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September 4, 2015 / 20 Elul, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Bashar Assad’

Head of US Central Command: Iran Sanctions Useless

Wednesday, March 6th, 2013

It’s official: the U.S. approach of mixing sanctions and diplomatic outreach in order to persuade Iran to stop its nuclear weapons program is not getting the job done. So testified the top U.S. commander in the Middle East before a Senate committee on Tuesday, describing the Iranian side as using denial and deceit while it continues “enriching uranium beyond any plausible peaceful purpose.”

Gen. James Mattis, head of U.S. Central Command, warned that he believes Iran is using the endless, ongoing negotiations simply to buy time, AP reported.

“That should not be in any way construed as we should not try to negotiate. I still support the direction we’re taking,” Mattis told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “I’m just — I’m paid to take a rather dim view of the Iranians, frankly.”

Mattis’ no-nonsense view should work like a bucket of icy water poured over any Western diplomat’s remaining delusions regarding the course of sanctions and talks. In fact,

Continuing international worries and uncertainty over the purpose of Iran’s enrichment programs. Tehran denies any work on, or interest in, nuclear weapons, but international leaders believe its uranium enrichment is aimed at developing atomic weapons. Yukiya Amano, the director general of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency, said on Monday that he cannot guarantee that Iran’s nuclear activities are peaceful. Not as long as Tehran remains uncooperative and inspectors are not allowed access to sites where they believe work on weapons development is taking place.

The Obama administration has not ruled out—at least theoretically—using military action to prevent Iran from possessing a nuclear weapon. Gen. Mattis told senators that the U.S. military has the capability of forcing Iran to shut down its nuclear business.

“There are number of means to do that,” he said, “perhaps even short of open conflict. But certainly that’s one of the options that I have to have prepared for the president.”

Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H., asked what the U.S. needs to do to prove that it is serious that it will not accept a nuclear-armed Iran.

“I fear that if they (Iran) continue to use negotiations to delay, that we will be at a point where they have nuclear-weapons capability, and then it’s too late,” she said.

Gen. Mattis pointed out that Iran is still dangerously involved in the civil war in Syria, backing the Bashar Assad regime against rebel forces, and that the Iranian Revolutionary Guard is directly involved in the fighting, with assistance from foreign mercenaries.

The General said chemical weapons sites in Syria are more vulnerable today, even after some of the weapons have been stored in more secure locations.

“Our planning is taking this into account to the degree that it can. And I’ll just tell you that we have options prepared,” he said.

Gen. Mattis noted that should the Assad regime fall, it would cause the “biggest strategic setback for Iran in 25 years.” Assad’s collapse, Mattis believes, would push Iran to arm and fund militias inside Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

Asked about arming the rebels seeking to overthrow Assad, Mattis said he was troubled by the fact that a “significant minority” of the rebel forces has extremist Islamic views and are linked to al-Qaida.

Syria Claims Israel Bombed ‘Research Center’

Wednesday, January 30th, 2013

The regime of embattled Syrian President Bashar Assad has claimed that Israel bombed a “scientific research center” northwest of Damascus, while most Western sources reports that the Air Force bombed a truck convoy carrying advanced Russian-made anti-aircraft missiles en route to the Hizbullah army in Lebanon.

The Syrian regime earlier denied reports of an attack, but now it is stating that five people were killed in the supposed bombing of the research center, which is involved in chemical weapons.

“This proves that Israel is the instigator, beneficiary and sometimes executor of the terrorist acts targeting Syria and its people,” according to a regime statement.

The Syrian claim could not be verified because of the blackout on news from the war-torn country,

Israel remains silent on the reported strike following earlier reports from Lebanon that Israeli Air Force planes staged flyovers late Tuesday night and early Wednesday.

Israel has warned several times that Hizbullah is receiving advanced weapons, including anti-aircraft missiles, from Assad.

Air Force Commander Amir Eshel said on Tuesday that Syria possesses “an enormous arsenal of weapons, some state of the art and some non-conventional, [which] could find its way to our borders and not just to our backyards.”

The Syrian army claimed that Israel’s planes crossed into Syria from the Golan Heights.

Al Jazeera reported that a source from the Syrian rebels said that Air Force planes struck before dawn and it a truck convoy near the Damascus-Beirut in the area of the border.

An anonymous U.S. official also confirmed the strike on the convoy, but White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters, “I’d refer you to the government of Israel for questions about deliberations or actions that they may or may not have taken.”

Nasrallah to Discuss Drone Over Israel on TV on Thursday

Thursday, October 11th, 2012

Hizbullah Chief Hassan Nasrallah will discuss rumors of a Lebanese drone over Israel in a televised appearance on Thursday, according to Lebanese daily Naharnet.

Nasrallah have a televised appearance on Thursday to discussed current issues on the Lebanese and regional scenes, including rumors of a Lebanese drone crossing into Israeli airspace.

A drone was shot down over Israeli airspace on Shabbat.  Military officials originally indicated that the aircraft may have been sent by Hizbullah.

Hizbullah radicals have been joining up with soldiers loyal to Syrian president Bashar Assad in a hot civil war which has claimed the lives of an estimated 32,000 people in the last year and a half.

Why I’m Traveling to Rwanda in the Middle of My Congressional Campaign

Monday, August 6th, 2012

I always promised myself that if I ever ran for public office I would highlight anti-genocide legislation as one of the principal planks of my platform. As such, I’m traveling to Rwanda this week where I will visit the main locations of the mass slaughter of the Tutsis by the Hutus in 1994. My trip is being organized by James Smith, my old friend from the UK who runs a genocide remembrance center in Rwanda. In addition, Samantha Power, President Obama’s principal advisor on Human Rights and Multilateral Affairs and the foremost anti-genocide advocate in the world has been very helpful in introducing me to the staff of the American Embassy in Kigali with whom I will also meet. Unexpectedly, my daughter Chana, who serves in the Israel army, was also helpful when her unit hosted the Rwandan Chief of Staff and she shared with him how much her father has read and written about the genocide, leading the Chief of Staff to kindly invite me to Rwanda.

The Rwandan genocide of Tutsis by Hutus happened at a rate even quicker than the liquidation of Jews at the hands of the Germans. The best estimate is that 800,000 were killed in a hundred days, which translates to 334 murders per hour, or about six murders per minute. Most of these were low-tech executions by machete. Tens of thousands of others were horribly maimed but did not die.

And why would a would-be Congressman from New Jersey travel across the globe in the Middle of his campaign to highlight the slaughter? Because Rwanda represents one of the lowest points in American foreign policy where the mightiest, richest nation on earth did not lift a pinky to rescue almost a million of the poorest people on earth.

As Phillip Gourevitch explains in his definitive account of the Rwandan genocide, We Wish to Inform You that Tomorrow We will Be Killed with Our Families, President Clinton, still haunted by the murder of American soldiers in Somalia, chose to take no action in Rwanda. Worse, his administration obstructed the efforts of other nations to stop the slaughter.

On April 21, 1994, the Canadian UN commandeer in Rwanda, General Romeo Dallaire, declared that he required only 5000 troops to bring the genocide to a rapid halt. In addition, a single bombing run against the RTLM Hutu Power radio transmitting antenna would have made it impossible for the Hutus to coordinate their genocide. But on the very same day, the Security Council, with the Clinton administration’s blessing, ordered the UN force under Dallaire reduced by ninety percent to a skeleton staff of 270 troops who would powerlessly witness the slaughter to come. This in turn was influenced by Presidential Decision Directive 25, which “amounted to a checklist of reasons to avoid American involvement in UN peacekeeping missions,” even though Dallaire did not seek American troops and the mission was not peacekeeping but genocide prevention. Indeed, Madeleine Albright, the American Ambassador to the UN, opposed leaving even this tiny UN force. She also pressured other countries “to duck, as the death toll leapt from thousands to tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands… the absolute low point in her career as a stateswoman.”

In the end, eight African nations, fed up with American inaction, agreed to send in an intervention force to stop the slaughter provided that the U.S. would lend them fifty armored personal carriers. The Clinton administration decided it would lease rather than lend the armor for a price of $15 million. The carriers sat on a runway in Germany while the UN pleaded for a $5 million reduction as the genocidal inferno raged. The story only gets worse from there, with the Clinton State Department refusing to label the Rwanda horrors a genocide because of the 1948 Genocide Convention that would have obligated the United States to intervene.

All this could be dismissed as something that happened 18 years ago and does not much matter now. But as we’ve learned, history is always destined to repeat itself.

Every day innocent men, women, and children die in Syria with the world scarcely giving a damn. Russia has blocked every UN effort to merely censure Bashar Assad for the slaughter, yet the United States has not even removed its Ambassador from Moscow to protest this protection of a head of state butchering his people.

IDF Spokesperson: Assad’s End a Certainty

Sunday, June 17th, 2012

IDF Spokesperson Brigadier General Yoav (Poly) Mordechai referred to the Bashar Assad regime in Syria on Friday, saying that the understanding that it has “reached its end” is now permeating among Assad’s allies Iran and Hezbollah.

“Another week has almost passed, during which it has been obvious that Iran and Hezbollah are engaged in a desperate effort to help the Assad regime survive,” Brig. Gen. Mordechai wrote on his official Facebook page. He added that Assad’s allies “are beginning to understand that the end is just a matter of time and therefore I wouldn’t be surprised if they are already planning for the day after.”

Brig. Gen. Mordechai emphasized that the IDF is prepared for any scenario.

Meanwhile, a Russian military source said that Russia may send warships and troops to Syria to protect its logistics base in Tartous, Syria.

“It is quite possible that warships of the Black Sea Fleet may go to the Mediterranean Sea in case it is necessary to protect the Russian logistics base in Tartous, Syria, since it is within the zone of the Fleet’s responsibility,” a source in the Russian General Staff told the Itar-Tass government news agency.

“Several warships of the Russian Black Sea Fleet, including large landing ships with marines aboard, are fully prepared to take to the sea,” the source added.

Earlier this week, IDF Deputy Chief of Staff Major General Yair Naveh said that “the same Syrians who act like this toward their people would do the same thing to us if they had the opportunity.” Naveh added that “Syria has the largest arsenal of chemical weapons in the world, and missiles and rockets that cover all of Israel.”

Earlier this month, IDF Northern Front Commander Major General Yair Golan said that “Al-Qaida operatives who are today acting against the Syrian regime may in time operate against us.” Golan noted that “Syria has weapons of mass destruction alongside a very heavy arsenal, which includes surface-to-surface and ground-to-sea missiles, and chemical weapons. The fact that Syria is a weapons storehouse that fuels terrorist elements disturbs us greatly.”

US Senate to Consider Tougher Sanctions on Iran

Thursday, May 17th, 2012

The US Senate will consider a new sanctions package against Iran on Thursday, in which oil and economic embargos will be considered in order to force Iran to abandon its nuclear development program.

Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid will introduce the new legislation, to strength penalties signed into law by President Barack Obama in December.  The new legislation would close loopholes enabling trading with Iranian banks and oil and tanker companies which exist in the December legislation.  It will also include sanctions on companies supplying telecommunications equipment used to monitor opposition.

According to Reuters, the bill is a revised version of one passed in February by the Senate Banking Committee and has the support of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC).  That bill was brought before the Senate in March, but failed to receive a “unanimous consent” voice vote because some senators sought amdnemdnets which would sanction companies that insure trade with Iran.

On May 23, Tehran is set to resume nuclear program-related talks with representatives from the UN Security Council – US, Britain, China, France, Russia – and Germany which began on April 14.

In the meantime, Iran continues to funnel illegal weapons to Syria to assist Syrian President Bashar Assad in his crackdown on opposition in his country, according to a report on Wednesday by the Associated Press.

An anonymous UN Security Council diplomat identified at least two new illegal arms shipments to Syria, with a possible third cargo containing rockets for arming the Taliban in Afghanistan.

The U.N. Security Council imposed its first sanctions on Iran in December 2006.  Since then, Iran has continued to enrich uranium, despite increasing international pressure.

Iran insists its nuclear program is for peaceful purposes.

According to a panel of sanctions-monitoring experts to the Security Council’s Iran sanctions committee, Iran has circumvented sanctions by routinely changing the names, ownership, and flags of seafaring vessels, as well as using front companies, falsifying documents, and obtaining contraband through Iranian nationals around the world, as well as utilizing money transfer businesses to keep business up to speed.

Israel and the United States have made frequent allusions to the possibility of  military response to Iran’s refusal to halt its nuclear program.  In a closed meeting on Tuesday, US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro said the United States has prepared and tested military methods to attack Iran, if it should become necessary to employ that option.

Arab League to Assad: Step Down

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

The Arab League has called on Syrian President Bashar Assad to hand over power to his deputy and join a national unity government that would prepare the country for new elections and a new constitution.
Syria rejected the proposal, which an official government response called “a violation of its sovereignty and flagrant interference in its internal affairs”.
Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo issued the proposal on Sunday, also agreeing to extend by one month the mandate of their observer mission to Syria. The mission was meant to oversee implementation of a cease-fire agreement between Assad and rebels fighting government troops, but has seen an increase in violence instead.
On Monday, five government soldiers were reported killed and more than a dozen others wounded in an attack by rebels in the city of Homs. Observers said that eight civilians were killed by government troops across the country as well. The death toll in the nearly year-long pro-democracy protests against the Assad regime is estimated to be well 5,400 now, with no signs of the violence abating.
The Arab League foreign ministers meeting in Cairo said that, if Assad does not accept their national unity government proposal, they will ask the United Nations to step in and end the crisis.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/arab-league-to-assad-step-down/2012/01/23/

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