Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Israel - Sunni Rapprochement

In Sign of Warmer Ties, Israeli Official Heads to Cairo for Talks 
- Herb Keinon

The meeting, and the fact that the Egyptians made it public, seems to indicate an interest by Cairo to play a more high-profile role in the diplomatic process. The Egyptian Foreign Ministry statement on Sunday stressed that this was the highest level visit from an Israeli Foreign Ministry official "in years."  
(Jerusalem Post)

- Avi Lewis

The Israeli Foreign Ministry said it was "pleased" with the outcome of the talks and that the two countries see "eye to eye" on a number of issues, the NRG news site reported. Israeli diplomats were said to be satisfied with Cairo's plans to maintain its tough stance toward Hamas, despite recent media reports signaling an easing of Egyptian restrictions. Foreign Ministry director-general Dore Gold told his Egyptian hosts, "When discussing regional challenges, both countries speak the same language."  
(Times of Israel)

Friday, June 26, 2015

Obama's Iran Debacle

Ex-Advisers Warn Obama on Iran Deal
- David E. Sanger

Five former members of President Obama's inner circle of Iran advisers have written an open letter expressing concern that a pending accord to stem Iran's nuclear program "may fall short of meeting the administration's own standard of a 'good' agreement" and laying out a series of minimum requirements that Iran must agree to in coming days for them to support a final deal.

Signatories include Dennis Ross, who oversaw Iran policy at the White House during the first Obama term; former CIA director David Petraeus; Robert Einhorn, a State Department proliferation expert who helped devise and enforce the sanctions against Iran; Gary Samore, Obama's former chief adviser on nuclear policy; and Gen. James E. Cartwright, a former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. 
(New York Times)

Pro-Israel Lobby Prepares to Battle over Iran Deal - Eli Lake

As U.S. and Iranian negotiators approach the June 30 deadline to reach a nuclear deal, AIPAC, America's largest pro-Israel lobby, is campaigning to kill such an accord in Congress.


The Iranian-American nuclear project - Caroline Glick

[T]here is no "crisis" in Israel-US relations. The Obama administration is betraying Israel. The centerpiece of Obama's foreign policy is his desire to transform Iran's illicit nuclear program, which endangers Israel's existence, into a legal Iranian-American nuclear program that endangers Israel's existence.

Consequently, the last thing Israel should worry about is upsetting Obama. To convince fence-sitting Democratic senators to vote against Obama's Iran deal, Israel should expose all the ruinous details of the nuclear agreement. Israel should let the American people know how the deal endangers not just Israel, but their soldiers, and indeed, the US homeland itself.

By doing so, Israel stands a chance of separating the issue of Democratic support for Obama from Democratic opposition to the nuclear deal. Obama wants this deal to be about himself. Israel needs to explain how it is about America.

At the end of the day, what we now know about US collaboration with Iran brings home — yet again — the sad fact that the only chance Israel has ever had of preventing Iran from getting the bomb is to destroy the mullahs' nuclear installations itself.

If Israel can still conduct such an operation, it makes sense for it to be carried out before Iran's nuclear program officially becomes the Iranian-American nuclear project.

[Jerusalem Post via Jewish World Review]

There is No Plan B on Iran - Jonathan Tobin

If Iran had the slightest worry that the president believed force was an option they would never dare to throw down the gauntlet in the talks in this manner. But two years of Obama’s weak negotiating tactics have forced them to conclude that they can defy the U.S. with impunity.

Nor are they afraid of Israel resorting to force because they are positive that the U.S. won’t allow it, a point that is reinforced by the fact that, as Crowley notes, the administration has not shared the MOP system with Israel despite its boasts about bolstering the security relationship with the Jewish state.

At this point, it doesn’t matter that the United States has the capacity to take out the bunker at Fordow and every other Iranian nuclear facility. Crowley writes that the existence of MOP may have helped bring Iran to the table and that it could influence their behavior in the future since it will remain as a deterrent to cheating on the pact. The first assertion is arguable but the latter is not. Without a president who is prepared to negotiate from a position of strength the ability of the MOP to take it out Iran’s nukes is irrelevant both to the current talks and to what follows.

An advanced bunker buster system like MOP should have empowered President Obama to demand an agreement that would have eliminated for all time any possibility of an Iranian weapon. But it didn’t.

The deal now in place offers Iran two paths to a bomb: one by cheating on its easily evaded terms and the other by patiently waiting for it to expire.

It remains to be seen whether President Obama’s successor will be able to walk away from this mess, assuming that Congress isn’t able to prevent it from being put into effect.

[Commentary via Jewish World Review]

Thursday, June 25, 2015

How Radicalized Are American Muslims?

Ominous Level of Support for Islamic Supremacy & Jihad 

According to a new survey of 600 Muslims living in the U.S., 51% agreed that "Muslims in America should have the choice of being governed according to shariah [Islamic law]." 

Only 39% said that Muslims in the U.S. should be subject to American courts, while an earlier national survey of the general population found by a margin of 92%-2% that Muslims should be subject to the same courts as other citizens.

24% of the Muslims polled believed: "It is legitimate to use violence to punish those who give offense to Islam by, for example, portraying the prophet Mohammed."

19% of Muslims said that the use of violence is justified in order to make shariah the law of the land in the U.S. 
(Center for Security Policy)

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

New US Consession to Iran!

US Offers to Provide Iran with Nuclear Reactors - George Jahn

In what appears to be shocking news and yet another concession to Iran, the US and other nations have offered nuclear technology in exchange for Iran’s eliminating its capacity to produce atomic weapons.
The United States and other nations negotiating a nuclear deal with Iran are ready to offer high-tech reactors and other state-of-the-art equipment to Tehran if it agrees to crimp programs that can make atomic arms, according to a confidential document obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press.

[T]he scope of the help now being offered in the draft may displease U.S. congressional critics who already argue that Washington has offered too many concessions at the negotiations.

If Congress receives a deal...it [then] has 30 days to review it before President Barack Obama could suspend congressional sanctions.
[Associated Press via United With Israel]

Israel's Opposition Leader: No Differences with Netanyahu
- David Blair

Isaac Herzog, [pictured] the leader of the Israeli Labor party, has voiced "extreme worry" over a possible nuclear deal with Iran, declaring there is "no daylight" between himself and Benjamin Netanyahu on this issue

Herzog, who was visiting London for a conference, told the Telegraph: "There is no difference between me and Netanyahu in reading the threat of Iran."


Khamenei's Nuclear Threats - Editorial

The speech delivered Tuesday by Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei spelled out conditions that would make an accord impossible, short of a complete capitulation by the U.S. 

It's possible that the ayatollah's speech was a bluff intended to improve Iran's bargaining position. A more disturbing possibility is that Iran's ruler is setting the precedent for disregarding a deal sometime after it is concluded and after the regime pockets the tens of billions of dollars in immediate financial relief it could receive. Whatever the case, the Obama administration must resist the temptation to respond with eleventh-hour concessions.

Throughout the Iran negotiations, Mr. Obama has insisted that he is ready to walk away rather than accept a bad deal. In light of the Khamenei speech, the White House must be ready to act on that threat. 
(Washington Post)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Obama Iran Deal Based on 'Laughable Assumptions'

The Iran Deal's Fatal Flaw - Alan J. Kuperman
  • President Obama's main pitch for the pending nuclear deal with Iran is that it would extend the "breakout time" necessary for Iran to produce enough enriched uranium for a nuclear weapon. He also claimed the pending deal would shrink Iran's nuclear program, so that if Iran later "decided to break the deal, kick out all the inspectors, break the seals and go for a bomb, we'd have over a year to respond."
  • Unfortunately, that claim is false, as can be demonstrated with basic science and math. By my calculations, Iran's actual breakout time under the deal would be approximately three months - not over a year. Thus, the deal would be unlikely to improve the world's ability to react to a sudden effort by Iran to build a bomb.
    1. In the event of an overt attempt by Iran to build a bomb, Mr. Obama's argument assumes that Iran would employ only the 5,060 centrifuges that the deal would allow for uranium enrichment, not the roughly 14,000 additional centrifuges that Iran would be permitted to keep. Such an assumption is laughable. Once these additional centrifuges are connected, Iran's enrichment capacity could exceed three times what Mr. Obama assumes.
    2. The deal would appear to permit Iran to keep large amounts of enriched uranium in solid form (as opposed to gas), which could be reconverted to gas within weeks, thus providing a substantial head-start to producing weapons-grade uranium.
    3. Mr. Obama's argument assumes that Iran would require 59 pounds of weapons-grade uranium to make an atomic bomb. In reality, nuclear weapons can be made from much smaller amounts of uranium. A 1995 study by the Natural Resources Defense Council concluded that a nuclear weapon could produce an explosion with a force approaching that of the Hiroshima bomb using just 29 pounds of weapons-grade uranium.
  • Based on such realistic assumptions, Iran's breakout time under the pending deal actually would be around three months, while its current breakout time is a little under two months.
  • Showering Iran with rewards for making illusory concessions poses grave risks. Worst of all, lifting sanctions would facilitate a huge expansion of Iran's nuclear program. Nothing in the pending deal is worth such risks.

    The writer is an associate professor and coordinator of the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project at the University of Texas at Austin.
(New York Times)

Friday, June 19, 2015

New Anti-Bomb Weapon

Sniffer Mice Trained in Israel to Detect Explosives at Airports - Simon Calder 
The Israeli security firm X-Test claims that mice can detect explosives far more effectively than humans, dogs or machines.
Airport security checkpoints of the future may deploy small, furry creatures to trap terrorists.
The firm's vice-president, Yuval Amsterdam, is a former bomb-disposal expert for the Israel Defense Forces. He says mice "are as good as dogs as far as their ability to sense, but they're smaller and easier to train."
"They're cheap, and you don't have to take them for a walk," he added. "Once they are trained, they become bio-sensors." 

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Rabbi Wolpe: "Knaves & Fools"

Don't Take an Iran Bomb Deal for Granted - Rabbi David Wolpe

  • Despite repeated denials, Iran wants a bomb badly. Nuclear weapons confer power, and the Iranian regime is hungry for hegemony. Even the negotiations themselves have provided Iran with an opportunity to advance its progress toward a bomb.
  • The U.S. cannot afford to get this wrong, or to be lulled into complacency, or be grateful to get this problem off our plate. We succeeded in overcoming the Soviet threat because we never took it for granted, never tired, and always understood the gravity of a slave state as superpower. History has ratified that long, twilight struggle.
  • If we sign an inadequate agreement, we won't have to wait for history to weigh in: The verdict will be clear very quickly that in a desire to be peaceable and wise, we were played for knaves and fools.
  • (TIME)
    The writer is the Senior Rabbi of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles.

    Monday, June 15, 2015

    Friday, June 12, 2015

    Jewish Donors Unite to Combat BDS

    Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban at a Las Vegas summit of pro-Israeli Jewish philanthropists

    Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban give a 'high-five' to mark their coalition against BDS

    Boycott Movement Grows, But Israel Fights Back - Oren Liebermann

    To counter the growing influence of the movement, Jewish-American mega-donors Sheldon Adelson and Haim Saban bridged their political differences -- Adelson is a Republican, Saban a Democrat --   and pledged to start and fund an anti-boycott movement.

    "This isn't over. This is just the beginning," Saban told Channel 2 Israel about the Orange CEO and the boycott movement. "Any company that chooses to boycott business in Israel is going to look at this case, and once we're done, they're going to think twice whether they want to take on Israel or not. Trust me, this is just the beginning."  

    BDS and the Politics of "Radical" Gestures - Todd Gitlin

    [M]any supporters of BDS do not understand, or have not thought through, just what they are subscribing to. The 2005 BDS call, which can be read on the official BDS website, calls on Israel to end its "colonization of all Arab lands."

    The phrase is coded to imply that the very existence of the State of Israel is what constitutes "colonization." 

    Unlike all proposals for just settlements of the murderous ethnic wars of our time - Rwanda, former Yugoslavia, Kashmir - BDS demands that one of those peoples give up the state in which they predominate.
    The writer is professor of journalism and sociology at Columbia University.

    Fight BDS in the Name of Human Rights - Rabbi Jonathan Sacks

    The BDS movement is the latest incarnation of the denial to Jews as a distinctive faith and people the right to be: the right to govern themselves in the land of their beginnings. 
    The rebirth, in this mutated form, of anti-Semitism within living memory of the Holocaust should be chilling for anyone with a genuine sense of humanity. An assault on Jews or the Jewish state is never an assault on them alone.

    Today, when Christians are being persecuted and Muslims murdered by the forces of radical political Islam, all who care for human rights, particularly European governments and their Jewish communities, must stand together with the Israeli government in their defense. 
    Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks is the former chief rabbi of the UK and Commonwealth.
    (Jerusalem Post)

    It's Time to Go on the Attack - Liel Leibovitz

    Too often, we respond to hate the way a hapless nerd might respond to the bully about to stuff him into a locker, with some sad mixture of pride in our intellectual superiority and desperate attempt to be liked no matter what. But the only way to stop bullies is to fight them.

    This means, first, stop apologizing. Haters are going to hate. Do not try to debate them or appease them or engage them in any sort of feel-good exercise. Instead, drag their bigotry into the light and make them pay for it. Force those who fail to condemn the atrocities of Hamas, those who believe that the Jews are somehow to blame for the rage of the maniacs who repeatedly rise to murder them, and those who defile history and morality by comparing Israel to Apartheid-era South Africa or to Nazi Germany, to explain their hateful positions, and then explain why anyone so disdainful of reason and so devoid of empathy, decency, and common sense should have a place in any American institution of higher learning. 

    The Evil of BDS - Adrian Hilton

    To single out the democratic Jewish state for "special treatment" when so many other nations of the world are far worse is shameless anti-Semitism. The evil of the delegitimization of Israel is that it isolates the only democracy and persecutes the only free people in the Middle East. If the past century has taught us anything at all, it is that our failure to confront anti-Semitism and anti-Judaism has tragic consequences.

    (Archbishop Cranmer-UK)


    Congress Passes Landmark Anti-BDS Law - Rebecca Shimoni Stoil

    Congress passed a trade bill containing provisions opposing the boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israel. The bill requires U.S. negotiators to make rejection of BDS a principal trade objective in negotiations with the EU in order to discourage European governments from participating in BDS activities.

    "The recent wave of boycotts originating in Europe...demands a robust response from the United States. This is that response," said Rep. Peter Roskam (R-Ill.). "If you want free trade with the United States, you can't boycott Israel."  
    (Times of Israel)

    A Yellow Star for the Jewish State? - Bernard-Henri Levy

    Foundations in Qatar (together with Saudi think tanks) provide most of the financing for the BDS movement. In that country, 95% of the labor force consists of Asian non-citizens working in slave-like conditions under the kafala system, which is a close cousin to apartheid.
    (Kyiv Post-Ukraine)

    Tuesday, June 09, 2015

    Humor & The Iran Deal

     Who says poignant humor cannot be made about the most dire of issues.
    [Clarion Project video]

    Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey visited Israel on Tuesday, and said that sanction relief in the wake of a nuclear deal with Iran will lead to increased funding for the Islamic Republic's proxies in the Middle East. "I think they will invest in their surrogates; I think they will invest in additional military capability....It's my expectation that it's not all going to flow into the economy to improve the lot of the average Iranian citizen."
    Dempsey also said Israeli officials raised with him their concern about the scope of U.S. arms sales to Arab Gulf states as they build defenses against an expansionist Iran.
    (Ynet News)
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told the Herzliya Conference: 
    Somebody once said: 'If you're not at the table, you're on the menu." The states with the most at stake are not even in the room.'
    To those who say this deal will change Iran, I say - you've got it backwards. First, Iran should change. Then make the deal. Only then should you reward it with technology and money.
    (Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs)



    Friday, June 05, 2015

    Israel & Saudis Go Public with Cooperation: Common Nightmare Unites

    The fact that this story was purposely thrown into the public arena yesterday, can only be seen as a trial balloon.  So far, no outrage in the Arab/Muslim world. 

    Israelis and Saudis Reveal Secret Talks to Thwart Iran - Eli Lake

    Since the beginning of 2014, representatives from Israel and Saudi Arabia have had five secret meetings to discuss a common foe, Iran. On Thursday, the two countries came out of the closet by revealing this covert diplomacy at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington. Anwar Eshki and Dore Gold presented identical messages: Iran is trying to take over the Middle East and it must be stopped. Saudi Arabia and Israel are arguably the two countries most threatened by Iran's nuclear program, but neither has a seat at the negotiations.

    Gold said, "Our standing today on this stage does not mean we have resolved all the differences that our countries have shared over the years, but our hope is we will be able to address them fully in the years ahead." The five bilateral meetings over the last 17 months occurred in India, Italy and the Czech Republic. One participant, Shimon Shapira, a retired Israeli general and an expert on the Lebanese militant group Hizbullah, told me: "We discovered we have the same problems and same challenges and some of the same answers."

    Saudi Gen. Eshki notably called for an independent Kurdistan to be made up of territory now belonging to Iraq, Turkey and Iran

    Saudis Consider Iran Their Top Enemy, Not Israel  

    The Saudi public is far more concerned about the threats of Iran and the Islamic State than Israel, an opinion poll conducted by the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel, has found.

    53% of Saudis named Iran as their main adversary, while 22% said it is the Islamic State and 18% said Israel.

    A quarter of the poll's respondents said Israel and Saudi Arabia should join forces to fight Iran together
    (AP-New York Times)

    Saudi Arabia and Israel Share a Common Opposition - David E. Sanger

    A new merging of strategic interests between Saudi Arabia and Israel was on display on Thursday as two former officials from those countries appeared on the same stage to discuss their concerns about Iran's actions across the Middle East. In an appearance at the Washington office of the Council on Foreign Relations, a retired major general in the Saudi armed forces, Anwar Eshki, and a former Israeli ambassador close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Dore Gold, described their common interests in opposing Iran.

    "We're both allies of the United States," Gold said after the presentation. "I hope this is the beginning of more discussion about our common strategic problems." Gold will become the director general of Israel's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Sunday. 
    (New York Times)

    If Not for Israel, ISIS Would Control Nuke Reactor - Guy Bechor

    I received a message from a man who lives in Iraq and wanted to thank Israel for destroying Saddam Hussein's nuclear reactor in 1981. If it were not for that, he wrote, Iraq would have been filled with nuclear facilities; Israel saved the Iraqi people.

    Indeed, Saddam Hussein's Osirak reactor, had it remained, would now be in the area occupied by the Islamic State in Anbar province.
    The writer heads the Middle East Division at the Lauder School of Government at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya.      
    (Ynet News)

    Iran Is Here - Alex Fishman

    Assad has been defeated in battle and has become a marionette. Hizbullah has lost thousands of soldiers and is fighting for its very existence. The Iranians have entered the vacuum that has been created. Their generals are deployed in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and up to Lebanon. Now they are waiting for the removal of sanctions from the U.S. in order to deliver the final blow.

    In Israel there is an attempt to persuade the Americans and the Europeans to delay as much as possible the removal of sanctions on Iran. In Israel there is a fear that this money will shoot adrenaline immediately into the ranks of Hizbullah and the Iranian fighters in Syria. 
    (Yediot Ahronot-Hebrew-5June2015)

    Contextualizing Concerns about the Iran Deal - Michael Herzog 

    Instead of deterrence, Israel and the Sunni Arab states see that, for the sake of reaching a nuclear deal, the U.S. has granted Iran considerable room to pursue destabilizing policies toward its goal of regional hegemony.

    Regional actors give no credence to Washington's optimistic assessment that in a post-deal era Iran will change priorities and overwhelmingly direct the significant funds released as sanctions are relaxed toward fixing the economy and other internal reforms.
    Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Michael Herzog, an International Fellow at The Washington Institute, served as head of IDF strategic planning and as senior military aide and chief of staff to four Israeli ministers of defense. 
    (Washington Institute for Near East Policy)

    Wednesday, June 03, 2015

    Empowering Iran & Assad

    Paying Tehran's Bills; Empowering Iran - Lee Smith

  • The White House continues to insist, against all evidence, that Iran's aggression won't increase when it gets a huge cash infusion from sanctions relief and an immediate $30 to $50 billion bonus, when (or if) it signs the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, aka the nuclear deal.
  • Of all Iran's regional projects, keeping Bashar al-Assad's regime afloat is the costliest. And that's because it's an occupation...
  • Sanctions relief will abet Iran's regional goals. The signing bonus alone will cover the costs of Iran's continued occupation of Syria for at least another year and lead to tens of thousands more dead Syrian civilians.
  • (Weekly Standard)

    Monday, June 01, 2015

    Israel Should Hit Iran Soon

    Israel Must Strike Iran Soon - Yoni Kempinski & Ari Yashar

    [F]ormer US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton gave a rundown of Iran's nuclear program and the impending deal on curbing it, in an exclusive Arutz Sheva interview.

    In Bolton's estimation his actions stem from a belief that negotiations can change the nature of the hostile Islamic regime, because Obama "is driven by an ideology that sees American influence as part of the problem, and if he can show the ayatollahs that we are no threat to them that they will happily give up their 30-year pursuit of nuclear weapons. I just think that's flatly wrong."

    Faced with the threat of a nuclear armed Iran, Israel will have to choose whether to strike Iran's nuclear facilities based on estimations that within the next 20 months Iran will be able to produce a nuclear arsenal.

    Israel must decide soon, he added, because once Iran has the bomb, "any attack would risk nuclear retaliation."
    [Arutz Sheva]

    Thursday, May 28, 2015

    US Folly -- Obama Sides with Shia Islam

    Iraqi troops flee Ramadi

    The March of Folly in Iraq - Jonathan Spyer

    In addition to showcasing the low caliber of the Iraqi security forces, the events surrounding the fall of the city lay bare the contradictions at the heart of Western policy in Iraq.

    Prime Minister Abadi had ordered the garrison in Ramadi to stand firm. [But] Iraqi security forces ignored orders to defend Ramadi, and fled eastwards to the neighboring town of Khalidiyeh.

    This left Ramadi to the tender mercies of the fighters of the Islamic State, who have reportedly since slaughtered at least 500 people. It is important to note that even U.S. airstrikes were not sufficient to prevent the debacle.

    So what is behind the failure of the Iraqi security forces and the continued advance of the jihadis?

    On the simplest level, the greater motivation and determination of the IS fighters explains their continued successes against the Iraqis. The jihadis are all volunteers. Not all of them are highly skilled fighters, but their level of motivation is correspondingly very high. By contrast, Iraqi soldiers are often serving far from home, defending communities for whom they have little concern. Most joined the army for the salary. Their unwillingness to engage against the murderous jihadis of the Islamic State is not hard to understand or explain.

    The blame for this cannot be placed at the feet of low ranking Iraqi soldiers. The blame lies at the policymaking level.

    The United States is [foolishly] committed to the territorial unity of Iraq. It therefore is determined to relate to the government of Haider al-Abadi as the sole authority in the country. The problem with this stance is two-fold. Firstly, it precludes providing arms directly to the elements who are most willing to use them against the Islamic State (namely, the Kurdish Peshmerga and further south, the elements among the Sunni tribes whom the U.S. aided during the “surge” in 2006-2007).
    Secondly, and more importantly, the U.S. commitment to the territorial unity of Iraq is leading to a willful blindness regarding the actual nature of the government in Baghdad and its true sources of strength and support. The supposedly legitimate armed forces of Baghdad are, as has been witnessed again in Ramadi, not fit for the purpose. The true defenders of Baghdad and of the government are...the Shia militias, supported by Iran. These militias are the wall behind which the Amadi government shelters.
    The West insists on maintaining the illusion that the government in Baghdad is something other than a Shia sectarian-dominated entity in the process of entering a de facto military alliance with the Iranians. This stubbornness is producing the current absurd situation in which Western air power is being used in support of Shia Islamism.
    It is important to understand that this is not taking place because there is no other option for stopping the advance of the Islamic State. There is another, more effective option:  direct aid to the Kurds, and to the Sunni tribes further south.
    This support of Shia Islamism is taking place because of the conviction in Western capitals — most importantly, of course, Washington, D.C. — that the advance of Iran and the building of Iranian strength in Lebanon and in the collapsed states of Iraq and Syria is not a phenomenon to be prevented. Rather, Western capitals believe that growing Iranian influence can be accommodated and perhaps even allied with.
    This conviction combined with the desire to maintain the fictions of “Iraq” and “Syria” are the foundations of current policy. For these reasons, in the coming days we will witness U.S. and Western air power, astonishingly, supporting Shia Islamist militants as they battle with Sunni Islamist militants. Meanwhile, overtly pro-Western forces further north lack arms.
    The Islamic State just took Ramadi. In Western capitals where Middle East policy is made, folly is engaged on a similarly triumphant march.
    [The Rubin Center for Research in International Affairs ]

    Report: Iran, North Korea Forging Ballistic, Nuclear Ties - John Irish

    A seven-person North Korean Defense Ministry delegation visited a military site near Tehran in April, the dissident National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) said.

    "The delegates included nuclear experts, nuclear warhead experts, and experts in various elements of ballistic missiles including guidance systems," NCRI said.

    Another North Korean delegation was due to visit Iran in June.

    Wednesday, May 20, 2015

    Capitulation of US: 'Step on Me'

    U.S. Ignored Israeli Warning on Violation of Sanctions - Jeffrey Heller

    A senior Israeli official said that, despite a tip-off from Israel, the U.S. allowed Iran to purchase 15 used commercial planes in the last three months, even though the acquisition violated international sanctions.

    "Israel learned from intelligence sources about this very significant breach of the sanctions in advance of it occurring," the Israeli official told Reuters. "We flagged the issue to the U.S. administration. Unfortunately, the deal still went through and there was no success in preventing it." 

    New Tensions Between U.S. and Iran - Dion Nissenbaum & Asa Fitch

    Two Iranian warships have linked up in the waters off Yemen's coast with an Iranian vessel said to be carrying aid for Yemen, Pentagon officials said Tuesday. American officials have called on Iran to send the ship to the African country of Djibouti to undergo newly established UN inspections for aid going to Yemen. But Iran has ignored that appeal so far.

    (Wall Street Journal)

    Iran Ship to Refuse Inspections

    Iranian officials said an Iranian cargo ship, which left from Bandar Abbas, Iran, for al Hudaydah, Yemen, and is escorted by the Iranian Navy's 34th Fleet, will refuse inspections by countries involved in the conflict in Yemen.

    Iran appears to be testing U.S. redlines in the Gulf of Aden.

    Recent incidents involving the U.S.-flagged Maersk Kensington, Marshall Islands-flaggedMaersk Tigris, and a convoy of seven cargo ships reportedly carrying weapons for the Houthis demonstrate Iran's willingness to test the line.
    (American Enterprise Institute)

    Tuesday, May 19, 2015

    Low Rates of Post Traumatic Stress in Israel

    Why PTSD in the IDF Is Only 1 Percent - Sebastian Junger

    PTSD is a natural response to danger. From an evolutionary perspective, it's exactly the response you want to have when your life is in danger...

    The American military now has the highest PTSD rate in its history - and probably in the world. PTSD claims to the Veterans Administration have reportedly risen 60% to 150,000 a year.

    Anthropological research from around the world shows that recovery from war is heavily influenced by the society one returns to, and there are societies that make that process relatively easy.

    Israel is arguably the only modern country that retains a sufficient sense of community to mitigate the effects of combat on a mass scale. Despite decades of intermittent war, the Israel Defense Forces have a PTSD rate as low as 1%.

    Two of the foremost reasons have to do with national military service and the proximity of the combat - the war is virtually on their doorstep. "Being in the military is something that most people have done," I was told by Dr. Arieh Shalev, who has devoted the last 20 years to studying PTSD. "Those who come back from combat are re-integrated into a society where those experiences are very well understood." 
    (Vanity Fair)

    Monday, May 18, 2015

    Rabin on Jerusalem: How Things Change

    This rare video is of an interview Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin gave the day before he was murdered!

    Caroline Glick notes on her Facebook post: "[h]e explains that his vision is for Jerusalem to remain united under Israeli sovereignty and for the Palestinians to exercise their national rights in less than a sovereign state. Today we are told that this is an extremist right wing view. When we take a step back, we can see how badly things have deteriorated in the past 20 years."

     Many believe that had Rabin lived, peace would have been achieved.  This 'cult-of-the-individual' ignores evidence like this.  There is no evidence that Rabin would have negotiated away parts of Jerusalem.  Rabin's opinion, once a "left-wing" position, is now widely seen as a "right-wing" one.  My...how things change. 
    Hat tip: Caroline Glick

    Friday, May 15, 2015

    Kill Us...Please

    Hamas Understands the West - David P. Goldman

    Never in the entire history of warfare has a belligerent done what Hamas did during the Gaza war, namely, maximize civilian casualties on its own side in order to win sympathy.

    Yet there is a reflex in the West to declare the deaths of civilians "unacceptable" even if it is engineered by Hamas. Hamas understands the West better than the West understands Hamas.

    The horror over civilian deaths overwhelms the West and prompts a significant body of Western opinion to demand a "solution" where no solution is to be found.
    (Asia Times-Hong Kong)

    Monday, May 11, 2015

    Projecting Weakness

    Inspectors Find Undeclared Sarin and VX in Syria - Anthony Deutsch

    International inspectors have found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent at a military research site in Syria that had not been declared, diplomatic sources said. 

    What Do Syrian Chemical Violations Mean for Iran Deal?
    - David Gerstman   

    When we see that there are no consequences to Syria for violating a verifiable deal to get rid of its chemical weapons, what lesson should we draw about future violations by Iran of any deal that it agrees to regarding its illicit nuclear program? 
    (Legal Insurrection)

    Report: New Chlorine Attacks in Syria - Sarah El Deeb

    Mohammed Tennari, a doctor who testified before the UN Security Council last month about chemical attacks, reported Thursday on three new chemical attacks in the province of Idlib that injured nearly 80 people. Government helicopters dropped barrel bombs containing chlorine on the villages of Janoudieh, Kansafrah, and Kafr Batiekh on Thursday.
    (AP-Washington Post)

    Persian Gulf States Want: Iran Kept at Bay - Doyle McManus

    This week, President Obama will gather kings, emirs and sheiks from the oil-rich monarchies of the Persian Gulf at Camp David for a summit aimed at bolstering the U.S. alliance with their Sunni Muslim governments. These alliances have been fraying, mostly because of diverging views on Iran, the Arab states' historic rival, ruled by Shiite Muslims.

    In recent months, as the Obama administration has neared an agreement to limit Iran's nuclear programs, the Saudis and their allies have reacted with near-panic. They don't want an equilibrium that grants Iran big-power status; they want Iran kept at bay. They think Iran is irrevocably bent on expanding its influence. 
    (Los Angeles Times)

    Saudi, Bahrain Kings to Miss Gulf Nation Summit in U.S.
    The kings of both Saudi Arabia and Bahrain will be skipping the Camp David summit of U.S. and allied Arab leaders, the two countries confirmed Sunday.

    The absences will put a damper on talks that are designed to reassure key Arab allies, and almost certainly reflect dissatisfaction among leaders of the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council with Washington's handling of Iran and what they expect to get out of the meeting.
    (AP-ABC News)


    With Plane Delivery, Iran Sanctions Collapsing Already
    - Eli Lake

    Abbas Akhoundi, Iran's transportation minister, said Sunday that 15 planes had been acquired by Iran since February. Iranian media reported that the nine planes that arrived for Mahan Air used to be part of the Virgin Atlantic fleet. On Monday, the Financial Times
    reported that Western governments suspect Iraq's Al-Naser Airlines to have been a front for Mahan to acquire the planes.

    Some analysts said the transaction showed how the sanctions against Iran were collapsing. "Mahan Air's case shows that U.S. sanctions no longer deter Western companies from doing big business with Iran," said Emanuele Ottolenghi, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. "The administration must move quickly to punish those companies involved in this blatant breach of U.S. sanctions. Otherwise, the argument that sanctions are still largely intact and can always be snapped back in the future loses all credibility."

    Avi Jorisch, a former Treasury Department official who is now a senior fellow at the American Foreign Policy Council, said the purchase of the airplanes was a "gross violation" of the interim agreement. "Such moves weaken the U.S. government's ability to negotiate and make a credible case that if a good deal is not signed, Iran's economy will continue to suffer."  

    Assad Failed to Disclose Ten Chemical Weapons Sites
    - Josh Rogin and Eli Lake 

    Officials from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons told the Obama administration early this year that its inspectors had found traces of sarin and VX nerve agent during an inspection of the Syrian government's Scientific Studies and Research Center near Damascus. The administration is said to have not yet decided about how to respond.


    Lessons of Syrian Chemical Weapons Discovery
    - Brig.-Gen. Yossi Kuperwasser
    • In early May, inspectors from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) reported that they had located traces of sarin-type chemical weapons and ricin-type biological weapons in at least three sites in Syria which the Assad regime had not reported.
    • The lack of political will to be drawn into a conflict with the party under supervision leads to foot-dragging; the issue is sidelined and its importance downplayed. The chlorine-gas attacks on the Syrian population, for example, have become a humdrum matter that interests no one and is barely mentioned, let alone spurring a response.
    • The West's commitment to act on these issues only within the framework of a broad international coalition creates total paralysis.
    • Whoever wants to defend against the threats embodied in Iran's behavior must have an independent capacity to act - even if one enjoys a deep strategic security relationship with the U.S. What the Saudis have been demonstrating in Yemen shows that they have already reached this conclusion.

      The writer is Director of the Project on the Regional Implications of the Syrian Civil War at the Jerusalem Center. He was formerly Director General of the Israel Ministry of Strategic Affairs and head of the Research and Analysis and Production Division of IDF Military Intelligence.
    (Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs)

    What Syrian Chemical Weapons Reveal about Obama - Daniel Pipes, PhD

    The famed "red line" warning that Barack Obama issued in August 2013 to Bashar al-Assad of Syria was arguably the defining foreign policy moment of his presidency...

    When the incident ended in a blur, responses were bifurcated. The president and his allies hailed this as a monument of diplomacy, whereby a plausible threat led bloodlessly to a major improvement in behavior. In contrast, critics presented Obama as a paper tiger who raged with threats that collapsed when offered meaningless assurances by a well-established liar.

    For two years, there was no verdict. But now, closure is at hand. That's because there are now multiple reports of the Assad regime using chlorine in barrel bombs, plus the discovery of traces of ricin, sarin and VX.

    In response, the U.S. government not done nothing about these hideous developments other than issued mild rebukes, turn to the feckless United Nations, and hope against hope that the Russians and even the Iranians would dispose of the problem. No mention of red lines this time, just a wish no one would remember 2013.

    But we do remember and we do draw conclusions. It's now indisputably clear that Obama is no more than a paper tiger. His threats against the Syrian dictatorship meant nothing but vanished into thin air, replaced by squirming and prattle.

    Not only is this response important in itself, but it has implications for other hostile states, notably Russia, China, and especially Iran. If Obama dares not handle the weakling in Damascus, how might he venture to do so with the more formidable foes in Moscow, Peking, and Tehran?

    For this reason, the issue of Assad's chemical weapons is crucial to American foreign policy. Like many observers, I count the months until this president is gone and the United States of America has an opportunity for a fresh start to stand by its word, live up to its historic reputation, and protect itself.
    [Fox News]