web analytics
September 2, 2014 / 7 Elul, 5774
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘visit’

Russian Navy’s First Port Visit to Egypt in 21 Years

Wednesday, November 13th, 2013

Suddenly, even Vladimir Putin looks more attractive.  He looks, at least, like he actually intends to fight radical Islamism – in some of its varieties anyway.  In theory, he has some pull with Iran.  He can exert a certain level of “check” on the Syria crisis.  His relatively well armed nation sits on the other side of Erdogan’s wild-card Turkey, which keeps bouncing from China to Iran to NATO and back again.  He’s not “Europe” – not really – but “Europe” acknowledges that he has to be given a place at the table.

Maybe he doesn’t look attractive, exactly; maybe the word is interesting.  Whatever it is, it’s showing up in real forms now, in regional nations’ decisions in the Eastern Mediterranean.  Last week came the flurry of reports that Putin would visit Egypt in November and announce a major arms sale, which will inevitably serve as something of a counter-smack to the U.S. decision to halt arms deliveries to Egypt a few weeks ago.

The newer news is from Monday, November 11, when Russia’s Slava-class missile cruiser Varyag pulled into Alexandria for the Russian navy’s first port visit in Egypt since 1992.  Pundits of varying quality have rushed to speculate that Moscow will soon have the use of Egyptian ports as bases in the region.  I doubt that; Egypt is too anxious to retain her stature and independence of action – properly so – and doesn’t “need” to accord Russia such privileges to keep useful ties going between the two of them.

In the current, comparative disarray of some Arab governments in the region, Egypt’s actually looks solid and moderate, and has the overt support of Saudi Arabia and Jordan, as well as the tacit support of Israel – all of which are well armed, well connected regional powers with common interests in a status quo.  The situation over which Al-Sisi presides is different from that of the Nasser regime in the 1950s and 1960s, when it was so eager for the great-power patronage of the erstwhile Soviet Union.

Russia, for her part, is unlikely to press this issue.  Between Syria, Greece, Cyprus, Montenegro, and Malta, the Russian navy has a lot of options now for making temporary landfalls for logistics.  Moscow wouldn’t necessarily even save money by concluding more literal “basing” agreements in the Mediterranean.

But I’m sure we can expect to see the Russian navy welcomed in Egyptian ports.  This makes a noteworthy, and regrettable, contrast with the U.S. Navy, which has been scarce in Egyptian ports in recent years – in spite of our two nations’ close relationship – largely because of the threat of terrorism.

Egypt, meanwhile, isn’t the only nation to roll out the welcome mat for the Russian navy in the past year.  In May, the Russian amphibious ship Azov arrived in Haifa for the first port visit ever by a Russian navy ship to Israel.  Russia and Israel have of course found some common ground in their opposition to radical Islamism, and the Netanyahu government has had a robust program of diplomatic outreach to Russia since it took over in the spring of 2009.  After Putin visited Jerusalem in June 2012 to pray for the rebuilding of the Temple, a naval port visit could hardly have been far behind.

Russian warships also visited Lebanon in March 2013, an exceedingly rare occurrence.  According to Russia’s defense ministry, the visit involved a frigate and two amphibious ships, and signified no intention on Moscow’s part to establish any permanent basing arrangement.

Cyprus hosted multiple visits by Russian warships in 2013, fueling the usual speculation that Moscow is negotiating for basing rights on the island.  (See here for more on Russia’s strategic approach to Cyprus.)  It has become routine in the last few years for Russian navy ships to visit ports in Greece and Malta.  Russian officials announced earlier this year that the navy’s newly constituted (or, in effect, reconstituted) Mediterranean squadron would use a port in Montenegro as well, referring to the port of Tivat (which for many years during the Cold War was a Yugoslav navy base, used as a Mediterranean base by the Soviet navy).  A September 2013 press release on the upcoming activities of amphibious landing ship Yamal indicated the ship would visit Greece and Montenegro this fall.

A Week after Phone Call, U.S., Iran, Exchange Doubts

Saturday, October 5th, 2013

Entangled as he is, in a government shutdown in its fifth day, President Barack Obama devoted only a marginal portion of his interview with the Associated Press Saturday to his diplomatic outreach to Iran, in an attempt to bring an end to Islamic Republic’s nuclear program. A week or so after Obama’s phone conversation with President Hassan Rouhani—the first direct talk between American and Iranian leaders in more than 30 years, some of the initial excitement appears to have given way to pragmatism.

“Rouhani has staked his position on the idea that he can improve relations with the rest of the world,” Obama told the AP. “And so far he’s been saying a lot of the right things. And the question now is, can he follow through?”

Obama acknowledged that Rouhani is not Iran’s only “decision-maker. He’s not even the ultimate decision-maker,” he added, alluding to Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

Israel and other countries have questioned whether Rouhani’s public relations effort represents real change in Iran’s leadership.

The supreme leader Khamenei himself said on Saturday that he supports Rouhani’s attempts at moving closer to the West, but said that the U.S. leader is “untrustworthy, arrogant, illogical and a promise-breaker.”

He could probably win if he ran on a Republican ticket in most southern and mid-western states…

“We support the movement in the government’s diplomacy, including the New York visit, since we hold trust in the government and we are optimistic about it, but some of what happened in the New York visit were not proper because we believe the U.S. administration is untrustworthy, conceited, illogical and unfaithful to its pledges,” Ayatollah Khamenei said, addressing a cadets graduation ceremony in Tehran on Saturday.

Obama was careful to distance U.S. assessments of when Iran might have the capacity to build a nuclear weapon from what Israel is predicting. Israeli officials have been saying that Iran is a mere months away from building a bomb, but Obama said today that Tehran is at least a year away from having that capability.

The president used the same time frame last March, before his visit to Israel.

The Fars News agency reported that, in their phone conversation, Presidents Rouhani and Obama stressed the necessity for mutual cooperation on different regional issues. Then Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and Secretary Kerry were commissioned to begin follow up talks between the two countries.

“But after meeting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in New York, the US president made a U-turn, and said that ‘we take no options off the table, including military options,’” Fars complained, saying this “revealed the U.S. administration’s lack of independence and decision-making power.”

Oh, Bibi, Bibi, why must you rule so harshly over poor President Obama…

Egyptian FM Visiting PA Capital Ramallah

Monday, August 26th, 2013

Egyptian foreign minister Nabil Fahmy is visiting Ramallah on Monday to discuss bilateral relations between Egypt and the Palestinian Authority with Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, the Egyptian ambassador to the PA told Ma’an.

Yasser Othman said that the visit comes in support of the Palestinian return to negotiations and in gratitude for the Palestinian Authority’s position in support of the Egyptian government.

Othman added that the Egyptian people and media are aware of who supports them and who incites against them.

Diplomatic and media delegations will accompany the minister on his day long visit, the ambassador added.

Fire Destroys Bunkhouse at NY Camp for Kids with Cancer

Tuesday, August 20th, 2013

A fire at Camp Simcha, a camp  for children with cancer, destroyed one bunkhouse and damaged a newly built one.

The fire was discovered when a counselor at the camp in Glen Spey, N.Y., woke up early Saturday morning and smelled smoke. The counselors evacuated the 15 residents of the cabin, including one camper in a wheelchair, VIN News reported.

The entire camp then was evacuated to a helicopter landing field near the camp. Several people were treated for smoke inhalation.

Firefighters believe the cause of the fire is electrical, VIN reported.

Donors to Chai Lifeline, the organization that sponsors the camp, are sponsoring a visit to a local shopping mall to help the campers in the destroyed bunk replace their personal items, according to the report.

The camp season ends Tuesday.

Vatican: Papal Visit to Show IDF ‘Imprisoning’ Christian Population

Thursday, August 8th, 2013

Fr. Peter Vasko, President of the Franciscan Foundation for the Holy Land (FFHL), heralded Pope Francis’ announcement that he may visit the Holy Land next year as an opportunity for the “whole world to see the plight of Christians in the area.

Vasko said the pontiff’s presence would also “shine a light on the dwindling Christian population in the Holy Land, and hopefully help ease living conditions in the area.” Christians, once a majority in the area, have diminished to less than two percent of the population as restrictions on travel, education and work have increased.

In Palestinian controlled areas, including Bethlehem, what remains of the Arab Christians population are virtual prisoners in their own homes. At the same time, Israeli controlled areas are the only places in the entire Middle East where the Christian population has been rising.

Pope Francis said the visit – his first as head of the Church – would mark the 50th anniversary of Pope Paul VI’s trip to Jerusalem in 1964. The announcement came on the heels of Israeli President Shimon Peres’ recent visit to the Vatican. During that visit, Peres urged the pope to come to Israel, adding, “The sooner you visit the better, as a new opportunity is being created for peace, and your arrival could contribute significantly to increasing the trust and belief in peace.”

Peres added, “I turn to you and ask that within your sermons in front of millions of believers in the world you include the hope for peace in the Middle East and the whole world.”

Vasko said the Vatican has long supported FFHL programs, which provide education, housing and work opportunities for thousands of Palestinian Christians. Both Pope John Paul II and Pope Benedict XVI visited Israel during their tenures.

Pope Francis accepted Peres’ invitation, but no date has been set for the trip.

Bibi Capitulates to Muslim Threats, Orders Feiglin Off Temple Mount

Sunday, April 28th, 2013

For the past ten years, MK Moshe Feiglin (Likud-Beitenu) has been visiting the Temple Mount in Jerusalem on the 19th of the Hebrew month, every month. But on Sunday, April 28, 2013, Feiglin received a phone call from Deputy Commander Moshe Barkat, Chief of the Israeli Police David Precinct, which includes the Old City of Jerusalem.

He informed me that, on direct order from the prime minister, I would not be permitted to enter the Mount tomorrow,” MK Feiglin wrote in his Facebook page.

A source close to Feiglin told The Jewish Press that the deputy commander told the MK that the Waqf, the Jordanian charity organization which runs the Temple Mount, warned the Prime Minister’s office that should Feiglin go up on the Mount on Monday, it would “start World War Three.”

No one wants that. Except that the same Waqf has been cautioning about new world wars frequently, and is often involved in organizing, rather than trying to prevent them.

According to Feiglin, the prime minister has no legal authority to give such an order, because it violates three basic laws:

1. Basic Law: Human Dignity and Liberty, which gives each person freedom of movement, and requires the state to protect this right.

2. Basic Law: The Knesset, which grants every MK complete immunity in carrying out his duties.

3. Basic Law: Jerusalem, which says: “The sacred sites shall be protected from desecration and any other violation and from anything likely to violate the freedom of access of the religionists to the sites they hold sacred, or their feelings concerning those sites.”

Also: “Any and all authority applying to the area of Jerusalem that is granted by law to the State of Israel or the Jerusalem Municipality, shall not be transferred to a foreign entity, political or governmental, whether permanently or temporarily.”

“The only legal way to prevent me from going up to the Temple Mount tomorrow (without changing existing law),” says MK Feiglin, “is if, in the opinion of the officer in charge of the place there exists an immediate, clear and present danger.”

But, having given him the warning a full day in advance, Feiglin argues, security forces should have ample time—had the prime minister only told them so—to organize and prevent dangerous gathering and violence.

According to MK Feiglin, the Prime Minister’s decision “confirms what I was told by the police command when I asked to tour the Dome of the Rock, that the Temple Mount is under Muslim sovereignty.”

This unfortunate decision, writes Feiglin, can be added to reports this week about transferring broad supervisory authority to UNESCO in Jerusalem, as well as the reality of a de facto construction freeze in Jerusalem, as Housing Minister Uri Ariel warned last week.

The source close to Feiglin says the MK will obey Netanyahu’s directive, but that as of tomorrow Feiglin would no longer be voting the Likud-Beitenu party line.

“When, just before Jerusalem Liberation Day, the Prime Minister orders an Israeli Knesset member that—contrary to Israeli law— he not to go up to the Temple Mount, it means that the Prime Minister has officially and openly revoked Israeli sovereignty on the Mount and given it to the Muslim Waqf,” MK Feiglin wrote.

“This is an entirely new situation, more severe than before, and I must consider now how to force the Prime Minister to respect the sovereignty of the State of Israel in its capital Jerusalem,” he concluded.

The Unbreakable Alliance

Wednesday, February 20th, 2013

“Unbreakable Alliance” doesn’t refer to the Lapid-Bennett pact that been a sticking point in Netanyahu’s coalition negotiations, but rather, its the operational name for the upcoming visit of President Obama to Israel before Passover.

As reported in the JewishPress.com a few days ago, Facebook fans of Prime Minister Netanyahu were being given the chance to vote on the official logo of the visit - and vote they did.

Winning over 68% of the vote, the logo above has now been selected as the official logo of Obama’s visit.

The Hebrew name for the visit is “Brit Amim”.

 

 

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/unbreakable-alliance/2013/02/20/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: