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April 18, 2014 / 18 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘US’

The October Non-Surprise: Secret Talks

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

In my last blog, I called attention to a report that the US and Iran had made a secret agreement to end sanctions in return for a halt or pause in uranium enrichment. I suggested that this could be an “October Surprise:” the Obama campaign could claim that the President’s policy of partial sanctions and “tough diplomacy” had forced the Iranians to back down from their march toward nuclear weapons.

In fact, I said, such a deal would be more likely to guarantee the success of the Iranian program than to stop it. But by the time this became clear, the election would be over.

Yesterday the NY Times reported (based on remarks by unnamed Obama Administration officials) that in fact the US and Iran had recently reached a secret understanding, but only to hold one-on-one talks on the nuclear issue:

It has the potential to help Mr. Obama make the case that he is nearing a diplomatic breakthrough in the decade-long effort by the world’s major powers to curb Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, but it could pose a risk if Iran is seen as using the prospect of the direct talks to buy time. (my emphasis)

In what is perhaps a Freudian slip, the Times writers note a “risk” — to Obama’s reelection — if this gambit is perceived  by voters as futile, but not in that it might actually help the Iranian regime realize its plans!

Iran has denied the report. White House spokesman Tommy Vietor also denied it, in a carefully worded statement, saying “It’s not true that the United States and Iran have agreed to one-on-one talks or any meeting after the American elections.” The Times article suggests that there is an agreement in principle, but not a “final agreement.”

It seems to me that simply talking with Iran would not give a significant boost to the Obama campaign, especially if there were any concessions to the regime required just to begin talks.

But it would not surprise me to hear that secret negotiations were presently in progress to try to reach a substantive agreement of some kind before the election, because a deal that could be presented as a victory for the president and his policy would be huge.

This presents a clear moral choice for President Obama and his advisers. Should they go for a big “victory” that will at best give Iran more time and at worst provide it with the cover it needs to go nuclear — and gain 5 points in the polls?

It will certainly tempting for the administration to go for a deal. After all, they may rationalize, they can fix things up after they are reelected.

There is enough uncertainty already, about the amount of enriched uranium Iran already has, about secret installations, about the progress of their weaponization program, etc. The last thing we should do is give them any more time or wiggle room.

We don’t need a “diplomatic breakthrough.” We need to tighten sanctions and follow up with a credible threat of military action. That is the announcement I hope to hear from the president in the next two weeks.

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Will Obama Soon Announce ‘Peace in Our Time’?

Sunday, October 21st, 2012

The classic October Surprise, according to Wikipedia, was this one:

On October 26, 1972, twelve days before the election on November 7, the United States’ chief negotiator, the presidential National Security Advisor Henry Kissinger, appeared at a press conference held at the White House and announced, “We believe that peace is at hand.”

Nixon was ahead anyway, but this announcement has been thought to add to the landslide over McGovern that followed. The Wikipedia article linked above lists several examples of last-minute ‘revelations’, some true and some not.

Can we expect an October Surprise this year?

We may already have one brewing. A former CIA operative calling himself “Reza Khalili” and claiming to have been an agent inside the Iranian Revolutionary Guards organization, who has previously made skeptically-received claims that Iran had already produced 90% enriched uranium, is now saying that the Obama Administration has struck a deal with the Iranian regime that will shortly be announced:

Iranian and U.S. negotiators have reached an agreement that calls for Iran to halt part of its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting of many of the U.S. sanctions against the Islamic regime, according to a highly placed source.

Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, expects a letter from President Obama in a few days guaranteeing the details of the agreement, arrived at recently during secret negotiations in Doha, Qatar.

The agreement calls for Iran to announce a temporary halt to partial uranium enrichment after which the U.S. will remove many of its sanctions, including those on the Iranian central bank, no later than by the Iranian New Year in March. Iran is in the throes of massive inflation and citizen unrest because of the sanctions.

The article provides more detail of the alleged agreement, including the personal involvement of close Obama confidant Valerie Jarrett.

This is the second article by Khalili on this subject; the first was published on October 4, describing the meeting allegedly held in Doha on October 1. While it is not practical for me to check the details of the report, there is nothing obviously impossible in it.

Let’s assume that his account is in general correct, and that there will shortly be an announcement that sanctions will be (at least partly) relaxed in return for a halt in enrichment. What would this mean?

First, it would be a huge boost for Obama, since it would be characterized as a success for his engagement and “tough diplomacy” policy. Iran, the campaign will say, has been forced to ‘back down’ in the face of sanctions. War has been avoided! By the time it is determined if Iran’s weapons program has been impacted, the election will be over.

Second, it would help the Iranian regime domestically. Existing partial sanctions — or even much tougher ones — cannot stop a non-democratic country like Iran from pursuing a weapons program. But ending them would calm popular unrest as a result of economic problems partly caused by sanctions.

Third, it would preclude US military action against Iran, either alone or in cooperation with Israel.

Fourth, it would make an Israeli attack much more difficult. Israel would be cast in the role of an aggressor, and face almost certain UN sanctions if it hit Iran despite the agreement.

In the event that Iran doesn’t live up to the terms of the agreement, it will be that much further along, sanctions will be gone, Iran will have recouped much of its economic losses, and it may be too late for Israel, or even the US, to end the program by force.

Unless the deal were also to include verifiable dismantling of the enrichment facilities, it would at best represent a temporary slowing of Iran’s weapons program. At worst, enrichment would continue at secret facilities. According to Khalili, the deal is even worse than that, including significant concessions to Iran:

The [US] guarantees would ensure the regime’s right to peaceful enrichment, quickly remove many of the sanctions, accept that Iran’s nuclear program does not have a military dimension and relieve international pressure on the regime while it continues its nuclear program. Also, the U.S. would announce that the killing of Iranian nuclear scientists was the work of a foreign country, though Israel would not be named, to increase legal pressure on Israel.

So, while it is a disaster for Israel and for US interests in the Middle East, such a deal would be a win-win proposition for Obama’s campaign and for Iran. As the election draws closer, the pressure to give Iran a better deal increases exponentially.

An agreement like this would practically guarantee that Iran will become a nuclear power.

Could they possibly be this cynical? We’ll find out within the next two weeks.

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Israel, US to Conduct Biggest-Ever Military Drill

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

The United States and Israel will conduct their largest-ever joint missile defense exercise this month, making a display of solidarity as the international rift over how to deal with Iran’s nuclear program grows.

This months’s three week exercise will simulate long and short-range missile attacks on Israel, and is meant not just to prepare Israel for possible warfare, but to show Iran and its allies that the US and Israel are prepared to work together against Iran.

The drill, which will include over 3,500 US personnel, has been in the planning stages for 2 years and will cost $60 million.

Patriot missile batteries, an AEGIS ballistic missile defense ship, and an Israeli multi-tiered missile defense system will be employed, though all but one of the missile launches will be simulations.

Iran has said it will retaliate against Israel and the US if attacked.  The US has said it does not support an Israeli military strike on Iranian nuclear installations.  Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has urged the United States to set “red lines” of Iranian nuclear activity beyond which the US would support a military strike.  The US has refused.

What Some Islamists Have Been Up To

Wednesday, October 10th, 2012

Sometimes the global efforts of the Islamists pay dividends for them. Sometimes they are frustrated by the authorities. Nothing happens very quickly in the battle against them. And no one can seriously claim they are being defeated; on the contrary. Here are some snapshots.

France

Reuters says one of several Islamists behind a September 19 grenade attack on a Jewish store in the Paris suburbs was shot and killed by police in the northeastern French city of Strasbourg today. Eleven other people were detained in what prosecutors called a “vast anti-terrorist operation”. The dead French man, Jérémie Louis-Sydney, 33, had served prison time for drug-dealing and had been convicted of membership in a radical Islamist movement. When police entered Sidney’s apartment around dawn, he opened fire. He was found to be equipped with a .357 Magnum revolver and reserves of ammunition.

Reuters says that in the course of the round-ups today, the police found Al-Qaeda literature, 27,000 euros in cash, and a list of Jewish organizations in Paris (the French-language reports, according to a friend of ours in Paris, used the archaic term “israélite” leading to most of the news agency reports saying the targets were Israeli, but they were actually French-Jewish) at the homes of the suspects. Among the others taken in by police is a woman described as one of Sidney’s two wives. Three of the others have criminal records for drugs, theft and violence. One of the men was arrested in the Paris region as he returned from morning prayers and was carrying a “ready to fire” 22-caliber pistol.

Australia

Melbourne’s Age newspaper has an interview today (it’s the lead story at this hour) with an Islamist preacher, Abdul Rahman Ayub, who acknowledges that he was sent to Australia in 1997 to recruit jihadists at the request of Abu Bakar Bashir, the notorious Indonesian terrorist currently serving a lengthy prison sentence. The Age calls Bashir “Indonesia’s godfather of terrorism”. Ayub co-founded the Australian wing of Jemaah Islamiah and says he personally “indoctrinated” a group of about 100 people in “the ways of violent jihad”. One of them, an Australian Moslem convert called Jack Roche (alias Paul George Holland) was later convicted in 2002 for conspiring to bomb the Israeli embassy in Canberra. In today’s interview he says he has gotten over his terrorism.

There were about 30 active “radicals” in Australia when he left there in 2002, he says, and while ”I don’t know about their recent development, whether they’re still active or not… I believe they are still there.” Ayub says he is no longer in favour of “violent jihad” and thinks Moslems “should fight only as soldiers in a war zone” whatever that means. Elsewhere in today’s Age ["J is for Jihad"], one of its foreign correspondents in Asia points out that “Indonesia’s prisons are a breeding ground for terrorists, and so are some of the Islamic boarding schools. But despite the ever-present threat of terrorism, the Indonesian state shows little interest in tackling this issue.”

UK and US

The one-eyed Sunni Islamist cleric with a hook for a hand, Abu Hamza al-Masri (sometimes known as Mustafa Kamel Mustafa), was finally extradited to the United States on Friday after his eight-year legal battle to avoid deportation ended in failure. He was jailed by the British for incitement to murder (of “non-believers”). He became famous for his hate-filled sermons in the years that he was the imam of the Islamist hot-bed, the Finsbury Park Mosque, in north London. He loved the UK, calling it ”a paradise, where you could do anything you wanted” [source], and he meant it.

British taxpayers have contributed several million dollars to the man in the form of welfare payments and government-funded legal services. The Americans have charged the preacher with hostage taking, conspiracy to establish a militant training camp in the US state of Oregon and calling for holy war in Afghanistan [source]. The British prime minister [source] marked the occasion with a brief appreciation of the man and his achievements:

I’m absolutely delighted that Abu Hamza is now out of this country. Like the rest of the public I’m sick to the back teeth of people who come here, threaten our country, who stay at vast expense to the taxpayer and we can’t get rid of them. I’m delighted on this occasion we’ve managed to send this person off to a country where he will face justice.

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Ahmadinejad’s Cameraman Requests Asylum

Monday, October 1st, 2012

Hassan Gol Khanban, Iranian president Ahmadinejad’s camera, has requested asylum in the US, following the UN General Assembly meeting at the UN last week.

Gol Khanban has been Ahmadinejad’s cameraman for a while and his family went into hiding and purportedly left Iran in preparation of Gol Khanban’s defection.

The request for asylum can take up to 180 days. According to his lawyer, Paul O’Dwyer, Gol Khanban is currently hiding in an undisclosed location.

Alabama Man Indicted For Threatening to Kill Obama

Thursday, September 27th, 2012

A Birmingham, Alabama man was indicted Wednesday for posting threats to the life of President Barack Obama on Twitter.

Jarvis Britton, 25, was charged with “knowingly threatening to kill, kidnap or inflict bodily harm on the president by tweeting the message, ‘Let’s kill the president. F.E.A.R.’ on Sept.14,”  according to a statement issued by US Attorney Joyce Vance.

Britton was taken last week, but refused to cooperate with authorities’ attempts to fingerprint and photograph him.

Court documents showed that Britton began threatening the US president in June with tweets such as “Free speech? Really? Let’s test this! Let’s kill the president!”  It is unclear whether Britton is officially connected to a local militia group called F.E.A.R. – Forever Enduring Always Ready, which has cited goals such as overthrowing the US government and killing the president.

Twenty-Eight Years Later, it’s Finally 1984

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

In 1975, there were political billboards around America proclaiming portentously that 1984 was only nine years away.  The reference, of course, was to George Orwell’s Nineteen-Eighty-Four, the novel of a collectivized, indoctrinated human future, which high-school students had been reading since it was published in 1949.

The year 1984, by Gregorian reckoning, came and went, and Americans seemed to have dodged the Nineteen-Eighty-Four bullet.  We weren’t being interned for reeducation by a Ministry of Love.  Although conservative, constitutionalist, limited-government ideas came under relentless attack in the mainstream media and the academy, those who expressed the ideas remained free to do so.  (They in fact became freer with the lifting under Reagan of the genuinely Orwellian-named “Fairness Doctrine.”)

The MSM built narratives about the reprehensible heartlessness, hypocrisy, and stupidity of conservatives, Republicans, and Christians, but we remained largely free to live and work as we chose.  Reagan was reelected in 1984, and George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush were elected in the years since.  Republicans might have imposed unnecessary constraints on themselves – e.g., the party leadership unaccountably believing, against the evidence, that Republican candidates need to tack left to attract votes – but for the most part, the GOP continued to have a fair shot at the ballot box.

In 2012, the atmosphere has changed.  The sacredness of our right to free expression – religious, political, artistic – is not necessarily given priority by either our federal government or the MSM.  Dissent is treated as a pestilence, or worse (e.g., global-warming skeptics being compared to Holocaust deniers).  Media and political figures cater nakedly to political narratives, no matter how many times truth bites them in the backside.  They simply ignore the truth – often while being faced directly with it on live TV – focused instead on faithfully repeating the narratives launched from the Obama White House, as well as on nurturing narratives of their own.

Thus, when multiple attacks were mounted on U.S. diplomatic facilities in the Muslim world on 9/11 – one of them a clearly pre-planned assault on the US ambassador in Libya (see here as well; the media originally reported the Libyan attack as pre-planned) – the Obama White House promptly launched a narrative: that these attacks were unrelated to the 9/11 anniversary, and were instead the fault of a shadowy naturalized American, who had made what is apparently a silly, low-quality video about Mohammed and Muslims.  (The clip on YouTube seems to confirm this assessment.)

Attacks on US embassies and consulates all across the Muslim world, on 9/11/12 and the days following, could hardly be interpreted as other than a form of attack on the United States.  Egyptian radicals storming the US embassy in Cairo chanted, “Obama, Obama, we are all Osama!” – which carries not a whiff of righteous fury about an amateur video, but clearly invokes Osama bin Laden and the tactical triumph of al Qaeda on 9/11/01, and carries a warning to the president of the United States.  Assaults and attempted assaults on US diplomatic facilities occurred from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Morocco – including violent riots against our embassy in Tunisia, the vanguard of the Arab Spring and a North African nation with which America has had peaceful, friendly ties for more than 200 years.

At the very least, the Obama administration is misinterpreting what is going on.  The eruptions in the Muslim world are happening because of the larger shift that started 18 months ago.  Crowds of radicals from the Muslim world generate a fury that Bolsheviks could only wish for; the developments across the Muslim arc of the Eastern hemisphere today are not necessarily to be interpreted in the categories of Soviet-era instigation and fomentation, for which Marxist cadre were famous.  Today’s events are somewhat different.

Significantly, Mohammed Morsi is emblematic of a new kind of Sunni Arab leader who will grope toward a signature concept of state Islamism.  But that concept is as yet without clear form, and the numerous attacks on American facilities can’t be pinned on it.  The two phenomena – attacks from the street and state Islamism – are related, but they have not gotten to a melding point yet.  This is the evolution we need to be watching for.

The Arab Spring nations have either remained, uneasily, under sclerotic despotisms, or have migrated to an evolving Muslim Brotherhood rule.  Neither case is a factor for stability, social peace, or a consensual idea in the political realm.  Libya is as yet unpacified by her putative national government; Syria is in full uproar.  The Middle East has not found a stability point, and that condition is red meat to radical extremists, who include both the terrorists who assassinated the ambassador and three other Americans in Benghazi, and the inciters of attacks on US embassies in Cairo and elsewhere.

Egyptian President Giving Chutzpah a Bad Name, Lecturing the US on Respect

Sunday, September 23rd, 2012

Who said beggars can’t be choosers? You would have expected the president of a country in risk of losing financial support to the tune of between $2 and $5 billion to approach his first visit to his benefactor’s home with appropriate humility – hat in hand would be nice, a lowered stare, some discernible respect.

If that’s how you thought Egypt’s new Islamist president, Mohamed Morsi, would appear on the eve of his coming visit to New York City, you were mistaken.

Instead of stressing his friendship and loyalty to a country which, despite its own economic woes, is generously helping to feed his 80 million plus citizens, Morsi is actually lecturing the United States, saying it needs to “fundamentally change its approach to the Arab world, showing greater respect for its values and helping build a Palestinian state, if it hoped to overcome decades of pent-up anger.”

For the record, since 1979, an annual contribution which totals, give or take, $30 billion has yielded the United States “decades of pent-up anger.”

If they came to me, I could have gotten them the same pent-up anger for less than half that cost…

Morsi is defying the boundaries Chutzpa in his NY Times interview on Saturday. And it appears the Times was taking it all in, hook, line, sinker, worms, stinking fish, you name it.

“He said it was up to Washington to repair relations with the Arab world and to revitalize the alliance with Egypt, long a cornerstone of regional stability,” summarize reporters David D. Kirkpatrick and Steven Erlanger.

Yes, the U.S. used to depend on Egypt for regional stability, but that was when a certain President Hosni Mubarak would crack the whip to keep America’s enemies (including Morsi) behind bars, and the Palestinians in line. That cornerstone has gone the way of the Shah of Iran, replaced by a regime with better ties with Iran and Hizbollah than with Washington or, God forbid, Israel.

Responding to hushed complaints from the State Dept. and the White House that his government had waited 48 hours while the mobs were charging and scaling the walls of the American embassy and burning the American flag, Morsi said “We took our time” in order to avoid an explosive backlash.

There was nothing spontaneous about those demonstrations, just as there was never any doubt that they were being permitted to flame up just so much. If the mobs stayed 48 hours outside the embassy it’s because they were told to stay; if they didn’t penetrate the embassy perimeter it’s because they obeyed directives; Morsi first had to send a message to the Americans, and then, when he was good and ready, he ordered the mobs dispersed.

The message was: Egypt is a tinderbox of repressed anti-American hatred and only I, Mohamed Morsi, can stop it – should I see fit to do so.

Cornerstone, shmornerstone, what Morsi is delivering are threats, unabashed, open faced and lethal. He is telling the U.S. that without him, its Mid-East assets will go up in flames. He can be likened to the mobster who walks into a businessman’s office and apologizes profusely for dropping an expensive vase on the floor. What a shame if more things get broken, right?

Then, naturally, there’s Israel. Morsi “argued that Americans ‘have a special responsibility’ for the Palestinians because the United States had signed the 1978 Camp David accord. The agreement called for the withdrawal of Israeli troops from the West Bank and Gaza to make way for full Palestinian self-rule. ‘As long as peace and justice are not fulfilled for the Palestinians, then the treaty remains unfulfilled,’ he said.”

You got it? In effect, there is no longer an Egyptian obligation to honor the peace treaty with Israel, because Israel has not fulfilled its obligation under the treaty – not to Egypt, there even Morsi would admit every last morsel of land has been returned to its former owner – but to a third party.

This means that, from this point forward, any Israeli attempt to enforce the mutually binding peace agreement with Egypt could be met with a boldfaced refusal.

This would include the heavy armor Egypt has been bringing into the Sinai, in violation of the peace treaty, and which it takes back, for now, following Israeli and American pressure.

At some point – in the very near future – the Egyptians will insist on maintaining a regular military force in the Sinai, tanks and artillery included, and then the only option open to Israel would be to go to war over those violations.

Or accept them tacitly, as its many friends in the West would undoubtedly counsel.

The blog Elder of Ziyon charges the NY Times with a blatant lie over their unquestioning quote of Morsi’s assertion regarding Camp David and the Palestinians: “Camp David does not say that there will necessarily be a Palestinian Arab state in the West Bank and Gaza. It most certainly says nothing about a full Israeli withdrawal from the territories, only that its final status (and, by implication, its borders) will be up for negotiation after a transition period.” (I recommend the full article, if only for Monday morning water cooler talking points).

Morsi told the Times he sees “absolutely no conflict” between his loyalty to the Muslim Brotherhood and his vows to govern on behalf of all, including members of the Christian minority or those with more secular views.

It reminded me of Woody Allen’s quote: “And the lion will lie down with the lamb, but the lamb won’t get much sleep.” Those Christian Copts have been treated to some heavy governing since the Brothers’ president has been in charge.

I’ll be spending the next six weeks in deep prayer for the Republicans to retain their hold on the U.S. House of Representatives (the Senate will very likely remain in the Democrats’ possession, perhaps with several key gains). I’ll be praying not because I have much sympathy for the way they’ve conducted themselves over the past two years – some of it was hard to watch. I only want them to keep the House so that Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen will remain Chair of the House Foreign Relations Committee.

She is the only one willing to stand up to the Administration on aid to Egypt, and she has suspended this aid last week in light of Morsi’s lackluster defense of the primary American asset in his capital.

I trust that she will continue to inspire our foreign policy in her persistent and very effective way. At a time when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is close to tears when she wails over those ungrateful Libyans who dare kill Americans after all we’ve done to free them from tyranny – I feel much better with a closed-fisted Hispanic warrior from Florida drawing a line in the sand for Mr. Morsi.

I’ll bet she’ll even make him take off his hat indoors…

One final word about Chutzpah – it could be argued that our own Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been doing his own bit of lecturing to the U.S. while accepting some $3 billion a year in aid. Fair enough. But I fail to recall the last time a frenzied Jewish mob scaled the walls of the American embassy on HaYarkon Street to burn the flag. They might scale those walls if Red Hot Chili Peppers were visiting inside, though.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/yoris-daily-news-clips/egyptian-president-giving-chutzpah-a-bad-name-lecturing-the-us-on-respect/2012/09/23/

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