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December 5, 2016 / 5 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Washington DC’

Kremlin Prepares for ‘Nuclear War’ As White House Considers ‘Cyber Attack’ as Middle East Hangs Between

Sunday, October 16th, 2016

Russian media is warning citizens to prepare for war – specifically, nuclear war – and ordering officials to prepare the nation’s bomb shelters and ensure that citizens have reviewed proper use of their gas masks.

“If it should one day, happen, everyone one of you should know where the nearest bomb shelter is,” said one newscaster on the state-run NTV television news channel. “It’s best to find out now.”

This past week Russia also announced a move to transfer nuclear-capable ballistic missiles to Kalininigrad, between Poland and Lithuania, its northern European enclave. The transfer places the missiles within striking distance of western European capitals.

Russia also test-fired three intercontinental ballistic missiles, and earlier this month announced it would hold joint “anti-terror” military drills with Egypt “in a desert environment.” Moscow is moving in to train with Egypt in military strategies, equipment and personnel and build a closer relationship Cairo, in a way similar to that in which it began with Syria years ago.

Moscow’s UN Ambassador Vitaly Churkin claimed that tensions are at their worst since 1973, but not as bad as they were during the 1973 Yom Kippur War. “Despite the fact that we have a serious disagreement, we are continuing [to work together] in other areas – sometimes successfully,” he told reporters this weekend. However, he added that the crisis has followed a list of conflicts between the Kremlin and the White House.

“It’s a lack of basic respect,” Churkin said, “and a lack of in-depth discussions on political issues.” Among the issues he cited were the recruitment of Ukraine and Georgia for membership in NAT, and the ousting of Ukraine President Viktor Yanukovych in 2014. All, he said, were incited by the United States.

The U.S., meanwhile, has said it is considering a cyber attack in retaliation for a Kremlin-backed cyber snoop into American elections, and an outright hack attack against electoral data banks and the Democratic National Headquarters. The Kremlin has warned that any such attack would be met with a “harsh response.”

A number of news analysts have said that relations between Moscow and Washington have reached their lowest point since the Cold War, in fact.

According to ABC News, Russia has conducted a nationwide civil defense drill since September that has involved some 40 million citizens, preparing them for a panoply of disasters that run the gamut of war scenarios, including nuclear fallout, and announced who would run the nation should war break out. One of the simulations involved that specific scenario, in fact.

American logic dictates that Russia would not run a civil defense drill for 40 million people for the fun of it. But Russian military analyst Pavel Felgenhauer, quoted by ABC News, says that all this is part of the grand show that may be necessary to inspire Russian lawmakers to raise a little cash for a decent military budget – which is up for renewal – when the economy is slow.

“Tensions are going to rise and rise and rise,” he said. “The good news is, no one really wants a war. But it’s going to be a good show.”

Hana Levi Julian

Moscow: Egypt ‘No Longer Able to Count on Washington’ to Fight Sinai Terror

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

Russia is moving in to train with Egypt in military strategies, equipment and personnel and build a closer relationship towards the goal of “helping” in the fight to contain and trim back terrorists in the northern Sinai.

Towards that end, Russia and Egypt are set to carry out their first-ever joint anti-terror military exercise “in a desert environment. The joint paratroopers’ drill in Egypt is to involve six air fields and 15 aircraft and helicopters for various purposes, in addition to 10 combat vehicles, according to the Russian Defense Ministry.

Russian airborne troops are to be sent to the north of Africa on an Ilyushin Il-76 aircraft in mid-October, the ministry told the English-language edition of Gazeta.ru. “Special attention is given to the knowledge of the customs and traditions of the Egyptian people”, the Defense Ministry said.

According to the report, Russia will work together with Egypt on developing “a common approach to encircling and destroying illegal armed formations in a desert environment.”

Russia contends that Egypt has lost control over the northern Sinai, which has become a terrorist stronghold, and is “no longer able to count on Washington’s support in this matter.”

The Sinai Province terror group pledged to Da’esh (ISIS), plus numerous other Salafi Muslim extremist groups, Muslim Brotherhood-backed terrorist organizations, Hamas terrorist agents from the Izz a-Din al-Qassam military wing, operatives from the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Hezbollah terrorist organization and the Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades all have established bases in the Sinai Peninsula.

Professor Vladimir Isayev, based at the Institute of Asia and Africa at Moscow State University, says he believes that if the terrorists now operating in northern Sinai attempt to expand their territory, the [Egyptian] army would like to count on Moscow’s support. “It is unlikely that it is paratroopers that will participate, but as for the Russian Aerospace Forces, it is quite likely.”

Israel and Egypt have been working together to fend off attackers and prevent large-scale terror attacks from these groups for some time. So it’s not yet clear what response the Israeli government may have to this latest new development, especially given the outcomes of Russia’s “assistance” to the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Egypt has recently purchased Mistral helicopter carriers from France with pre-installed Russian equipment that were originally destined for the Russian army, Isayev told Gazeta.ru .

Moscow analysts do not expect the United States to respond to the drill, nor to the Egyptian purchase of Russian-equipped French helicopters. “Egypt is a strategically very important country for the U.S.pointed out Semyon Bagdasarov, direcctor of the Moscow-based Center for the Study of the Middle East and Central Asia. He added that America’s relationship with Israel and U.S. treatment in the Middle East is likely to depend on Egypt. “Plus, control of the Suez Canal,” he said.

Hana Levi Julian

Netanyahu Representative in DC to Negotiate $38 Billion Aid Deal

Tuesday, September 13th, 2016

Brigadier General Yaakov Nagel, Israel’s acting National Security Council, arrived in Washington DC on Tuesday to meet with President Obama’s National Security Advisor Susan Rice, in preparations for signing a new US military aid package. The new US aid deal, which the two governments have been negotiating since November 2015, awards Israel $38 billion over 10 years.

Nagel met with US Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro to work out the final details before leaving for Washington — including the text of the official announcements. The new aid package is expected to average $3.8 billion a year, a considerable cut from Netanyahu’s initial request for $4.5 billion. The deal is also contingent on Israel agreeing not to approach Congress for additional funds, as in the case of the Iron Dome missile defense system, which Congress has been paying for outside the annual aid package. Now an estimated $5 billion out of the package will be spent over 10 years on missile defense development.

In other words, the new aid package is only adding $300 million to the previous amount. To remind you, the sum of $3 billion annually was set during the Camp David peace negotiations with Egypt, as compensation to Israel for giving up the Sinai peninsula as a military asset. That amount has never been raised in close to 40 years, even though the current value of that annual package would have been $10.48 billion.

The critical disagreement between the two sides over the current deal has been whether or not Israel could continue to invest a percentage of the aid package in Israeli made military products. The Obama Administration wanted the entire amount to stay in US corporations, which would have been devastating to Israeli manufacturers and to the IDF. A short episode during the 2014 Gaza War, in which the Obama Administration stopped shipping to Israel all defense items, including Hellfire missiles, served as a memorable lesson to the Israeli security apparatus about the need to increase its self-reliance.

The new deal ended up adding six years in which Israel can continue to spend as much as 26% of the US aid money on Israeli made products, as well as another 13% for fuel purchases. By the seventh year, or halfway into Clinton’s or Trump’s second term, the Israeli military industrial complex would have to quit US aid cold turkey — Unless Netanyahu or his successor is able to renegotiate that part — depending on who is in the White House and who controls Congress at the time.

David Israel

US Company Objects to Israeli-German Drone Deal

Friday, September 2nd, 2016

An American defense contractor has objected to a deal reached by Israel to lease the Heron TP unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) to Germany for approximately 650 million euros.

As a result, the contract for the drone was put on hold after US defense contractor General Atomics began legal proceedings against the German Defense Ministry, claiming the deal was reached without opening the tender for bidding by other companies.

General Atomics (GA), which also manufactures drones, also pressured Germany to accept U.S. products over others, due to the membership of both nations in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO.) The company is a major force in the U.S. defense industry.

It’s a known fact that GA’s drone — called the “Predator B” — is smaller than the Israeli Heron TP (referred to by the Israeli Air Force as the “Eitan”) and has the ability to stay aerial for only 14 hours, as opposed to the Eitan’s 70 hours’ aerial staying power.

The Germany Ministry of Defense shared a letter with Reuters explaining that the case by General Atomic has already been dismissed once by a lower German court, and it is assumed the appeal will uphold that ruling. Nevertheless, the issue has forced the ministry to postpone its deal with Israel for the next three to nine months.

Hana Levi Julian

Israel: Okay to Demolish 30 Illegal Structures in “Arab” Susiya

Wednesday, August 17th, 2016

The State of Israel has the right to demolish 30 illegal structures built in the new and illegal Arab “village” of Susiya, according to a draft document to be submitted Wednesday to the High Court of Justice.

Although usually the Defense Ministry Civil Administration decides these issues, this time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu would make the call on whether or not to demolish the structures, rather than Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman, the document stated.

The prime minister’s review would take until the end of October, after the completion of the Jewish high holy days, after which time the state would inform the Court whether the shacks would be legalized, or demolished.

The state warned the Court, however, that legal remedies would remain in place against any new construction that appears in the area after 2014, and that laws against illegal construction would be enforced.

The Regavim nongovernmental organization (NGO) has consistently researched and litigated the case against any new building by Arabs from the Palestinian Authority in the area, which is completely under the control of Israel.

Regavim is calling on Israel to demolish all illegal structures post-2014, regardless of international pressure.

The United States and the European Union have for months been pressuring Israel to legalize the village. The European Union has in addition been encouraging the Palestinian Authority to continue illegal construction in Area C. In some cases, this activity has actually forced Israel to demolish structures built with funding, or directly, illegally built by the European Union itself.

Due to the sensitive diplomatic nature of the issue, the matter was sent directly to the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) for attention.

The modern Jewish community, established in 1983 under the Mount Hebron Regional Council, is located next to the ancient city of Susiya, now an archaeological site featuring a 5th-8th CE synagogue with a magnificent mosaic floor, and the mosque that replaced it.

The site was formally declared an archaeological site in 1986 by the Israel Defense Ministry’s Civil Administration; the Arab population chose to locate its “village” precisely on the same spot.

The IDF expelled the squatters, who began with 25 families in 1986, despite opposition from the United Nations which claimed they were living in “houses” at the time. The Arab villagers were moved instead to a site few hundred meters southeast of the original ancient city.

Just 13 families comprised Arab Susiya in 2008. But as it became more fashionable in the international community to target Israel’s right to govern Area C of the Oslo Accords, Mount Hebron and the area around it rose to prominence as a key battleground. Arab Susiya did too, and by 2015 the “village” rose to its current population of 50 families, comprising several hundred people.

Hana Levi Julian

Nat’l Security Chief Heads to Washington Defense Memorandum of Understanding

Monday, July 25th, 2016

The Acting Head of the National Security Council, Brig. Gen. (Res.) Jacob Nagel, will travel to Washington on July 31, 2016, for meetings with his White House counterparts.

Nagel is being sent to ensure a new memorandum of understanding is signed between the two countries as soon as possible.

“Israel places great value on the predictability and certainty of the military assistance it receives from the United States and on honoring bilateral agreements,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

“Therefore, it is not in Israel’s interest for there to be any changes to the fixed annual MOU levels without the agreement of both the U.S. Administration and the Israeli government.”

For FY2017, Israel said it remains committed to the FMF level specified in the current MOU, which is $3.1 billion, and is not seeking additional funding.

Israel is concerned by White House demands that none of the FMF money will be allowed to be spent in Israel, unlike previous agreements which allowed a certain percentage of the funds to be used in Israel, and not just in the US.

Hana Levi Julian

State Dept. Says Liberman Appointment ‘Raises Legitimate Questions’ About Direction of Israeli Govt

Thursday, May 26th, 2016

The U.S. is not happy about the appointment of Israel’s new defense minister, Yisrael Beytenu party chairman Avigdor Liberman, to the coalition government. This became patently obvious at Wednesday State Department briefing (May 25, 2016) in Washington DC after a long round of questions on other topics — most of them about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton’s misdeeds during her tenure as Secretary of State — when the session was nearly over. There were just a few minutes left, said State Department spokesperson Mark Toner, who seemed almost to be waiting for someone — anyone — to ask the question.

And then finally, the very last one, squeezed in at the final second, a reporter managed to deliver the perfect pitch over home plate. Following is the question — clearly a softball — tossed to the harried spokesperson, who practically leaped to answer it, and his response.

Q: I know it’s like the fifth day in a row, but at least it’s now formally been announced that Avigdor Lieberman is to be Israel’s defense minister. Do you have any comment on the new Israeli government and his appointment to that job in particular?

Mr. Toner: I do. We have seen reports an agreement’s been reached to expand the coalition.

“We’ve also seen reports from Israel describing it as the most right-wing coalition in Israel’s history. And we also know that many of its ministers have said they opposed a two-state solution.

“This raises legitimate questions about the direction it may be headed in – headed in, rather – and what kind of policies it may adopt, but ultimately we’re going to judge this government based on its actions.

“We’re going to work with this government as we have with every Israeli government that preceded it, with the goal of strengthening our cooperation, and we remain steadfast in our commitment to the security of Israel, and in our commitment to working towards a two-state solution.”

Hana Levi Julian

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/breaking-news/state-dept-says-liberman-appointment-raises-legitimate-questions-about-direction-of-israeli-govt/2016/05/26/

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