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July 22, 2014 / 24 Tammuz, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

ISIS Seizes Key Syrian, Jordanian Border Crossings

Monday, June 23rd, 2014

Al Qaeda-linked Sunni militants from the Islamic State of Iraq in Syria captured key two border crossings on Sunday — including one that leads from Iraq directly into Jordan. The other is a crossing into Syria.

Jordanian officials have been dreading this possibility for weeks and monitoring the situation across the border for some time.

The terrorist group has also seized four more towns, further broadening the wide swathe of territory already under its control. That band of ISIS-controlled land now spreads from nearly all of northern Iraq, to the eastern part of the country, and beginning to bleed down to the south, and into the west – where Jordan lies.

Beyond Jordan, ISIS hopes to eventually reach the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza and then finally Israel. Less than a month ago, terrorists from the group kidnapped a Turkish consul in Tikrit and 80 Turkish citizens. Many are still being held hostage.

The terrorist group’s dream of carving out an Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) or an Islamic State of Iraq in the Levant (ISIL) as it is called in Iraq, is rapidly advancing.

A top military intelligence official in Iraq told CBC News on condition of anonymity that the militants’ objective is Baghdad, “where we are working frantically to bolster our defenses.” But the Iraqi military is badly outgunned, he admitted. “I will be honest with you,” he said. “Even that is not up to the level of what is needed. Morale is low.”

Jihadists from neighboring Arab nations – as well as from European countries and even from as far away as the United States – are being drawn to the battle as flies to honey and are traveling to join the conflict, as in the past they traveled to fight in Syria.

Those who have already acquired their objectives in Iraq are now supplying their fellow jihadists in Syria with weaponry won in recent battles to fight in the civil war across the border – or at least, until there is no border.

Meanwhile, Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, who has served in office since 2006, has not given any indication he intends to step down. But as he did in Cairo, U.S. President Barack Obama has sent signals he no longer supports the Iraqi leader during the crisis, although he agreed t osend 300 military advisers to retrain Iraqi troops. Obama also said he might consider air strikes to support the Iraqi military, but did not make any commitments.

With Iran opposing American involvement, it seems likely Obama will drag his heels as much as possible, fearing to intervene and offend Iranian sensibilities.

The new Iraqi parliament, set to meet by the end of this month, is expected to elect a speaker and a new president. The president-elect will then ask the leader who wins a simple majority of the 328-member parliament to form the new government.

During the most recent election, al-Maliki’s ‘State of the Law’ party won the most mandates – 92 – but it is not enough to pull a majority for a new coalition government, especially in light of the current crisis.

Canada Condemns PA Terror Kidnapping, But Obama’s Silent

Sunday, June 15th, 2014

Canada has firmly condemned last week’s Palestinian Authority terrorist kidnapping  of three teenage boys but U.S. President Barack Obama has yet to say a word about the attack — even though one of the hostages is an American citizen.

The boys are students at the Makor Chaim yeshiva high school at Kfar Etzion in Gush Etzion. They were apparently abducted somewhere near the Judean town of Alon Shevut, about 15 minutes south of Jerusalem.

Palestinian Authority Unity Government Arabs starting passing out candies and other sweets in the streets of Judea, Samaria and Gaza, to celebrate the attack after hearing about the kidnapping.

Palestinian Unity Government Arabs celebrate the kidnapping of 3 Jewish boys.

Palestinian Unity Government Arabs in Gaza celebrate the kidnapping of 3 Jewish boys.

Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird issued the statement Saturday night, strongly condemning the kidnapping and reminding the PA in no uncertain terms that its paramilitary forces were trained, equipped and armed by Canada and the U.S.

“Canada is deeply concerned by reports that three Israeli teenagers may have been kidnapped in the West Bank and condemns those aiming to instigate conflict.

“We urge the Palestinian security authorities, who have been trained through Canadian and U.S. leadership, to make every effort to investigate this incident and work diligently to ensure the safe return of these children to their families.

“We call for the immediate release of the three Israeli teenagers. Whoever has taken this action must be found and brought to justice,” Baird said.

While Canada was unequivocal in its public condemnation of the terror attack on the three innocent teens, Israel’s “best friend” — the United States — has remained silent on the issue. The White House has made no public statement whatsoever, and the State Department restricted itself to a phone conversation between U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Following is the transcript of the terse dialogue that took place between reporters and the State Department spokesperson as journalists tried to make sense of United States actions in the wake of the terrorist attack on the three boys Thursday night, especially given that one of kidnapped teens was an American citizen.

QUESTION: And last one, and this is in the Middle East. There’s reports coming out of the West Bank that there’s – three teens were kidnapped, and one of them is an American citizen. Do you have anything on that?

MS. HARF: We are aware – of course seen the reports, are very concerned for their well-being. The Secretary a short while ago expressed his concern in a meeting with Tzipi Livni in London and also has spoken with President Abbas this morning about it as well.

We are working with the Government of Israel and with the Palestinian Authority to try to ensure the situation is resolved quickly, and that the three teenagers are safely reunited with their families. I can’t confirm citizenship at this point.

QUESTION: Okay.

QUESTION: Did you – the Israelis say that the Palestinian Authority has – is responsible for their –

MS. HARF: I don’t have a readout of those conversations.

QUESTION: No, no, no. I understand that, but the Israelis are holding – say that the PA is responsible for their – these – the safety of these three teenagers.

MS. HARF: Well –

QUESTION: Do you share that?

MS. HARF: What we know is the Israelis and the Palestinian Authority are working closely together on efforts to find the three teenagers and to hopefully bring a quick resolution to the matter, and of course giving this cooperation our full encouragement.

QUESTION: But you don’t think that the PA –

MS. HARF: I don’t have more. I don’t have anything more on this, Matt.

QUESTION: Okay, all right. The Israelis also say that they told Ambassador Shapiro, right?

MS. HARF: Yes, Ambassador Shapiro.

QUESTION: Ambassador Shapiro, yes – about the one who has American citizenship. Can you confirm if there was a conversation between him and the Israelis about one of the three, regardless of whether you can confirm –

MS. HARF: I’m sure Ambassador Shapiro has been in contact on this.

QUESTION: All right.

For the record, the Fatah faction led by Mahmoud Abbas — who heads the Palestinian Authority Unity Government — has called on shopkeepers in Judea and Samaria via its official Facebook page to destroy their CCTV security camera footage in order to sabotage the IDF’s efforts to rescue the kidnapped teenagers and hunt down the terrorists who attacked them.

If the United States believes that handing out sweets to celebrate the kidnapping of Jewish children by terrorists and destroying security film footage to foil their rescue is evidence of how the new Palestinian Authority Unity Government “works closely together” with the Israeli government to find and rescue the kidnapped teens,  there’s a bridge for sale in Brooklyn. At a bargain price.

US: Hamas Okay, Homes for Jews No Good

Thursday, June 5th, 2014

They say a picture is worth a thousand words. In the same vein, plainly-stated, simple facts speak louder than a thousand scholarly articles by top political “analysts.” So, here goes: in the view of the current United States administration, Hamas’ participation in the Palestinian Authority government is legitimate. Building permits for Jews in Judea and Samaria are criminal.

In many ways, Washington’s stance on the current Israel-Palestinian diplomatic dustup illustrates the failure of President Obama’s foreign policy on a host of issues, particularly in the Middle East. Obama won election in 2008 calling for “changes” to America’s domestic and foreign policies, saying he would be prepared to talk to the government of Iran and promising to “re-brand” American foreign policy after the aggressive, “you’re-with-us-or-against-us” approach of George W. Bush.

In that vein, the president’s June, 2009 speech at Cairo University calling for a “re-set” of America’s relations with the Muslim world was hailed as a breakthrough moment: The president spoke passionately about the “dignity and peace” that many people find in their Muslim faith, quoted the “holy Koran” and called for a ”new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world, one based upon mutual interest and mutual respect.

However, it quickly became clear that Obama lacked either the understanding or the conviction to redefine America-Muslim relations in a way that would be consistent with democratic principles and supportive of American political interests in the region.

Challenges

The first challenge to Obama’s offer for a new beginning came quickly: Eight days after the president appeared in Cairo on June 5, 2009, mass protests broke out around Iran as young people claimed that Mahmoud Ahmedinejad and the mullahs of the Islamic Revolution had falsified election results. The government response was brutal: Several people were killed, hundreds were imprisoned.

But dissident groups both in- and out of Iran were stunned when Mr Obama, then-Secretary of State Hilary Clinton, Vice President Joe Biden and other American officials remained silent. Eventually the protests were quashed; several participants were hanged, included a 45-year-old mother of two who held dual nationality between the Netherlands and Iran.

The second challenge to Obama’s offer to re-define American-Muslim relations came a year-and-a-half later, in December, 2010 and continues to this day. For the second time in his presidency, pro-democracy demonstrations broke out in the Middle East, this time around the Arab world. Again, however, the protests caught the US administration by surprise. This time, the protests presented a challenge to US interests: thousands of people calling for the ouster of US-backed dictators, versus the unappetising alternative of a likely radical Islamist takeover were truly democratic elections to be held.

Obama’s own Cairo speech could have given the president guidance on how to react to the protests – “government of the people and by the people sets a single standard for all who hold power: you must maintain your power through consent, not coercion; you must respect the rights of minorities, and participate with a spirit of tolerance and compromise; you must place the interests of your people and the legitimate workings of the political process above your party. Without these ingredients, elections alone do not make true democracy,” the president said in 2009.

Instead, Obama chose to throw his support behind radical governments like Mohammed Morsi in Egypt. Rather than announcing that American aid would be tied to the clear maintenance of liberty for opposition and minority groups, Morsi enjoyed Washington’s full support for the year he was in office. Eventually, it took a military coup, rather than public pressure from Washington, to oust the Moslem Brotherhood.

Israeli Shoe on America’s Foot, Swapping Taliban Terrorists for a Soldier

Monday, June 2nd, 2014

U.S. President Barack Obama is finding himself in the same position as Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu – having to explain a controversial decision to outraged lawmakers and a questioning public.

Obama faced the nation on Saturday night to defend his directive to negotiate a prisoner swap with the Taliban terrorist organization in order to free the lone American soldier held hostage by the group in Afghanistan for the past five years.

Like that of former Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, the background behind the capture of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl was less than heroic. Shalit was not in combat when he was kidnapped by Arab terrorists in a cross-border raid in southern Israel in 2006. According to a blog post by prominent U.S. civil rights attorney Jonathan Turley, Bergdahl was taken prisoner after leaving his base in east Afghanistan on June 30, 2009.

On Saturday, the 28-year-old army soldier was released by his Taliban captors in exchange for five Taliban members who were freed from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. The deal was reached after a week of intense negotiations mediated by Qatar, which allegedly will maintain custody of the Taliban detainees for one year.

U.S. officials said efforts to negotiate the soldier’s release began in November 2010 and that his return became a top priority in May 2011. The opportunity to resume talks over the issue emerged several weeks ago, Turley wrote.

The U.S. president called the deal part of America’s “iron-clad commitment to bringing our prisoners home.” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said in making the announcement that he informed Congress on Saturday of the decision, adding that the U.S. had “coordinated closely with Qatar to ensure that security measures are in place and the national security of the United States will not be compromised.” He thanked the Emir of Qatar for that and for his “instrumental role in facilitating the return” of the soldier.

But the United States has also had a legal “iron-clad commitment” not to negotiate with terrorists, as it happens.

Turley quoted a joint statement expressing outrage and concern over the swap by top U.S. Congress member Howard P. McKeon, (R-CA), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, and Senator James Inhofe (R-OK), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“Like all Americans, we celebrate the release of Sergeant Bergdahl from terrorist captivity,” the two lawmakers said. “However – we must carefully examine the means by which we secured his freedom.

“American has maintained a prohibition on negotiating with terrorists for good reason. Trading five senior Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo Bay for Bergdahl’s release may have consequences for the rest of our forces and all Americans.”

Hm. Sound familiar? Perhaps an echo of the fears expressed by the Israeli public over endless “good will gestures” forced on its government by the U.S. State Department to free convicted Arab terrorists in order to keep the Palestinian Authority at the negotiating table? Or the outrage expressed by families of victims of terror when more than 1,000 bloodthirsty jailed terrorists were freed in exchange for the lone Israeli soldier held hostage for more than five years by the Iranian-backed Hamas rulers of Gaza?

Yes – the same Hamas terror organization with which PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas now intends to unite his Fatah faction in a Palestinian Authority “unity” government. Mind you, most of those freed terrorist murderers are still at large, armed and dangerous, working on their next “projects.”

Gee.

America’s lawmakers also pointed out that President Obama “clearly violated laws” requiring him to notify Congress 30 days prior to the transfer of terrorists from Guantanamo Bay. Those laws require him to explain exactly how the threat posed by those terrorists was substantially mitigated.

US Lawmakers Meet with Cuba’s American Jewish Prisoner, Alan Gross

Tuesday, May 6th, 2014

Four U.S. lawmakers met in Cuba on Monday with imprisoned American Jewish hostage Alan Gross. The legislators visited the jailed social worker at a prison hospital due to his medical condition, which is precarious.

Gross was arrested in December 2009 while visiting Cuba to provide internet access for the Jewish community there. According to a report posted by the Havana Times he was employed at the time by Development Alternatives, Inc., and contracted by USAID, an American government agency.

Gross was subsequently sentenced to 15 years in prison for “crimes against the integrity of the State.” Cuban authorities said he was caught “carrying sophisticated telecommunications equipment prohibited on the island, working for a well-funded, secret USAID program designed to topple the Cuban government.”

Speaking to reporters in Havana following their visit, delegation leader U.S. Rep. Barbara Lee said in a brief statement, “It is in the interests of both our countries to start negotiations, not just talks. It is time for both countries to make a serious commitment to enter into negotiations without preconditions.”

For years, Cuban leader Raul Castro has been trying to persuade the Obama White House to enter negotiations to free the “Cuban Five” — spies who were caught and jailed for espionage in the United States in 1998. Two have already been released, having served their terms. One is serving a double life sentence. President Barack Obama has reportedly shown no inclination to discuss the matter with Cuban officials, and no apparent interest in a swap deal for Alan Gross.

(Likewise Obama has had no interest in discussing a deal to commute the sentence of American-Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard to time served. After having agreed to a plea bargain, Pollard was nevertheless sent to prison on a life term in 1987 on a single count of passing information to an ally. Often jailed under harsh conditions at the prison where he is held in North Carolina he is presently in extremely frail health. Hundreds of appeals to U.S. presidents through the decades have left all unmoved — including Obama, who has been approached by the current Israeli government.)

U.S. Representatives Gregory Meeks (D-NY), Sam Farr (D-CA) and Emanuel Clever (D-MI) also took part in the delegation to Cuba. They met with Alan Gross for 90 minutes, according to the report. The delegation reportedly then met with Cuban Foreign Minister Bruno Rodriguez.

There have been no diplomatic relations between Washington and Havana in more than half a century. But Gross, age 65, has vowed that by the end of this year, he is determined to return home to the United States, either “dead or alive.”

Will Kerry Be On Hot Seat at Obama Meeting?

Tuesday, April 8th, 2014

Oy. He’s logged thousands of hours flying back and forth, meeting with leaders from Israel, the Palestinian Authority and surrounding Arab nations. Sleepless nights, endless days, Middle Eastern food and where has it all led?

Back to Square One by anyone’s estimation – and very likely in the eyes of President Barack Obama at the White House.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry reports today (Tuesday) to the president so both can decide what to do next about the persnickety tangle that just won’t untangle in the Holy Land.

The problem is, after the better part of a year, John Kerry may have almost nothing to show for all of his efforts and a massive bill to boot. It’s a credibility problem for him – did he read the situation wrong? Or was it simply a matter of the Western mind not understanding the typical Middle Eastern Arab mentality again? And again. And again. Ad nauseum.

Because we who live here have already seen this before in our neighborhood. There have been so many train wrecks down this gorge, we’ve lost count of the number of peace plans we’ve complied with here in the Land of Israel. Most were American.

And Mr. Kerry is another one lacking the basic understanding of Middle Eastern mentality, the Arab mind and how it works, and the way it goes in this region. Briefings on “Arab culture” don’t cut it when it comes to shuttle diplomacy here. It is just not enough when it gets to the nitty gritty.

The Europeans already know better. They make dry observations, back the Arabs (who they know they can rely on to pull out rather than comply) and then fade out before the sun sets in the West. Of course, ‘intel’ ties always continue with Israel; it would be silly to ignore the needs of national security, right?

But the U.S. has yet to learn that Arab leadership is not reliable. The Palestinian Authority talks one way in English and the other way in Arabic and its word is never its word. Peace is not a concept this entity can understand. The definition of ‘honor’ in this culture is not the same as that of the West – it is defined differently in the Middle East.

Think ASIA when you think of PA government “honor.” That is the closest analogy one can summon. It does not involve life, but death – truly. And age doesn’t count. Babies do qualify. Everyone is expendable.

John Kerry is a well-meaning guy. He really thought he could pull this off. And he did have a peace partner. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu braved his entire coalition to make this last attempt – and almost lost his government over it. In fact, he still might. Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman and Labor leader Isaac Herzog are both taking a shot at widening the fractures so they can climb all over it when new elections come around – and they both hope it’s sooner rather than later.

The last thing Israel needed was to free dozens more terrorists, let alone open the roadblocks to create a new free entrance on to Highway 60 from the Arab side of Hevron. But that’s what Israel did at America’s insistence for the U.S. attempt at new talks with the PA, knowing it was likely to come to naught.

It would be a pity if President Obama were now to rake John Kerry over the coals for following his orders and extending his own personal good faith in the process.

Mr. Kerry is not a young man either, and the constant flights could not have been easy. The stress of struggling to deal with Arab leaders fighting your every effort to reach a compromise could not have been fun. And having to second-guess everyone’s thoughts, words, actions and decisions following each session – although that is the job for which he was trained – must have been the stuff of nightmares.

4 Dead, 16 Wounded in Ft. Hood Shooting

Thursday, April 3rd, 2014

At least four military personnel died and 16 others were wounded, some critically, in a shooting spree Wednesday about 4:30 p.m. local time at Fort Hood, in Killeen, Texas.

The base, located near Waco, was immediately sealed off and held on lock-down for nearly four hours, until the “all-clear” could be sounded.

The shooter, 34-year-old combat veteran Spc. Ivan Lopez, killed himself at the end of the shooting spree with a single shot. He used a .45-caliber Smith and Wesson semi-automatic pistol he had recently purchased in the area, and had not registered at the base, officials said.

In November 2009, a military psychiatrist with Arabic ancestry proclaimed jihad against the United States at Fort Hood and went on a similar rampage, killing 13 people.

Military officials stressed that this time the cause seemed to be a personal dispute, unrelated to terrorism.

The gunman “walked into one of the unit buildings, opened fire, got into a vehicle, fired from [the vehicle], got out of the vehicle, walked into another building, opened fire again and was engaged by local law enforcement here at Fort Hood,” according to Lt. Gen. Mark Milley, who spoke with reporters.

U.S. President Barack Obama also made an effort to play down the terror factor but acknowledged that something indeed had gone terribly wrong and needed to be dealt with.

In a statement following the shooting, Obama said, “We’re heartbroken something like this might have happened again. We’re following it closely. I want to just assure all of us we are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened… Obviously this reopens the pain of what happened at Fort Hood five years ago. We know their incredible service to our country and the sacrifices that they make. Obviously our thoughts and prayers are with the entire community, and we are going to do everything we can to make sure the community of Fort Hood has what it needs to deal with a tough situation, but also any potential aftermath.”

Lopez was in the process of being evaluated for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), which Lt. Gen. Milley described as “a lengthy process.” He added that the soldier – whom he did not identify at any time during his briefing — was also “undergoing behavioral health, psychiatric treatment for depression and anxiety and a variety of other psychological and psychiatric issues” at the time of the attack. He added that he also had a self-reported traumatic brain injury.

Lopez had served four months in Iraq during 2011. He remained on active duty and was subsequently assigned to the 13th Sustainment Command based at Fort Hood.

The tragedy ended when a female police officer drew her weapon, according to Lt. Gen. Milley, who said that in response, the armed soldier “put his hands up and then reached under his jacket. He pulled out the gun, and she engaged, and he put the weapon to his head.” He paused. “It was clearly heroic, what she did at that moment in time.”

His body was found in a parking lot near the First Medical Brigade area. Three of the victims died in local hospitals. Seven of the injured were admitted to nearby Scott & White Memorial Hospital. Three of the injured are in critical condition and being maintained on respirators. Five are listed in serious condition with gunshot wounds to abdomens, chest, necks and extremities, doctors told reporters. Other victims are being treated on base at the Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center.

“Experience has taught us many things here at Fort Hood,” Milley said. “The soldiers who have served so bravely through the last 13 years in Iraq are strong, and we will get through this.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/4-dead-16-wounded-in-ft-hood-shooting/2014/04/03/

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