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Posts Tagged ‘Prime Minister’

Obama’s Foreign Fiasco

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Originally published at Daniel Pipes.

It’s a privilege to be an American who works on foreign policy, as I have done since the late 1970s, participating in a small way in the grand project of finding my country’s place in the world. But now, under Barack Obama, decisions made in Washington have dramatically shrunk in importance. It’s unsettling and dismaying. And no longer a privilege.

Whether during the structured Cold War or the chaotic two decades that followed, America’s economic size, technological edge, military prowess, and basic decency meant that even in its inactivity, the U.S. government counted as much or more in world developments than any other state. Sniffles in Washington translated into influenza elsewhere.

Weak and largely indifferent presidents like Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton mattered despite themselves, for example in the Iranian revolution of 1978-79 or the Arab-Israeli conflict in the 1990s. Strong and active presidents like Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush had greater impact yet, speeding up the Soviet collapse or invading Afghanistan and Iraq.

But now, with Barack Obama, the United States has slid into shocking irrelevance in the Middle East, the world’s most turbulent region. Inconstancy, incompetence, and inaction have rendered the Obama administration impotent. In the foreign policy arena, Obama acts as though he would rather be the prime minister of Belgium, a small country that usually copies the decisions of its larger neighbors when casting votes at the United Nations or preening morally about distant troubles. Belgians naturally “lead from behind,” to use the famed phrase emanating from Obama’s White House.

Obama's 2009 speech in Cairo was a very long time ago.

Obama’s 2009 speech in Cairo was a very long time ago.

Qatar (with a national population of 225,000) has an arguably greater impact on current events than the 1,400-times-larger United States (population: 314 million). Note how Obama these days takes a back seat to the emirs of Doha: They take the lead supplying arms to the Libyan rebels, he follows. They actively help the rebels in Syria, he dithers. They provide billions to the new leadership in Egypt, he stumbles over himself. They unreservedly back Hamas in Gaza, he pursues delusions of an Israeli-Palestinian “peace process.” Toward this end, the U.S. secretary of state made six trips in four months to Israel and the Palestinian territories in pursuit of a diplomatic initiative that almost no one believes will end the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Doha, now more influential than Washington in the Middle East.

Doha, now more influential than Washington in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, the U.S. secretary of defense called Egyptian leader Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi 17 times in conversations lasting 60-90 minutes, yet failed in his pleas that Sisi desist from using force against the Muslim Brotherhood. More striking yet, Sisi apparently refused to take a phone call from Obama. The $1.5 billion in annual U.S. aid to Egypt suddenly looks paltry in comparison to the $12 billion from three Persian Gulf countries, with promises to make up for any Western cuts in aid. Both sides in Egypt’s deep political divide accuse Obama of favoring the other and execrate his name. As dozens of Coptic churches burned, he played six rounds of golf. Ironically, Egypt is where, four long years ago, Obama delivered a major speech repudiating George W. Bush policies with seeming triumph.

Obama’s ambitions lie elsewhere – in augmenting the role of government within the United States, as epitomized by Obamacare. Accordingly, he treats foreign policy as an afterthought, an unwelcome burden, and something to dispatch before returning to juicier matters. He oversees withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan with little concern for what follows. His unique foreign policy accomplishment, trumpeted ad nauseam, was the execution of Osama bin Laden.

So far, the price to American interests for Obama’s ineptitude has not been high. But that could change quickly. Most worrisome, Iran could soon achieve nuclear breakout and start to throw its newfound weight around, if not to deploy its brand-new weapons. The new regime in Egypt could revert to its earlier anti-Americanism and anti-Zionism; already, important elements in Egypt are calling for rejection of U.S. aid and termination of the peace treaty with Israel.

As an American who sees his country as a force for good, these developments are painful and scary. The world needs an active, thoughtful, and assertive United States. The historian Walter A. McDougall rightly states that “The creation of the United States of America is the central event of the past four hundred years” and its civilization “perturbs the trajectories of all other civilizations just by existing.” Well not so much perturbation these days; may the dismal present be brief in duration.

Erdogan: Israel Behind Egypt Coup

Wednesday, August 21st, 2013

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said Israel was behind last month’s military coup in Egypt.

Erdogan told a meeting of the provincial chairs of his ruling Justice and Development, or AKP, party that he has evidence that Israel was involved in the July 3 overthrow of Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi, the Turkish Hurriyet news service reported.

“Who is behind this? Israel. We have evidence,” the prime minister said, according to Hurriyet.

He cited as proof a statement by a French intellectual he identified as Jewish, who told the Israeli justice minister during a visit to France before Egypt’s 2011 elections, “The Muslim Brotherhood will not be in power even if they win the elections. Because democracy is not the ballot box,” Hurriyet reported.

The White House condemned Erdogan’s remarks.

“Suggesting that Israel is somehow responsible for recent events in Egypt is offensive, unsubstantiated and wrong,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters later Tuesday.

Turkey downgraded diplomatic ties with Israel and later expelled Israel’s ambassador following the Mavi Marmara flotilla incident in May 2010 that resulted in the deaths of nine Turkish nationals in a confrontation with Israeli Navy commandos. The ship was trying to evade Israel’s maritime blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu apologized to Erdogan in March for the incident, and representatives of the countries have met for reconciliation talks. The talks reportedly are held up over the amount of compensation that Israel is to pay to the families of the Turkish casualties and how the payments are to be characterized.

Israelis Should Avoid Visiting Turkey, Govt. Says

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

The Israeli government issued an unequivocal travel advisory on Monday warning Israelis to avoid visiting Turkey, a popular vacation destination for Israelis over the summer and during the upcoming Jewish holidays, Israel Hayom reported.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued its routine semi-annual travel warning, formulated by the office’s Counterterrorism Bureau, stating that all non-essential visits to Turkey “should be avoided.”

The threat issuing from Turkey is defined as an “ongoing potential threat,” a mid-level threat on the bureau’s five-level scale. Turkey is now on the same threat level as countries where jihadi terror cells are known to be operating, including Nigeria, Kenya and Azerbaijan.

The travel warning is for the upcoming Jewish holidays in September. So far, over the summer months of July and August, tens of thousands of Israelis have visited Turkey.

The Counterterrorism Bureau also recommended that Israelis avoid visiting the two countries with which Israel shares a border and a peace agreement: Egypt and Jordan. In those two countries, the threat facing Israelis was defined as a “basic concrete threat,” one level higher than the threat facing Israelis in Turkey. For Morocco, another popular destination for Israelis, an “ongoing potential threat” warning was issued.

Evidence that Morsi Actually Lost the Egyptian Presidency

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Just days after his apparent victory, Cynthia Farahat and I expressed our skepticism about the validity of these election returns:

SCAF exploits the Muslim Brotherhood and other proxies as its civilian fronts, a role they are happy to play, by permitting Islamists to garner an outsized percentage of the parliamentary vote, then to win the presidency. During the suspicious week-long delay before the presidential votes were announced, SCAF met with the Muslim Brotherhood’s real leader, Khairat El-Shater, and reached a deal whereby Morsi became president but SCAF still governs.

Earlier, we had doubted two earlier rounds of elections (see “Egypt’s Sham Election” and “Don’t Ignore Electoral Fraud in Egypt.”)

Though few analysts have embraced this version, there have been hints of it:

(1) On July 31, 2013, Josh Goodman and James Parks wrote in “Morsi Was Neither Democratically Nor Duly Elected” that

hailing Morsi as the democratically elected representative of the Egyptian people appears to be based on a rather loose understanding of “democracy.” The Brotherhood has been accused of bribing and intimidating voters and rigging ballots during the 2012 elections. The election suffered from abysmally poor voter turnout (43.4% of registered voters), which is especially troubling given the ostensibly historic nature of the race. Out of 23 million voters in the first round of elections, 12 million did not vote for either of the two candidates ultimately placed in the run-off vote. Capping this all off was a blatant power grab from the military, which changed the constitution mid-election to limit the power of the newly elected President.

(2) On Aug. 3, 2013, Gen. Abdel Fatah al-Sisi gave an interview in which he both denied having rigged Morsi’s election and (more interestingly) asserted that he could have done so had he wanted to.

Q: So you were giving the president advice on Ethiopia and the Sinai, for example, and he was ignoring you?

A: We were very keen and predetermined on his success. If we wanted to oppose or not allow them to come to rule Egypt, we would have done things with the elections, as elections used to be rigged in the past.

Now comes a testimonial from an un-named Egyptian official via the Israeli politician Yossi Beilin in “Morsi didn’t win the elections” that

Ahmed Shafiq, the former air force commander and former president Hosni Mubarak’s last prime minister, actually won the race by a narrow margin. But the army generals—wanting to ensure that law and order would be upheld following the elections—feared that if Morsi was defeated, the Muslim Brotherhood would refuse to recognize the results and would end up conducting themselves just as they are now.

The official results, 51.73 percent for Morsi and 48.27% for Shafiq, were almost the exact reversal of what actually happened at the polls. After the results were published, we barely heard any calls for protest or opposition among the secular-liberals, while on the religious side—loyal either to the Muslim Brotherhood or the Salafi parties—voters were happy with their achievement.

Beilin goes on to explain that military officers expected the inexperienced Morsi to respect the army but he did not. Gen. Abdul-Fattah al-Sisi came under pressure from fellow generals some months ago but Sisi gave Morsi a chance to make amends.

Shilling for Shalom: Israel Hiring Students to Defend It Online

Monday, August 19th, 2013

Israel is looking to hire university students to post pro-Israel messages on social media networks, while not identifying themselves as pros, officials in Jerusalem told the AP.

The prime minister’s office said that students on Israeli university campuses would receive full or partial scholarships to go after antisemitism and calls to boycott Israel online. The students would work off talking points provided by government officials.

“This is a groundbreaking project aimed at strengthening Israeli national diplomacy and adapting it to changes in information consumption,” the PM statement said.

An Israeli official said that scholarship recipients would decide for themselves if they wish to identify themselves as part of a government program.

“Everyone who believes in the cause, and wants to join, can join,” he told AP. The budget is expected to be around 3/4 million dollars, and the Israeli student association will be doing the hiring.

Murderer of Arabs Asks to Be Released with Palestinians

Monday, August 12th, 2013

Ami Popper, in Israeli jail for the murder of 7 Palestinian day workers in 1990, sent a letter to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu demanding to be set free, along with the rest of the Jewish security prisoners in jail today.

“Mr. Prime Minister, in recent years thousands of Palestinians with and without blood on their hands have been set free,” Popper wrote. And while they’re given an opportunity to continue or to start a new life outside the prison walls, they simply misuse this wonderful opportunity, repeat their terrible deeds and return to jail, knowing full well that their release will soon come.”

Popper noted that it was difficult for him to write the prime minister and to come to terms with his own terrible deed.

On May 20, 1990, Popper put on IDF uniform trousers he had stolen from his brother, then stole his brother’s assault rifle and five ammunition clips, and went to a bus stop where he asked men waiting for the bus in Rishon Letzion for their ID cards. After confirming that they were Arabs, he lined them up and opened fire, killing seven. Seven more Palestinians were killed by Israeli security forces during riots that erupted after the murder, and 700 were injured.

Popper, whose admittedly horrible acts are overmatched by the murders of Jews committed by some of the prisoners being released on Tuesday, asked Netanyahu to treat him and his fellow Jewish security prisoners equally and release them as well.

“Such a great act of releasing myself and my friends, would show the world the exulted qualities of the nation of Israel, merciful and children of merciful, giving a second chance not only to the enemy but to their own as well,” Popper wrote.

It should be noted that while the vast majority of Palestinian murderers slated to be let free have shown no remorse, Popper is contrite about his actions. He begs:

“Please, Mr. Prime Minister, receive my supplication and my regret and the outcry of my family, and give us a chance in this season, on the eve of Rosh Hashanah, which is intended for repent for the entire world.”

Considering the fact that Popper has served more than 20 years behind bars, his request seems at least as reasonable as that of the Palestinians.

Netanyahu Recovering from Hernia Operation

Sunday, August 11th, 2013

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is recovering from a hernia surgery he underwent late Saturday night.

Netanyahu was admitted to a Jerusalem hospital after complaining of abdominal pain.

The surgery took about an hour. Netanyahu is expected to be released on Sunday.

A Cabinet meeting planned for Sunday will be postponed.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is serving as caretaker prime minister.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/netanyahu-recovering-from-hernia-operation/2013/08/11/

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