Tuesday, October 29, 2013
Israel's UN Envoy Files Complaint over Gaza Rockets - Yoel Goldman
In response to two rockets fired from Gaza at the Israeli city of Ashkelon on Monday, Israel's UN envoy Ron Prosor lodged a complaint with the Security Council and Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. "Instead of committing itself to improving the lives of Palestinians, Hamas proves time and time again that its only commitment is to terrorism," said Prosor. "While Israel works to advance peace, Hamas responds by firing on Israeli citizens." "While Israel brings trucks with construction materials into Gaza, Hamas uses them to build terror tunnels."
(Times of Israel)
Hamas to Target Tel Aviv in Next War - Elior Levy
Hamas' military build-up includes amassing M-75 rockets, which have a range of 70 km. and can reach the Tel Aviv metropolitan area. Production of these rockets in Gaza is continuing at a fast pace. Hamas also has hundreds of anti-tank and anti-aircraft missiles.
Monday, October 28, 2013
|With Saudi Arabia's recent, dramatic diplomatic moves, an unlikely alliance appears to be emerging|
Quietly, Israel and the Gulf States Draw Closer -Jonathan Spyer
Recent remarks by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu have fueled renewed speculation of behind-the-scenes links between Israel and the Gulf monarchies.
Netanyahu, speaking at the UN, said that "the dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbors to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy."
He added: "This affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes." There have been subsequent rumors of visits by senior Gulf officials to Israel, to discuss matters of common interest.
While it is difficult to acquire details of these contacts at the present time, it is a near certainty that they exist, on one level or another. Conversations with Israeli officials suggest that much is happening behind the scenes.
Israel and the key states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (most importantly, Saudi Arabia) share core views on the nature of key regional processes currently underway, and their desired outcome. These commonalities have existed for some time, and it is likely that the contacts are themselves not all that new.
There are three areas in which Israel and the countries are on the same page.
They are: the urgency of the threat represented by the prospect of a nuclear Iran, the danger represented by the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood over the last two years, and the perception that the United States fails to understand the urgency of these threats and, as a result, is acting in a naive and erroneous way on both.
On the U.S.: the Saudis think that the current U.S. administration is hopelessly naive on the Middle East. They were shocked at the abandonment of Hosni Mubarak of Egypt in 2011. They are equally vexed at the current indications of American and Western willingness to lift some sanctions against Iran in return for cosmetic concessions that would leave the core of Teheran's nuclear program intact.
The absence of American leadership may well be the key factor in causing Israel and the Gulf states to draw closer.
On the face of it, any alliance between Jewish Israel and Salafi Saudi Arabia might appear an absurdity.
[I]t is worth remembering the Wikileaks revelation of remarks made in private by Saudi King Abdullah to American General David Petraeus in April, 2008, in which he recommended military action against the Iranian nuclear program. The king referred to Iran as the "head of the snake," which should be cut off. No similarly venomous remarks on Israel were quoted from the conversation, which took place far from the public eye.
The de facto, unseen alliance between Israel, Saudi Arabia and the GCC countries is one of the most intriguing structures currently emerging amid the whirling chaos of the Middle East.
[Middle East Forum]
Friday, October 25, 2013
|A large part of the puzzle slips away from the US orbit|
U.S.-Saudi Crackup Reaches Dramatic Tipping Point
- David Ignatius
Last Friday, Saudi Arabia refused to take its seat on the UN Security Council, in what Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the Saudi intelligence chief, described as "a message for the U.S., not the UN," according to the Wall Street Journal.
Saudi concern about U.S. policy in the Middle East is shared by the four other traditional U.S. allies in the region: Egypt, Jordan, the United Arab Emirates and Israel. They argue (mostly privately) that Obama has shredded U.S. influence by dumping President Mubarak in Egypt, backing the Muslim Brotherhood's Mohamed Morsi, opposing the coup that toppled Morsi, vacillating in its Syria policy, and now embarking on negotiations with Iran - all without consulting close Arab allies.
Saudi Fear U.S. Falling for Iranian Charm
- Angus McDowall and William Maclean
Saudi Arabia's warning that it will downgrade its relationship with the U.S. is based on a fear that President Obama lacks both the mettle and the guile to confront mutual adversaries, and is instead handing them a strategic advantage. Riyadh is locked in what it sees as a pivotal battle with its arch-rival Iran, a country it believes is meddling in the affairs of allies and seeking to build a nuclear bomb.
The Saudis Know Iran Is Fooling Us - Clifford D. May
Years ago, the Saudis began pressing Washington to take serious action against Iran, to eliminate the Islamic Republic's nuclear-weapons facilities, to "cut off the head of the snake," as the Saudi ambassador (the one whose assassination would soon thereafter be on the menu) vividly phrased it.
The Saudis had a point.
Saudi-U.S. Breakup? Where Else Will They Turn?
- Karen Elliott House
In a tribal society like Saudi Arabia's, it is well understood that weakness breeds contempt and invites aggression. Yet for the Saudis, there is no alternative protector. The kingdom has courted Russia and China in recent years, but they won't protect the Saudis from the primary threat of Iran. Indeed, they support the regime in Tehran.
(Wall Street Journal)
A Lawyer in a Region of Thugs - Fouad Ajami
We will ultimately discover that Iran's rulers are hell-bent on pursuing a nuclear-weapons program while trying to rid themselves of economic sanctions. The sanctions haven't stopped Iran from aiding the murderous Assad regime in Syria, or subsidizing Hizbullah in Beirut. And they will not dissuade this regime from its pursuit of nuclear weapons.
A sound U.S. diplomatic course with Iran would never have run so far ahead of Israel's interests and of the region's moderate anti-Iranian Arab coalition.
The writer is a senior fellow at Stanford's Hoover Institution.
(Wall Street Journal)
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
|The new charmer|
|The old charmer|
Iran's First "Charm Offensive" - Dore Gold
Just before Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini arrived in Tehran in 1979 from his place of exile in France, he succeeded in waging a successful deception campaign that completely hid his true intentions from the West. Professor Richard Falk wrote an op-ed in the New York Times entitled "Trusting Khomeini," where he noted that the people around Khomeini were "moderate" and even "progressive," with "a notable concern for human rights."
Professor Bernard Lewis revealed Khomeini's extremist positions in the Washington Post when he reviewed Khomeini's book Islamic Government, based on lectures he had delivered in 1970 in Najaf. These included calls for "armed jihad" and the need to "take the lead over other Muslims," while suggesting that the Jews were seeking "to rule over the entire planet." Henry Precht, who was head of the Iran desk at the U.S. State Department, called the book that Lewis found a forgery and criticized the Washington Post for publishing excerpts from it.
Thus, some Western experts were charmed into believing that Iran, after the fall of the Shah, would adopt a moderate course. The consequences of their miscalculation were disastrous for the Iranian people and the world.
The writer, a former Israeli ambassador to the UN, is president of the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs.
Friday, October 18, 2013
In this short video clip, Daniel Pipes, PhD discusses the possible emergence of Kurdistan
A new life is stirring in Kurdistan. Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, is a booming city of shopping malls, high-rises and swank hotels. Oil and natural gas have remade the city, as has its political stability, remarkable when set against the mayhem of the rest of Iraq. The Kurdish regional government and almost 5 million people who are officially part of Iraq in reality belong to an independent nation.
The Kurds inhabit fragments of Syria by the Turkish and Iraqi borders, in the northeast; their lands contain the bulk of Syria's oil.
Kurds declare autonomous government in Syria
Following a series of military gains, Syrian Kurds in the northeast of the country announced on Tuesday [November 12, 2013] the formation of a transitional autonomous government.
Thursday, October 17, 2013
Hizbullah Claims Capture of Israeli Spy-Bird - Roi Kais
Hizbullah's Al-Manar TV has published images of an eagle which it claimed had an external transmitter attached to its body and an internal transmitter planted in its body.
It claimed that using birds as spies is a well-known Israeli practice, and that wiretapped fowl have been found in Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Egypt.
Israel's Nature and Parks Authority said the captured raptor is a Bonelli's Eagle [pictured], a rare and endangered bird that was born in an Israeli breeding center and was released into the wild two years ago.
Tagging birds is a common practice in ornithology as it helps scientists track bird migration routes.
This powerful video is worth watching in its entirety. During the current circus of Israel-Palestinian talks, international voices have been raised suggesting UN forces can save the day. Recent history teaches otherwise.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Tuesday: "Iran is a large empire. Its offshoots are arrayed throughout the Middle East. It sends them against us. It is in de facto control of Syria, it controls Lebanon, it controls half the Palestinians through Hamas."
Iran's leaders "have no interest in compromise or an agreement," Netanyahu added. "They have the power to control any territory we withdraw from. Their goal is to remove us from here." "We want a real, sustainable peace, not a temporary one. This peace will have to take into account the real forces that surround us: Iran, Hizbullah, Hamas, [Islamic] Jihad, al-Qaeda." "If we don't secure the areas from which we withdraw, there won't be peace."
(Times of Israel)
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Monday, October 14, 2013
|Israel has allowed the shipment of concrete and other building material into Gaza. This is what Israel has received in return.|
IDF Uncovers Hamas Terrorist Tunnel from Gaza to Israel - Yoav Zitun
IDF forces uncovered a 1.8 km. tunnel from Absan village in Gaza to Israel's Kibbutz Ein Hashlosha. According to the IDF, the tunnel was aimed at serving Hamas in the next round of violence against the IDF. In 2006, seven Gaza terrorists used a tunnel to infiltrate Israel and abduct IDF soldier Gilad Shalit. It is believed that additional terror tunnels connecting Gaza and Israel have yet to be exposed.
Leak Leads to Discovery of Mega-Tunnel from Gaza - Gili Cohen
The terrorist tunnel was discovered not by chance, but based on a lead, Israeli army officials said. They believe that diggers spent one and a half years constructing the tunnel, which was completed only two months ago. The tunnel was built entirely of concrete. Its sides and floor were tiled with concrete slabs, and its ceiling was made of concrete arches, a job which took 800 tons of concrete and 25,000 concrete slabs.
The tunnel was 22 meters deep and contains an electrical system of 220 volts and a telephone line. Two exit points, several hundred meters away from each other, were located inside Israeli territory. An officer said that because of the near-industrial way in which the tunnel had been constructed, a battalion of combat soldiers could easily pass through it.
Southern Command head Maj. Gen. Sami Turgeman said, "Instead of taking care of the population and building schools, industry and employment, [Hamas] is spending the money on terrorist tunnels."
Tunnel Discovery: Gaza's Export Is Violence - Jonathan S. Tobin
Israel enforced a blockade of Gaza to prevent the import of construction materials that could be used for military purposes. Due to international pressure, Israel relaxed that blockade to allow in concrete.
Israel has now discovered a tunnel built to provide easy access into Israeli territory for terrorists to kill and/or kidnap Israelis. It was built with 500 tons of cement that had been allowed into Gaza, a terrorist enclave whose only export is violence.
So will everyone who opposed Israel's blockade of Gaza now realize they were wrong? Don't bet on it.
Thursday, October 10, 2013
Angering Everyone in Egypt - Editorial
The annual $1.2 billion Egyptian military aid program predates by three decades the 2011 uprising against Hosni Mubarak. The Obama Administration has announced plans to suspend the delivery of "nonessential" weapons to Egypt's military-led government, while continuing to support Egypt's counterterrorism efforts against Islamist militias in Sinai.
With this decision, the U.S. is managing to anger nearly everyone in Cairo. The Islamists who demand President Morsi's return will see this as continued U.S. support for the generals. The generals get to feel the back of Washington's hand. Israel is also upset, since its peace with Cairo was premised in part on U.S. aid.
(Wall Street Journal)
Is Reducing Egypt's Aid a Mistake? - Jeffrey Goldberg
Cutting off a significant amount of U.S. aid to the Egyptian military may be a moral necessity, but curtailing aid raises some difficult questions. American allies in the region - notably Israel, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Jordan and Bahrain - all share the same adversaries as the Egyptian leadership: Shia radicalism (in the form of the Iranian regime and Hizbullah); the Muslim Brotherhood; and Sunni extremism (in the form of al-Qaeda and like-minded groups).
Another cause for concern is the effect this move would have on peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians. Egypt is pressing hard against Hamas in Gaza, cutting off the flow of weapons and sealing smuggling tunnels. A weak Hamas is in the best interests of the U.S., Israel, and the rival Palestinian Authority.
Next Steps with Egypt - Adel El Adawy & David Pollock
The Obama administration is either underestimating or miscalculating the response of the Egyptian government and people to the suspension of a large portion of U.S. military aid to Egypt. The reality, as most Egyptians and outside observers alike will attest, is that the U.S. is now viewed as an unreliable or even hostile interloper. Many ordinary Egyptians will see this move as further evidence that the U.S. still supports the Muslim Brotherhood, which today is widely reviled in Egypt except among the small minority of its own hardcore adherents. Government-guided media are awash with anti-Obama headlines and images.
If the U.S. proceeds with an inflexible and impractical interpretation of its latest well-intentioned effort to spread the blessings of democracy abroad, the results are likely to be very bad for Egypt, for the region, and especially for American interests therein.
The writers are fellows at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy.
Tuesday, October 08, 2013
The Nature of Peacemaking - Haviv Rettig Gur
Netanyahu's demand for Palestinian recognition of the Jewishness of Israel is the key to understanding his theory of the conflict and his view as to why the Oslo process 20 years ago failed.
The Palestinians cannot bring themselves to end the conflict, Netanyahu believes, because they cannot bring themselves to compromise with an enemy they view as completely evil.
They see Israelis as interlopers robbing another people of their national home. Even Palestinian moderates share this basic view of Israel as an evil, but one too well entrenched to remove. Thus, any Palestinian leader who seeks peace with Israel finds himself undermined by the perception among his own people that he is accommodating evil rather than pursuing justice.
The Palestinians don't need to become Zionists, Netanyahu believes, but they need to perceive that Jewish demands, too, are rooted in justice. Only then will their domestic constituencies be capable of engaging in peacemaking.
(Times of Israel)
The Root of the Conflict - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict started in 1921 on the day on which the Palestinian Arabs attacked the immigration hostel in Jaffa. Many Jews were killed in this attack, including the well-known writer Y.H. Brenner. This attack was not about territory or settlements; it was against Jewish immigration to the Land of Israel.
Later there were more attacks: In 1929, the ancient Jewish community in Hebron was brutally slaughtered. It had existed there nearly uninterrupted for close to 4,000 years. After that, there were repeated and methodical attacks against the Jewish community in Israel in 1936 and in 1939.
The root of the conflict was and remains that which has been repeated for over 90 years - the profound objection by the hard core of Palestinians to the right of the Jewish people to its own country in the Land of Israel.
An essential condition for reaching a genuine resolution remains the reversal of the refusal to recognize the right of the Jews to a nation-state of their own in the land of their ancestors.
(Prime Minister's Office)
Extinct tree grows anew from ancient jar of seeds -Stephen Messenger
For thousands of years, Judean date palm trees were one of the most recognizable and welcome sights for people living in the Middle East -- widely cultivated throughout the region for their sweet fruit, and for the cool shade they offered from the blazing desert sun.
From its founding some 3,000 years ago, to the dawn of the Common Era, the trees became a staple crop in the Kingdom of Judea, even garnering several shout-outs in the Old Testament. Judean palm trees would come to serve as one of the kingdom's chief symbols of good fortune; King David named his daughter, Tamar, after the plant's name in Hebrew.
By the time the Roman Empire sought to usurp control of the kingdom in 70 AD, broad forests of these trees flourished as a staple crop to the Judean economy -- a fact that made them a prime resource for the invading army to destroy. Sadly, around the year 500 AD, the once plentiful palm had been completely wiped out, driven to extinction for the sake of conquest.
In the centuries that followed, first-hand knowledge of the tree slipped from memory to legend. Up until recently, that is.
During excavations at the site of Herod the Great's palace in Israel in the early 1960's, archeologists unearthed a small stockpile of seeds stowed in a clay jar dating back 2,000 years. For the next four decades, the ancient seeds were kept in a drawer at Tel Aviv's Bar-Ilan University. But then, in 2005, botanical researcher Elaine Solowey decided to plant one and see what, if anything, would sprout.
"I assumed the food in the seed would be no good after all that time. How could it be?" said Solowey. She was soon proven wrong.
Amazingly, the multi-millennial seed did indeed sprout -- producing a sapling no one had seen in centuries, becoming the oldest known tree seed to germinate.
Today, the living archeological treasure continues to grow and thrive; In 2011, it even produced its first flower -- a heartening sign that the ancient survivor was eager to reproduce.
[Hat Tip: Larry H]
Monday, October 07, 2013
This video highlights the role this weekend's US strikes have on the global jihad
- Benjamin Weiser and Eric Schmitt
Al-Qaeda operative Abu Anas al-Libi, seized by U.S. commandos in Libya over the weekend, is being interrogated while in military custody on a Navy ship in the Mediterranean Sea, officials said. Abu Anas, 49, was indicted in New York in 2000 on charges of conspiring with Bin Laden in plots to attack U.S. forces in Saudi Arabia, Yemen and Somalia, as well as in the 1998 bombings of the U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, which killed 224 people.
(New York Times)
- Ernesto Londono and Scott Wilson
U.S. Navy SEALs carried out an overnight raid on the Somali home of a leader of the al-Qaeda-linked group al-Shabab which had attacked a shopping mall in neighboring Kenya, but the militant was not seized, U.S. officials said.
Thursday, October 03, 2013
|Mujtaba Ahmedi, dead as a doorknob|
Iranian Cyber Warfare Commander Shot Dead in Suspected Assassination
- Damien McElroy and Ahmad Vahdat
Mojtaba Ahmadi, who served as commander of Iran's Cyber War Headquarters, was found dead near Karaj, northwest of Tehran. The commander of the local police said that two people on a motorbike had been involved in the assassination. Iran has been accused of carrying out a number of cyber attacks detected in the West.
Iran on cyber commander’s death: “not an assassination"
Less than a day after reports of Iran’s cyber warfare commander’s death began streaming in, official sources in the Revolutionary Guards respond for the first time today (Thursday) claiming that it was a “terrible incident” and refuting claims of an assassination.
Last night the British Telegraph reported that Mujtaba Ahmedi, the senior officer in Iran’s cyber warfare unit, was found dead in a forest area north of Teheran. According to the report he was shot twice in the chest by an unknown. “I saw to bullet wounds in his chest, it appears that he was shot with a gun at close range” an eyewitness was quoted.
The Arab Spring” is now officially over -Barry Rubin, PhD [pictured]
It is officially over because Tunisia, whose revolution started the whole thing, has fallen apart. Tunisia's electoral democracy was as much a failure as Egypt’s. The governing Islamist party failed.
Egypt had a coup; Libya has the growing power of radical Islamist militias. It’s over; it didn’t work; democracy failed.
Now comes the Age of Islamism not the Age of Democracy.
Wednesday, October 02, 2013
A nicely edited three minute soundbite version of Netanyahu's UN speech
For the full version, click HERE
For the full version, click HERE
Netanyahu Urges Wariness of Iran - Colum Lynch and Scott Wilson
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly Tuesday to view Iran's latest diplomatic charm offensive with distrust and warned that Israel would act alone, if necessary, to prevent Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon. He said Tehran has repeatedly employed diplomatic outreach in the past to disguise its plans to build a nuclear bomb.
White House press secretary Jay Carney said after Netanyahu's speech: "The important measuring stick when it comes to pursuing this diplomatic opening with Iran is action - what actions are being taken by Iran that demonstrate that they are interested in fulfilling their obligations to the international community."
What Netanyahu Said, and Didn't - Jennifer Rubin
What is so refreshing about Netanyahu is that he leaves no wiggle room, no equivocation. He will not, he is saying, be the prime minister on whose watch the Jewish state let down its guard. As he said, "The last century has taught us that when a radical regime with global ambitions gets awesome power, sooner or later its appetite for aggression knows no bounds. That's the central lesson of the 20th century. And we cannot forget it. The world may have forgotten this lesson. The Jewish people have not."
Iran's Messenger Has Changed; Its Message Has Not
- Robert Menendez and Lindsey O. Graham
- Robert Menendez and Lindsey O. Graham
We remain skeptical about Tehran's intentions. Iranian leaders are skilled negotiators with expertise in delay tactics and obfuscation. As Rouhani returns home, diplomacy remains our hope and goal. But our resolve to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapons capability remains unchanged.
We believe that four strategic elements are necessary to achieve a resolution of this issue: an explicit and continuing message that the U.S. will not allow Iran to acquire a nuclear weapons capability, a sincere demonstration of openness to negotiations by Iran, the maintenance and toughening of sanctions and a convincing threat of the use of force. There can be a deal only when Iran's actions align with its rhetoric.
Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) chairs the Foreign Relations Committee. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is a senior member of the Armed Services Committee.
Prime Minister Netanyahu told the UN General Assembly:
Today, our hope for the future is challenged by a nuclear-armed Iran that seeks our destruction. But that wasn't always the case. Some 2500 years ago, the great Persian King Cyrus ended the Babylonian exile of the Jewish people. He issued a famous edict in which he proclaimed the right of the Jews to return to the Land of Israel and rebuild the Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. Thus began an historic friendship between the Jews and the Persians that lasted until modern times.
Israel will never acquiesce to nuclear arms in the hands of a rogue regime that repeatedly promises to wipe us off the map. Against such a threat, Israel will have no choice but to defend itself. Israel will not allow Iran to get nuclear weapons. If Israel is forced to stand alone, Israel will stand alone. Yet in standing alone, Israel will know that we will be defending many, many others.
(Prime Minister's Office)
*Netanyahu's Speech Distorted by Media - Alan Dershowitz
I was in the UN General Assembly when Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivered his speech about Iran's nuclear program and heard a very different speech from the one described by the New York Times as "sabotaging diplomacy." I heard a rational call for diplomacy backed by sanctions and the ultimate threat of military force as a last resort.
Are the U.S. and Israel Playing Good Cop/Bad Cop with Iran?
- Elliott Abrams
Netanyahu is setting forth standards for a nuclear agreement that are far tougher than the Obama administration believes can be negotiated.
State Dept. Urges Congress to Delay New Iran Sanctions - Paul Richter
Wendy Sherman, the State Department's third-ranking official, urged senators to delay tough new Iran sanctions legislation until after upcoming negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, for fear of undermining the talks.
(Los Angeles Times)
Now Is Precisely the Time to Turn Up the Pressure on Iran
- Nehemia Shtrasler
[N]ow is precisely the time to turn up the pressure on Iran, to get it to pivot from words to deeds.
The sanctions must not be relaxed, even slightly. Instead, Iran must be forced to relinquish all of its nuclear-bomb manufacturing capacity.
Israel Discussing Iran Nukes with Arab Officials - Aaron Kalman
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been supervising a series of "intensive meetings" with prominent figures from a number of Gulf and other Arab states in recent weeks in an attempt to muster a new alliance to block Iran's drive toward nuclear weapons, Israel's Channel 2 TV reported.
One "high-ranking official" even came on a secret visit to Israel, the report said. The Arab and Gulf states involved in the new talks have no diplomatic ties with Jerusalem, the report noted.
(Times of Israel)