web analytics
April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘presidential’

US Strategy: Stop Israel, Not Iran

Monday, May 21st, 2012

On Friday, the NY Times — which often speaks for the Obama Administration — published an article about the ongoing nuclear negotiations with Iran. There is a message between the lines, and it is not very well hidden. Here are a few excerpts with added emphasis, in case it isn’t obvious:

With signs that Iran is under more pressure than it has been in years to make a deal, senior Obama administration officials said the United States and five other major powers were prepared to offer a package of inducements to obtain a verifiable agreement to suspend its efforts to enrich uranium closer to weapons grade…

The major powers’ initial goal is to halt the activity that most alarms Israel: the spinning of thousands of centrifuges to enrich uranium to 20 percent purity, which is within striking distance of the level needed to fuel a nuclear weapon. That would buy time for negotiations…

For President Obama, the stakes are huge. A successful meeting could prolong the diplomatic dance with Tehran, delaying any possible military confrontation over the nuclear program until after the presidential election. It could also keep a lid on oil prices, which fell again this week in part because of the decrease in tensions. Lower gasoline prices would aid the economic recovery in the United States, and Mr. Obama’s electoral prospects…

On Tuesday, the American ambassador to Israel, Daniel B. Shapiro, sought to reassure an Israeli audience that the United States not only was willing to use military force to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but had made preparations to do so…

Analysts said it was hard to gauge what kinds of concessions from the Western nations, Russia and China would draw a positive response from Iran, beyond lifting the oil embargo. European officials have suggested that the European Union could suspend a ban on insuring oil tankers that has had a far swifter effect on Iran’s sales elsewhere in the world than originally intended.

There is a lot more, but that is more than enough. Is the message clear? If not, I’ll spell it out:

1. The immediate problem, in the view of the Obama Administration, is that Israel might attack Iran, causing a spike in gas prices in the US and hurting the President’s chances for re-election. The Iranian program itself is a longer-term issue.

2. Anything that can delay a confrontation is ‘good’. Negotiations can be used to stay Israel’s hand, not so much by holding out hope for a solution, but by undercutting support for Israel if she should attack while they are going on.

3. Any kind of agreement with the Iranians, whether or not it is tough enough to be effective, will also isolate Israel if she chooses to attack.

4. The strategy for obtaining agreement, rather than increasing pressure on Iran,  will be to “make concessions,” even reducing those sanctions which have proven effective. Since Iran and the administration have a common interest in preventing an attack, the administration can be hopeful that they will be ‘successful’.

Although the US has stressed that contingency plans for an American raid exist, the Iranians know that nothing short of a public test of a nuclear device could make it happen before the election (even that is uncertain). In the meantime, Iran hopes to push its program to the point that it will be immune to an Israeli attack. The regime is confident that it can stay behind the American red line after that, while still obtaining a capability to assemble weapons in a very short time frame.

Placing concessions on the table before serious negotiations even begin will be read as a sign of weakness. And the P5+1 (US, Britain, France, Russia, China, Germany) demands are below what Israel considers the minimum to guarantee that Iran will not get a weapon. For example, Israel wants the Fordow enrichment facility dismantled, while the P5+1 only asks for activities there to stop. And this is before the hard bargaining.

These negotiations will not enhance Israel’s security. Rather, they will do the opposite. They represent a strategy of appeasement rather than the use of power. What should happen is that the West should deliver a credible ultimatum to fully dismantle the program or face sharply increased sanctions — or, ultimately, military action. Instead, they have chosen to weaken sanctions and to try to remove the only real military threat!

Ahmadinejad, Putin Outline Prospects for Future Cooperation

Saturday, May 12th, 2012

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has congratulated Russian President Vladimir Putin on his victory in the presidential election, the Kremlin said in a statement on Saturday.

“During a telephone conversation, the two leaders outlined the prospects for future contacts,” the statement read.

According to the Kremlin, Putin and Ahmadinejad expressed readiness to help enhance cooperation between the two countries.

The Iranian news agency MNA reports that Tehran and Moscow have common views on many regional issues, including the crisis engulfing Syria.

The two countries have opposed foreign interference in Syria’s internal affairs and have disapproved of certain countries’ calls for military intervention in Syria.

Russia has also on several occasions expressed support for Iran’s nuclear program.

Elections Bring Egypt to the Edge of Abyss

Sunday, May 6th, 2012

About a year after the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, the crisis in Egypt has brought the country to the edge of abyss.

The political crisis escalated shortly after the Muslim Brotherhood decided to appoint its own candidate for presidency. This decision came after the Brotherhood, together with the Salafists, obtained an overwhelming majority in the Egyptian parliament.

Shortly after this decision it became clear that the Brotherhood and the Supreme Council for the Armed Forces (SCAF), which has governed Egypt since Mubarak’s fall, are not on the same page any more. Their differences involve key issues such as the drafting of a new constitution and the power of the Egyptian parliament.

In addition, negotiations regarding a much needed IMF loan ended without a deal because of lack of political support for acceptance of the IMF conditions.

Another complicating factor is the lack of progress in drafting the new constitution.

Tensions further increased after several presidential candidates, including Khairat al-Shater, the Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, and Salafist leader Abu Ishmail, were disqualified as presidential candidates.

The disqualified candidates appealed against the decision of the supervisory body of Egypt’s election committee, but their appeals were dismissed. The Muslim Brotherhood then simply appointed a new candidate: Mohammed Mursi, the leader of the Freedom and Justice Party.

Last Wednesday unknown assailants shot dead 11 Salafist protesters in Cairo’s Abbaseya neighborhood. The Salafist protesters demonstrated against the disqualification of Abu Ishmail.

On Friday new clashes broke out in the same neighborhood prompting the army to impose a curfew. Most Egyptian media accused the SCAF of being behind the bloodbath in Abbaseya.

Several political parties, among them the Muslim Brotherhood Freedom and Justice Party, announced new demonstrations in Tahrir Square and decided to boycott meetings with the SCAF.

Constitution

As a result of the increasing violence it seems all but sure that the presidential election, which starts May 24-25, will take place as scheduled.

To complicate matters, Islamists and liberals are demanding that there should first be an agreement on the new constitution before the presidential elections can take place.

The Islamists, who have a large majority in parliament, want to use the new constitution to minimize the power of the new president, and to increase of the power of the Egyptian parliament.

The SCAF recently decided to dissolve the parliamentary committee that was in charge of drafting a new constitution. This decision was made after a disagreement over the composition of the council, which consisted mainly of Islamists, whereas liberals, Copts and women were under-represented.

The SCAF in turn had its own reasons for dissolving the Constitutional Council. In this way it is trying to influence the drafting of the new constitution and the scope of presidential power.

Transfer of power

Both liberals and Islamists fear that the Army will not really transfer all its power to the democratically elected parliament and president.

This distrust is also evident from the recent demonstrations that call for the resignation of the SCAF. During these demonstrations the protesters also demanded that Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi resigns and even called for his execution.

On April 13 for example, Islamists held a mass demonstration in Tahrir Square against members of the Mubarak era, meaning SCAF officials and the now disqualified presidential hopeful Omar Suleiman.

The protesters shouted that the people “will force the Field Marshal (Tantawi) to resign” and that “the remnants of the old regime should be removed.”

Suleiman

Omar Suleiman is the former vice president and director of Egypt’s intelligence service (Muchabarat), who recently signed up as a candidate for the presidency.

Suleiman is considered to be a henchman of Mubarak, and was accused of being an ‘Israeli agent’. He and Mubarak were pictured on placards together with a Star of David.

In turn, in an interview with the Egyptian newspaper Al-Youm Al-Saba’a Suleiman accused Israel of trying to look for reasons to reconquer the Sinai desert.

Disqualification

The April 14th decision by the Election Committee of the Supreme Court to disqualify a large number of presidential candidates has significantly aggravated tensions.

Omar Suleiman was disqualified because he did not have enough signatures from supporters (according to Egyptian law, a presidential candidate must have at least 30,000 signatures).

The Salafist Abu Ismail (al-Nour party) was rejected because his mother was a U.S. citizen (according to Egyptian law, the presidential candidate, his parents and his spouse should all hold Egyptian nationality).

The Muslim Brotherhood’s candidate, Al-Shater, was disqualified because he supposedly had a criminal past.

The disqualifications came at a time when Egypt was already struggling with severe tensions between the various political and religious groups.

The Salafist leader Abu Ishmail even predicted an Islamic revolution if the decision to disqualify him was not reversed.

Economy

Besides the political crisis, there is Egypt’s economic mayhem which has brought the country to the brink of disaster.

President Obama Declares Jewish American Heritage Month

Wednesday, May 2nd, 2012

US President Barack Obama on Tuesday declared May “Jewish American Heritage Month”.

In a ceremony kicking off the month, the president praised Jewish Americans for bearing “hardship and hostility” with the “deep conviction that a better future was within their reach”.

He also noted the achievements and national contribution of Jewish Americans such as Supreme Court Jusice Louis Brandeis, physicist Albert Einstein, and writer and art collector Gertrude Stein.

“Our country is stronger for their contributions, and this month we commemorate the myriad ways they have enriched the American experience,” Obama said.

The first Jewish American Heritage Month occurred during the presidential term of George W. Bush.  It was introduced by Jewish Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D- FL) and passed in December 2005.

In Washington DC, events for Jewish American Heritage Month will take place at the Library of Congress, National Archives, National Gallery of Art, and the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.  Events will also take place in various locations throughout the United States.

Investigation: Non-Kosher Meat Served at President’s Independence Day Event

Monday, April 30th, 2012

The Daily Ma’ariv has published an Exposé of a major faux pas that allegedly took place during Independence Day celebrations at the presidential residence in Jerusalem. According to testimonies that reached the paper, the company Pri Ha’Aretz (Fruit of the Land) was forced to purchase a large quantity of meat on Thursday morning, Independence Day, to replace meat that had spoiled. A company representative rushed to a non-kosher butcher shop in the Arab village of Abu Gosh, and after purchasing the meat had it prepared in a local non-kosher restaurant.

The Ma’ariv investigation revealed the that the purchase was made at the Issawi butcher shop, which is open on Shabbat and also sells sea food.

The catering company admitted that the kosher meat for the presidential event had spoiled, but it told Ma’ariv that the substitute meat came from Kibbutz Givat Chayim Me’uchad, and therefore all the meat served was kosher.

But the president’s residence launched its own investigation following the call from Ma’ariv, and Jwadat Ibrahim, owner of the Abu Gosh restaurant and a close personal friend of President Peres, told the paper that on Thursday a man arrived in his establishment with meat and a receipt from a non-kosher butcher shop in the village, and asked to use the kitchen to cater the event scheduled for later that day.

“He asked my permission to cook a large quantity of hen’s meat shawarma (mixed meats on a spit), 80 kilogram (close to 180 lbs). He said he came from a catering company and added explicitly that he needed it for a 500-guest event at the presidential residence.”

The event was in honor of 120 outstanding soldiers and included Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, senior cabinet ministers, Knesset members and the soldiers’ families.

So far, the catering company has made several contradictory claims in response to an inquiry from Ma’ariv as well as the president’s residence. It first denied there had been a purchase made in Abu Gosh, then said the purchase had been made for a different event, and finally that a company employee had gone out to Abu Gosh but returned empty handed.

The paper pointed out that the catering was under the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate which kosher-certified the food on Independence day and posted a kashrut supervisor inside the presidential kitchen throughout the event.

A spokesperson for the presidential residence said that legal action will be taken if it turns out that the caterer acted fraudulently.

Sarkozy in Neck and Neck Fight with Socialist Challenger

Friday, April 20th, 2012

A sluggish economy and a rising popular hostility to conservative President Nicolas  Sarkozy’s “American” style do not bode well for the French incumbent in the coming Sunday vote. Add to that the grim international view of France’s ability to manage its debt, and it is clear that Sarkozy is in the uphill battle of his political career.

Sarkozy and his Socialist challenger, Francois Hollande, are virtually tied in opinion polls for the first presidential vote round, at about 27-28 percent respectively. But to get the highest office, a candidate must collect more than 50% of the votes, and in the second round Hollande is expected to draw a far greater percentage of the rest of the voters.

Both Sarkozy and Hollande have been pandering to the extreme right and left, respectively, and accused of offering few concrete solutions to France’s economic woes. Sarkozy is pushing an antiquated brand of protectionism in a global economy, while Hollande is promising an increase to 75% in the tax rate for earners of more than 1 million euros ($1.31 million) a year. Neither solution has had much of a track record in rescuing ailing economies.

All Three Major Contenders Disqualified in Egyptian Presidential Race

Sunday, April 15th, 2012

Al Ahram reports that the Supreme Presidential Electoral Commission (SPEC) on Saturday disqualified 10 contenders from Egypt’s anticipated presidential elections, including Salafist Hazem Salah Abu-Ismail, former Intelligence boss Omar Suleiman and Muslim Brotherhood financial genius Khairat El-Shater.

The body of judges, appointed by the current Egyptian military junta, SCAF (Supreme Council of the Armed Forces), has announced that it “thoroughly checked all applicants’ files and looked into the complaints lodged against them” before deciding their fate.

Apparently, Abu-Ismail was removed from the list of contenders because his mother holds a US citizenship. In Suleiman’s case it was his application, which did not include signatures from at least 15 governorates. And El-Shater was disqualified because of the time he spent in prison for being a Muslim Brother – even though he had received a pardon from SCAF, the same body which appointed the SPEC.

Santorum Quits

Wednesday, April 11th, 2012

Former Senator Rick Santorum, who was trailing Candidate Mitt Romney in delegates and had very little hope of catching up to him in the race for the GOP nomination, announced Tuesday that he was quitting.

This is a victory to the Republican establishment, as Santorum represented the conservative—some say principled—wing of the party.

“We made a decision over the weekend that while this presidential race for us is over, for me, and we will suspend our campaign today, we are not done fighting,” Santorum said, while his wife and close staff were looking on tearfully. “This game is a long, long, long way from over.”

He did not mention Mitt Romney.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/santorum-quits/2012/04/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: