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Total number of comments: 1233 (since 2013-11-28 14:42:38)

Mark Koroi

Showing comments 1233 - 1201

  • Obama-Netanyahu Tiff worsens: US won't rule out using UN to create Palestine
    • "Ahem. A flat-out untruth."

      You missed my point.

      You are correct that Great Britain abstained from the General Assembly vote - however British Foreign Secretary Ernest Bevin was emphatically against the Partition Plan, the British Parliament later debated the matter in December of 1947 and in the end their own plan to leave on their own terms was implemented to dissolve the British Mandate.

      U.N. General Assembly Resolution 181 of 1947 (the Partition Plan) had practically nothing to do with Israel's creation - it was the British Crown that initiated the transition of power as they saw fit.

    • "UN created Israel in 1947."

      This is inaccurate.

      The United Nations General Assembly passed its Partition Plan on November 29, 1947 that was merely advisory in nature.

      The State of Israel was not declared until May 14, 1948 when the British Mandate ended. It was the agreement of the British government - who voted against the General Assembly's Partition Plan - that made the birth of the State of Israel a reality.

  • Mideast Apocalypse 2030: Why Obama wants the Palestine Issue Solved. Now.
    • The possibility of ISIS or some other jihadist group coming into control of nuclear weapons technology is not farfetched.

      In 2007, the Israeli Air Force, as part of "Operation Orchard", destroyed a suspected nuclear reactor in Syria via bombing that was believed to have a weapons-producing capability. The land the destroyed reactor sits on is under the current control of ISIS.

      The Dimona reactor facility in Israel was targeted from Gaza by M-302 ballistic missiles in the last conflict with Israel and many observers feel that it would be easy for a Palestinian paramilitary organization to install effective guidance systems in these missiles that would likely inflict heavy damages in a future war with Israel.

  • Obama with Drama: Translating his comments on Israel's Netanyahu from the Vulcan
    • The International Criminal Court has jurisdiction over any person - Israeli citizen or otherwise - who may commit a war crime on the territory of a member state - such as Palestine - and whom the internal justice system of the offender's state is inadequate or unwilling to initiate criminal prosecution.

  • Tom Friedman & funding ISIL: Israel/Iran Derangement Syndrome
    • Israel perceived Iran as a counterbalance to Iraq and did not want to weaken it.

      Although it was major news that Israel's air force bombed Iraq's Osirak nuclear reactor in 1981, comparatively few were aware that Iran had also attempted to bomb the same reactor during the Iran-Iraq War.

      The Osirak reactor was destroyed by U.S. Air Force jet bombers in 1991 and Israeli fears over the Iraqi nuclear program shifted to Iran.

      Iran during the 1990s was making inroads into Israeli hegemony in Lebanon via Hezbollah and in 1997 received a rude awakening when an IDF naval commando force was routed on the Lebanese coast by a joint force of Hezbollah militiamen in conjunction with the Lebanese Marines. The ongoing resistance to Israeli occupation in south Lebanon was driven by Iran's Hezbollah proxies and eventually led PM Ehud Barak's decision to withdraw all IDF occupation from Lebanon in 1999 after the IDF had accumulated over 1,000 fatalities during its 17-year occupation.

    • " was the US-supported groups in Afghanistan which morphed into the Taliban and Al-Qaeda."

      The Taliban militia was created by the Pakistani ISI intelligence service in the mid-1990s and fought the CIA and Saudi Arabian funded and supplied warlords who led the Afghan government following their defeat of the Marxist-led government in 1992. Those warlords would become the "Northern Alliance" resisting the Taliban after the warlords were forced out power in Kabul - they would eventually defeat the Taliban with U.S. backing following 9/11.

      It is debatable whether the CIA had a direct or indirect relationship with Osama bin Laden during the 1980s when his "Afghan Arabs" fought the Marxist government in Kabul - but his fighters were only a tiny fraction of overall rebel forces in Afghanistan in the 1980s. Al-Qaeda was permitted by the Taliban in the late 1990s to establish training camps that would lead to the terror attacks that included the U.S. Embassy bombings in Africa, the USS Cole incident and of course, 9/11. There is no credible proof, however, that the US provided any support to Osama bin Laden while he was allied with the Taliban - although there exists some evidence that wealthy Saudi benefactors financed bin Laden in the late 1990s.

  • Mideast Reacts with Horror: "Israel has elected Extremism and Racism"
  • The Palestinian-Israelis' Selma Moment?
    • The Joint Arab List does not have to be included in the government to wield power as they could simply oppose a no-confidence vote and support Zionist Union proposals as opposition members - the Joint List's power primarily would be to keep the right-wing out of government and ensure the ruling government respects Palestinian interests.

      If Pres. Rivlin's suggestion is followed - a national unity government - then the possibility becomes that the Joint List "top dog" will become the Leader of the Opposition and the Israeli PM will be required by law to brief him/her on classified national security matters.

    • ".......... [i]f Herzog did form a government with the Joint Arab List in the coalition this would be a historic first for Israel."

      87% of Arab Israelis polled want the Joint Arab List to help form the next government and 74% prefer inclusion of the list in a new government formed by Zionist Union.

      Zionist Union and the leftist Meretz Party combined will likely have 31 to 32 seats in the new Knesset to be seated and centrist parties headed by Yair Lapid and Moshe Kahlon likely have another 22 seats - meaning the 12-13 seats the Joint Arab List will receive are enough to seat Zionist Union as the leaders of a new coalition without inclusion of any right-wing parties.

      Kahlon, a Libyan-born Mizrahi Jew, is now being seen as a power broker in the formation of the next Israeli government. He has been a bitter foe of Netanyahu and it has been suggested that Likud may have to relinquish Netanyahu as its prime minister nominee to allay Kahlon and, further, Kahlon may receive a position as finance minister in a Likud-led government as the price for his support.

  • Syria: Signs of Popular Backlash Against al-Qaeda
    • Ambassador Ford has also pointed out that some U.S.-backed rebel leaders have failed to perceive the al-Nusra Front as an enemy and that American supplies often find their way to the al-Nusra Front.

      He has pointed out that secular rebel forces may be as low as 20,000 in fighters and that the Obama administration policy in Syria has been a profound failure.

      Ford has described the fighting as Baathist vs. jihadist extremists.

      Here are some links:

      link to

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  • Apartheid Forever: Israel's Netanyahu rules out Palestinian Citizenship Rights
    • " did Resolution 242 get past the U.S.'s watchful, protective eye?

      Surprising answer:

      Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban helped draft Resolution 242 and it was not controversial when passed.

      Also surprising:

      Per Noam Chomsky, there was considerable support even in the leadership of the Israeli intelligence services immediately following the Six-Day War for the creation of a binational single joint Arab-Jewish state comprised of Israel and the Occupied Territories.

    • Israel has the U.S. as a "surrogate" to veto any resolution in the U.N. Security Council to enforce 1948-67 borders.

      The U.N. Security Council already has Resolution 242 to call for Israel to vacate the Occupied Territories.

    • The Kulanu Party led by Moshe Kahlon, a former Likud member bitterly critical of Netanyahu and emphasizing cost-of-living issues is projected to win 10 seats; its platform is similar to Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid Party who is expected to obtain 12 seats. Lapid was tossed out of the Israeli cabinet previously by Netanyahu over policy arguments.

      Should these two parties continue to oppose Netanyahu and decide to join a Zionist Union government, Zionist Union will only need the Joint Arab List to form a government by surpassing the 61-seat threshold.

    • "But in fact, Netanyahu and the right are dedicated to Greater Israel, to annexing the West Bank territory and finding a way to expel the Palestinians from it..........."

      30 years ago, Rabbi Meir Kahane proposed, as an extremist Knesset member of the later-outlawed Kach Party, the expulsion of Arabs from Israel and the Occupied Territories with compensation. He was met with public condemnation from the world's Jewry. Now the PM is espousing the same nonsense to ensure his re-election.

      Hopefully, the U.S. State Department will recognize that the Israel Foreign Ministry's "negotiations" with the Palestinian Authority have been a smokescreen by Israel to allay the U.S. that progress is being made - however no intention ever existed by the PM to permit a Palestinian state.

  • Top 5 ways Netanyahu sabotaged US and Israel Interests
  • Could a Netanyahu loss in Israeli Elections change Everything?
    • "Are the wild-card ultra-Orthodox parties known to be bribable?"


      link to

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    • There are some indications Isaac Herzog may sincerely try to resolve the Palestinian question. He met in December of 2014 with Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, who has previously visited Hamas leadership in Gaza and publicly called on Ireland to recall its ambassador to Israel due to its chronic human rights violations of Palestinians:

      link to

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    • Here are a couple of links referencing Gideon Levy and that op-ed piece:

      link to

      link to

    • Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid Party has declined in popularity since its initial surprise finish of 20 seats in the last Knesset election and is expected to receive maybe 12 seats in the upcoming election.

      Lapid had rallied against the privileges accorded the ultraorthodox and the decline of the Israeli middle class standard of living - but achieved little after joining the Likud-led coalition and causing Likud to dump the ultraorthodox Shas and United Torah Judaism parties as coalition partners.

      I see Yesh Atid and ultraorthox parties as wild cards who could either join either a Netanyahu or Herzog-led coalition. Lapid has had a very weak understanding of the Palestinian issue and the ultraorthodox party leaders have had divergent opinions on this issue.

      Given current polling numbers, it appears that if Netanyahu can persuade all other rightist parties to join him in a coalition - and can receive support from either the ultraorthodox parties or Yesh Atid (whose policies are widely divergent) - then he should be re-elected; however right now it is not clear if all other conservative parties will automatically bolt toward Likud in forming a coalition post-election. In sum, many variables exist which make the March 17th election largely unpredictable.

      One surprising result is that the criminal probe of the Israeli Attorney General of Avigdor Lieberman's right-wing party leaders that has resulted in a decline in the polling numbers of that party to about six projected Knesset seats would translate in those conservative voters switching to Likud - but Likud's polling numbers have ben on the decline also.

    • "....the Livni Herzog double act seems likely to maintain the status quo..."

      Not exactly.

      Livni and Herzog will need the Joint Arab List parties and the leftist Meretz Party as coalition partners in order to form a government in the event Hatenua and Labor parties win enough seats in the March 17th election.

      It was the inclusion of the then-new Meretz Party in 1992 as a coalition partner with Labor Party that formed the impetus for the highly controversial Oslo Accords.

      If Zionist Union does do well in the election and is able to cobble together a ruling coalition - then the Joint Arab List and Meretz can simply withdraw from the coalition and allow a no-confidence vote if they feel that Herzog is going to simply drag his feet on final status negotiations with the Palestinians.

      The real possibility potential inclusion of Arab parties in a ruling coalition is unprecedented and would allow these parties to negotiate real political power in the Israeli political processes via appointment to influential cabinet positions.

      The last two centrist Israeli prime ministers - Ehud Barak and Ehud Olmert - were hampered in their abilities to achieve significant inroads against gridlock in the peace processes since they had no leftist party inclusion in their respective governments - as Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres did when they negotiated the Oslo Accords.

  • Not a Jewish State: Palestinian-Israelis form Coalition that could be 3rd Largest Party
    • @Avi Green:

      Bibi has no coalition yet - he siphoned off votes from smaller right-wing parties to get Likud's 30 seats.

      When and if Bibi persuades Moshe Kahlon's party to be a coalition partner - then he can pop the champagne cork.

    • The prominent longtime Israeli newspaper Maariv has polled prospective voters and disclosed results showing that the center-left Zionist Union - composed of the Hatenua and Labor parties, led by Tzipi Livni and Isaac Herzog, respectively - is likely to receive 25 seats and the Likud Party 21 seats in the Knesset in the upcoming election.

      Sixty-one seats are needed for a majority in the 120-seat Knesset and it is absolutely certain that Zionist Union will need the projected 13 seats that the Joint Arab List is expected to realize if it intends to form a coalition government - meaning it would be the first time in Israel's history that an Arab-dominated party or party union would be a coalition partner in the Israeli government - and likely place an Arab for the first time in an influential cabinet seat.

      Although not a Arab party, the leftist Meretz Party is likely to be another potential coalition partner of Zionist Union - and would be necessary to form a governing coalition if Zionist Union does well enough in the upcoming election and wishes to form a government.

  • Insulting Netanyahu: How Bibi got Everything Wrong and called you Stupid
    • There was one obvious falsehood that PM Netanyahu made in his speech to U.S. Congress: Iran was behind the U.S. Embassy bombings in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam in 1998.

      There is absolutely no proof of Iranian government complicity in this attack.

      It had been carried out by al-Qaeda operatives; al-Qaeda is a jihadist Sunni terror organization - not Shia as the Iranian government is - and al-Qaeda has generally been opposed to Shi'ite interests.

      As the above article correctly points out, al-Qaeda's affiliate in Syria, Jabhat al-Nusra (the Succor Front), enjoys a positive cooperative relationship with the Israeli government. This is something that the PM obviously did not disclose to Congress during his speech since that al-Qaeda affiliate has been designated on the U.S. State Department list of terror organizations subject to sanctions.

  • Syria: As al-Qaeda defeats 'moderate' US allies, will US ally with al-Qaeda?
    • ".....whenever the US meddles, the momentum of effective resistance shifts to the other side."

      When Jabhat al-Nusra was designated as a terror organization be the U.S. State Department, the practical effect was nil as far advancing American foreign policy interests as this designation allows the U.S. to do such things as freezing bank accounts the U.S. has jurisdiction over and imposing other penalties that require effective power over the designee that the U.S. does not have over the al-Nusra Front.

      In Syria, thousands took to the streets to protest this odious designation, which actually helped al-Nusra protect their reputation and expand within Syria.

    • The al-Nusra Front military wing commander was just recently killed in Aleppo by the Baathist Syrian army:

      link to

    • The CIA's Operation Cyclone funded and armed Islamic fundamentalist forces fighting the Soviet-backed Marxist puppet regime headquartered in Kabul.

      Osama bin Laden was allied with those rebels and may or may not have had direct ties to U.S. intelligence - but it was clear bin Laden was fighting the same enemy. This collective rebel alliance - who often fought each other - eventually seized power in Kabul in 1992.

      The Taliban, however, did not exist during the 1980s, but was a creation of the Pakistani intelligence service ISI during the mid-1990s and eventually forced the Islamic fundamentalists out of power and largely into northern regions of the country - thus named the Northern Alliance.

      The Taliban, however, allowed al-Qaeda to establish training camps inside of Afghanistan that eventually hosted training in terror tactics. Absent American involvement in Afghan affairs due to Cold War concerns, the camps would likely not have existed and al-Qaeda not jelled as a terror organization.

  • 4 Things more Dangerous to Israel than Iran's civilian Nuclear Enrichment
  • Palestine to take Israel to Int'l Criminal Court for War Crimes
    • Israel has tried via its court system to hold the P.L.O liable for monetary damages for bombings and there are cases going on in New York to hold the P.L.O legal responsible for terror activity as well as the Arab Bank liable for doing business with Hamas as a customer.

      The ICC action against Israel will be as about as groundbreaking as the Nuremberg trials were in Germany to hold a Western power responsible for the war crimes and crimes against humanity of its political or military leaders.

      The Israeli government is currently consulting with international law experts on ways to fight the jurisdiction of the ICC. In the past Israel has been successful in avoiding the reach of such nations as Belgium in asserting "universal jurisdiction" over putative war crimes occurring in the Middle East.

  • Gaza's sole power plant to close as funding runs out
    • Israel bombed Gaza's power plant in 2006 causing $15 million in damages as immediate retaliation for the capture of IDF Cpl. Gilad Shalit.

      Israel's military and intelligence leaders had recommended the release of Palestinian prisoners, but PM Ehud Olmert initiated protracted air and military operations against Gaza. In the end. Israel released 1,000 Arab prisoners in return for Shalit.

      The great irony is that Israel as an occupying power is legally obligated to supply electricity to Gaza despite their status as military adversaries.

  • 180 Frmr Israeli Security Officials to PM Netanyahu: Cancel US Speech, which pushes Iran toward Bomb
    • It should be noted that the Labor Party and Hatenua Party leaders that are trying to unseat Netanyahu both have intelligence backgrounds.

      Isaac Herzog served in the IDF Unit 8200 - the Israeli equivalent of the National Security Agency.

      Tzipi Livni spent several years as a Mossad employee.

  • Frmr Israeli Intel Head: Netanyahu's Clash w/ Obama 'Intolerable', Risks end of US UN Veto
    • Several points:

      (1) Meir Dagan has, in the past, opposed any military action taken against Iran's nuclear program;

      (2) he served as Mossad director during the development of the Stuxnet computer virus - believed to be a joint U.S.-Israel intelligence operation - that targeted the enrichment facility in Natanz, Iran and was subject to intense debate about its ultimate effectiveness in thwarting Iran's ability to produce weapons-grade uranium material;

      (3) Dagan believes that PM Netanyahu's defiance and antagonism toward the Obama administration may endanger the "umbrella veto" power Israel benefits from U.S. presence on the United Nations Security Council;

      (4) there has long been sentiment within the Israeli intelligence leadership to enter final status negotiations with the Palestinians and achieve a just peace - "The Gatekeepers", an Oscar-nominated documentary, interviewing the five living Shin Bet former directors, indicated that the peace process is being "murdered" for political motives.

  • 5 Surprising Ways Iran is better than Israel
    • The State of Israel is one of the few democracies in the world with NO constitution.

      There is a reason for this.

      At the time of its creation, religious parties within Israel wanted the new country to have an expressly religious foundation, however secular Israelis opposed this - so no constitution has ever been adopted - and essential governmental institutions, such as the Israeli Supreme Court, exist at the pleasure of the Knesset.

      The "Basic Law" passed by the Knesset early in Israel's history established the organization and operation of the Israeli governmental structure and exists to this day.

  • Top 5 Reasons Palestinian-Israelis Could shape the Israeli Election
    • There are good points you are making, however even if Hadash and Arab List parties are not part of an Israeli coalition government any time soon, the Palestinians will no doubt benefit from a Labor or Hatenua Party coalition rather than a Likud-bloc-led government.

      Tzipi Livni attempted to revive the Israeli-Palesstinian peace process after official talks broke down. During Operation Cast Lead she as foreign minister advised, without success, for PM Olmert to scale down ongoing military operations in Gaza. Herzog, the current Labor Party PM candidate, has likewise in the past given support to final status negotiations toward the creation of a Palestinian state.

      The Labor Party succeeded several years ago in seating the very first Arab Muslim as a cabinet minister and would likely promote a greater Arab inclusion in Israeli government. It is an open question whether they would make Hadash or other Arab-dominated parties coalition partners in a future government.

      No Arab has ever held a seat on the powerful Defense and Foreign Relations Committee of the Knesset - and it is doubtful if one will anytime soon.

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  • AP Investigates: Bulk of Gaza Deaths Civilians
    • There have been numerous acts of intentional murder of civilians committed by Israeli forces documented by Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and the U.N. Human Rights Commission in Gaza during the past seven years.

      Some cases entire families have been murdered within Gaza by IDF personnel. The al-Samouni and al-Dalu clans are examples of families who were unarmed and killed illegally and no prosecutorial action taken by the IDF.

      Israel's own most prominent Jewish human rights organizations, B'Tselem and Yesh Din, have publicly stated there are no credible mechanisms for criminal prosecution of IDF war criminals.

      To the extent that your argument is that war crimes are being committed by Hamas and other militants, the remedy would be to prosecute those individuals taking part in such. Hamas has endorsed the Palestinian Authority's accession to the Rome Treaty. There are strong arguments to suggest that their rocket firings into civilian population centers amount to war crimes.

  • Israel’s Obsession for Monopoly on Middle East Nuclear Power
    • Iran and Israel were allies under the Shah's rule and Israel and the U.S. provided technical assistance in training Iran's security services - such as the dreaded SAVAK - at this point in time the Shah was developing Iran with a 6 billion-dollar nuclear energy program with the help of foreign contractors; it was the Iranian Revolution that led to the international community effectively thwarting Iran's nuclear ambitions and left Iran with an unrealized multi-billion dollar investment it could not complete without international approval.

      Iran referred to this conduct in preventing Iran from further development of atomic energy production technologies as "nuclear apartheid" - by allusion to toleration of Israel's extensive nuclear energy and weapons development under a "nuclear ambiguity" fiction adopted by PM Golda Meir and Pres. Nixon.

      Although the post above cites a New York Times source as Israel having 100-200 atomic weapons - highly credible government sources have suggested a larger figure - the 1997 declassified U.S. Air Force Intelligence "Holy of Holies" report quantifies the existence of up to 400 launchable nuclear weapons - including thermonuclear fusion (hydrogen) bombs.

    • The above photo is of the Negev Nuclear Research Facility at Dimona taken by a U.S. spy satellite.

      Credible evince exists that the Israeli government stole hundreds of pounds of enriched uranium from the U.S. in the 1960s:

      link to

  • Israel Top Court denies justice to Family of Slain Activist Rachel Corrie
    • The position of the U.S. government has been weak from the beginning on the Corrie death.

      The Corrie's U.S. Congressman introduced a bill on the incident in support of the Corries and it received zero support in the House.

      In contrast, the British government aggressively pursued justice when one of Ms. Corrie's fellow International Solidarity Movement activists, Tom Hurndall was shot to death by an IDF sniper - the IDF sergeant was convicted of manslaughter and sentenced to prison and the Israeli government paid a substantial wrongful death monetary settlement to the young man's estate.

      The Israeli Foreign Ministry all but conceded they were behind a lawsuit brought nominally by several co-op members against the Olympia Food Co-op in Ms. Corrie's hometown in Washington whose board of directors passed a boycott resolution against Israeli-manufactured goods. That legal action was dismissed and $160,000 in damages plus attorney fees awarded to the defendant co-op and members of its board of directors under a Washington statute proscribing legal proceedings being commenced to deter public participation (the "anti-SLAPP" law).

  • Israel bans Palestinian-Israeli Legislator Hanin Zoabi From Elections
    • The Israeli Supreme Court today has reinstated MK Zoabi to be placed on the Knesset ballot.

      A former follower of Rabbi Meir Kahane, who also had been disqualified from the Knesset ballot by the central election committee, for allegedly espousing racist views was also reinstated by the high court as a ballot candidate.

    • Zoabi's speeches before the Knesset have caused an uproar:

      link to

  • 'American Terrorist': Middle East reacts to Murder of 3 Muslim-American Students in N Carolina
    • The assailant's ex-wife has stated that the shooter was obsessed with the Michael Douglas film "Falling Down" about an unemployed and divorced engineer who goes on a killing spree with a gun targeting those in society - including immigrants - whom he blames on his misfortune.

      The killer at Chapel Hill reportedly previously watched the film repeatedly and found the scenes amusing.

  • Palestine Environmental authority warns against Israeli toxic waste dumping
  • Why Obama is Right to avoid double standard about Modern Christian Atrocities
    • General Pinochet had opposition from the Archbishop of Santiago over his violent rule - but still had appreciable support from bishops and priests in Chile who were joyous over his overthrow of Marxist President Salvador Allende:

      link to

    • Re Croatia:

      The Croats had a pro-Nazi quisling government headed by leadership that included Andrija Artukovic, a lawyer who held several cabinet posts and who settled in California following WWII.

      Dr. Artukovic, due to the influential Croatian-American community, avoided deportation from the U.S. until 1986.

      It was not unusual for the clergy in Eastern European countries to side with Nazi occupiers considering that the alternative was Stalinist communist rule.

      Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn noted in his book, the Gulag Archipelago, that Nazi occupation forces in Russia during WWII were applauded by Russians for allowing churches to re-open that had been closed down under the Soviet government.

  • The Lone-Wolf Terror Trap: Why the Cure Will Be Worse Than the Disease
    • A prime example of motivation of the "lone wolf" terror phenomenon has been in Israel, where Hamas and other armed groups opposed to Israel have occasionally temporarily suspended violent operations . In these situations individual Palestinians conducted such resistance activities such as sniping at IDF soldiers and border guards as a one-person continuation of violent resistance.

      The Israeli government security establishment had indicated that it is virtually impossible to stop a single Palestinian militant from strapping on explosive devices and deciding to detonate his or herself in a public place in an Israeli city.

  • Paying the Piper: How America's Iraq War haunts its Failed Syria Policy
    • ".......regime change in Syria was not something America brought about......."

      The U.S. State Department had significant involvement in funding anti-Assad Syrian exiles:

      link to

    • Overall a good article, however additional points need to be made:

      The U.S. State Department had covert funding funneled to anti-Assad exiles at least as far back as 2006 when a Los Angeles-based non-profit called "Democracy Council" donated funds to a newly-minted Syrian exile group known as Movement for Justice and Development (MJD), based in London. Democracy Council's funding was from the State Department and the chairman of the MJD was also a signator to the Syrian Observatory of Human Rights, another non-profit that currently acts as the most well-known reporter of casualty counts in the Syrian Civil War - and who has received criticism over bias in its reporting by some.

      Estimates of such funding range from 6 to 12 million dollars and the initiation of which was by the Bush administration after Syrian intelligence was deemed complicit in the assassination of Lebanese Sunni leader Rafik Hariri. Fast forward to 2009, however, and the Obama administration was "double-tracking" its diplomatic efforts by seeking rapprochement with the Baathists in Damascus while continuing to fund the growing opposition to the Assad regime simultaneously. During this time, of course, neither al-Qaeda nor ISIS had any appreciable impact inside Syria and the Free Syrian Army (FSA) had not even formed - however demonstrations within Syria were being covered and broadcast by the covertly-funded MSN over cable to Syrian citizens, thus giving the anti-Assad elements a needed boost within Syria.

      Fast forward anew to 2013, when Free Syrian Army is making gains and believes it can cut off Baathist supply lines and defeat Assad finally. At this point Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate within Syria, is a small but growing group of fighters, and ISIS begins expanding into western Syria. The Islamic Front is formed by individual brigades splitting off from the FSA. ISIS eventually fights the FSA and even the al-Qaeda affiliate - while selling oil to the Baathist regime in Damascus at black market rates. The ensuing chaos and civil war leaves over 200,000 Syrians dead to date.

      In sum, the Obama administration's diplomatic efforts in Syria from 2009 until the present have been a major failure.

  • GOP's Scott Walker: Pitches possible Syria War to make us Like Him
    • U.S. Secretary of State James Byrnes, who served in 1945-47 under Pres. Truman, dropped out of school at age 14 and never went further.

      He engineered the U.S. Cold War foreign policy and the rebuilding of post-war industry in Germany. He also previously had been appointed by FDR as an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court despite never attending law school.

    • "The public's amazing reaction to this movie..........."

      "Patton", which largely glorified the late general, was released in 1970 during the height of the Vietnam War and won an Oscar as well as being a box office hit. It inspired President Nixon to launch a tank invasion into Cambodia on April 30, 1970.

      Americans largely respect and admire their military servicemen no matter how controversial they may be.

  • Iran and the West on Revolution Anniversary: 36 Years of Futile Estrangement
    • Several points not covered in the article:

      (A) the decision of the Carter administration to freeze $5 billion in Iranian assets held in America was, in hindsight, the correct course of action as it was the principal motivation for Iran to release the hostages;

      (B) the Reagan administration's decision to secure the release of hostages in Lebanon via negotiations with Iran was not only legal - but specifically authorized under federal law - and the weapons shipped to Iran were to be used against Iraq, who was a pro-Soviet country hostile to both Israel and America;

      (C) Operation Eagle Claw was a disaster which embarrassed Jimmy Carter and was one of the key reasons for his defeat to Reagan in 1980;

      (D) Iraq received satellite imagery of Iranian troop concentrations from America collected from U.S. intelligence agencies during the Iran-Iraq War;

      (E) the Central Intelligence Agency procured a $4 billion loan from an FDIC-insured Atlanta branch of an Italian financial institution for Iraq's benefit (to purchase armaments) during the war which was likely illegal and was, in fact, investigated by the FBI at the direction of Director William Sessions;

      (F) Iran Foreign Minister Sadegh Ghotbzadeh was executed by firing squad by the Iranian government in 1982

  • Ironies of Empire: US now Allied with Shiites Trained by Assassinated HIzbullah Leader
    • Why is this surprising?

      (1) The Reagan administration had arms shipped to Iran in 1985 so that hostages held by Shi'ite extremists in Lebanon could be released;

      (2) the U.S. Department of Defense wished to ally themselves previously with various Iraqi Shi'ite private militias - even though the Shi'ite-controlled Al-Maliki government did not trust these militias;

      (3) after the Israeli Defense Forces sustained a rare defeat by Hezbollah militiamen at Bint Jubayl, Lebanon in the Second Lebanon War, Central Intelligence Agency director Leon Panetta came to Dearborn, MI in 2009 to the Bint Jubayl Club to address 150 invitation-only invitees to give his "We need you" speech;

      (4) the U.S. has a de facto ally in Syria in Hezbollah to the extent they (and the Baathists) are fighting ISIS and Jabhat al-Nusra - both of whom are designated by the U.S. State Department as terror organizations;

      (5) Hezbollah Secretary-General Hassan Nasrallah had denounced the 9/11 attacks, joined the electoral political processes in Lebanon, and has generally shied away (with limited exceptions) in targeting Western interests with terror attacks.

      The bottom line is that these Shi'ite militias are perceived by the U.S. to be an effective fighting force against ISIS. If the can roll back ISIS with U.S. Air Force assistance and Pentagon-supplied armaments, then U.S. interests are perceived to be advanced by the Powers That Be at Foggy Bottom.

  • GOP Pres. Candidates warn Iran Nukes can hit NYC (despite No Nukes, ICBMs)
    • It is debatable whether Israel could strike the United States with its top-of-the-line Jericho III intercontinental ballistic missile.

      Estimates of its range have been as low as approximately 3000 miles.

      It would have to significantly reduce its normal payload to reach America.

  • Why the Israeli-Hizbullah Tit for Tat Probably won't turn to War
    • Here is a link illustrating the integration of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard into the defense network in south Lebanon, currently:

      link to

    • "Ooops.......they killed a general in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps."

      In 2006, in the Second Lebanon War, the Iranian government had troops that fought against Israel, and at least six were killed in action.

      Iran Revolutionary Guard units had been responsible for firing the most sophisticated air-to-sea and surface-to-surface missiles deployed against Israel in that conflict. They disabled an Israeli warship off the coast of Beirut with a radar-guided Silkworm missile developed by China, killing several Israeli navy sailors, and also fired rockets into Israeli population centers from Lebanon.

      Iran had been training Hezbollah fighters in south Lebanon and had supplied its arsenal with missiles previous to initiation of that conflict. Hezbollah was largely responsible for the 12,000 rockets Hezbollah had going into the Second Lebanon War - 4,000 of which were used against Israel - and is further the primary supplier of the current Hezbollah arsenal in Lebanon that has been estimated to be about 40,000 rockets.

      I seriously doubt that Israel "mistakenly" killed the Iran Revolutionary Guard general, but the most likely scenario is that Israel wanted to target an Iranian military leader it perceived as inimical to its interests. Given Iran's extensive ongoing movements in South Lebanon in the last 10 years, I doubt that the IDF had any compunctions about doing so.

  • Netanyahu & Boehner: How Israel went from being a Democratic to a Republican Project
    • No need to do any "peeling" at all.

      Max Fisher, a heavy hitter in the GOP, and director of United Jewish Appeal, had been a personal friend of every single U.S. president since Eisenhower until his death in 2005. He was an ardent Zionist. His death at age 96 made front-page news in Israel.

      Murray Chotiner in the 1950s and 60s engineered the political rise of Richard Nixon and was likely Nixon's closest confidante and friend. Henry Kissinger was Nixon's chief confidante on foreign affairs issues.

      The Republican Party has many influential Jewish leaders that support Israel.

    • They are a very powerful voice at the grassroots level.

      The Moral Majority that propelled Reagan to the presidency in 1980 is an example.

  • Extremist Lieberman: Unified Palestinian-Israeli Party a threat to Israel as 'Jewish State'
    • The Israel Communist Party, currently known as Hadash, has sponsored joint Arab-Israeli political representation in Israel dating back to the seating of the First Knesset in 1949 when Christian Arab Tawfiq Toubi, a journalist from Haifa, was elected. MK Meir Vilner, who signed the Israeli declaration of independence, opposed the initiation of the Six-Day War and was stabbed by a right-wing Israeli extremist as a result in 1967.

      Many, if not most, Israeli Arabs in Nazareth today, for example, identify as Marxists and this is a common phenomenon among the Israeli Arab demographic segment, although a number of have been elected as Labor Party members to the Knesset including the female Christian Arab Nadia Hilou.

      Hadash MK Dov Khenin, a Jewish attorney mentioned in the above article, polled credibly in a recent municipal election for mayor of Tel Aviv, receiving about 34% of the vote, compared to 50% for the winner.

  • Israel's Syria Strike: Is it trying to Help al-Qaeda vs. Hizbullah & Iran?
    • "The Israelis are deliberately trying to throw the war to al-Qaeda........"

      There has been speculation of this sort going on for awhile; please consider:

      (A) Al-Nusra Front fighters are getting medical treatment in Israeli hospitals when injured - where they can be debriefed by Israelis for intelligence purposes about events within Syria;

      (B) Al-Nusra Front is fighting not only the Assad regime and Hezbollah - but also ISIS;

      (C) should Al-Nusra Front prevail in Syria against the Baathist government, the arms pipeline from Iran into Lebanon to Hezbollah would be interrupted;

      (D) Al-Nusra Front has no warplanes, tanks, helicopters or emerging nuclear capability to potentially menace Israel with;

      (E) Al-Nusra Front has made no significant military moves against Israeli interests;

      (F) the Syrian National Coalition had previously attempted to get the odious U.S. State Department terror organization rescinded as to the Nusra Front.

      The Israeli government - at least for now - appears to view the Al-Nusra (Succor) Front as the lesser of two evils in Syria.

  • We must Support Palestinians' Decision to Join the Int'l Criminal Court
    • "......(t)here actually was a time when we had an honorable and independent foreign policy."

      Former Canadian PM John Diefenbaker had been the key individual in learning that Israeli PM David Ben-Gurion was attempting to develop an atomic bomb and Diefenbaker notified British and American intelligence services. Canadian intelligence agents later traced Israel's 1964 purchase and shipment of bulk quantities of enriched uranium from Argentina that would prime Israeli construction of its initial atomic arsenal in the late 1960s.

  • As ICC launches Israel War Crimes Probe, PLO & Hamas Applaud
    • Israel's two most prominent Jewish human rights organizations, B'tselem and Yesh Din, issued a joint statement in September of 2014 that - while falling short of expressly calling for ICC prosecution of Israeli officials - did state that the Israeli government did not have any credible legal mechanism in place to address war crimes committed by the Israel Defense Forces. The significance of such a declaration is that such a finding is one of the necessary predicates for admissibility of a case to the International Criminal Court - and may be the toughest remaining legal hurdle to actually prosecuting Israeli political and military leaders in that international penal tribunal.

      Avigdor Lieberman has called for an investigation of B'tselem.

    • Fatou Bensouda, the International Criminal Court Prosecutor, hails from the Gambia, a West African country. She comes from a polygamous Muslim family there and her husband is of Gambian-Moroccan ancestry.

      Some recent links to her background and the reaction among Israeli leaders to her investigation announcement:

      link to

      link to

      link to

    • There are three criteria to commencing a formal ICC investigation:



      (3)interests of justice.

      There was a preliminary investigation commenced on January 22, 2009, four days after Operation Cast Lead ended, in which the ICC declined opening a full investigation due to Palestine's lack of status as a "state" at that juncture - however the ICC Prosecutor has already indicated that the "observer state" status accorded Palestine by the UN General Assembly on November 29, 2012 satisfies the jurisdictional requirement of the ICC to formally investigate and issue charges.

      The United States sent a delegation that was led by David Scheffer in the formulation of the Rome Statute. Scheffer has publicly stated that he believes the rights of the accused under the Rome Statute comport with the due process guarantees afforded criminal defendants under the U.S. Constitution.

      The U.S. was a signator, but did not ratify, the Rome Treaty.

      It is interesting that both Israel and the U.S. only contest the jurisdictional element and ignore both the "admissibility' and all-important "interests of justice" requirement to commence a formal investigation.

  • Top 7 Things to know about Belgium anti-terror Op that left 2 Dead
    • The U.S government has not supported jihadist groups - but only secular anti-Assad groups - such as the Free Syrian Army.

      Some individual Americans that have gone to Syria as volunteers - such as Eric Harroun and Nicole Mansfield - have found themselves fighting with Jabhat al-Nusra, the al-Qaeda affiliate, in that region.

      Harroun, a former U.S. Army soldier, was identified by his father as a CIA operative and later received a $100.00 fine by a federal judge after being plea-convicted of an illegal munitions transfer. Mansfield, a mother from Flint, Michigan in her early 30s, was killed in action by the Syrian army.

  • Gaza - reduced to Rubble by Israel - suffers cold, hungry winter: 'conditions catastrophic'
    • Apartment prices in the West Bank Jewish settlements are generally about half of Tel Aviv prices.

      My point primarily was not to compare the respective plights of Gazan and Israeli tent residents- but rather that there exists a corresponding economic "price" that Israelis do pay for these IDF incursions into Gaza.

      The disproportionate force doctrine has been recognized as a possible war crime by the Goldstone Commission report, and home destruction as a "mass punishment" for innocent civilians was expressly recognized during the Second Lebanon War as a recognized military objective by the IDF leadership.

    • Gazans are not the only ones living in tents.

      The Israel Taxing Authority has estimated that Operation Defensive Edge has cost Israel $4.3 billion -the bulk of that cost ($2.5 billion) was for direct military expenditures. The aforesaid aggregate cost is over $2,000.00 per Israeli household.

      Israel has thousands of middle class citizens that are unable to afford housing and now finds the unprecedented phenomenon of hundreds of these persons living in tents in Tel Aviv. A typical Tel Aviv apartment cost $600,000.00.

      Israel is being forced to scavenge its social programs to pay for the military costs associated with each Gaza operation and the Israeli middle class is finding themselves paying for this in a declining standard of living.

      Gazan damages due to that latest IDF offensive are estimated at around $8 billion.

  • Were Guantanamo Murders Covered Up As Suicides?
    • Cpl. Sean Baker about 10 years ago posed as an inmate as part of a training session for U.S. Army guards at Guantanamo - the guards were told he was a prisoner who assaulted a corrections worker.

      Baker was violently assaulted and almost killed. The beating stopped only when he convinced them he was an American soldier. Baker suffered brain damage and was discharged with a disability pension. He attempted to sue the Army leadership and only by 2013 has there been an investigation underway that was pushed by a U.S. Congressman.

      Cpl.Baker may have likely been killed if he had not persuaded the guards he was a fellow soldier.

      Given Cpl. Baker's claims it cannot be surprising that murders did occur at the facility.

  • From Yemen to Paris: The al-Qaeda Franchise from the 15th to the 60th Parallel N.
    • In 2012, an al-Qaeda extremist killed three French Jewish schoolchildren - so such targets for al-Qaeda is not unprecedented:

      link to

    • There have only been very limited suggestions that al-Qaeda has been involved in targeting Jewish interests - one being a rocket attack at the Israeli Embassy in Nouakchott, Mauritania several years ago - but even this has been disputed.

      The Anti-Defamation League has pointed out anti-Semitic statements issued by al-Qaeda and a short list of suspected involvement in attacks against Israeli interests.

  • "Anyone but Bibi’: Israeli PM popularity slumps as 90% of his Campaign Money Comes from US
    • Several reasons why PM Netanyahu remains the favorite among knowledgeable Israeli political insiders to be re-elected:

      (1) there is an ongoing Attorney General corruption investigation targeting 30 public figures affiliated with the right-wing Yisrael Beitenu Party:

      link to

      link to

      Yisrael Beitenu is expected by political experts in Israel to lose about 4 of its 13 seats it currently holds in the Knesset and the ongoing Attorney General corruption investigation - which party leader Avigdor Lieberman has said is politically driven - is likely to further damage the electoral fortunes of the party and drive right-wing voters toward the similarly conservatively-oriented Likud Party of the prime minister.

      (2) the International Criminal Court application of Palestine is an issue that PM Netanyahu is viewed by the electorate as having the best political experience to contend with;

      (3) the Labor Party candidate Isaac Herzog, a son of former Israeli president Chaim Herzog, is viewed by many Israelis as too leftist-leaning - he recently met with Irish Sinn Fein leader Gerry Adams, who has visited Gaza in the past and has been a vocal supporter of the Palestinian cause.

      (4) no other prominent Israeli with PM experience (e.g. Ehud Barak, Shimon Peres) has announced his candidacy.

  • Sharpening Contradictions: Why al-Qaeda attacked Satirists in Paris
    • The common-law wife of one of the assailants is reported by Turkish intelligence to have fled to Turkey under an assumed name and was last seen in a Turkish community near the Syrian border.

      Jabhat al-Nusra is on the U.S. State Department list of terror organizations subject to sanctions, however there is no extensive history of this group engaging in prior terror activity against Western interests. The Syrian National Coalition had earlier attempted to get the U.S. to drop this odious designation

      There is speculation that ISIS may have organized the attack.

    • @BP:

      "......can you please list the Hezbollah attacks on European or American soil?"

      (1)1994 attack on Israeli Embassy in London;

      (2) 2012 bus bombing in Bulgaria;

      (3) Israeli Embassy and Jewish cultural center bombings in Argentina in early 1990s;

      (4) plane bombing in Panama killing 4 Israelis in early 1990s.

      The FBI secured an indictment against an alleged Hezbollah terror cell in Detroit - however the charges were later dismissed following a judicial finding of prosecutorial misconduct.

    • It goes both ways.

      Israel has had pretexts:

      (A) the 1982 Abu Nidal Organization attempted assassination of Israeli Ambassador to London Shlomo Argov was used as a pretext to invade Lebanon's PLO strongholds, even though Abu Nidal's next target was going to be the PLO representative to Britain and Abu Nidal was under a death sentence from Arafat;

      (B) leaked secret testimony to the Winograd Commission investigating the Second Lebanon War revealed that the invasion had been planned months in advance and the capture of IDF soldiers Ehud Goldwasser and Eldad Regev by Hezbollah commandos were pretextual - and the Israeli government knew immediately from the massive amount of blood left at the encounter that it was likely both Israeli soldiers had been fatally wounded.

      That said, regular Hezbollah rocket attacks into northern Israel over the years have been clearly provocative as well as terror attacks in Europe and South America against Israeli interests - although some attacks were retaliatory.

    • One additional motivating factor for targeting Paris for the attack that may be France's former status as a colonial power in Arab nations such as Syria and Lebanon.

      In Syria particularly, the Alawite minority served as police and administrative authorities for the French colonial rulers prior to independence and later took control of the Syrian government as Baathists where they continue to this day.

    • See the end of the fifth paragraph of the article, above:

      "......there are reports that one of the two policemen they killed was a Muslim."

    • Hezbollah is a Shia jihadist group which has had exponential increases in popularity in south Lebanon by engaging in rocket strikes and terror attacks against Israel commencing in the 1980s and provoking Israeli reprisals which have galvanized Shi'ites there to rally around Hezbollah.

      The Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces has recently acknowledged Hezbollah as the seventh most powerful military force in the world. Then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak in 2008 was quoted as saying the IDF had lost their deterrent effect in south Lebanon

      The Maronite Christian president Emile Lahoud had deputized Hezbollah as having the support of the Lebanese government in its defense of Lebanon in 2006.

      In sum, Hezbollah consolidated its political and military power in Lebanon as a by-product of its conflicts with the Israel Defense Forces.

      There is little doubt that Al-Qaeda's leadership has felt that Western backlash from its terror attacks could result in a defensive cohesiveness among Muslims as a positive effect.

  • Can History Resolve the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict?
  • Why the US should welcome Palestine Pres. Abbas joining Int'l Criminal Court
    • The U.S. is one of the few nations in the Western Hemisphere that has not ratified the Rome Treaty - although it is a signator.

      Israel is not a signator to the Rome Treaty.

      "Israel could charge Hamas with war crimes..............."

      The ICC only charges individuals - not organizations or states.

      Locating individual Gazan Hamas leaders would be next to impossible unless they left Gaza.

      Same problem with Israeli suspected war criminals - European governments have issued arrest warrants but the closest anyone got to an arrest is when an Israeli general was on a plane at a British airport and was tipped of not to disembark.

  • What would Happen if the Int'l Criminal Court Indicted Israel's Netanyahu?
    • The court made a pre-judgment finding that the charged crimes were committed:

      link to

    • "Without US participation, the ICC is a clown car dispensing victor's justice."

      When the Belgian government attempted to prosecute Ariel Sharon for war crimes due to the Sabra and Shatila massacres of September of 1982, America threatened to pull NATO headquarters out of Brussels.

      The absence of US interests at the ICC is a positive thing for those seeking prosecution of Israeli leaders for war crimes.

    • But Slobodan Milosevic was arrested, jailed, convicted and spent the rest of his his life in prison.

      I don't recall the Bosnians complaining about the shortcomings of his ICC prosecution.

    • Re Operation Defensive Edge:

      Israel reported $20 million in property damage due to Gaza-based rockets and issued $22 million in compensation payments to Israeli workers due to work stoppages caused by Hamas missile firings.

      Property damage to Gazans is upward of $8 billion.

    • Hamas itself supports Palestinian membership in the ICC and has welcomed UN investigators in the past who were looking in to war crimes violations against Israel in Gaza.

  • We have so much to Learn from Cuba
    • Re Operation Mongoose:

      RFK, Sr. sat on the panel that oversaw Operation Mongoose, a joint CIA-Army project that sought to destabilize the Castro government. Even after the Bay of Pigs, most liberal Cuban exile leaders, such as Manolo Ray and Harry Williams, formed positive relationships with RFK.

      After the JFK assassination, it was LBJ that curtailed much of the wild excesses of Operation Mongoose - over the protestations of RFK. The project itself violated the Neutrality Act and was later considered a policy failure.

      Noam Chomsky studied Operation Mongoose and issued a report in 1989 suggesting that it continued to operate all during the 1970s and there was no evidence that it was at any point discontinued as of the date of his report.

      Retired FBI agent William Turner, author of "The Fish is Red", recognized that a non-enforcement agreement existed between the CIA, on one hand, and federal, state and local law enforcement authorities with respect to to violations of firearms, explosive and other criminal statutes that may have been committed by Cuban-American exile participants in Operation Mongoose. Some observers opined that the Mongoose program - also known as the "Cuban Project" - had been misused as a cover for exiles engaged in gun running and drug trafficking - something that RFK was publicly and adamantly opposed to.

  • Did Drought and Climate Change cause Middle Eastern States to Collapse in 2014?
    • The Assad regime ignored warnings about the impending drought and its effects and were later accused of mismanagement by farmers.

      The Deraa farming region in southern Syria had been especially hard hit and has subsequently been a stronghold of the Free Syrian Army to this day.

      Turkish efforts in damming the Euphrates River have been contributory to the problem. Some good discussion exists on these very underreported issues:

      link to

  • Did Iran win "2014"? Top 6 Iran Developments this Year
    • Another positive development for Iran is that Hezbollah has been a de facto Iranian proxy opposing ISIS in not only Syria, but also Iraq:

      link to

      link to

      Hezbollah has provided a military counterbalance to Israel in south Lebanon, also. It's rocket arsenal is, according to most estimates, about four times large as it was in 2006 when it fought the IDF.

      Islamic Jihad of Palestine, modeled after the Iranian model of Shia political Islam, is also a key player in Gaza. Iran has been a key supplier of weaponry to Gaza.

  • Baathist Riposte: How the Regime Came back in the Syrian Civil War in 2014
    • ".......Syrian allegiance to the SNC was very low......"

      In a nutshell, yes. Most brigades had been very independent and under the control of a charismatic leader or leaders. The defecting units reportedly did so due to dissatisfaction with the SNC rather than the FSA.

      The constituent brigades that had previously under the control of the FSA's governing body, the Supreme Military Council, were highly autonomous and remain so even under the umbrella of the "Islamic Front" which does little more than coordinate the independent brigades and assist in distributing supplies.

      Western diplomats met Islamic Front representatives at the Ankara Conference several months ago, but they decided to eschew aid from the West and instead have relied financially upon donations from Persian Gulf states - including Saudi Arabia.

      The Syrian National Coalition was recently rebuffed as a potential interlocutor in a Russian-sponsored peace parley:

      link to

    • Many, if not most, foreign policy observers have opined that the U.S. has no compelling interest (e.g. petroleum exports) to become involved in the Syrian uprising, however, that being said, there exists a clear trail that the U.S. intelligence community left suggesting covert involvement in fomenting the rebellion of anti-Assad elements dating back to at least 2006.

      Having stirred up the opposition to the Baathists, America has been seen by some as to having a certain obligation to the Syrian people to try to resolve this deadly conflict.

    • A key turning point for the U.S. was when they did not engage Syria with air strikes in late 2013 when alleged proof of poison gas use was declared.

      The Syrian National Coalition (SNC) was recognized by most of the world, including the U.S., as the Syrian government-in-exile but the failure of the Obama administration to take decisive military action against the Baathists in Damascus led to most constituent brigades of the Free Syrian Army (FSA) - who owes its allegiance to the SNC - to defect to the Islamic Front or other groups.

      The suspension of military aid to the FSA following the Islamic Front's seizure of an a arms depot that had been under FSA control was yet another policy failure of the U.S. State Department that had damaged American interests in Syria - as more defections occurred based upon the perception that the U.S. had soured on the FSA.

      Another fiasco was the Secretary of State John Kerry's insistence that the SNC attend the Geneva II conference - which not only resulted in the Islamic Front declaring the attendees traitors - but also caused the Syrian National Council to withdraw from the Syrian National Coalition in January 2014. Geneva II accomplished next to nothing.

      The dissension and disarray among the Syrian rebel groups resulted in ISIS gaining a foothold in Syria and expanding it over 2014.

      The FSA has its strongest positions near Deraa in the south but overall its influence has been declining within Syria since the end of 2013. The refusal of the U.S. to supply MANPADS to the FSA has resulted in the FSA being virtually defenseless against the Syrian Air Force - despite the fact ISIS has anti-aircraft missiles it can use against Syrian government warplanes.

      The Baathist regime in Damascus has welcomed the U.S. Air Force strikes against ISIS and offered to form a military alliance with the U.S. to fight ISIS while expressing a desire to suppress terror activities in the region.

      The Obama administration can be blamed for much of the failures of the FSA and the surge in Baathist control over Syrian population centers.

  • How Jesus' Message of Peace & Non-Violence Got Lost
    • "Pacifism will not solve that problem......"

      In the end, the "Time of Troubles" in Northern Ireland terminated with the Good Friday Agreement in 1998.

      It has not been perfect, but the mass amnesty of imprisoned convicts on both sides and the pledge of militants to divest themselves of weaponry has largely worked. Both sides made sacrifices and internal stability began to take root.

      Northern Ireland can be used as a model for the rest of the world.

  • Have the Kurds cut the ISIL/Daesh State in Two, Blocking Supply Lines?
    • Re: ".....a decent life for my fellow Ordinary People."

      The consensus is that during the last two decades the Kurds have done, with some surprise to observers, a creditable job of administering the areas in which limited autonomy has been ceded to them.

      As in Syria, the regions controlled by Kurds in Iraq during this period have enjoyed relative stability and prosperity.

      There are some scholars, including Professor Daniel Pipes, who have advocated the creation of an independent Kurdish state, given their recent successes in administering areas under their limited control - this would promote stability in the region - and for its inhabitants.

    • The Chaldean-rite Catholics in the Nineveh province have sustained severe persecution since the fall of the Baathists to the point that they risk their lives by merely leaving their home.

      The Kurds are viewed as more tolerant and less of a threat than Islamic Arab extremists in administering the Nineveh province.

    • The Peshmerga did what they could under the circumstances.

      They can be credited with supplying the Yazidis with foodstuffs and some weaponry.

    • Re: ".......a marginally more decent state...."

      The Peshmerga were overthrown in the early 1990s when Iran had withdrawn their support. They were rejuvenated due to imposition of an American/British-enforced "no-fly zone".

      In 1996, there was a little-known Kurdish Civil War that occurred between the Talabani and Barzani factions that was smoothed over with the mediation of Central Intelligence Agency official Robert Baer. The Barzani faction later had organized a coup attempt to overthrow the Baathist regime with other Kurds, but this was compromised and a number of Iraqi army officers were arrested and executed. The CIA later cleared Baer of any involvement in the failed coup attempt.

      Overall the Peshmerga has historically been a source of assistance to the U.S. government, including the CIA and U.S. Special Forces. Key points of help:

      (1) eradication of the Ansar Al-Islam jihadist extremists in control of an area of northeast Iraq after the fall of the Baathists;

      (2) the capture of Saddam Hussein;

      (3) creating a viable "second front" in the north of Iraq during the 2003 coalition invasion that diverted Baathist government troops to the north and likely saved hundreds of American lives of soldiers fighting in the south.

      Then there are the Communist Kurdish militants known as PKK, led by imprisoned charismatic Kurd leader Abdullah Ocalan, that are fighting ISIS now and are credited with saving lives of Yazidi Kurds in Iraq and also liberating areas of Syria from ISIS.

      Overall, the Kurds have been a pro-West and positive influence in Iraq and Syria in the last two decades and would likely be more stable if their current autonomy would be augmented into independent state status, however their history has been replete with internal power struggles between the conservative Barzani and liberal Talabani clans and also the militantly Marxist PKK adherents.

  • Israel Turns Beersheba Mosque into Museum, while 10,000 have no place to Pray
  • Daesh/ ISIL close to Taking al-Anbar Province as Tribal Levies lack Ammunition, Funding, Unity
    • American troops entering combat against ISIS is really the big story out of Anbar. They were "advisers" acting in self-defense:

      link to

      The reports are that U.S. jets bombed ISIS positions and American ground forces inflicted battle casualties against ISIS.

      Conspicuously absent is any report of whether US Army casualties occurred or any State Department or Defense Department official statement on the combat action.

      A quoted Iraqi military source welcomed the U.S. involvement on the ground and 'hoped it would not be the last."

  • Top 7 Ways Assassination Fails USA as Policy
    • "We did need Ho Chi Minh's cooperation to get us out of Vietnam."

      Ho Chi Minh died in 1969, when U.S. Armed Forces personnel strength in Vietnam reached its maximum of 543,000.

      The Treaty of Paris was signed in 1973 ending U.S. direct involvement in the conflict, and South Vietnam collapsed in April of 1975 as the U.S. evacuated its Saigon embassy.

      The only cooperation the U.S. received from the North in "getting out" was U.S. personnel at Ton Son Nhut air base in 1975 were permitted to leave without being fired on.

  • Roots of Militancy among some Muslim Youth: What can be Done?
    • Religion in general had served as organizing principle against totalitarianism in the 20th century.

      It was the efforts of the Vatican and the Solidarity movement in Poland that led to the demise of the communist government in Warsaw and eventually the Soviet Union and her satellites. At the same time the Islamic fundamentalists formed armed units in Afghanistan to fight against the Marxist regime and later also fought the Red Army.

      The Muslim Brotherhood in Syria was the seminal force against the Assad regime in 1982 when it revolted in Hama - leaving 30,000 killed. The current rebellion in Syria can be traced to that event. The Muslim Brotherhood in the late 1980s were also the force that organized the armed conflict against IDF occupation that led to the 2005 Gaza disengagement.

      The Iranian Revolution in the late 1970s was largely fueled by the totalitarian repression of SAVAK - the Iranian secret police, which led to the downfall of the U.S.-backed government there in 1979 and indirectly led to the rise of Hezbollah in south Lebanon during the 1980s to counter the occupation of the Israel Defense Forces. In Iraq, the Shia clerics were the loudest voice of dissent against the Baathists. Arab or Islamic-dominated countries such as Jordan and Morocco, which were democratic and had no foreign occupiers, did not have the problem of extensive Islamic radicalism.

      Zionism's terror gang leaders in the 1940s were largely drawn from those Jews who fled Nazi occupation in Eastern Europe - these included Menachem Begin and Yitzhak Shamir.

      Religion acted as a unifying force to counter Marxism, Baathism and foreign occupation in the 20th century - without totalitarian and anti-democratic repressive forces, it is unlikely these religion-based movement would have achieved the popularity and organizational levels to achieve what they did.

  • The Yezidi Minority, Daesh/ISIL, and Iraq's Human Rights Catastrophe
    • Re: "The best dirt"

      I believe that YPG/PKK did an immense service for the Yazidis and deserve a "pat on the back" for their efforts - however dozens of the fighters were admittedly underage - some of these female as young as 14 - and these minors should at least have been deployed in non-combat positions.

    • Re: The role of the YPG:

      In June of this year, Human Rights Watch issued a scathing report that YPG was violating international law by allowing children to fight within its ranks - many are female.

      As a result YPG signed a protocol pledging to refrain from using children in combat. Although dozens have reportedly been demobilized, there are still reports of children fighting with YPG units.

  • Cuba: Top 5 other Dictatorships with which US has Diplomatic Relations
    • Re Israel:

      Fidel Castro has been fully supportive of the Palestinian cause, labeling events in Gaza a genocide:

      link to

      Conversely, Cuban-Americans in U.S. Congress are among the staunchest supporters of Israel. This would include Senator Ted Cruz of Texas and Rep. Ilena Ros Lehtinen of Florida; both are Republicans.

      On the other hand, Justin Amash, a GOP Congressman of Michigan, who is the son of Palestinian immigrants to the U.S., has recently urged a normalization of relations between the U.S. and Cuba.

    • "We actually have an embassy in Vietnam of all places......"

      This is not surprising. The Vietnamese Embassy is in D.C. and they have consular offices in Houston and San Francisco.

      The U.S. conducts $20 billion in bilateral trade with Vietnam and there was a May 2012 visit of then-Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to the former Cam Ranh Bay naval station, once constructed by America and later leased to the Russian government for $200 million per year until they could not afford the base's rent anymore.

      There are vast crude oil and natural gas reserves beneath the South China Sea that are subject to disputed claims by the governments of Vietnam, China, and other adjacent countries. The U.S. has sold "defense equipment" to Vietnam for maritime purposes so that Vietnam's oil and gas rights can be enforced - although the State Department denies the arms are envisioned to be used against China.

      President Clinton initiated the normalization of relations between the U.S. and Vietnam - and Vietnamese-Americans do not have a cohesive community eager to use force against their former country as the politically influential Cuban-American community does.

      Remember what the Cuban-American community did in Florida in the 2000 presidential race after the Clinton administration supported the return of Elian Gonzales to Cuba - it cost Al Gore the presidency.

  • If Jeb Bush Is In, Who Will Win Wall Street's Money?
    • Other dynasties:

      (1) John Adams and John Quincy Adams;

      (2) Wm. Henry Harrison and Benjamin Harrison;

      (3) Theodore Roosevelt and FDR;

      Only FDR was in a war - and that was after the Pearl Harbor attack.

      Dynasty members have had generally peaceful presidencies in America.

  • Why Europe must stop blocking Palestinian membership of the Int'l Criminal Court
    • The issue also is Israel allowing construction materials into Gaza to permit rebuilding after Israeli military incursions.

      Saudi Arabia authorized $1billion in aid to Gaza after Operation Cast Lead and the U.S. $900 million - but Israel did all it could from preventing rebuilding and also later destroying massive amounts of housing, commercial buildings and infrastructure in the 2014 invasion.

    • The IDF'a closing of the internal invesitigation of the killings of 21 members of the Samouni family in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead without charges was heavily criticized even by Israeli human rights organizations, including B'Tselem:

      link to

      A war crimes prosecution against Israel and former IDF general Amos Yaron commenced last year in Kuala Lampur:

      link to

  • Why the Founding Fathers thought banning Torture Foundational to the US Constitution
    • Torture is not unconstitutional in and of itself.

      In Brown versus Mississippi, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1936 held that confessions extracted via torture by police were inadmissible as evidence in a criminal prosecution under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

      While the proofs extracted by a confession induced via torture are always inadmissible on constitutional grounds, the torture could conceivably be legalized by legislative bodies in certain situations for other police or military use.

  • Nowhere to Run: Broken Homes and Broken Lives in Gaza
    • Israeli cabinet minister Naftali Bennett has described stories as the Awajahs as "self-genocide".

      The Gazans collectively support Hamas, an organization firing rockets into Israel, and they receive the IDF's counter-measures in return. When the rockets stop - the IDF will stay away and the Gazans will live in peace.

      This deterrent policy is and has been the cornerstone of Israeli right-wingers. Others in Israel have called it "addiction to force".

  • Will the next Israeli Gov't be even more Far Right & Colonial?
    • "Israeli politics is lurching ever more to the right....."

      The Nineteenth Knesset was dissolved by 93-0 vote today with elections slated for March 17th, 2015.

      During the past year Isaac Herzog, Labor Party leader, and Tzipi Livni, chair of the centrist Hatenua Party have discussed building a coalition.

      Livni had initiated unofficial negotiations with the Palestinian Authority after U.S.-sponsored negotiations between the Israeli Foreign Ministry and the P.L.O. broke down earlier this year. In the years since she left the Likud Party in 2006, she has been a vocal supporter of a negotiated two-state solution and has been criticized by the far right in Israel.

      Herzog achieved prominence and popularity over his reorganization of Israel's cell phone industry.

      Polls taken in Israel in April suggested that a Livni/Herzog-led coalition would be voted in if elections were held at that time.

      The best chance for a negotiated peace settlement would be if a coalition led by the Labor and Hatenua parties were formed following the March 17th Knesset elections.

    • If elections were held today, Yesh Atid would likely lose half of their twenty seats. MK Yair Lapid, its leader, has seen his popularity plummet since his election under his new party Yesh Atid. MK Lapid, son of former Likud deputy prime minister Yossi Lapid, was viewed as a novice on foreign policy matters and his positions against the privileges enjoyed by the Haredi had infuriated those ultraorthodox Israelis.

      This makes me believe that the traditionally-powerful ultraorthodox parties will rejoin the governing coalition to be formed after the expected March of 2015 Knesset elections.

  • UN General Assembly Demands Israel Mothball its Nuclear Arsenal
    • One aspect needing to be mentioned is that Israel has not hesitated to violate international law and kill innocent bystander civilians even when nuclear reactors have been constructed for apparently peaceful purposes.

      When the Osirak reactor was bombed in Iraq by Israel Air Force jets in June of 1981, a 24-year old French nuclear engineer was killed; the Israeli government later paid out compensation to his surviving family members. The U.N. General Assembly condemned the Osirak raid by a 44-7 vote.

      It was estimated that between 10 and 36 civilian workers were killed in the Operation Orchard air strike by the IAF that destroyed the Al Kibar nuclear reactor facility in Syria in 2007; Pres. G.W. Bush was reportedly consulted by PM Olmert and did not object to the planned bombing:

      link to

    • Edward Teller had a close relationship to Israeli leaders, especially David Ben-Gurion, and warned CIA official Carl Duckett in the 1960s that Israel was constructing an atomic bomb arsenal. DCI Richard Helms did not notify President Johnson of this information until one year later.

      It was Edward Teller in the 1960s who persuaded the Israeli government NEVER to be tempted to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty:

      link to

      Also needing to be mentioned is the 80-100 ton purchase from Argentina of enriched uranium Israel received in 1964 that was traced by Canadian intelligence that made the Israeli atomic bomb possible:

      link to

      The 1964 shipment was first publicly exposed in 2013 by William Burr and Avner Cohen, PhD.

      Dr. Cohen has taught at MIT and Harvard and is considered a top expert on Israeli nuclear capabilities Dr. Cohen has been previously banned by Israel's Office of Chief Censor from giving lectures in Israel of the nation's nuclear program.

  • Could Years more of Syrian Civil War be Avoided by Comprehensive Talks with Iran?
    • "America's interests include a stabilized Syria which minimizes the threat to Israel........."

      In fact, it was reported that Israel has been aiding Syrian rebel interests in various ways in the Golan Heights area:

      link to

  • Far-Right Israeli FM Lieberman: Offer Israeli Arabs Money to Move to [Non-Existent] Palestinian State
    • Avigdor Lieberman's position is disturbingly close to that of Kach Party founder Meir Kahane, who proposed deporting Palestinians from "the Land of Israel" with compensation in the 1980s.

      Lieberman was a card-carrying member of the Kach Party, which held one seat in the Eleventh Knesset in 1984-88 before the Israeli Supreme Court upheld its decertification on grounds of promotion of racist policies and barred it from the 1988 Knesset elections. It was estimated that the Kach Party would have gotten 3 or 4 seats in the 1988 Knesset election but for decertification.

      Rabbi Kahane, a New York resident, denounced his U.S. citizenship in 1988 and was reviled by mainstream Jewry in the U.S. and Israel - Mayor Ed Koch labeled him "scum".

      Today, Kahane is revered by the settler movement in Israel and his posters are displayed throughout Jerusalem; the Kahane Youth movement today has seen exponential increases in membership and some of its members have been accused of anti-Arab hate crimes within Israel.

      It is stunning that almost 25 years following Kahane's death that one of his former followers holds an influential cabinet seat and publicly espouses similar views.

  • Rudy Giuliani Wants To Prosecute Ferguson Witnesses
    • I believe that there is no question but that intermeddlers who were not even present when the Michael Brown killing occurred did make false statements to investigators and provided perjured testimony before a state grand jury. Such conduct is clear grounds for criminal charges against such "witnesses".

      That said, prosecutorial officials rarely bring charges in such instances because it sends a message to witnesses in other criminal prosecutions that assisting police and prosecutorial staff in providing statements or court testimony may result in the witness being a prosecutorial target.

      I suspect the prosecutor in the Brown case may have intentionally allowed such dubious witnesses to appear before the grand jury so that the case against the officer would appear weak and fabricated.

      If U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder believes he can do better, a federal civil rights criminal indictment can be sought by the Justice Department.

  • How Israel's Bus Segregation Affects Palestinian Workers
    • This is just one more step toward complete segregation between Arabs and Jews in the region that is being proposed by an Israeli cabinet minister.

      Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has just proposed offering financial incentives to Israel's approximate 21% Arab population to vacate the country. Ironically, Jewish emigration from Nazi Germany to Palestine during the 1930s was promoted by an eerily similar arrangement - the Haavara Transfer Agreement - which had been negotiated between the German government and the Lehi terror gang leaders.

      Lieberman has also proposed recently that areas of Israel with a large percentage of Palestinian Israeli citizens be ceded to the Palestinian Authority - thus lowering the overall percentage of Arabs within Israel proper.

      This is also against the backdrop of PM Netanyahu's attempts to have Israel declared a "Jewish State" by the Knesset and to decertify Arabic as a state-recognized national language.

  • Racial Fearmongering and Ferguson: US Stereotype of "violent" African-American Men as old as Slavery
    • In the City of Ann Arbor, there have been demonstrations over the controversial police killing of a female black artist. Two AAPD officers are under suspension and their names have not been released despite the fact the shooting occurred weeks ago.

      "The Killing of Aura Rosser/Beauty and Police"

      link to

      Ann Arbor is known for its left-leaning tendencies.

  • Top Five Washington Assumptions on Mideast that Are not True
    • I agree that Egypt has been useful as a U.S. ally (and Prof. Bacevich does not appear to disagree on this point) however he feels the current Egyptian military government is corrupt and therefore an unworthy recipient of massive ongoing foreign aid from the U.S.

      Corrupt foreign regimes have traditionally been the staunchest allies of the U.S. Think of Chile's Pinochet, Nicaragua's Somoza, Iran's Shah and Cuba's Batista as a few examples. Perhaps Hosni Mubarak may be the best example of all.

      As Henry Kissinger once mused on Iran's former head of state: "He's not much of a Shah - but he's our Shah."

      Should the U.S. donate foreign aid to human rights violators? Not according to the Foreign Assistance Act - but how often is that federal statute observed?

    • I saw him interviewed by Phil Donahue about a year ago.

    • Excellent observations, as usual, by Mr. Bacevich.

      Some additional points:

      (1) the secret intent of the Likud Party and other right-wing parties in Israel is ultimately to force Palestinian Arabs to vacate Gaza and the West Bank so a unified Jewish Israel can be established in those areas pursuant to annexation. The economies of both areas are being sabotaged by the Israeli government as a central strategy in achieving this goal.

      (2) Afghanistan generates 87% of the world's opium production; the poverty created by ongoing civil war and a lack of a strong central government have fueled the entry of Afghan farmers into cultivating opium poppies; the same phenomenon has occurred in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon where opium is harvested and later trafficked via Hezbollah-controlled areas in South Lebanon - the Baathist Syrian government and its officials reap an estimated $300 million to $1 billion annually in payoffs to permit this activity.

      (3) there are Salafist extreme elements in Saudi Arabia that have supported international terror activities and the nationality makeup of the 9/11 hijackers, as duly noted by Mr. Bacevich, is prime evidence of this - yet the U.S. is in no position to impose or demand a crackdown given the State Department perception that U.S.-Saudi relations may suffer and may endanger further receipt of the 28% segment total oil consumed annually by the U.S. that is represented by Saudi oil imports.

      (4) there has been relative peace and calm in South Lebanon in the 8 years since Israel withdrew following the August of 2006 conclusion of the South Lebanon War - many Lebanese political leaders who dislike Hezbollah and its odious policies have credited its militia with creating a mutual deterrence between itself and the Israeli government that has withstood the test of time.

      Overall, Mr. Bacevich has succinctly set forth crucially important points that should be heeded by the White House and U.S. Department of State.

  • Jerusalem: This Is Why The Temple Mount Matters To one Israeli-American
    • There's a plethora of theological theories that surround the Jewish Temple, the Ark of the Covenant, and Temple Mount and whether these areas and items have retained their sacred status or are simply old relics.

      Christian Zionists have made the Third Temple and restoration of the temple objects of worship a priority due to eschatological concerns. On the Jewish side, the Temple Institute, funded by the Temple Foundation, is trying to make the Third Temple a reality.

      Rabbi Chaim Richman had been the longtime director of the Temple Insitute.

  • Jerusalem: where religion divides but lives are entwined
    • "The dead policeman, Zidan Seif, was not a Jew but an Israeli Druze, a distinct branch of Islam whose members often serve in Israel's police or armed forces......"

      This is accurate. The IDF commander who led the army invasion of Gaza last summer was Druze (he was wounded in battle) and a number of right-wing Knesset members are likewise Druze Arabs, who are members of the conservative Likud Party or extremist Homeland Party.

      Palestinian Druze ties to Zionism extend to at least the 1930s when they were allied with Jewish underground militias against the British.

      Druze-Jewish ties have traditionally been the most cohesive of Arab-Jewish relations within the Middle East.

  • Two Different American Futures: With an Iran Deal & Without
    • "Manipulation of the global finance system......"

      This has been done with Syria - U.S.-imposed sanctions have resulted in money laundering attempts by the Syrian government and its central bank and other evasive maneuvering with Russian and Qatari financial institutions, not to mention petroleum purchases from ISIS on the black market.

  • 3rd Possibility: Coming Civil War in West Bank/ Jerusalem?
    • An independent Palestinian physician/pathologist examining the body of an Arab bus driver in Jerusalem found hanged recently has concluded that it is a probable murder, per a recent article in Haaretz, the Israeli daily.

      The victims brother had earlier reported that he observed wounds on the corpse and that the brother had exhibited no previous signs suggesting he was suicidal; he also believed that his brother had been the subject of foul play.

      An Israeli police spokesperson had initially indicated they believed the death was suicidal.

  • Should Iran and the US accept a Good, but not perfect Nuclear Deal?
    • Iran has asserted a "right to enrich" however there have been alternate proposals argued in the international arena.

      Since the IAEA was founded in 1957, there have been discussions of creation of a "nuclear fuel bank" which can control the production and supply of enriched uranium and avoid the need of countries to have "enrichment technology" that can be used for the manufacture of atomic weapons.

      Former U.S. Senator Sam Nunn has written about this idea:

      link to

      The IAEA Board of Governors approved the creation of the first such facility and that bank commenced operation in December of 2010 in the city of Angarsk in Siberia. The project is owned and managed by the Russian government.

      Other nuclear fuel banks have been proposed, including a second facility in Siberia which would itself manufacture enriched uranium, plus a separate bank in Kazakhstan, however this proposal has not yet been effectuated.

      Pro-Iranian advocates and other critics have countered that denying Iran its own enrichment program opens the door international manipulation and they point to what occurred in the wake of the 1979 Iranian Revolution when several events occurred which would hamper Iran from effectuating its nuclear program ambitions. They point out that the U.S. not only breached a supply agreement that would have furnished Iran with enriched uranium stocks, but that the U.S. influenced the international community from assisting Iran in these regards.

      Firstly, the U.S. openly admitted it had pressured the IAEA from continuing technical assistance to Iran to facilitate development of uranium oxide and uranium hexafluoride production technologies. Not only did the IAEA cease this technical assistance program but so did China - who discontinued its bilateral agreement with Iran in the 1980s when the United States government offered China a sweeter business deal to induce discontinuance of Chinese-Iranian nuclear development joint venture agreements. This left Iran "out in the cold" until it struck a nuclear fuel supply deal with the Argentine government and began receiving copious amounts of "yellowcake" from that country in 1993.

  • Daesh/ ISIL calls for Terror attacks on Saudi Arabia
    • While it is true that the umbrella group of autonomous brigades that operate as the "Islamic Front" receive appreciable funding from Saudi Arabia, there exists credible information that ISIS had at some point in time been the product of a covert intelligence operation of the Saudi government, per an article in the Atlantic magazine.

      There have also been information that a substantial relationship exists between Turkish intelligence and ISIS; there are also reports that Turkish border guards are often bribed to permit passage of individuals wishing to join ISIS.

      Some authorities suggest ISIS receives only as much as 5% of its total funding from external sources, with other income received from black market oil revenues it sells at a discount below OPEC prices as well as looting banking institutions coming under its control in such major population centers as Mosul and shaking down individuals and businesses within its borders.

  • Has the Third Palestinian Uprising Begun?
    • Marwan Barghouti, the jailed leader of Tanzim, the military wing of Fatah, has just several hours ago, called for the initiation of a Third Intifada against the State of Israel:

      link to

  • Critics Slam US Military's 'Disturbing' Praise for Israel's Gaza Offensive
    • The U.N.'s Goldstone Commission report findings on the Operation Cast Lead incursion into Gaza applied the disproportionate force doctrine in concluding that Israel violated international humanitarian law and cited the public statements of IDF leaders (e.g. "100 homes destroyed for every rocket fired into Israel") as proof that the IDF was targeting civilian infrastructure as a form of mass punishment of civilians.

      The Goldstone Commission's findings were not without controversy as to the disproportionality doctrine as applied therein:

      link to

    • "Disproportionate force" as an accepted military doctrine was also embraced in a public speech given by Israeli PM Ehud Olmert immediately following the conclusion of Operation Cast Lead in January of 2009.

      Olmert is currently under a sentence of six years imprisonment for an unrelated public corruption conviction - but remains free pending appeal.

      Under international law, disproportionate force is a war crime.

    • In order to extract the cease-fire agreement of Hamas in late August of this year, Israeli military commanders expressly stated that they were targeting Hamas leaders with extrajudicial killings and demolishing some of the largest commercial and residential complexes in Gaza.

      The Italian Mall, a 15-story elegant mixed-use commercial and residential complex which represented the tallest building in Gaza, was destroyed by six missiles from an Israel Air Force fighter jet on the evening of August 25th - 25 Gazans were injured in the air strike. Israeli media shortly thereafter broadcast film footage of the explosions:

      link to

      The Israeli government later issued an unsubstantiated statement suggesting intelligence they uncovered revealed the complex was used for Hamas military conferences.

      Also that same evening the "Basha Tower" another Gazan skyscraper, was destroyed by the Israel Air Force.

      Hamas acceded to a truce with Israel shortly after these two devastating air attacks.

  • Amid Jerusalem Clashes, Israeli Housing Minister Claims al-Aqsa Site, Declaring War on 1.5 bn Muslims
    • The establishment of the Third Temple coupled with the demolition of the Al-Aqsa Mosque is something that is of immense and central interest to both Christian Zionists and Orthodox Jewry.

      Here are some additional links to the fascinating positions of Israeli Housing Minister Uri Ariel:

      link to

      link to

  • Fierce Entanglements require Dialogue: Israeli-Palestinian conflict rooted in their different stories about the World
    • The article is correct where it presumes that grassroots attitudes of Israelis and Palestinians have been the primary force fueling the ongoing conflict and it is these attitudes which must be neutralized before there can be a resolution of that conflict.

      The political extremism on both sides that has flourished since the promising developments of the Oslo Accords in mid-1990s has been driven by the attitudes of the respective citizenry who have thrown their support to political parties whose platforms have promoted violence as a solution - the extremist governments are merely a product of prevailing public attitudes - in other words, do not blame politicians like Avigdor Lieberman, PM Netanyahu, or Khaled Meshaal for the violence that has been ongoing - but blame the collective attitudes of the Jewish and Arab electorate who continue to support the destructive policies that these leaders promote and implement with their respective approvals.

  • US Dilemma in Syria: Moderate Stronghold Falls to al-Qaeda, Fighters desert to Extremists
    • It's like Iraq or Afghanistan where you need a scorecard to find out who is fighting who at what time.

      Other questions:

      Who is CIA-backed?

      Who is getting arms support from the Russians or the Saudis or other Persian Gulf sponsors?

      Who is on the State Department list of terror organizations?

      Who has representation in the Syrian National Coalition?

      Which Kurdish groups are involved - PKK?

      Who is allied with the Baathists? Hezbollah? Local militias?

      How many Americans are in combat? How many Brits? Who are they fighting for? Who pays them?

      Where are other foreign fighters coming from? Chechnya? Iraq? Lebanon? Which side are they on?

      Ahhh!! The Great Game!!!

  • Israel's Exclusion of Palestinians from Area C Costs Pals. $2.2 bn a Year
    • The Oasis Casino of Jericho was an example of a successful business venture that realized 1 million dollars per day in revenues and whose primary clientele were Israelis. It was organized by European business magnate Martin Schlaff, but was shut down by the Israel Defense Forces.

      It was one example of the Israeli government stifling the West Bank economy of Palestinians.

      The casino would later become part of a corruption investigation where it was alleged Ariel Sharon's son had received improper payments.

  • Iraq: US dismayed Shiite Gov't hasn't Armed Sunni Tribes fighting ISIL
    • The WP article illustrates a further disintegration of the anti-Assad rebels as a collective entity.

      Previously, Jabhat al-Nusra ("Succor Front") had coordinated its efforts with the Free Syrian Army when victories were being rolled up against the Assad regime in 2012 and 2013. While not allies, they nevertheless saw the Baathists as the common enemy and did not battle each other. Furthermore, while designated by the U.S. State Department as a terror organization, the Succor Front did not undertake any known terrorism against any American interests - and the Syrian National Coalition, whom the U.S recognizes as a government-in-exile, attempted to lobby the U.S. to drop this odious designation.

      The Obama administration in 2013 damaged the fortunes of the FSA by suspending aid when one of their arms depots were raided by Salafist fighters. This caused numerous FSA personnel to defect to other groups. The Islamic Front became an umbrella group that consisted of brigades of varying fundamentalist Sunni ideologies. - they received their financing from Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf states.

      Jabhat al-Nusra also began fighting ISIS - which led to glee among Baathist leaders. The Islamic Front has eschewed Western covert aid support, but largely considers itself friendly to the FSA - who receives substantial supplies from the CIA and pro-West countries such as Turkey and Jordan.

      There are essentially four discrete armed organizations who largely fight each other despite the fact their primary goal is to topple Assad. Much of this discord can be blamed on policy failures of the U.S. State Department.

  • Unprecedented Damage to Gaza & its People can't be repaired with Just more Aid
    • "A whole indigenous economy has been all but destroyed........"

      This is and has been the goal of the Israeli government with respect to Gaza. The additional goal being to disrupt food supplies.

      During Operation Cast Lead it was noted in the Goldstone Commission Report that Israeli bulldozers demolished a Gazan chicken farm. killing 31,000 hens representing 10% of Gaza's egg production. The report verified the prior existence of the farm by satellite imagery taken before the IDF invasion and cited this along with other incidents as examples of IDF conduct constituting either war crimes or crimes against humanity.

      Later, it was revealed via WikiLeaks disclosure that the Israeli government had plans to keep Gazans on a near starvation diet on a level that would operate to narrowly avoid a humanitarian crisis by the barest of levels.

      In 2014, during Operation Defensive Edge, the Israel Air Force bombed a biscuit factory that represented the largest private business enterprise in Gaza, employing 400 persons and contracted to supply the UN with needed food to distribute to Gazans.

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