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Germany on the Brink: Ross Douthat, New York Times, Jan. 9, 2016
Turkey Braces for Attack’s Economic Fallout: Victor Kotsev, National Post, Jan. 12, 2016
Muslim Men Must Learn to Treat Women as Equals: Sheema Khan, Globe & Mail, Jan. 6, 2016
North Korea and the Middle East Will Get Worse. But There is Finally Cause for Hope: Conrad Black, National Post, Jan. 9, 2016
“The foreign policy section was completely disconnected from reality. He actually spoke of Syria as some kind of a success –that we were working to put together this country, where Obama, arguably, was incredibly responsible for the collapse of the country, 250,000 deaths, and the refugee crisis, acting against the advice of all his advisors, so he's talking about a world that really doesn't exist…As he was speaking, the United States was, at best, being thumbed at by the Iranians, at worst, treated with contempt, the same way they have treated him since he signed the Iran deal.” — Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer, giving his takeaway from U.S. President Barack Obama’s final State of the Union address Tuesday. (Real Clear Politics, Jan. 13, 2016)
"I have heard a lot of talk in the past few days about the Authority, the destruction of the Authority, the collapse of the Authority…The Authority is an achievement of ours that we will never give up…Don't dream of its collapsing, don't even dream." — Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Abbas dismissed weeks of rumours that the PA could collapse, saying he would "never give up" on it. Abbas, 80, was speaking publicly for the first time since rumours surfaced last week that he was in poor health, which the PA has categorically denied. The PA, the governing authority set up under the 1993 Oslo peace accords with Israel, was meant to be a temporary body until a fully independent Palestinian state was created. More than two decades after Oslo, however, young Palestinians see little hope of the dream becoming reality – and many do not feel Abbas represents their concerns. (Ynet, Jan. 6, 2016)
“… We've had many wars in the Middle East, yes, too many wars. But we've never had starvation…People here have eaten cats, they have eaten dogs. But please do not judge them – this is what desperation looks like…You cannot see what I see. You cannot feel what I feel…We are like zombies, like dead people. We are just waiting for our funeral.” — Abdullah, a resident of Madaya, Syria. Abdullah said that he was surviving on strawberry leaves and had not eaten a full meal in three months. Thousands of Syrian families are starving to death as Bashar al-Assad’s regime imposes a medieval siege on two mountain towns. Doctors in Madaya and Zabadani, fewer than 25 miles from Assad’s presidential palace, recorded 31 cases of death by starvation last month after regime forces and Hezbollah sealed off the towns and mined the surrounding area. In Madaya, 40,000 civilians have been reduced to eating boiled leaves with leftovers from rubbish bins. (Telegraph, Jan. 8, 2015)
“They come to die, their death is guaranteed. And we go there hoping to take care of them without casualties… For us, there is no rush in clearing them, because they have achieved what they wanted in that first blast already: They have gotten the headline, they have sent fear through the city…We want to do it carefully, making sure there is no collateral damage, no civilian casualties.” — An Afghan special forces commander in Kabul who has been involved in repelling dozens of Taliban attacks. The urban attacks are suddenly coming at a dizzying pace — five in the first week of January alone. As the insurgents have been grabbing stretches of territory in Afghanistan’s border provinces, the quick guerrilla assaults have been nicknamed “complex attacks” here. (New York Times, Jan. 9, 2016)
“Ramadi is a city of ghosts…If there are not serious international efforts, it will not be rebuilt.” — Sabah Karhout, the head of the Anbar provincial council. The retaking of Ramadi by Iraqi security forces in December has been hailed as a major blow to I.S. But the widespread destruction of Ramadi bears testament to the tremendous costs of dislodging a group that stitches itself into the urban fabric of communities it seizes by occupying homes, digging tunnels and laying extensive explosives. The U.S. and its allies have pledged $50 million to a United Nations fund for reconstruction in Iraq, but Karhout, estimated that rebuilding the city would require $12 billion. (New York Times, Jan. 7, 2015)
“A historic opportunity was missed” [six years ago] …“There isn’t much of a Green Movement left.” —former Green Movement leader Heshmat Tabarzadi, who has served intermittent jail terms in Tehran since 2009. Some of Obama’s advisers, including former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, said in retrospect the U.S. should have backed Iran’s Green Movement that arose after the 2009 election, in which protesters demanded the removal of former President Ahmadinejad. A senior U.S. official said this week that Obama argued against covert support for the Green Movement because it risked undermining its credibility, not out of fear of Supreme Leader Khamenei’s reaction. Former presidential candidates Mousavi and Karroubi, who led the protests, remain under house arrest, despite pledges by President Rouhani to release them. Thousands of student leaders and activists who took to the streets six years ago were exiled to Turkey and Europe, fearing arrest in Iran. (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 8, 2016)
“We must act against this with all decisiveness, because I do not think that these are just isolated cases.” — German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Merkel told reporters in Berlin that “we must continually re-examine whether we really have done everything, as far as expulsion orders and actual expulsions from Germany are concerned.” The German authorities on Friday tied asylum seekers for the first time to the wave of violent assaults on women in Cologne on New Year’s Eve as debate intensified over whether the country had made a mistake in opening its doors last year to more than a million migrants. The Interior Ministry said 22 of people identified so far as suspects in the violence in Cologne had applied for asylum in Germany. The disclosure further stoked fears about security and culture clashes between the newcomers, mostly from Muslim countries, and Germans who are confronting the costs of assimilating them. (New York Times, Jan. 8, 2016)
“The fears and prejudices of people have thus been completely fulfilled, and much faster than expected…Those who have been skeptical feel themselves vindicated and those who have said ‘We can do it!’ feel unnerved.” — Jürgen Falter, a political scientist at the University of Mainz. The alleged series of attacks and thefts by migrants on New Year’s Eve in Cologne—with more than 170 complaints, largely for sexual assault, filed by victims with local police—has turned into one of Merkel’s biggest domestic crises as she has tried to keep Germans behind her in welcoming refugees. The state government forced the police chief in the Rhineland city to resign amid widespread criticism of how his force handled the incident. (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 8, 2016)
“Some commentators suggested the Liberals’ comparatively ambitious goal of resettling 25,000 refugees by year’s end was in fact embarrassingly modest. For some, the entirely logical assumption that Syrian refugees as a class pose little security risk became an ironclad certainty that they pose absolutely none worth considering. And in that environment, honest questions were often not well received. To ask why the Liberals were so intent upon such an unlikely deadline as to muse aloud about completing security screening on Canadian soil — an insane idea, as there would have been no way to deport anyone who failed — was to be accused of abandoning refugees to freeze to death in the camps…Yet a 2013 poll of “gender experts” by the Thomson Reuters Foundation pegged Syria as worse than most in the Arab world for its treatment of women, notably on issues of marriage, education, procreative rights and judicial corporal punishment.” — Chris Selley (National Post, Jan. 12, 2016)
“Dhimmitude, [allegations of non-Muslims appeasing and surrendering to Muslims—Ed., and discrimination against non-Muslims in Muslim majority regions, and moral disarmament generally, seems to be sneaking not up on us but down from the top. So if you’re wondering why Donald Trump attracts support, look carefully at the priorities of the political elite…I don’t care for politicians crying in public anyway. Of course it may have been one more … theatrical stunt by Barack Obama. But I don’t think so. I think our political class are increasingly the backward dogs lampooned by Soviet dissident Vladimir Bukovsky, who wag their tails at strangers and bark at their own family.” — John Robson (National Post, Jan. 11, 2016)
“It’s probably inevitable — the process of ‘normalizing’ Hitler into just another tyrant, whose words are to be parsed and contextualized…Nonetheless, it feels deeply disturbing, especially when Hitler’s image has returned in hate rallies around the world.” — Ron Rosenbaum, the author of “Explaining Hitler.” At a time when nationalist and far-right politics are again ascendant in Europe, a team of German historians presented a new, annotated edition of a symbolic text of that movement on Friday: “Mein Kampf,” by Adolf Hitler. The Nazi leader’s manifesto, which first appeared as two volumes in 1925 and 1927, was banned in Germany by the Allies in 1945 and has not been officially published in the country since then. A team of scholars and historians spent three years preparing a nearly 2,000-page edition with about 3,500 annotations in anticipation of the expiration on Dec. 31 of a 70-year copyright held by the state of Bavaria. (New York Times, Jan. 8, 2016)
“At Charlie Hebdo itself, where giving offense is the purpose of the whole operation, its anniversary cover took aim at Christianity, which is safe to do in France, even popular, but also irrelevant to the massacre of a year ago…The year just past was a particularly bloody one for Islamist violence. It concluded with a New Year’s Eve rampage that brought the sexual violence of Tahir Square to the platz of German cities. Will 2016 be better or worse? No one knows, but the eagerness to overlook the nature of the violence plaguing us suggests that effective resistance will be unlikely.” — Father Raymond J. de Souza (National Post, Jan. 13, 2016)
POLICE KILL SUSPECTED TEL AVIV GUNMAN IN NORTHERN ISRAEL (Tel Aviv) — Nashat Melhem, the suspected gunman behind Tel Aviv shooting on January 1, was shot dead in a firefight with police forces in his hometown of Arara in northern Israel on Friday. According to the police, officers from the Special Anti-Terror Unit closed in on the building Melhem was hiding in, when he stepped out and apparently tried to escape. Police said that Melhem opened fire at the officers, but none were injured. Officers returned fire, killing Melhem instantly. Melhem was suspected of shooting dead two people at a bar in central Tel Aviv, and later killing a taxi driver in north Tel Aviv while making his escape. Seven other people were wounded in the first attack. (Ha’aretz, Jan. 8, 2016)
SUICIDE BOMB KILLS GERMAN TOURISTS IN ISTANBUL (Istanbul) — A Syrian suicide bomber detonated a bomb in a historic district of Istanbul popular with tourists Tuesday morning, killing at least 10 people — at least nine of them German tourists — and wounding 15 others. The explosion was at a park that is home to a landmark obelisk, some 25 metres from the historic Blue Mosque. Turkey suffered two major bombing attacks last year, both blamed on I.S. More than 30 people were killed in the town of Suruc, near Turkey’s border with Syria, in July. Two suicide bombs exploded in October outside Ankara’s main train station as people gathered for a peace rally, killing more than 100. The prosecutor’s office said that attack was carried out by a local I.S. cell. (Globe & Mail, Jan. 12, 2016)
I.S. CLAIMS RESPONSIBILITY FOR PAIR OF IRAQ ATTACKS (Baghdad) — I.S. claimed responsibility for two attacks in Iraq that killed at least 29 people at a Baghdad shopping mall and at a cafe northeast of the capital on Monday night. The assault on the Baghdad mall was carried out by two attackers and killed nine people and wounded 13, Iraqi officials said. The pair detonated a bomb in a parked car outside the Al-Jawhara mall in Baghdad, then lobbed hand grenades at a crowd of pedestrians and sprayed them with bullets. One attacker detonated a suicide vest while standing in front of the shopping mall. The other was shot dead by police. A few hours after the Baghdad mall assault, at least 20 people were killed in two bombings in Muqdadiya, a city northeast of Baghdad in Diyala province. That attack targeted a cafe filled with young people (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 12, 2016)
EGYPT MAKES MORE TOURIST SAFETY PROMISES AFTER HURGHADA ATTACK (Cairo) — Egypt's tourism minister promised additional security measures to protect tourists, following the second attack on a hotel in two days. Three tourists were injured in a knife attack in Hurghada on Friday, a day after an I.S.-claimed attack at a hotel near the Giza pyramids. The Hurghada attack took place at the Bella Vista Hotel in the popular Red Sea resort. Two men carrying knives stormed the restaurant, injuring a Swedish woman and an elderly Austrian couple. The assailants were shot by security officers, leaving one dead and the other wounded. (Telegraph, Jan. 11, 2016)
I.S. TERRORIST DENOUNCES MOTHER, PUBLICALLY EXECUTES HER IN SYRIA (Raqqa) — An I.S. member publicly executed his mother after she encouraged him to leave I.S. and flee with her, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights reported. Lena al-Qasem, 45, had told her son that a US-backed military alliance would destroy I.S. and tried to convince him to leave the Syrian city of Raqqa with her. He quickly informed on her, and I.S. detained her and ordered her killed. According to the report, her son, Ali Saqr, 21, killed her on outside the post office where she had worked. Raqqa is an I.S. stronghold which has served as the I.S. “capital” since 2013. Since the beginning of its reign in Syria and Iraq, I.S. has executed over 2,000 Syrian civilians accused of homosexuality, apostasy, and practicing magic. (Breaking Israel News, Jan. 10, 2016)
U.S. DENIES APOLOGIZING TO IRAN BEFORE RELEASE OF SAILORS (Washington) — Iranian and U.S. officials said Wednesday that 10 U.S. sailors detained overnight by Iran’s hard-line military unit have been released and are back in U.S. custody, concluding an episode that briefly threatened to mushroom into an international confrontation. Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, which seized the U.S. sailors and their vessels late Tuesday, said the decision to release them came after it was determined that “their entrance into [our] waters was unintentional,” the result of mechanical problems. The IRGC also said the U.S. apologized, but the State Department flatly denied there had been any apology. The Pentagon and the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, confirmed the U.S. crew members had been released. (Wall Street Journal, Jan. 13, 2016)
GROWING SCALE OF ATTACKS PUTS PRESSURE ON MERKEL'S MIGRANT POLICY (Cologne) — Attacks on women in Cologne and other German cities on New Year’s Eve have prompted more than 600 criminal complaints, with police suspicion resting on asylum-seekers, putting pressure on Chancellor Merkel and her open-door migrant policy. The attacks, mostly targeting women and ranging from theft to sexual molestation, have prompted a charged debate in Germany about its welcoming stand for migrants, more than one million of whom arrived last year. The sudden nature of the violent attacks and the fact that they stretched from Hamburg to Frankfurt prompted German Justice Minister Heiko Maas to speculate that they had been planned or co-ordinated. Merkel announced a proposal Saturday that would make it easier to deport migrants who commit crimes. (Globe & Mail, Jan. 10, 2015)
BODIES OF AT LEAST 36 MIGRANTS FOUND ON COAST OF TURKEY (Ankara) — Authorities recovered the bodies last week of at least 36 migrants who drowned off Turkey after their boats overturned in rough waters as they tried to reach the Greek island of Lesbos. Nine bodies, including those of children, washed up on a beach in the resort town of Ayvalik. Seven other bodies were washed up on a shore at Dikili, a resort about 50 kilometres south of Ayvalik, the victims of a second migrant tragedy. By late afternoon, the gendarmerie had recovered a total of 29 bodies in the area while seven others were found by the coast guard. Around 850,000 migrants crossed into Greece last year, paying smuggling gangs to ferry them over from Turkey in frail boats. (CBC, Jan. 5, 2016)
MAN CHARGED IN SHOOTING OF COP MAY HAVE TIES TO I.S. (Philadelphia) — Police in Philadelphia are investigating a tip that a man charged in the ambush shooting of a patrolman is connected to I.S. The police department said Sunday that someone approached an officer on the street and alleged that the man who attacked Officer Jesse Hartnett “had an affiliation to a group with radical beliefs.” Harnett was in stable condition after Edward Archer charged his car in west Philadelphia, firing at least 13 shots, hitting the officer three times. Archer was charged with attempted murder and assault of a police officer. Investigators said Archer told them he was “following Allah” and pledged allegiance to I.S., and he believed the police defend laws that are contrary to Islam. (National Post, Jan. 11, 2016)
TERRORIST WEARING FAKE SUICIDE BELT SHOT DEAD ON CHARLIE HEBDO ANNIVERSARY (Paris) — Police in Paris shot dead a man wielding a meat cleaver and a fake suicide vest outside a police station while shouting Alahu Akbar, a year after Islamists killed 12 at Charlie Hebdo’s offices. The assailant, described as “threatening” by police sources, was gunned down as he tried to force his way into the police station of Paris’ 18th arrondissement. He was found to be wearing a pouch taped to his coat with wires dangling from it. However, it later proved to be a “fake” suicide belt.
He was named by French media as Sallah Ali, a 20-year old homeless Moroccan born in Casablanca in 1995. A scrap of paper found on his body said he wanted to act "to avenge the dead in Syria" and the man had "pledged allegiance to Isil", according to sources close to the inquiry. (Telegraph, Jan. 7, 2016)
FRENCH-JEWISH LEADER FOUND DEAD IN APARTMENT (Paris) — French police are investigating the death of a 73-year-old Jewish leader, found dead in his apartment in a suburb of Paris. Police are probing the possibility of “antisemitic aggression” behind the apparent murder of Alain Ghozland, a spokesperson said. Originally from Algeria, Ghozland was a politician in the heavily Jewish suburb of Creteil. His body was discovered by his brother on Tuesday morning. The incident comes a day after a Jewish man was attacked by a machete-wielding Turkish youth in Marseilles, outside a Hebrew academy. The teenage assailant was arrested shortly afterward and apparently told authorities he was acting on behalf of I.S. (Algemeiner, Jan. 12, 2016)
IDF TO DEPLOY NECK ARMOR AS ANSWER TO STABBING ATTACKS (Jerusalem) — In the coming weeks, the IDF will distribute a newly designed neck guard to better protect soldiers against the threat of knife attacks. Stabbings have become a method of choice for Palestinians in the latest round of violence against Israeli civilians and soldiers that has swept the country since mid-September. Though IDF soldiers are mostly protected from attacks with helmets and ceramic bulletproof vests, one sensitive area remains exposed: the neck. The guard is designed to fit under different types of protective vests so every soldier will be able to use it. (Times of Israel, Jan. 5, 2016)
AMBASSADOR MOSHE ARENS CELEBRATES 90TH BIRTHDAY (Jerusalem) — December 27, 2015, Ambassador Moshe Arens celebrated his 90th birthday. Arens was a leader in Betar in the U.S. in the 1940's and following the Declaration of Independence, he moved to Israel and joined the Irgun. Later he became one of the founding members of the Herut party under the leadership of Menachem Begin. Arens served as a Member of Knesset between 1973 and 1992 and again from 1999 until 2003. He served as Minister of Defense three times and once as Minister of Foreign Affairs. He also served as the Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. and was Professor of Aeronautics at the Technion University. (Begin Center, Jan. 2016)
FORMER PUNJAB GOVERNOR JACOB DEAD (New Delhi) — Lt Gen JFR Jacob (retired) died on Wednesday in New Delhi, India. He was 93. Jacob was the Chief of Staff of the Eastern Army Command during the 1971 war with Pakistan. Israel’s Ambassador in India Daniel Carmon paid homage to General Jacob as a proud "Indian and a proud Jew". He said he was a living bridge between the people of India and Israel, adding that he was sorry for the loss. (Tribune India, Jan. 13, 2016)
GEORGE JONAS (1935-2016) — CIJR mourns the passing of George Jonas, writer, poet and long-time National Post political columnist. This self-styled “square peg in a world of round holes” was the enemy of political correctness in all of its many modern forms, including the “root causes” school of “explaining” terrorism, and the often-oppressive invocation of so-called “human rights” ideology and legislation. From a secular Hungarian Jewish family, he survived the Holocaust and escaped to Canada during the Hungarian anti-communist uprising of 1956, where he was long associated with the CBC. In many respects a true classical liberal, suspicious of statist authority, “collectivities”, and politicians in general, Jonas was the author of many books, poetry collections, several operas, and a play; his book Vengeance (on the terrorist PLO Munich Olympics murders) inspired several movies; the 2007 Reflections on Islam was, characteristically, an early critique of Islamism; and his outstanding essays and op-eds are collected in Politically Incorrect: Notes on Liberty, Censorship, Social Engineering, Feminism, Apologists (2002). His clear voice and courageous presence will be deeply missed.
Germany on the Brink: Ross Douthat, New York Times, Jan. 9, 2016—On New Year’s Eve, in the shadow of Cologne’s cathedral, crowds of North African and Middle Eastern men accosted women out for the night’s festivities. They surrounded them, groped them, robbed them. Two women were reportedly raped.
Turkey Braces for Attack’s Economic Fallout: Victor Kotsev, National Post, Jan. 12, 2016— The blast shortly after 10 in the morning reverberated for miles across the neighboring districts and the Bosphorus Strait, all the way to the Asian side of Istanbul, a picturesque 20-minute ferry ride away.
Muslim Men Must Learn to Treat Women as Equals: Sheema Khan, Globe & Mail, Jan. 6, 2016 — From 2000 to 2005, I served as the chair of CAIR-CAN, a grassroots advocacy organization that fought discrimination against Muslims. Whether it was a Muslim woman denied employment because of her hijab, or the rendition of Maher Arar, we fought for basic human rights based on the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
North Korea and the Middle East Will Get Worse. But There is Finally Cause for Hope: Conrad Black, National Post, Jan. 9, 2016—The North Koreans, perhaps the loopiest regime in the world that actually governs a defined and recognized country, now claims to have a hydrogen bomb. In reality, it may not yet, but eventually it will.