— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) February 15, 2015
J Street, a progressive organization that encodes itself as “the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans,” has just released the slate for their 5th annual conference to be held in March. The list contains the usual suspects with one attempt at a surprise addition in the form of former Republican Secretary of State James Baker.
Pro-Israel blogger Elder of Ziyon gives a concise summation of exactly why this union is anything but a bipartisan move:
…according to the Jerusalem Post’s Lahav Harkov, James Baker is the keynote speaker.
Baker is of course infamous for reportedly saying in private conversation, while George HW Bush’s secretary of state, “F**k the Jews, they didn’t vote for us anyway.”
But his antipathy towards Israel is well documented. He wanted the US to punish Israel for destroying Iraq’s Osirak nuclear reactor. He hated Netanyahu as early as 1990, barring him from entering the State Department’s building. And last but not least, he co-wrote the Iraq Study Group’s 2006 paper that recommended (among other things) that the US tilt its foreign policy away from Israel and towards Syria and Iran, advice that President Obama seems to have taken to heart.
So who says that J-Street isn’t bipartisan? It loves anti-Israel, antisemitic Republicans too!
Who’s next on the J Street line up, Pat Buchanan?
Note to parents of public school children: Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, is also listed as a featured speaker. Perhaps she’ll enlighten the audience as to how the J Street platform ties into Common Core.
The State Department said the number of refugees admitted from Syria is expected to increase despite concern voice in a House Homeland Security hearing this week that the program is a “huge mistake.”
Press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that 524 Syrians have been admitted as refugees since the uprising against Bashar Assad’s regime began in 2011.
“We’re likely to admit 1,000 to 2,000 Syrian refugees for permanent resettlement in fiscal year 2015 and a somewhat higher number that is still in the low thousands in fiscal year 2016,” she said. “I don’t have anymore details on where. There’s obviously an entire process that is undergone.”
Psaki defended the process as keeping in standing with the United States’ “long tradition of welcoming refugees, many of whom have fled unspeakable horrors and persecution.”
“There has been longstanding bipartisan support for this in Congress. And certainly I think if we look at the crisis in Syria and the unspeakable horrors that many people in that country have gone through, what many people have called for is support for more refugees, which certainly we are open to,” she added.
Refugees are admitted “in a way that is safe and consistent with our national security interests” in a process that “can take months, if not longer.”
“And we have a lot of experience with this, with Afghanistan, with Iraq, with Somalia and other places where the United States has taken refugees in from,” Pskai said. “Refugees are the most carefully vetted of all travelers to the United States. Every refugee under consideration for admission to the United States undergoes the same intensive security screening involving multiple federal intelligence, security, and law enforcement agencies. These include the NCTC, the Terrorist Screening Center, the Department of Defense, the FBI. This process includes a lengthy overseas in-person refugee determination and security screening interview conducted by specifically trained — specially trained DHS officers.”
Homeland Security Committee Chairman Mike McCaul (R-Texas) recently sent a letter to the White House expressing concern over the State Department’s plan to resettle tens of thousands of Syrians fleeing the conflict in the U.S. “I am worried that ISIS could exploit this effort in order to deploy operatives to America via a federally funded jihadi pipeline,” McCaul said this week.
Psaki said today she’s “not seen evidence that suggests that the screening system is not as rigorous as it needs to be.”
She said additional screening measures were implemented “as a result of evidence that came in on two Iraqis after they were admitted to Kentucky” tying them to violent activity in Iraq.
In full-page ads in the New York Times and Washington Post, Nobel Laureate Elie Wiesel, who will be attending the March 3 joint session of Congress featuring Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, chided lawmakers who have vowed to boycott the address.
Relating the history of Haman in ancient Persia, who vowed to “annihilate, murder and destroy the Jews, young and old, children and women,” Wiesel stressed that “now Iran, modern Persia, has produced a new enemy.”
“The Ayatollah Khamenei has been as clear as his predecessor in declaring his goal: ‘the annihilation and destruction’ of Israel. He is bent on acquiring the weapons needed to make good on the deadly promise,” he writes in the ad.
“On the day before Purim the Prime Minister of Israel will address Congress on the catastrophic danger of a nuclear Iran. I intend to be there. Should we not show our support for what might be the last clear warning before a terrible deal is struck? Santayana wrote that those who cannot remember history are condemned to repeat it. I believe that those who deny history – specifically the Holocaust – are determined to repeat it. President Obama, Vice President Biden, distinguished members of Congress,” the survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald continues.
“I ask you – As one who has seen the enemies of the Jewish people make good on threats to exterminate us, how can I remain silent?”
Wiesel, 86, pleads with Congress “to put aside the politics that have obscured the critical decisions to be made.”
“Surely it is within your power to find a solution that will permit Israel’s Prime Minister to deliver his urgent message,” he says. “Will you join me in hearing the case for keeping weapons from those who preach death to Israel and America?”
The ad was produced through Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s organizations.
The list of Democrats who have said they’re not attending Netanyahu’s speech stands at 19 House lawmakers and three senators.
The Twitter responses, pro and very anti, speak for themselves.
— Arsen Ostrovsky (@Ostrov_A) February 13, 2015
Nakba denier, mass grave apologist & ethnic cleansing defender Elie Weisel supporting Netanyahu’s trip to Congress http://t.co/h6ry6RluHq
— Remi Kanazi (@Remroum) February 13, 2015
— Max Blumenthal (@MaxBlumenthal) February 13, 2015
Elie Weasel is a terrible man. http://t.co/Fa4FupodKS
— MJ Rosenberg (@MJayRosenberg) February 12, 2015
Islamic State insurgents took control on Thursday of large parts of the western Iraqi town of al-Baghdadi, threatening an air base where U.S. Marines are training Iraqi troops, officials said.
Al-Baghdadi, about 85 km (50 miles) northwest of Ramadi in Anbar province, has been besieged for months by the radical Sunni Islamist militants who captured vast swathes of northern and western Iraq last year.
Militants attacked al-Baghdadi from two directions earlier in the day and then advanced on the town, intelligence sources and officials in the Jazeera and Badiya operations commands said.
The officials said another group of insurgents then attacked the heavily-guarded Ain al-Asad air base five km southwest of the town, but were unable to break into it.
About 320 U.S. Marines are training members of the Iraqi 7th Division at the base, which has been struck by mortar fire on at least one previous occasion since December.
Here’s a little perspective on just how quickly the world is spinning out of order.
Five years ago this month (maybe even this week), I was at al-Asad air base with four other comics doing a show. The place was still a war zone but the Americans and Iraqis were very much in charge. The show was packed, the troops were ready to go home and leave things in what seemed to be capable hands. Heck, the other comics and I hit the base store for souvenirs before we choppered out of there.
Now ISIS is trying to overrun some Americans there.
One can debate all that went wrong in Iraq in the last five years, but there has been one constant in this equation that entire time: the Americans have had the same commander in chief since 2010.
Lawmakers have been chased around Capitol Hill to answer the question of whether or not they’ll attend Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 address to a joint session of Congress.
But a resolution introduced in the Senate today will put them on the record of supporting Netanyahu’s visit or not.
Majority Whip John Cornyn (-Texas) introduced the resolution today, which recognizes the “government of Iran’s ongoing pursuit of nuclear weapons poses a tremendous threat both to the United States and Israel,” and that Congress has “heard the perspectives, both publicly and privately, of a number of close allies involved” in the P5+1 nuclear negotiations.
The resolution states that the Senate “warmly welcomes” Netanyahu in a “timely opportunity to reinforce the United States-Israel relationship” and “eagerly awaits” his address.
It reaffirms the Senate’s “commitment to stand with Israel during times of uncertainty” and the “unequivocal and bipartisan support for the friendship between the people and governments of the United States and Israel.”
“During this time of such great instability and danger in the Middle East, the United States should be unequivocal about our commitment to one of our closest and most important allies,” Cornyn said in a statement. “I hope all my colleagues will join me in welcoming Prime Minister Netanyahu to Washington so we can continue to work together to advance our common security interests.”
Co-sponsors of the resolution are Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), John Boozman (R-Ark.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Shelly Moore Capito (R-W.Va.), Bill Cassidy (R-La.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Tom Cotton (R-Ark.), Mike Crapo (R-Idaho), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Deb Fischer (R-Neb.), Cory Gardner (R-Colo.), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), Dean Heller (R-Nev.), John Hoeven (R-N.D.), Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), James Lankford (R-Okla.), Mike Lee (R-Utah), John McCain (R-Ariz.), Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Jim Moran (R-Kansas), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Rand Paul (R-Ky.), David Perdue (R-Ga.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Mike Rounds (R-S.D.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Ben Sasse (R-Neb.), Tim Scott (R-S.C.), Pete Sessions (R-Ala.), Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), John Thune (R-S.D.), Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), Pat Toomey (R-Pa.), David Vitter (R-La.), and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.).
With GOP majorities in the House and Senate, the resolution will likely get pushed through to President Obama’s desk quickly. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), though, is not among the original co-sponsors.
Cornyn said on the Senate floor today that he could not think of a “more timely or critical subject” than the threat of Iran and terrorism to hear about from “one of the world’s great leaders.”
The senator called the opposition to Netanyahu’s address “mystifying and somewhat disappointing.”
Cornyn is also circulating a “Dear Colleague” letter inviting all senators to join in support of the resolution.
“Prime Minister Netanyahu said his speech to Congress will be about the ‘very survival’ of the State of Israel. Therefore, I believe it is critical for every Member of Congress to hear directly from the Prime Minister of our closest friend and ally in the region on how we can work together to confront the common challenges of Islamic extremism and a nuclear Iran,” Gardner said.
“It’s never been more important for the United States to stand strong beside Israel. I will use my position on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to consistently advocate for policies which serve to strengthen this critical partnership. Israel’s enemies have consistently threatened to wipe Israel off the map. It’s our job to ensure that never happens.”
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said he’s opposing President Obama’s request for an authorization to use military force against ISIS because it’s a “battle for the soul of Islam” that needs to be fought by Muslim nations.
“I remember the war in Afghanistan, which was supposed to last a few months. The war in Iraq was going to be very easy. We were in those countries for over 10 years. We have lost close to 7,000 brave men and women. The country has spent trillions of dollars,” Sanders told CNN.
“At the end of the day, if ISIS is going to be defeated — and this is a brutal, horrible organization that needs to be defeated — it is going to have to be defeated by the Muslim nations in the region,” he added. “Saudi Arabia has the fourth largest defense budget in the world. You’ve got billionaire families in Qatar, in the UAE. They have got to be increasingly involved in providing security in their region. The U.S. can be supportive. Western Europe can be supportive. But they’re going to have to do the hard work.”
After months of needling from lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, Obama submitted his AUMF plan to Congress yesterday. It includes an exception that “does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations.”
“Look, I think the president is doing everything that he can in trying to defeat ISIS. But when I hear words like ‘enduring conflict,’ it makes me very, very nervous. I think it opens the door wider than it should be. I think we’ve got to continue airstrikes. I think we’ve got to use Special Operations Forces when we can,” Sanders argued. “But I do not want to see a never-ending quagmire in the Middle East where our troops die, come back with terrible illnesses and we end up spending trillions of dollars.”
“Once again, this war is a battle for the soul of Islam. And it’s going to have to be the Muslim countries who are stepping up. These are billionaire families all over that region. They’ve got to get their hands dirty. They’ve got to get their troops on the ground. They’ve got to win that war with our support. We cannot be leading the effort.”
On his own presidential aspirations, Sanders said he’ll decide whether he runs in 2016 “as soon as I have to.”
“We are going around the country. We’re talking to a lot of people. We’re getting a lot of support. But when you take on the billionaire class, that ain’t an easy assignment. So I got to make sure the support is there, and that’s what we’re trying to ascertain,” the senator said.
“I would be taking on the Koch brothers and Wall Street and the pharmaceutical industry and the private insurance companies. My job is not to run against Hillary Clinton. My job is to take on the political, economic and media establishment which have so much power in this country.”
Canadian author and broadcaster Ezra Levant became a world-famous free speech warrior after a foreign-born imam took him to “human rights” court for publishing the Danish Muslim cartoons.
Levant was forced to educate himself about Muslim concepts like sharia, taqiyya, hudna and other Islamic supremacist concepts, then shared this knowledge with other Canadians and the world.
His latest project, CanadianJihad.ca, teams Levant with Middle East expert Jonathan Halevi, a polyglot who specializes in translating both Arabic jihadist phraseology and the weasel words of so-called “moderates” into plain English.
From the website:
Canadians believe in freedom of speech and freedom of religion. But when Muslim leaders preach violence against women, gays and non-Muslim “infidels”, and even support violent jihad and the creation of an Islamic state, our police and security services have a duty to investigate to see if Canadian laws are being broken.
We call upon the Director of CSIS, the Commissioner of the RCMP, and the Ministers of Public Safety, Justice, National Revenue and Immigration to examine the evidence of extremist conduct compiled on this website to consider if it warrants further investigation and potential action.
At the site, you’ll find videotaped speeches and sermons by “Canadian” Muslim leaders, declaring their sinister intentions for their adopted homeland.
CanadianJihad.ca is clearly inspired by the Conservative government’s proposed anti-terror legislation.
I have mixed feelings about these new laws, but will always support any effort to help dangerous Muslims publicly hang themselves by their own petard.
With Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State John Kerry and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel at his side, President Obama this afternoon vowed to go after ISIS with the military might of the U.S.
Well, to a point.
Obama was trying to gin up support for an authorization for use of military force (AUMF) proposal that he submitted to Congress this morning.
“This resolution reflects our core objective to destroy ISIL. It supports the comprehensive strategy that we’ve been pursuing with our allies and our partners. A systemic and sustained campaign of airstrikes against ISIL in Iraq and Syria, support and training for local forces on the ground, including the moderate Syrian opposition, preventing ISIL attacks in the region and beyond, including by foreign terrorist fighters who try to threaten our countries; regional and international support for an inclusive Iraqi government that unites the Iraqi people and strengthens Iraqi forces against ISIL; humanitarian assistance for the innocent civilians of Iraq and Syria who are suffering so terribly under ISIL’s reign of horror,” Obama said.
“…The resolution we’ve submitted today does not call for the deployment of U.S. ground combat forces to Iraq or Syria. It is not the authorization of another ground war like Afghanistan or Iraq. The 2,600 American troops in Iraq today largely serve on bases. And yes, they face the risks that come with service in any dangerous environment, but they do not have a combat mission.”
The text states it “does not authorize the use of the United States Armed Forces in enduring offensive ground combat operations.”
The president, who often notes he pulled U.S. forces out of Iraq, stressed he’s “convinced that the United States should not get dragged back into another prolonged ground war in the Middle East.”
“That’s not in our national security interest and it’s not necessary for us to defeat ISIL. Local forces on the ground who know their country’s best are best positioned to take the ground fight to ISIL and that’s what they’re doing,” Obama said.
“At the same time, this resolution strikes the necessary balance by giving us the flexibility we need for unforeseen circumstances. For example, if we had actionable intelligence about a gathering of ISIL leaders, and our partners didn’t have the capacity to get them, I would be prepared to order our special forces to take action because I will not allow these terrorists to have a safe haven.”
His proposal repeals the 2002 Iraq AUMF and limits the new one to three years. “I do not believe America’s interests are served by endless war or by remaining on a perpetual war footing,” Obama said, adding that it’s “not a timetable” but “it’s conceivable that the mission is completed earlier.”
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) called Obama’s three-year AUMF limit “aspirational,” but noted that the limit gives the next president time to review Obama’s strategy and decide if a change in course is needed.
Obama insisted that progress is being made against ISIS: “We’re taking out their commanders, their fighters and their leaders… and we’ve seen reports of sinking morale among ISIL fighters as they realize the futility of their cause.”
“Its barbaric murders of so many people, including American hostages, are a desperate and revolting attempt to strike fear in the hearts of people it can never possibly win over by its ideas or its ideology, because it offers nothing but misery and death and destruction.”
Lawmakers from both parties generally agreed that the AUMF will go through lots of debate and negotiations in Congress.
“I’m concerned that the president is more focused on threading a political needle here rather than how to be successful in beating ISIS,” House Armed Services Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) told CNN.
Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said he was concerned about the AUMF definition of “associated persons or forces” and safeguarding against “mission creep.”
“We must strike a balance between providing the current administration with the authorities it needs to ensure national security, while safeguarding against future Executive Branch overreach,” Smith said.
“If you put a geographic limit on the authorization of the use of force, you’ve basically told ISIL where they can go to hide,” Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) told Fox. “If you say, for example, you can only hit them in Iraq and Syria, they have every incentive now to move their operations and their training facilities to some other place that’s not included within it.”
The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said the closure of the U.S. Embassy in Sana’a should be recognized as a victory for Iran.
Reports from Yemen said that the Iran-backed Houti Shiite rebels seized between 20 and 30 vehicles from the U.S. Embassy after staff withdrew.
Marines leaving the country also had their weapons stripped away before they were allowed to depart Yemen.
According to an airport official in Sana’a, “the Houthis seized many U.S. Marines’ weapons at the airport, and the American troops also handed over some to random airport officials Wednesday,” CNN reported.
Embassy staff were burning documents and destroying weapons stores last night, but they had plenty of warning. After the Houthis seized power just before President Obama’s State of the Union address in January, a defense official told NBC News that the Embassy was “not at risk.”
The departure date comes as supporters of the regime in Tehran are celebrating the anniversary of the Islamic Revolution by burning American and Israeli flags.
“This is yet another indication of Iran’s aggressive efforts – often using armed proxy forces – to spread its malevolent influence throughout the Middle East,” Intel Chairman Devin Nunes (R-Calif.) said. “The Iranians continue to act as the primary supporter of Hezbollah and other terrorist organizations, even as the Obama administration offers the Iranian regime ever more concessions in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear program.”
“The coup in Yemen and the deteriorating security situation in Sana’a are particularly concerning because they will hinder the United States’ campaign against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which publicly claimed responsibility for the recent terrorist massacre in Paris,” he continued.
“Having inspired Nidal Hassan’s killing spree at Fort Hood and orchestrated multiple attempts to bomb U.S. airliners, AQAP is a direct threat to the U.S. homeland that we must continue to hunt down with unrelenting persistence.”
Pentagon press secretary Rear Adm. John Kirby confirmed this morning that “all the military personnel are out of there.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stressed in a statement Tuesday that despite controversy over his impending address to a joint session of Congress, he needs to address lawmakers “because Congress might have an important role on a nuclear deal with Iran.”
Netanyahu stressed that Israel’s survival “is not a partisan issue, not in Israel nor in the United States”:
This doesn’t mean that from time to time Israeli governments have not had serious disagreements with American administrations over the best way to achieve the security of Israel.
Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, declared Israel’s independence in the face of strong opposition from US Secretary of State George Marshall. Likewise, Prime Minister Eshkol’s decisions at the start of the Six Day War, Prime Minister Begin’s decision regarding the nuclear reactor in Iraq, and Prime Minister Sharon’s decisions to press ahead with Operation Defensive Shield; these were all strongly opposed at the time by American administrations.
Disagreements over Israel’s security have occurred between prime ministers in Israel from the left and from the right and American presidents from both parties.
None of these disagreements led to a rupture in the relationship between Israel and the United States.
In fact, over time, our relationship grew stronger.
But we do have today a profound disagreement with the United States administration and the rest of the P5+1 over the offer that has been made to Iran.
This offer would enable Iran to threaten Israel’s survival.
This is a regime, Iran, that is openly committed to Israel’s destruction. It would be able, under this deal, to break out to a nuclear weapon in a short time, and within a few years, to have the industrial capability to produce many nuclear bombs for the goal of our destruction.
This is not a personal disagreement between President Obama and me. I deeply appreciate all that he has done for Israel in many fields. Equally, I know that the President appreciates my responsibility, my foremost responsibility, to protect and defend the security of Israel.
I am going to the United States not because I seek a confrontation with the President, but because I must fulfill my obligation to speak up on a matter that affects the very survival of my country.
House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) told reporters yesterday that even though “it seems unseemly to have created this political issue” with House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) invitation, he won’t be among Dems ditching the speech.
“Secretary Kerry said, and I agree with this, that prime minister is welcome to speak to a session of Congress… He is the leader of one of our closest allies in the world, a nation to which we have very strong, unbreakable ties,” Hoyer said. “But it was unfortunate that we have not raised political questions about the politicization either of the Israeli election, or the political relationship between Republicans and Democrats on the issue of Israel.”
So far The Hill has counted 14 House Democrats and three senators who plan to skip Netanyahu’s speech, including Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chairmen Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and Raul Grijalva (D-Ariz.).
The State Department acknowledged this morning that it has shut the U.S. Embassy in Yemen, though insisted it’s only a temporary move after Iran-backed Houthi rebels took power.
“Due to the uncertain security situation in Sana’a, the Department of State has decided to suspend our embassy operations and our embassy staff have been temporarily relocated out of Sana’a. Recent unilateral actions disrupted the political transition process in Yemen, creating the risk that renewed violence would threaten Yemenis and the diplomatic community in Sana’a,” State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said in an early-morning statement.
“The United States remains firmly committed to supporting all Yemenis who continue to work toward a peaceful, prosperous, and unified Yemen. We will explore options for a return to Sana’a when the situation on the ground improves.”
The Houthi rebellion intensified shortly before President Obama’s State of the Union speech in January, and some lawmakers then were urging the administration to pull U.S. staff out. The administration, which has claimed Yemen as a success story in the war on terror, dug in its heels.
“Our Ambassador and Embassy staff will continue to engage Yemenis and the international community to support Yemen’s political transition process, consistent with the Gulf Cooperation Council Initiative, the outcomes of the National Dialogue Conference, UN Security Council resolutions and Yemeni law. We will also continue to protect the American people, and we will not hesitate to act in Yemen to do so,” Psaki continued.
The State Department issued a travel warning today for Yemen “due to terrorist activities and civil unrest.”
“All consular services, routine and/or emergency, have been suspended until further notice,” said the notice, superseding a Sept. 25 warning. “The Department urges U.S. citizens to defer travel to Yemen and those U.S. citizens currently living in Yemen to depart.”
Psaki said “the Yemeni people have reason to expect to see this process resume with meaningful public timelines for finishing a new Yemeni constitution, holding a referendum on this constitution, and launching national elections.”
“We reiterate the call of the United Nations Security Council for immediate release of President Hadi, Prime Minister Bahah, and members of the Yemeni cabinet. An inclusive political process cannot resume with members of the country’s leadership under house arrest,” she said. “The future of Yemen should be determined by the Yemeni people. All Yemenis have both a right and responsibility to participate in this process peacefully.”
Britain and France also closed their embassies. The German Embassy was reportedly busy destroying sensitive documents in preparation to close its doors.
“It’s long been clear Yemen was not the ‘success story’ that President Obama once claimed it to be. Today’s news is an unfortunate, yet totally predictable, development which confirms that fact. Given the deteriorating security situation in Yemen, the State Department was left with no alternative but to withdraw American diplomats from the country and close our embassy,” Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said in a statement.
“Yemen has been of strategic importance to the United States, and I fear these latest developments will create a vacuum that will ultimately benefit al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP). AQAP is a committed enemy of the United States and is believed to have been responsible for the recent terror attacks in Paris. AQAP continues to harbor a burning desire to attack the United States, and we must remain vigilant in protecting ourselves from them,” the senator added.
“Finally, our nation continues to be weakened by the Obama Administration’s lack of an overall strategy to deal with the threat posed by radical Islam. Yemen is but the latest, yet I fear probably not the last, example of President Obama’s failing foreign policy.”
BREAKING: Houthi rebels in Yemen seize U.S. embassy vehicles and U.S. Marine’s weapons – CNN
— Conflict News (@rConflictNews) February 11, 2015
— Haykal Bafana (@BaFana3) February 11, 2015
U.S. President Barack Obama will propose to Congress on Wednesday a new three-year authorization for the use of force against Islamic State with limits on U.S. combat troops’ involvement, lawmakers and congressional aides said.
Obama has defended his authority to lead an international coalition against Islamic State since Aug. 8 when U.S. fighter jets began attacking the jihadists in Iraq. But he has faced criticism for failing to seek the backing of Congress, where some accuse him of breaching his constitutional authority.
Facing pressure to let lawmakers weigh in on an issue as important as the deployment of troops and chastened by elections that handed power in Congress to Republicans, he said in November he would request formal authorization for the use of military force (AUMF).
An outline of that request, expected to be handed to Congress on Wednesday, could stir debate over how U.S. troops should be deployed and the extent of U.S. engagement in Iraq and Syria.
The proposal would allow the use of special forces and advisors for defensive purposes but bar “enduring offensive ground forces,” lawmakers and aides said. It would not, however, set geographic limits for the campaign against the group.
This administration is beginning to make me understand why warning labels are put on hot coffee and toys with small parts that might cause choking. One also wonders whether anyone on Team Lightbringer has ever read a history book.
This “plan” not only avoids committing to the only thing that will work, it once again lets ISIS know exactly how long it has to hang on until the next fanfare-laden exit of the troops keeping them in check. In a more sane world, it would be nice to think that there was some deep thinking behind the three year number but with this group it’s more than likely they merely plucked it out of the air because it sounded good.
Everyone’s fingers should be crossed and hoping that the American people elect an adult in 2016.
Our nuclear negotiating partner issued some new thoughts around an imminent framework today:
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) February 10, 2015
U.S. failed in Syria, Lebanon, Palestine, Ukraine, Afghanistan & Pakistan.It’s you who is stuck with failures; years of successive failures!
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) February 10, 2015
God willing, on #Bahman22, Iranian nation will show that whoever wants to humiliate them will be faced with an equal blow.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) February 10, 2015
Incidentally, the anniversary of the Iranian Revolution, tomorrow, was the original day that House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) asked Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address Congress.
Administration officials regularly dismiss the Ayatollah’s tweets, geared toward an English-language Western audience, as just meant for public consumption in Iran.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee Ranking Member Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) emerged from a closed-door administration briefing on Iran no less concerned about the ongoing negotiations.
“Well, look, I can only categorize the following, that one of my major concerns all along that is becoming more crystal clear to me, is that we are instead of preventing proliferation, we are managing proliferation. And for decades when we saw the world headed in the wrong direction as it relates to countries seeking nuclear power for nuclear weapons, we have worked to prevent proliferation,” Menendez told reporters.
“If we enter a new world order where we are going to manage proliferation, where in fact a country could be a year away from the possibility of breaking out nuclear capabilities for nuclear weapons, that’s a different world and a far more challenging world.”
Menendez said lawmakers must be thinking about that “as we see where these negotiations end up.”
“And there are many elements to this that are going to be critical if one could say that actually moving into a new world of proliferation — of managing proliferation versus preventing it, that we can actually manage it in a way that provides for the security of our country and for the security of the world,” he said. “And that’s the challenging question we have.”
— Brad Dayspring (@BDayspring) February 10, 2015
The reaction on Twitter deserves to be duly noted:
— Michael Rinker (@MichaelRinker) February 10, 2015
In one week, Obama has inexplicably brought up the Crusades to lecture Christians and now refuses to say Jew were targeted in Paris.
— RB (@RBPundit) February 10, 2015
I honestly don't understand the admin's refusal to say "Jews." It's baffling. What am I missing here?
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) February 10, 2015
If I were an alien who'd just landed on this planet, it wouldn't take long 4 me to realize that the Dem party didn't really like Jewish ppl
— ConservativeBlackMan (@Thomasismyuncle) February 10, 2015
When your communications team is actively making your unforced errors into actual problems, it might be time to rethink your staffing needs.
— Michael Koplow (@mkoplow) February 10, 2015
I think it's admirable the WH is doubling down on this. Why not all lay our cards on the table? Refreshing, really.
— Seth Mandel (@SethAMandel) February 10, 2015
You just know Max Fisher is going to argue that the "randomly targeted" controversy is really about whether it's okay to hate Muslims.
— Brandt (@UrbanAchievr) February 10, 2015
And we wonder why Netanyahu views speaking with Congress as an “imperative”.
Some House Democrats have penned a letter to House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) asking him to call off Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 address to Congress.
Rep. Steve Cohen (D-Tenn.), one of the signatories on the letter who’s received ample fundraising help from “pro-peace,” anti-Netanyahu J Street over the years, complained to MSNBC that Boehner was using Congress as a “television studio” to promote GOP causes.
“I don’t think we should have a person up for election in two weeks and a person who’s obviously being used politically to attack the president’s position on negotiations with Iran that are so important. I would like the speaker to put the speech off until after the latter of the two circumstances so that Prime Minister Netanyahu can have a dialogue that is not considered political and isn’t political,” Cohen said.
“Right now, the House of Representatives is being turned into a political theater. A couple of weeks ago, there was an attempt to pass a bill that would have in essence revoke Roe v. Wade. And it was done at a time that there was a pro-life crowd up here marching on the anniversary of the passage of — not the passage but the declaration of Roe v. Wade. And it was done for political theater.”
Cohen said Netanyahu’s visit is “political theater too and the United States House of Representatives shouldn’t be used for political theater.
“It’s hurting the House. And I think what’s going on now is hurting Israel, because there’s so many people including myself who are strong supporters of Israel who don’t think this is good for Israel,” the congressman said, adding “Israel needs to be close to the United States and close to the president for its protection and its future.”
Cohen argued Boehner “should have not invited Prime Minister Netanyahu and put him in this position.”
“Speaking before a Congress with congressmen standing up and applauding, which will happen, will probably help Netanyahu in his election, and it helps Boehner with Republicans appeal to people that are supportive of Israel, particularly the AIPAC crowd, this meeting in Washington that week. And it’s kind of like whichever crowd comes to Washington, whether it’s the pro-life crowd, January, or AIPAC in March, we’re going to use Congress as a television studio to help promote the Republican tide of that group,” he said.
“And that’s just wrong. We should be legislating, and we should be — not interjecting politics and foreign policy. You know, the president controls foreign policy, if these negotiations don’t work, if there is not an agreement, there is going to be war. There’s going to be bombings in Iran.”
Cohen said he’s still deciding whether to attend Netanyahu’s speech. Some Dems have already said they will not boycott the address.
Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.), the top Dem on the House Intelligence Committee, told CNN that “it was a bad idea for the speaker to extend the invitation right before the Israeli elections, but look, he did extend it.”
“It has been accepted. I’m planning to be there to welcome the prime minister,” Schiff said. “…I think this — kind of this kerfuffle over this has got to be greatly well received in Iran, because to the degree that it shows any division between us and our Israeli allies or within the two parties in Congress is simply not good for the relationship. And I look forward to this coming to an end.”
I’m determined to speak before Congress to stop Iran. RETWEET if I have your support. pic.twitter.com/5qTb89xf2i
— בנימין נתניהו (@netanyahu) February 10, 2015
CNN’s Jake Tapper tweeted, “What’s Hebrew for double-down?” Maybe we should go for Yiddish instead and leave it at “mensch.” Pure mensch.
The tweet comes after media speculation — or political wishing — postulated that the Israeli prime minister might either postpone or water down his speech in order to be friendlier to the outraged Obama administration and some congressional Democrats.
Haaretz reported that Netanyahu addressed the controversy Monday at a Likud event:
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that he is determined to address the U.S. Congress on Iran’s nuclear program. Netanyahu rejected the criticism in the United States and Israel, saying that “while some are busy with protocol or politics, a bad deal with Iran is taking shape.”
Speaking at a Likud election event, Netanyahu added that, as prime minister, it is his duty to do everything in his power to prevent a dangerous deal with Iran. “From the day Israel was established to this day, there have been essential differences between Israel and the U.S., and relations remained sound – this will be the case this time as well,” he said.
“This is not a political issue or a party issue, neither here nor there. This is an existential issue, and I approach it with the fullest responsibility.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he will travel to Washington to speak before the U.S. Congress next month despite calls to cancel his speech. His remarks Monday at an election rally come amid an uproar over his planned speech about Iran before Congress next month.
Netanyahu said: “A bad deal with Iran is forming in Munich that will endanger Israel’s existence. … Therefore I am determined to go to Washington and present Israel’s position before the members of Congress and the American people.”
House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, extended the invitation without discussing it beforehand with the White House. That angered the administration of President Barack Obama. Netanyahu said despite the differences in opinion, U.S. relations remain strong.
Netanyahu’s speech would come days ahead of Israel’s March election.
AP still sticking to the White House that Netanyahu never notified them. Which is, of course, a lie. Meanwhile, Abe Foxman — consistently, one of the worst possible spokesmen for American Jewry — has called on Netanyahu to cancel:
Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti Defamation League said that the political uproar ignited by Netanyahu’s invitation to speak to a joint meeting of Congress makes such a move unhelpful and therefore it should be scrapped. “It’s a tragedy of unintended consequences,” Foxman told the Forward, describing how the idea of presenting Israel’s view on Iran spiraled out of control, reaching even the Jon Stewart show, a step, Foxman said, that “turned the whole thing into a circus.”
“One needs to restart, and it needs a mature adult statement that this was not what we intended,” Foxman told the Forward. He said that going ahead as planned with the speech would be counter-productive, with all attention given to the political controversy rather than to the issue at stake. “It has been hijacked by politics,” Foxman said. “Now is a time to recalibrate, restart and find a new platform and new timing to take away the distractions.”
President Obama said today that it’s important for “protocols” to be kept in place regarding the U.S. visit of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu “because the U.S.- Israeli relationship is not about a particular party.”
At a White House press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Obama was asked: “Some have suggested you are outraged by the Israeli prime minister’s decision to address Congress. Is that so? And how would you advise Democrats who are considering a boycott?”
“As I’ve said before, I talk to him all the time. Our teams constantly coordinate. We have a practice of not meeting with leaders right before their elections, two weeks before their elections,” Obama replied.
“As much as I love Angela, if she was two weeks away from an election, she probably would not have received an invitation to the White House, and I suspect she wouldn’t have asked for one.”
There was some laughter in the room.
“So, you know, this is just — you know, some of this just has to do with how we do business, and I — I — I think it’s important for us to maintain these — these — these protocols, because the U.S.- Israeli relationship is not about a particular party. This isn’t a relationship founded on affinity between the Labor Party and the Democratic Party or the Likud and the Republican Party,” Obama continued. “This is the U.S.-Israeli relationship that extends beyond parties and has to do with that unbreakable bond that we feel and — and our commitment to Israel’s security and the shared values that we have.”
“And the way to preserve that is to make sure that it doesn’t get clouded with what could be perceived as partisan politics. Whether that’s accurate or not, that is a potential perception, and that’s something we have to guard against.”
He added, “Now, I don’t want to be coy. The prime minister and I have a very real difference around Iran — Iran’s sanctions.”
Obama then segued into his “what’s the rush?” comments on Iran nuclear program.
At the start of his Sunday Cabinet meeting, Netanyahu stressed that “the major powers and Iran are galloping toward an agreement that will enable Iran to arm itself with nuclear weapons, which will endanger the existence of the State of Israel.”
Referencing Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, Netanyahu noted that the pair “announced that they intend to complete a framework agreement by the end of March” after their weekend talks.
“From this stems the urgency of our efforts to try and block this bad and dangerous agreement,” Netanyahu said. “We will continue to take action and to lead the international effort against Iran’s arming itself with nuclear weapons. We will do everything and will take any action to foil this bad and dangerous agreement that will place a heavy cloud over the future of the State of Israel and its security.”
Netanyahu plans to address a March 3 joint session of Congress. He’ll also speak at the giant AIPAC conference in D.C. during his trip. Lobbyists from that conference will be flooding Capitol Hill to encourage lawmakers to take a tough stance on Iran.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told an audience at the Brookings Institute this morning that he’ll watch the address on TV, but won’t go.
“The president of the United States heads up our foreign policy,” Sanders said. “And the idea that the president wasn’t even consulted, that is — that is wrong, and not a good thing for our country.”
He wouldn’t speculate on how many of his colleagues felt the same. However, Sanders has not been among the many Dems in the upper chamber pressuring Obama on Iran negotiations and/or sanctions. The Menendez-Kirk sanctions bill passed out of the Senate Banking Committee
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said last week that leaders “maybe” will “have to even review the idea of joint sessions of Congress” after House Speaker John Boehner’s (R-Ohio) invitation to Netanyahu.
“I think going forward in this way, the way this conversation is taking so much energy and is really stressful, is really beneath the dignity of the challenge that we have — stopping the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction,” Pelosi said.
Reuters reported that Netanyahu told supporters on Sunday, “I will go any place I’m invited to convey the Israeli position against those who want to kill us.”
At a news conference today with German Chancellor Angela Merkel, President Obama was asked whether nuclear negotiations with Iran were headed for another extension.
His response, in part: “What’s the rush?”
“I think there was always the assumption that although the interim agreement lasted a certain period of time that we would probably need more time to move forward,” Obama said.
“The good news is is that there have been very serious discussions. That time has been well spent. During this period of time, issues have been clarified, gaps have been narrowed, the Iranians have abided by the agreement, so this is not a circumstance in which by talking they’ve been stalling and meanwhile advancing their program.”
Iran has announced it will unveil new nuclear achievements in April, and senators have contended that Iran is doing just fine in its program advancement.
“Iran is procrastinating because the longer the negotiations last, the further the P5 moves in their direction. We have slowly shifted positions during the last 18 months after dismantling Iran’s nuclear infrastructure, the Arak reactor, the Fordow enrichment facility, Iran’s 19,000 centrifuges to allow Iran to keep all those elements in some form, while we settle for alarm bells that will tell us only when it’s too late,” Sen. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) said at a recent Senate Banking Committee hearing. The senator added that he “can’t begin to understand how we would build an inspection and verification regime or how long the agreement must last until we know how far they’ve come towards building a nuclear weapon.”
Obama said today of Iran that “the issues now are sufficiently narrowed and sufficiently clarified, where we’re at a point where they need to make a decision” on “a deal that allows them to have peaceful nuclear power but gives us the absolute assurance that is verifiable that they are not pursuing a nuclear weapon.”
“And if, in fact, what they claim is true, which is they have no aspiration to get a nuclear weapon, that, in fact, according to their supreme leader, it would be contrary to their faith to obtain a nuclear weapon, if that is true, there should be the possibility of getting a deal. They should be able to get to yes,” he added.
The president said he doesn’t see a further extension “being useful if they have not agreed to the basic formulation and the bottom line that the world requires to have confidence that they’re not pursuing a nuclear weapon.”
“Now, if — if the framework for a deal is done, if people have a clear sense of what is required and there’s some drafting and T’s to cross and I’s to dot, that’s a different issue.”
Democrats have agreed not to act on sanctions legislation from Menendez and Sen. Mark Kirk (R-Ill.) until the administration’s self-imposed March 24 deadline for a framework with Iran. But the strong bipartisan 18-4 vote in the Banking Committee on Menendez-Kirk shows Obama has lost many in his own party on the interminable negotiations.
“I have been very clear — and Angela agrees with me, and David Cameron agrees with me, and the others who are a member of the negotiations agree that it does not make sense to sour the negotiations a month or two before they’re about to be completed and we should play that out. If, in fact, we can get a deal, then we should embrace that,” Obama said. “If we can’t get a deal, then we’ll have to make a set of decisions and, as I’ve said to Congress, I’ll be the first one to work with them to apply even stronger measures against Iran.”
“But what’s the rush? Unless your view is that it’s not possible to get a deal with Iran and it shouldn’t even be tested. And that, I cannot agree with, because as the president of the United States, I’m looking at what the options are if we don’t get a diplomatic resolution. And those options are narrow, and they’re not attractive.”
During talks it’s not proper to reach a deal on “General Principles” & postpone details; it’ll lead to opportunistic behavior by Westerners.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) February 8, 2015
In case of a deal, make decisions on principles& details in a single session. An agreement should be transparent& free from interpretations.
— Khamenei.ir (@khamenei_ir) February 8, 2015
The Nigerian government postponed its Valentine’s Day presidential election until March 28, potentially endangering aid needed to fight Boko Haram.
Secretary of State John Kerry reminded Nigerians of his recent visit to the country, where he called for elections to go on as scheduled despite security concerns.
“As I reaffirmed when I visited Lagos last month, we support a free, transparent, and credible electoral process in Nigeria and renew our calls on all candidates, their supporters, and Nigerian citizens to maintain calm and reject election-related violence,” he said in a statement.
The United States, he said, “is deeply disappointed by the decision to postpone Nigeria’s presidential election, which had been scheduled for February 14.”
“Political interference with the Independent National Electoral ommission is unacceptable, and it is critical that the government not use security concerns as a pretext for impeding the democratic process,” Kerry continued. “The international community will be watching closely as the Nigerian government prepares for elections on the newly scheduled dates. The United States underscores the importance of ensuring that there are no further delays.”
President Goodluck Jonathan, the Christian incumbent since 2010, faces a challenge from former President Muhammadu Buhari. The retired major general, who ascended to power in a 1983 coup, is a Muslim. The two have close in the polls, and Buhari decried the election day shift as an attempt to stack the deck against him.
A 2012 Pew survey showed Christianity edging out the country’s Muslim population, 49.3 percent to 48.8 percent. Catholic bishops there have urged the West to get involved in the battle against Boko Haram as Jonathan’s government has been unable to get a handle on the scourge.
Jonanthan’s government has vowed to wipe out all Boko Haram camps by March 28. “All known Boko Haram camps will be taken out. They won’t be there. They will be dismantled,” Nigeria’s National Security Advisor Sambo Dasuki said.
That will prove difficult as Boko Haram has made recent incursions into Cameroon and Niger.
During his visit last month, Kerry was wholly focused on elections and put conditions on aid to fight Boko Haram.
Kerry stressed that he doesn’t believe “the level of support provided by the United States or the international community is the limiting factor in the Nigerian government’s ability to fight Boko Haram,” adding that the assistance just doesn’t always work as they’d like it to.
“We are prepared to do more, but our ability to do more will depend to some degree on the full measure of credibility, accountability, transparency and peacefulness of this election,” he said. “And one of the principle reasons that President Obama asked me to come here at this moment is to reinforce to all Nigerians the desire of the United States to be able to engage even more so in the effort to push back against Boko Haram or any other violent extremist group, but the quality of the democratic process is important to contributing to our ability to do so.”
Egyptians are taking Turkey to court with the demand that it be designated a state sponsor of terrorism.
The move comes after a Jan. 29 show on a Muslim Brotherhood channel that broadcasts from Turkey. In the “urgent communique,” the speaker announces impending action in Egypt with “all the movements of revolutionary retribution.”
“First, we give all foreign nationals – foreigners, Arabs, and Africans – and all the employees of [foreign] companies, the opportunity to leave the country immediately. This period will expire and the end of February 11, 2015. After that, they may be targeted by the movements of revolutionary retribution. You are hereby warned,” the speaker says, according to a MEMRI clip.
“Second, all foreign companies operating on Egyptian soil have an opportunity, until February 20, to withdraw all their franchises from Egypt and terminate their operations. Otherwise, all their projects may be targeted by the rebels,” he continues. “Third, all foreign nationals working in embassies – diplomats and ambassadors – have an opportunity to leave the country until February 28.”
“Fourth, all tourists who wish to come to Egypt must cancel their trips. They are not welcome on Egyptian soil in these difficult days. Fifth, all the countries that provide material or political support to the coup must stop this support immediately – within a month from this communique. Otherwise, all their interests in the countries of the Middle East will be subject to harsh attacks with dire consequences.”
The Muslim Brotherhood spokesman declares that “everybody must adhere” to the terms of their communique.
“There will be no concessions or show of mercy, because all parties are competing in the violation of our honor, our property, and our bodies. They have all cooperated in the killing of the innocent, the raping of women, the arrest of thousands of people, the displacement of millions of families, and the unjust plundering of the money of the people.”
An Egyptian lawyer, Tarek Mahmoud, has filed suit against Turkey. A source told Anadolu Agency on condition of anonymity that “the court of urgent matters in the coastal city of Alexandria scheduled the first hearing in the case for Feb. 24.”
The lawsuit not only highlights Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and the country’s hosting of Brotherhood meetings and media, but asserts that Turkey is sending arms to the Brotherhood in Egypt.
“Turkey adopts hostile stances against Egypt after it became a haven for Muslim Brotherhood leaders who face criminal charges in Egypt,” the judicial source quoted the lawsuit.
Co-chairwoman of the Zionist Camp Tzipi Livni said on Monday that “Israel is becoming more and more isolated and withdrawing itself from the world.”
According to Livni, “there are citizens who have been brainwashed to think that we are a ‘nation unto itself’ and that the entire world is against us, and that there is nothing that can be done, everyone is anti-Semitic and that we do not need to communicate with the rest of the world. We deserve more than a government that starts with the words Bibi-Bennett.”
It’s a mentality common among Israel’s Left. Livni recently partered with the Labor Party’s Isaac Herzog to form “The Zionist Camp”, a party that could be criticized as anything but Zionist, at least by those who value Israel’s security above their own internal spats over redistribution of wealth.
After the V15 story broke, the Free Beacon reported on a “confidential strategy memo” sent out last December by Ameinu, the American wing of Israel’s Labor movement, soliciting funds for a “massive, non-partisan Get Out The Vote (GOTV) campaign” in Israel. Touting their American contacts “…with experience in similar recent operations, including the Obama presidential campaign,” the memo details a direct link between Ameinu and the organization tagged to operate the GOTV campaign, Givat Haviva, a recipient of State Department funding.
Ameinu claims it broke from the alliance with what eventually became V15 before the V15 campaign was formed, instead choosing to direct its non-partisan fundraising efforts specifically towards Israel’s Arab community who, while traditionally Left-leaning, were not necessarily registered with any particular party. Still, as the leading representative of the Labor Party in America, Ameinu’s strange ties to what eventually became V15 defend the notion that V15 was, indeed, a Labor initiative to oust Bibi despite claims to the contrary.
To a foreign audience, the idea of a group of Jews, Israel or American, sponsoring an Arab “get out the vote” campaign sounds patently absurd. An American audience, attuned only to the threats from Israel’s bordering states and radical Islamic militias, can’t begin to comprehend an Israel where Jews and Arabs live in peace. It does happen. I’ve witnessed it. I’ve also lived the flip-side and experienced first-hand the hatred that comes out of radical Islam that reminds me we are a “nation unto ourselves” for very good reason. If you want to encourage voting in Israel, targeting a specific demographic is not the way to be “non-partisan”.
In all their consistent pandering to the international community in pursuit of peace, the Labor Party and their compatriots have bowed so low, so deep that their heads are now thoroughly buried in the sand. With asses in the air the party that made the modern state of Israel is quickly becoming the laughingstock of the Jewish world, billions be damned. There isn’t enough cash or land in the world to redistribute in order to make everyone happy. For their part, Ameinu walks a fine line, protesting the BDS movement on the Left while fundraising against the Right. Bottom line: no one really knows where Labor stands, including Labor. They proclaim themselves a “Zionist Camp” the way Obama proclaimed “hope and change”. Both blame their opponents for their own lack of results, but how can you accomplish anything when you’re only breathing your own hot air?
The family of a humanitarian aid worker has agreed to release her name now, leading to the first congressional reactions from her home state senators in Arizona.
ISIS claimed today that 26-year-old Kayla Mueller from Prescott, Ariz., was in a building near Raqqa that was allegedly hit by a Jordanian airstrike. They claimed she was alone and no jihadists were killed in the strike.
Mueller was kidnapped in August 2013 while leaving a Doctors Without Borders hospital in Aleppo, Syria.
“Kayla had been working along the Turkish-Syrian border for months helping the thousands of innocent men, women and children whose lives were torn apart by the humanitarian catastrophe created by Bashar Assad and the Syrian civil war. Since her graduation from Northern Arizona University in 2009, Kayla had dedicated her life to helping people in need around the world – in India, Israel, the Palestinian territories and back home in Arizona,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement.
“While I have no new information today on Kayla’s current situation, I do know from speaking regularly with her family that she is extremely devoted to the people of Syria, and to doing all she can to alleviate the terrible suffering which has left more than 200,000 people dead and driven millions from homes into refugee status. I also know that Kayla is extremely well-loved and dearly missed by her family and friends in Arizona,” McCain continued.
“I ask that the news media please respect the privacy of the Mueller family at this difficult time, and for all Americans to say a prayer for Kayla, her family, and her safe return home to those who love her.”
Doctors Without Borders said in a statement today that Mueller was not employed by the group.
“On August 3, 2013, a technician sent by a company contracted by MSF arrived at one of the organization’s structures in Aleppo, Syria, to perform repairs. Unbeknownst to the MSF team, Kayla, a friend of the technician’s, was accompanying him. Because additional time was required to carry out the repair work, the technician and Kayla were harbored overnight at the MSF hospital in Aleppo, due to safety concerns,” Doctors Without Borders said.
“Upon completion of the repair work on August 4, the MSF team organized transportation for Kayla and the technician to the Aleppo bus station, from where they were to depart for Turkey. Kayla’s detention occurred during the drive to the bus station.”
Like in the case of the Jordanian pilot, whom they tried to use as a bargaining chip after burning him alive, ISIS hasn’t offered recent proof of life. Nor have they offered proof of Mueller’s death — the three photos released are just of a damaged building.
ISIS had contacted her family and demanded $6 million for her release.
Jordan says ISIS’ claim, meant to drive a wedge in the coalition, is a “PR stunt.”
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said the reported events “can be laid squarely at the feet of ISIL.”
“She deserves to be remembered for dedicating her life to the service of others,” Flake said. “My thoughts, like those of so many across Arizona and around the globe, are with Kayla’s family. The best thing Congress can do now is authorize the mission against ISIL to let our allies and our adversaries know that we are united in our resolve.”
Mueller’s congressman, Rep. Paul Gosar (R-Ariz.), stressed it’s “important to wait for the intelligence community to gather more information before making any conclusions.”
State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf would not confirm the report or get into the topic of Mueller’s captivity. “Obviously, as you can imagine, these are very sensitive situations, so we’re just not going to get into those details,” Harf said.
“I can assure you that our intelligence community is looking into them,” White House spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters. “…I can tell you that, of course, the United States of America spares no effort to secure the safe release of any American held overseas. That includes exhausting military options, intelligence resources, diplomatic channels, obviously the financial stranglehold we put on ISIL.”
Jordan unleashed punishing airstrikes on the Islamic State this week, and today ISIS claimed that one of those strikes killed an American aid worker.
The name of the 26-year-old has not been released in the media at the request of her family, but the ISIS statement published a name, address in Arizona, phone and email purportedly belonging to her.
ISIS has released no proof of life, and tried to wrangle a swap out of Jordan for a pilot it had already killed.
ISIS claimed that the air worker was alone in a building during Friday prayers when the “Crusader alliance” launched “continuous raids on the same location for more than an hour.”
They also claimed “thankfully” no jihadists were killed, and referred to the aid worker as an agent.
ISIS posted three pictures of building rubble, but no sign of anyone’s death.
National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan issued a statement saying the administration is “obviously deeply concerned by these reports,” but “we have not at this time seen any evidence that corroborates ISIL’s claim.”
“They tried to cause problems internally in Jordan and haven’t succeeded,” Jordanian Interior Minister Hussein Majali said. “They are now trying to drive a wedge between the coalition with this latest low PR stunt.”
Earlier today on CNN International, Majali stressed “we cannot play with the rules of the game in Syria or in Iraq, or any other place where these creatures are breeding.”
Majali also said it’s a broader war against ideology. “We’ve got to fight this ideology, because you might eradicate them in the northern Syrian area and in some areas in Iraq, but the production line has got to also stop,” he added.
“This momentum will continue. Jordanians are very proud people,” he said. “You can do whatever, but don’t insult our pride. And I tell you, a message for those forces of evil: wait. The best is yet to come.”
A Minnesota man pulled off an airplane bound for Turkey last year has been charged with repeatedly lying to federal agents investigating the recruitment of young US residents to join Islamist militant groups, prosecutors said on Thursday. Hamza Ahmed, 19, and three other young Minnesota men took a bus to New York from Minneapolis where authorities stopped them from leaving on international flights on Nov. 9, FBI Special Agent Daniel Higgins said in court papers.
The charge of making false statements against Ahmed, a Minneapolis resident, was unsealed on Thursday. Ahmed and a man identified by the initials M.F. in a criminal complaint had tickets on the same flight to Istanbul, Turkey, which has been used as a gateway to Syria for people who have fought for Islamic State, the agent said.
He’s not a “Minnesotan,” not in any meaningful cultural sense. He’s not even an American, in the way we used to mean it. He’s an Somali who happens to be resident in Minnesota. There’s a difference, and as much as the politically correct media tries to pretend there isn’t, it’s worth maintaining.
Since 2007, at least 22 young Somali men have also traveled from Minnesota to Somalia to join the terrorist group al-Shabab. Omar Jamal, chief executive of American Friends of Somalia, said he believes the four young men in this case were trying to go to Syria.
“It’s very sad that in spite of everything that’s been said, kids are still leaving, and they are changing tactics,” Jamal said. “They are avoiding the Minneapolis airport, which is very worrisome.”
Minnesota, you’ve got a problem. And so do we all. It’s not simply a matter of a passport. It’s about culture, commitment — and loyalty.
Want to see Obama’s 2008 campaign in a nutshell? Check out the young political activists recruited by the V-2015 campaign to elect “anyone but Netanyahu.” If you thought the “anyone but” goal was vague, try listening to their platform. Count how many times “hope and change” is repeated and remind yourselves that this is what got an American president elected — twice.
Dear God, let Israelis be smarter than us. With the polls neck-in-neck between Bibi’s Likud and the Livni/Labor “Zionist Camp” mashup, it’s questionable exactly how much impact the V15 campaign stands to have on the Israeli electorate. Likud came out swinging at V15, accusing the group of backing the Labor Zionist Camp. The accusation was later apologized for by Bibi’s lawyer, but that doesn’t leave lawmakers on this side of the ocean are without due cause to question Obama about V15′s involvement in the Israeli elections. Haaretz reports, “Two Republican lawmakers asked the Obama administration to explain OneVoice’s involvement in the election, given that it has received State Department funding.”
Anyone wishing to understand the Zionist Camp would be remiss to ignore Liel Leibovitz’s excellent analysis over at Tablet magazine:
Why, then, go to all this trouble to reclaim the ancient ideology? Why not just run, as generations of Labor leaders have in the past, as purveyors of new hopes rather than old ideas? In part, it’s because doing so would require Labor to state just how it distinguishes itself from Likud when it comes to safeguarding Israel’s security, a question that, in light of the Palestinian reluctance to engage in good-faith negotiations, is growing more and more difficult to answer. Livni herself was Prime Minister Netanyahu’s chief peace negotiator and was in agreement with the government’s policies on everything from the John Kerry peace initiative to last summer’s war in Gaza. She and her new partners in Labor can hardly claim to have an agenda that provides new answers to the tough questions of war and peace Israelis face each day. Instead of looking to the future, then, Labor is gazing longingly at the past.
That doesn’t sound like very much “hope n’change” to me.
That’s an issue raised by my friend and former boss at the late New York Sun, Seth Lipsky:
How long can it last that the Republicans are the party that’s more supportive of Israel but the Democrats are the ones that get the Jewish vote? Could it be that President Obama is upending the old alliance? It’s for a reason that I pose those as questions. The landscape is littered with newsmen who’ve erroneously predicted that we’re at the end of the era when the Jewish vote goes automatically to the Democrats.
Yet it’s hard to deny that there’s “a real crisis going on,” as Sen. John McCain put it on CNN over the weekend. What will happen if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shows up to address a joint meeting of Congress and the Democrats boycott? “I don’t know” is the answer Nancy Pelosi gave over the weekend to the question of whether most House Democrats would attend Netanyahu’s speech. The ex-speaker went on to sneer that if Netanyahu wants to get his message through, he could go on TV.
It never occurred to me that the Democrats might simply not show up for Bib’s big speech. But then, nothing is too low for these skunks. A party that will boo God is capable of anything.
The White House and the State Department both dodged questions today about whether the U.S. government agrees with Jordan’s decision to hang two terrorists this morning.
Both had already gone through the judicial process and were waiting on death row. One was the female would-be suicide bomber ISIS tried to trade for pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh — after, it seems, he had already been murdered.
In D.C. yesterday, Jordan’s King Abdullah was on fire about taking out the Islamic State. The early morning executions and increase in sorties are the first steps in the kingdom’s retribution.
But the condemnations for Jordan are already coming.
“While all efforts must be made to counter terrorism and hold the perpetrators accountable, our reaction to the threat posed by (Islamic State) needs to be consistent with our common values on justice and the rights of prisoners,” European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement today. “Our action has to be guided by the respect of international human rights law and humanitarian law. The European position against death penalty remains unchanged and we believe capital punishment does not serve any deterrent purpose.”
“The Jordanian authorities are rightly horrified by this utterly reprehensible killing but the response should never be to resort to the death penalty, which itself is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment,” said Philip Luther, Director of Amnesty International’s Middle East and North Africa Program. “The death penalty should also not be used as a tool for revenge. The IS’s gruesome tactics must not be allowed to fuel a bloody cycle of reprisal executions.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest said they saw reports about the executions.
“These were individuals who were sentenced to death and were serving time on death row. And then we did see reports that their executions were carried out overnight,” Earnest told reporters today.
“For questions about the circumstances of their confinement or the decision to move forward on the execution, I’d refer you to Jordanian authorities, who can provide a great deal more insight into the Jordanian justice system, frankly, than I can.”
When press on whether the White House shares the EU’s criticism, Earnest replied, “Again, you know, for questions about — about that specific situation, I’d refer you to Jordanian authorities.”
State Department press secretary Jen Psaki, presented with a similar question, said “we stand behind the people of Jordan.”
“The government of Jordan is an important partner. This was a vile murder of a brave Jordanian that will only serve to steel the international community’s resolve to destroy ISIL,” Psaki said.
“In terms of the actions, we are aware of the death sentences, of course, being carried out. These individuals, I would remind everybody were — had gone through a judicial process, were both convicted al Qaeda-connected terrorists, who had been sentenced to death long before Feb. 3. Beyond that, I don’t have any further comment.”
In offering his condolences for the “grisly murder” of the Jordanian pilot today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a reminder of the hangings the world should be concerned about.
“In the Islamic State of ISIS, they burn people alive; in the Islamic State of Tehran, they hang them from cranes in the public squares. Both are motivated by an extreme ideology of militant Islamic terrorism that has a cruelty that is unbounded,” Netanyahu said.
“But the greatest danger to the future and the security of the world is that this extremism will be backed up by nuclear weapons. This is something everyone must oppose.”
North Korea is dismissing the possibility of renewing talks with the United States, which it said is trying to overthrow the communist government in Pyongyang.
In a statement Wednesday, the National Defense Commission, North Korea’s top military body, also threatened retaliatory nuclear and cyberattacks on the U.S.
“Now that the gangster-like U.S. imperialists’ military strategy towards the DPRK is inching close to the stage of igniting a war of aggression, the just counteraction of the army and people of the DPRK will be focused on inflicting the bitterest disasters upon the United States of America,” the statement read.
Such inflammatory comments are common in the lead-up to Washington’s annual joint military drills with South Korea, which are set to begin in March. Pyongyang says it views the drills as preparation to invade.
The world is just a super fun place now that the craziest non-Castro dictator has nukes, isn’t it? Imagine how it will be after the ayatollahs get them too.
Seriously though, with the American fighting forces being reduced and slightly recommitted to fighting the terrorists we left alone just long enough to get stronger in the Middle East, what would happen if the Pyongyang Pudgy wanted to start acting up?
Each passing day makes me wish Newt could have gotten his Moon bases built.
President Obama said today that the fiery murder of a 27-year-old Royal Jordanian Air Force pilot by ISIS “just indicates the degree to which, whatever ideology they’re operating off of, it’s bankrupt.”
Obama briefly commented on the grisly, expertly produced ISIS video when prompted at the end of a previously scheduled White House event intended to highlight Obamacare success.
“I just got word of the video that had been released. I don’t know the details of the confirmations. But should, in fact, this video be authentic, it’s just one more indication of the viciousness and barbarity of this organization. And it, I think, will redouble the vigilance and determination on the part of a global coalition to make sure that they are degraded and ultimately defeated,” he said.
“…We’re here to talk about how to make people healthier and make their lives better, and this organization appears only interested in death and destruction.”
The White House later released a more crafted statement, with Obama saying Americans “join the people of Jordan in grieving the loss of one of their own.”
“Lieutenant al-Kasasbeh will forever personify the bravery of a true son of Jordan, one who honored his family and country by his seven years of military service. Along with his compatriots and other Arab and international members of the coalition, Lieutenant al-Kasasbeh was in the vanguard of the effort to degrade and defeat the threat posed by ISIL,” Obama’s statement said.
On Christmas Eve, ISIS released the ID card of 1st Lt. Muath al-Kasaesbeh and paraded parts of his downed plane, as well as images of the pilot in a soaked T-shirt and stripped from the waist down with blood coming from his mouth. ISIS’ magazine ran an “interview” with the pilot and referred to him throughout as “murtad” — apostate.
“Lieutenant al-Kasasbeh’s dedication, courage, and service to his country and family represent universal human values that stand in opposition to the cowardice and depravity of ISIL, which has been so broadly rejected around the globe,” the president’s statement continued. “As we grieve together, we must stand united, respectful of his sacrifice to defeat this scourge. Today, the coalition fights for everyone who has suffered from ISIL’s inhumanity. It is their memory that invests us and our coalition partners with the undeterred resolve to see ISIL and its hateful ideology banished to the recesses of history.”
King Abdullah of Jordan was in Washington today, but meeting with Secretary of State John Kerry and Vice President Joe Biden instead of Obama.
He made plans to hop on a plane back to Amman after the news broke.
The White House said Biden offered his condolences to the monarch and “condemned, in the strongest possible terms, the brutality and violence that ISIL has consistently shown to its captives and to the people of Iraq and Syria.”
“The Vice President called for the release of all those held prisoner by ISIL. The Vice President also reinforced America’s ironclad support for Jordan and his appreciation of Jordan’s contributions to the coalition against ISIL. As the Vice President made clear, this horrific video exposes ISIL’s true nature for all to see. It only reinforces our resolve to defeat ISIL together.”
Kerry said the fact that Kasaesbeh was murdered “after his father’s plea for compassion reminds all the world that this foe has no agenda other than to kill and destroy, and places no value on life, including that of fellow Muslims.”
Kasaesbeh, one of eight children, had married just a few months ago.
British Prime Minister David Cameron vowed to “not stop until these evil extremists and their poisonous ideology are defeated.”
“These terrorists’ brutal behavior will only strengthen our resolve. We stand in solidarity with our Jordanian friends and we will continue to work with them and our other Coalition partners to defeat ISIL,” Cameron said in a statement from 10 Downing Street. “Together we are making progress.”
The sole Jewish Republican in Congress said he’s demanding answers from the State Department “as to why U.S. tax dollars are being sent to a nonprofit trying to overthrow the Israeli government as far as Netanyahu’s regime.”
Jeremy Bird, who served as national field director for President Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign, has reportedly been working in Israel to defeat Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-N.Y.) pointed out that One Voice, a 501(c)3 organization, has partnered with anti-Bibi campaign committee V15. “One Voice advertises on their website that they are partners with the State Department. They recently received two State Department grants. V15 and One Voice are talking about merging, the plan is for them to merge prior to the March 17 election,” Zeldin told Fox.
“And V15 has entered into a contract of political consultant firm called 270 strategies, which has over a dozen individuals who are in leadership positions for Obama’s re- election and original election including Jeremy Bird, who in 2012 was the national field director.”
Zeldin acknowledged that One Voice received money before the Israel election was called, but said “the second grant was recent.”
“They just received the second grant just a couple months ago. I think it was around November 2014. And they are advertising on their website that they are partners with the State Department,” he said. “They clearly are merging with V15 in their effort to oust the prime minister.”
The congressman said the tax-exempt status of the group — which bills itself as a “grassroots movement that amplifies the voice of mainstream Israelis and Palestinians, empowering them to propel their elected representatives toward the two-state solution” — needs to be questioned if they’re “engaging in political activities.”
“A lot of people will be frustrated to see that their tax dollars are being used for this particular effort. We have a lot of great allies all across the entire world, but none more stronger than Israel,” Zeldin said. “Which is a beacon of freedom and democracy and liberty in a region filled with radical Islamic extremists and state-sponsored terrorism. So, you know, this president needs a refresher course on who our friends are and who our enemies are. He won’t meet with the prime minister when he’s coming to visit Washington. His minions are racing overseas to be able to organize an effort to topple Netanyahu.”
Zeldin said he believes the Obama-Netanyahu rift largely goes back to “last summer when Netanyahu decided enough was enough and he wanted to root out Hamas from Israel so his people could live in fear.”
“You know, instead of urging and supporting our strongest ally, the president was urging patience on the part of Israelis while praising Palestinian authority.”
Hat Tip: Grabien
When it comes to our relationship with the Islamic world, even well-known liberals are starting to wonder what the Obama administration is trying to get at. During a recent appearance on the Late Show with David Letterman, MSNBC pundit Rachel Maddow chatted with the renowned host on the state visit to honor the late Saudi king. Both personalities were puzzled at America’s strange relationship with an obvious ideological enemy, with Maddow commenting, “The list of people who they sent… I mean, it’s amazing that we weren’t there! …They went way down the list of people you’ve ever heard of in the pages of foreign policy. Everybody!”
Maddow and Letterman raise a good point. Saudi Arabia was the fountain for Sunni Jihad, Iran was the fountain for Shi’ite Jihad. Both strains of Islam harbor a virulent hatred for each other that is currently playing itself out in the Sunni-backed ISIS revolution against Shi’ite-dominated governments. It seems that the only thing the two Islamic parties can agree on is their hatred of the Jews and, by virtue of their Biblical relationship with Jews, Christians. So, what are the leaders of a traditionally Judeo-Christian nation doing sucking up to the Sunni powerhouse of the Middle East?
Historically speaking, Saudi Arabia is the West’s creation, Brit T.E. Lawrence’s romantic notions carved into a losing deal with the Saud family exactly 100 years ago this year. As with any other regime, moral disagreements have been set aside over the generations in favor of political alliances, economic deal making, and a lot of bowing to the student on behalf of the supposed master. Moralists outraged by social media evidence of Sunni Islam’s humanitarian crisis playing out in Saudi Arabia have less sway over ending America’s “creepy, totally dependent” relationship with the kingdom (as Maddow dubbed it) than do the changing dynamics in the oil industry. It would seem that very little has changed in a century.
After all, this wouldn’t be the first time celebrities used their star power to address ideological threats abroad. Hollywood’s stars spoke out against Nazism in the late 1930s and were warned to shut up by FDR’s lackey, lest they be blamed for antagonizing us into an unnecessary war. So, when two of the most liberal pop personalities begin questioning America’s moral imperative in the Middle East, how far will they get? Will we see Maddow, Letterman or the like championing the cause of Christopher Cramer, the U.S. defense subcontractor who mysteriously died last month while working for Israel’s Elbit Systems in Saudi Arabia? Or will he be yet another forgotten casualty in the Obama administration’s defense in the War on Muslims?
The Jewish Press reports:
Saudi Arabia has yet to release the body of a U.S. defense subcontractor who was working for Israel’s Elbit Systems when he died under mysterious circumstances after being sent to the country to help complete a weapons deal.
Christopher Cramer was working for Kollsman Inc., a firm that subcontracted for the Israeli defense electronics company, when he was found dead last month on the ground outside his third-floor hotel room in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia.
“We received a message from Kollsman Inc., Elbit Systems’ subcontractor in America, saying its employee Chris Cramer passed away during a work trip,” said a spokesperson for Elbit Systems.
“The circumstances of his death are being investigated by the American State Department. We have no further details at this stage and we are waiting for the State Department to update our American subcontractor. Cramer worked for the company for 12 years. We cannot provide details on the project he was working on, but this is a Kollsman product, an American product with no Israeli technologies involved in its production.”
According to the family attorney, Noah Mandell, the Saudi Arabian company that bought the equipment claimed it wasn’t working correctly. Cramer’s job was to investigate in order to make sure the Saudis were operating the equipment correctly and not trying to pull a fast one on Kollsman:
Mandell and a nephew of Cramer’s, Christopher Arsenault, suspect that Cramer was killed because his presence threatened to reveal the fact that Global Defense Systems, a Saudi company involved in the deal, was intent on sabotaging equipment that Cramer was sent to fix.
Cramer sent footage to his superiors showing that the equipment was working correctly. Shortly afterward, he sent text messages to his attorney begging him to get in touch with the State Department, explaining, “I think something bad is going to happen to me tonight. Please contact State Dept. ASAP. Bad things were said.”
The Saudis are holding Cramer’s body pending an investigation seemingly designed to prove their foregone conclusion that the American committed suicide. Despite protests from doubtful family and friends who anxiously await an autopsy on American soil the State Department is backing the Saudis, referring inquiries to the local police department in Tabuk, Saudi Arabia.
An Air Force veteran in Congress who served in Iraq said Jordan should not trade a would-be suicide bomber for a pilot’s freedom as it hands ISIS a “moral victory.”
Jordan has been weighing a deal for the release of Sajida al-Rishawi, an Iraqi awaiting the death penalty for her role in the grisly 2005 bombing of a wedding reception at the Radisson in Amman. Her husband killed himself, but her suicide belt failed to properly detonate and she was captured.
ISIS had requested al-Rishawi be freed in exchange for Japanese war reporter Kenji Goto. Jordan wants any such deal tied to the release of air force pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh as well, but they haven’t received any proof of life that the pilot is OK.
The latest deadline set by ISIS, which has passed, was sunset today.
“Look, you have to have sympathy for the Jordanian people. They watched for a month their pilot on television paraded around, this hero,” Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.) said on Fox. “So you understand that. This sets a very bad precedent.”
“Look at the fact that, why does ISIS want this to happen in the first place? Do they really want this so-called ‘lady al-Qaeda’ out? Maybe. But at the end of the day, they wanted a victory. That will be a huge victory for them if they are able to get Jordan to, in essence, show up on their knees, release a prisoner who as been convicted through a legal court system to get their pilot back. It’s as much as a moral victory for ISIS than anything.”
U.S. Special Forces reportedly attempted, unsuccessfully, to rescue al-Kasaesbeh earlier this month.
On Christmas Eve, ISIS released the ID card of Kasasbeh and paraded parts of his downed plane, as well as images of the pilot in a soaked T-shirt and stripped from the waist down with blood coming from his mouth. ISIS’ magazine ran an “interview” with the pilot and referred to him throughout as “murtadd” — apostate.
“This is going to it be a multiyear process, especially with the president saying we will never use ground troops in this case. You will see these hostage situations and these desires for swaps and these #100 or $200 million ransom, and more beheadings. We will see this forever. This is their M.O. and they want this as a moral victory,” Kinzinger said.
“Think about the moral victory, unfortunately, maybe if this pilot has already been murdered. We hope he hasn’t been. And then Jordan offers to make a swap and find out he was murdered anyway. Again, the thing ISIS is seeking here is a major moral victory. A moral victory to them will help them recruit. They will have brought down this infidel regime in Jordan. It’s a very dangerous situation. It’s going to lead to further kidnappings and further danger. That’s why we don’t negotiate with terrorists. We can’t do it.”
There’s been extra political pressure on King Abdullah to swap for the pilot’s life because the young man comes from a powerful tribe that’s critical to support for the monarchy.
The Menendez-Kirk Iran sanctions bill passed its first test today with flying colors, receiving an 18-4 vote to move it out of the Senate Banking Committee.
The “no” votes came from Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), and Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.).
Democrats who voted in favor of the bill were Sens. Robert Menendez (D-N.J.), Mark Warner (D-Va.), Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.), Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), and Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.).
Included in the final bill was an amendment from Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) expressing the sense of the Congress that it should vote on any final agreement about Iran’s nuclear program.
“Congress votes on treaties and trade agreements, including agreements that allow for the exchange of peaceful nuclear technology and material between the United States and other countries, such as Japan and India,” said Toomey.
“A final deal with Iran about its nuclear program is certainly no less important, and it deserves a public debate in Congress along with a vote. Our national security interest in preventing Iran from having nuclear weapons will extend far beyond the 18 months that will remain in this administration’s term by the time a deal may be reached,” he added. “Congressional approval would make a pact more durable, and the importance of such an agreement with Iran should have the national commitment that comes from a bipartisan consensus in Congress.”
In addition to Kirk and Menendez, original co-sponsors of the bill are Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Dan Coats (R-Ind.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Ted Cruz (R-Texas), Bob Casey (D-Pa.), Richard Burr (R-N.C.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Schumer, and Donnelly.
It would implement new sanctions on the Islamic Republic after the June 30 negotiations deadline if a deal is not reached.
The administration would be required to submit any agreement to Congress within five days. Congress would then have 30 days to review the pact before the president can give Iran any sanctions relief agreed to at the P5+1. There also would need to be certification that a sanctions waiver is in the national security interest of the U.S.
If Congress acts before the deadline, reimposition of sanctions could happen as early as August, specifically targeting the petroleum and financial sectors as well as regime officials.
Senate Dems co-sponsoring the bill want a vote after the March 24 framework deadline. That would put the congressional action after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s March 3 address to a joint session of Congress, and after the giant AIPAC conference in D.C. at which Bibi will also speak.