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Posts Tagged ‘aid’

A Coup by Any Other Name Allows US Aid to Continue

Monday, July 8th, 2013

The fact that the White House has decided to continue providing aid to Egypt, despite what has taken place in that country over the past week, is big, big news.

The White House Spokesperson, Jay Carney, with his frequent invocation of the delay weapon known as calling a sticky situation “complicated,” made clear to reporters that the administration will take its time reviewing the matter before making any  final decision on U.S. aid to post-Morsi Egypt.

“I think it would not be in the best interest of the United States to immediately change our assistance programs,” Carney said.

Why is this big news?

Because the overthrow of the Egyptian regime headed by former President Mohamed Morsi is, technically speaking, a coup.  What happened was a coup backed and initiated by mass support for Morsi’s overthrow – technically called a “democratic coup,” but a coup is the correct term, nonetheless.

That matters, because the United States is forbidden, by law, to provide aid to governments which assume power through a coup.

And there are those who immediately pointed out the dangers of supporting any government which takes power as the result of a coup.  Most famously, perhaps, was Senator John McCain (R-AZ).

“Reluctantly, I believe that we have to suspend aid until such time as there is a new constitution and a free and fair election,” McCain said on CBS’s “Face The Nation.”

Other U.S. politicians in leadership positions refused to join McCain in his call to suspend aid, some by refusing to call the ouster of Morsi a “coup,” while others simply refused to address the pertinent legal issue and instead preferred to focus – understandably, if not responsibly – on what would most promote U.S. interests in Egypt: stability.

Egypt’s Ambassador to the U.S., Mohamed Tawfik, consistently insists that the ouster of Morsi – his own boss until just days ago – does not amount to a coup.

In a National Public Radio interview with Tawfik from July 5, the interviewer attempts to corner the ambassador, forcing him to admit that Morsi’s overthrow was a military coup that renders whatever comes next as illegitimate, Tawfik is resolute.  The interviewer paints the Muslim Brotherhood as if it were a benign political organization which has now been thwarted after dutifully following all the rules.

SIEGEL: Ambassador Tawfik, your country, Egypt, has this problem, which is how to deal with the Muslim Brotherhood, a very old and powerful institution in Egyptian life. And one reading of what’s happened this week is, if you’re an active member of the brotherhood, is, well, so much for electoral politics. You can win the presidency. You can win the parliament. You can win a referendum on the constitution that your guys drafted, and it’ll all be negated. Take other means of trying to advance your cause, not elections. Try to subvert the state instead, the way perhaps you used to do.

TAWFIK: That would be a completely wrong way to proceed. What we want to do now is we want to correct the mistakes made by President Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood. We want an inclusive process. We want everybody to be included. We want every single Egyptian, including Muslim Brotherhood members, to feel that they own the country. Everybody should enjoy their rights.

We cannot accept to have a situation in which the whole country is run for the interests of a particular group. This was the case with Mubarak, and this – again, unfortunately, Morsi repeated the same mistake. We have to stop making that mistake. This is the time for true democracy. The people of Egypt will accept nothing less.

So the US government is in a bit of a pickle.  Does it withhold support from a leadership backed by the masses of the Egyptian people? And does it do so despite pledging enormous support to Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood government as it giddily dispensed with freedoms and commitments of fairness and diversity so fast that millions took to the streets to boot them out?

Another significant factor the U.S. has to consider, is that the Egyptian economy is so far past being called a train wreck, there are no longer even any railroad ties with which people can make fires to warm themselves.  The only powerhouse industry in Egypt used to be tourism, and the past few years of relentless violence has crippled that industry.  Unless the US provides essential aid, what had been the most stable Arab country, the anchor of the Arab world, may disintegrate into, well, what so much of the rest of the non-oil-rich Arab world looks like.

Lori Lowenthal Marcus

Look Who Is Blockading Gaza Now

Sunday, April 7th, 2013

Reported in the New York Times:

U.N. Agency Suspends Food Aid After Protest in Gaza By JODI RUDOREN The United Nations Relief and Works Agency in the Gaza Strip stopped food distribution and other services for refugees indefinitely, an official said Friday.

What happened was that last Thursday, the agency’s Gaza headquarters was breached:

“What happened today was completely unacceptable: The situation could very easily have resulted in serious injuries to UNRWA staff and to the demonstrators. This escalation, apparently pre-planned, was unwarranted and unprecedented,” Robert Turner, head of the agency’s Gaza operations, said in a statement.  “All relief and distribution centers will consequently remain closed until guarantees are given by all relevant groups that UNRWA operations can continue unhindered,” he said.

So, is Israel wrong in its policy since we’re actually targeted by mortars, shootings, rockets, missiles and underground tunnels?

Cannot we demand guarantees?

P.S.   Informed that

The hardcopy has this article somewhat buried at the bottom of page A4 under two other articles. Were it Israel–my oh my, it would be on pg 1 and take up half the page.

Visit My Right Word.

Yisrael Medad

Behind Salam Fayyad’s Call for ‘Economic Intifada’

Thursday, December 20th, 2012

Salam Fayyad, the prime minister of the Palestinian Authority, this week called for an economic Intifada against Israel.

See related Cartoon

Fayyad, whose government is facing a severe financial crisis, wants Palestinians to boycott all Israeli goods in response to Israel’s decision to seize tax revenues belonging to the Palestinian Authority.

The revenues were seized and transferred to the Israel Electric Company to cover Palestinians’ debts to the firm.

Fayyad is angry because the Israel Electric Company finally collected its debts from Palestinian consumers. Speaking to Palestinian reporters in Ramallah, he denounced the transfer of the funds to the company as “illegal and immoral.”

Fayyad knows better than anyone else that, for various reasons, many Palestinians have not been paying their electricity bills.

Many Palestinians refuse to pay water, electricity and other bills because they believe the international community, primarily the Americans and Europeans, should be covering all their expenses. Others refuse to pay because they believe the money eventually falls into the hands of corrupt Palestinian Authority officials.

Earlier this year, the Palestinian Authority announced a series of measures to persuade Palestinian consumers to pay their electricity bills, but to no avail. The Palestinian Authority even announced a new law that allows it to imprison any Palestinian who is caught practicing the widespread phenomenon of “electricity theft.”

Because of the financial crisis, Fayyad’s government has also failed to pay full salaries to its employees, sparking a two-day general strike of the public sector in the West Bank.

The transfer of funds to the Israel Electric Company, and the Arab world’s failure to fulfill promises to support the Palestinian Authority financially, have created a severe financial crisis in the Palestinian Authority.

This is not the first time that Arab countries lie to Palestinians. Over the past two decades, Arab nations have promised the Palestinians billions of dollars in aid. But, according to officials in Ramallah, the Palestinians have received less than 10% of what they had been promised.

Instead of seeking ways to solve the crisis, however, Fayyad chose to call on Palestinians to boycott all Israeli goods. How does that help solve the financial crisis? Fayyad did not have an answer. He just wants to punish Israel for collecting on the debt for the electricity bills.

He is hoping that by calling for an economic intifada, he will succeed in diverting growing anger and frustration on the Palestinian street towards the Israelis. This has always been the Palestinian Authority’s way of avoiding responsibility for anything that goes wrong — by putting all the blame on Israel.

Fayyad wants Palestinians to boycott Israel, but at the same time is unable to provide them with better alternatives. Does he really think that Palestinians will stop buying Israeli-manufactured medicine, for example?

As one Palestinian public servant asked, “How can our prime minister ask us to boycott Israeli goods when we can’t even afford to purchase Palestinian goods because he’s not paying us our salaries?”

Added another Palestinian who has been working as a school teacher for 25 years: “If Fayyad wants us to boycott Israel, why doesn’t he himself set an example? Why is he living in Jerusalem, under Israeli rule, and enjoying, together with his family, most privileges offered to Israeli citizens? Today, I’m ready to go and work in an Israeli settlement to feed my children and I don’t care whether Fayyad likes it or not.”

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

Khaled Abu Toameh

Syria’s Chemical Weapons May Not Be in Safe Hands

Monday, December 10th, 2012

The bloodbath in Syria continues unabated. The manner in which it is being addressed by the nations of the world has something instructive to say to us Israelis who believe – rightly or not – that wholesale deaths in the Syrian style are what might await us, Heaven forbid, if our collective guard were to be let down from keeping an array of vicious enemies at bay.

Unabated might not actually be the best way to describe the Syrian slaughter, since the lust for blood on both (all?) sides is absolutely no less intense than it was when the chaos and barbarism erupted nearly two years ago.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights which reports on such matters from London puts out rather laconic-sounding updates via its Facebook page every few days. On Monday, it gave us Sunday’s numbers:

Preliminary Death toll for Sunday 9/12/2012: About 60 Syrians killed so far, today. The dead include: 24 unarmed civilians, 13 rebel fighters, 5 unidentified fighters, and not less than 10 regime forces. 24 unarmed civilians.

Earlier this week, its tally for killings to date stood at something over 40,000.

But all is not lost. The friends of Syria – or to be more precise about this, the Friends of Syria, including the United States once Secretary of State Hilary Clinton recovers from an illness – are meeting this Wednesday in Moroccoto find ways of backing the political transition in the event of President Al-Assad’s fall, and mobilising vital humanitarian aid as winter sets in” [source].

What might we expect to come out of their discussions? The track record until now is depressing. The customary mechanisms for resolving catastrophic wars like the one that has Syria in its grip have been a complete failure. The Russian and Chinese governments have vetoed three separate UN Security Council resolutions that sought to get the al-Assad regime in Damascus to reduce the violence of the war it is waging against other Syrian groups. The Russians see themselves as Very Good Friends of Syria and prove it by accusing [source] the US and other states of wanting to achieve the deplorable goal of destabilizing Syria’s family-owned government.

An LA Times article this week says Moscow:

“will not seek the ouster of Assad, as international negotiators again fail to reach a breakthrough on the crisis in Syria… Russia downplayed White House fears that a desperate Assad could deploy chemical weapons and said the greatest danger was that part of Syria’s chemical arsenal could fall into the hands of rebels. Both U.S. and Israeli officials have also voiced concern that chemical armaments could end up in the hands of insurgents, who have overrun a number of military bases. Syria’s fragmented rebel legions includes hard-core Islamist brigades hostile to the West and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.”

So the killing continues. But it appears we may be heading for some moments of truth.

This past Sunday, Israel’s man in Washington used the term “game changer” when referring [see this Wall Street Journal article] to reports that the Syrians are handing parts of their huge chemical warfare arsenal off to Hezbollah and other militant groups. Being a diplomat, he chose diplomatic language. But when Ambassador Michael Oren said he could not confirm reports that Bashar al-Assad’s forces had prepared sarin gas for use, he was understood by most people as saying that the government of Israel is indeed able to confirm those reports. (And an article today called “Israeli spies track Bashar al-Assad’s chemical weapon stocks” based on a report in the Times of London gives that some credence).

“We are watching the situation very carefully,” Oren said. “Syria has a very varied, deep chemical weapons program. It is geographically dispersed as well. Were those weapons to pass in to the wrong hands, Hezbollah’s hands, for example, that would be a game changer for us… Can you imagine Hezbollah, with its 70,000 rockets, could get its hands on chemical weapons? That could kill thousands of people.”

The Americans use different terminology. President Obama said four days ago that if the al-Assad regime used chemical weapons against their own people (as they did in 1982) that would amount to the crossing of “a red line.” It’s the same term he used many thousands of dead Syrians ago, back in August [“Obama warns Syria not to cross ‘red line’‘].

Frimet and Arnold Roth

Rand Paul to Visit Israel

Sunday, December 2nd, 2012

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), a skeptic of assistance to Israel who also is considering a 2016 presidential run, will travel to Israel.

According to a report Friday on the Christian Broadcasting Network website, Paul will be accompanied by Christian and Jewish leaders, and will also visit Jordan.

He will meet with leaders in both countries, as well as Palestinian leaders.

The trip is organized by David Lane, a “prominent evangelical activist,” according to CBN, and will include Republicans from Iowa, the critical first caucus state in the primaries.

Paul has backed eliminating foreign aid, including to Israel, but unlike his father, rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who has run for the presidency in the past, he has refrained from using Israel-critical rhetoric, instead framing his opposition to aid as bolstering his policy that Israel should remain free of outside influence.

Paul has attracted conservative grassroots attention because of his budget-slashing rhetoric, but his opposition to Israel assistance has been as an impediment to winning over the party base.

JTA

Israeli Aid Missions Providing Relief to Hurricane Sandy Victims

Friday, November 9th, 2012

An Israeli delegation of trained rescue volunteers is departing to New York today, Friday, November 9, to assist victims devastated by Hurricane Sandy. The delegation is headed by Shahar Zahavi, CEO of IsraAID, the Israel Forum for International Humanitarian Aid, an Israeli non-governmental organization (NGO) that has facilitated aid and relief program across the world, including in Haiti, Japan, Turkey, Kenya and South Sudan.

The 12-person delegation will be offering rescue, rehabilitation, and communal resource services to New York residents of Far Rockaway and Long Beach, as well as the Atlantic City-Margate area along the Jersey Shore. They will also be identifying areas with vulnerable populations and allocating resources to older people and families with young children who have suffered significant damages to their homes and have no power.

Financing for the mission comes from young Israelis and from Israeli businesses, alongside partner companies in the United States, which are supplying the Israeli crew with water, food, gasoline, clothing, blankets and storage facilities to distribute to people who have been evacuated from their homes.

According to spokesperson Tova Hametz the IsraAid delegation’s mission is to “rehabilitate, rescue, bolster morale and bring physical resources in the most effective, organized and expedient way.” She added that Zahavi has much experience in relief work following his mission in Haiti after the 2010 earthquake.

According to Israel’s foreign office, a number of Israeli NGOs are working to bring relief and supplies including food, fuel and generators to both victims and emergency workers in New York and New Jersey. Among those NGOs are Israel Flying Aid and Israeli Humanitarian Aid-LATET. Those efforts have been coordinated with local police departments, the American Red Cross, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), and Jewish communities in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey.

One of the Israeli volunteers, Joel Leyden, helped organize an aid convoy from Connecticut to Long Island, bringing food and generators to first responders, fire departments, police, and to homes. He and other Israeli volunteers also passed out Dunkin’ Donuts to people waiting at gas stations.

“We wore our blue-and-white-Israeli hats to make sure they knew this aid was coming from the people of Israel,” said Leyden, according to the foreign office website.

Hurricane Sandy was the largest Atlantic hurricanes and the second-costliest after Hurricane Katrina. The October hurricane killed more than 110 people in 10 states, left more than 8 million homes and businesses in the Northeast without electricity, and tens of thousands of Americans homeless.

Anav Silverman, Tazpit News Agency

The Blood of an American Hero

Sunday, November 4th, 2012

I keep hearing the words of Charles Woods as he speaks of his son Tyrone. Tyrone was a Navy SEAL – who did what Navy SEALS have been doing for as long as they have existed – he went to the aid of his fellow Americans. For 7 hours, he fought terrorists at the American consulate in Benghazi. He and Glen Doherty managed to hold them off, managed to kill 60 of them, according to some reports. And in all that time, no Americans arrived to help them, to save them. No one came to their aid despite repeated requests, despite available assets.

During a recent interview, Charles Woods said:

They watched my son die. As far as I’m concerned, there are people, in the White House, whoever it was that was in that room, watching that video of my son dying, their cries for help, their order ‘don’t help them at all, let them die,’ whoever that might be, it might be numerous people, you have the blood of my son, you have the blood of an American hero on your hands. I don’t know who you are, but one of these days the truth will come out. I still forgive you, but you need to stand up.

I don’t want to point any fingers, but obviously, people in the White House were watching this happen. Real time. They – someone in the White House, or many people in the White House, watched the events unfolding, and knew that if they gave the order to stand down, that my son would die. They watched my son die.

“They watched my son die.” Those words haunt me. I cannot imagine the pain this father feels – not only having lost his son, but having been betrayed by his government. President Barack Hussein Obama is the Commander-in-Chief – even if he did not give the order to leave these heroes behind…and I believe he did give that order – but even if he did not, the one thing we agree on is that this was his responsibility. It is his hands that carry the blood of these men.

Elie told me the story of one of his commanding officers. While the officer was off-base, at meetings or whatever, there was a training exercise and a nagmash (an APC) turned over and a commander was killed. There was another officer, of lower rank in charge of the exercise but Elie’s commanding officer was the commander above that officer and so he took responsibility; he took the demotion; he took the punishment.

His advancement in the army was delayed for several years because ultimately, he felt that what happened under his command, was his to answer for. There was never a question that it was a tragic accident; there was no order that could have been given to save the soldier who died and certainly there was nothing anyone nearby could have done to prevent it from happening. You train and you train hard because in war, you’ll have to scale those hills and drive over rough terrain. That time, it went wrong.

What happened in Libya was not a training exercise and according to several reports, there was aid that could have been sent in – drones filming it, ships within range. It was not an accident but an attack. And unlike Elie’s commanding officer, the Commander-in-Chief of the United States Armed Forces did leave a man behind, two good men, in fact…and even four if you count the diplomats.

They watched his son die – and for the rest of his life, that image, that reality, that horrible truth will forever be his reality. The blood of American heroes cries out to all who will listen. Responsibility must be taken – and it starts at the very highest address in Washington down to the sewers and  streets of Benghazi because no parent should ever have to say those horrible words ever again.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Paula R. Stern

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