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October 7, 2015 / 24 Tishri, 5776
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘ambassador’

Cheat Sheet on Who’s Doing What to Whom in the Middle East

Wednesday, March 25th, 2015

Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Jordan (and a few quiet others) have been urging U.S. President Barack Obama to climb down from his tree and listen to Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. There’s a reason for that.

A new radical Islamic axis is forming, one that is cuddling up to the Muslim Brotherhood. The once-scattered Iranian-backed terror groups dedicated to annihilating the State of Israel are coalescing into a second axis while threatening to form an alliance with Daesh, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria also known as ISIS, as well as Al Qaeda and other global jihad organizations.

Because part-time pundits don’t have time to study the fine details of where things are happening on the political chessboard of the Middle East, here’s a cheat sheet to help you keep score on the latest realities in the region.

For a lot of Western political analysts, the Arab Spring was confusing and a real pain in the neck — but that was a walk in the park compared to the nightmare now facing foreign affairs policy makers trying to stay abreast on current terrorist ties and the tangled web they are spinning in the ‘hood.

U.S. President Barack Obama is looking for a way to nurse his salty wounds over having to spend his final tenure swallowing bile while chatting civilly, if not with good manners, during phone calls with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

But here’s what’s happening right now — and what the leader of the greatest country on earth has to grapple with — while he continues to search for ways to pick a fight with Israel’s most popular leader since the Israel was founded by its first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion.

In Africa:
Two terror organizations in Nigeria and Somalia, Boko Haram and Al Shaba’ab respectively, have both pledged allegiance to Daesh, also known as the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, or ISIS. Both groups have slaughtered thousands and wounded more, committed numerous atrocities and are continuing to carry out murderous terror attacks to prove their mettle as “jihadists,” or holy warriors for Islam.

The moderate Arab nation of Tunisia suffered its first public terrorist attack by ISIS this weekend in a massacre that left 20 dead and dozens of others wounded in the iconic Bardo museum in Tunis, including many foreign tourists. At least 3,000 Tunisians have flown to Syria to join the ISIS terror organization; it’s no surprise those chickens are beginning to come home to roost in North Africa.

Tunisia is one of the few Arab nations left that can claim to be home to one of the most ancient Jewish communities in Africa, and which has enjoyed a healthy international tourism trade. It now faces severe damage to its tourist industry, which was just beginning to recover from the ravages of the Arab Spring. Ominously, the threat level facing Tunisia’s Jewish community on the country’s island of Djerba is also not clear.

Libya, which borders Tunisia — and where an American Ambassador and three U.S. diplomats were murdered in an Al Qaeda attack in Benghazi on September 11, 2012 — has been entirely swallowed by Al Qaeda and allied terrorist groups. ISIS has also joined the party, spreading cells throughout the country as well. Earlier this month, ISIS made its “debut” appearance in the oil-rich nation with a public seaside beheading of 21 Egyptian Coptic Christian laborers taken captive by the terror organization.

In the Middle East:
Egypt is facing one of the toughest fights of its life in the Sinai Peninsula as it battles a budding invasion by ISIS, Al Qaeda, and Iranian proxy groups. Homegrown terror cells and disgruntled Bedouin tribes are aiding and abetting this effort, having always looked for greener pastures and a better deal regardless of who’s in power in Cairo.

Gaza has been controlled since 2007 by Iran‘s proxies who include Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and in a consultant position, Hezbollah. All maintain contentious but cooperative relationships with the Salafi, global jihad Army of Islam terror group which is linked to Al Qaeda. ISIS is also now represented in the region as well.

Jordan is facing an existential threat on its borders with Iraq and Syria due to ISIS having captured border crossings on both, and the presence of Hezbollah and Iranian Revolutionary Guards along the border with Syria. So far, its only remaining friendly borders are with Israel, and with Egypt. In addition, the Palestinian citizens within Jordan are not as friendly to the Hashemite regime as one might believe; moreover, they are wont to align with the Muslim Brotherhood which also operates within the kingdom and which can be seen as a fifth column.

Lebanon has been swallowed by ISIS, Palestinian Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades linked to Fatah, Hezbollah, Palestinian Islamic Jihad, Hamas and the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, all of whom vie for power in the nation. Hezbollah holds the lion’s share of the political clout in the government since the terrorist group long ago expanded to include parliament members and actual ministers in the government cabinet as well.

Iraq was the first to fall to ISIS; its border crossings with Syria and Jordan were easy prey for the terror group. Iran easily persuaded the government that its was better off allowing its Islamic neighbor to “help” it fight off the Sunni threat than to place its trust in the American administration that had abandoned its ally when it was still to weak to fend off terrorist and tribal challenges to the power of the central government. So now Iran has now entered the picture there as well, to “assist” Iraqi forces in fighting ISIS, which Iran perceives as a threat to its own interests, for the time being at least.

It is likely that when the power struggle ends, one way or the other, Iran will be the force to divide the spoils and cut a deal with ISIS in order to ultimately divide up the region between the two emerging empires. However, Iran will ultimately be the one to rule because ISIS does not have the self-discipline, nor the structural underpinnings necessary to create and maintain an administration to rule an empire. This is quite separate and apart from Iran’s booming weapons production industry, not to mention its galloping race to develop nuclear arms.

Watch it happen – you read it here first on Jewish Press.com.

Syria was the little ticking time bomb that appeared to have set off this entire conflagration – but if one looks closely, it is clear that ISIS does not attack the forces of President Bashar al-Assad. Nor does Assad bother much with the ISIS terrorists. Both have bigger fish to fry.

Assad is an Alawite — a sect that is linked to Shia, hence his close ties with Shiite Iran and that nation’s support of his struggle. Iran sent Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps units and Hezbollah guerrillas to fight alongside his troops. Russia also supplemented Assad for quite some time — right up to the point that Assad began to lose and Russian citizens were endangered. Then Russian “consultants” were evacuated, funding slowed down to a crawl but weapons shipments continued to arrive.

ISIS meanwhile wants to expand its reach throughout the entire Middle East — and that’s just for starters. Its ultimate stated goal is simply to establish a worldwide caliphate — an “Islamic State” — and nothing less. Think ‘Hitler’ with a 21st century media team and you’re headed in the right direction.

In any case, Syria is no longer really Syria; it is now divided up into cantons, each of which is governed separately by various emirs and such. Many report to ISIS already. Some report to Al Qaeda. Others still are loyal to the “moderate” Syrian National Council and its Free Syrian Army. A few are hanging on to Syria’s government, or what’s left of it – mostly around Damascus.

And now there’s Yemen, bits of it left currently on the chopping block and most already nearly to the mop-up stage by Al Qaeda, ISIS and their Houthi opponents, soon probably to be allies as well. Of course, Al Qaeda had laid the groundwork for the takeover of the country to a great extent, having infiltrated and permeated the territory over the past several years. Al Qaeda promotes the image of being at odds with ISIS, although the latter began as a freak offshoot of the terror mothership, but it is more likely all a bluff. We will yet see the day the two will re-unite as one, or return as allies.

In the meantime, Saudi Arabia is starting to move its military forces towards the border with Yemen. The last time Saudi Arabia did that was in March 2011, when it “helped” its neighbor Bahrain fend off a surreptitious move by Iran to foment unrest in the Sunni-ruled country (which has a Shia majority) under cover of the Arab Spring.  It took one day for 1,000 Saudi troops and 500 troops from United Arab Emirates to clear protesters from around the iconic Pearl Roundabout in Manama, and then to destroy the statue on what became known locally as “Bloody Thursday.”

The U.S. Embassy in Yemen has been closed due to the escalating attacks. Embassy staff and families of diplomats were evacuated from the country, just in time. The last group of 100 American special forces who were there to consult and help the Yemen military fight off the takeover in the first place were evacuated from the country last weekend due to the ‘rising danger.’

Houthi rebels seized the airport and control of the entire city of Taiz as well as the surrounding province over the weekend as well – about 240 miles south of the Yemeni capital of Sana’a — according to Taiz provincial government officials who spoke with international media.

As early as January, Yemen’s president and his cabinet resigned after the Houthis surrounded the presidential palace, and in fact the entire capital city of Sana’a was captured by the Houthi rebels. Last week ISIS suicide terrorists arrived in Sana’a and bombed two mosques, killing 137 Yemenis and wounding hundreds more, making it clear that supremacy over the city is still up for grabs.

The United Nations Security Council met Sunday (March 22, 2015) to discuss Yemen’s deteriorating situation, with its UN envoy to Yemen reporting the country is “at the edge of civil war.” Meanwhile, Yemeni President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi remains in exile in the southern port city of Aden, maintaining that he is still the nation’s leader. Last week, the Houthi war against Hadi pursued him all the way south to Aden, with an air strike aimed at the palace where he is housed. That day, Houthi rebels on the ground battled Hadi loyalists in Aden leaving 13 dead.

Finally, there is Turkey.

It’s odd how few actually discuss what’s happening in Turkey, a NATO member who has provided free passage to literally every single terrorist group that has requested safe passage through its country, even into Syria to reach the ISIS capital of Raqqa. If you travel through Istanbul airport on an average day, it becomes amazingly clear that whoever wishes to, can travel through Istanbul from Iran, Russia, or anywhere else.

Turkey is the ultimate Casablanca of today’s Middle East.

Muslim Brotherhood officials are warmly greeted by their supporters there. Hamas has a new international headquarters in the country, Fatah and other Palestinian officials are always welcome, and ISIS operatives move across the border to bring imports (brides and other ‘items’) to Raqqa with no trouble at all. Hezbollah, Islamic Jihad, Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps members – you name it, and you can make that meeting happen in Turkey, if you know the right buttons to push. Even United States officials are welcome.

Just be wary if you’re Jewish, or Israeli, of course.

Only a U.S. reject deported back home via Cairo to make a good showing to the Americans was turned back. Turkish authorities didn’t bother with that performance when it came to ignoring three young Muslim school girls from the UK whose frantic parents begged the Ankara government to block them from crossing the border into ISIS Land.

One wonders how Turkey is able to square its relationship with NATO with all that going on.

But managing delicate, intricate relationships are a peerless skill practiced by Turks since ancient times. There are few who can match a Turkish diplomat in anything, let alone the multi-lateral negotiations involving events so complex that one would need a nuclear microscope just to see past the surface, let alone begin to address it.

No wonder President Obama feels so disgruntled, so out of sorts, so … over his head.

This is not his neighborhood. He doesn’t know the language, diplomatically, behaviorally, gramatically or culturally. Nor has he yet learned the basic regional sport of bargaining in the souk. Worse, he probably would never enjoy it. You have to really love it to survive it.

But if you don’t live in the neighborhood, or you never come to visit, how on earth can you work out a two-state “solution” — let alone PEACE? More to the point, if you really dislike it so much why bother?

Mr. President, at least relax a little before you really hurt someone, and let those who actually like the region deal with it and with the Israelis too.

By the way – just as for your information — you may not realize it, but in Israel the appliance stores are still doing a really brisk business selling those terrific home appliances that are made in Turkey. Now, how do you suppose that could be, given all that hostile anti-Israel ranting from Ankara?

US Removes Iran, Hezbollah from National Intelligence Terrorist List

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Both Iran and its Lebanon-based proxy, Hezbollah, have been removed from the National Intelligence list of terrorism threats – the most authoritative document produced by the National Intelligence Agency.

Fox NewsOn The Record with Greta Susteren reported late Tuesday on information found in the unclassified version of the report, the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Communities 2015 (PDF), dated February 26, 2015. An annual report, this one was delivered recently to the U.S. Senate by National Intelligence Director Lt.-Gen. (ret.) James Clapper.

The document noted Iran’s “intentions to dampen sectarianism, build responsive partners and de-escalate tensions with Saudi Arabia.” Also noted was the fact that “Iranian leaders – particularly within the security services – are pursuing policies with negative secondary consequences for regional stability and potentially for Iran… Iran’s actions to protect and empower Shia communities are fueling growing fears and sectarian responses…”

The intelligence report added that Tehran’s “overarching strategic goals of enhancing its security, prestige and regional influence” have led it to “pursue capabilities to meet its civilian goals and give it the ability to build missile-deliverable nuclear weapons, if it chooses to do so.”

Whether or not Iran would choose to do so it still not clear, according to the U.S. intelligence assessment. However, if the Iranian government decides to go ahead, there exist no “insurmountable technical barriers to producing a nuclear weapon,” American intelligence experts concluded, most likely to be delivered via intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton told Fox News journalist Greta Susteren that he believes the removal of Iran and Hezbollah from the terrorist list was not a simple “format change” as reporters were told at a briefing, but rather a deliberate attempt by the Obama administration to deceive the American public.

“What we’re having now is an Orwellian example of disappearing references to Iran and its proxy Hezbollah from the terrorism report,” Bolton said, during an exchange with Susteren on Fox. “This was a concession, I think, by the administration relating to the nuclear negotiation. You will not find it in the signed deal.

“How many other concessions has the administration made that are not in the deal — that may not even be related to the nuclear program — in this desperate effort to get a deal?”

Meanwhile, Iran is moving to widen its sphere of influence in South America, where its diplomatic ties are already strong with Argentina and even warmer with Venezuela, which has the largest reserves of uranium in the Western hemisphere, outside of Canada.

Photos that flashed across Fox News during a report by Susteren showed a heavily guarded facility that was set up in Bolivia in 2011, allegedly with Iranian backing.

“There are elements of that facility which is supposed to be some type of military academy,” Susteren reported, “but is very heavily fortified. And the suspicion is that it’s being used by Iran as a way to have a footprint in Bolivia” which she described as “not a friend of the United States.”

Despite the disappearance of Iran from the terror map in the 2015 National Intelligence assessment, Fox journalist Cathern Herridge also noted that “the documents, the photos and Congressional testimony show that Iran is really effectively expanding its influence into South America, into our neighbor.”

In effect, Herridge said, Iran is “creating a launching pad into North America.”

Bolton concurred in his own remarks. “Look, Iran has terrorist networks all over this hemisphere,” he pointed out. “Remember, three years ago, the Justice Department indicted senior officials of the Revolutionary Guards Corps for conspiring to kill the Saudi Arabian ambassador to the United States in Washington by infiltrating through the Mexican border.

“I think this is just another example of Iran’s activities.”

Israel Ambassador to Germany Politely Urges Jews to Leave on Aliyah

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Israel Ambassador to Germany, Yaakov Hadas-Handelsman, has joined Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in politely urging European Jews to “consider Israel your home.”

Speaking in an interview published Sunday in the Tagesspiegel daily, published in Berlin, the ambassador said he “does not envy any Jew living in Europe today.”

He said that those who feel unsafe in light of the recent deadly attacks aimed against Jews in various countries should feel welcome to come to Israel “at any time.”

Hadas-Handelsman had especially high praise for Germany’s Chancellor Angela Merkel for making it clear that “it is not normal for synagogues and Jewish schools to need police protection.”

Last July, a synagogue in Wuppertal, North Rhine-Westphalia which originally was burned down during Kristallnacht but was subsequently rebuilt was firebombed.

Anti-Semitism in the country in general is on the rise, according to the Central Council of Jews in Germany, as it is in other countries across Europe.

In October 2014, the ‘Die Rechte’ political faction wrote to Mayor Ullrich Sierau in the city of Dortmund, demanding to know the exact number and addresses of all the Jews, saying the information was “relevant for our political work.”

The demand was refused and the letter was passed to the Interior Ministry of the State of North-Rhine-Westphalia, which is “looking at ways to legally ban the party,” whose numbers are growing, according to the Coordination Forum for Countering Anti-Semitism (CFCA).

Israeli Diplomats Suspended for Unprofessional Behavior

Thursday, February 5th, 2015

Three Israeli diplomats have been recalled from their posts abroad for unprofessional behavior, using Twitter posts on their personal accounts to criticize top administration officials – the very government they represent.

Civil service regulations and Foreign Ministry rules are clear that foreign service personnel are prohibited from making their personal political views public. This particularly applies to diplomats representing the State of Israel and its interests in the world arena and who operate a source of public information and advocacy for Israel on social media.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman ordered the immediate suspension Wednesday of Israel’s Ambassador to Switzerland, Yigal Caspi. Also recalled from their posts were Assaf Moran, who handles political affairs at the Israel Embassy in New Delhi, and Yaron Gamburg, who works in the Department of Political Research and was a former spokesperson for the Israel Embassy in Paris. All three were told to return for disciplinary hearings prior to termination.

A retweet by Caspi originally written by a journalist read: “It’s shocking how Lieberman waved off his ministers. Not that they were especially good, and yet his use of people, bringing them in and letting them go when he is sick of them, is horrible.”

The ambassador also retweeted another journalist’s post, this one regarding Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s upcoming address to Congress: “Is it no longer possible to suffice in scaring us here in Hebrew? (He) has to fly all the way to the US Congress and tell them in English how dangerous Iran’s nuclear program is?”

There were a number of others retweeted by Caspi, written by the same journalist, all in a similar vein.

The other two diplomats likewise retweeted posts criticizing the prime minister and other ministers in government. One tweet was an original post aimed at Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, chairman of Bayit Yehudi.

The behavior is unprofessional at best, self-destructive and truly harmful to the state’s interests at worst. It proves this country still has a long way to go in weeding out those who hold tight to their jobs, not necessarily out of competence but thanks to their seniority and state benefits.

For this reason alone, Israel’s image abroad has suffered immeasurably, and will continue to suffer until there is a way to hire competent people to replace those who place their personal interests above loyalty to the state.

US Ambassador to Israel Says ‘Don’t Engage in Provocations’

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro strongly condemned the Hamas terror attack in Jerusalem in an interview Wednesday at the Ynet studio — but he balanced the condemnation with a call for Israel to show restraint, as well as the rioting and murdering terrorists.

“I want to strongly condemn today’s terrorist attack in Jerusalem in which one person was murdered and several others were wounded,” the ambassador said. “I offer condolences on my own behalf, on behalf of the government to the family of the man who was killed, and my wishes for recovery for the wounded.”

A ranking Border Patrol officer, Chief Inspector Jadan Assad, of the Druze village of Beit J’an in northern Israel, fell in the line of duty while protecting other Israelis today. He leaves a pregnant wife and a three-year-old child. Three other Border Patrol police officers were wounded in the attack, along with 10 other people.

“It’s a very tense time in Jerusalem, especially around the holy sites,” Shapiro noted.

“We think this is a time when we’re calling on everyone to act with restraint, to lower the tensions, not to engage in provocations, either word or deed, and to make very clear that violence is never acceptable.

“That’s the leadership that’s needed right now to prevent a further deterioration of the situation in Jerusalem, and we’re working with all sides to try to achieve that,” Shapiro added.

He added that he did not see any major change or significant difference emerging from Tuesday’s national elections in the U.S. vis a vis the country’s policy towards Israel.

Although most of the interview was conducted in English, the last few remarks were expressed in Hebrew.

“Both President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry still believe that the main interest of Israel, the Palestinians and the U.S. is to reach a situation of two states for two peoples,” he said in Hebrew.

“Obviously there is disappointment due to the failed negotiations, but new efforts will be made; I don’t know when or how.”

Jordan Recalls Ambassador from Israel

Wednesday, November 5th, 2014

Jordan has recalled its ambassador from Israel for “consultations” — and to protest the closure of the Temple Mount in connection with Arab violence spreading across Jerusalem.

According to the official Jordanian Petra news agency, Amman recalled its ambassador over “the unprecedented and escalated Israeli aggressions” at the Temple Mount, and “repeated violations in the holy city.”

Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh was set to meet today (Wednesday, Nov. 5) with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in Paris to discuss the situation, officials said in Amman.

Jordanian officials also told journalists they intended to file a complaint with the United Nations Security Council.

Under its peace treaty with Israel, Jordan was given custodianship of the Muslim holy sites, according to former Jordanian Prime Minister Abdelsalam al-Majali.

The retired official told i24news that he was the one who signed the 1994 peace treaty brokered by then-U.S. President Bill Clinton, together with King Hussein and former Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in Washington D.C.

Any violation of the status quo would be met with a harsh response from Amman, al-Majali told the Tel Aviv-based television network.

Einat Schlein Appointed Israel Ambassador to Jordan, 1st Female in Post

Monday, September 15th, 2014

Israel has named Einat Schlein to represent the Jewish State in Jordan. She will be the first female ambassador to serve in the post in an Arab country. The appointment is one that could potentially cause complications due to cross-cultural issues regarding gender relations, although of all the Arab nations, Jordan is the most Westernized.

Schlein began her diplomatic career in Amman, and also served at the Israeli embassy in Washington DC. She currently heads a division at the Center for Political Research, an intelligence and analysis-based branch of the foreign ministry.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/einat-schlein-appointed-israel-ambassador-to-jordan-1st-female-in-post/2014/09/15/

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