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July 28, 2015 / 12 Av, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Middle East’

NATO Calls Emergency Meeting at Turkey’s Request Over ISIS, PKK

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

Ambassadors of all 28 member states of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) have been called to an emergency meeting on Tuesday in Brussels at the request of Turkey.

The allies were summoned under Article 4 of NATO’s founding Washington Treaty, according to a statement released Sunday by NATO secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg.

The request came in the wake of last week’s attacks on two fronts, one by Da’esh (ISIS) and the other by the outlawed Kurdish separatist PKK terror organization, which has fought for autonomy since 1984.

“Turkey requested the meeting in view of the seriousness of the situation after the heinous terrorist attacks in recent days, and also to inform allies of the measures it is taking,” NATO said. “NATO allies follow developments very closely and stand in solidarity with Turkey.”

Under the treaty, Turkey has the right to request military assistance,, surveillance aircraft to monitor activity along the Syrian border, or even to call for establishment of a “safe zone” in northern Syria. The latter has been under discussion for several days.

Article 4 reads: “The parties will consult together whenever, in the opinion of any of them, the territorial integrity, political independence or security of any of the parties is threatened.”

Turkey has invoked Article 4 twice before, in 2003 and 2012.

A week ago Monday a Da’esh (ISIS) suicide bomber attacked a cultural center in the southeastern Turkish town of Suruc, killing 32 Kurdish youth activists who were engaged in sending aid across the border to the Syrian Kurdish city of Kobane, six miles away. Kurds blamed Turkey for not patrolling the porous 500-mile border with Syria.

And the outlawed Kurdish PKK separatist terror organization retaliated – not against Da’esh, but against Turkey — with a deadly car bombing. Two Turkish soldiers were killed in the predominantly Kurdish southeastern Turkish province of Diyarbakir on Saturday night. Four other soldiers were wounded in the attack. Turkey said PKK terrorists also attacked a police station in the province.

Late Sunday, Turkish F-16 fighter jets struck back, aiming at PKK terror targets in the northern Iraqi town of Hakurk, according to Turkish security sources.

Turkey’s military operations will continue as long as there is a threat, Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu told United Nations secretary-general Ban Ki-moon. The U.S. backed Ankara’s air strikes in Iraq, according to a report in the British newspaper The Telegraph.

Talks between the Kurdish terror group and Ankara that led to a cease-fire in 2013 have not resulted in a formal agreement. However, the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) garnered 12 percent of the votes in this past parliamentary election, entering the governing body for the very first time.

Iranian FM on Regional Tour to ‘Sell’ Nuclear Deal

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif set out on a three-stop tour of the region Sunday to begin an effort to “sell” the P5+1 nuclear deal to skeptical Arab nations in the Middle East.

A number of countries in addition to Israel harbor grave doubts about Iran’s motivations for making the deal, let alone its ability to stick to the terms of the agreement. Among those who view the deal with extreme caution are Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Jordan.

Bahrain is also giving the accord a second look, but finds itself in a difficult position. Host to the U.S. Navy’s Fifth Fleet, the country can hardly say it lacks for protection from Iranian aggression – even nuclear aggression.

That didn’t stop Iran from providing covert assistance and strong encouragement to a Shi’ite-led opposition movement within Bahrain during the Arab Spring. Nor has it apparently stopped Iran from sponsoring nascent terror operations in the country.

A smuggling ring was recently caught trying to bring weapons, ammunition and explosives into the kingdom; authorities told reporters that two of the suspects caught in the sting were Bahraini nationals who received military training in Iran, and who confessed to receiving the contraband from “Iranian handlers.”

Nevertheless, in a speech earlier this month, Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei included Bahrain in the list of “regional friends” Iran would continue to support despite its nuclear deal, along with Yemen, Syria, Iraq and “the oppressed Palestinian nation.”

But Bahrain was not Zarif’s itinerary: on Saturday, Manama announced it was recalling its ambassador to Iran for consultations in the wake of “continued hostile statements made by Iranian officials toward Bahrain,” according to the official Bahrain News Agency.

Zarif began his tour with a visit to Kuwait, where he was greeted by Sheikh Sabah Khaled Al Hamad Al Sabah in a red-carpet welcome at the airport. Within hours Zarif was in talks with Kuwait’s head of state, emir Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Al Sabah.

The Iranian diplomat is slated to travel to Qatar and then to Iraq, where he will brief the heads of state in both countries – as he has in Kuwait – on the details of the nuclear deal Iran signed with the U.S.-led delegation of world powers. According to Iranian state-run media, Zarif will also discuss ways to “improve cooperation and fight terrorism” as well.

In the case of Qatar, Iran shares with Doha control over a huge underwater natural gas field, the development of which may come up for discussion due to the imminent lifting of sanctions as part of the deal that was signed.

With regard to Baghdad, Iran months ago sent its elite Revolutionary Guard Corps and other troops to battle Da’esh (ISIS) terrorists which currently control one-third of that country. Most of the Iraqi territory that is not controlled by Da’esh at this point is controlled by Iran.

“Iran and the regional countries are facing common threats that should be confronted through mutual cooperation,” Zarif said, according to the Iranian FARS news agency.

Former Saudi Ambassador to US: Gulf States Willing to Attack Iran

Tuesday, July 21st, 2015

A Saudi prince’s reaction to the nuclear agreement with Iran makes last week’s White House’s rosy spin of official reaction by Saudi Arabia to “ObamaDeal” look like an act that should never have gone on stage.

Saudi Prince Bandar bin Sultan, former Ambassador to the United States, warned that the nuclear agreement with Iran “will wreak havoc in the Middle East” and that Gulf Powers are willing to attack Iranian nuclear sites, even if the United States is not interested.

One of King Salman’s first actions after taking the throne earlier this year was to yank Prince Bandar off the National Security Council, but he still is an advisor and an important voice, one that totally contradicts what President Barack Obama would like people to believe about Riyadh’s reaction the nuclear agreement.

White House Press Secretary, after a meeting between Saudi foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir and President Obama, glossed over Saudi skepticism of ObamaDeal and blah-blahed “about the important bilateral relationship that exists between the United States and Saudi Arabia.”

Believe that and then believe that President Obama has “an unbreakable bond with Israel.”

Prince Bandar’s comments to Beirut Daily Star and also reported by the Times of London were the first public criticism from Saudi Arabia, and he was straight to the point.

He warned that ObamaDeal will “wreak havoc” and then bluntly asserted:

Saudi Arabia and the Gulf powers are prepared to take military action without American support after the Iran nuclear deal

Prince Bandar is not a small voice. He was ambassador to Washington for 20 years, and MRC TV noted that it is unlikely that he would have conducted a major newspaper interview without King Salman’s blessing.
The prince’s view of the Obama administration sounds like Israel’s when it comes to relying on the United States.

“People in my region now are relying on God’s will, and consolidating their local capabilities and analysis with everybody else except our oldest and most powerful ally,” Prince Bandar told the Beirut newspaper.

He was even more candid in an article he wrote for the London-based Arabic news Web site Elaph, where he compared ObamaDeal with Bill Clinton’s agreement with North Korea, which supposedly would keep its word and not develop a nuclear bomb.

But Prince Bandar can forgive Clinton because “it turned out that the strategic foreign policy analysis was wrong and there was a major intelligence failure,” according to translation of interview provided by The Washington Post.

He said that he is “absolutely confident he would not have made that decision” if he had all the facts.
Prince Bandar said the case of Iran is different because:

The strategic foreign policy analysis, the national intelligence information, and America’s allies in the region’s intelligence all predict not only the same outcome of the North Korean nuclear deal but worse – with the billions of dollars that Iran will have access to.

He quoted a phrase first made by Henry Kissinger: America’s enemies should fear America, but America’s friends should fear America more.”

It sounds like Saudi Arabia and Israel are on the same page.

Suspected ISIS Jihadists Blow Up Six Hamas Vehicles in Gaza

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

Salafists linked with the Islamic State (ISIS) blew up six Hamas and Islamic Jihad vehicles in simultaneous attacks in Gaza City, Sunday morning.

At least two people were wounded.

The ability to stage a coordinated attack in the Hamas stronghold reflects both the capabilities of the jihadists as well as the growing vulnerability of Hamas, whose regime has brought misery, depression and war to the local population.

An ISIS poster was found near one of the vehicles that as exploded.

Israel’s Reshet Bet (Voice of Israel) suggested that terrorists may have used the ISIS poster to frame the Islamists for attacks, which could have been carried out only with highly organized support.

The fact that there were not many injuries offers a hint that it might have been Palestinian Authority Fatah terrorists who staged the rare attack with the intent of scaring Hamas but without causing an immediate upheaval.

So much for the “unity” that President Obama so highly applauded earlier this year.

Hamas has face difficulties with Egypt too, which accuses them of helping the ISIS terrorists in Sinai.

Senior Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal won a rare audience last week with Saudi Arabia king Salman, the first time in four years that a Saudi king has publicly confirmed discussions with the Gaza regime.

 

Netanyahu Wishes Abbas ‘Happy Eid al-Fitr’

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called Palestinian Authority Mahmoud Abbas on Friday to wish him “Happy Eid a-Ftir, which marks the end of Ramadan.

Israeli media tried to make the most out of the phone call, looking for all kinds of signs that Netanyahu and Abbes secretly have been speaking with each other towards another attempt to allow the United States to believe they are interested in the “peace process.”

Considering the Palestinian Authority’s insistence on trying to bring Israel before the International Criminal Court on war crimes charges, there really is not much to talk about, except to say “hi” on a holiday.

The office of the Prime Minister reported:

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, today ([Friday] spoke with Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and wished him a happy Eid al-Fitr.

The Prime Minister told the PA Chairman that the citizens of Israel want peace and added that Israel would continue to act toward regional stability.

The Ma’an News Agency, based in Bethlehem and considered close to Abbas, noted that the last time Netanyahu spoke with Abbas was in June 2104, after Hamas terrorists in the Hebron area kidnapped three yeshiva youth, who nearly three weeks later were found murdered.

The Prime Minister had asked Abbes for help in finding the teenagers and the terrorists.

Since then, Palestinian Authority terrorism has sharply escalated.

Last week, the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) said it had arrested terrorists who killed a 70-year-old Israeli farmer. One of them was a member of the Palestinian Authority Force 17.

Next year at the end of Ramadan, if Netanyahu and Abbas remain in their current positions. maybe they will talk to each other.

And maybe not.

Meet the 16 Democratic Senators Who Can Scuttle ObamaDeal

Thursday, July 16th, 2015

Opponents to the agreement with Iran are lacking approximately nine Democratic senators to override a Presidential veto of its rejection, but the truth that is an opposition victory might have limited meaning.

Congress cannot strike down the agreement, which was made along with five other Western powers. All it can do is block President Obama’s agreement to lift U.S. sanctions.

Doing so would be very significant, both politically for President Obama and the Democratic party as well as for American’s relations with the other P5+1 countries and Iran.

There are seven undecided Democratic senators, according to a tally by the Washington Post’s Amber Phillips.

If all of them turn against President Obama, it will be easier to convince a couple of others whose positions are not yet known.

The seven undecided Democrats, acceding to Phillips, are:

Michael Bennet of Colorado;

Ben Cardin of Maryland;

Bob Casey of Pennsylvania;

Joe Donnelly of Indiana;

Tim Kaine of Virginia;

Bill Nelson of Pennsylvania;

and Mark Warner of Virginia.

Cardin is one of the most important of the undecided. He attends Baltimore’s largest and wealthiest modern Orthodox Beth Tfiloh Congregation, which is highly pro-Israel.

He told NPR this week:

Israel’s security issues are of major concern. We don’t want to see an arms race in the Middle East, so it is a factor. And it’s a factor that I’m sure we will carefully consider.

Earlier in the week, Cardin told Bloomberg:

There is no trust when it comes to Iran. In our deliberations we need to ensure the negotiations resulted in a comprehensive, long-lasting, and verifiable outcome that also provides for snap-back of sanctions should Iran deviate from its commitments.

The nine Democratic Senators whose positions are not known are:

Cory Booker of New Jersey;

Maria Cantwell of Washington;

Claire McCaskill of Missouri;

Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota’

Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota;

Barbara Mikulski of Maryland;

Sen. Patty Murray of Washington;

Sen. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan; and

Sen. Jon Tester of Montana.

One of the most pivotal of the “unknowns” is McCaskill. She stated this week:

Preventing Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon is paramount to our national security, and if this agreement accomplishes that goal, it will make the world a safer place for America and our allies. I plan to spend the coming weeks taking a hard look at the agreement’s details to ensure that it will result in a verifiable way to prevent a nuclear-armed Iran.”

Phillip’s tally shows 43 senators “leaning” to vote against ObamaDeal, including New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, and only 26 are in favor or are leaning in favor.

Analysis: Obama Defends Iran, Jabbing at Israel and Sunni States at Press Conference

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

(JNi.media) “My hope is that building on this deal, we could continue to have conversations with Iran that incentivize them to behave differently in the region,” Obama said Wednesday at a White House press conference.

In fact, listening to the president’s message, one could conclude that the source of the problem has been not the Islamic Republic, but the Jewish State and the Saudi Kingdom.

“Israel has legitimate concerns about its security regarding Iran,” Obama said, but he added Prime Minister Netanyahu has yet to present a better option.

“Without a deal,” Obama argued, “there would be no limits to Iran’s nuclear program and Iran could move close to a nuclear bomb. Without a deal, we risk even more war in the Middle East.”

Except that Netanyahu did offer an idea for a better deal — walk away from this one, don’t make more concessions, trust the fact that the Iranians need the sanctions lifted badly enough to agree to more useful terms.

Back in March, speaking only a 10-minutes walk away from where President Obama had his press conference Wednesday, Netanyahu said “Iran’s nuclear program can be rolled back well-beyond the current proposal by insisting on a better deal and keeping up the pressure on a very vulnerable regime, especially given the recent collapse in the price of oil.”

Netanyahu spoke mostly about strategy, not content, when he said, “Now, if Iran threatens to walk away from the table — and this often happens in a Persian bazaar — call their bluff. They’ll be back, because they need the deal a lot more than you do.”

“And by maintaining the pressure on Iran and on those who do business with Iran,” Netanyahu said to Obama, albeit indirectly—you have the power to make them need it even more.”

“My friends,” he said, “for over a year, we’ve been told that no deal is better than a bad deal. Well, this is a bad deal. It’s a very bad deal. We’re better off without it.”

The deal is a “historic chance to pursue a safer and more secure world,” Obama said at his news conference. “It represents an opportunity that may not come again in our lifetime.”

That’s not so much reality as salesmanship — the one-time chance sales pitch. But what was the upside of taking seriously Iran’s threat to walk away from the table unless… — when it was clear Iran was the side that’s aching for economic relief?

In addition to attacking Israel and its prime minister, Obama on Wednesday also attacked America’s friends and allies of many decades in the region, who are easily as terrified as the Israelis are of the possibility of a nuclear Iran.

A point to consider: since the 1950s, Israel has had enough nuclear weapons to eliminate every living thing between Afghanistan and Morocco, and yet no Arab country was feeling the urge to enter a nuclear arms race because they feared an imminent attack from the direction of Tel Aviv. But as soon as the Mullahs in Tehran began to arm themselves, everyone in the region starts preparing for a nuclear confrontation?

Does it say anything about what Arab leaders think about the sanity of the supreme leader and his merry revolutionary guards?

In May, Obama invited America’s Gulf allies to a meeting in Camp David, to calm them down. Evidently, they were hysterical, as they still are. The pro-Saudi London paper Asharq Al Awsat wrote an editorial on Wednesday headlined: “Iran nuclear deal opens the gates of evil in the Middle East.”

“Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states can only welcome the nuclear deal, which in itself is supposed to close the gates of evil that Iran had opened in the region,” the editorial concluded. “However, the real concern is that the deal will open other gates of evil, gates which Iran mastered knocking at for years even while Western sanctions were still in place.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/analysis-obama-defends-iran-jabbing-at-israel-and-suni-states-at-press-conference/2015/07/15/

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