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April 24, 2014 / 24 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘Bashar al-Assad’

US Cancels Drone Contract With Turkey

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2013

Everyone can try to pretend that relations between Israel and Turkey, and even between the United States and Turkey, are just as warm and fuzzy as they have been in the recent (recent for the U.S. is more recent than for Israel) past.

But once the U.S. starts packing up its toys and refusing to share (or sell) them with a former playmate – Turkey – there is no denying the rift.

The toys the U.S. will not be sharing with Turkey include 10 unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as Predator drones.

The reason for the rupture?

Most reports point to the the Turkish intelligence chief Hakan Fidan having disclosed to Iran the identities of 10 Iranians collecting information for the Mossad. But others see a deeper problem than one that just involves Israel. These theorists point to a more generalized problem of Turkey and Iran becoming closer collaborators, a dramatic about-turn given Turkey’s relentless campaign to unseat Syria’s president Bashar al-Assad, Iran’s primary puppet regime.

Yet another theory for the U.S. – Turkey rift – this one advanced by a Pakistani defense site – suggests that the drone contract cancellation was in response to Turkey’s rejection of bids from U.S. and other firms in favor of a Chinese defense firm for a $4 long-range air and missile defense system.  The Chinese firm which won that contract is sanctioned by the U.S.

Why is AIPAC Suddenly Part of the Syria Strike Push?

Tuesday, September 10th, 2013

For weeks the political heavyweight, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, sat on the sidelines.  AIPAC refrained from taking a position on whether or not the United States should undertake a military strike against Syria.  Its silence continued, even following confirmation of Bashar al-Assad’s use of chemical weapons against civilians.  Then, suddenly, without warning, AIPAC announced it would come out swinging with both fists. And now we know why.

It was not a big surprise to watchers of major pro-Israel organizations that AIPAC remained silent on the question of whether the U.S. should use its force against a Middle Eastern dictator who – at the moment – was not directly threatening Israel.

At least one good reason why many pro-Israel organizations were reluctant to wade into this thicket is the inevitability that the story will then become that oh-so-popular refrain: the Jews are forcing American boys to die for them. Call that the Big Blame Theory.  We’ll get back to it in a moment.

But after weeks of silence and nearly silent no-committals from the AIPAC behemoth, the word came several days ago that AIPAC had entered the hard-core lobbying front on behalf of President Obama’s “limited, tailored” strikes on Syria.

So what happened?

What happened is politics.  No, not the Jews pushing the U.S. to fight Israel’s battles.  This one was Team Obama calling in its own chits, and asking, nah, insisting that AIPAC wind-up its many operatives and get them to start pushing hard on their congressional contacts to throw in their yes vote for the Obama strikes.

At least, that’s what 23-plus year AIPAC veteran Steven J. Rosen wrote in the article, “Pushed on the Bandwagon,” appearing in the September 4th edition of the Middle East Quarterly.

Rosen’s article was long on specifics but short on sources.

Nevertheless, it is hard to believe he would write those specifics without having very sound reasons to believe them to be true.  Rosen wrote about AIPAC’s desperate effort to ensure that no one would blame “the Jews” for pushing the U.S. into a war with Iraq: AIPAC never openly endorsed the authorization; AIPAC organized a letter from 16 members of congress swearing that AIPAC did not take an official position on the war and never lobbied them on the war; former Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon warned George W. Bush that attacking Iraq was a mistake.

Of course, none of those efforts to prove non-participation bore any fruit.  The Jews, by whatever name people chose to use – the Israel Lobby, the Jews, or the Neocons – were and still are blamed for pushing the U.S. into a massively unpopular war with Iraq. That’s the Big Blame Theory.

And so AIPAC was going to definitely, positively, absolutely stay out of this fight.  As with Iraq, Syria is not the threat to Israel that Iran is.  And AIPAC has always (at least until now) refrained from using its mighty political strength for any fight in which Israel is not directly threatened.  But now all that has changed.

As Rosen put it,

Responding to a full-court press by the Obama administration — a call to Netanyahu, a direct message to AIPAC, and messages via congressional leaders — AIPAC has weighed in fully in support of the president’s call for intervention.

There are a myriad of responses to AIPAC’s appearance in the front line of the congressional battle on behalf of  Obama’s Syrian Strike. Many analysts see only bad results for AIPAC and the pro-Israel world, no matter what happens.

It’s a classic example of heads you win, tails I lose.  If congress authorizes Obama’s plan, and things go badly – who is going to be blamed?  The Jews.  If congress votes against Obama’s plan, AIPAC looks feeble, and loses credibility as well as having wasted political chits it would have preferred to save for when Israel is directly threatened.

Something Rosen doesn’t mention, but others do, is the awkward realization that although team Obama has apparently pushed hard on AIPAC to help bring in the votes for the president’s plan, other, more logical organizations have been immune from the importuning.

U.S. Sen Foreign Relations Comm Queued Up to Vote for Strike on Syria

Wednesday, September 4th, 2013

On Tuesday afternoon, September 3, U.S. secretary of state John Kerry went before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asking for its approval to launch a limited strike against Syria.

Kerry couched his request very clearly in terms of what it was not: it was not a request for approval to go to war. Kerry stated once again that “there will be no boots on the ground.”  What he was asking for was “the power to make clear, to make certain that the United States means what we say, that the world, when we join together in a multilateral statement, mean what we say.  He’s asking for authorization to degrade and deter Bashar al-Assad’s capacity to use chemical weapons.

The secretary of state made the argument in the plainest terms.  He compared what Assad has done – gassing hundreds of his own people, including hundreds of children – to the greatest evil most people recognize.  This administration is adamant that Assad be held accountable for committing a heinous act whose victims, Kerry and his boss insist, cry out for retribution.

So this is a vote for accountability. Norms and laws that keep the civilized world civil mean nothing if they’re not enforced. As Justice Jackson said in his opening argument at the Nuremberg trials, ‘The ultimate step in avoiding periodic wars, which are inevitable in a system of international lawlessness, is to make statesmen responsible to the law.’ If the world’s worst despots see that they can flout with impunity prohibitions against the world’s worst weapons, then those prohibitions are just pieces of paper. That is what we mean by accountability, and that is what we mean by we cannot be silent.

After four hours of debate in the Hart Senate Office Building, the committee will go into a closed session tomorrow and then, as early as tomorrow afternoon, may gave this administration what it is seeking: congressional approval to take limited action against the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

The initial text of the resolution authorizing “limited and tailored use of the United States Armed Forces against Syria” was made available late Tuesday evening, Eastern Time.  The committee will vote on some version of the draft tomorrow.

The secretary of state was asked what the administration will do if congress refuses to approve the use of force against Syria. Kerry said, “We’re not contemplating that, because it’s too dire.”

The draft resolution provides that the resolution upon which the committee members will vote shall be called ” Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against the “Government of Syria to Respond to Use of Chemical Weapons.” It will

authorize the president to use the U.S. Armed Forces as he determines to be necessary and appropriate in a limited and tailored manner against legitimate military targets in Syria, only to (1) respond to the use of weapons of mass destruction by the Syrian government in the conflict in Syria, and (2) deter Syria’s use of such weapons in order to protect the national security interests of the United States and to protect our allies and partners against the use of such weapons; and (3) degrade Syria’s capacity to use such weapons in the future.”

In addition to Kerry, secretary of defense Chuck Hagel and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Jack Dempsey also testified in support of the administration’s position.

Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) issued a statement Tuesday afternoon.  Boehner said that “All votes authorizing the use of military force are conscience votes for members, and passage will require direct, continuous engagement from the White House.”

The draft resolution provides for a 60 day period during which the powers granted may be used, with a single additional 30 day extension.

Syrian Crisis Not Serious (Yet)

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Predictions of an apocalyptic Middle East war following a US attack on Syria are premature. None of the players are interested in a serious confrontation.

President Obama feels boxed in by his ‘red line’ promise, and it appears that it will be impossible to pretend that the line was not crossed. So he will, with the cooperation of the UK and perhaps France, symbolically strike some assets of the Assad regime.

This will be coordinated in advance with the Russians, who will make a lot of noise in public, but in private will not be concerned as long as Assad’s hold on power is not threatened, which it will not be.

Assad’s threats to retaliate against Israel also fall in the category of noise. His overwhelming concern is to stay in power, and although he finds it advantageous to link Israel to the ‘terrorists’ he is fighting, he knows that Israel is in fact neutral in the conflict. Why upset this applecart and risk really painful reprisals?

Assad’s gamble to use chemical weapons has thus had the following effects:

It terrorized the Sunni civilians who are supporting the rebels. Remember, this is as much an ethnic war as a political one. Like the Hell’s Angels motorcycle club, much of Assad’s deterrence depends on his reputation for being ruthless, even ‘crazy’ (although he is actually quite rational).

It embarrassed Obama. The weak response that will follow will prove to Assad that Western opposition will not be a significant restraint on his freedom to do as he wishes.

The downside for the regime will be a few Tomahawk impacts, possibly on empty buildings, but certainly not enough to affect the outcome of the civil war.

I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

Visit Fresno Zionism.

Pakistani Taliban Pitch Camps in Syria, Join Anti-Assad Rebellion

Sunday, July 14th, 2013

The Pakistani Taliban have set up camps with hundreds of men in Syria, on the side of the rebels fighting President Bashar al-Assad, Reuters reported. The announcement was made on Sunday, in Pakistan, in an effort to forge a front with the al-Qaida leadership.

Saying hundreds of fighters had already left for Syria to fight alongside their “Mujahedeen friends,” senior commander told Reuters, “When our brothers needed our help, we sent hundreds of fighters along with our Arab friends.”

Following which the Reuters writer quipped: The announcement further complicates the picture on the ground in Syria, where rivalries have already been on the boil between the Free Syrian Army and the Islamists.”

The more burning issue is, of course, who, in the end, will be the recipient of the mass shipments of weapons from the U.S. and the EU? Is there anyone fighting today on Syrian soil who has anything at all in common with Western values such as democracy and tolerance?

Worse yet, will America and the EU repeat the dreadful mistake of U.S. President Ronald Reagan, whose CIA assembled and trained the nascent al-Qaida Mujahedeen, to fight the Soviets in Afghanistan. Are the Western weapons being delivered to Syria’s “opposition” going to be used by al-Qaida and the Taliban to kill Western soldiers, if not civilians?

Another Taliban commander in Pakistan told Reuters the decision to send fighters to Syria came at the request of “Arab friends.”

“Since our Arab brothers have come here for our support, we are bound to help them in their respective countries and that is what we did in Syria,” he said, adding, “We have established our own camps in Syria. Some of our people go and then return after spending some time fighting there.”

According to the Iranian Press TV, on July 12, Mohammad Amin, a Taliban operative and “coordinator of the Syrian base,” said that the Taliban base was set up in Syria some six months ago. He added that it sends “information and feedback” on the situation in Syria.

The Iranian outlet is convinced “Western powers and their regional allies including the Israeli regime, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Qatar are partners in supporting anti-Syria militant groups, including al-Qaeda-linked terrorists, to destabilize Syria and overthrow the Syrian government.”

Pakistani author and expert on the Taliban Ahmed Rashid told Reuters: “The Pakistani Taliban have remained a sort surrogate of al Qaeda. We’ve got all these foreigners up there in FATA who are being looked after or trained by the Pakistani Taliban. They are acting like global jihadists, precisely with the agenda that al Qaeda has got. This is a way, I suppose, to cement relationships with the Syrian militant groups … and to enlarge their sphere of influence.”

And so, it’s official, Syria is fresh out of good guys. Shipped European and American weapons will eventually be used to kill Europeans and Americans. Good luck to all of us.

Yet Another Enemy of Israel Poised to Join US Foreign Policy Team

Wednesday, June 26th, 2013

For people who pay close attention to what is happening in the world of U.S. government diplomacy and the players not just on the field, but those on deck, Robert Malley is a name that rings a bell.  For those who care deeply about the security of Israel, the bell that is rung has an ominous, if familiar, tone.

Rumors have been circulating for about a week that Robert Malley will soon be named by Secretary of State John Kerry for a senior advisory role with a portfolio that focuses either on Syria or on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

According to various sources Malley is “under serious consideration” or the decision to appoint him is already “a done deal,” according to the Washington Free Beacon.

So what’s wrong with Malley?  He couldn’t possibly be as bad as Samantha Power, or John Kerry or Chuck Hagel, could he?

Well, that depends who you ask.

Robert Malley is so offensive, he was actually kicked off (despite the lipstick smear called “resignation”) the Obama election committee in 2008 for meeting with the terrorist organization Hamas, although he had been one of Obama’s closest advisors for Middle East issues until his affinity for Hamas became public.

Malley is a Harvard-trained lawyer who currently works at the George Soros-affiliated International Crisis Group.  There are those Israel supporters who see Malley as an international crisis all on his own – his father, Simon Malley, was a virulently anti-Israel member of the Egyptian Communist Party and a close confidante of Yassir Arafat.  (Malley’s mother, who raised him, is named Barbara Silverstein – we’re not going there.)

Robert Malley blamed Israel for the failure of the Camp David Peace Talks in an op-ed in the New York Times.  As Ed Lasky pointed out in an on-point article  in 2008, Malley’s recollections of what went wrong at Camp David was in direct contrast to every other major player present, including President Bill Clinton and Clinton’s Middle East Envoy, Dennis Ross.

In another op-ed from the same era, Malley revealed his strong support for the Syrian regime, and scoffed at the idea that Assad should be treated as a pariah.

This past fall Malley explained why he believes it is not only likely, but essential for Hamas and Fatah to unite.

 I think at this point it’s inconceivable that Fatah will eliminate Hamas, and I can’t see that Hamas is going to eliminate Fatah, so the only solution if what you want — if what people want — is to see a meaningful negotiation between an empowered Israeli government, a representative Israeli government, and an empowered and representative Palestinian national movement, the only way to do that is for Palestinian ranks to unify.

And as Adam Kredo at the Washington Free Beacon pointed out, Malley even criticized U.S. President Barack Obama for taking off the table the concept of containing a nuclear Iran – in other words, allowing Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, and then asking the Islamic regime to pretty please not use them was a reasonable position Malley resented Obama’s failure to consider.

So, will Malley be the worst person in the U.S. administration with a foreign policy portfolio that could have a significant impact on Israel?  Maybe not the worst, but as an addition to a group which already have raised serious concerns, if Malley is selected by Kerry it is certain to make things even worse.

 

 

Obama-Backed Rebels Beheaded Christian, Fed to Dogs

Tuesday, June 18th, 2013

If you need a  fail-safe formula for determining who the bad guys are — ask what side is Obama on:

Syria rebels ‘beheaded a Christian and fed him to the dogs’ as fears grow over Islamist atrocities Daily Mail June 17, 2013

Christian Andrei Arbashe, 38, was kidnapped and beheaded by rebel fighters in northern town of Ras Al-Ayn on the Turkish border News came as pro-government forces celebrated their victory against rebels near Aleppo Airport

Syrian rebels beheaded a Christian man and fed his body to dogs, according to a nun who says the West is ignoring atrocities committed by Islamic extremists.She said his headless corpse was found by the side of the road, surrounded by hungry dogs. He had recently married and was soon to be a father.

Volatile fighting: The news of the kidnapping and beheading of Mr Arbashe came as pro-government forces celebrated their victory against rebels at the Air Defence Base in Tal Hassil near Aleppo Airport last night

There have been a growing number of accounts of atrocities carried out by rogue elements of the Syrian Free Army, which opposes dictator Bashar al-Assad and is recognized by Britain and the West as the legitimate leadership.

Sister Agnes-Miriam, mother superior of the Monastery of St James the Mutilated, has condemned Britain and the west for supporting the rebels despite growing evidence of human rights abuses. Murder, kidnapping, rape and robbery are becoming commonplace, she says.

‘The free and democratic world is supporting extremists,’ Sister Agnes-Miriam said from her sanctuary in Lebanon. ‘They want to impose Sharia Law and create an Islamic state in Syria.’

Fatal opinion: The man’s brother had criticized the behavior of members of the Free Syrian Army, seen here during heavy clashes with government forces north of Aleppo earlier this month

The 60-year-old Carmelite nun claims the west has turned a blind eye to growing evidence of a ‘fifth column’ of fanatics within the rag-tag ranks that make up the Free Syrian Army that they back to oust Assad.

One of the most effective fighting forces is the Jabat Al-Nusra, which has an ideology similar to Al Qaeda.

‘The uprising has been hijacked by Islamist mercenaries who are more interested in fighting a holy war than in changing the government,’ she said.

‘It has turned into a sectarian conflict. One in which Christians are paying a high price.’

The rebel attacked the northern town of Ras Al-Ayn, on the Turkish border, last month. The fighters entered the Christian quarter, ordering civilians to leave and leaving their homes.

‘More than 200 families were driven out in the night,’ Sister Agnes-Miriam says. ‘People are afraid. Everywhere the deaths squads stop civilians, abduct them and ask for ransom, sometimes they kill them.’

Threat: Sister Agnes-Mariam said that rebel fighters, pictured, are targeting Christians in Syria in a bid to make it a Muslim state

Militants wearing black bandanas of Al Qaeda recently laid siege to the Monastery of St James the Mutilated, located between Damascus and Homs, for two days in an attempt to prevent Christmas celebrations, the nun claims.

An estimated 300,000 Christians have been displaced in the conflict, with 80,000 forced out of the Homs region alone, she claims.

Many have fled abroad raising fears that Syria’s Christian community may vanish – like others across Middle East, the birthplace of Christianity.

Al Assad, a member of the Alawite Muslim sect, claims only his regime can protect Syria’s minorities from domination from the Sunni Muslims majority.

Read the rest.

Visit Atlas Shrugs.

Turkey and Israel Should Launch Non-Violent Intervention in Syria

Sunday, May 26th, 2013

More than 1.5 million have fled Syria, 4 million more are displaced within other nations, meaning 30% of the Syrian people have left their homes. Just to give an example, Reyhanli, one of the Turkish border towns in the southern province of Hatay, where 51 people were killed by twin car bombs on May 11, has a population of 90,000—50,000 of which are Syrian refugees. Some 400,000 Syrians are now living in Turkey, nearly half of them sheltered in camps with poor conditions.

Of course they are more than welcome to Turkey; our doors are wide open to anyone seeking shelter in our land, but this is obviously not a solution to the suffering of 8.3 million people who are in need – not to mention the rest of the Syrians who are also living in fear – nor does it stop the ongoing bloodbath of the Assad regime.

Since March, 2011, the death toll has risen to nearly 100,000, and the real figure is, most probably, far higher.

Most of the victims are civilians.

UN top Middle East envoy Robert Serry is saying there are mounting reports of chemical weapons being used in Syria, and Israel has taken a few solitary, bold actions to eliminate these weapons while the world was still pondering what to do. Provided that there is zero human loss, I advocate that the production and storage facilities of chemical weapons and artillery ammunition be eliminated. As long as it spares human lives meticulously and guarantees that no living beings are affected, Israel’s action to stop lethal weapons from being used is a reasonable move.

On the other side, fighters from Hezbollah—which has been a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad—have joined the battle on Qusayr, a settlement near the border with Lebanon. Because of the town’s strategic importance – since this residential area connects the capital Damascus to the coast – the Hezbollah-backed Assad regime does not want to give up this rebel stronghold in the central province of Homs and continue to kill more people to recapture the city.

While the spirit of protecting human lives is pressuring the conscience of every human being to interfere with the intention of stopping the bloodshed, some writers overseas either secretly support this situation in one sense, or embrace indifference, as long as they are not personally affected. I find this very unbecoming.

One of the Middle East experts that has disappointed me was Daniel Pipes, who has suggested overlooking the bloodbath in Syria and allowing both sides to destroy each other. In a TV interview, he restated his policy, suggesting that the West should back Assad, and keep Syrians killing each other. While he admits that his is not a humanitarian perspective, and offers this as a strategic view, we should remember that these are human beings we are discussing. I am against militant fundamentalism just like Daniel Pipes, and I am also against the communist Ba’ath regime; however, while innocent people are being killed on a daily basis, saying “Let us leave them to fight one another” is wholly unacceptable, standing in violation of both conscience and common sense.

Considering this bloodshed, it is obvious that there needs to be an intervention in Syria. However, what matters is to ensure that there will be no loss of life. Syria has a very complex and intricate structure; thus, any intervention needs to be well planned. First of all, an embargo—starting with air and trade sanctions—can be imposed. Second, world public opinion needs to be stirred up. They will be unable to withstand the pressure if the entire international public is fixed on them. We therefore need to establish a major shift in public opinion.

In addition, since the most dangerous aspect of Syria is its airforce, runways must be made unserviceable. Once it has been guaranteed there will be no loss of life, air bases should be bombarded, so that the air force is immobilized. But I would like to reemphasize: it is essential that nobody be caught up in these interventions; it must be established that the area under attack is empty.

Additionally, a game-changing force would develop from an alliance between Turkey and Israel, and that alliance will make the current Syrian regime tremble in their boots.

However, Assad must not be made to panic. It might prove dangerous if he is under the false impression that he is about to be killed. He must be treated kindly and made to feel that the aim is to save his life and his family. Since Assad is, in a way, seeking shelter behind Russia, Putin thinks he needs to protect him at any cost. An agreement can be reached between Russia, the USA, Turkey and the opposition parties: they can promise that Assad’s safety will be guaranteed, and that nothing will befall his wife and children. Since the opposition forces killed Qaddafi in a horribly humiliating way, guarantees need to be given that his honor will not be compromised, no matter what.

And as soon as we stop the shedding of blood in Syria, there must be peaceful elections accompanied by international observers. Bashar Assad should be a candidate if he wishes, and if he wins the elections, he can stay on. If the opposition is elected to govern, then they should be the ones ruling, or there can be some kind of coalition between Assad and the opposition parties. But the Syrian regime as it now stands is a dictatorship, and there must be legitimate and certified elections that will reflect the will of the Syrian people. Only in that way can a lasting and just peace come to Syria.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/turkey-and-israel-should-intervene-in-syria/2013/05/26/

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