect contact with US politics. As far back as 1986, he acted as interpreter for Ayatollah Najaf Abadi in secret talks in Tehran with President Ronald Reagan’s emissary, Robert MacFarlane. Scottish-educated, Rouhani also has British friends who advise him to seize the opportunity provided by Obama’s presidency. Several key members of Rouhani’s Cabinet, including Foreign Minister Seyyed Muhammad-Javad Zarif, are US-educated and have spent years living and working in the America. Rouhani’s chief of staff, Muhammad Nahavandian even has a US Green Card.
 
At next week’s UN General Assembly, Rouhani will be all smiles and will do his utmost to appear moderate and reasonable. Lobbyists have already fixed a series of media appearances and private meetings for him, including with select Jewish figures in New York. In the runup to his trip, Rouhani spread the message that his administration does not deny the Holocaust and that the end of Ahmadinejad means an end to annual Holocaust-denial conferences in Tehran organized by the Islamic Republic. The view in Tehran is that, since Obama proved ready to eat humble pie on Syria, he should be helped to do the same on Iran.
 
Contents


 

A KINDER, GENTLER IRAN?
Ray Takeyh
LA Times, Sept. 20, 2013
 
In an autumn ritual, an Iranian president is once more coming to New York for the United Nations' annual meeting of the heads of state. Media frenzy is likely to follow, as the smiling visage of President Hassan Rouhani dominates the airways next week. Beyond vague pledges of cooperation and lofty rhetoric about turning a new page, the question remains how to assess the intentions of the new Iranian government. The early indications are that Rouhani has put together a seasoned team that seeks to both advance and legitimize Iran's nuclear program.
 
One of the peculiarities of the Islamic Republic is that at times it seemingly floats its strategies in the media. On Sept. 3, a long editorial titled "A Realistic Initiative on the Nuclear Issue" appeared in Bahar, an Iranian newspaper with ties to the more moderate elements of the country's elite.
 
The article stressed that former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's confrontational policies and reckless rhetoric had caused the international community to perceive Iran as threatening and dangerous. In that context, Iran's quest for nuclear empowerment was bound to be resisted by the great powers. And cleverly manipulated by the United States and Israel, the United Nations censured Iran and imposed debilitating sanctions on its fledgling economy.
 
The editorial went on to say that to escape this predicament, Iran had to change its image. A state that is considered "trustworthy" and "accountable" is bound to be provided with some leeway. Iran can best achieve its nuclear aspirations not by making systematic concessions on the scope of its program but by altering the overall impression of its reliability as a state.
 
It appears that Rouhani is carefully following this script. One of his first acts as president was to appoint as his foreign minister Javad Zarif, an urbane diplomat unwisely purged by Ahmadinejad. Zarif's superb skill as a negotiator, his easy access to Western power-brokers and his pragmatism are bound to impress Iran's skeptical interlocutors.
 
The most contentious issue that has crossed Rouhani's desk thus far is Syria's alleged use of chemical weapons against unarmed civilians. In the past, the ideological compulsions of the Islamic Republic would lead it to deny the charges, defend Syrian President Bashar Assad and accuse his detractors of fabricating the evidence. This time around, Rouhani and his functionaries have subtly distanced themselves from Assad, condemned the use of chemical weapons and welcomed Russia's efforts to resolve the issue through the United Nations.
 
Along with tweets commemorating the Jewish High Holy Days, Rouhani has managed to reverse some of the reputational damage that the theocratic regime had suffered under his impetuous predecessor. The new government's soothing words have not lessened its determination to forge ahead with its nuclear program. Rouhani has stressed, as reported on state radio this month, that Iran "will not withdraw an iota from the definite rights of people." That message was reinforced by the appointment of Ali Shamkhani to the powerful position of secretary of the Supreme National Security Council.
 
Shamkhani is a creature of the security services, one of the founding members of the Revolutionary Guard and a former defense minister. Throughout his career, Shamkhani has been involved with the nation's nuclear program, procuring technologies for it and defending it. During his time as defense minister, he even subtly suggested the utility of nuclear arms in Iran's contested regional environment. "We have neighbors who, due to international competition, have gained nuclear weapons…. We have no other alternatives but to defend ourselves in view of these developments," Shamkhani said in 2000.
 
If Zarif's appointment is designed to placate the international community, Shamkhani's selection is a signal to the hard-liners at home that Rouhani intends to preserve Iran's nuclear prerogatives. Rouhani's attempt to refashion Iran's image and temper its rhetoric should be welcomed. After eight years of Ahmadinejad provocations that often unhinged the international community, a degree of self-restraint is admirable. However, judge Tehran by its conduct and not its words.
 
It is not enough for Rouhani to condemn the use of chemical weapons in Syria. Is he prepared to withdraw the Revolutionary Guard contingents that have done much to buttress Assad's brutality? It is not sufficient for Rouhani to speak of transparency; he must curb Iran's troublesome nuclear activities and comply with the U.N. Security Council resolutions. And it is not enough for Rouhani to speak of a tolerant society unless he is prepared to free his many former comrades and colleagues who are languishing in prisons under false charges. Rouhani's reliability has to be measured by his actions, not by his speeches or tweets.
 
Ray Takeyh is a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

Contents


 


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel, stepping up his effort to blunt a diplomatic offensive by Iran, plans to warn the United Nations next week that a nuclear deal with the Iranian government could be a trap similar to one set by North Korea eight years ago, according to an Israeli official involved in drafting the speech. Mr. Netanyahu is scheduled to address the General Assembly next Tuesday, a week after President Obama and Iran’s new president, Hassan Rouhani, are to speak at the United Nations.
 
But the Israeli government, clearly rattled by the sudden talk of a diplomatic opening, offered a preview Sunday of Mr. Netanyahu’s hard-edged message, in which he will set the terms for what would be acceptable to Israel in any agreement concerning Iran’s nuclear ambitions. “A bad agreement is worse than no agreement at all,” the Israeli official said, reading a statement from the prime minister’s office that he said reflected Mr. Netanyahu’s remarks.
 
President Rouhani, in advance of his arrival in New York this week, has signaled a willingness to negotiate. The Obama administration, while professing wariness, is clearly intrigued by the possibility of resolving a problem that has bedeviled President Obama as long as he has been in office. And that, in turn, has deeply unsettled the Israelis. “Iran must not be allowed to repeat North Korea’s ploy to get nuclear weapons,” said the Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the matter. “Just like North Korea before it,” he said, “Iran professes to seemingly peaceful intentions; it talks the talk of nonproliferation while seeking to ease sanctions and buy more time for its nuclear program.”
 
In his speech, the official said, Mr. Netanyahu plans to review the history of North Korea’s negotiations, with particular emphasis on an active period of diplomacy in 2005, when the North Korean government, in what was then seen as a landmark deal, agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons program in return for economic, security and energy benefits. A year later, North Korea tested its first nuclear device. Israeli officials warn something similar could happen if the United States were to conclude too hasty a deal with Mr. Rouhani. As Iran is doing today, the North Koreans insisted on a right to a peaceful nuclear energy program.
 
There are differences between the two cases. At the time that it concluded the deal in 2005, North Korea said it had already produced a nuclear bomb. American intelligence experts believe Iran is still many months, if not years, away from having such a weapon.
 
But American officials agree that North Korea offers a troubling precedent of nuclear negotiations in which a rogue nation repeatedly extracted concessions from the United States and other countries, only to renege later and fire missiles or test nuclear devices.
 
In his speech, the Israeli official said, Mr. Netanyahu will offer a familiar list of demands: that Iran cease all enrichment of uranium and agree to the removal of all enriched uranium from its territory; dismantle its nuclear facility hidden in a mountain near the holy city of Qum; dismantle its newest generation of centrifuges at another facility, Natanz; and stop construction of a heavy-water reactor at Arak.
 
What is new is Mr. Netanyahu’s explicit comparison of Iran to North Korea — a rhetorical device devised to undermine Mr. Rouhani’s image as a moderate leader who posted greetings on Twitter to Jews for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year. North Korea’s reclusive dictators — whether Kim Jong-il in 2005 or his son, Kim Jong-un, today — have not traveled to the United Nations to plead their country’s case to the world.
 
The Israeli official said that Mr. Netanyahu recognized that he would be labeled a naysayer for his pessimism. “He feels morally impelled to stake out this position,” the official said. The White House has sought to allay the fears of Israel officials, assuring them that Mr. Obama will judge Mr. Rouhani by his actions, not his words, and that the United States is not planning to prematurely ease the economic sanctions against Iran that have crippled its economy.
 
“We certainly recognize and appreciate Israel’s significant concerns about Iran, given the threats that have been made against Israel and the outrageous comments that have come out of Iran for many years about Israel,” Benjamin J. Rhodes, a deputy national security adviser, told reporters on Friday, previewing Mr. Obama’s speech on Tuesday.
 
But with a recent exchange of letters between Mr. Obama and Mr. Rouhani stirring hopes of a diplomatic breakthrough, Israeli officials are not mollified. At last year’s General Assembly, Mr. Netanyahu provided what was probably its most dramatic moment, brandishing a simple drawing that he said demonstrated how close Iran was to producing a nuclear bomb.
 
This year, Israeli officials fear, the highest drama may be Mr. Obama greeting Mr. Rouhani on the sidelines of the General Assembly, something that has not happened for decades and which they worry would leave Israel more isolated in dealing with Iran.

Contents
 

 
From Iran to Syria, Obama's Toughness Is Paying OffJeffrey Goldberg, Bloomberg, Sept. 20, 2013—There is one main reason why Iran is making conciliatory noises about its relationship with the U.S. and about the future of its nuclear program, and there is one main reason why Bashar al-Assad, the Syrian dictator, is signaling his intention to give up his stockpiles of chemical weapons.
 
Rouhani Enlists Iran Jewish MP Against Hard-LinersMeir Javedanfar , Al-Monitor, Sept. 22, 2013—In Iran, much like everywhere else, all politics is local. This applies to some of the most important reasons behind Rouhani's reported decision to take Iran's Jewish member of parliament, Siamak Moreh Sedgh, with him on his upcoming UN trip to New York.
 
The Burden of Proof is on IranEphraim Asculai, Emily B. Landau, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 23, 2013—Iran’s new President Hassan Rouhani is clearly determined to get economic and financial sanctions on Iran lifted. To that end, he obviously must conduct dialogue with the P5+1 world powers, especially with the US; as such, he has – not surprisingly – put out concrete feelers in this direction.
 
Playing by Iran's RulesJames Jay Carafano, The National Interest, Sept. 23, 2013—Hassan Rouhani is not Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Everyone in Washington pretty much agrees with that. On everything else the city divides into two camps. One holds that the new Iranian president offers an opportunity to engage with the regime.
 
Tensions in Tehran: Iran’s Mullahs vs. the Revolutionary GuardsRamin Ahmadi, World Affairs, Sept./Oct. 2013—In its first days under the Ayatollah Khomeini, the Islamic Republic of Iran was a competitive authoritarian state that, despite challenges of war, armed opposition, and difficult economic times, enjoyed a significant measure of stability. The Revolutionary Guards and paramilitary Basij force were charged with controlling the disenfranchised masses.

 

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THE PEACE-PROCESS BLUES: ONE-STATE’S OUT, TWO STATES TOO; PALESTINIANS LIE, ABBAS’ NOT LEGALLY “PRESIDENT” & JORDAN’S PRO-ISRAEL: SO, WHAT’S LEFT? THE STATUS QUO!

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Contents:

The One-State IrresolutionDavid A. Halperin & Danielle Spiegel Feld ,Times of Israel, Sept. 19, 2013—Ian Lustick’s requiem for two-states, “Two-State Illusion,” which was prominently featured in this weekend’s New York Times, was a pitiful illustration of the absurdity of arguments for a one-state “solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.


Israel Should Annul the Oslo AccordsDanny Danon, New York Times, Sept. 20, 2013—This month marks 20 years since the signing of the first of the Oslo Accords between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Two decades after Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat stood on the White House lawn with President Bill Clinton, Israelis and Palestinians are again in the midst of the umpteenth round of negotiations.

 

Deceitful Palestinian Statements as Strategic WeaponsDr. Manfred Gerstenfeld, Israel National News, Sept. 23, 2013Interview with Michael Widlanski: History has shown that the Arabic messages to their own people is their true approach.”   "Palestinian leaders have developed ambiguous messages as strategic weapons to disarm, demoralize and deceive foes while gaining third-party support. They use duplicitous statements for different audiences in the tradition of taqiyya—the art of dissimulation.

 

Palestine’s Democratic DeficitNeville Teller, Jerusalem Post, Sept. 22, 2013—Back in New York, accompanied by his prime minister, is the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) – or the State of Palestine, as the PA decided to rename itself last April, following its upgrade to “non-member observer state” at the UN General Assembly.

 

Does Jordan Want Palestinians in Control of the Border?Khaled Abu Toameh, Gatestone Institute, Sept. 20, 2013 —Palestinian Authority Pesident Mahmoud Abbas says that the Palestinians will not accept any Israeli presence along the border between a future Palestinian state and Jordan. But the question is whether Jordan really wants to have Palestinians on its borders.

 

On Topic Links

 

Tackle Incitement, Stop the KillingsDavid Horovitz, Times of Israel, September 23, 2013

Israel Wants Peace. PeriodIsrael Kasnett, Aljazeera, Sept. 13, 2013
A Palestinian State with Temporary Borders – A Historical CatastropheElyakim Ha’etzni, Israpundit, Sept. 18, 2013
The Fables of Saeb ErakatVictor Sharpe, Canada Free Press, August 22, 2013
The Causes, Consequences and Cures for Palestinian Authority Hate SpeechDavid Pollock, The Washington Institute, Sept. 2013
Could the Failure of the Oslo Process Doom Israel’s Friendship with Jordan?Assaf DavidTablet Magazine, Sept. 23, 2013


 


THE ONE-STATE IRRESOLUTION
David A. Halperin and Danielle Spiegel Feld
Times of Israel, Sept. 19, 2013

 
Ian Lustick’s requiem for two-states, “Two-State Illusion,” which was prominently featured in this weekend’s New York Times, was a pitiful illustration of the absurdity of arguments for a one-state “solution” to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. At the most basic level, what one-state advocates like Lustick are calling for is not actually a solution to the conflict. Instead, as Lustick makes clear, the hope is that the absence of diplomacy will “set the stage” for an escalation in the conflict – “ruthless oppression, mass mobilization, riots, brutality, [and] terror” to be precise – which, in turn, “might be the route to Palestinian independence.” Stated otherwise, Lustick’s plan is to set aside diplomacy, stir up another violent explosion, and hope that through “blood and magic” a Palestinian state may someday emerge from the rubble.
 
Plainly this is a ridiculous proposal. Particularly given the sectarian civil wars broiling across the Middle East it is unbelievably foolish to predict that Israelis and Palestinians would ever give up their independent national aspirations or that a joint state would ever be peaceful.
 
In fact, Lustick’s lopsided treatment of the right to self-determination demonstrates well why the one-state approach is all but guaranteed to produce perpetual strife. While Lustick shows an admirable concern for the idea of Palestinian self-determination, he attaches no importance whatsoever to the idea that Jewish residents of the area should enjoy the same right. Instead, he asks the reader to accept the fact that “Israel may no longer exist as a Jewish and democratic vision of its Zionist founders” and that this would not be “the end of the world.” This double-standard makes no sense and would be greeted with the utmost hostility by Israel’s Jewish inhabitants.
 
There is simply no way to explain why Palestinian self-determination should be assigned the highest importance, while the Jewish right of self-determination is completely dismissed. If vindicating the right to self-determination is important – which we strongly believe it is – the one-state “solution” can never offer anything more than an unsatisfactory half-solution.
 
Lustick attempts to prove that the single state he and the others promote could actually be harmonious, but he’s far from convincing. The “strange bedfellows” he predicts will emerge “once the two-state fantasy blindfolds are off” are not merely strange, they are also virtually unimaginable. For instance, he posits that “secular Palestinians in Israel and the West Bank could ally with… non-Jewish Russian speaking immigrants,” which, incidentally, is among the most conservative demographic groups in Israel; he also predicts that “Israelis who came from Arab countries might find new reasons to think of themselves not as ‘Eastern,’ but as Arab.” Given the fact that many of Israel’s “Eastern” Jews either fled or were expelled from Arab states, it’s ludicrous to forecast such an identity shift taking place.
 
Finally, Lustick comes up far short of proving that the current peace negotiations are merely an exercise in futility and only ends up illustrating just how illogical his arguments are. One of the key pieces of evidence he marshals to try to prove this point is that both Israelis and Palestinians currently hold “contradictory fantasies” as to what two states would look like. But this line of reasoning completely overlooks the fact that the reason we need negotiations is because, while the parties agree that two-states is the desired outcome, they disagree as to what two-states would look like. If they agreed on both the fact that two-states were the ideal and how these states should look, we wouldn’t need negotiations in the first place. In short, proponents of one-state such as Lustick have a long way to go before they can make a persuasive case that the idea of a single state offers a “noncatastrophic path[] into the future.”
 
One-staters like Lustick may themselves oppose the Zionist goal of creating a Jewish and democratic state. They may not care that implementing the one-state solution would once again return the Jewish people to their historical role as a people without a land of their own, a people denied the right to self-determination. They may not be troubled by the prospects of casting the Holy Land into a state of perpetual conflict either. But for all who do care about these things, the alternative to two-states would be anything but “noncatastrophic.” We must continue to do our utmost to ensure such a “one state” never comes to be.
 


David A. Halperin and Danielle Spiegel-Feld are Executive Director and Associate Director of Research & Policy of Israel Policy Forum

 
 

 
This month marks 20 years since the signing of the first of the Oslo Accords between the State of Israel and the Palestine Liberation Organization. Two decades after Yitzhak Rabin and Yasir Arafat stood on the White House lawn with President Bill Clinton, Israelis and Palestinians are again in the midst of the umpteenth round of negotiations.
 
Despite these efforts, true peace seems as distant as it did before the secret talks in Oslo were revealed to the world. The government of Israel must admit that we made a mistake and declare that the Oslo process has failed. Only by officially annulling the Oslo Accords will we have the opportunity to rethink the existing paradigm and hopefully lay the foundations for a more realistic modus vivendi between the Jews and Arabs of this region.
 
Despite attempts to rewrite recent history by fringe elements, the failure of the Oslo framework cannot be attributed to a lack of will and persistence by Israel. What didn’t we try? We attempted direct negotiations, third-party mediators, public conferences and back-channel talks. We staged withdrawals and unilateral disengagements, established joint Israeli-Palestinian military patrols in Gaza and deployed American-trained security forces in the West Bank. None of this worked.
 
The P.L.O., and later the Palestinian Authority, never truly accepted that Israel, as the national state and homeland of the Jewish people, was here to stay. No amount of impressive ceremonies, cosmetic changes to the P.L.O. charter and Palestinian doublespeak to Western media outlets about their commitment to peace was able to change this grim fact.
 
To understand the mind-boggling scope of Oslo’s failure, it is best to look at the statistics. According to the organization B’Tselem, during the first Palestinian intifada in 1987, six years before Mr. Rabin’s attempt to recast the archterrorist Yasir Arafat as a peacemaker, 160 Israelis were murdered in Palestinian terror attacks. In the mid- to late-1990s, as successive Israeli governments negotiated with the Palestinians, and Mr. Arafat and his cronies repeatedly swore they were doing their utmost to end terrorism, 240 Israelis were brutally killed as suicide bombs and other heinous terrorist acts targeting unarmed civilians were unleashed in every corner of our nation.
 
Things did not get better after Prime Minister Ehud Barak made the Palestinians an offer in 2000 that, judging by his landslide defeat in the election a few months later, was way beyond what most Israelis supported. Between then and September 2010, 1,083 Israelis were murdered by Palestinian terrorists.The Oslo process did not bring peace; it brought increased bloodshed. We must end this farce by announcing the immediate suspension of the accords. Little impact would be felt by average Israelis and Palestinians. Those who would suffer most would be full-time negotiators like Martin S. Indyk and Saeb Erekat, who would find themselves out of a job after 20 years of gainful employment in the peace process industry.
 
What should replace Oslo’s false promise? We should implement what I have called a “three-state solution.” In the future, the final status of the Palestinians will be determined in a regional agreement involving Jordan and Egypt, when the latter has been restabilized. All the region’s states must participate in the process of creating a long-term solution for the Palestinian problem.
 
In the short term, the Palestinians will continue to have autonomy over their civilian lives while Israel remains in charge of security throughout Judea and Samaria, commonly referred to as the West Bank. Following an initial period, the Arab residents of Judea and Samaria could continue to develop their society as part of an agreement involving Israel and Jordan. Similarly, Gaza residents could work with Israel and Egypt to create a society that granted them full civil authority over their lives in a manner that was acceptable to all sides.
 
Most veterans of the peace process will mock this proposal, protesting that there is no way it would be accepted by the Palestinians. Their argument may seem convincing today, but as I often remind my critics, our region is unpredictable. Had you told any Middle East expert five years ago that two successive Egyptian presidents would be deposed and Bashar al-Assad’s regime would be in the midst of a bloody civil war, you, too, would have been mocked. Things change. We can make them change.
 
I am aware that even if the Palestinians accepted this plan, we would still have to deal with a fundamentalist Hamas regime in Gaza and continuing instability in Egypt. No plan for Israeli-Arab peace can be fully implemented until these issues are resolved. In the short term, Israel’s only option is to manage this conflict by refusing to compromise when it comes to the security of Israeli citizens. At the same time, our government should take all steps possible to improve the economic well-being of the Palestinians.
 
The dissolution of the Oslo Accords would serve as the official act validating what we already know — that this failed framework is totally irrelevant in 2013. Once the Palestinians were ready to sit down and seriously discuss how our two peoples, through this new paradigm, could live side by side in peace and prosperity, they would find willing partners across the political spectrum in Israel.
 
It may not be the utopian peace promised to all of us on that sunny day in September 1993, but in the harsh realities of the Middle East, this may be the best we can hope for and the sole realistic chance for our children to grow up in a world less violent than previous generations have had to endure.
 
Danny Danon is a member of the Knesset and the deputy defense minister of Israel.
 
Contents

 

Interview with Michael Widlanski: History has shown that the Arabic messages to their own people is their true approach.”
 
"Palestinian leaders have developed ambiguous messages as strategic weapons to disarm, demoralize and deceive foes while gaining third-party support. They use duplicitous statements for different audiences in the tradition of taqiyya—the art of dissimulation. This is an Islam-approved application of lying to defeat enemies. When conversing in English they may sound peace-loving. Yet they simultaneously broadcast bellicose messages to Arabs in Arabic.
 
“This method of destructive ambiguity was practiced already by the pre-war Grand Mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin al Husseini. He was heavily involved in spreading false messages about Jews ‘trying to conquer the Temple Mount’ in the early 1920's and later in propaganda broadcasts for the Nazis. Fatah leaders, particularly Yasser Arafat and Mahmud Abbas, follow in Husseini’s footsteps using ambiguity.”
 
Dr. Michael Widlanski is the author of "Battle for Our Minds: Western Elites and the Terror Threat". He teaches at Bar Ilan University and was Strategic Affairs Advisor in Israel’s Ministry of Public Security editing the Orient House Archives of the PLO. He will be Schusterman Visiting Professor at the University of California, Irvine 2013-14.
 
“Communication and especially dissimulation were major motifs in Arafat's life and career. He became leader of the PLO through the microphone and pen and not through the rifle. Arafat became head of Fatah by gaining newspaper attention in Egypt in the 1950's. In 1968, he became the undisputed leader of the PLO after skillful press exploitation of the ‘Battle of Karameh.’
 
“From 1968 through 1974, Fatah/PLO made it clear that it wanted to replace Israel with a ‘democratic Palestine.’ This was a euphemism for what former PLO leader Ahmad Shukeiry had declared: ‘…destroying Israel and driving the Jews into the sea.’ Beginning in 1974, the PLO further ‘moderated’ its tone, but not its real goal. It adopted the ‘Strategy of Stages’ and declared that it would try to gain parts of Palestine/Israel via peaceful means. Thereafter it would employ arms for the final battle. Arafat and Abbas refined this strategy further over the years.
 
Hamas has been more direct than Fatah/PLO in declaring its goals and tactics – destroying Israel with the force of arms. It has since learned from Arafat and Abbas. In recent years, Hamas, too, has had spokesmen who suggest that it might consider letting Israel survive if and when it withdraws to the 1949 armistice lines or the 1947 partition lines.
 
“Despite all claims to the contrary, no PLO leader has given up demands for Palestinian ‘refugees returning to their homes’ in Israel. Yet many prominent Israelis and Americans also promote this fallacy. Arafat, Abbas and negotiators like Yasser Abd-Rabbo, Nabil Sha'ath and Ahmad Qrei'a –also known as Abu 'Ala – have publicly and repeatedly repudiated such Israeli claims on the refugees issue made by Ehud Olmert, Tzippy Livni and especially Yossi Beilin and Shlomo Ben-Ami.
 
“Israel fails in its external communications partly because there is no unified Israeli view."
“Similarly, claims by many Israelis and Americans that the PLO has agreed to recognize and accept Israeli settlement blocs in return for ceding territory in Israel to Palestinian sovereignty, have been repudiated. This is also true about claims that the PLO leadership is willing to accept Israeli control of some holy places in eastern Jerusalem and that Ramallah or Al-Azzaria would serve as a Palestinian capital. Abbas repeatedly told Arab media—as late as August 2013—that there will be no Jews living in Palestinian territory and that Jerusalem will be the Palestinian capital.
 
“Abbas told an Israeli interviewer that he did not want to return to Safed. Thereafter, he declared to Arab interviewers that all Arabs could decide where and when they would go. He specifically said all refugees would have the ‘right” to return to their homes.
 
“Claims that the PLO has amended its charter are false as well. The ‘ceremony’ in 1998 concerning this is deemed a stage act by Palestinians, even though it was sanctioned by Bill Clinton and Benjamin Netanyahu. Leading Palestinians—such as Palestinian National Congress speaker Salim Za'anoun—say that the PLO charter still stands.
 
“Periodically, Arafat and Abbas said that they ‘recognize Israel.’ They thereafter explained in Arabic that they recognize the fact but not the right of Israel's existence. They further rebuff any attempt to recognize Jewish sovereignty or even Jewish nationalism. Abbas has repeatedly rejected Netanyahu's demand that the PLO accept Israel as a predominantly Jewish state. The PLO leadership until today approves maps and text books that refer to all of “Palestine” including Tel Aviv and Haifa, as Arab. Many Israelis and Westerners prefer to believe that PLO leaders ‘do not mean what they say’ in Arabic. However, history has shown that the messages to their own people is their true approach.”
 
Widlanski concludes: “Israel fails in its external communications partly because there is no unified Israeli view. Every struggle has a mental aspect. This is particularly true in battles involving terror. In order to win, Israelis have to educate themselves about the real Palestinian goals and tactics.”
 


 

DOES JORDAN WANT
PALESTINIANS IN CONTROL OF THE BORDER?

Khaled Abu Toameh
Gatestone Institute, Sept. 20, 2013

 
Palestinian Authority Pesident Mahmoud Abbas says that the Palestinians will not accept any Israeli presence along the border between a future Palestinian state and Jordan. But the question is whether Jordan really wants to have Palestinians on its borders. In private off-the-record meetings, top Jordanian officials make it crystal clear that they prefer to see Israel sitting along their shared border.
 
Speaking at a university graduation ceremony in Jericho, Abbas stated that the borders of the Palestinian state would stretch from the Dead Sea in the south and through the Jordan Valley all the way up to the town of Bet She'an in the north. "This is a Palestinian-Jordanian border and that is how it will remain," Abbas said. "The responsibility for security along the border will be in the hands of the Palestinians."
 
Abbas's remarks came in wake of leaks by Palestinian officials to the effect that at the current US-sponsored secret peace negotiations, Israel is demanding full control over the border with Jordan in any peace settlement with the Palestinians. Israel, of course, has its own reasons for refusing to cede control over the strategic Jordan Valley.  Israel's main concern is that the border with Jordan will be used by Palestinian terror groups and Islamist fundamentalist organizations to smuggle weapons and terrorists into the West Bank and Israel.
 
However, there's another reason why Israel remains strongly opposed to surrendering control over its border with Jordan to the Palestinian Authority or a third party. It is no secret that the Jordanians have long been worried about the repercussions of the presence of Palestinians on their border.
In a recent closed briefing with a high-ranking Jordanian security official, he was asked about the kingdom's position regarding the possibility that Palestinians might one day replace Israel along the border with Jordan. "May God forbid!" the official retorted. "We have repeatedly made it clear to the Israeli side that we will not agree to the presence of a third party at our border."
 
The official explained that Jordan's stance was not new. "This has been our position since 1967," he said. "The late King Hussein made this clear to all Israeli governments and now His majesty, King Abdullah, remains committed to this position." Jordan's opposition to placing the border crossings with the West Bank under Palestinian control is not only based on security concerns. Of course, Jordan's security concerns are not unjustified, especially in light of what has been happening over the past few years along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt.
 
The Egyptians are now paying a heavy price for neglecting their shared border with the Gaza Strip over the past few decades. This lapse has seen Sinai emerge as a hotbed for Al-Qaeda-linked terror groups that are now posing a serious threat to Egypt's national security.
 
Besides the security concerns, the Jordanians are also worried about the demographic implications of Palestinian security and civilian presence over the border. Their worst nightmare, as a veteran Jordanian diplomat once told Israeli colleagues during a private encounter, is that once the Palestinians are given control over the border, thousands of them from the future Palestinian state would pour into Jordan.
 
The Jordanians already have a "problem" with the fact that their kingdom's population consists of a Palestinian majority, which some say has reached over 80%. The last thing the Jordanians want is to see hundreds of thousands of Palestinians move from the West Bank or Gaza Strip into the kingdom.
 
Although the Jordanians are not part of the ongoing peace talks between the Palestinian Authority and Israel, they are hoping that Israel will not rush to abandon security control over its long border with the kingdom. Understandably, the Jordanian monarchy cannot go public with its stance for fear of being accused by Arabs and Muslims of treason and collaboration with the "Zionist enemy."
 
The Egyptians today know what the Jordanians have been aware of for a long time — that a shared border with Fatah or Hamas or any other Palestinian group is a recipe for instability and anarchy. The Egyptians surely miss the days when the Israel Defense Forces were sitting along the border between Egypt and the Gaza Strip. Even if Abbas's forces initially manage to maintain security and order along the border with Jordan, there is no guarantee as to what would happen in the future.
 
Between 2005 and 2007, Abbas's security forces were in control of the main border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt — before they were expelled by Hamas. It is in Israel's interest to have stability and calm in Jordan. Undermining Jordan's security would create many problems for Israel. To prevent such a scenario, Israel, if and when it reaches a deal with Abbas's Palestinian Authority, needs to take King Abdullah's fears and interests into consideration.

Contents


 

PALESTINE’S DEMOCRATIC DEFICIT
Neville Teller
Jerusalem Post, Sept. 22, 2013
 

Back in New York, accompanied by his prime minister, is the president of the Palestinian Authority (PA) – or the State of Palestine, as the PA decided to rename itself last April, following its upgrade to “non-member observer state” at the UN General Assembly.
 
President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah will be attending sessions of the UN General Assembly, and also a meeting of the ad hoc Liaison Committee comprised of donor countries that finance the PA.  A meeting with President Obama is also scheduled, for discussions about the Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations. What the two presidents are most unlikely to include on their agenda is the decidedly shaky ground on which Abbas is standing, democratically speaking.
 
The “State of Palestine” that Abbas is intent on establishing, comprises the West Bank, east Jerusalem, and the Gaza strip. The convenient fiction, adopted on all sides, is that Abbas as president of the PA can negotiate on behalf of all Palestinians because the PA is the “sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people.”
 
But the 1.4 million Palestinians who occupy the Gaza strip are not ruled by Abbas and his government but by Hamas, which does not recognize Mahmoud Abbas as president of the PA, rejects the peace process out of hand, and would not under any circumstances conform to any agreement that Abbas might reach with Israel.  Abbas may propose that Gaza be included as part of a putative sovereign Palestine in a two-state solution, but Hamas would have to be dislodged from Gaza before that could be realized. How is this to be accomplished? That is the elephant in the negotiating room.
 
Hamas is indubitably an extreme Islamist and terrorist organization which, although winning a majority in the last democratic Palestinian elections held in 2006,  refused to participate with Fatah in a national unity government, and seized power in Gaza in a bloody coup d’état. Nevertheless it has a certain point in challenging the legitimacy of Mahmoud Abbas’s presidency of the PA.
 
After Yasser Arafat's death in 2004, Mahmoud Abbas was endorsed by Fatah's Revolutionary Council as its preferred candidate for the presidential election scheduled for January 9, 2005. Although Hamas boycotted the ballot, Abbas was elected with a convincing majority as president of the PA for a four-year term. His term of office therefore ended on January 9, 2009.
 
Hamas maintained that from the moment Abbas’s mandate expired, Aziz al-Dewik, the speaker of the Palestinian Legislative Council, should have become interim president until new elections could be held. At the time, Fatah argued that the Palestinian election law calls for presidential and parliamentary elections to be held simultaneously, four years after the date of the later of those. Since parliamentary elections were held in 2006, a year after the presidential ones, new elections for both should have been held in January 2010. And indeed, in one of a wearisome succession of abortive reconciliation talks between Hamas and Fatah held in Egypt in March 2009, the two sides agreed to hold joint elections by January 25, 2010.
 
They never happened. The PA government decided to postpone them, arguing that it wanted to safeguard national unity. As a matter of interest, in December 2010 the Palestinian High Court ruled that once the cabinet calls for elections, it does not have authority to cancel them. So the cancellation of the elections was itself illegal.
Subsequent intra-Palestinian political disputes between Fatah and Hamas meant that presidential and parliamentary elections were postponed time after time. Finally, in November 2011 an election date of May 4, 2012 was agreed between Fatah and Hamas. Once again, however, a squabble erupted, and a further delay was announced. The election would now be held some time after June 2012.
 
In February 2011, following the resignation of Saeb Erekat as chief negotiator for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, the PA executive committee announced that elections would be held before October that year. The reaction? Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, said that Abbas did not have the legal right to announce elections.
"Hamas will not take part in this election. We will not give it legitimacy. And we will not recognize the results." It did not take place.
 
In October 2011, Abbas sent a further proposal to Hamas for a general election, preferably to be held in early 2012. The proposal was rejected. Following last year’s upgrade of Palestine to non-member observer state status in the UN, the PA proposed that general elections should follow in 2013, in line with the latest unity talks between Fatah and Hamas. But no date has yet been set, and an election this year now seems impossible.
 
Meanwhile, Abbas sails serenely on, acknowledged on all sides as President of the PA, or President of the State of Palestine, depending on one's preference.  It is as if George W Bush, who became president of the United States in 2005 – the same year that Mahmoud Abbas became PA president – was somehow able to by-pass the elections of 2007 and 2011 and cling to office, and was still US President. The analogy may be fanciful, it could never happen – within the United States.  But it virtually has happened within the Palestinian body politic, and it illustrates how far along the democratic road Palestinians have yet to travel.
 
In the meantime, as president de facto, if not in all eyes de jure, Abbas continues to formulate a new PA government from time to time. After weeks of waiting and speculating, an incoming administration – the 16th since the formation of the PA – was sworn in on September 19. It turned out to be a carbon copy of the outgoing one. Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah and his 24 cabinet ministers, who together had formed the previous government, were sworn in anew in front of the president in the West Bank city of Ramallah.
 
If the president’s own legitimacy is questionable, how stands the government that he swears in? Or any agreements that he reaches on thorny political issues?  Or his authority in respect of that section of territory over which his writ does not run?
Palestine’s democratic deficiencies may yet prove to be a hurdle too high for the peace process to surmount.
 
The writer is the author of One Year in the History of Israel and Palestine (2011).
 

 

 

Tackle Incitement, Stop the KillingsDavid Horovitz, Times of Israel, September 23, 2013—It’s 20 years after that hesitant Yitzhak Rabin handshake with Yasser Arafat on the White House lawn, and tragically little has changed. Palestinians are again killing Israelis — an off-duty young soldier lured to the West Bank on Friday, an on-duty young soldier cynically shot down by a sniper in the West Bank on Sunday.

 

Israel Wants Peace. PeriodIsrael Kasnett, Aljazeera, Sept. 13, 2013—Jerusalem – Israel wants peace. Period. The Jewish people have never held a desire to rule over others and this remains true today. Not only are we ohev shalom ["lovers of peace"], but we are also rodef shalom ["active pursuers of peace"].

 

A Palestinian State with Temporary Borders – A Historical CatastropheElyakim Ha’etzni, Israpundit, Sept. 18, 2013—With the closing year, we are witnessing the weakening of President Barack Obama and the embarrassing differences revealed between him and his Secretary of State, John Kerry.  The result, a temporary alleviation in Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s situation, is no cause for satisfaction given the fact that both sides are despicable butchers and radically hostile to Israel. 

 

The Fables of Saeb ErakatVictor Sharpe, Canada Free Press, August 22, 2013—I wrote an article once titled: Lies, Damned lies, and Palestinian Propaganda in Descending Order. That title paraphrased 19th century British Prime Minister, Benjamin Disraeli’s aphorism: Lies, damned lies, and statistics in descending order.

 

The Causes, Consequences and Cures for Palestinian Authority Hate SpeechDavid Pollock, The Washington Institute, Sept. 2013 —As of mid-2013, while U.S. secretary of state John Kerry shuttles around the Middle East trying to restart Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, the issue of hate speech and incitement continues to cloud his efforts. (Into from larger study of 128pp)

 

Could the Failure of the Oslo Process Doom Israel’s Friendship With Jordan?Assaf DavidTablet Magazine, Sept. 23, 2013—The two-decade-old formula of “two states for two peoples” is dead, and the Arab Spring witnessed its funeral. What seemed, less than three years ago, a powerful show of citizen agency throughout the region has instead devolved into uncertainty, bringing chaos to the doorstep not just of Israel but of the West Bank and Jordan as well.

 

 

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Paul Merkley: The Latest ME “Peace Process”, Doomed

 

This Letter to the Editor was rejected by three Canadian newspapers but was  published by the Jerusalem Post and appears in the International Edition,  August 1-22.

 

RE: "Wanting it more than the parities themselves," Jerusalem  Post International edition, July 26, 2013.) 

 

BY Paul Merkley

 

Dr.Merkley  is a retired Professor of History from |Carleton University and author of American Presidents, Religion, and Israel , Praeger, 2004. 

 

……………….

Yet another President of the United States – the fifth since Jimmy Carter launched the Camp David Peace Process in 1978 — has sought to redeem a record made up mainly of disasters by solving, with one brilliant stroke, all those ancient intractable difficulties that have kept “the Middle East” from enjoying the level of happiness that is general throughout the rest of the world.

The undertaking is hopeless — and the best key to that conclusion is in the title by which the Citizen, like every other newspaper in our world refers to Prime Minister Netanyahu’s adversary in this contest: “President Mahmoud Abbas.”

Mahmoud Abbas himself has absolutely no right under the Basic Law of Palestine to refer to himself as President of anything. The term of office to which he was elected by democratic vote ran out over five years ago. The office is vacant, and if constitutionality meant anything in Arab circles he should be judged a usurper; and if legitimacy meant anything in our media or in the minds of our own rulers, he should have been shown the door long ago.  It is exactly as though Paul Martin were still strutting around as Prime Minister of Canada or George W. Bush as President of the United States .

 

It was not Abbas’s party (Fatah) but Hamas  that won the mandate of January, 2006, after which the leader of Hamas, Ismail Haniyeh, was appointed Prime Minister of the Palestine Authority by President Abbas (February, 2006.) But the ensuing round of assassinations of Hamas figures by Fatah figures and vice versa led Hamas’ leaders to conclude that more could be gained by quitting Ramallah, the administrative capital pro tem of Palestine, seizing all of Gaza,  liquidating the leading Fatah figures there, and proclaiming  themselves to be the rightful rulers of Palestine. Haniyeh continues to call himself Prime Minister of Palestine although much of our media is under the impression that Gaza is a sovereign entity or at least a Province and that Haniyeh is Prime Minister (or something) of that. He has no more right, of course,  to any of his titles than Abbas has to the title of President, as the tenure of the Parliament elected in 2006 has also run out.

 

This embarrassing truth is never hinted at by our governments – not by the Government of Canada, not by the Government of the United States , and, most incongruously of all, not by the Government of Israel.  Our elected politicians go on wining and dining “President Abbas” out of a Machiavellian calculation that if anything is ever to be rescued from the long-collapsed Peace Process we have to pretend to have a “Partner for Peace” who once got himself elected. It is all one patronizing fantasy – this notion of an emergent Palestinian democracy, embodied in the courageous, beleaguered  leadership of the Palestine Authority, embodied, in turn, in the Mayor of Ramallah.  It is Orwellian double-think, kept alive by the agreement among media, politicians and opinion-elites that titles can have whatever meaning it is convenient to give to them so long as the cause of achieving peace through democracy  is served.

 

The latest breakthrough in the  PA’s propaganda offensive has been its success in establishing in the minds of our scholars, our  leaders of opinion and, with truly resounding success, our churchmen  the counter-factual theorem that Palestine is a ancient and distinguished while Israel is a fraud.

 

Here is the syllogism:

 

Palestine is real; Palestine has always been here; the Palestinian People have always been here.

 

Israel is not real. Israel is an invention of the mid-Twentieth century AD, the product of European imperialism, foisted upon the world by a Zionist conspiracy in control of international diplomacy.

 

The contempt for Zionism in the company of opinion elites in the West, where all lines of argument that belittle Israel ’s right to exist are accepted as authentic without examination, explains the great success that Abbas and his fellow Palestinian statesmen have encountered with this syllogism.

 

Palestinian Authority TV News hews consistently to the PA policy of denying the history of Jewish presence in Jerusalem and in particular the existence at any time of a Jewish Temple.  Palestinian “historiography” (if sheer assertion without reference to any documentary or archaeological evidence can be dignified by such a term) asserts that until the day before yesterday the Jews, or Israelis, call them what you will, never resided in this area, never had a Kingdom, never had a temple. Among recent lunatic examples are: “Moses was a Muslim who led Muslims in Exodus from Egypt [which was]… the first Palestinian liberation through armed struggle to liberate Palestine ” … and “There never was a Temple ” (all quotations from recent proclamations of Palestinian imams on PATV.)

 

Keen as they are on siding with “the victims of Israeli aggression,” our cultural elites and, most distressing of all, our church leaders today indulge these knuckle-dragging assertions about Palestine and Palestine’s history for tactical purposes: they believe that polemical solidarity with the Palestinian victims will make it possible for us to keep Palestine’s “elected leaders” in the great cause of moving towards the Day of Peace.

 

There is no hint anywhere in recent newspaper coverage of this dramatic turning-point that the Hamas  movement which won that last Parliamentary election back in 2006 – a few days before Stephen Harper became Prime Minister –has been challenging Abbas ever since to call new elections, which Haniyeh feels confident of winning and Abbas knows that he cannot. If that should come about – that is, if democracy miraculously should return to the Palestine Authority, everything that Mr. Kerry imagines can be accomplished by his benign initiative would be repudiated – and the violence would start up all over again, with Israel’s sovereign domain shrunken further and her present strategic thrown away.

 

Save your prayers for a better cause than the triumph of the Washington Peace Process.

 

Wednesday’s “News in Review” Round-Up

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

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Contents:  Weekly Quotes |  Short Takes On Topic Links

 

Israeli Rocket Attack Victims Win Bank of China Terror Suit : Jewish Press, Sept. 18, 2013
America, Syria and Israel – Martin Kramer, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 18, 2013
Say Goodbye To Surgical Stitches and Staples :Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21C, June 13, 2013
 
 

“Richard Nixon and Henry Kissinger muscled the Soviet Union out of Middle East diplomacy back in 1973. In the 40 years since, American presidents have kept the Russians out. Now they’re back in. A nation with a declining population, a weakened military and an economy propped up only by oil and gas exports has suddenly made itself the key interlocutor in the region. Obama has allowed this even though it’s obvious that effective disarmament is impossible in a nation riven by civil war and ruled by a regime with every incentive and inclination to lie and conceal. The negotiations and any fig-leaf inspection process can be dragged out for weeks, months and years, as Saddam Hussein demonstrated. Obama said he hoped to degrade Syria’s chemical weapons program. Instead he has degraded his own — and America’s — credibility.” — Michael Barone, in an op-ed article in The New York Post. (The New York Post, Sept. 13, 2013)

“Europe’s forcing us to cede land, in order to achieve the type of agreement it sees fit for the Middle East, will only mean that these missiles will continue to rain down on Israel not only from Gaza, but from Kalkilya and Ramallah as well,” Shaked said.“If Europe thinks Jews will return to the days where we were forced to mark our products – you can forget it. De-legitimization of parts of Israel by Europe is the new anti-Semitism. The old anti-Semitism led to the destruction of our people in gas chambers. We will not allow the new anti-Semitism to hurt us. Such conduct creates a sense among Israelis that Europe is lost, [that] it is occupied by the forces of radical Islam. If that’s the message you’ve been trying to send, you’re doing a good job in getting it across. I want you to understand that you are important to us. We hold your support in high regard, but you cannot push us to commit suicide.” — MK Ayelet Shaked (Bayit Yehudi) to the European politicians at a conference, held in the European parliament, titled “EU-Israel Relations: Impact of the New EU Guidelines on Israel and Their Effects on the EU, Israeli and Palestinian Economies.”  Shaked said that she feared the evacuation of West Bank settlements and the creation of a Palestinian state would only lead to increased missile attacks against Israel. (Jerusalem Post, Sept. 18, 2013)

"I think what the Iranians understand is that the nuclear issue is a far larger issue for us than the chemical weapons issue, that the threat against Israel that a nuclear Iran poses is much closer to our core interests, that a nuclear arms race in the region is something that would be profoundly destabilizing. And so my suspicion is that the Iranians recognize they shouldn't draw a lesson that we haven't struck [Syria] to think we won't strike Iran." — U.S. President Barack Obama, after announcing that he would seek the support of the Congress before launching strikes against Bashar Assad’s chemical weapons stockpiles. (Washington Post, Sept. 15, 2013)
 
"We would get Israeli television channels in my village. I knew that medicine here [Israel] is advanced. In Jordan I would have to pay for it and we do not have enough money. Here it is free." — a Syrian mother whose 16-year-old daughter was shot by a sniper in her village in Syria, leaving her paralyzed in both legs. She has been at the Western Galilee Hospital in Nahariya for the past month. "There was one man, where I am from, who was treated in Israel. The regime forces killed his three brothers. They will kill my sons and my husband if they ever find out we were here.," the mother said.  (Yahoo News, Sept. 13, 2013)
 
"I think this is the Syrians playing for time. I do not believe that they would seriously consider giving up their chemical weapons. Be a skeptic that [Assad] is at all serious about this. Chemical weapons are easy to hide and easy to move around.” — Michael Morell, recently-retired deputy director of the Central Intelligence Agency, to Foreign Policy. (Foreign Policy, Sept. 17, 2013)
 
"Countries in the Middle East…have failed to follow suit [to ratify the Convention on Chemical Weapons] and have indicated that their position would remain unchanged even if Israel ratifies the Convention. Some of these states don't recognize Israel's right to exist and blatantly call to annihilate it….These threats cannot be ignored by Israel, in the assessment of possible ratification of the convention."  Jonathan Peled, an Israeli government spokesman, who stressed that the country [Israel] couldn't take steps to ratify it, or reduce its military capabilities, at a time when security threats from Iran, Syria and Lebanon are mounting. (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 14, 2013)

"The main danger of WMD is the Israel nuclear arsenal. Israel has chemical weapons and nobody is speaking about it." — Bashar Ja'afari, Syria's ambassador to the U.N., to reporters on Thursday [Sept. 12]. Mr. Ja'afari said Israel needed to place its suspected atomic weapons under international supervision and sign the nuclear nonproliferation treaty.
   "We won't accept attempts by the Syrian regime…to compare itself to Israel, a thriving democracy which doesn't brutally slaughter and gas its own people." — U.S. State Department spokeswoman Jennifer Psaki. (Wall Street Journal, Sept. 14, 2013)

“All of this initiative does not interest us. Russia is a partner with the regime in killing the Syrian people. A crime against humanity has been committed, and there is not any mention of accountability.” — Gen. Salim Idris, the head of the Western-backed [Syrian] rebels’ nominal military command, the Supreme Military Council, to reporters in Istanbul. (New York Times, Sept. 15, 2013)

“We should bleed America economically by provoking it to continue in its massive expenditure on its security, for the weak point of America is its economy, which has already begun to stagger due to the military and security expenditure. And keeping America in tension and anticipation only costs a few disparate attacks here and there, meaning as we defeated it in the gang warfare in Somalia, Yemen, Iraq and Afghanistan, so we should follow it with that war on its own land….The Boston incident confirms to the Americans the extent of their lying and tricking of themselves and their arrogance from accepting the truth that is as bright as the sun, which is that they are not facing individuals, organizations or groups, but they are facing an uprising” by a Muslim world “that rose in jihad to defend its soul, dignity and capabilities.”  — Ayman al-Zawahri, the leader of Al Qaeda, in an audio speech a day after the 12th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks on the United States. (New York Times, Sept. 13, 2013)

“I demand [the release of] prisoners because they are human beings, who did what we, we, ordered them to do. We – the [Palestinian] Authority. They should not be punished while we sit at one table negotiating. Besides, they spent many years in prison. How much longer? Do they have to spend all their life in prison and even die there?” – Mahmoud Abbas, President of the Palestinian Authority, in an interview on Arab TV translated by Palestinian Media Watch. When asked about those Palestinian prisoners whom Israel considers to have “bloodstained hands?” Abbas responds, “Such talk is illogical talk and I do not accept it. What does a bloodstained hand mean? We were fighting each other. They kill and kill. They hunt down people with planes and tanks and killed. The soldier who kills 50 or 20 persons here and there – are his hands stained with talc powder? They are stained with blood. This is war. [Israel] ordered a soldier to kill, and I ordered my son, brother, or others, to carry out the duty of resistance [euphemism for terror]. This person killed and the other person killed. So why say this person’s hands are stained with blood, and [he] must be kept in prison? He is a fighter just like any other fighter. We were in a state of fighting.” (Jewish Press, Sept. 18, 2013)
 
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ISRAELI ROCKET ATTACK VICTIMS WIN BANK OF CHINA TERROR SUIT— (New York) The families of twenty Israeli terror victims have won a monumental decision in the New York State Appellate Division (1st Dept.) in their case against the Bank of China (BOC). The Appellate Court affirmed that the civil action brought in 2008 by the Israeli victims of Palestinian rocket attacks and suicide bombings can proceed against the BOC in the United States. Importantly, the Appellate Division also held that the trial court will apply Israeli law in hearing the case. The defendant had argued that Chinese law should apply as the BOC is headquartered in Beijing. This ruling will allow the non-American plaintiffs in the case to maintain their claims that the BOC was liable for providing financial services to Hamas and the Palestine Islamic Jihad (PIJ) terror organizations. Applying Israeli law, which differs from the Chinese law, would make it easier for the plaintiffs to prove that BOC officials had illegally violated banking regulations and US criminal statutes by carrying out money transfers for the terror organizations. (Jewish Press, Sept. 18, 2013)
 
KERRY JUST TOOK THE TEETH OUT OF THE SYRIA DEAL — (Paris) U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced Monday [Sept, 16] that the United Nations, not the United States, would be enforcing the terms of the Syria chemical weapons deal agreed to [with Russia]. Kerry said that the United States, France and Great Britain “will not tolerate avoidance or anything less than full compliance." Kerry, while visiting Israel this past weekend, also said that the “the threat of force is real” if Syria does not comply with the terms of the deal. But by giving enforcement power to the United Nations, Kerry has essentially invalidated any threats of force by the United States. This is for a very simple reason: any use of force authorized by the United Nations [under Art. 7 of the UN Charter] needs Russia’s approval [and] Vladimir Putin is not likely to budge from his position that military forced should not be used. This is precisely why the terms of the Syrian deal were met with skepticism in Israel. Lawmakers there said they were excited by the prospect that a long-time regional ally would be stripped of its chemical weapons. But they were not optimistic that Assad could be trusted. (The Fiscal Times, September 16, 2013)
 
SYRIA CHEMICAL WEAPONS SITES BEING DISPERSED TO AVOID DETECTION, REPORT SAYS — (Washington) An elite Syrian unit that runs the government's chemical arms program has been scattering the weapons to dozens of sites across the country, potentially complicating US plans for air strikes, the Wall Street Journal reported. The newspaper, citing unnamed US officials and lawmakers briefed on the intelligence, said on its website on Thursday that a secretive military group known as Unit 450 had been moving the stocks around for months to help avoid detection of the weapons. US and Israeli intelligence agencies and Middle Eastern officials still believe they know the location of most of the government's chemical weapons supply, the Journal said. But "we know a lot less than we did six months ago about where the chemical weapons are," one official was quoted as saying. (Reuters, Sept. 13, 2013)
 
BASHAR BOMBS HOSPITALS — (Geneva) Syrian strongman Bashar al­Assad’s forces committed clear­cut war crimes by bombing wounded people seeking urgent treatment in rebel­held regions, UN investigators said Friday [Sept. 13]. The UN found Assad loyalists also tortured victims in their own medical centers, including a government military hospital in Damascus. In another military hospital in the city of Homs, “Doctors were ordered to keep victims alive so that they could be interrogated further,” the UN report by a team of 20 human­rights experts said. The regime used the denial of medical care as a “weapon of war,” the report concluded. The bombing and shelling of hospitals began in early 2012 and is continuing, according to the report. The Syrian army has also occupied hospitals, using them as bases for snipers, tanks and soldiers, according to the report. Ambulance drivers, nurses and doctors have been attacked, arrested, tortured or just disappeared when they tried to help the wounded, the report said. “As such attacks continue, field hospitals have literally been driven underground, forced to operate in the basements of houses,” it added. (New York Post, Sept. 14, 2013)
 
SYRIAN ARMY DEFECTOR TELLS OF DOZENS OF CHEMICAL ATTACKS — (Amman) A senior army officer and chemical-weapons specialist who defected from Bashar Al Assad’s forces says he was ordered by top regime officials to use poison gas in attacks on rebel-held areas. “I am a witness and received orders three times to use chemical gas last year,” said Brigadier General Zaher Saket, a former commander of chemical warfare in the Syrian army’s 5th division in Sheikh Maskeen, Herak and Busr Al Harir. “But I did not implement the orders.” Gen Saket, who defected in March this year, said there had been an escalation in the use of chemical warfare against rebels, with poison gases used on fourteen separate occasions while he was serving in the armed forces. He had been informed of twenty other times after his defection, he said. (The National (UAE, Sept. 16, 2013)
 
NEW FGM STATISTICS SHOCK ENGLAND — (London) More than 2,000 victims of female genital mutilation have sought treatment at London hospitals in the past three years. The figures, revealed by the Evening Standard, are the most dramatic illustration so far of the impact of this illegal and horrific practice by Muslims on girls and women in the UK. The report also revealed that 298 operations were performed to try to help women recover from the procedure. A total of 2,115 FGM patients were seen between 2010 and summer this year. Doctors said the findings were "horrifying" and called for a renewed drive by police, prosecutors and others to bring perpetrators of these crimes to justice. But they warned that the reluctance of some women to seek treatment and flaws in hospital record-keeping, including the lack of a specific code to identify FGM cases, mean that the true number of victims was certain to be even higher. (Clarion Project, Sept. 10, 2013)

WEST LOBBIES UN NUCLEAR MEETING TO REJECT ARAB PUSH ON ISRAEL — (New York) The U.S. said on Tuesday an Arab push to single out Israel for criticism over its assumed nuclear arsenal would hurt diplomatic efforts to ban weapons of mass destruction in the Middle East. Arab states have proposed a resolution at a meeting of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the UN nuclear agency, expressing concern about "Israeli nuclear capabilities." U.S. and Israeli officials have said a nuclear arms-free zone in the Middle East could not be a reality until there was broad Arab-Israeli peace and Iran curbed its nuclear program. The Arab resolution "does not advance our shared goal of progress toward a WMD-free zone in the Middle East," U.S. Ambassador Joseph Macmanus said. "Instead, it undermines efforts at constructive dialogue toward that common objective."  (Reuters, Sept,17, 2013)

REPORT: SYRIA'S REBELS ARE KILLING ASSAD'S SOLDIERS BY A FACTOR OF TWO TO ONE — (Geneva)  The most widely quoted source for civil war deaths has been produced by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR), which consists of a handful of Syrian activists compiling information in a war zone and presenting the best estimates possible. Despite their potential for bias and the methodological challenges of tracking the Syria war, SOHR estimates are consistent with the latest United Nations numbers. In the past 10 days, both the U.N. under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs, Valerie Amos, and the high commissioner for human rights, Navi Pillay, estimated that "more than 100,000" Syrians have lost their lives in the ongoing civil war. The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) breaks down the Syrian deaths in the civil war as follows: Civilians 40,146, rebels 21,850, pro-regime soldiers and militia 45,469, Hizbullah 171, unidentified 2,726, total 110,371. (Foreign Policy, Sept. 17, 2013)
 
PHILIPPINE HELICOPTERS FIRE ROCKETS AT MUSLIM REBELS IN ZAMBOANGA SIEGE — (Mindanao, Philippines) Philippine military helicopters on Monday fired rockets at Muslim rebels who were holed up in areas of a major city on the southern island of Mindanao. The rebels have been holding scores of people hostage in Zamboanga City, a mainly Christian city, for the past week in a crisis that authorities estimate has left as many as 61 people dead and more than 150 wounded. Two MG-520 attack helicopters from the Philippine Air Force fired rockets at rebel positions over a roughly 20 minute period in the early afternoon. The recent violence has largely paralyzed Zamboanga, a usually bustling trading hub on the southwestern tip of Mindanao, and displaced more than 60,000 people. The rebels now hold one third of the territory they had last week. Military officials say they believe that slightly more than 100 rebels remain active in Zamboanga and that they are still holding more than 100 people as a human shield. (CNN, Sept. 16, 2013)
 
2012 TERRITORIES POPULATION GREW ALMOST THREE TIMES AS FAST AS NATIONAL RATE — (Jerusalem) The growth rate of the population in 2012 was five percent, which means that the number of Israelis in the Judea & Samaria increased at a pace almost three times as fast the nation’s 1.9 percent growth rate last year, according to numbers released Monday by the Central Bureau of Statistics. Put in real numbers, the number residents in Judea & Samaria in 2012 was 341,400, up by 16,200 from the 2011 population of 325,200, according to the CBS. The 11,100 babies born to settler families in 2012 contributed to 68.5 percent of the population growth, while the remaining 31.5 percent increase came from the 5,100 people who moved into Judea & Samaria communities last year. Despite the rapid rate of growth, the population in the territories represents only 4.2 percent of the country’s overall population of 7.9 million in 2012. (Jerusalem Post. Sept. 18, 2013)
 
‘DREAM ROAD’ FROM GUSH ETZION TO DEAD SEA MAY EXPLODE PEACE TALKS — (Gush Etzion) Palestinian Authority-Israeli “peace talks” might be short-lived following the unveiling on Tuesday of a new Gush Etzion-Dead Sea highway Tuesday that would destroy Palestinian Authority ambitions to include all of the Jordan Valley and the Judean Desert in its planned future state…. The highway would cut through “Area C,” determined by the Oslo Accords to be under Israeli control, and would carve through some of Israel’s most awesome natural areas. The new west-east road would revolutionize travel and the tourist industry, reducing travel time to the Dead Sea from 90 to 30 minutes. Gush Etzion Regional Council chairman Davidi Perl called the highway an “historic event” and added, “Today there are only two roads to the Dead Sea. The significance of this new highway is that it will bring the center of the country to the Dead Sea and encourage tourism there and in Gush Etzion and the Judean Desert. (Jewish Press, Sept. 17, 2013)
 
 
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On Topic

Israeli Rocket Attack Victims Win Bank of China Terror Suit : Jewish Press, Sept. 18, 2013 —The families of twenty Israeli terror victims have won a monumental decision in the New York State Appellate Division (1st Dept.) in their case against the Bank of China (BOC). The Appellate Court affirmed that the civil action brought in 2008 by the Israeli victims of Palestinian rocket attacks and suicide bombings can proceed against the BOC in the United States.

Say Goodbye to Surgical Stitches and Staples :Abigail Klein Leichman, Israel 21C, June 13, 2013—Women giving birth by Caesarean section could be the first to benefit from a revolutionary Israeli invention for closing surgical incisions without stitches or staples. The technique also promises to leave patients less prone to infection and scarring. BioWeld1, a unique trademarked product from Israeli startup IonMed, welds surgical incisions using cold plasma.
 
America, Syria and Israel – Martin Kramer, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 18, 2013— Israelis got a preview this past week of what the Middle East would look like during a possible Iran crisis, and they didn't like what they saw. What Israelis found alarming was the way Mr. Obama shifted the burden of decision. Every one of his Syrian maneuvers was viewed as a dry run for

 

 

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EGYPT AFTER MORSI: AS SITUATION STABILIZES, HAMAS MARGINALIZED AND SINAI ISLAMISTS ATTACKED, ONGOING U.S. SUPPORT FOR BROTHERHOOD IS PUZZLING

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

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Contents:

 

 

Contents:

 

Egyptians Bewildered Over Support for Muslim Brotherhood: Michael Armanious, Gatestone Institute, Aug. 23, 2013—The Egyptian people are astounded. They simply do not understand the Obama Administration's efforts to bring the Muslim Brotherhood back to power.

 

Egypt's Sinai Emerges As New Arena for Jihad: Maggie Michael, Real Clear World,  Sept. 4, 2013—An Egyptian doctor once close to Osama bin Laden is bringing together multiple al-Qaida-inspired militant groups in Egypt‘s Sinai to fight the country's military, as the lawless peninsula emerges as a new theater for jihad, according to Egyptian intelligence and security officials.

 

Egypt's War On Hamas: Khaled Abu Toameh, GatestoneIinstitute, Sept. 12, 2013—For the past two months, the Egyptians have been at war not only with the jihadis in Sinai, but also in an all-out war with the Palestinian Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. This

 

Egypt and its Patrons: Paul Mutter, The Arabist, Sept. 6, 2013 —Why does Egypt receive between $1.3 and $1.5 billion of US aid annually? "Because of Israel" is the most common answer to that question. Certainly, that is driving much of the American political wrangling over whether aid should be suspended.

 

As World Watches Syria, Egypt Launches Major Campaign Against Jihadists in Sinai: Paul Alster, FoxNews, Sept. 16, 2013—While the eyes of the world are on Syria, Egypt's military is routing jihadists from the vast and lawless Sinai Peninsula — and, according to some regional observers, showing the U.S. how to conduct a war on terrorists.

 

 

On Topic Links

 

Egyptian Military: Army To Continue Operations until Sinai Terrorist-Free: Israpundit, Sept 16, 2013
Egyptian Media Attack U.S.: L. Lavi and N. Shamni, MEMRI, Sept. 14, 2013

Egyptian Army Saves Christians from Muslim Terrorists: Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu, Jewish Press, Sept. 17, 2013

 

 

 

EGYPTIANS BEWILDERED OVER
SUPPORT FOR MUSLIM BROTHERHOOD

Michael Armanious

Gatestone Institute, Aug. 23, 2013

 

The Egyptian people are astounded. They simply do not understand the Obama Administration's efforts to bring the Muslim Brotherhood back to power. In an effort to make some sense of the Obama Administration's policies, Amr Adeeb, a prominent Egyptian commentator, argues that the U.S. is helping the Muslim Brotherhood to achieve power, in order to turn Egypt into a magnet for jihadist fighters. The goal, Adeeb states, is to turn Egypt into another Syria or Afghanistan and discredit Islamism as a viable political movement.

 

To Westerners, this may seem like a bizarre conspiracy theory, but for Egyptians it helps explain why the U.S. government is supporting an organization that has openly declared jihad against the West, engaged in threats of war with Israel and Ethiopia, demolished dozens of ancient historic churches, set hospitals on fire, and murdered Christians in the streets. The Muslim Brotherhood has no respect for the rule of law, but the Obama Administration treats the Egyptian military that removed the group from power as a threat to democracy itself.

 

The fact is, the Ikhwan (as the Muslim Brotherhood is called in Arabic) engaged in some pretty undemocratic behavior in the election that brought it to power in June 2012. Morsi lied about his background, telling voters he worked for NASA when he did no such thing. He falsely promised to spend $200 billion on an Egyptian renaissance only to say, once he was elected, that it was just an idea. He bribed voters with cooking oil, sugar, and medicine. On the day of the election, with threats of violence, the Muslim Brotherhood stopped thousands of Coptic Christians from voting. Further, in a little known aspect of the election, many voters complained of receiving ballots that had already been marked in Morsi's favor.

 

Egyptians were willing to overlook these irregularities in hopes that Morsi would bring order and stability to their country. They hoped he would follow through on his promise to build a modern Egypt; create jobs, and put together and inclusive government and constitution. They hoped he would honor his promise to spend $200 billion on repairing Egypt's infrastructure as part of an Islamic "Renaissance Project." Instead, Morsi worked systematically to dismantle the institutions of a 7,000 year-old country. He gathered his cronies to speak openly, on national television, of destabilizing Ethiopia in a fight over the use of water from the Upper Nile River.

 

Morsi also straightforwardly stated that he was recreating an Islamic "Caliphate." He pardoned and freed hard-line Islamists — including Anwar Sadat's killers — and allowed them to have an Islamic political party, contrary to the constitution, which bans religious parties. When Morsi spoke to audiences, hard-line Islamists sat in the front row, demonstrating that these people were his political base.

 

To buttress the support of this base, Morsi released members of Gamaa al-Islamiyya, founded by the "Blind Sheikh," Omar Abdel-Rahman, who attempted the first World Trade Center attack. This group, considered a terrorist organization by the United States, killed over 60 tourists in Luxor in 1997. That history did not stop Morsi from appointing one of its members governor of Luxor, over the objection of local residents who are dependent on tourism for their livelihood. Nor did it stop him from assigning another member of this group as Minister of Culture. With these decisions, Morsi delivered a final blow to Egypt's tourism industry. And if people are not even willing to visit Egypt, how will they invest in the country?

 

The Muslim Brotherhood, however, apparently does not want tourists from the West, even though they have been an important source of hard currency for decades. It seems Sheik Hazem Salah Abu Ismail, an ultraconservative Islamist and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood, had asked Morsi to not allow Western tourists into Egypt, and to replace them with tourists from Muslim countries. Life under the rule of Morsi became impossible. For Egyptians, shortages of food, water, electricity, and medicine became the norm. In response, Morsi appeared on TV to ask for more time, another 10 or 15 years.

 

As Morsi started driving his country into a civilizational ditch, some of the passengers rebelled. A grassroots movement called "Tamarud" ("Rebellion") mobilized over 30 million people, who took over the streets of Egypt, and called for the removal of Morsi and his radical government. Their legitimate goal was to take the steering wheel from a group of madmen who wanted to bring about famine and take Egypt back to the dark ages. To prevent a civil war, the Egyptian army removed Morsi and installed an interim government with the support of Al-Azhar University, the most respected Islamic authority in Sunni Islam; the El Nour Party (an ultraconservative group); the Coptic Church, and a number of secular parties.

 

Predictably, the Muslim Brotherhood responded with threats and violence, especially targeting the Christians of Egypt. Members of the Muslim Brotherhood shot a 10-year-old Christian girl in the streets as she returned home from church. They beheaded a Christian merchant, shot a priest in Sinai and marched Franciscan Nuns in the streets like war prisoners. They burned Christian business, homes, and churches, especially the ancient churches in Upper Egypt. Their goal was to terrorize Christians and erase all of evidence of Egypt's Christian past. Apparently, destroying the country's hope for the future was not enough.

 

Islamists also massacred officers and soldiers from the armed forces and the police. Mohamed Beltagy, an Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood politician, stated in a televised interview that violence would stop when Mohammed Morsi was reinstated as the president of Egypt.

 

Many Egyptian are asking: Why are the West and United States insisting on supporting the Muslim Brotherhood in the name of democracy? It was the same type of "democracy" — merely an election, which is only a small part of a democracy — that brought Hitler to power in Germany and Hamas to power in the Gaza Strip. If Hamas is outlawed in the West, why isn't the Muslim Brotherhood?

 

What many Egyptians cannot understand is: Why is the U.S. Administration siding with the forces of oppression in their country and assisting with its transformation into a failed state under the leadership of the Muslim Brotherhood? These conditions all run contrary to American interests.

 

In the Middle East, a strong economy, military, and police are the cornerstones of stability. Egypt was the first Arab nation to choose the path of peace with Israel. Egypt is the nerve system of the Arab and the Islamic world. The U.S. has a strong interest in a stable, modern, and prosperous Egypt. It simply cannot be allowed to become another Somalia or Afghanistan, controlled by its own version of the Taliban.

 

Michael Armanious is a Coptic-American who has written extensively about his homeland, Egypt.

 

Contents

 

EGYPT'S SINAI EMERGES AS NEW ARENA FOR JIHAD

Maggie Michael

Real Clear World,  Sept. 4, 2013

 

An Egyptian doctor once close to Osama bin Laden is bringing together multiple al-Qaida-inspired militant groups in Egypt‘s Sinai to fight the country's military, as the lawless peninsula emerges as a new theater for jihad, according to Egyptian intelligence and security officials.

 

There have been other signs of a dangerous shift in the longtime turmoil in the peninsula bordering Israel and Gaza since the military's July 3 ouster of Islamist President Mohammed Morsi, the officials say. With the shifts, Sinai's instability is becoming more regionalized and threatens to turn into an outright insurgency.

 

Sinai has seen an influx of foreign fighters the past two months, including several hundred Yemenis. Several militant groups that long operated in the area to establish an Islamic Caliphate and attack their traditional enemy Israel have joined others in declaring formally that their objective now is to battle Egypt's military.

 

Also, Sinai has become the focus of attention among major regional jihadi groups. Al-Qaida's branch in Iraq last weekend called on Egyptians to fight the military, as did al-Qaida's top leader, Ayman al-Zawahri. The militant considered the most dangerous man in the Sahara – one-eyed terror leader Moktar Belmoktar, a former member of al-Qaida's North Africa branch – joined forces with a Mali-based jihadi group last month and vowed attacks in Egypt.

 

Topping the most wanted list in Sinai is Ramzi Mawafi, a doctor who joined al-Qaida in Afghanistan in the 1990s. Mawafi, 61, escaped from an Egyptian prison in 2011 in a massive jailbreak that also sprung free Morsi and more than a dozen Muslim Brotherhood members during the chaos of the uprising against autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

 

Mawafi is now believed to be in Sinai coordinating among militant groups and helping arrange money and weapons, security officials told The Associated Press. The four officials were from military intelligence, the military and the security forces and spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to the press.

 

Sinai's disparate militant groups are now "on the same page, in full cooperation in the face of the same threat," Gen. Sherif Ismail, a recently retired security adviser to the governor of Northern Sinai, told the AP. He said the groups are inspired by al-Qaida, but not necessarily linked to the mother group.

 

Morsi's fall opened the way for an escalation by Sinai's jihadis. Most militants had seen Morsi as too willing to compromise in bringing rule by Islamic Shariah law in Egypt. But his removal by the military, backed by liberals, was seen as an attack on Islam. More importantly, it ended the policy Morsi pursued during his year in office of negotiating with Sinai armed groups, restraining security operations against them in return for a halt in attacks on the military.

 

Now, the military has stepped up operations. On Tuesday, helicopter gunships struck suspected militant hideouts in several villages near the borders with Israel and Gaza, killing at least eight and wounding 15 others, the state news agency MENA announced.

 

Since Morsi's ouster, more than 70 police and soldiers have been killed by militants in a cycle of attack and counterattack that has seen jihadis turn to more brutal tactics. In the worst single attack, gunmen pulled police recruits from buses, lay them on the ground and shot 25 of them to death on Aug. 19. Days later, a group of militants was killed before carrying out a suicide car bombing in a significant escalation. Over the same period, security forces have killed 87 militants – including 32 foreigners – and arrested 250 others, including 80 foreigners, according to the army spokesman's office.

 

Hit-and-run attacks take place nearly daily in northern Sinai, targeting security forces in the provincial capital of el-Arish and towns dotting the coast and the borders with Gaza and Israel.

Two militants – a Yemeni and a Palestinian – who were recently arrested in Sinai provided information about Mawafi's role while under questioning, the security officials said. Recently, Nabeel Naeem, a founder of the Islamic Jihad militant group who has known Mawafi since Afghanistan – said on an Egyptian TV station that Mawafi "is leading the militants in Sinai."

 

Mawafi specialized in bomb-making during his years in Afghanistan, the officials said. He also supervised clinics that treated wounded Islamic fighters, earning him the nickname "bin Laden's doctor" – though Naeem said he never treated the late al-Qaida leader himself. An Egyptian court in June last year accused Mawafi, along with members of Muslim Brotherhood group, including Morsi, of conspiring with Hamas and Hezbollah to orchestrate the 2011 break from Wadi Natroun prison. The court described Mawafi as "the secretary general of al-Qaida in Sinai."

 

The number of jihadi groups operating in Sinai's rugged, mountainous deserts has mushroomed over recent years, believed to have thousands of fighters. Some are mainly Egyptian, such as Ansar Jerusalem – thought to include Egyptians from outside Sinai – and the Shura Council of Mujahedeen of Environs of Jerusalem – which is mostly Sinai locals – and the Salafi Jihadi group. Among Sinai's population, there has been a growing movement of "Takfiris," who reject as heretical anyone who does not adhere to their strict interpretation of Islam. While not all Takfiris are involved in armed action, their ideology makes them an easy pool for armed groups to draw from.

 

Other groups are based in the neighboring, Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, such as the Islam Army and Jaljalat, which are believed to send fighters into Sinai. Some groups were oriented toward fighting Israel, occasionally firing rockets across the border. Others carried out attacks on Egyptian security forces, usually in retaliation for arrests or out of the deep-seeded resentment of the police among Sinai's population. In the aftermath of Mubarak's fall in 2011, a group attacked police stations and drove security forces out of the border towns, declaring the area an Islamic Caliphate. Many of them were later tried and sentenced to death.

 

Now multiple groups are overtly calling for "jihad" against Egypt's military. Several hundred Yemeni fighters came in after Morsi's ouster in response to religious edicts by clerics back home urging them to fight jihad in Egypt, according to a Yemeni security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press. Al-Qaida in Yemen, known as al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula, is considered the most active branch of the terror network.

 

The Egyptian officials say fighters have also come from Saudi Arabia, Libya and Syria. The military intelligence official said commanders of jihadi groups are joining ranks with prominent Sinai-based militants who belong to major tribes to ensure protection and facilitate weapons smuggling. One of the most influential tribes, the Swarkas, has split between anti- and pro-government families.

 

An Egyptian military official in el-Arish said there are at least nine main training camps run by jihadists in Sinai, hidden in villages controlled by allied tribes or in mountainous regions. Ismail el-Iskandarani, a researcher at the Egyptian Center for Social and Economic rights who writes extensively about Sinai, says it's hard to pin down the number of militants or camps because local jihadis hide in homes among their own families after carrying out hit-and-run attacks. "Even their relatives might not know they are involved in Islamic militancy," he said.

 

He said there is also no single leader, with small cells of differing ideologies. The situation is further complicated by the overlap of militants and criminal networks involved in smuggling, sometimes with the involvement of corrupt police officials. "Different security agencies are meddling in making it hard to tell who is doing what," he said.

 

Now international terror groups are adding their calls for jihad in the wake of the coup. In an Aug. 3 statement, al-Qaida leader al-Zawahri mocked Morsi's participation in democratic process, calling democracy "an idol made of date paste" created by secularists. He called upon "the soldiers of the Quran to wage the war for the Quran."

 

On Saturday, a leader of al-Qaida's Iraqi branch, Abu Mohammed al-Adnani, also called on Egyptians to fight their army. From North Africa, the militant leader Belmoktar and a Mali jihadi group announced last month that they aim to form a jihadi front from the River Nile to North Africa's Atlantic coast.

 

So far, Egypt's military has not launched a major offensive against armed groups in Sinai. El-Iskandarani, the researcher, believes the generals are wary of a sparking a wider confrontation with disgruntled Bedouin tribes. Also, Sinai jihadis have powerful new arsenals of heavy anti-aircraft guns, rockets and other weapons smuggled from Libya. "The price will be very heavy," el-Iskandarani said.

 

Contents
 

 

EGYPT'S WAR ON HAMAS

Khaled Abu Toameh

Gatestone institute, Sept. 12, 2013

 

For the past two months, the Egyptians have been at war not only with the jihadis in Sinai, but also in an all-out war with the Palestinian Hamas movement in the Gaza Strip. This war is being waged on two fronts: in the media and along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt. As far as Hamas is concerned, this is a war of survival that it cannot afford to lose.

 

An Egyptian army watchtower at Rafah, along the Gaza Strip border with Egypt, April 2009. (Photo credit: Marius Arnesen) The Egyptian war is clearly hurting Hamas much more than the two military offensives launched by the Israel Defense Forces in the Gaza Strip since 2008. Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip are now talking openly about the Egyptian war, which they believe is aimed at toppling their regime there.

 

The officials admit that they were not prepared for this war from the largest Arab country, which until last June was their main ally in the Arab and Islamic countries. Since the ouster of Egypt's President Mohamed Morsi, the state-controlled media in Egypt has turned Hamas into the country's number one enemy. Almost every day an Egyptian newspaper runs a story about Hamas's ongoing attempts to undermine Egypt's national security, and its involvement in terror attacks against the Egyptian army.

 

Hamas spokesmen in the Gaza Strip now spend most of their time denying the allegations and accusing the Egyptian media of waging a smear campaign not only against their movement,but all Palestinians. The media offensive has been accompanied by a series of security measures that have convinced Hamas leaders they are in a state of war with Egypt.

 

Apart from banning Hamas representatives from entering Egypt, the Egyptian authorities have imposed severe travel restrictions on residents of the Gaza Strip. The Rafah border crossing between Gaza and Egypt has been shut for most of the time over the past two months, with the Egyptian authorities citing "security reasons" for the closure.

 

But the most drastic measure taken by the Egyptians so far, which is really hurting Hamas, is the destruction of hundreds of smuggling tunnels along the border with the Gaza Strip. The Egyptians are now in the process of creating a buffer zone between the Gaza Strip and Egypt after having razed several homes and leveled land along the border.

 

These are the same Egyptians who used to condemn Israel for every military strike aimed at thwarting rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip against Israeli cities and towns. All these measures have prompted some Hamas officials to wonder whether Egypt was planning to launch a military operation inside the Gaza Strip under the pretext of combating terror.

 

Hamas believes that as part of this war, Egyptian intelligence officials are behind a new group called Tamarod [Rebellion] whose members have vowed to overthrow the Hamas regime in November. In recent weeks, Hamas arrested dozens of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip on suspicion of being involved with the new group, which carries the same name as the Egyptian movement that campaigned against Morsi.

 

The Egyptian security measures have thus far resulted in a severe shortage of basic goods and fuel in the Gaza Strip. Some Hamas leaders warned this week that the Gaza Strip is facing a humanitarian and economic crisis as a result of the Egyptian army's measures. Until recently, Hamas leaders were careful not to engage in a direct confrontation with the new rulers of Egypt. But in recent days several Hamas officials are beginning to regard Egypt's security measures as an act of war against the Gaza Strip.

 

For now, the Egyptians do not want to admit that they are at war with Hamas, preferring instead to describe their measures as part of a campaign against terror. Hamas, for its part, has internalized the fact that it is at war with Egypt. Hamas, as it is being pushed to the wall and increasingly isolated, faces two options: either to initiate a new confrontation with Israel to create Arab and Islamic pressure on Egypt to halt its war, or to confront the Egyptian army in a direct military engagement by joining forces with the jihadis in Sinai.

 

Contents

 

EGYPT AND ITS PATRONS

Paul Mutter

The Arabist, Sept. 6, 2013

 

Why does Egypt receive between $1.3 and $1.5 billion of US aid annually? "Because of Israel" is the most common answer to that question. Certainly, that is driving much of the American political wrangling over whether aid should be suspended. The New York Times reports that during the back-and-forth among the US and its allies leading up to Morsi's ouster, Israeli officials argued against cuts, and told the military not to put stock in US threats to cut off aid. The Israelis, like the US, greatly prefer the Egyptian security forces to be in charge of the country. Whatever, the depredations of Mubarak, the Brotherhood, or the counterrevolution, Egypt is too valuable for any American leader to risk "losing."

 

But though the Muslim Brotherhood signaled it might be less hostile to Hamas or Iran than Mubarak was, in practice the former president did little to change existing policies. Under Morsi's short presidency, the Egyptians even stepped up the destruction of smuggling tunnels into the coastal strip (moreover, the Egyptians were reportedly instrumental in negotiating an end to Operation Pillar of Cloud last winter).

 

Both Israel and Egypt have many shared interests in the Sinai, especially as the security situation deteriorates. Though Egyptian pressure on Gaza is massively increasing now, it was never seriously in jeopardy under the Brotherhood given that the terrorists and criminal gangs in the Sinai were going after both the SCAF- and Brotherhood-led Egyptian state, and it served Morsi little to champion the Palestinian cause while in office.

 

The massive corporate investment in Egyptian or Saudi defense expenditures certainly contributes to Congressional deliberations against aid cuts. And while one might examine the head of President Obama, and whether his reluctance to "take sides" really suggests a desire to reduce a US commitment to Egypt, the fact that the aid has not yet been publicly cut off suggests that Washington has tacitly taken a side: that of the military's, guarantor of the status quo.

 

It was, in fact, not just the Israelis telling General Sisi et al. to pay no mind to the US law that requires all aid to be suspended to a country if a coup takes place there. It was King Abdullah telling the Egyptian generals that the Kingdom would make up for any cutoffs in economic or military aid – the latter, almost assuredly in the form of American-made weapons in Riyadh's possession.

 

Riyadh's role is extremely important in all of this, especially with respect to Iran's containment. As the CNAS think tank noted in February 2011, Egypt's strategic importance in the wider region has nothing to do with the current deployment of US forces in the country, where the only fully staffed America military station is a US Navy medical center. It instead has to do with the nightmare scenario that would threaten the US's interests in the Persian Gulf: the sudden collapse of any one of the Gulf monarchies that host the radar sites, listening posts, airfields, and weapon emplacements pointing at Iran:

 

"The United States has no military bases of its own in Egypt. Its headquarters for directing air and ground troops in the Middle East, Afghanistan and Iraq, are in Qatar. Stockpiles of tanks, ammunition, fuel, spare parts and other war materiel are warehoused in Kuwait, Qatar and Oman. U.S. missile batteries are deployed along the Persian Gulf's west coast. The U.S. Navy's regional headquarters is in Bahrain.

 

But in contingencies or crises, American forces have depended heavily on Egyptian facilities built with U.S. aid to U.S. specifications to accommodate U.S. forces as they move from the United States and Europe to Africa or westward across Jordan and Saudi Arabia to the Persian Gulf. American nuclear powered aircraft carriers, whose jets are playing a major role in Afghanistan, rely critically on their expedited use of the Suez Canal, giving them easy access to the Red Sea and Persian Gulf."

 

Jane's Defence Weekly presented an analysis of commercial satellite imagery compiled between 2011 and 2012 to illustrate the expansion of US, UK, and GCC "conventional combat capabilities" in the Persian Gulf. The analysis highlighted the most salient points of this cooperation, which all ultimately leads back over that waterway and the Saudi desert to Egypt's own airspace and port facilities.

 

Meanwhile, the suggestion that the failure of the Brotherhood's political experiment in Egypt may be necessary for the House of Saud's survival is not farfetched. Though security concerns largely determine American actions, for the Saudis, there is also the matter of not wanting competition from the transnational Brotherhood as a mass Islamist movement.

 

While in years past, the Saudis supported the Brotherhood in Egypt – against Nasser, primarily, whose pan-Arabism and meddling in Yemen during the Cold War threatened the House of Saud's shaky legitimacy. But then the Brothers' messaging and aspirations began to appeal to dissidents within the Kingdom, as did other rival Islamist precepts, threatening absolute monarchy with the prospect of replacement. In recent years, top Saudi officials have made extremely negative remarks about the Brotherhood, most notably the late Crown Prince Nayef. Last month, Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal fired a Kuwaiti preacher from his Al Resalah channel for having pro-Brotherhood leanings. As a Foreign Policy article recently noted about Saudi efforts to arm anti-Assad Syrian militias, "Saudi Arabia does not only despise the Muslim Brothers, but political Islamic movements and mass politics in general, which it sees as a threat to its model of absolute patrimonial monarchy."

Contents

 

AS WORLD WATCHES SYRIA, EGYPT LAUNCHES
MAJOR CAMPAIGN AGAINST JIHADISTS IN SINAI

Paul Alster

FoxNews, Sept. 16, 2013

 

While the eyes of the world are on Syria, Egypt's military is routing jihadists from the vast and lawless Sinai Peninsula — and, according to some regional observers, showing the U.S. how to conduct a war on terrorists.

 

Under orders from Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, the military leader governing Egypt since the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohammed Morsi was ousted, the Egyptian military is stepping up the fight against the growing coalition of Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and other radical Muslims gathering in the massive desert peninsula. Although the jihadist activity in the Sinai could be as big a threat to regional stability as the civil war in Syria, Sisi's effort to confront terrorism at his doorstep comes without endorsement from the Obama administration, which has denounced the military takeover in Egypt.

 

"I am more than sure that the Muslim Brotherhood and its leadership in Egypt were actually encouraged by the Americans — and not just in Egypt," Mordechai Kedar, a highly respected analyst of Islamic groups, and a former Israeli military intelligence officer, told FoxNews.com. "The State Department sympathized with the Muslim Brotherhood because they wanted Islamists to love America. They will do anything in order to look nice in the eyes of these Islamists."

 

In recent weeks, ferocious battles have been fought by the Egyptian military against Islamists in the vast desert region that separates Egypt and Israel. The territory is meant to be controlled by Egypt under the terms of the 1979 peace agreement between the two countries, but things in Sinai were already deteriorating during the final years of former President Hosni Mubarak's rule. Then, during Morsi's brief, 12-month tenure, things became significantly worse.

 

"I have no doubt that Sinai could become a hub for terror, like Afghanistan. The Egyptian Army has finally decided to take care of what is going on in Sinai," Kedar said, "not because of Israel, not because of Gaza, not because of Sinai, but because of Egypt and the fact that the terrorism there could soon spill into Egypt itself."

 

Under Sisi's leadership the Egyptian Army is now intent on creating a buffer zone to prevent a flood of Hamas terrorists pouring in from Gaza to join the fighting in the Sinai Peninsula. Some 20,000 or more Egyptian soldiers have gone into Sinai in recent weeks and scores of terrorists have been killed, but the Egyptian forces have also sustained losses. Early Monday, a remote-controlled roadside bomb blew up a bus transporting Egyptian soldiers in Sinai. Early reports suggest at least nine casualties.

 

On August 13, missiles from Sinai were fired at the Israeli Red Sea holiday resort of Eilat, which borders the Sinai region — prompting the Iron Dome defense system to be called into action. There was also a brief suspension of flights to the popular tourist destination.

 

The Sinai has long been a lawless hotbed of militancy, where Bedouins mix with foreign fighters far from the arm of Cairo. Egypt's efforts to crack down in the region date back to the 1990s, and the Luxor Temple Massacre in 1997, when terrorist elements murdered 58 foreign tourists and 4 guards at the historic site. But since the 2011 uprising that toppled Hosni Mubarak and ended three decades of police state, the region had become even more ungovernable than before.

 

Paul Alster is an Israel-based journalist

 

Contents

 

 

 

Egyptian Military Spokesman: Army To Continue Operations Till Sinai Terrorist-Free: Israpundit, Sept 16, 2013—Spokesman for the Egyptian Armed Forces, Ahmed Ali, says there will be more military operations against “terrorist” strongholds in Sinai, adding there is no timeframe for army action in the Peninsula.

 

Egyptian Media Attack U.S.: L. Lavi and N. Shamni, MEMRI, Sept. 14, 2013—Since Egyptian President Morsi's removal from power, the Egyptian public and media – both pro- and anti-Morsi – have been fiercely attacking the U.S.

 

Egyptian Army Saves Christians from Muslim Terrorists: Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu, Jewish Press, Sept. 17, 2013—The Egyptian military regime escalated its war on radical Islamists Monday and came to the rescue of Christians whose village has been terrorized.

 

 

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SYRIA IV “THE DEAL”: PUTIN NOW IN CHARGE, OBAMA FOLLOWING FROM BEHIND AS DUBIOUS DEAL REACHED TO DISARM ASSAD OF WMD; U.S. POLL: SEND CONGRESS TO SYRIA!

We welcome your comments to this and any other CIJR publication. Please address your response to:  Ber Lazarus, Publications Chairman, Canadian Institute for Jewish Research, PO Box 175, Station  H, Montreal QC H3G 2K7 – Tel: (514) 486-5544 – Fax:(514) 486-8284; E-mail:  ber@isranet.org

 

 

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Contents:

 

 

Contents:

 

US, Russia Reach Deal on Control of Syria Chemical Weapons: Jerusalem Post, Sept. 14, 2013—Russia and the United States put aside bitter differences over Syria Saturday, to strike a deal that by destroying Syrian President Bashar Assad's chemical arsenal may avert US military action against his regime. The agreement after three days of talks in Geneva between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov demands that Assad give a full account of his secret stockpile within a week.

 

Syria Could Still Blow Up in Putin’s Face: Shashank Joshi, The Telegraph, Sept. 16, 2013—The deal looks like a humiliation for Obama – but what happens if it starts to unravel? Whichever analogy one chooses, the conventional wisdom is hardening: Vladimir Putin has judo-flipped, checkmated and floored Barack Obama this week with a plan to inspect and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons.

 

The Price of the Syria Debacle: Amir Taheri, New York Post, Sept. 15, 2013 —Even those who worried about how President Obama would handle the Syrian chemical-weapons crisis are shocked at his weird behavior, which puts the world at risk of becoming even more dangerous. To start with, he has created confusion regarding the US president’s public statements.

 

Shiites: Syria War Will Ignite End Times: Ryan Mauro, Front Page Magazine, Sept. 16, 2013 —A Lebanese reporter for the Al-Monitor Middle East news service explains that Iran and Hezbollah view the Syrian civil war not only in a strategic context, but in a prophetic one. In their belief, the radical Sunnis will conquer Syria for a short period of time and then Iranian forces will intervene on their way to destroying Israel.

 

Poll: Majority Of Americans Approve Of Sending Congress To Syria: The Onion, Sept 5, 2013—As President Obama continues to push for a plan of limited military intervention in Syria, a new poll of Americans has found that though the nation remains wary over the prospect of becoming involved in another Middle Eastern war, the vast majority of U.S. citizens strongly approve of sending Congress to Syria.

 

On Topic Links

 

Text: Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons: Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sept. 14, 2013

Into the Syrian Bazaar: Editorial, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 15, 2013

Russia Wants Seat Back at Mideast Table: Steven Hurst, Real Clear World, Sept. 16, 2013

Across Enemy Lines, Wounded Syrians Seek Israeli Care: Maayan Lubell, Reuters, Sept. 13, 2013

 

 

US, RUSSIA REACH DEAL ON
CONTROL OF SYRIA CHEMICAL WEAPONS

Jerusalem Post, Sept. 14, 2013

 

Russia and the United States put aside bitter differences over Syria Saturday, to strike a deal that by destroying Syrian President Bashar Assad's chemical arsenal may avert US military action against his regime. The agreement after three days of talks in Geneva between US Secretary of State John Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov demands that Assad give a full account of his secret stockpile within a week.

 

International inspectors would rapidly get to work to eliminate all the weapons by the middle of next year – an "ambitious" target, in Kerry's words. If Syria reneges on a commitment to comply, Washington and Moscow pledged to cooperate at the United Nations to impose penalties – though these remain to be determined and Russia is highly unlikely to support military action, which US President Barack Obama has said must remain an option. Kerry said Obama retained the right to attack, with or without UN backing.

 

For Assad's opponents, who two weeks ago were expecting US air strikes at any moment in response to a poison gas attack on rebel territory last month, the deal was a big disappointment. Despite Kerry and Lavrov's assurances that the pact may lay a foundation for broader peace, they said Assad would not comply and that the deal brought an end to their battles no closer. Warplanes struck rebel-held suburbs of Damascus again on Saturday.

 

For the world's two greatest military powers, however, the Syrian conflict has chilled relations to levels recalling the Cold War, and Saturday's agreement offers a chance to step back from further confrontation. For Russian President Vladimir Putin, it brings management of the Syrian crisis back to the United Nations. For Obama, it solves the dilemma created by Congress's reluctance to back military strikes that he was preparing without a UN mandate.

 

Yet many difficulties lie ahead – not least the technical challenge of enforcing a major disarmament involving complex and dangerous materials in the midst of a vicious civil war that has inflamed the entire Middle East. Kerry told a joint news conference in Geneva: "The implementation of this framework, which will require the vigilance and the investment of the international community, and full accountability of the Assad regime, presents a hard road ahead."

 

Lavrov said: "It shows that when there is a will … Russia and the United States can get results on the most important problems including the weapons of mass destruction problem." "The successful realization of this agreement will have meaning not only from the point of view of the common goal of eliminating all arsenals of chemical weapons, but also to avoid the military scenario that would be catastrophic for this region and international relations on the whole."

 

In Istanbul, the head of the Syrian rebel Supreme Military Council was dismissive of the deal, however, saying it would not resolve the country's civil war, now in its third year. General Selim Idris called it a blow to opposition hopes of overthrowing Assad and accused the Syrian president of circumventing any disarmament by already sending chemical weapons to allies in Lebanon and Iraq in recent days.

 

Qassim Saadeddine, a rebel commander in northern Syria and a spokesman for the Supreme Military Council, told Reuters his forces would not cooperate: "Let Kerry-Lavrov plan go to hell. We reject it and we will not protect the inspectors or let them enter Syria," he said by telephone. A US official, however, said Washington believed all Syria's chemical weapons remained in areas under the Assad government's control.

 

Assad, who with backing from his sponsor Iran and its Lebanese Hezbollah allies has fought off first demonstrations demanding democracy and now full-blown rebellion backed by Arab states including Saudi Arabia, has agreed to sign up to an international treaty banning chemical weapons and to submit to controls by the UN-backed Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW).

 

While submitting to its inspections, he will be deprived of arms which he denies having used. But he has averted what were likely to be heavy US and French missile strikes and bombing raids that could have weakened his defenses against rebels who control large swathes of Syria, including around the capital Damascus. Despite the diplomatic breakthrough, chemical weapons only account for around 2 percent of deaths in a civil war in which 100,000 people have been killed since 2011.

 

On Saturday, Syrian warplanes struck rebel-held suburbs of the capital Damascus and government forces clashed with rebels on the frontlines, according to residents. The residents and opposition activists, asked about the deal, said that it would not benefit normal Syrians. "The regime has been killing people for more than two years with all types of weapons. Assad has used chemical weapons six or seven times. The killing will continue. No change will happen. That is it," said an opposition activist in a rebel-held suburb of Damascus who uses the name Tariq al-Dimashqi. "The most important point is the act of killing, no matter what is the weapon," he said.

 

Syrian state media broadcast the Kerry and Lavrov news conference live, indicating that Damascus is satisfied with the deal. Having taken the surprise decision two weeks ago to seek congressional approval for military action to punish Assad for using poison gas, Obama faced a dilemma when lawmakers appeared likely to deny him that – citing unease about helping Islamist militants among the rebels and a wariness of new entanglements in the Middle East after wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

 

The weapons deal proposed by Putin, a former KGB agent intent on restoring some of the influence Moscow lost with the collapse of the Soviet Union, offered a way out. Russia has protected and armed Assad and has been alarmed at what it sees as Western willingness to bypass the United Nations to impose "regime change" in other states. Under the terms of the US-Russian agreement – a bilateral document which in itself may represent something of a landmark in the management of global affairs, recalling East-West deals of the Cold War-era – Syria must let the OPCW complete an initial inspection of its chemical weapons sites by November.

 

Kerry said Assad must produce a "comprehensive listing" of its chemical weapons stockpiles within a week. The goal, he said, was the complete destruction of Syria's chemical weapons in the first half of 2014. The framework agreement – which one US official described as having been worked out in "hard fought" negotiations with Russia – states that a UN Security Council resolution should allow for regular assessments of Syria's compliance and "in the event of non-compliance, including unauthorized transfer, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in Syria, the UN Security Council should impose measures under Chapter VII of the UN Charter". Chapter VII can include military force but can be limited to other kinds of sanction. Russia and the United States continue to have different views on what level of punishment to apply.

 

When Kerry said during the news conference that the text stated that the Council "must" impose measures under Chapter VII, Lavrov interrupted to point out that it says only it "should" impose measures. "There's no diminution of options," Kerry said, noting Obama's right under US law to order military action, with or without support from Congress or any international body.

Lavrov said of the agreement: "There [is] nothing said about the use of force and not about any automatic sanctions."

 

Putin has supported Assad's contention that the sarin gas attack on Aug. 21 around Damascus which Washington says killed over 1,400 civilians was the work of rebels trying to provoke Western intervention. If Russia were "100 percent" sure of a violation, Lavrov said, it would support UN moves to "punish the perpetrators".

 

Senior Kerry aides involved in the talks said that the United States and Russia agreed that Syria has 1,000 tons of chemical agents and precursors, including nerve agents such as sarin gas and blister agents such as sulphur mustard. But the officials, briefing reporters on condition of anonymity, said there was no agreement among the powers on how many chemical weapons-related sites Syria has that must be inspected under the accord.

 

The US estimate is that Assad's government has at least 45 sites associated with its chemical weapons program, one US official said. Implementation of the accord, even assuming Syria complies with its terms, will be daunting. "There are lots and lots of details that still have to be sorted through," a second US official said. To inspect, secure and destroy all of Syria's chemical stockpiles by the first half of 2014 "is daunting to say the least".

 

That timeline and others in the accord "are targets … not a deadline" another said. Syria's chemical weapons are likely to be removed through a combination of destroying them within Syria and shipping some out for destruction elsewhere, the officials said. Russia is one possibility site for destruction, but no final decisions have been made.

 

Lavrov and Kerry have said they will meet in New York at the United Nations in about two weeks to see if they can push forward a long-delayed plan for an international peace conference to try to negotiate an end to the war. A drive last year for a political solution, dubbed the "Geneva Plan" and calling for a transitional government, went nowhere as Assad refused to cede power and the opposition insisted he could not be a part of any new political order. Kerry said Saturday's chemical weapons deal could be "the first concrete step" toward a final settlement. Lavrov said he hoped all parties to the conflict could attend a conference in October, without pre-conditions.

 

Contents

 

SYRIA COULD STILL BLOW UP IN PUTIN’S FACE

Shashank Joshi

The Telegraph, Sept. 16, 2013

 

The deal looks like a humiliation for Obama – but what happens if it starts to unravel? Whichever analogy one chooses, the conventional wisdom is hardening: Vladimir Putin has judo-flipped, checkmated and floored Barack Obama this week with a plan to inspect and destroy Syria’s chemical weapons. For the sceptics, this was the diplomatic equivalent of polonium-210 in Obama’s teacup; Russia has sucked the Americans into a needless distraction, buying time for Assad and leaving Syria’s rebels adrift.

 

The critics have two charges. The first is that the agreement, hammered out in Geneva after late-night arms control talks reminiscent of the Cold War, is unworkable. Assad will cheat, inspectors won’t be able to operate in war zones, and the Americans will look unreasonable if they call foul. Just as Saddam toyed with UN inspectors throughout the Nineties, so will Assad hand over some chickenfeed while dispersing the crown jewels. The second criticism is that the plan might be too successful: Assad will trade off his chemical weapons for regime survival, by making himself indispensible to the disarmament effort. The United States will quietly sever what little military aid it is extending to the beleaguered rebels, and drop its insistence that Assad must go as part of a political transition.

 

Yet things aren’t so clear-cut. Russia has certainly scored a tactical diplomatic victory, but this deal – unprecedented in its ambition and timetable – could still blow up in Moscow’s face. If it works – even if only a fraction of Syria’s chemical weapons and sites are inspected and eliminated – this will do much more to degrade that capability than cruise missiles would have done. If this comes at the price of boosting Putin’s ego, that’s cheap. Inspectors will never catch every last ounce of poison gas, but so what? Remember, those missiles were never going to touch the actual stockpiles, and the strike was to be “unbelievably small”, in US Secretary of State John Kerry’s memorable and foolish words.

 

It is irrelevant that the process may take years to complete: just having inspectors inside Syria is an advance on what was thought possible a week ago. Recall, that for all of Saddam’s deception, the UN did in fact destroy virtually all of his chemical weapons by the end of the Nineties. Syria is a tougher case, because a war is raging across the country. But if Assad admits inspectors and consolidates his weapons into fewer sites, this automatically makes it harder to use them. If he does not, then he will eventually breach the agreement – and bring punitive strikes back into the picture. Providing that the US keeps the heat on Damascus – an important proviso – it has little to lose. Yes, Assad is likely to cheat. His regime developed its chemical arsenal in response to Israel’s nuclear weapons, and it will not give them up without a fight. But the United States has, rightly, insisted that the threat of force will stay on the table. The UN resolution that backs up this deal won’t explicitly authorise force, but this was never on the cards.

 

Remember Obama’s position last week. The president had lost British support for military action, was poised to lose a Congressional vote, and faced opposition from half of the G20, including Nato members such as Germany. His authority was sapped, and his options narrowed. If the cynics are right and this deal falls apart, the US will be well positioned to occupy the diplomatic high ground and renew its case for strikes. Congress will be more readily persuaded that the use of force is necessary, and even Britain – though the prospects are slim – may reconsider the issue in Parliament. Today’s UN inspectors’ verdict, reported to confirm chemical weapons use in Syria and point to regime culpability, will further strengthen the US hand. If some of Syria’s chemical weapons have already been inspected and destroyed by this time (the plan demands that inspectors visit by November), this might even make strikes easier. If Russia is intent on stringing along the Americans and shielding Assad, its plan will only buy a few months.

 

Critics are also overstating the technical difficulties involved in tackling Syria’s chemical weapons. The task is daunting, but last month’s successful inspections demonstrates that it is not impossible for inspectors to enter contested areas. Chemical weapons expert and former UN inspectors have made it clear that there are ways of putting at least some of Assad’s chemical arsenal beyond use.

 

However, in emphasising chemical weapons over conventional slaughter, has Obama given Assad a new lease of life? The text of the Russian and American agreement makes it clear that the Syrian government will be responsible for the safety of inspectors. Moreover, the guardians of Syria’s chemical weapons – the elite Unit 450 – will surely have to remain intact through any political transition if the plan is to work. The problem with this line of argument is that it assumes that a regime-shattering intervention was derailed by half-baked diplomacy.

 

But the cavalry was not coming – as, indeed, we have known for several weeks. Even as they were making the case for war, American officials were adamant both that strikes would not be intended to change the military balance, and that a negotiated political solution – via the so-called Geneva II conference – remained the US objective. With or without Russia’s gambit, the US was terrified at the prospect of Syria’s chemical warfare units dissolving and leaving their stockpiles unsecured.

 

In many respects, this deal doesn’t change much. Russia will continue to arm and fund the Syrian regime as it consolidates its rump state. The US will continue its tepid support for rebels, and Saudi Arabia and Qatar their more enthusiastic contributions. If Syria’s most obscene weapons can be taken off the battlefield, good. If not, our powder stays dry.

 

Contents

 

THE PRICE OF THE SYRIA DEBACLE

Amir Taheri

New York Post, Sept. 15, 2013

 

Even those who worried about how President Obama would handle the Syrian chemical-weapons crisis are shocked at his weird behavior, which puts the world at risk of becoming even more dangerous. To start with, he has created confusion regarding the US president’s public statements.

 

Except for Jimmy Carter, all presidents for the past century have taken care not to commit themselves to any action when they didn’t mean it. In global diplomacy, the phrase “America has spoken” carried special weight. America’s word was America’s bond.

 

Obama has depleted that capital of trust. A man who loves the sound of his voice has devalued that bond in speeches and TV appearances, setting “red lines” that slowly vanish, shouting “Assad must go” then doing nothing to make that happen and promising to arm Syrian rebels only to have the arms never arrive. And now, after waxing lyrical about “the conscience of humanity,” he has dropped everything in exchange for a ride on the anfractuous path of Russian diplomacy.

 

The second danger is the perception that Russia may have gained a veto on aspects of US foreign policy. In his New York Times op-ed last week, Russia’s Vladimir Putin made it clear his “veto” goes beyond foreign policy to include cultural topics such as the “specialness” of the United States.

Putin claimed equivalence between the USSR (“the Evil Empire,” according to Ronald Reagan) and the United States, recalling the time when “we were allies” during World War II. He forgot to mention that the USSR had been allied to Nazi Germany, switching sides only after Hitler invaded.

 

In the blink of an eye, Obama has shrunk into second fiddle to Putin. Speaking in Geneva on Friday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov made a point of showing who was running the show: He said a new round of talks on Syria would start soon, with Iran and Saudi Arabia invited, to discuss transition plans for Syria.

 

The deal concocted by Moscow and bought by Obama gives Bashar al-Assad a free hand to kill Syrians as long as he doesn’t use chemical weapons. Moscow always wanted Assad to remain in power until the end of his presidential term next May. This is precisely what Obama has signed up for, since the deal gives Syria at least until next June to deliver on Moscow’s promises. The Damascus-Moscow-Tehran axis hopes to crush the Syrian rebellion within the next six or seven months and then hold fake elections in which Assad is re-elected or has one of his minions elected as president. In other words, the US has agreed to abandon Obama’s stated “Assad must go” policy in exchange for a Russian-led process. The fact that Assad is a war criminal is brushed under the carpet, a signal to actual or burgeoning war criminals across the globe to operate with impunity.

 

Whatever happens in Syria, the United States is likely to lose. If Assad’s gang keeps power, they’ll have no reason to abandon their Russian and Iranian protectors. If the rebels win, they’ll have a hard time forgetting Obama’s betrayal. The perception that America is led by a group of amateurs (some where they are only because they have risen to the level of their incompetence) is already encouraging other dangerous trends….

 

Obama’s Syria fiasco has also encouraged Iran to harden its position on the nuclear issue. In his speech at the Bishkek summit, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani tried to link the issue of Syria’s chemical weapons to Israel’s alleged ownership of a nuclear arsenal. He also said that Tehran was ready for talks with the 5+1 Group to secure recognition of “our legitimate right” to enrich uranium — ignoring five Security Council resolutions that demand an end to enrichment.

 

And in an interview Thursday, Ali-Akbar Salehi, head of Iran’s Atomic Energy Agency, said, “We do what
we want . . . They cannot do anything about it.” Tehran media report talks with Russia to help Iran build new nuclear power plants. A similar scheme that Iran signed with China 10 years ago could be revived.

 

The perception that, out of ideology or incompetence, Obama is leading the United States into strategic retreat has persuaded nations in Eastern Europe, Transcaucasia, Central Asia, the Middle East and Latin America, to review their foreign policies.

 

Finally, the Syria episode sends another message: While all nations can use force to impose their will (in 2008, Russia invaded Georgia and occupied 25 percent of that nation’s territory), only the United States is denied that right even to enforce international law. That’s the kind of “American exceptionalism” that Obama has secured.

 

Contents

 

 

SHIITES: SYRIA WAR WILL IGNITE END TIMES

Ryan Mauro

Front Page Magazine, Sept. 16, 2013

 

A Lebanese reporter for the Al-Monitor Middle East news service explains that Iran and Hezbollah view the Syrian civil war not only in a strategic context, but in a prophetic one. In their belief, the radical Sunnis will conquer Syria for a short period of time and then Iranian forces will intervene on their way to destroying Israel.

 

The unnamed reporter points out that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is, like Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei, “known for being a strong believer” in the Shiite prophecy that Iran will lead an End Times war against Islam’s enemies. At that time, the Mahdi will “reappear” and defeat the infidel.

 

According to the author, Iran and Hezbollah rely upon a book of prophecies called Al-Jafr to guide them. It was passed down to Jafar al-Sadiq, for whom the Jafari school of Shiite jurisprudence is named after. Teachers of this book say that the Syrian leader will be killed in a civil war during the End Times.

 

A Sunni leader will take over Syria and persecute Shiites, Allawites and Christians. The persecution will continue until an Iranian army invades Syria via Iraq, killing this Sunni leader on the way to capturing Jerusalem. Once Jerusalem is taken, the Mahdi will appear. Interestingly, in a modern context, this means that Hezbollah is fighting to preserve the regime of a man (Bashar Assad) that they believe will be killed.

 

Keep in mind, the Jafari school of jurisprudence is mainstream Shiite doctrine. There’s bound to be disagreement over the interpretation of prophecy, but these are not the beliefs of an isolated cult. In July 2010, a senior Iranian cleric said that Khamenei told his inner circle that he had met with the Mahdi, who promised to “reappear” during his lifetime.

 

A very similar eschatological viewpoint is articulated in a 2011 documentary produced by the office of then-President Ahmadinejad. The film, titled The Coming is Upon Us, does not predict a Syrian civil war but shares many of the same details articulated by the Al-Monitor reporter in Lebanon.

 

A critical point of convergence between the two sources is about Saudi Arabia’s role in prophecy. Both agree that the death of Saudi King Abdullah will be a major trigger. In fact, this event is so central to the Iranian film that it opens up with the statement, “Whoever guarantees the death of King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, I will guarantee the imminent reappearance of Mahdi.”

 

What’s amazing about this film is the high level of detail of the discussed prophecies. It is easy to see why, if you were a devout Muslim (especially a Shiite), you would believe that the Mahdi’s return is near. The arrival of Jews in Palestine from the West and the birth of the state of Israel, the conquering of Arabia by the Al-Sauds and the global dominance of the U.S. and the West are all clearly foretold, it claims. An Allah-blessed revolution will take place in Iran led by a man based out of Qom. The narrators point to the 1979 Islamic Revolution as a clear fulfillment. After this happens, a series of vague and specific “signs” are to follow.

 

The most specific “signs” are related to Iraq. The Iranian video claims that prophecy requires the invasion of Iraq by infidels from the south with heavy use of aircraft, as happened in 2003. The infidel will cause tribal divisions and the evil dictator of Iraq (Saddam), will be killed. Other signs include the Westernization of Muslim youth (with the 2009 Green Revolution offered as evidence), the Iran-backed Houthi rebellion in Yemen and the overthrow of Egyptian President Mubarak.

 

“The preparer,” named Seyed Khorasani, will rule Iran at this decisive point in history. He will come from Khorasan Province, his strong army will have black flags and there will be a “sign” in his right hand. The filmmakers point out that Khamenei fills these requirements and has a disabled right hand.

Yamani will coordinate the offensive against the infidel with Khorasani that trigger the Mahdi’s reappearance. The film argues that Hezbollah leader Hassan Nasrallah is his incarnation. Yamani will have a Yemeni background and it says that Nasrallah’s ancestors came to Lebanon from Yemen.

 

Khorasani/Khamenei’s military leader is given the name of Shoeib-Ebne Saleh. The film allegedly produced by Ahmadinejad’s office predictably says he is the incarnation of this figure. However, any military commander under Khamenei can arguably be him.

 

Analysis of these prophecies helps us see the future through the eyes of Hezbollah and the Iranian regime. Iran and Hezbollah are first focused on assembling an anti-Western Arab coalition. The Coming is Upon Us film specifically cites the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood as a step towards this, even if Iran and the Brotherhood are on opposite sides in Syria.

 

This stage includes fomenting internal strife in Bahrain, a Shiite-majority country governed by a pro-American Sunni monarchy. A representative of Khamenei said in 2011 that Bahrain presents “the best opportunity to begin setting the stage for the emergence of the 12th imam, our Mahdi.”

 

The development that Iran is eagerly awaiting is the death of the Saudi King Abdullah, which will trigger internal strife throughout Saudi Arabia. It is probable that this is when Iran hopes to begin a rebellion in the Shiite-majority Eastern Province where 90% of the country’s oil is.

 

After Assad is killed and replaced by a vicious Sunni leader, Iranian forces are to invade Syria from Iraq. The withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and the Iraqi government’s slide into the Iranian orbit are undoubtedly seen as dramatic “signs.” Once an Arab coalition is formed and Syria is invaded, Jerusalem is to be captured by the Iranian-led forces. At this point, the Mahdi is to reappear and final victory will come that includes a Nasrallah-led march to Mecca.

 

The Al-Monitor report appears fanciful until all of these pieces are put together. Once they are, it is easier to understand why the Iran-Hezbollah bloc is confident of victory. “According to Shiites who believe in this [Al-Jafr] book, mainly Khamenei and Nasrallah, there is one possible explanation. The signs of reappearance of Mahdi are being successfully unveiled, and the Great War with Israel and the disbelievers is just around the corner,” writes the Lebanese reporter.

 

The Shiite Islamists’ End Times worldview does not necessarily result in recklessness. They do consider military strength and geopolitical realities, but the objectives of those calculations are to fulfill prophecy. Any policy debate that takes place among them is not about whether to pursue the war that summons the Mahdi, but how.

Contents

 

HUMOUR: IN A POLL, MAJORITY OF AMERICANS
APPROVE OF SENDING CONGRESS TO SYRIA

The Onion, Sept 5, 2013

 

As President Obama continues to push for a plan of limited military intervention in Syria, a new poll of Americans has found that though the nation remains wary over the prospect of becoming involved in another Middle Eastern war, the vast majority of U.S. citizens strongly approve of sending Congress to Syria.

 

The New York Times/CBS News poll showed that though just 1 in 4 Americans believe that the United States has a responsibility to intervene in the Syrian conflict, more than 90 percent of the public is convinced that putting all 535 representatives of the United States Congress on the ground in Syria—including Senate pro tempore Patrick Leahy, House Speaker John Boehner, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, and, in fact, all current members of the House and Senate—is the best course of action at this time.

 

“I believe it is in the best interest of the United States, and the global community as a whole, to move forward with the deployment of all U.S. congressional leaders to Syria immediately,” respondent Carol Abare, 50, said in the nationwide telephone survey, echoing the thoughts of an estimated 9 in 10 Americans who said they “strongly support” any plan of action that involves putting the U.S. House and Senate on the ground in the war-torn Middle Eastern state. “With violence intensifying every day, now is absolutely the right moment—the perfect moment, really—for the United States to send our legislators to the region.”

“In fact, my preference would have been for Congress to be deployed months ago,” she added.

 

Citing overwhelming support from the international community—including that of the Arab League, Turkey, and France, as well as Great Britain, Iraq, Iran, Russia, Japan, Mexico, China, and Canada, all of whom are reported to be unilaterally in favor of sending the U.S. Congress to Syria—the majority of survey respondents said they believe the United States should refocus its entire approach to Syria’s civil war on the ground deployment of U.S. senators and representatives, regardless of whether the Assad regime used chemical weapons or not.

 

In fact, 91 percent of those surveyed agreed that the active use of sarin gas attacks by the Syrian government would, if anything, only increase poll respondents’ desire to send Congress to Syria. Public opinion was essentially unchanged when survey respondents were asked about a broader range of attacks, with more than 79 percent of Americans saying they would strongly support sending Congress to Syria in cases of bomb and missile attacks, 78 percent supporting intervention in cases of kidnappings and executions, and 75 percent saying representatives should be deployed in cases where government forces were found to have used torture.

 

When asked if they believe that Sen. Rand Paul should be deployed to Syria, 100 percent of respondents said yes. “There’s no doubt in my mind that sending Congress to Syria—or, at the very least, sending the major congressional leaders in both parties—is the correct course of action,” survey respondent and Iraq war veteran Maj. Gen. John Mill said, noting that his opinion was informed by four tours of duty in which he saw dozens of close friends sustain physical as well as emotional injury and post-traumatic stress. “There is a clear solution to our problems staring us right in the face here, and we need to take action.”

 

“Sooner rather than later, too,” Mill added. “This war isn’t going to last forever.”

 

Contents

 

 

Text: Framework for Elimination of Syrian Chemical Weapons: Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sept. 14, 2013

Taking into account the decision of the Syrian Arab Republic to accede to the Chemical Weapons Convention and the commitment of the Syrian authorities to provisionally apply the Convention prior to its entry into force, the United States and the Russian Federation express their joint determination to ensure the destruction of the Syrian chemical weapons program (CW) in the soonest and safest manner.

 

Into the Syrian Bazaar: Editorial, Wall Street Journal, Sept. 15, 2013—Politicians on the right and left are praising Saturday's U.S.-Russia "framework" to dismantle Syria's chemical weapons as a step away from American intervention. That is true only in the looking-glass world in which politicians are desperate to avoid voting on a military strike. The reality is that the accord takes President Obama and the U.S. ever deeper into the Syrian diplomatic bazaar, with the President hostage to Bashar Assad and Vladimir Putin as the friendly local tour guides.

 

Russia Wants Seat Back at Mideast Table: Steven Hurst, Real Clear World, Sept. 16, 2013—The U.S. deal with Russia to eliminate Syria's chemical weapons has pulled the Obama administration into deep waters: the Kremlin's long-standing drive to put the brakes on American power and to restore Moscow to its place as a pivotal Mideast player.

 

 

Across Enemy Lines, Wounded Syrians Seek Israeli Care: Maayan Lubell, Reuters, Sept. 13, 2013—Not a hundred miles from Damascus, a Syrian rebel lies in a hospital bed, an Israeli sentry at the door. Nearby a Syrian mother sits next to her daughter, shot in the back by a sniper.

 

 

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