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April 21, 2014 / 21 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘foreign aid’

Why Salam Fayyad Stood No Chance against Fatah

Sunday, April 14th, 2013

Originally published at the Gatestone Institute.

In recent weeks, the U.S. Administration has resumed its efforts to achieve peace not only between Israel and the Palestinians, but also between Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his prime minister, Salam Fayyad.

These efforts, however, seem to have failed: Fayyad is apparently out.

Over the past few years, Abbas and his Fatah faction have been trying to get rid of Fayyad, but to no avail.

Abbas and Fatah leaders see the U.S.-educated Fayyad, who was appointed prime minister in 2007 at the request of the U.S. and E.U. countries, as a threat to their control over the Palestinian Authority in general and its finances in particular.

Some Fatah leaders, such as Tawfik Tirawi and Najat Abu Baker, are even convinced that Fayyad is plotting, together with the U.S. and other Western countries, to replace Abbas as president of the Palestinian Authority.

Were it not for U.S. and E.U. intervention, Abbas and Fatah would have removed Fayyad from his job several years ago.

Each time Abbas considered sacking Fayyad, U.S. and E.U. government officials stepped in to warn that such a move would seriously affect foreign aid to the Palestinian Authority.

President Barack Obama and Secretary of State John Kerry, who made separate visits to Ramallah recently, also found themselves devoting much of their time trying to persuade Abbas to keep Fayyad in his position.

But U.S. and E.U. efforts to keep Fayyad in power seem to have been counterproductive. These efforts further discredited Fayyad in the eyes of many Palestinians.

Fayyad’s enemies have cited these efforts as “proof” that he is a “foreign agent” who has been imposed on the Palestinian Authority by Americans and Europeans.

Fatah’s main problem with Fayyad is that he has almost exclusive control over the Palestinian Authority budget.

In other words, Fatah does not like the idea that its leaders and members can no longer steal international aid because of Fayyad’s presence in power.

The Fatah leaders are yearning for the era of Yasser Arafat, when they and others were able to lay their hands on millions of dollars earmarked for helping Palestinians.

In a bid to regain some form of control over the Palestinian Authority’s finances, last year Abbas exerted heavy pressure on Fayyad to appoint [Abbas loyalist] Nabil Qassis as finance minister.

Until then, Fayyad had held the position of finance minister in addition to the premiership.

Earlier this year, Fayyad, in a surprise move, announced that he has accepted the resignation of Qassis without providing further details.

Shortly afterwards, Abbas issued a statement announcing that he has “rejected” the resignation of the finance minister.

Fayyad has since refused to comply with Abbas’s demand and reinstate Qassis.

But the dispute between Abbas and Fayyad is not only over financial matters.

In fact, much of it has to do with the feeling among Fatah’s top cadres that Fayyad is seeking to undermine the faction’s influence and probably end its role in the Palestinian arena.

They accuse him of cutting funds to Fatah’s members and refusing to pay salaries to former Fatah militiamen.

In this power struggle between Fatah and Fayyad, the prime minister is certain to emerge as the biggest loser.

Fayyad has no grassroots support or political power bases among Palestinians.

He does not have a strong political party that would be able to compete with Fatah.

Nor does he have his own militia or political backing, especially in the villages and refugee camps.

In the 2006 parliamentary election, Fayyad, who graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, ran at the head of an independent list called Third Way. He won only two seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council.

Most Palestinians did not vote for Fayyad because he had never played any active role in the fight against Israel. For Palestinians, graduating from an Israeli prison is more important than going to any university in the world. Fayyad, however, did not sit even one day in an Israeli prison.

Had Fayyad killed a Jew or sent one of his sons to throw stones at an Israeli vehicle, he would have earned the respect and support of a large number of Palestinians. In short, Palestinians do not consider Fayyad a hero despite his hard efforts to build state institutions and a fine economy.

US Budget Cuts May Axe Funds for Israel’s Anti-Missile Systems

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

Pro-Israel sources report that the axe on the US budget may eliminate $479 million for joint US-Israel anti-missile programs, namely David’s Sling and Arrow systems, in addition to another $300 cut in military aid.

The slash in aid would come on the eve of President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel, which has been dubbed “Operation Unbreakable Alliance.”

Senior Israel officials are aware of the possible reductions and are trying to figure out to deal with them, according to Israel’s Globes business newspaper. Defense Minister Ehud Barak’s recent visit to Washington may have been, in part, an attempt to convince Congressmen to dull the axe on funding for the anti-missile programs.

The threat of Israel’s Middle East’s neighbors plunging into anarchy and leaving Al Qaeda and Hizbullah in charge underscores the government’s concerns.

The United States currently gives $3.15 billion in aid, although a large part of it actually is returned to American defense firms that Israel is required to use for much of the equipment and technology.

Congress and the White House have another week until the March 1 deadline, when either the federal deficit is reduced or automatic budget cuts come into effect, which could totally upset financial markets and America’s credit rating.

Republicans control the House of Representatives and are using their power to try to crack the whip on government spending, both at home and abroad.

“So far as is known at this stage, the fate of the aid for missiles is not the fate of the current military aid. We have to hope that won’t be the final situation,” a pro-Israel source told Globes.

Aid to Israel is bound to be reduced in light of massive cuts in domestic spending that, according to The New York Times, will put 14,000 teachers and 4,000 air traffic controllers out of work.

The March 1 deadline also is well before Obama flies to Israel, and he may have to depend only on his oratorical skills to convince Jews in Israel and in the United States of the “unbreakable alliance.”

Innocents Abroad Build Foreign Armies

Monday, February 11th, 2013

In the near-century that the United States has been a great power, it has developed some original and sophisticated foreign policy tools. Examples include the Marshall Plan, special forces, and satellite imaging. At the same time, the country’s naiveté remains firmly in place. For example, the notion persists that government staff are “particularly qualified to [handle a problem] because they knew nothing about it.” (For details, see my analysis at “American Know-Nothing Diplomacy.”)

The persistent belief that training and equipping foreign troops imbues them with American political and ethical values, making them allies of the United States, offers another sign of innocence. Some examples of this delusional policy in recent decades:

Lebanon: On landing U.S. troops in 1982, the priority was to train a national army. Of course, this failed, with most members returning to their communal militias with new arms and training to use against rivals. Despite this failure, the effort was renewed just two weeks ago.

Afghanistan: Training a national army was an action following the 2001 invasion; but the Afghan Local Police, a militia backed by the government, turned their guns against their international colleagues so often – 34 times in the first eight months of 2012, killing 45 persons – that the training was stopped.

Mali: The latest disaster, where U.S. efforts to train the woebegone Malian national army to take on Al-Qaeda did not exactly work out. In the words of Der Spiegel, “American specialists did train four crack units, totaling 600 men, to fight the terrorists. But it backfired: Three of the elite units have defected en masse to the rebel Tuareg. Most of the commanders, after all, are Tuaregs. Captain Amadou Sanogo, trained in the United States, was one of the soldiers who didn’t defect. Instead, he inflicted even more damage when, last March, he and a few close supporters overthrew the government in Bamako and ousted the elected president.”

Palestinian Authority: A disaster still in the making. The Dayton Mission has trained over 6,000 Palestinian Authority security personnel in the hope that they will become Israel’s partners for peace. To the contrary, I have predicted in writing that “these militiamen will eventually turn their guns against Israel.” When will American politicians and military leaders eventually realize that training foreign soldiers does not allies make them?

Originally published at Daniel Pipes.org on February 10, 2013.

White House Response to Morsi’s Vitriol Reveals Its Policy Rationale

Tuesday, January 22nd, 2013

Originally published at Rubin Reports.

When it came to light that Egypt’s new president had made blatantly antisemitic (in the Western context today they could also be called racist) remarks, it finally became necessary–albeit only when the New York Times covered a story (putting it in the most apologetic light, by the way) that’s been evident during many years–for the U.S. government to reluctantly and grudgingly remark on these statements, through the medium of spokesman Jay Carney. A State Department statement said that Morsi’s saying he is against intolerance was an important first step and expected him to show that he believed in religious tolerance.

My problem in dealing with such statements is that they are seen as isolated acts. As I’ve been writing now for about 30 years, the Muslim Brotherhood has always talked this way as do Hamas, Hizballah, the Ba’th Party, the Iranian regime, and many—though not all—Arab intellectuals, journalists, politicians and journalists in living memory. In fact, already a new Morsi statement has surfaced, “We must nurse children on hatred towards Jews.” Note he did not add, until I become president and then we can start teaching them to live in peace with others of different faiths.

It isn’t just pathetic but also weird that educated Euro-North Americans who are eager to destroy the career of anyone who has ever uttered a single sentence that was or can be portrayed as hate speech will accept those who issue whole reams of the stuff. What is truly ridiculous about this kind of controversy is the outrage or apologia over one statement. In fact, Morsi and the Muslim Brotherhood leadership including leading figures in the ruling party have made hundreds of radical statements. They are either ignored or explained away as insignificant.

Here are just two from the very top of the organization.

First, Khairat El Shater, the Brotherhood’s Deputy General Guide said in April 2012: “Our main and overall mission as Muslim Brothers is to empower God’s Religion on Earth…and to [establish] the subjugation of people to God on Earth.”

Second, Muhammad Badi, the Brotherhood’s head, explained in his September 2010 speech which virtually announced the launching of the revolution to overthrow the Mubarak regime: “…the factors that will lead to the collapse of the United States are much more powerful than those that led to the collapse of the Soviet empire….The United States is now experiencing the beginning of its end, and is heading towards its demise….”

Yet people who point to the Brotherhood’s radical history, extremist statements, and intolerant behavior now in a systematic way are ridiculed. We aren’t even hearing the pragmatic-sounding argument: “Of course, these people are extremist, totalitarian, and anti-American but we have to deal with them. ” No, what we are getting instead is: “They aren’t really extremist, totalitarian, or anti-American and we prefer to deal with them because they are moderate and a bulwark against the Salafists.”

All three of the top foreign policy appointments just made by President Barack Obama–John Kerry as secretary of state; Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, and John Brennan as CIA director–strongly endorse that latter stance. Indeed, Brennan practically created it.

The White House’s response to Morsi’s remarks was in the framework of that approach, condemning the language of one particular statement while praising Morsi for some things he’s done. He is praised for not abrogating the Egypt-Israel peace treaty–yet–and for helping get a ceasefire in the latest Israel-Hamas war. It is good that Morsi helped U.S. goals in that case but since he was, in effect, doing even more to help his ally Hamas, one should be entitled to a certain element of cynicism. The Egyptian regime is apparently blocking some–not all–of the weapons going into Gaza because a direct confrontation with Israel is not in its interests. Of course, direct confrontation with Israel (after 1973) wasn’t in Egyptian, Syrian, or Iraqi interests either. That’s why they used terrorist group clients to do the job.

But the main problem with the White House response is not that it was too weak but that it deals with calling Jews the offspring of pigs and monkeys against whom eternal war must be waged as entirely isolated from any analysis or policy consideration. None of these factors are considered as part of the Egyptian president’s and Muslim Brotherhood’s ideology and worldview.

The Trillion Dollar Coin Approach to Mideast Peace

Thursday, January 17th, 2013

There have been rumors and shmumors about America’s intention of minting a “trillion dollar coin” and sticking it in the Federal Reserve in order to bypass the so-called debt ceiling, which is more of a debt elevator. I couldn’t help but think of the Simpsons episode where the government prints a trillion dollar bill and Mr. Burns and Homer escape with it and somehow it ends up in the hands of Fidel Castro and the country survives on the wealth of the trillion dollar bill.

It is rare that I am dumbfounded, but this time I really am. I don’t know what to say. The mere possibility of the minting of a trillion dollar coin is so despicably absurd that I’m overloaded with a litany of potential sarcastic remarks that none of them can fit through the door of my mouth as they’re all crowding together simultaneously and are now jammed in the back of my throat and I can hardly breathe. Jon Stewart did a pristine job I must say.

Let me just start by saying that the source of this problem is that some primordial government, when it came in and seized the local mints and splayed the king’s face over all the coins, decided to give the monetary unit a proper name instead of a weight. For example, “dinars” instead of “ounces”. Then the Alice-in-Wonderland concept of “face value” was born, which doesn’t really exist. If instead of “dollars” the term for money was “grams” then money would be tied to weight instead of fancy shmancy names like “dollar” and the possibility of printing a gram of money or a “trillion gram coin” would be a lot more difficult for the government to do. So they had to rename the monetary unit to some imaginary term.

Two obvious questions are these, reductio ad absurdums, but it’s hard to engage in those when the premise you are attacking is itself so intensely absurd on its own:

  1. If you’re going to mint a trillion dollar coin, why not mint 16 of them and pay off the national debt?
  2. Why make it out of platinum? Why not elephant dung?

Better yet, you want mideast peace, right? And you love foreign aid and meddling. Then by God go all out! Why use it for such a petty thing as raising the “debt ceiling”? I say give the trillion dollar elephant dung to Israel, and then we can buy all of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon and Egypt and every single Arab in the country, pay them outrageous salaries to tap dance for us, and give them each their own personal trained pet chimpanzee to give them manicures and shiatsu massages and build them all gold-plated ivory mansions so they’ll be happy and won’t have to do anything after the daily tap dance for the Jews? Everyone over here will be rich, obviously, and therefore at peace. And the chimpanzee population will have a big boon.

There’s only one problem. How are we doing to break a trillion to get all this done? The local Five and Dime? Or the Five and Trillion?

And you want to use it to get around your stupid debt ceiling?

My Lord the world has lost its mind.

And don’t forget, there is nothing qualitatively different between a trillion dollar coin, and a one dollar bill.

Visit Settlers of Samaria.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/blogs/settlers-of-samaria/the-trillion-dollar-coin-approach-to-mideast-peace/2013/01/17/

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