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May 25, 2015 / 7 Sivan, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Egypt’

Archaeologists Discover Egypt Occupied Tel Aviv 5,000 Years Ago

Sunday, March 29th, 2015

Excavations at an office construction site in downtown Tel Aviv have unearthed evidence that Egypt occupied the “city that never sleeps” 5,000 years ago, more than a millennium before the Jews left slavery in ancient Egypt and proceeded to the Promised Land.

Fragments of ancient pottery vessels used to prepare beer were discovered in excavations the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) is conducting in conjunction with a construction project by the Rubenstein Company, according to excavation director Diego Barkan.

The construction site is located next to the Ma’ariv Bridge in downtown Tel Aviv.

Barkan said:

We found seventeen pits in the excavations, which were used to store agricultural produce in the Early Bronze Age (3500-3000-BCE). Among the hundreds of pottery sherds that characterize the local culture, a number of fragments of large ceramic basins were discovered that were made in an Egyptian tradition and were used to prepare beer….

On the basis of previously conducted excavations in the region we knew there is an Early Bronze Age site here, but this excavation is the first evidence we have of an Egyptian occupation in the center of Tel Aviv at that time.This is also the northernmost evidence we have of an Egyptian presence in the Early Bronze Age I. Until now we were only aware of an Egyptian presence in the northern Negev and southern coastal plain.

Beer was the “national drink of Egypt” in ancient times and was made from a mixture of barley and water that was partially baked and then left to ferment in the sun.

Various fruit concentrates were added to this mixture in order to flavor the beer. The mixture was filtered in special vessels and was ready for use.

Animal bones from 5,000 years ago that were discovered in the excavation.

Animal bones from 5,000 years ago that were discovered in the excavation. Credit: Yoli Shwartz, courtesy of the Israel Antiquities Authority.

 

 

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?

EMG Protesting Tamar ‘Reverse Flow’ To Egypt Story, Says Quoted Costs Unrealistic

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Published on Jewish Business News

The attorneys for East Mediterranean Gas SA (EMG) have sent a stern letter of protest to the Tamar natural gas reservoir owners—Noble Energy Mediterranean Ltd., Isramco Negev 2 Limited Partnership, Dor Gas Exploration Limited Partnership, Avner Oil Exploration Limited Partnership, Delek Drilling Limited Partnership—and to the press, protesting the publication of the Tamar reservoir partners agreements with Dolphinus Holdings Limited on the supply of gas to Egypt through EMG’s pipeline.

The attorney, Niv Sever, states that EMG was “surprised, once again, to read in the press about an agreement assuming the use of its pipeline for ‘reverse flow’ of gas between the Israeli Tamar Reservoir partners and Dolphinus Holdings Limited.”

In no uncertain words and in fluent Lawyerese, the Tamar partners, as well as the press, are warned that “EMG strongly protests the repeated unauthorized use of its name, targeted, so it seems, to capitalize on its assets.”

Apparently, EMG, despite its being the owner and operator of the gas pieline whose flow is to be reversed under the new deal, “is not a party to the reported deal and was not included in such negotiations. To avoid any doubt, there are no discussions held between EMG and Dolphinus on such a transaction and there have been no negotiations held in the past.”

Sever adds that, even if his client, EMG, were to permit this unauthorized use of their pipeline, “the reported up-front costs of such an operation are unrealistic for a pipeline that has been out of operation for several years.”

Apparently, when a pipeline is dipped in seawater for several years unattended, you can’t just turn it on and expect it to start reverse flowing stuff.

Or, as Sever puts it: “future operation to transport the reported interruptible quantities of gas for the reported duration would not be economical as far as EMG is concerned.”

“As you must be aware, Egypt has often been reported to impose three determinants for any reverse flow deal,” Sever continues, “approval of the Egyptian government, creation of added value for Egypt, and resolution of the pending international arbitration cases between EMG and its shareholders and Egypt.”

Alas, EMG’s attorney explains, “the positions taken by Egypt in those cases to date, as well as existing Egyptian law restrictions, preclude, at present, any agreement by EMG to contract use of its pipeline for reverse flow on any terms.”

Tamar Group To Sell Gas To Egypt Through Same Old Pipeline Built For Gas Exports To Israel

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Published by Jewish Business News

A consortium of private, industrial, and commercial Egyptian companies will buy at least $1.2 billion of natural gas from Israel’s offshore Tamar field, through the very same pipeline Egypt had used to send gas to Israel.

On Wednesday, the Tamar partners announced a seven-year deal with Dolphinus Holdings, with a minimum 5 billion cubic meters of natural gas to be sold in the first three years.

But Reuters cites an energy source in Israel who said the deal is likely to be more than three times higher, as Egypt has been facing an energy crisis.

The gas will run through the underwater pipeline constructed almost 10 ago by East Mediterranean Gas (EMG), which executed the Egyptian-Israeli natural gas deal killed by the President Morsi government, and attacks on the pipeline by Salafi terrorists in the Sinai.

A lot of water ran through the River Nile since.

Texas-based Noble Energy is the field’s operator.

Chairman of Delek Drilling Yossi Abu, said the deal highlights Israel role as “an energy anchor for countries in the region” and that the deal will “radically change Israel’s geopolitical status.”

The Dolphinus deal is subject to regulatory and other approvals in Israel, Egypt and from the East Mediterranean Gas Company (EMG).

US Army Vet Pleads ‘Not Guilty’ on Trying to Join ISIS

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Turkish authorities caught a U.S. Armed Forces veteran this past January as he was allegedly attempting to join Daesh, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria terror group, or ISIS.

U.S. federal authorities say U.S. Air Force veteran and New Jersey native Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, 47, flew to Turkey from Egypt in January, but was denied entry to the country. Instead, they say Turkey sent Pugh back to Egypt, who then deported the veteran to the U.S.

(Given the skill and speed with which Turkish authorities caught this suspect, one wonders how three Islamic schoolgirls from the UK managed to sneak through the country into Syria to become Daesh “brides.”)

Pugh was arrested January 10 in Turkey and on January 16 in Asbury Park, New Jersey, and has been held in custody since that time, the Wall Street Journal reported. The alleged wannabe terrorist was formally charged by the federal grand jury with attempting to provide material support to ISIS and obstruction of justice. On Wednesday he pleaded “not guilty” in a New York federal court room, CNN reported.

If found guilty, Pugh could be sentenced to a maximum of 35 years in prison.

According to a post on the blog of the New York-based Anti-Defamation League (ADL), Pugh’s Face­book pro­file included mul­ti­ple anti-Semitic and anti-Israel posts as well as posts sup­port­ing Hamas.

One of the posts written by Pugh in July 2014 stated in part, “All the evil done by the Jews came from within them­selves. On the day of Judg­ment full respon­si­bil­ity of the starv­ing, tor­ture, jail­ing and killing of inno­cent Mus­lims will rest upon there (sic) shoul­ders. Allah must really hate them to give the rope to hang them­selves.” He also posted an image with text stat­ing, “Most Jews do not like to admit it, but our G-d is Lucifer.”

In August 2014, he shared an image that ref­er­enced blood libel accu­sa­tions, depict­ing Israel’s Prime Min­is­ter Binyamin Netanyahu slit­ting the throats of sleep­ing children. Pugh also posted sev­eral car­toons equat­ing Jews, Israelis or Zion­ists to Nazis, as well as numerous images claim­ing to depict Israeli war crimes.

Under questioning while being held in Egypt prior to deportation to the U.S. Pugh claimed he had traveled to Turkey to seek employment, denying he had intended to go to Syria, according to the criminal complaint filed in Brooklyn federal court.

However, a search of the suspect’s laptop by federal agents turned up a map of Turkish-Syrian border crossing points, and some 180 jihadist propaganda videos – including a number showing ISIS prisoners being executed. Also found on his laptop was a letter addressed to “My Misha,” whicch stated, “I will use the talents and skills given to me by Allah to establish and defend the Islamic States.”

That Pugh refers to ‘Islamic States’ in the plural form is, in fact, quite chilling: Daesh has indeed spread its influence and its forces from Iraq and Syria into a number of other countries, including Yemen, Nigeria and Libya. Pockets of terrorist cells have also been found in the Sinai Peninsula, Gaza, Lebanon, France, Belgium, and Denmark.

Pugh was charged with “obstruction of justice” in response to the suspect’s intentional damage and removal of memory chips from four thumb drives in order to stymie law enforcement officials in their attempts to access data, authorities said. According to the criminal complaint, Pugh was also asked why he had a photo of a machine gun on his cell phone. He replied that he had “no particular reason other than simply liking the photograph.”

But Pugh’s history did not begin with his flight to the Turkish-Syrian border; actually he has been on the “watch list” for more than 10 years. Quoting the criminal complaint, the Wall Street Journal reported that Pugh converted to Islam and then started ramping up his radical sympathies after moving to San Antonio in 1998.

The FBI received a first tip from a co-worker while Pugh was working as a mechanic for American Airlines in 2001, when he was saying he sympathized with Al Qaeda terrorist leader Osama bin Laden and supported the 1998 bombing of the U.S. Embassy in Africa. By 2002, the FBI heard that Pugh had expressed interest in traveling to Chechnya to fight the jihad (Islamic holy war.)

Pugh had already worked as an Air Force mechanic from 1986 to 1990, and was assigned to various bases around the world, according to the U.S. Air Force. He lived abroad for some 18 months, including in Egypt and Jordan, prior to his arrest, according to the criminal complaint. But following his discharge, Pugh had trouble holding down a steady job.

At some point from 2009 to 2010, he worked as an Army contractor for a five month period in Iraq.

Earlier this year, he was fired again, this time from a gig as an airplane mechanic for a firm “based in the Middle East.”

Last Friday, three Brooklyn men also pleaded “not guilty” in Brooklyn federal court to charges of conspiring to aid the ISIS terrorist organization.

Over the past 18 months “dozens” of Americans have faced criminal charges relating to ISIS. FBI director James Comey said at a news briefing last month that his agency has active cases open “in every single state” in connection with the ISIS terror organization.

According to the Wall Street Journal, “Preventing Americans from joining ISIS has become a priority for federal law-enforcement officials, but they have been unable to find a singular profile of the type of American who is inspired by the militant group’s propaganda.”

Due to the lack of a hat, a tip of the keyboard will have to do for kudos to WSJ journalists Dion Nissenbaum and Nicole Hong for being able to compose and type that last with a (presumed) straight face.

US Air Force Vet Charged with Trying to Help Islamic State

Wednesday, March 18th, 2015

A US Air Force vet tried to join ISIS in Syria, but only made it as far As Turkey before he was sent back, according to a Wall Street Journal report.

Tairod Nathan Webster Pugh, 47, flew to Egypt in January and tried to enter Turkey, who didn’t let him in. Egypy then deported him back to the US, where he was then arrested.

Pugh has been on the radar for a decade, the WSJ reports, after converting to Islam and telling a co-worker, in 2001, that he sympathised with Osama bin Laden.

Pugh was an Air Force mechanic from 1986-1990.

The WSJ reports that in the past 18 months, dozens of Americans have had criminal charges filed against them in connection to ISIS.

Kerry’s Gaffe Exposes ‘IsraelPhobia’

Monday, March 16th, 2015

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke enthusiastically about Egypt in a speech on Friday but made a very undiplomatic boo-boo by stating that Egyptian President Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi is committed to Israel’s future.

Yes, that is what he said. Here is the entire sentence, according to the official U.S. State Dept, transcript of his speech at American Chamber of Commerce of Egypt in Sharm el-Sheikh.:

President Sisi has engaged on a bold and critical path to implement reforms. He’s committed to restoring investor confidence in Israel’s future.”

The State Dept. later noted that he meant to say “Egypt’s future.”

How could a mistake like that have been made by the  Secretary of the State of the United States of America, the man who knows he can bring peace between Israel and the Arab world, and between Iran and the rest of the world? The U.S. Embassy in Cairo had a nifty explanation for the blooper and posted on Twitter:

“Clear theme of @JohnKerry speech/visit today: confidence in #EGYPT’s future. All night flight+morning event=unintended slip (wrong country!)

Jet lag is definitely a problem for diplomats like Kerry, who seem to spend more time on the plane than at home.

But excuses are not going save the world when he sits with Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas and says “Hamas, whoops I mean Israel,” or sits with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and says, “Jews, whoops I mean settlers.”

But all of that could be forgiven because his talks with the Palestinian Authority and Israel were nothing more than a way to boost profits for hotels where he stayed, but what happens when he talking with Iran over its nuclear program?

First of all, he has to remember he is in Switzerland today and not in Swaziland.

His aides need to remind him he is talking to Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and not Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.

And Kerry needs to be reminded that “peaceful nuclear energy” in Iran means in plain English, “A nuclear bomb to destroy not only Israel but also the United States.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/kerrys-gaffe-exposes-israelphobia/2015/03/16/

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