The New York Times reports:
The Arab states said on Sunday that they had agreed to form a combined military force to counter both Iranian influence and Islamist extremism, a gesture many analysts attributed in large part to their drive for more independence from Washington.
The agreement came as American and other Western diplomats in Lausanne, Switzerland, were racing to beat a self-imposed deadline of Tuesday to reach a deal with Iran that would restrict its nuclear program in exchange for the removal of economic sanctions. In response, Saudi Arabia and other American allies in the region have made clear that they are seeking to bolster independent regional security measures because they see the proposed accord as a betrayal of Washington’s commitment to their security.
In other words, not only does Congress not trust Barry. Not only does Netanyahu not trust Barry. Now nearly the entirety of the Arab world doesn’t trust Barry to the point that they’re uniting and forming their own military force?
Could it be that they feel Obama has declared a War on Muslims?
This wouldn’t be the first iteration of an Arab League coalition force. First formed in 1945, the force quickly disbanded after attacking and losing to the nascent Israeli Army in 1948.
Should it come as any surprise that a J Street speaker would be applauded for proclaiming the myth that the Jews “took” the land of Israel from the Palestinians and are now “imposing” on it? No. Should it come as any surprise that said speaker advocates for the idea of Jews living as a “protected minority” in an Arab Palestine, or any other nation for that matter? No. But it is sadly ridiculous, nonetheless.
Check out commentary at the Algemeiner:
The moderator didn’t challenge her, and as far as I could tell neither did any other panelists.
Isn’t it interesting that at a conference that claims to be “pro-Israel, pro-peace” and that hammers away at how it wants a two state solution, there is no objection to this one-state solution where Jews are “protected” by people who want to kill them?J-Street refuses to let Alan Dershowitz, an advocate of a two-state solution since the 1970s, speak. But this crazy lady who thinks that Israel treats Arab citizens worse than Arabs would treat Jews is given a platform, without a single dissenting voice that I could find, either at the session or on Twitter afterwards, from J-Street members or attendees.
Marcia Freedman is a former Knesset member and a member of J Street’s advisory council. Perhaps it is time for J Street to remove “Pro-Israel” from their logo, since it is obvious that, for their membership at least, any state will do.
Want to know what’s happened this week in the Middle East and the War on Terror? Here are some articles to keep you up to date:
Operation Charlie Foxtrot: Obama admin's strategic incoherence is aiding and abetting Middle East chaos http://t.co/f32EQWrbUn
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) March 28, 2015
Final battle for Tikrit: 'we won’t let the Americans take the glory' http://t.co/v2MonV4QUA
— The Guardian (@guardian) March 26, 2015
— Foreign Policy (@ForeignPolicy) March 28, 2015
The Shia crescendo – Shia militias are proliferating in the Middle East http://t.co/2OnfkfCylV
— A.M.H. (@alimhaider) March 27, 2015
AEROTERROR: A regular flight from Caracas to Tehran carried more drugs and money than people http://t.co/TrMURg7yuT
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) March 28, 2015
How the U.S. caved on every promise it made about preventing an Iranian nuke. Scoop here: http://t.co/yq8C1qL0zb
— Adam Kredo (@Kredo0) March 26, 2015
Nusra Front quietly rises in Syria as Islamic State targeted http://t.co/4Gv3njazcC
— Blogs of War (@BlogsofWar) March 24, 2015
— Oren Kessler (@OrenKessler) March 27, 2015
— Al Arabiya English (@AlArabiya_Eng) March 27, 2015
— J Lester Feder (@jlfeder) February 6, 2015
Nigeria Holds Elections Amid Threats of Violence Between Factions, Boko Haram – U.S. News & World Report http://t.co/URWB1HOyc6
— El Globalista (@El_Globalista) March 28, 2015
Obama: U.S. to maintain current level of 9,800 troops in Afghanistan through 2015 instead of reducing as planned. http://t.co/ABvMapaCKL
— CNN Breaking News (@cnnbrk) March 24, 2015
Well, I couldn’t keep it to a dozen this week, so here’s a few more:
— Patrick Poole (@pspoole) March 24, 2015
— El_Grillo (@El_Grillo1) March 25, 2015
“Their bathrooms are bigger than our living rooms" Taliban leaders are living in luxury in Qatar http://t.co/dWXpcvhF9e
— Alessandria Masi (@AlessandriaMasi) March 24, 2015
— Free Beacon (@FreeBeacon) March 24, 2015
Saudi gov't proxy argues that it's a Sunni-Shia conflict for years to come. Saddest thing is he might be right. http://t.co/N1z7NKYtGi
— Evan Hill (@evanchill) March 28, 2015
Decrying that President Obama’s policies have pushed the Middle East to a “tipping point,” Republican senators accused the commander in chief of not acting against Iran’s aggression in Yemen and other places because of his “obsession” with placating the Islamic Republic during nuclear talks.
“Operation Decisive Storm,” launched at midnight Saudi Arabia time, bombarded Yemen’s Houthi rebels with the power of 100 Saudi fighters jets, 150,000 soldiers and naval units in the operation. The United Arab Emirates pitched in 30 fighter jets, Bahrain contributed 15, Qatar sent 10, Kuwait deployed 15 and Jordan contributed six. Even North Africa got into the game, with Sudan sending three fighter jets, Egypt supplying four warships and air support, and Morocco sending six fighter jets. Pakistan also provided naval and aerial support in the attack on the Iran-backed Houthi rebels. The White House said the U.S. provided “logistical and intelligence” support.
But it was revealed today that Pentagon officials were told about the coalition operation just a few hours before the Saudis struck. The Saudi ambassador to Washington announced the attack at their embassy in D.C. shortly after the military found out.
“The reality is that countries in the region no longer have confidence in or are willing to work with the United States of America,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) somberly noted at a press conference on the Hill moments ago.
“Look at where we have come from — our closest allies in the region no longer trust us that they wait to tell us a few hours before they begin a major military operation,” McCain said. “I understand why these countries did not notify us or seek our coordination. That’s because they believe we are siding with Iran.”
The Saudis launched the operation as the U.S. sat down with Iran in Switzerland for the latest round of negotiations. The Associated Press published an exclusive today revealing that Washington “is considering letting Tehran run hundreds of centrifuges at a once-secret, fortified underground bunker.”
Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) told reporters that the administration is making a huge mistake by keeping Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and spread of influence through backing Shiite rebels in key countries off the negotiating table.
“You cannot divorce the two of them,” Ayotte said, stressing that “Iran’s backing of the Houthis has caused this situation to devolve where we had to evacuate from Yemen.”
She noted that another Iran target is home of America’s Fifth Fleet, Bahrain. “They are backing Shia groups that are trying to undermine the government in Bahrain,” the senator said. “This will continue to spread further.”
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) stressed that Obama’s “leading from behind” policy left the region poised for a “bloodletting between Sunnis and Shia that we haven’t seen in 1,000 years.”
“We’re on the verge of a full-scale proxy war in Yemen between Iran and Arab states” that threatens to spill over into the entire region, Graham said. “The Mideast is on fire and it’s every person for himself.”
All three senators made clear that they support the Saudi-led offensive — “the Saudis did the right thing,” McCain said — but, in the words of Graham, “categorically reject President Obama’s foreign policy that we believe has substantially contributed to this mess.”
Graham backed an international operation that would take out the Houthis and al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula at the same time. “We’re not in the Sunni-Shia debate here,” he said.
“I think it’s fine that they did it themselves; the question is, what’s the reason for that?” McCain asked, adding it’s “unacceptable that we’re negotiating a bad nuclear deal and at same time turning a blind eye to Iranian aggression.”
McCain said he does not believe that the Saudis launched the offensive to derail the P5+1 talks.
“The saddest things about this whole series of events that have taken place over the past several years is we predicted every single thing that would happen,” he said, ranging from the effects of an Iraq pullout to a refusal to assist the Free Syrian Army in the early days of the war to the non-enforcement of the red line drawn by Obama when Syrian President Bashar al-Assad unleashed chemical weapons on his people.
Graham saw the red line as a “defining moment” as Obama “failed to act in a way the region saw as meaningful.”
“ISIS will never be destroyed on his watch,” Graham predicted. “…He’s afraid to disrupt negotiations by taking on [Iran's] puppet Assad.”
He further predicted that the Arab coalition “will probably not stop in Yemen and Iran will probably push back — God help us all.”
The Senate is plowing through a slew of amendments today expected to last until midnight, dubbed the “vote-a-rama” that precedes the budget vote.
One of those amendments would create an ISIS tax.
Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.), backed by Senate Budget Committee Ranking Member Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), proposed a “temporary surtax” to help cover the cost of military operations against ISIS.
That would be discontinued, his office said without offering more details, “once relevant military operations have concluded” against the Islamic State.
According to yesterday’s congressional record, the amount collected would be $8,800,000,000.
“As our nation’s Armed Forces continue their critical mission to degrade and destroy ISIS, which is already months underway, we need to consider another part of our strategy–paying for the war. This is not a new concept. Our nation has a long history of paying for our military missions. In fact, every war since the Revolutionary War, to the first Gulf War, was paid for,” Coons said on the Senate floor last night.
“Through each of our nation’s armed conflicts, new revenue streams not only provided the resources our military needed, they reminded the American people that our country was at war and we all needed to contribute to the effort. But after 14 years and 2 wars that have cost our nation trillions of dollars, I fear we have forgotten this important lesson from our history,” he continued. “We cannot write another blank check for a war. Paying for a war against ISIS is the right thing to do. It is fiscally, morally, and militarily responsible. As we continue to debate this war authorization in Congress, we need to be honest with the American people and each other about what it will cost our nation. That is why, as we debate the budget this week, I have offered an amendment that requires us to raise the revenue to pay for the fight against ISIS. The American people deserve no less.”
“I urge my colleagues to join me on this amendment to pay for a critically important war against ISIS and ensure we fight this battle together as one country.”
Sanders said the GOP “has to end their hypocrisy with regard to deficits and the national debt.”
“They are going to have to be honest with the American people. Wars are enormously expensive, not only in terms of human life and suffering, but in terms of the budget,” Sanders said. “If the Republicans want another war in the Mideast, they are going to have to tell the American people how much it will cost them and how it will be paid for.”
UPDATE: The amendment failed this evening, but not by a lot — 46-54.
Graham: ‘No Military Member…Should Expect Our Country to Release Hardened Terrorists to Secure Their Release’
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who is a colonel in the Air Forces Reserves focusing on military law, was opposed to the trade of five high-ranking members of the Taliban for Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl from the moment it happened last May.
But he’s also opposed to the administration reasoning that, after Bergdahl’s five years in captivity, they had no choice because they couldn’t leave a man behind.
“No military member, up to and including a Medal of Honor recipient, should expect our country to release hardened terrorists to secure their release,” Graham said in a statement Wednesday after the Army announced Bergdahl would face charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy. “There is a general understanding that the mission and national interest come ahead of any individual. This is particularly true while hostilities are still raging as they are today in Afghanistan.”
Graham, who is considering a run for the White House in 2016, called the swap “a politically motived maneuver designed to help achieve the Obama administration’s goal of emptying the Guantanamo jail of some very dangerous terrorists.”
“My concerns about the swap were never related to the quality of Sergeant Bergdahl’s service, but to the nature of the transfer and how it undermined the war effort,” the senator said. “President Obama’s ill-conceived decision to release the ‘Taliban 5’ put our men and women in uniform at increased risk. I have no doubt that in the future the ‘Taliban 5’ will return to the fight against the United States.”
Graham told CNN he has “nothing but disgust” for the deal.
“This undermined the war effort. These people are going to go back to the fight. And what do you tell a family member that may be killed by one of these guys down the road?”
Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), a Air Force pilot who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom, told Fox that he was told in survival training “your country will never leave you behind, and we take a lot of heart in that.”
“But it’s a two-way street. Your country will not leave you behind but you can never leave your country behind either. A lot of people, probably even in Bowe Bergdahl’s unit, that looked at the mountains and truly wanted to leave base and go out and explore but, at the end of the day, they knew they had a bigger obligation,” Kinzinger said. “…Look, if we had had sent a Special Forces team in to rescue him or something like that, that’s one thing. But trading five of among the biggest enemies of the United States. And by the way, we are getting reports that at least three of them are starting their kind of pre-confinement activities again.”
The White House, however, stands by the swap despite the desertion charges.
“The commander in chief will not allow a member of the United States armed forces to be left behind,” press secretary Josh Earnest told CNN.
“It was an important message for this president to deliver to the American people, but also to people all around the world, that the United States and their commander in chief stands squarely behind our men and women in uniform and with the commitment we have made to not leave them behind,” Earnest said.
Israeli newspaper Yediot got their hands on the European Union’s 40-point plan to “pressure Israel into negotiations” in the wake of Netanyahu’s re-election.
An EU diplomatic source told Ynet that there was a definite chance that the recommendations in the report, which the member states have yet to approve, were more likely to be implemented following Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s statement during his election campaign that a Palestinian state would not be created under his rule.
“We are on a collision course,” said the European diplomat. “It’s clear to everyone in Brussels that there must be a response to these statements.”
…”If Israel continues its policy beyond the Green Line, it will affect the relationship between European nations and Israel,” he warned.
Headings of the 40-point plan include, “Preserving the viability of Jerusalem as the future capital of two states” and “Strengthening the role, visibility and policy of the European Union.” The full report has been scanned and is linked via the Ynet story.
The “Operation Decisive Storm” coalition that bombarded Yemen overnight now has full control of the country’s airspace, said Saudi officials, who unleashed 100 fighters jets, 150,000 soldiers and naval units in the operation.
The only regional country that stayed out of the fight was Yemen’s neighbor Oman. The United Arab Emirates pitched in 30 fighter jets, Bahrain contributed 15, Qatar sent 10, Kuwait deployed 15 and Jordan contributed six. Even North Africa got into the game, with Sudan sending three fighter jets, Egypt supplying four warships and air support, and Morocco sending six fighter jets. Pakistan also provided naval and aerial support in the attack on the Iran-backed Houthi rebels.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told MSNBC this morning that the Saudis decided “on their own” to launch the attack, “and the reason is simply that Saudi Arabia and Yemen share a long border.”
“And they have enlisted the support of other partners and allies of theirs in region, and they have asked the United States for some intelligence support that we can provide. And the president has agreed to that request and we are providing them support,” he said. “But the Saudis are in the lead in this military action they are taking to protect the interest they have along their border with Yemen.”
The White House has been urging a UN-backed diplomatic solution to the Houthi overthrow in Yemen.
But Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) made clear that it was the administration’s policies that allowed this mess in the first place.
“The takeover of large swaths of Yemen by Iranian-backed Shia militants has forced our Saudi allies to take military action. Months of fairy tale negotiations and appeasement by this administration have led Iran to believe that it can act with impunity on an international scale,” Issa said in a late-night statement as the Saudis bombarded targets.
“Now, more than ever, it is clear that any real settlement with Iran is impossible, and the president must acknowledge this fact,” he said. “The continued easement or outright removal of sanctions against this rogue state will only further embolden Iran and facilitate its belligerent behavior. We must make it clear that we will support our allies and punish our enemies through steadfast resolve and decisive action.”
Earnest said this morning that the Iran-fomented instability and Saudi reaction shouldn’t affect nuclear negotiations in Switzerland. “There’s no doubt that we believe that it’s in the best interest of the United States, our allies in Israel, and our partners in the region, including Saudi Arabia, for us to try to find a diplomatic resolution to the concerns that the world has about Iran’s nuclear weapons program,” he said.
Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), though, stressed to Fox that “this is about Iran, again, the source of instability in the region and many parts of the world.”
“These are Shia militias and Shia rebels making advances there. They are equipped, protected and supported by Iran. It’s part of their strategy to become the dominant regional power. It’s part of encircling Saudi Arabia, Sunni country. So you see their presence in Yemen. They basically invaded Iraq. Obviously, their influence they have in Lebanon. They control Assad in Syria. So, slowly but surely they are carrying out their master plan of regional dominance and Yemen is the latest piece of that puzzle,” Rubio said.
Senate Intelligence Committee Chairman Richard Burr (R-N.C.) said “clearly, the Saudis and their gulf partners have determined the situation in Yemen presents further danger to regional stability and their own territorial integrity.”
“I hope their intervention helps to restore some sense of security, but I fear Yemen may be too far gone to prevent an all-out civil war,” Burr said.
Saudi Arabia launched airstrikes into Yemen a short time ago, with the Saudi ambassador in Washington telling reporters that the aim is to “to protect the people of Yemen and its legitimate government from a takeover by the Houthis.”
“The Gulf Cooperation Council countries tried to facilitate a peaceful transition of government in Yemen, but the Houthis have continuously undercut the process by occupying territory and seizing weapons belonging to the government,” Adel bin Ahmed Al-Jubeir said in a statement. “…The Houthis have reneged on every single agreement they have made and continue their quest to take over the country by violent means.”
“Based on the appeal from President Hadi, and based on the Kingdom’s responsibility to Yemen and its people, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, along with its allies within the GCC and outside the GCC, launched military operations in support of the people of Yemen and their legitimate government.”
Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates said in a joint statement that President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi’s government had asked for help in battling the Iran-backed Houthis.
Warplanes of the Royal Saudi Air Force bombed the positions of Yemen’s Houthi militia, destroying an airbase in Sanaa and most of the militia’s air defenses, Al Arabiya News Channel reported early on Thursday, citing Saudi sources.
King Salman bin Abdulaziz ordered the airstrikes on the Iran-backed Houthi militia on Thursday at 12 am Riyadh time, the news channel reported, adding that the kingdom’s air force was “fully in control of the Yemeni airspace.”
Shortly afterwards Saudi Arabia’s Ambassador to Washington Adel al-Jubeir announced that the kingdom had launched a military operation involving air strikes in Yemen against Houthi fighters who have tightened their grip on the southern city of Aden where the country’s president had taken refuge.
Al-Jubeir told reporters that a 10-country coalition had joined in the military campaign in a bid “to protect and defend the legitimate government” of Yemen President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi.
“We will do whatever it takes in order to protect the legitimate government of Yemen from falling,” Jubeir said.
Al-Arabiya also reported a cyberwar component, saying that several Houthi websites had crashed.
Yesterday, while appearing in Riyadh with the British foreign secretary, Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud Al-Faisal hit at Iran and the Houthis.
The prince stressed that “it is not possible to grant Iran an undeserved deal” in the P5+1 nuclear negotiations.
On Yemen, he said, the Gulf Cooperation Council’s “aim is to provide the vehicle for the president to return peacefully to Yemen and provide the leadership as required to bring this country back.”
House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.) said the “takeover of southern Yemen by the Iranian-supported Houthis has led to chaos, threatening the national security interests of our regional partners and the United States.”
“Regional states, led by Saudi Arabia at President Hadi’s request, are taking action from the air,” Royce said. “The United States should support our Saudi and Gulf partners with appropriate logistical and intelligence support to combat this threat.”
National Security Council spokeswoman Bernadette Meehan said in a statement late Wednesday that President Obama “has authorized the provision of logistical and intelligence support to GCC-led military operations.”
“While U.S. forces are not taking direct military action in Yemen in support of this effort, we are establishing a Joint Planning Cell with Saudi Arabia to coordinate U.S. military and intelligence support,” Meehan said. “At the same time, the United States continues to closely monitor terrorist threats posed by al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula and will continue to take action as necessary to disrupt continuing, imminent threats to the United States and our citizens.”
“We strongly urge the Houthis to halt immediately their destabilizing military actions and return to negotiations as part of the political dialogue. The international community has spoken clearly through the UN Security Council and in other fora that the violent takeover of Yemen by an armed faction is unacceptable and that a legitimate political transition – long sought by the Yemeni people – can be accomplished only through political negotiations and a consensus agreement among all of the parties.”
The strikes came as the Obama administration resumed talks with Iran, which backs the Houthis, in Switzerland.
White House press secretary Josh Earnest was pressed at the briefing earlier today on whether they still consider Yemen a model for counterterrorism success.
“What the United States considers to be our strategy when confronting the effort to try to mitigate the threat that is posed by extremists, is to prevent them from establishing a safe haven. And certainly in a chaotic, dangerous situation like in Yemen, what the United States will do and has done is worked to try to support the central government, to build up the capacity of local fighters, and use our own technological and military capabilities to apply pressure on the extremists there,” Earnest replied.
“There’s no doubt that we would like to see a functioning central government in Yemen. We don’t see that right now. And that is why we’re supportive of the U.N.-led process to try to put an end to the violence and instability; to bring the sides, you know, all sides together to the table to try to resolve their differences; to build up the capacity of the central government; to build up the capacity of local forces; and to continue to apply pressure to extremists.”
But, Earnest maintained, “We do continue to enjoy the benefits of a sustained counterterrorism security relationship with the security infrastructure that remains in Yemen.”
State Department press secretary Jen Psaki acknowledged earlier today that Saudis “have legitimate concerns about the possible impact of current events in Yemen to their security, given their proximity.”
On Yemen as a success, she said “we have had success working on counterterrorism operations, and we expect and hope that will continue.”
Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could face life behind bars for walking away from his unit and into the hands of the Taliban, the Army announced today.
Bergdahl, who has been pulling desk duty at Fort Sam Houston since last summer, was charged with counts of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.
Taken in 2009, Bergdahl was the only American POW held by the Taliban. They received five high-level Guantanamo prisoners in exchange for his return.
Bergdahl will now face an Article 32 proceeding similar to a grand jury where the charges will be weighed. There was no word on whether Bergdahl’s defense team would try to work out a deal.
“This case has been made more difficult by the administration’s failure to follow the law surrounding the release of the Taliban 5,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) said in a statement. “But, Sgt. Bergdahl’s conduct should be considered under the Uniform Code of Military Justice as would any other service member’s, and I trust it will be.”
Qatar agreed to keep the Taliban 5 for a year, which will be up in a couple of months.
“I don’t have anything to discuss about it at this point in time. As you mentioned, it’s a couple of months from now. Obviously, we’ll continue consultations, as will many in the United States government, but I don’t know,” State Department press secretary Jen Psaki said today when quizzed about that looming date.
“As you know, the incidents of recidivism have dropped dramatically over the last couple of years,” she added. “We work closely with the government of Qatar on these issues. But I don’t have any predictions for you on what will happen several months from now.”
White House spokesman Josh Earnest was asked whether the administration knew the charges would come today, when Afghan President Ashraf Ghani addressed a joint session of Congress.
“I’m not aware of any plans for them to do that, but this is a process that’s being run by the United States Army, so I’d direct you to the Pentagon for an answer,” Earnest said.
President Obama threw a White House Rose Garden ceremony last May with Bergdahl’s parents to laud the sergeant’s release. Members of Congress, though, fumed that they weren’t notified of the trade. The administration said they had to move forward without notification as required by law because they feared Bergdahl’s life was in danger.
A week later, National Security Advisor Susan Rice defended the swap, as well as her defense of Bergdahl. “I realize there has been lots of discussion and controversy around this,” Rice said. “But what I was referring to was the fact that this was a young man who volunteered to serve his country in uniform at a time of war. That, in and of itself, is a very honorable thing.”
In January, the White House said the Bergdahl swap didn’t qualify as negotiating with terrorist groups.
“The Taliban is an armed insurgency. ISIL is a terrorist group. So we don’t make concessions to terrorist groups,” spokesman Eric Schultz told reporters.
“As you know, this was highly discussed at the time, and prisoner swaps are a traditional end of conflict interaction that happens,” the spokesman said. “As the war in Afghanistan wound down, we felt like it was the appropriate thing to do. The president’s bedrock commitment as commander in chief is to leave no man or woman behind. That’s the principle he was operating under.”
Then, he said the Taliban — hosts of al-Qaeda camps, suicide bombers, throwers of acid on schoolgirls — didn’t qualify as terrorists.
“The Taliban is an armed insurgency. This was the winding down of the war in Afghanistan. And that’s why this arrangement was dealt,” Schultz continued. “Our view is, as the president said at the time, which is, as the commander in chief, when he sends men and women into armed combat, he doesn’t want to leave anyone behind. That was the commitment he was following through on this.”
In a warmly received address to a joint session of Congress today, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani reassured lawmakers that his country wants nothing more than to be safe and self-reliant, and will not “be the lazy Uncle Joe” who won’t get a job.
“We owe a profound debt to the 2,350 servicemen and -women killed and the more than 20,000 who have been wounded in service to your country and ours… I want to thank the American taxpayer and you, their representatives, for supporting us,” Ghani said, reiterating remarks he made Monday to servicemen and women at the Pentagon.
“Veterans will always be welcome in Afghanistan. Our deepest hope is that the time will come when Americans visiting our country see the cultural heritage and natural riches… Not as soldiers, but as parents showing their children the beautiful country where they served in the war that defeated terror,” he said. “On behalf of my entire country, when that day comes, you will be our most welcome and honored guests.”
Ghani reflected on how he was in his office at the World Bank when planes leveled the World Trade Center on Sept. 11, 2001. The Columbia University graduate — along with his Christian Lebanese wife, Rula — recalled fondly eating “corned beef at Katz’s, New York’s greatest, meatiest, pickle-lined melting pot.” That was one of many lines that drew applause from the chamber; Afghan media counted 20 standing ovations.
“Close friends were working near the Trade Center. My children were born in New York, and my daughter was living in New York when the Twin Towers fell. I visited Ground Zero that very week. Seeing firsthand the tragedy and devastation drove home the realization that after 9/11, the world would never be the same. I went home knowing that America would seek justice, and I began to write the plan for our national reconstruction,” the president continued.
Ghani stressed that despite “thankfully rare, but nonetheless tragic” green-on-blue attacks, “the overwhelming majority of Afghans continue to see the partnership with the United States as foundational to our future.”
“We have made great sacrifices, we Afghans, but then, it’s our patriotic to do so. You, on the other hand, had a choice. And when it came to a fork in the road, chose to do the right thing. Thank you.”
While the Taliban banned girls from attending school, today more than 3 million are in class, Ghani said. “Their parents thank you.”
“In 2002, when the allies built their first clinics, the average life-span of the ordinary Afghan was 44 years. Today, it’s over 60. Their children thank you.”
Afghanistan, he said, “contrary to wide perception, is well-suited to democracy.”
“Like Americans, Afghans are individuals. None of us defers to anyone else. We have neither had caste nor class, so persuading each other is an art form,” Ghani said. “Our key characteristics are our openness and hospitality. We believe in equality. Even in the most traditional parts of the country, our leadership must earn rather than inherit their position. There’s a strong public conscience. People are expected to act for the common good. We love debate.”
Ghani acknowledged ISIS as “another, darker cloud that is making its way towards our country.”
“The promise of the Arab Spring gave way to the emergence of Daesh terror and collapse of states. But the changed ecology of terror could have not formed without some states tolerating, financing, providing sanctuary and using violent, nonstate actors as instruments of shortsighted policies,” he said. “…From the West, the Daesh is already sending advance guards to southern and western Afghanistan to push our vulnerabilities. To the south, Pakistan’s counterinsurgency operations in which more than 40,000 people have already died are pushing the Taliban from South Waziristan towards Afghanistan’s border regions.”
Afghanistan, he stressed, “is carrying forward everyone’s fight by containing this threat.”
“Properly supported, Afghanistan is uniquely positioned to block the spread of extremism. We have none of the historical inferiority complexes that choose resentment across Western domination. After all, we defeated most of the empires,” he said. “…Ordinary is what has escaped us, and we’d really like to be leading ordinary lives, to go to school and to come back. To shop without being blown up. To play volleyball without being attacked.”
Ghani spent a substantial portion of his speech outlining plans to advance women’s rights, and to highlight gains already made.
“No country in the modern world can be self-reliant with half of its population locked away, uneducated and unable to contribute its energy, creativity and drive to national development… educating women is not solely a matter of rights, important though they are. It is a matter of national necessity,” he said, stressing “a mental and cultural revolution must take place over treatment of women in and by our society. There is no point talking about how much we respect woman’s honor if we let rape go unpunished or allow harassment in our streets.”
The president said he is “meeting frequently women who are entertaining the idea, seriously, the idea of becoming the first woman president of Afghanistan, and we will support them.” Four women have been appointed to his cabinet for a 20 percent share — “still too low, but at least fulfillment of our promise.”
Vowing Afghanistan “will be the graveyard of al-Qaeda and their foreign terrorist associates,” Ghani said that “although we may be poor, we’re very proud.”
“Our goal of self-reliance is no pipe dream… we want your know-how, the business skills of your corporations, the innovation of your startups and the commitment of your NGOs,” he said. “But we don’t want your charity. We have no more interest in perpetuating a childish dependence than you have in being saddled with a poor family member who lacks the energy and drive to get out and find a job. We are not going to be the lazy Uncle Joe.” Lawmakers laughed; Vice President Joe Biden was sitting behind Ghani as he spoke.
“Together, our two countries will finish the job that began on that clear, terrible September morning almost 14 years ago. We have the way, and we have the commitment that will anchor our country into a community of peaceful, democratic nations.”
A Taliban spokesman says the U.S. decision to delay the reduction of troops in Afghanistan will badly undermine the chances for peace.
Meeting with Aghan President Ashraf Ghani at the White House on March 24, President Barack Obama said the United States would leave 9,800 troops in Afghanistan though the end of 2015 instead of cutting the number to 5,500, and would decide on plans for 2016 later this year.
Taliban spokesman Zabihullah Mujahid said on March 25 that Obama’s announcement “damages all prospects for peace.”
Mujahid said the U.S. decision “means the war will go on until they are all defeated.”
It really doesn’t take a hyperactive imagination to draw a mental picture of what a peace negotiation on the part of the Taliban looks like when they are not held in check militarily. There are people who can remember fifteen years ago, after all.
If the bad guys are in a hurry for you to get out of town, it generally isn’t because they just want to relax in your absence. The Unites States shouldn’t be there forever, obviously, but troops may need to be there longer than what is necessary for President Obama’s legacy-building plan.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said Tuesday that Canada intends to fight the Islamic State of Iraq and Al-Sham for as long as the militant group poses a threat.
The government introduced a motion to extend the current six-month mission in Iraq for up to a year, ending in March 2016. But the expiry date is apparently flexible.
In one of their terse exchanges in question period, NDP Leader Tom Mulcair asked the prime minister if the military campaign had an exit strategy. Mr. Harper did not provide one.
What’s that? A leader not telling the enemy when he will stop fighting? What kind of madness is this?!?
This guy has obviously not read Obama’s “Cut and Run” playbook:
“Our goal here is to deal with the threat to [Canada],” Mr. Harper said, “and we will deal with it for as long as it is there and we will not stop dealing with it before that.”
Some may say that I am making an apples and oranges comparison here, but it’s the differences in focus between Obama and Harper that are interesting. Obama is in it for as long as he deems necessary, and Harper realizes that things like this have a messiness and fluidity about them.
In other words, he’s a grown-up. One who has perhaps read a history book or two, rather than gobble up the words of Alinsky and Bill Ayers.
They’ve got good beer up there…road trip, maybe?
Earlier this month I reported here at PJ Media that U.S.-backed Syrian rebel group Harakat al-Hazm had disbanded, and their U.S.-provided TOW anti-tank missiles had ended up in the hands of Jabhat al-Nusra, Al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria.
Today a video posted on YouTube by al-Nusra shows their operatives using the U.S. TOW missiles to attack Syrian army positions in Idlib. They also posted a statement to that effect on Twitter:
— Harald Doornbos (@HaraldDoornbos) March 24, 2015
Here’s the video, with a TOW missile making its appearance ~ 0:43:
When I reported on the collapse of Hazm earlier in the month, I noted that pictures had appeared of al-Nusra fighters posing with U.S.-provided weapons, including the TOW missiles.
— Rita Katz (@Rita_Katz) March 2, 2015
Some D.C. analysts claimed that the TOW tubes in the pictures were empty, but it is apparent now that al-Nusra did get their hands on live rounds and acquired personnel trained in firing the TOW system.
This, undoubtedly, is one reason why former U.S. Ambassador to Syria Robert Ford, once one of the loudest cheerleaders for arming the Syrian rebels, has done a complete turn-around and is now openly critical of the Syrian opposition:
Robert Ford was always one of the Syrian rebels’ loudest cheerleaders in Washington, agitating from within a reluctant administration to arm vetted moderates to fight Bashar Assad’s brutal regime.
In recent weeks, however, Ford, the former U.S. ambassador to Syria who made news when he left government service a year ago with an angry critique of Obama administration policy, has dropped his call to provide weapons to the rebels. Instead, he’s become increasingly critical of them as disjointed and untrustworthy because they collaborate with jihadists.
The about-face, which is drawing murmurs among foreign policy analysts and Syrian opposition figures in Washington, is another sign that the so-called moderate rebel option is gone and the choices in Syria have narrowed to regime vs. extremists in a war that’s killed more than 200,000 people and displaced millions.
Of course, some had argued, including myself, that this is where things were headed all along with the Obama administration’s policy of supporting, arming and training the so-called “vetted moderates.” And now Ford is admitting that the “vetted moderates” supported by the U.S. are collaborating with jihadist groups.
More smart diplomacy in action.
The Times of Israel got it straight from an anonymous “senior Jerusalem official”: Obama wanted “revenge” in the wake of Netanyahu’s speech to Congress.
The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told The Times of Israel that “it’s no secret” that the Obama administration had attempted to influence the outcome of the election…
…“The White House is driven by three main motives,” the senior official said. “The first is revenge [over the Congress speech]. The second is frustration: It’s no secret that they were involved in an attempt to bring down the Netanyahu government – something that we have clear knowledge of – and failed. The third [motive] is the administration’s attempt to divert attention from the negotiations with Iran to the Palestinian issue.”
Not only do Israeli policymakers have a full understanding of Obama’s involvement in Israeli elections, they have also already reasoned their way around Obama’s potential politicking at the UN:
…The White House will attempt to “punish” Israel at the UN or the Security Council, the senior Israeli official said Tuesday, alluding to intimations by US officials to the effect that Washington could change its policy of vetoing anti-Israel measures and even pursue a unilateral Palestinian statehood initiative.
“Congress is currently our only means of preventing a series of harmful initiatives, on both the Iranian and the Palestinian front,” the official said. “If the US government will permit the recognition of a Palestinian state at the UN, then Congress will brandish its knives and defund the UN.” On Sunday, Republic Senator John McCain threatened to do just that.
And are at ease portraying Obama as the hypocrite who is busy covering his tracks:
…“They come and accuse us of torpedoing negotiations even though they know that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas himself said no [to a deal], twice — once to then-secretary of state Hillary Clinton in 2011, and once to Secretary of State John Kerry last year.”
Iran’s senior nuclear negotiator has stressed yet again that there is no deal with the P5+1 unless all sanctions on the Islamic Republic are lifted first.
In fact, there are “no concessions” on Iran’s part forthcoming, he said.
Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyed Abbas Araqchi said early this month that Tehran’s “principle position is that all sanctions are lifted at once.”
Last week, 260 lawmakers in the 290-seat Islamic Consultative Assembly wrote a letter demanding that all sanctions be removed as a prerequisite for signing a nuclear deal.
“As a guarantee for implementation, in case of any violation of obligations by the opposite side, the agreement will be declared null and void and enrichment will be resumed at any required level,” the lawmakers wrote.
And over the weekend, Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who will ultimately sign off on or reject any nuclear deal, tweeted his agreement. “We reject US fraudulent offer of reaching a deal w #Iran first then lifting sanctions. Lifting sanctions is a part of deal not its outcome,” Khamenei tweeted.
Now today, with more than two weeks of negotiations having passed since his original comments, Araqchi is reiterating that “Tehran’s confidence-building measures and removal of sanctions by the powers are the objectives of the ongoing nuclear talks between the two sides,” according to the semi-official Fars News Agency.
Fars reported that Araqchi stressed “Iran is not to give away any concessions”:
He described the present phase of the talks as “sensitive”, and said it was natural for certain people to make some remarks to influence the process of the negotiations.
However, Araqchi said, Iran is not to grant any concessions.
Commenting on the recent remarks of the US President Barack Obama who said Iran has not provided enough concessions yet, he said the American president is making the remarks to affect the negotiations.
He said none of the parties is expected to offer concessions, specially Iran.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said today at the Council on Foreign Relations and on the Senate floor that the Obama administration trying to repeal Iran sanctions at the UN and not coming to Congress would be met with a bipartisan “violent response.”
“The Iranians are going to demand immediate sanction relief, and I hope we’ll say no. Until the IAEA verifies what they’ve been doing in the past, I think it would be ill-advised to relieve the sanctions,” Graham said at the CFR event. “They’re going to ask for a research-and-development capability. That scares the hell out of me, and I hope we’ll say no. If they demand immediate sanctions relief, the deal probably falls. Then we’ll be in no-man’s territory. Just, we don’t know what will happen next.”
“And that’s the most dangerous time, because that’s when they’re most likely to break out. Whether they believe that Obama would use force to stop their breakout, after drawing the red line with Assad, I doubt it. Whether they believe that P5+1 would do it as a group, I doubt it after the way we’ve handled Russia and the Ukraine.”
White House press secretary Josh Earnest told reporters today that they “have made pretty clear… that this deal will be predicated on serious commitments from the Iranians about resolving the international community’s concerns with their nuclear program and a commitment that they will comply with intrusive inspections.”
“And those are the kinds of commitments that we’re going to insist on before we even contemplate any sort of sanctions relief,” Earnest said. “And what we would envision is a demonstrated commitment to the — to compliance with the agreement before phasing the sanctions relief.”
The Obama administration frequently notes that it made Syrian President Bashar al-Assad get rid of his chemical weapons, a deal struck with the help of Assad ally Russia after the ghastly 2013 attack on Ghouta.
That attack crossed the red line established by President Obama to take action to help the Syrian people, and once he struck the weapons disposal deal he considered it a most welcome line through an unpleasant confrontation on his to-do list.
White House chief of staff Denis McDonough held the deal up during his speech to J Street today as a “political arrangement” where congressional approval is not needed, such as what they’re trying to achieve with Iran. “It’s how we—peacefully—removed Syria’s entire declared stockpile of chemical weapons,” McDonough said.
Despite the ambiguity of “declared” in a country where the majority is a strict no-go zone for weapons inspectors, Assad has continued his chemical weapons attacks with chlorine gas.
Last week, the towns of Sarmin and Qmenas were hit with chlorine bombs by Assad forces, video reviewed and confirmed by human rights groups. The Syrian Coalition said six were killed, including three children, and about 70 were injured, 13 seriously.
“Once again the Assad regime has used the chlorine gas against civilians in flagrant violations of the UN Security Council Resolution No. 2209 which bans use of chlorine gas in Syria,” Syrian Coalition Vice President Hisham Marwa said. “The UN Security Council must take all necessary measures that ensures the enforcement of the resolution No. 2209, which rules that chlorine gas is toxic and a chemical weapon, and that using it militarily represents a gross violation of international law and a flagrant violation of Resolution 2118.”
Secretary of State John Kerry put out a statement Thursday saying the administration was “deeply disturbed” that Assad used chlorine gas weapons “again.”
“What is clear is that the Assad regime continues to flout international standards and norms, including, if these latest allegations are verified, the Chemical Weapons Convention. The international community cannot turn a blind eye to such barbarism. As has been well documented, the Assad regime continues to terrorize the people of Syria through indiscriminate airstrikes, barrel bombings, arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, murder, and starvation. The Assad regime must be held accountable for such atrocious behavior,” Kerry said.
“…The Assad regime’s horrifying pattern of using chlorine as a chemical weapon against the Syrian people underscores the importance of investigating this allegation as quickly as possible, holding those who perpetrated such abhorrent acts in violation of international law accountable, and continuing to support the complete elimination chemical weapons in this volatile region.”
State Department press secretary Jen Psaki didn’t have “any predictions” on what holding Assad accountable might entail.
“Reports and video out of
#Syria utterly horrific. Civilians, including kids, victims of an apparent chlorine gas attack,” UN Ambassador Samantha Power tweeted that day. “This is why #UNSC passed res affirming the weaponization of chlorine as viol of CWC&UN res. Long past time for attribution&consequences. Asad regime is only power with helos. Reports again are that gas attack came from the air. If it flies like a duck…”
That was enough for Syrians who have been bearing the brunt of these attacks.
— Kafranbel English (@kafrev) March 21, 2015
— Kafranbel English (@kafrev) March 21, 2015
The northwestern Syrian fig-and-olive-producing town of Kafranbel huddled together fairly early in the war and decided the best way to get their message to the outside world would be to pen signs in English, then spread them through the Internet and social media. Their signs have included see Obama as Pinocchio and a genocide enabler.
In an extraordinary moment more than 13 years in the making, the second elected Afghan president since the fall of the Taliban stood in the hub of America’s military community and thanked the troops’ sacrifice to liberate and build his country.
More than 850,000 U.S. troops and civilians, along with thousands of contractors, have served in Afghanistan since the war began in October 2001, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter reminded all at the beginning of the ceremony in the Pentagon courtyard. “We remember the 2,215 Americans and their spouses, parents, sons, and daughters who paid the ultimate price during the course of the conflict,” Carter said.
Afghan President Ashraf Ghani had warm words for those “who have sacrificed continually since 9/11 to bring us freedom and hope.”
“Each one of you has left a legacy but I also understand Afghanistan has marked you,” he said, noting “sometimes you wake up at night not sure whether you’re there or here” and realize “I’ve left a piece of my heart in Afghanistan.”
“Thank you,” Ghani said.
“Each one of you also has left a memory in the heart of every Afghan that you’ve touched and encountered,” the president continued, adding that U.S. forces were “not there just to fight” but “you built schools, you built roads” while bringing “an attitude of caring and sacrifice.”
The Afghan National Security Forces, which includes military and police, now “emulate the best of your example.”
While thanking the troops and their families, Ghani stressed thanks “mostly to the American taxpayer — the men and women who have had made your hard-earned dollars available for Afghanistan.”
The partnership between the U.S. and Afghanistan now enters a different “phase,” he said, focusing on “building resources,” trade with Europe through the supply road left by coalition forces, and ensuring that Afghanistan can meet the growing security challenges.
Ghani has admitted ISIS is now inside Afghanistan, telling NBC News “we have sufficient evidence that they were targeting us because to their narrative, to their storyline, Afghanistan is central.” That’s the Khorasan region touted by the Islamic State.
“We are not going to be a burden,” Ghani vowed to the Pentagon community, giving a nod to JFK when he added Afghanistan wants to focus on what it can do for the world instead of what the world can do for Afghanistan. “We are going to get our house in order.”
On terrorism, not just ISIS but the more persistent and deadly Taliban threat, “We are a front-line state. We die on a daily basis.”
“We die, but we will never be defeated,” Ghani added. “…We the people of Afghanistan are willing to speak truth to terror… we are going to overcome.”
The current partnership with the United States, the president said, “is foundational because we will be the first line of defense globally.”
Ghani said his “fondest hope to veterans is we hope to welcome you in Afghanistan as tourists,” where “millions of us will be able to thank you personally, shake your hand, welcome you into our homes.”
To the sounds of the Washington Post March, Ghani shook hands and greeted troops and family members on the lawn.
Ghani and CEO Abdullah Abdullah meet with President Obama on Tuesday for a “working lunch” at the White House.
Abdullah and Ghani wrote in a joint Washington Post op-ed Friday that “while the opportunities to build peace and stability have never been greater, a new ecology of terror threatens to block not just our prosperity but yours as well.”
“Properly supported, Afghanistan is uniquely positioned to block the spread of extremism,” the leaders wrote. “With the bitter exception of the Taliban regime, Islam in Afghanistan has traditionally been inclusive and reflective, not violent and angry. And after 36 years of conflict, our people have become immunized against ideologically based conflict.”
Watch as the infamous activist, blacklisted by Brandeis University for her anti-Islam views, discusses her new book Heretic and the concept of reforming Islam. Martha Raddatz has no problem outing herself as a turncoat feminist, accusing Hirsi Ali, herself a survivor of female genital mutilation, of unfairly attacking Islam now that she has left the religion.
Raddatz and the pro-Islam Manalo Omar are also quick to gang up on Hirsi Ali when she highlights one of the many Qu’ranic calls for death to infidels currently being used to justify Sharia law and jihad, citing both “the Torah” and “the Bible” as containing violent verses. When Hirsi Ali replies by questioning where the Christians are who take these verses as literally as their Islamic counterparts, Raddatz changes her line of questioning without changing her politically correct tone.
“Doesn’t [your book] incite people to hate Muslims?” is Raddatz’s conclusion, not her query, proving once again that the West’s multiculturalist elite are the greatest threat to Islamic reform.
Reprinted with permission from MEMRI.
Following the recent Israeli elections, ‘Imad Al-Falouji, head of the Gaza-based Institute for Intercultural Dialogue, wrote an article titled “Israel’s Democracy and Our Anarchy.” Falouji is a former Hamas member who left the movement in 1996 and later served as information minister and as an advisor under Yasser Arafat. In his article he praised Israel’s way of handling controversy, and also praised the Israeli political parties for concerning themselves with the citizens’ wellbeing and with domains such as economy, education and security; this, in contrast to Palestinian parties which, he said, are concerned mostly with political grandstanding and do not seek solutions to the people’s everyday problems. He called upon the Palestinians to emulate the Israeli Arabs who united their ranks in order to bring about change.
The following are excerpts from his article:
‘Imad Al-Falouji (Image: Youtube.com)
“There is no shame in seeing reality as it is, and no wisdom in becoming experts [only] at cursing and disparaging our enemy. I know how difficult it is to compare the internal Palestinian situation – our shaping of our policy, the internal relations among us and our ways of resolving our differences – with the domestic situation of the enemy that is occupying our lands, usurping our holy sites, and denying our most minimal rights. But this enemy is proving to us and to the international community that, despite its tyranny and aggression, it surpasses us in many ways that are no longer hidden from any observer possessing a minimal degree of objectivity…
“Anyone examining the Israeli entity is amazed by the extent of internal disagreement on every issue between the religious and secular [sectors], and [also] by the disagreements within the sectors. They have a [political] right, center and left… and every perception has proponents and opponents and every senior has an [entire] dossier of charges against him. But, despite all this, they have passed laws that govern [the handling of] these disagreements and set out a common goal: that of serving the State of Israel and the people of Israel. They manage to use the internal disagreements as a source of strength…
“But we, ‘the possessors of truth’ – look at what is happening to us. We strike out in every direction without an agreed-upon plan or purpose. Each party or group has its own plan and goal. We do not believe in a unifying means. We renounce all the laws and charters, and have destroyed everything that united us. Each group claims to possess the absolute truth and [presents] the others’ [beliefs] as absolute lies. We do not possess the ability to listen to the other. Anarchy rules the day: political, economic, social and even conceptual anarchy.
“Let’s look at the campaign platforms of the Israeli parties, and what they focused on. All of them agreed on the need to serve the people on the socio-economic level, promote employment, cultivate the family and solve its problems, eradicate unemployment, promote education and achieve security for all citizens. They do not focus so much on political sparring and on empty grandstanding.
“But in our [political arena], everyone talks about politics and general foreign-[policy] affairs, and only rarely does a party concern itself with improving the lives of the people and resolving the internal crises from which they suffer. Moreover, nobody proposes solutions to anything.
“I know this comparison is difficult and may anger those who refuse to face the bleak reality. But there is no alternative but to say these things. Perhaps some of us will wake up and take the opportunity to improve our situation. Our brothers the Palestinians inside [i.e., the Israeli Arabs] have set up a model of unity [by uniting all their political parties in the Knesset], and have thereby proved that we [Palestinians] are capable of change when we realize the danger, and that there is yet hope.”
 Amad.ps, March 18, 2015.
What the Netanyahu election-day robo call actually said:
Voter turnout in the Arab sector is three times higher! The threat is real: Abu Mazen’s calls and American money are getting the Arab vote out. Go and vote.
Why it was a reiteration of the truth, not race-mongering:
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.
The post-election reality? The Joint List, a coalition of three Arab and one Arab-Jewish party “will be the third largest faction in the Knesset bringing with it formidable political power.” Something that does not reassure anonymous Israeli Christian Arabs who refused to vote for an Islamic party, along with more anonymous Israeli Arabs who “…feel uncomfortable voting for a party that has members who will do nothing to advance the rights of women and homosexuals.”
How the Leftist-funded and fueled “Anybody but Bibi” crowd is playing it:
#hardball Netanyahu proves fanning racist fears and warmongering wins elections, just like Bush/Cheney and Republican Party.
— Bill Wong (@ten24get) March 17, 2015
Like Taylor Swift, no matter what tune they hum their lyrics remain the same.
Secretary of State John Kerry raised eyebrows over the weekend with his comments about negotiating with Syrian President Bashar al-Assad — and now key senators wants Kerry’s department to properly document Assad’s war crimes.
“We are working very hard with other interested parties to see if we can reignite a diplomatic outcome. Why? Because everybody agrees there is no military solution. There is only a political solution,” Kerry told CBS in an interview aired Sunday.
“We’re going to have to make it clear to him that there is a determination by everybody to seek that political outcome and change his calculation about negotiating,” Kerry told CBS. “That’s underway right now. And — and I am convinced that with the efforts of our allies and others, there will be increased pressure on Assad.”
Asked if he’d be willing to negotiate with Assad, Kerry replied, “Well, we have to negotiate in the end.”
The administration scrambled to say its “Assad must go” position hadn’t changed, and Syrian activists wryly noted the administration’s past change of heart on the chemical weapons “red line” it drew for Assad.
State Department press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday that Kerry was just “shorthanding” the regime by referring to Assad. “And that would be by mutual consent, which is both sides would need to agree who would be at the table. Unfortunately, there is no process happening right now. That’s the biggest concern to us. But, no, that’s consistently been our position,” Psaki told CNN. “The opposition could talk to themselves and that certainly wouldn’t produce an outcome that would bring an end to the suffering of the Syrian people.”
Sens. Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), and Robert Menendez (D-N.J.) just introduced the Syrian War Crimes Accountability Act of 2015 to require the administration to document every dirty detail of the dictator’s crimes.
The senators note that the actions of Assad and violent extremist groups in the country require both special documenting and reaction from the administration on what it plans to do to hold human-rights violators accountable.
“For four years the Assad regime and violent extremists in Syria have committed horrific human rights violations at the expense of millions of innocent Syrians,” Rubio said in a statement. “These brutal crimes against civilians are appalling. The perpetrators deserve to be brought to justice, and this bill is a first step towards ensuring those responsible for human rights abuses are held accountable.”
Congress has been presented with some of the grisly evidence of Assad’s crimes. Last summer, a defector wearing a disguise and going by the pseudonym Caesar showed the House Foreign Affairs Committee some of the cache of 55,000 photos he gathered of the regime’s torture and murder of Syrians young and old, men and women — the 11,000 documented deaths just a fraction of 150,000 in Assad’s prisons.
Cardin said “tactics employed in Syria by both government and opposition forces fly in the face of the rules of war.”
“Ignoring these violations sends a message to the global community that war crimes and crimes against humanity are tolerable,” the Maryland senator said. “The Syrian people deserve much more. The United States cannot stand idly by and allow the gross violation of human rights in Syria to go unchallenged. We remain firmly committed to bringing all perpetrators of international crimes in Syria to justice.”
Menendez, known for reminding the leader of his party about human-rights violations in Iran and Cuba, stressed we have “a moral obligation to the Syrian people to do everything possible to ensure that the heinous crimes committed by the Assad regime and terrorist organizations over the past four years are documented and do not go unpunished.”
“As the Assad regime continues to use deadly force and indiscriminate weapons, like barrel bombs, killing and maiming thousands of men, women and children, ISIS and al-Qaeda’s affiliates in Syria have perpetrated massive human rights violation against innocent people,” Menendez said. “These brutal and horrific crimes are appalling.”
Some quarter of a million Syrians have been killed in the past four years, with 2014 the deadliest year. More than 3.8 million Syrians have fled Syria, while 12.2 million Syrians are in need of humanitarian assistance.
On Aug. 21, 2013, Assad used chemical weapons on the Damascus suburbs, killing 1,400 civilians. That crossed the White House’s “red line,” but they negotiated a chemical weapons disposal deal with the help of Assad ally Russia that has been impossible to verify in the war-torn country.
Assad continues to use chlorine gas on the population, as recently as yesterday.
“The United States is aware of these reports and the videos that are circulating on social media. We are seeking additional information and cannot at this point confirm the details, but if these allegations are confirmed, this would tragically be only the latest example of the Assad regime’s atrocities against the Syrian people,” White House press secretary Josh Earnest said today.
“The regime continues to inflict daily terror through airstrikes, barrel bombings, arbitrary detention, torture, sexual violence, murder, starvation and the use of chemical weapons. We continue to take all allegations of chemical weapons use, and in particular, these recent allegations regarding the use of chlorine as a chemical weapon very seriously and we have long held that any credible allegations of chemical weapons use must be investigated and we support the OPCW fact-finding mission in this pursuit.”
What a joke.
OBAMA: Two things. One is ISIL is a direct outgrowth of al Qaeda in Iraq that grew out of our invasion which is an example of unintended consequences — which is why we should generally aim before we shoot.
I never saw such a classless American president. He knows perfectly well that President George W. Bush won’t defend himself, because he — unlike Obama — does have a sense of decorum. So Obama quickly tries to put the blame for his own failures on Bush.
This isn’t about left versus right, but about being a gentleman rather than a boor. It’s clear which one Obama is.
Of course he isn’t just rude, he’s also lying. George W. Bush made some tragic mistakes, but ISIS’ rise is all on Obama. He was informed about the group’s potential a full year before it started its reign of terror, yet did nothing.
Psaki: Assad Should be ‘Responsive’ to Diplomatic Talks If He ‘Cares About the People in His Country’
State Department press secretary Jen Psaki insisted this morning that the Obama administration wasn’t capitulating to Syrian strongman Bashar al-Assad — the president that the White House once said had to go — with Secretary of State John Kerry’s new desire for talks.
“We are working very hard with other interested parties to see if we can reignite a diplomatic outcome. Why? Because everybody agrees there is no military solution. There is only a political solution,” Kerry told CBS in an interview aired Sunday.
The Syrian revolution began four years ago yesterday, after Assad began mowing down peaceful protesters hoping the Arab Spring fervor could sweep the dictator out of office. The conflict escalated when he used chemical weapons on men, women and children, and he continues to drop barrel bombs and use chlorine gas on the populace today. Syria has since opened as a terrorist haven for ISIS and other groups, with Assad’s forces and terrorists generally leaving each other alone as the regime makes oil deals with the groups. Assad’s alliances with Iran and Russia have also grown stronger in the face of international isolation.
Some quarter-million people have died in Syria in the past four years.
“We’re going to have to make it clear to him that there is a determination by everybody to seek that political outcome and change his calculation about negotiating,” Kerry told CBS. “That’s underway right now. And — and I am convinced that with the efforts of our allies and others, there will be increased pressure on Assad.”
Asked if he’d be willing to negotiate with Assad, Kerry replied, “Well, we have to negotiate in the end.”
Psaki told CNN this morning that U.S. policy on Assad “has not shifted.”
“I’ll just remind everyone that for more than two years we’ve been talking about how there has to be a political process. That’s what Secretary Kerry was referring to. The process has been on hold for some time. But there’s no question that in order to bring an end to the suffering of the Syrian people the international committee would need to bring both sides to the table together,” she said. “But Assad has lost legitimacy. The United States government absolutely continues to believe that. We don’t see a future for him in Syria.”
“…You can’t have the opposition negotiating with itself. You certainly wouldn’t get very far. So our goal continues to be, as does the goal of the international community, bringing both sides together. That’s not a process that’s ongoing or that exists right now… We would love to reboot the process because that’s the only way we can see bringing an end to the suffering of the Syrian people.”
Psaki said Kerry is discussing Syria peace talks with Russia, which has been selling Assad weapons used against civilians, and with Gulf countries.
Assad undercut Kerry’s effort by going on Iranian TV to say, “Any talk on the future of the Syrian president is for the Syrian people, and all the declarations from outside do not concern us.”
“Well, I think we have to take anything Bashar al-Assad says with a huge chunk of, grain of salt here because he has killed tens of thousands of his own people,” Psaki responded. “I think the international community is not going to stand by and accept his word that he’s thinking of the people of his country and we’re going to continue to think of ways to put necessary pressure on. That includes diplomatic ways.”
“…To be clear, nobody sees a future for Assad in Syria, not the United States, not anyone in the international community who’s been on the side of the opposition and on the side of the Syrian people. We’re talking about how to exert any kind of pressure we can exert.”
Psaki said if Assad is someone “who, as he claims, cares about the people in his country,” then diplomatic pressure “is something he should be responsive to.”
Syrian activists responded angrily on Twitter to Kerry’s comments, noting it was the administration’s “red line” weasel that enabled Assad to continue his genocide.
As I’ve said here at PJ Media repeatedly, there are some ideas so profoundly stupid that they can only be taken seriously inside the political-media-academic bubble that stretches along the Washington, D.C.-New York-Boston corridor. These typically populate my annual year-end “National Security ‘Not Top 10′” review.
Such is the case with this week’s foreign policy “smart set” MEME OF THE WEEK: we need to accept “moderate” al-Qaeda in order to defeat “hardline” ISIS.
Understand, this is a continuation of a popular theme amongst the foreign policy “smart set.” See the “moderate Muslim Brotherhood,” which just a month ago declared all-out jihad on the Egyptian government. Or the New York Times, pitching “moderate” elements of the Iranian regime. Or current CIA director “Jihad” John Brennan calling for the U.S. to build up Hezbollah “moderates.” Or hapless academics proclaiming the “mellowing” of Hamas. Or the so-called “vetted moderate” Syrian rebel groups that, as I have reported here, regularly fight alongside ISIS and al-Qaeda and have even defected to those terror groups.
So why are the foreign policy elites now having to talk about engaging “moderate” al-Qaeda, of all things?
Because all of those previous “moderate” engagement efforts have ended in disaster. But rather than abandon the whole “moderate” theme, the foreign policy community seems intent to double-down on failure by continuing to move the “moderate” line.
First out of the gate this week was an article in Foreign Affairs by Harvard’s Barak Mendelsohn, “Accepting Al-Qaeda: The Enemy of the United States’ Enemy,” that argues:
Since 9/11, Washington has considered al-Qaeda the greatest threat to the United States, one that must be eliminated regardless of cost or time. After Washington killed Osama bin Laden in 2011, it made Ayman al-Zawahiri, al Qaeda’s new leader, its next number one target. But the instability in the Middle East following the Arab revolutions and the meteoric rise of the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) require that Washington rethink its policy toward al-Qaeda, particularly its targeting of Zawahiri. Destabilizing al-Qaeda at this time may in fact work against U.S. efforts to defeat ISIS.
Here’s how Foreign Affairs, published by the Council on Foreign Relations, billed this conventional wisdom:
— Foreign Affairs (@ForeignAffairs) March 10, 2015
There are several problems with Mendelsohn’s thesis. One problem that he barely acknowledges is that al-Qaeda is still a declared enemy and an active threat to the United States. They have said repeatedly that they intend to kill U.S. citizens and have continued to plot to do so. The enemy of my enemy can still also be my enemy.
A second pragmatic problem with trying to use Jabhat al-Nusra, al-Qaeda’s official affiliate in Syria, as a tool against ISIS is that the relationship between the two groups is constantly evolving. Not long ago, ISIS and Nusra were comrades-in-arms. Despite their present falling-out, within recent months they still occasionally worked together: in August they joined forces to attack Lebanese border checkpoints; in September they were engaged in joint operations around Qalamoun. And Nusra appears more interested in wiping out the U.S.-backed “vetted moderate” groups and fighting the Assad regime than going head-to-head with ISIS.
Thus, it is considerably more likely that ISIS and al-Qaeda will engage in some form of reconciliation than al-Qaeda falling into the U.S. foreign policy orbit and serving as an anti-ISIS proxy in Syria.
So what drives the folly of the foreign policy “smart set”? Mostly it is the hubris that only they comprehend the vast and constantly changing complexity of international affairs, but also it is their added belief that their pals in the administration can harness this “smart set” omniscience to manipulate global events to a predicted end.
That rarely, if ever, happens. Just witness the Obama administration’s foreign policy disaster in Syria.
Mendelsohn has not been alone this week in calling for greater “acceptance” of al-Qaeda. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published Yaroslav Trofimov’s “Al-Qaeda a lesser evil? Syria war pulls U.S., Israel apart,” where he makes the following case:
MOUNT BENTAL, Golan Heights — This mountaintop on the edge of the Israeli-controlled Golan Heights offers a unique vantage point into how the complexities of the Syrian war raging in the plains below are increasingly straining Israel’s ties with the U.S.
To the south of this overlook, from which United Nations and Israeli officers observe the fighting, are the positions of the Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda that the U.S. has targeted with airstrikes.
Nusra Front, however, hasn’t bothered Israel since seizing the border area last summer — and some of its severely wounded fighters are regularly taken across the frontier fence to receive treatment in Israeli hospitals.
To the north of Mount Bental are the positions of the Syrian government forces and the pro-Iranian Shiite militias such as Hezbollah, along with Iranian advisers. Iran and these militias are indirectly allied with Washington in the fight against Islamic State in Iraq. But here in the Golan, they have been the target of a recent Israeli airstrike. Israel in recent months also shot down a Syrian warplane and attacked weapons convoys heading through Syria to Hezbollah.
It would be a stretch to say that the U.S. and Israel are backing different sides in this war. But there is clearly a growing divergence in U.S. and Israeli approaches over who represents the biggest danger — and who should be seen, if not as an ally, at least as a lesser evil in the regional crisis sparked by the dual implosion of Syria and Iraq.
Trofimov’s argument boils down to: “Accept al-Qaeda! See, the Israelis are doing it!!!”
Needless to say, Trofimov’s article quickly received praise from the foreign policy “smart set,” including the Washington Post’s Jackson Diehl and The Century Foundation’s Michael Hanna:
— Jackson Diehl (@JacksonDiehl) March 12, 2015
— Michael Hanna (@mwhanna1) March 12, 2015
A couple thoughts on this. First, some have treated the report of Israelis helping injured Nusra fighters in the Golan as some breaking game-changing news, but in fact Vice News reported on this back in December.
Secondly, I reported from the Golan here at PJ Media back in September 2013, and I even stood on Mount Bental and looked over the ruins of Quneitra while fighting raged across the border. And yet, that perspective didn’t help me magically see al-Qaeda as some lesser evil that we needed to engage or accept.
Thirdly, and I know this will strike some as heresy, the Israelis are not infallible and have seen this approach literally blow up on them. Take, for instance, the January 2009 Wall Street Journal article, “How Israel helped spawn Hamas“:
Surveying the wreckage of a neighbor’s bungalow hit by a Palestinian rocket, retired Israeli official Avner Cohen traces the missile’s trajectory back to an “enormous, stupid mistake” made 30 years ago.
“Hamas, to my great regret, is Israel’s creation,” says Mr. Cohen, a Tunisian-born Jew who worked in Gaza for more than two decades. Responsible for religious affairs in the region until 1994, Mr. Cohen watched the Islamist movement take shape, muscle aside secular Palestinian rivals and then morph into what is today Hamas, a militant group that is sworn to Israel’s destruction.
Instead of trying to curb Gaza’s Islamists from the outset, says Mr. Cohen, Israel for years tolerated and, in some cases, encouraged them as a counterweight to the secular nationalists of the Palestine Liberation Organization and its dominant faction, Yasser Arafat’s Fatah. Israel cooperated with a crippled, half-blind cleric named Sheikh Ahmed Yassin, even as he was laying the foundations for what would become Hamas. Sheikh Yassin continues to inspire militants today; during the recent war in Gaza, Hamas fighters confronted Israeli troops with “Yassins,” primitive rocket-propelled grenades named in honor of the cleric. [...]
When Israel first encountered Islamists in Gaza in the 1970s and ’80s, they seemed focused on studying the Quran, not on confrontation with Israel. The Israeli government officially recognized a precursor to Hamas called Mujama Al-Islamiya, registering the group as a charity. It allowed Mujama members to set up an Islamic university and build mosques, clubs and schools. Crucially, Israel often stood aside when the Islamists and their secular left-wing Palestinian rivals battled, sometimes violently, for influence in both Gaza and the West Bank.
“When I look back at the chain of events I think we made a mistake,” says David Hacham, who worked in Gaza in the late 1980s and early ’90s as an Arab-affairs expert in the Israeli military. “But at the time nobody thought about the possible results.”
“Nobody thought about the possible results.” Yeah, there’s a lot of that going around.
I should note that this is not the first time that the foreign policy “smart set” has taken a run at the “engaging moderate al-Qaeda” meme. In January 2014, Foreign Affairs published an article titled “The Good and Bad of Ahrar al-Sham” which contended that the U.S. needed to “befriend” the Syrian jihadist group Ahrar al-Sham as some kind of counter to more extreme jihadist groups, like ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra. The precedent they cited was the U.S. failure to designate the Taliban (!!!) after 9/11.
Mind you, at the time they wrote this one of Ahrar al-Sham’s top leaders was a lieutenant for al-Qaeda head Ayman al-Zawahiri who openly declared himself a member of al-Qaeda. After most of their leadership was wiped out in a bombing in September, they gravitated closer to the jihadist groups they were supposed to counter and their positions have been bombed by the U.S. – much to the consternation of other “vetted moderate” rebel groups.
The article was originally subtitled “An al-Qaeda affiliate worth befriending”:
But after the article authors took some flack on Twitter for their much-too-obvious “an al Qaeda affiliate,” the subtitle was quickly changed to “an al Qaeda-linked group worth befriending” on the Foreign Affairs website:
This seems to give evidence that the foreign policy elite know exactly what they’re doing when making these arguments. For fear of the unwashed masses catching on to the dangerous game they’re playing, they’ll quickly try to walk things back to keep the appearance of being nuanced, smart, and sensible as they talk amongst themselves about befriending terrorist organizations.
Another telling sign is that when this article appeared there was ZERO blowback from the foreign policy “smart set.” Much like the articles from Mendelsohn and Trofimov this week, they received widespread praise and acclaim from their peers.
I mentioned earlier the hubris that drives much of this thinking. But an added element of this phenomenon is the obliteration in our political, media, and academic elite of any distinction between good and evil.
Such distinctions are perceived as archaic and naive, while suggesting “befriending” terrorists is nuanced and realist. And yet the 20th century is littered with examples of these two factors (elite hubris, no distinction between good and evil) working in concert to horrific effect.
Recent history has examples as well, such as when the Obama administration decided to engage “moderate” al-Qaeda leaders in Libya, including LIFG head Abdelhakim Belhadj (whom the CIA had renditioned back to Libya in 2004) to overthrow Gaddafi at the behest of the warhawk trio of Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power. How well has that worked out and how many lives has it cost?
We see it again now in the administration’s support of Iranian-backed Shiite militias in Iraq fighting to push back ISIS, who are regularly engaged in war crimes and religious cleansing no different than ISIS itself. Will there be any good coming from the the U.S. acting as Iran’s air force in their ongoing takeover of Iraq?
Probably no more than what will come from following the foreign policy elite’s MEME OF THE WEEK, accepting “moderate” al-Qaeda.
UPDATE: FBI Director James Comey told Congress this week that Al-Qaeda, which we are supposed to now “accept” according to the foreign policy elite, is still a threat to the U.S.:
Al Qaeda and its affiliates—especially al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP)—continue to represent a top terrorist threat to the nation and our interests overseas. AQAP’s online English magazine advocates for lone wolves to conduct attacks against the U.S. homeland and Western targets. The magazine regularly encourages homegrown violent extremists to carry out small arms attacks and provides detailed “how-to” instructions for constructing and deploying a successful improvised explosive device.
The New York Times reports:
Like many survivors of the Holocaust, after World War II, Saul Dreier and Reuwen (“Ruby”) Sosnowicz moved to America, started families and careers, grew old, and retired to Florida. For these octogenarians, settling near Boca Raton could have been the last chapter in their story.
But then, last summer, Mr. Dreier, 89, decided to start a klezmer band, drawing upon the music he grew up with in Poland. Playing the drums, he teamed up with Mr. Sosnowicz, an 85-year-old Polish accordionist. This Op-Doc video profiles the two men and their group, which they’ve named the Holocaust Survivor Band. In recent months they have performed for audiences at venues ranging from local nursing homes and temples to The Venetian in Las Vegas.
…For them, music is catharsis. The Holocaust Survivor Band summons the bittersweet memories of childhood, but more than that, it is a celebration of life.
Seniors Dreier and Sosnowicz prove that life doesn’t stop and start at the convenience of a radical dictator or cultural norm.
Republicans, who control Congress and criticize Obama’s foreign policy as too passive, want stronger measures against the militants and fewer limits on the use of U.S. combat troops than included in the plan.
But more serious opposition came from Obama’s fellow Democrats, who demanded a strict time limit for any combat troops. Many also want to repeal the 2001 AUMF the Obama administration has been using to justify the anti-Islamic State campaign.
“This AUMF, hardly anybody supports it that I know of,” Republican Senator Orrin Hatch told reporters.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee set its first major AUMF hearing, with testimony from Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter, for Wednesday.
The panel’s chairman, Republican Senator Bob Corker, said he planned one or two more hearings. But without support from Democrats, he said he was not sure how it would move ahead.
I’m sure we will be hearing an outcry from domestic media sources (Reuters is international) about the “do-nothing” and “obstructionist” Democrats any time now, right.
It is infuriating that the Democrats still want to take the polite, “planned event” to war and let ISIS know exactly how long they have to lay low, because that worked out so well last time. At this point it seems Democrats in Congress or the press can’t remember anything that happened more than twenty four hours ago unless George W. Bush did it.
The terrorists are cunning, organized and committed to victory. None of those can be said about any of the politicians in charge of the military forces capable of battling them.
“It has come to our attention that you may not fully understand our Constitutional system,” Senate Republicans explain in a letter addressed to Iranian leadership in the wake of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s impassioned speech to Congress last week.
Penned by Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton, the letter is a stark warning to the leaders of Iran and a massive slap in the face to President Obama. Obama shot back in disapproval, attempting to equate the Republican Senators who signed the letter with the “hardliners in Iran”.
Rubio, Cruz and Rand Paul, all considered contenders for the Republican Presidential nomination were among the 47 Senators who signed the letter. The following Republican Senators did not sign: “Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Dan Coats of Indiana, Thad Cochran of Mississippi, Susan Collins of Maine, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jeff Flake of Arizona and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.”
The Taliban in Afghanistan said reports that it is willing to negotiate have been greatly exaggerated — and are “baseless,” in fact.
Press reports last month indicated that the Afghan government and Taliban would sit down for Pakistan-moderated negotiations in the coming weeks. But the jihad is still on, the group calling itself the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan said in a statement today.
“The media has been publishing false reports periodically over the past week asserting the heating up of negotiations and even fabrications about visits by the delegations of Islamic Emirate. We reject all such claims. There is no such process taking place and neither can such matters shape up behind closed doors or be kept hidden,” the Taliban said. “If there was anything taking place in this regard, the Islamic Emirate would have informed the media and its countrymen through its official channels.”
They said they support a “dignified peace as a necessity and aspiration of its countrymen” — but in a Sharia state of mind as “the main factors fueling this war are the presence of foreign invaders and continued anti-Islam activities.”
“Since Jihad is an individual obligation due to the presence of invaders therefore the Islamic Emirate until now deems the use of weapon as upholding this command,” the statement continued.
“Since all reports about negotiations are baseless, which seem to be the work of intelligence circles, hence no one should believe them. Such baseless rumors have been circulated many times over the past 13 years but all praise is due to Allah, it has failed in harming the Mujahideen or cultivating distrust. This wave of lies shall also pass by fruitless this time around and time shall prove everything.”
The Taliban further stated it believes “such rumors are the work of secret agencies with sinister goals therefore the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan calls on its nation to be vigilant as ever about enemy plots and not be fooled by mere propaganda.”
Only one question remains after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin “Bibi” Netanyahu’s epic speech before a joint session of the U.S. Congress Tuesday, and it has nothing to do with Netanyahu, nor with U.S. President Barack Obama. The question is this:
Do you trust the Ayatollah Ali Hosseini Khamenei, the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran?
The question is not “Do you trust Khamenei to keep any deal on non-proliferation?” As Netanyahu pointed out, Iran is a danger if it breaks an agreement, but it’s an even great danger, albeit longer term, if it keeps its end of the bargain for the supposed 10-year compact. That’s because, freed from sanctions, it would emerge at decade’s end as a more prosperous nation, with long-range missiles and the capacity to build a nuclear weapon from its mothballed, but not destroyed, centrifuges, in less than 12 months.
As Bibi reminds us, we’re negotiating with Iran about nukes, but NOT about long-range missile development. Iran can already hit Israel, but it lacks transoceanic launch capabilities. Try not to think about that. It will only cloud your mind with thoughts of self-preservation.
In the speech to Congress, Netanyahu respectfully and forcefully answered all significant objections to his opposition to what he called “a bad deal” with Iran. In addition, the Israeli leader proposed a common-sense peace process that would give Iran the opportunity to prove that it really wants to join the community of nations, while safeguarding Israel, the Middle East, Europe and the United States from Iranian nuclear attack, on the off chance that the Islamic Republic turns out to be a jihadist revolutionary apocalyptic regime committed to destroying some or all of the above.
You see, while the media has focused on the supposed personal spat between the Israeli and U.S. leaders, ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether you like or trust Bibi Netanyahu or Barack Obama.
According to Wikipedia, Khamenei , like his nearly homophonic predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, has allegedly issued a fatwa against production, storage and use of nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, Khamenei has presided over the construction of 19,000 nuclear centrifuges designed to purify uranium and plutonium to weapons grade. Officially (and laughably), Iran’s government purifies nuclear material to produce electricity, as it sits atop one of the world’s three largest petroleum reserves.
So, do you trust Khamenei to idle not only his known centrifuges, but also his hidden sites? Do you trust the supreme leader of the Islamic Republic to suddenly become entirely transparent with the inspectors who will monitor the terms of the agreement?
If you said, “Yes,” do you know that Khamenei …
- has repeatedly referred to Israel as “a cancerous tumor which should and will be cut out,”
- has referred to Jewish leaders as subhuman,
- leads a government that sponsors rallies to chant “Death to America” the “Great Satan,” and “Death to Israel,”
- has supplied the weapons to kill thousands of U.S. troops, and that
- Khamenei has said “the Holocaust is an event whose reality is uncertain and if it has happened, it’s uncertain how it has happened”?
Do you think the Islamic Republic of Iran, which in 1979 threw a modern Persian society back to the days when Muhammed was teaching camel wranglers how to wash their hands with sand after scraping the excreta from their keisters with stones — do you think these people now wish to find common ground with the civilization that they find immoral, repugnant and Satanic?
Remember, it’s not actually enough to trust Khamenei to keep his word, as Netanyahu points out, because Iran is a danger if it breaks the agreement, but it’s a potentially greater danger if it keeps the agreement.
What you have to believe is that Khamenei has undergone a personal revolution, back to the future, and that he will lead his peace-loving Islamic Republic to do the same.
Do you believe?
Fast-forward to 19:12 (or better yet, just watch the whole thing).
In the world of contemporary feminist politics, criticism of Islam is off the table. Unless, of course, you’re a female Muslim in a Muslim-dominated country who desperately seeks reform. If you are, you’re stuck banging your head against the wall as your sisters in the West do everything to ignore you in pursuit of wage equality, sexual consent apps, and chronicling Lena Dunham’s latest hair adventure.
Most women who follow feminist media is sadly too drunk on the Kool Aid to realize that popular sites like Jezebel, Feministing, the Mary Sue, Everyday Feminism, and the Feminist Majority Foundation have all failed to comment on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s historic address to Congress. Their flagrant ignorance of the most important foreign policy issue of our time is inexcusable. The willful blind eye they continue to turn towards women oppressed by radical Islamic rule is unforgivable. In one simple, powerful sentence Netanyahu did what contemporary feminists in the West refuse to do:
In this deadly game of thrones, there’s no place for America or for Israel, no peace for Christians, Jews or Muslims who don’t share the Islamist medieval creed, no rights for women, no freedom for anyone.
His Game of Thrones mention received more attention than did the fact that Netanyahu equated “freedom for anyone” with “no rights for women.” There’s your meme. There’s your platform. There’s your unifying fact: If women are not free, no one is free. And yet here Western feminists remain embroiled in a heated debate over Patricia Arquette’s lack of “intersectionality“. There’s an age-old meme for that one, too: It’s the pot calling the kettle black.
In appearing before Congress today, Bibi Netanyahu did more for women oppressed by Islam than the feminist movement has on a worldwide scale. He joins a small but powerful group of real feminists including Nonie Darwish, Wafa Sultan, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali who are brave enough to use their western platforms to speak out on an issue vital to women across the globe. Israel’s Prime Minister ended his speech by quoting Moses: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them…“. It’s time contemporary feminists ask themselves what they are so afraid of.
SNL did a spoof of the Toyota Camry commercial involving a proud father taking his daughter to meet up with fellow military recruits at the airport. In the SNL version, 50 Shades star Dakota Johnson played the daughter who, this time, joined ISIS.
I could get all uptight over this, but I’m not. The entire sketch played out rather well by SNL standards. It wasn’t too long, too overbearing, too improvised. It played on the fact that yes, young women in the West are joining ISIS, and it did so in a rather clever way, contrasting the proud military dad with the teary-eyed dad asking the ISIS commanders to take care of his daughter. All in all, why wouldn’t the sketch have been green lit for production?
The fact that the sketch also highlights the audience’s relative naivete and passive-aggressive, ultimately non-responsive attitude towards the threat posed by ISIS shouldn’t be dismissed as a typical conservative take-down, either. As a member of the generation who grew up with SNL, I am battle-hardened by the cynical, borderline nihilistic thread in the show’s ironic humor. We are the powerless generation, after all. Our baby-boomer parents gave up, gave in and didn’t give a crap about us, so why should we care about anything? The target audience might be so-called “hopeful” millennials now, but the dark Matt Groening/Kurt Cobain reality is what informed the show’s current set of writers and producers. Had they wanted to take the irony to a newer, funnier and even more relevant level, they would’ve had Johnson present the ISIS commander with a sex contract app via iPhone. But that’s still a little too 21st century for this obviously ’90s crowd.
SNL’s original baby boomer generation cast had their own ironic take for sure. But it was a hopeful one that mocked the system with the goal of improving it, if by no other means that simply inspiring thought-provoking conversation. Today we just throw our hands up at the threat, laugh and look around for that joint we keep misplacing backstage. And that’s the real shame of the now-infamous Dakota Johnson/ISIS sketch. Not that it wasn’t funny, but that its humor doesn’t really matter at all.
The U.S. Air Force has a quarter of the number of fighter squadrons it did 25 years ago and two-thirds of the active duty airmen, a drop that threatens U.S. air superiority, defense officials told lawmakers on Friday.
“Enough is enough,” Air Force Secretary Deborah James told lawmakers in the House of Representatives as she defended a Pentagon budget request that exceeds federal spending caps. “Given the state of the world … the number one thing we have to stop is this downsizing.”
But members of the defense appropriations subcommittee said President Barack Obama’s 2016 Pentagon base budget of $534 billion exceeded spending caps by nearly $35 billion and would have to be cut. Some $10 billion of that would have to come from the Air Force request, they said.
“The budget he (Obama) submitted … frankly is politically … a fantasy,” said Representative Tom Cole of Oklahoma. “It’s not going to pass, and he knows that.”
Cole said he hoped lawmakers ultimately would be able to reach a bipartisan deal to provide some relief from the spending limits.
The problem is that the Pentagon budget is treated as an equal to the other departments that are federally funded and it probably shouldn’t be. We’re not sending park rangers from Interior over to bomb ISIS, after all. Under the current plan that involves escalating air raids, the Air Force should be an obvious recipient of a budgetary bump and not be fighting to avoid cuts.
It might also help if the alleged adults in charge would admit to the protracted nature of this battle and stop acting as if it is a controlled skirmish that will be wrapped up on a predetermined date.
A man seen in multiple ISIS propaganda videos speaking with a British accent and beheading Western hostages had his identity revealed in the Washington Post this morning, and yet again the suspect is another case of what I have termed “known wolf” syndrome since he was already known to authorities before engaging in acts of terrorism.
The Washington Post reports:
The world knows him as “Jihadi John,” the masked man with a British accent who has beheaded several hostages held by the Islamic State and who taunts audiences in videos circulated widely online.
But his real name, according to friends and others familiar with his case, is Mohammed Emwazi, a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming. He is believed to have traveled to Syria around 2012 and to have later joined the Islamic State, the group whose barbarity he has come to symbolize.
But the article goes on to reveal that Emwazi had been detained by authorities not once, but twice:
Emwazi and two friends — a German convert to Islam named Omar and another man, Abu Talib — never made it on the trip. Once they landed in Dar es Salaam, in May 2009, they were detained by police and held overnight. It’s unclear whether the reason for the detention was made clear to the three, but they were eventually deported.
Emwazi flew to Amsterdam, where he claimed that an officer from MI5, Britain’s domestic security agency, accused him of trying to reach Somalia, where the militant group al-Shabab operates in the southern part of the country, according to e-mails that he sent to Qureshi and that were provided to The Post.
Emwazi denied the accusation and claimed that MI5 representatives had tried to recruit him [...]
In June 2010, however, counterterrorism officials in Britain detained him again — this time fingerprinting him and searching his belongings. When he tried to fly back to Kuwait the next day, he was prevented from doing so.
The Daily Mail adds that after that June 2010 encounter with law enforcement, Emwazi was put on the UK terror watch list:
They allegedly fingerprinted him and searched his belongings, and he was not allowed to fly back to Kuwait. Emwazi was put on a terror watch list and banned from leaving the UK.
The BBC added that Emwazi was part of a known network of jihadist sympathizers:
We don’t know when the British or the American security services worked out that the masked man in the killing videos was Londoner Mohammed Emwazi.
But we do know that he was a “person of interest” to MI5 going back to at least 2011 because he features in semi-secret court cases relating to extremism overseas and back in the UK.
Nobody in official security circles is going to comment on what they know and why they know it.
Emwazi has been previously described as a member of a network involving at least 13 men from London – and at least two of them were subjected to house arrest control orders or T-Pims. One absconded. The chances of Emwazi ever returning to the UK are vanishingly small.
So yet again, as we’ve seen in practically every recent terrorism case, the suspect was already known to authorities.
I’ve reported here at PJ Media on the long line of “Known Wolf” terror suspects who committed acts of terror:
- Earlier this month I reported that the Copenhagen shooter was Omar Abdel Hamid El-Hussein, who had been convicted in a stabbing in December, and yet remarkably released by authorities despite being branded as “extremely dangerous.”
- Also this month I noted that Moussa Coulibaly, who stabbed three police officers outside a synagogue in Nice, France, had just days before been deported from Turkey for attempting to join ISIS.
- The two Kouachi brothers behind the massacre on the Charlie Hebdo newspaper offices last month in Paris had been long known to law enforcement, with one of them already having been in prison on terror-related charges, and yet they had been removed from the radar by authorities just last summer because they were deemed no longer a threat. They were also on the no-fly lists of both the U.S. and the UK.
- Man Haron Monis, aka Sheikh Haron, who in December took hostages at a chocolate shop in the heart of the commercial district in downtown Sydney, Australia, was not only known to law enforcement, but was out on bond on two separate cases and had previously been convicted of harassing the widows of Australian soldiers killed in Afghanistan. Authorities had been tipped off via their hotline to extremist statements Haron had been making on his website 48 hours before the attack.
- I first noticed this “Known Wolf” trend back in October after two separate attacks in Canada by Martin “Ahmad” Rouleau and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau, both of whom reportedly had their passports stripped by Canadian authorities because they were deemed “high risk” to travel overseas to join ISIS.
Yesterday, an interview I had with Erick Stakelbeck aired where I discussed the “Known Wolf” terror phenomenon (the first 11 minutes of the program):
Needless to say, if the currently growing track record of Western authorities missing these “known wolf” suspects is any indication, the next terror case will undoubtedly be a subject already known to law enforcement and intelligence authorities, but sufficient action not taken to stop their terrorism.
IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde followed Obama’s trendsetting “War on Muslims” narrative, thus failing the cause of women’s equality across the globe. The Feminist Fail started out on the right track:
Nations should remove laws that prevent women from working in order to increase the female labour supply and boost their economies, IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde has said.
“In too many countries, too many legal restrictions conspire against women to be economically active,” Lagarde wrote in a blog. “In a world in search of growth, women will help find it, if they face a level playing field instead of an insidious conspiracy.”
What exactly is this “insidious conspiracy” Lagarde is referring to? Don’t worry, she hasn’t taken the Patty Arquette pill, although she’s definitely drinking the Obama Kool Aid, because it’s all downhill from here:
But the IMF has to tread a careful line on this issue to avoid explicitly critiquing the laws in its 188 member countries, including states like Mali and Yemen, which have been among the worst performers on indices of gender equality.
Mali and Yemen, both Muslim-dominated states. Mali’s logo, “one people, one goal, one faith” is a contradiction in terms, at least when it comes to fostering economic growth, which is the only topic up for discussion on Lagarde’s watch:
The IMF has sought to couch its arguments in economic terms, saying in a previous study that having as many women in the labor force as men could boost economic growth by 5% in the United States, 9% in Japan and 34% in Egypt.
Note the radical climb in potential economic growth when the stats begin speaking to Muslim nations? Oops. Guess Lagarde’s staffers didn’t get the “War on Muslims” memo until after they prepared their findings, to which they quickly tacked on the following caveat:
“In recommending equal opportunities …this study does not intend to render a judgment of countries’ broadly accepted cultural and religious norms.”
Classy. Let’s talk about an obvious problem without directly drawing attention to it, since the problem is defended by radicalized terrorists. Is that called the White Elephant defense strategy?