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October 26, 2016 / 24 Tishri, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Syria’

IAEC Director: Middle East Instability Worsened By Non-State Actors Supported by Syria, Iran

Wednesday, September 28th, 2016

IAEC Director Ze’ev Senir told participants at the 60th General Conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency on Wednesday that the challenge of nuclear security is of “paramount significance” to Israel “due to the somber reality in the Middle East.”

Senir underlined Israel’s hope that her Arab neighbors, as well as other countries around the world, will begin to collaborate in the effort to combat “nuclear terrorism.”

He emphasized that Israel “continues to follow IAEA guidance regarding the security of nuclear facilities and the protection of nuclear materials. Israel enforces regulations in line with the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material (CPPNM) and its amendment.”

Israel has even submitted a report on its national legislative implementation of the Convention, he said. “Israel upholds the highest standard of physical protection measures in its nuclear centers. Advanced security means and procedures are employed in domestic and international transport, as well as import and export processes. Such measures are undertaken in accordance with Israel’s international obligations, and in accordance with our national legislation.”

But for all of that, he said, Israel cannot control the threat of nuclear terrorism beyond her borders — in particular, the current threat to the north.

“Instability in the Middle East has recently been worsened by the presence, and violent activity of non-state actors, supported and funded by countries such as Syria and Iran.

“The access of non-state actors to materials which may be used for non-conventional weapons, combined with the motivation to conduct large-scale acts of violence, present a clear and undeniable threat to global nuclear security,” he said.

“As head of the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, I call upon my Arabb colleagues to join forces in professionally addressing this severe challenge.”

Senir also raised the ongoing issue of the existential threat posed by Iran.

“When discussing the instability of our region, we cannot overlook the ongoing concerns regarding Iran’s nuclear program.

“Despite the recent agreement, Iran continues to be a destabilizing force in the Middle East. Its support of terrorist groups and its long-range ballistic missile programs present a real and increasing threat.

“At the same time, we must address Iran’s blatant concealment and duplicity, as demonstrated in their well-known weaponization activities.

“Iran’s commitment to the JCPOA must be evaluation with a long-term perspective, which must include its adherence to its international obligations, as well as transparency in its actions.

“I remind you that in its recent words and deeds, Iran continues to threaten Israel directly and via proxy organizations, such as Hezsbbollah.”

Hana Levi Julian

Setting the Record Straight: Clinton Bears Partial Responsibility for ISIS

Tuesday, September 27th, 2016

During Monday night’s presidential debate, Candidate Trump accused Secretary Clinton and President Obama of bearing the responsibility for the creation of the Caliphate, a.k.a. the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS). Trump charged: “President Obama and Secretary Clinton created a vacuum the way they got out of Iraq, because they got out — […] they shouldn’t have been in, but once they got in, the way they got out was a disaster. And ISIS was formed.” Trump suggested that ISIS “wouldn’t have even been formed if they left some troops behind, like 10,000 or maybe something more than that. And then you wouldn’t have had them.”

Clinton responded: “I hope the fact-checkers are turning up the volume and really working hard.” She explained that “George W. Bush made the agreement about when American troops would leave Iraq, not Barack Obama. And the only way that American troops could have stayed in Iraq is to get an agreement from the then-Iraqi government that would have protected our troops, and the Iraqi government would not give that.”

Without taking sides, there is something to what Trump is saying. The fact checkers on Politico found his statement attributing the responsibility to Obama to be wrong, since, as they put it, “ISIS formed as Al Qaeda in Iraq in 2004, before Hillary Clinton became secretary of state and Barack Obama became president, and long before the US began drawing down troops in Iraq.” But the fact is that the core of both Al Qaeda in Iraq and its splinter group ISIS that became much bigger and better organized than the original franchise, were Sunni Baath Party members who lost their government and military positions once the Americans had occupied Iraq and handed the national rule to the Shiite majority.

As Reuters reported in 2015, the rising Islamic State, with the help of former Saddam Hussein military officers, out-muscled the Sunni-dominated Baath Party troops which had been fighting a guerilla war against US troops in Fallujah and elsewhere, and absorbed thousands of them. The new recruits joined Saddam-era officers who already held key posts in the Islamic State.

It’s safe to say that President GW Bush, by invading Iraq and then sending hundreds of thousands of Saddam loyalists to the unemployment lines instead of incorporating them into the new, semi-democratic Iraq, created ISIS. The creation of the Taliban and later Al Qaeda, by the way, can be largely attributed to President Reagan, whose CIA recruited and trained the Arab Mujahideen insurgent groups who fought against the Soviet Army in Afghanistan. Those same highly trained, largely Saudi troops were later galvanized into a disciplined and effective force in Bosnia, Somalia and Chechnya.

So the bulk of the blame rests with the second Bush administration, which altered the Middle East forever. Incidentally, despite the citation of a lone radio interview with shock jock Howard Stern, in which Trump made a noncommittal, off the cuff comment supporting the Iraq invasion, he clearly has been one of the earlier voices against the American presence in Iraq, while Senator Clinton with her vote actually handed President Bush the keys to start the war. She says she and fellow Democrats had been duped by Bush, who promised not to use the war powers they gave him, but some in the Senate (Sen. Obama, for one) did not fall for it.

But the most devastating point was made by Secretary Clinton when she said the Obama Administration had no choice but to pull out of Iraq, because the Shiite government, practically operating on instructions from Tehran, wouldn’t agree to let them stay. Seriously? Had President Obama actually insisted on staying he couldn’t have come up with ways to persuade the Iraqis?

The fact was Obama had promised his voters to pull the military out of Iraq by the appointed time. He did not begin the withdrawal of troops, GW Bush did, starting in 2007. But it must be noted that the last US troops left Iraq on 18 December 2011, just in time for the first Democratic primary in Iowa. They left behind a Sunni-owned Fallujah where only the US military had been able to maintain a semblance of law and order, with a combination of raids and bribes. As soon as the declared date for withdrawal had arrived, those same former Saddam loyalists who had been transformed several times over the previous decade, were ready for their current reincarnation as ISIS.

Many, including several US senators, most notably John McCain and Lindsey Graham, begged for a contingency of troops to stay, just in case things went south in Fallujah. They urged Obama to sell the idea, with a measure of force if necessary, to Prime Minster Nouri al-Maliki. But as Iraq analyst Kirk Sowell told NPR in 2015, Obama never really tried. “This is one of the criticisms of Obama — that he sort of wanted the negotiations to fail,” Sowell said, “and, so, he didn’t even talk to Maliki until it was basically all over.”

To complete this fact check: the Obama-Clinton Administration did not start the complex and incredibly expensive process that led to the creation of ISIS, but there’s no doubt they could have stopped it with a comparatively low investment of troops and funds.

Advantage Trump.


Massacre in Aleppo As Syrian War Escalates After Collapse of Ceasefire

Sunday, September 25th, 2016

An existential battle raged Saturday night between government troops and opposition forces for control over the Handarat Arab refugee camp on the northern outskirts of the Syian city of Aleppo.

Regime loyalist troops and its allies seized control over the camp on Saturday, according to Reuters journalist Tom Perry, but opposition forces counter attacked at nightfall.

More than 250,000 residents are still trapped in besieged east Aleppo, a rebel stronghold. The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said the battle that began Thursday was still ongoing late Saturday night.

Hundreds of thousands of Syrians have died since the start of the war in March 2011, and approximately 11 million others have been driven from their homes. A fragile ceasefire worked out two weeks ago between the United States and Russia lasted barely a week. Syria’s regime forces announced an end to the truce nearly simultaneously with a ferocious attack on a United Nations humanitarian aid convoy that was to be allowed to deliver desperately needed food and medical supplies to east Aleppo last week. At least 20 civilians, including a Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) medical staff worker, were killed in the assault for which neither side has been willing to take responsibility.

But that attack unleashed a storm of fury at the United Nations and among humanitarian agencies, not least of which included those that were attacked. In a statement released last week following the massacre, the SARC and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said they were “outraged by [the] horrific attack on a SARC warehouse and an aid convoy in Orem Al Kubra in rural Aleppo…. The attack deprives thousands of civilians of much-needed food and medical assistance. We’re totally devastated by the deaths of so many people, including one of our colleagues, the director of our sub-branch, Omar Barakat.

“Syria is one of the most dangerous conflicts for humanitarian workers in the world. During the past six years, 54 staff and volunteers of SARC have lost their lives whilst carrying out their duties.”

According to a UN official quoted by the Associated Press, nearly two million people in the northern part of Aleppo are currently without running water; the pumps were destroyed in one of the air strikes.

A report by the AFP news agency described scenes in eastern Aleppo of “pools of blood and shredded bodies on the streets” and said the city has been “reduced to an apocalyptic battlefront.”

At least 100, possibly more civilians, including women and children, were killed and hundreds more injured in intensive air strikes that are being described by international reporters across the board as a massacre. Photographic tweets showing the result of the air strikes have been deemed too graphic for our readership and so are not included here.

Some 200 air strikes have pounded the city since Friday, according to the Syria Civil Defense volunteer emergency medical group. At least five members of the group, also called the White Helmets, were injured in one of the air strikes, according to CNN. One is in critical condition.

A spokesperson for United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon warned Saturday that the use of bunker-buster bombs, incendiary weapons and the intensive air strikes that had taken place in densely populated areas such as Aleppo may amount to war crimes.

“The secretary-general is appalled by the chilling military escalation in the city of Aleppo, which is facing the most sustained and intense bombardment since the start of the Syrian conflict,” the statement said. “The secretary-general considers this a dark day for the global commitment to protect civilians,” Ban’s spokesperson said.

Hana Levi Julian

Report from Syria: Rebel Syrian Forces Claim They Will Return Eli Cohen’s Body to Israel

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

In a shocking report this evening, Channel 2 TV news and Walla are quoting serious Arab news sources in Lebanon, that Syrian Rebel forces announced they would be returning the body of Eli Cohen to Israel.

Eli Cohen, known as “Our Man in Damascus”, is one of the most well known Israeli spies. He was captured and killed in 1965.

After successfully infiltrating Syria’s Defense Ministry (1961-1965) he was discovered by Syria and publicly executed by hanging in Damascus in 1965 where he was buried.

Days ago, never before seen video footage of his execution was distributed on social media and the news that Syrian rebels are now offering to give his remains to Israel is extraordinary.

Let’s hope it’s true.


UN Security Council Meets in Fiery Session on Syria

Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon opened an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council with a speech that scolded all member states, saying the humanitarian crisis in Syria “shames us all.”

The sluggish response of the international body and its inability to resolve the five year-long crisis that has left nearly half a million Syrians dead “should haunt every member of this Council,” he said. Ban finished off the tongue-lashing by saying, “We are at a make-or-break moment.”

New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, chairing the session in his final month as rotating president of the Security Council, also wasn’t gentle with his words, calling the Syrian civil war the “most devastating conflict of the 21st century” and saying the nation had become a “byword for failure.”

In particular, Key said, UN member states had failed “to put peace, and the lives of innocent people ahead of self-interest and zero-sum politics,” according to Stuff.

At the end of the day, he said, “Syrians must reach agreement on their future government. But at this point it is clear that Syrians by themselves cannot end this war.” He added that a UN resolution had already set out the required steps and established a timeline but that it had never been implemented.

“The next few days will be critical in restoring the cessation of hostilities and getting humanitarian aid flowing. We urge the Syrian parties to abide by the arrangement. This Council should unite to back those efforts… And it must provide more than just cosmetic change with regard to the central question of President [Bashar] Assad’s future.”

Hana Levi Julian


Wednesday, September 21st, 2016

Video of the Day

Obama: Israel Recognizes It Cannot Settle Palestinian Land

Tuesday, September 20th, 2016

U.S. President Barack Obama offered one-line solutions to nations around the world Tuesday during his speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

Speaking of the decades-old dispute between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that evaded even Obama’s two-term attempts at peace-making, the American president offered this view:

“Surely Israelis and Palestinians will be better off if Palestinians reject incitement and recognize the legitimacy of Israel, but Israel recognizes that it cannot permanently occupy and settle Palestinian land.”

He had a lot to say about events in the Middle East in general:

“Just as force alone cannot impose order internationally, I believe in my core that repression cannot forge the social cohesion for nations to succeed.  The history of the last two decades proves that in today’s world, dictatorships are unstable.  The strongmen of today become the spark of revolution tomorrow.  You can jail your opponents but you can’t imprison ideas. You can try to control access to information but you cannot turn a lie into truth.”

He also had a great deal to say specifically about Syria, about the formation and evolution of Da’esh (ISIS) and the issue of radical Islamist terror, which he continued to refuse to label as such.

“We know that ISIL … depends on perpetual war to survive … Part of our job together is to work to reject such extremism that infects too many of our young people. Part of that effort must be a continued rejection by Muslims, of those who distort Islam, to preach intolerance and promote violence. It must also involve a rejection by non-Muslims of the ignorance that equates Islam with terror. This work will take time. There are no easy answers to Syria.”

Ultimately, he said, nations need to work together to prevent mass killings and torture.

“We also have to recognize that we must work more effectively in the future as an international community, to build capacity for states that are in distress, before they collapse.

“That’s why we should celebrate the fact that later today the United States will join with more than 50 countries to enlist new capabilities, infantry, intelligence, helicopters, hospitals, and tens of thousands of troops to strengthen United Nations peacekeepers.

These new capabilities can prevent mass killings and ensure that peace agreements are more than words on paper. But we have to do it together…. to establish security where order has broken down, and to support those who seek a just and lasting peace.”

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/obama-israel-recognizes-it-cannot-settle-palestinian-land/2016/09/20/

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