web analytics
November 24, 2014 / 2 Kislev, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘U.S. State Department’

UN Handing Assad $519M in ‘Humanitarian Aid’

Monday, January 21st, 2013

There’s no doubt about it, with grinding poverty and homelessness, medical needs soaring and the sheer cost of having to bury tens of thousands of people who’ve been slaughtered make Syria an obvious candidate for humanitarian aid.

But.

Does it really make sense to transfer more than $519,000,000 worth of international aid to Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, when nearly every major world leader has predicted the imminent dismemberment of the Assad regime, if not the man himself?

Assad’s own mother has fled the country, following his sister Bushra who moved to Dubai, according to news reports.  They do not intend to return anytime soon, as Bushra has already enrolled her five children in a Dubai school. Bushra’s husband was killed in a bombing raid on July 18.  Since the fighting began, more than 600,000 Syrians have fled the country, many of the wealthy emigrating to Dubai.

If your only point of reference is the January 19 UN document explaining the rationale for the transfer to Syria of more than $500,000,000, you would be hard pressed to understand exactly what is happening in that country that has caused the huge increase in need for humanitarian aid.  The deaths of more than 60,000 in less than two years, which most people call the Syrian Civil War, are instead referred to in UN-speak as “the events in Syria since March, 2011,” or, sometimes, as “the current events.”

According to the United Nation’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNOCHA), the Humanitarian Assistance Response Plan for Syria contemplates the transfer of $519,627,047 to cover the period of January 1, 2013 to the end of June, 2013. The reason for this new assistance plan is that the “indirect effects of the current events threaten a second major category of Syrians due to multiple effects of the current events.”  These include:

primarily: the aggravation of poverty; damage to housing and infrastructure including water and power utilities, schools, medical and other social service facilities, industrial and agricultural infrastructure (including fertilizer production and pharmaceutical industry); shortages of fuels, which affect the whole economy, including electricity and water supplies as well as transportation; disruptions to telecommunications; a rapid shrinkage of the private sector and most importantly the informal sector that employs a large proportion of the population leading to livelihood losses and rising unemployment, including in industry, agriculture and tourism; unsafe movement on major routes in the country and across borders is hindering internal and external transit and trade and inflating prices; the rising costs of imports due to devaluation of the local currency.

Oh, and the UN report also points out – by name – that “economic sanctions is further aggravating the situation.”

Incredibly, the report states that it “aims at supporting the Government of Syria’s [that's the Assad regime] efforts in providing humanitarian assistance to the affected populations.”  Most people in Syria believe it is the Assad regime that has created the huge increase in need for humanitarian assistance.

In addition to desperately needed food, medicine and medical equipment, and “appropriate emergency services,” the UN Plan has as one of its four objectives: “Support the government in the rehabilitation and reconstruction of critical infrastructure and vital public services affected by the current events through rapid repairs.”

Does it really make sense to hand over money to make rapid repairs to the infrastructure of a country that is in the process of blowing itself to bits?  Just last week two bombs exploded at the University of Aleppo, killing nearly 100 students, wounding dozens more and destroying several buildings.  The State Department condemned the despicable attack, laying the blame squarely on the Syrian regime.

And yet, the UN is planning on dispatching to Assad more than $500,000,000, to use either as bribes or perhaps for more weapons, or perhaps for humanitarian needs, but surely not for those who oppose the regime. But, in true Middle Eastern form, the need to bestow dignity and honor, even when it is ludicrous to do so, is employed by the UN.  The money is being handed over to the Assad regime.

All humanitarian assistance is, and will continue to be, delivered with full respect to the sovereignty of the Syrian Arab Republic during the implementation of this Response Plan.  Decisions on strategic or logistical issues including field office locations should be done after formal consultations with the government in order to receive the clearance and accreditation.

With all due respect, that’s nuts.

New ‘Judea and Samaria’ Passport Stamp Drives Arabs and the AP Nuts

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

In what appears to be a recent change of events, the passports of non-Israelis who enter the areas of Judea and Samaria are now being stamped with “Judea & Samaria Only” “visitors permit,” whereas until fairly recently those passports were stamped with “Palestinian Authority Only” stamps.

There has been a hysterical response to this by such anti-Israel activists as Ali Abunimah, the founder and editor of the “Electronic Intifada,” an online media outlet dedicated to attacking Israel, the “Zionist entity.”

It would not be such a big deal if it were only the virulently anti-Israel fringe who read the Electronic Intifada who complained about the change.  But, incredibly, the issue has now been taken up by international media outlets such as the Associated Press who have been badgering the spokesperson for the U.S. State Department about the change.

During the press conference on Tuesday, December 4, the AP’s State Department correspondent Matt Lee repeatedly badgered Deputy State Department Spokesperson Mark C. Toner about the matter.  Lee parroted Abunimah’s over-the-top characterization of the stamp, and demanded to know what the U.S. is going to do about Israel’s “creeping annexation” over what he insisted Toner acknowledge was “occupied territory.”

The reporter compared what he considered to be a lackluster response to the concern expressed by the U.S. when the Chinese government began issuing passports in which maps showed Chinese ownership over disputed maritime territory.  Toner resisted the comparison, but ultimately relented and assured the AP reporter that he would “look into it,” and then “report back.”

The source of the concern, the Electronic Intifada, is so hostile to Israel that it describes the change in Israeli stamp policy in this way:

‘Judea and Samaria’ is the Jewish nationalist name Israel gives to the occupied West Bank to reinforce its bogus claims to the territory and to give them a veneer of historical and religious legitimacy.

The latest change is further proof, if it were needed, that Israel is, without announcing it, implementing a racist one-state solution where there is no such thing as a Palestinian state and even the ‘Palestinian Authority’ has been erased.

Of course, Judea and Samaria (Yehuda and Shomron in Hebrew) are the terms which have been used to refer to these areas throughout history.   It has only been since the 1960′s that the term “West Bank” began to be used to refer to that area.

Here is the full exchange at the State Dept. briefing on Tuesday, December 4, 2012:

QUESTION: The Israeli Interior Ministry today announced that they’re also – they approved, or they are about to build 1,600 units. It’s the Ramat Shlomo settlement. It was actually launched during the Vice President’s visit to Jerusalem back in 2010 and you guys stopped it. Today, they – so do you have a comment on that?

Mark C. Toner, Deputy Department Spokesman: Well, you won’t be surprised if – I’d just refer you to our statement yesterday, which is that these kinds of actions are unproductive and don’t help get the parties back to the negotiating table, which is our ultimate goal.

QUESTION: Okay, but this seems to be like a daily event now. We might expect tomorrow there’s going to be another settlement and so on, and you will continue to refer to your statement of the day before yesterday?

MR. TONER: Well, our position – as we said, we made it very clear yesterday in our statement, but our position has not changed, and we continue to convey that to the Israeli Government.

QUESTION: Okay. So you have no intention of, let’s say, following suit with the – with your –

MR. TONER: Said, we see you –

QUESTION: – allies, Australia, and others to call the Israeli ambassador and tell him that in person?

MR. TONER: Well, Said, we’re in almost – well, we are in daily contact with the Israeli Government through our mission in Israel, and we’re going to convey what we’ve – privately as well as what we’ve conveyed publicly.

QUESTION: I have one last question on – if you indulge me – on the West Bank. The Israelis now are stamping visitors’ passports, American visitors and others, when they enter the West Bank as Judea and Samaria. Are you concerned about that? Did you express your concern to the Israelis?

How Not to Keep Israel from Bombing Iran

Wednesday, September 12th, 2012

There are no deadlines:

The U.S. is “not setting deadlines” for Iran and still considers negotiations to be “by far the best approach” to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told Bloomberg in an interview published Monday.

Speaking to Bloomberg Radio on Sunday after the conclusion of meetings at an Asia-Pacific forum in Vladivostok, Russia, Clinton said that economic sanctions are affecting Iran and the U.S. is “watching very carefully about what [the Iranians] do, because it’s always been more about their actions than their words.”

And there are no red ones either, according to State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland yesterday:

QUESTION: Toria, your closest ally in the Middle East, Israel, is quite upset with a interview that the Secretary gave, particularly when she was asked about redlines or deadlines for Iran’s nuclear program. Do you have positions or levels in Iran’s nuclear enrichment that you consider unacceptable and that would force some sort of change to the current stalemate, let’s say?

MS. NULAND: Well, as we have been saying for many months, and as was clear when the Secretary was in Jerusalem earlier this summer, we have extensive and ongoing contacts with our close ally Israel to discuss the full range of security issues, but obviously to compare notes on the challenge posed by Iran, and we will continue to do that…

QUESTION: Well it’s a very – will you agree that it’s – are you – is there a specific policy of being – of constructive ambiguity here? Because, I mean, not allow Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon means many different things to many different people. As you know, the Israelis have one definition of what it means to have a nuclear weapon, and maybe you have another one. So could you provide any –

MS. NULAND: Among the many reasons, Elise, why these consultations with Israel need to be constant, they need to be detailed, they need to be private. …

So we are absolutely firm about the President’s commitment here, but it is not useful to be parsing it, to be setting deadlines one way or the other, redlines. It is most important that we stay intensely focused on the pressure on Iran, the opportunity for Iran to fix this situation through the diplomacy that we’ve offered, and intensive consultations with Israel and all the other regional states, as we are doing.

Nuland seems to be trying to suggest that there is more going on under the surface with Israel, but Israel Hayom quoted “senior diplomatic sources in Jerusalem” saying that,

Hillary Clinton is speeding up the Iranian centrifuges with her erroneous public comments … Without a clear red line, Iran will not halt its race for nuclear weapons.  … not only do Clinton’s comments not deter Iran, they actually appease it.

So to recap: there are sanctions, but Iran’s 20 biggest trading partners have exemptions. Iran still refuses to let IAEA inspectors into its test site at Parchin, where it appears that experiments related to weaponization have been carried out. The I.A.E.A. also reports that Iran is carrying out computer simulations of the destructive power of nuclear warheads. Iran continues to add centrifuges to bolster its enrichment capabilities.

But the U.S. is not prepared to issue an ultimatum. It will go no further than to repeat that “we will not allow Iran to get a nuclear weapon,” but it will not say — publicly or to Israel — how far it will allow Iran to go.

The Iranians understand this to mean that they can keep on doing what they are doing, which is putting all the pieces in place to sprint to the finish line when they choose to do so. It’s by no means clear that we will know when this is about to happen, or that we will be able to act quickly enough to stop it, even if we do know. It is also generally accepted that the ability of Israel by itself to prevent Iran from building a weapon is eroding with time.

The U.S. has the power to issue a credible threat to destroy Iran’s nuclear capability, as well as a great deal of its military assets — missiles, air defense systems, etc. Such a threat would most likely cause Iran to pull back and would not actually have to be carried out.

By not doing this, the administration leaves Israel with only one option, which is to try to destroy or delay Iran’s program itself. While an American threat carries the risk that the Iranians will call our bluff and provoke a conflict, an Israeli attack guarantees one.

Incidentally, it should be mentioned that the former Israeli security officials like Meir Dagan who are opposed to an Israeli attack in the near term do not believe that Iran should be allowed to get nuclear bombs. They simply disagree with the PM and Defense Minister aboutwhen there will be no other way to stop Iran. If the US persists in allowing Iran to proceed, then even Meir Dagan’s red line will be crossed.

If the administration wants to prevent an Israeli attack on Iran, it has a strange way of showing it!

No Red Lines: The Prime Minister Strikes Back

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

Yesterday, I wrote about Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s rejection of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s sound call for the U.S. and the international community to delineate “clear red lines” for Iran.

(On the same day that Netanyahu told the Canadian Broadcasting Channel that the U.S. and Israel were discussing “red lines,” Clinton gave her own interview saying that the U.S. would not be setting such “deadlines”).

As I explained, Netanyahu’s repeated calls for “clear red lines” are Netanyahu’s way of begging the U.S. to do something which will enable Israel to avoid having to go it alone in striking Iran, something the U.S. has made it publicly known that it opposes. But the U.S. has rejected this too.

Tם add to Israel’s embarrassment, State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland reiterated yesterday the Secretary of State’s rejection of Israel’s demand for a “deadline,” saying that “it is not useful to be parsing it, to be setting deadlines one way or the other, red lines.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu responded to the U.S. position today in a press conference with reporters in Jerusalem with the Prime Minister of Bulgaria Boyko Metodiev Borisov.

Here is the Prime Minister in his own words – responding to a reporter’s question about the State Department’s position:

“I will answer your question in English as you are asking me a question that many in the world are certainly interested in by now.

“We can say with confidence that the diplomacy and the sanctions are not working. The sanctions have harmed the Iranian economy but they have not harmed the Iranian nuclear program. [Note: Clinton had said the best method to resolve the situation are sanctions and diplomacy]. That is a fact. And it is a fact that every day that passes, Iran is getting closer to a nuclear weapon.

“If Iran knows that there are no red lines, if Iran knows that there are no deadlines, what will it do? Exactly what it is doing. It is continuing without interference toward nuclear capability and nuclear bombs.

“The world tells Israel ‘Wait, there is still time.’ And I say ‘Wait for what? Wait until when?’

“Those in the international community who refuse to put red lines in front of Iran, don’t have a moral right to put a red light in front of Israel.”

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/no-red-lines-the-prime-minister-strikes-back/2012/09/11/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: