Syrian government closes in on opposition stronghold in Yabroud
ISIS claims it has taken control of Yarmouk refugee camp in Damascus
Soldiers loyal to Syria’s President Bashar Al-Assad stand with members of the media at Al-Sahl after the soldiers seize control from rebel fighters in this March 3, 2014, handout photograph distributed by Syria’s national news agency, SANA. (REUTERS/SANA/Handout via Reuters)
Beirut and London, Asharq Al-Awsat—Syrian government forces have intensified their attacks on the town of Yabroud, one of the most important remaining opposition strongholds in the mountainous Qalamoun area along the Lebanese border.
The UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said on Tuesday that government forces attacked Yabroud with helicopter-borne barrel bombs, and that “these attacks come one day after the killing 15 opposition fighters in clashes near the town of Sehel.” The Observatory also quoted opposition activists as saying that fighting was continuing in the Sehel area, north of Yabroud.
Lebanese Al-Manar TV, which is operated by the Hezbollah movement, aired on Monday a video of government soldiers who had reportedly stormed Sehel and expelled armed groups.
The same day, a Syrian army officer was quoted by the news agency AFP as saying: “We noted a state of confusion and defeat among the armed groups” and that “Al-Sahl is very important because it is the first line of defense for the town of Yabroud.”
The battle of Qalamoun started at the end of 2013, when the Syrian army advanced on a number of towns and expelled armed rebel groups, resulting in the displacement of many residents of the area to nearby Lebanon.
The region is strategically situated, falling between Damascus and Homs, and is a key supply route for government forces, as well as linking rebel groups in the Rif Dimashq area around the capitol with sympathizers in Lebanon.
Hezbollah has also accused armed groups based in Yabroud of preparing car bombs for attacks on areas linked to its supporters in Lebanon.
Elsewhere in Syria, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) said its fighters had entered the Yarmouk Palestinian refugee camp in southern Damascus.
In a statement published on their Twitter account, ISIS said that “ISIS fighters, along with fighting factions in Yarmouk, have succeeded expelling the ‘Shabihas of Ahmad Jibril,’” a reference to the fighters of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command (PFLP-GC), which is reportedly allied with the Syrian government.
The director of the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, Rami Abdurrahman, told Asharq Al-Awsat that despite the fact that ISIS entered Yarmouk camp, the Al-Nusra Front remains the most organized jihadist force inside the camp.
Abdurrahman said the decision by ISIS to enter the Yarmouk camp may have been triggered on Monday by Syrian government threats to storm the camp if it was not cleared of Islamist fighters.
Abdurrahman said: “The situation on the ground in the camp on Tuesday was calm” but that he expected “an escalation in the coming hours.”
The Al-Nusra Front deployed in the camp two days ago, accusing the government of violating a truce signed in mid-January, and has allowed aid to reach the residents.
Opposition activists blame ISIS for the breakdown of the truce when the group’s fighters stormed the town of Bebella, where the truce was signed, and raised its flag over the municipal building.
Meanwhile, activists said Syrian government forces had used heavy artillery to bombard a group of Syrian refugees who gathered in a mosque and some houses in the town of Holah, in Rif Homs. The activists added that the town was suffering from difficult humanitarian conditions because of the constant bombardment and the government forces’ control of the roads leading to the town.
In Deir Ezzor, government forces made progress in fighting around the town’s military airport with help from the Iraqi Abu Al-Fadl Al-Abbas Brigade, according to Bashar Al-Abbad, spokesman of the rebel factions besieging the airbase.
Abbad said: “Opposition forces intercepted a wireless communication between Iraqi military elements in the airport area, which proves their participation in the fighting with the regime.”
Last week in this column, I expressed admiration of the line President Obama and other Western leaders had taken in supporting the ouster of Russian ally Viktor Yanukovych from the presidency of the Ukraine. It was easily foreseeable and widely predicted that Russian president Vladimir Putin would retaliate, as his Russian official ego is even pricklier than that of the Soviet leaders whom he served in the days when the USSR was America’s only rival as a superpower, and intermittently asserted an eminent domain over neighboring countries, including East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, and Afghanistan, all of which it occupied militarily. As I wrote last week, Crimea was assigned to Ukraine only in 1954, and that country’s claim to it now is not unquestionable. Given the fact that about 60 percent of the population of Crimea is ethnically Russian and that almost half the others are Tatars of no more affinity to Ukrainians than to Russians, the ability of the Ukrainian government to hold the loyalty of Crimea was always doubtful, especially as Russia has never officially acknowledged the legitimacy of an independent Ukraine. As I also wrote last week, it is galling for the Russians to rely on the Ukraine for a naval base for its Black Sea fleet.
It was not a matter of immense importance to the Soviet Union where its naval forces were until the mid Sixties, because Russia was never a very serious naval power, boxed in as it was in the Baltic, the Black Sea, and the White Sea, and at Vladivostok in the Far East. Its naval effort was in submarines and it did not have a large merchant fleet. But after the Cuban Missile Crisis, Nikita Khrushchev began, and Leonid Brezhnev continued, a major naval and merchant-marine build-up, which severely strained the Soviet economy and drove the United States to an even larger naval expansion. It was as ineffective as Kaiser Wilhelm II’s challenge to the Royal Navy in the 20 years prior to World War I, a challenge that strained world tensions and drove Britain into the arms of the French and Russians — and resulted in total failure: When war came, the German navy engaged in only two days of fighting and ultimately surrendered and scuttled itself. The Soviet navy achieved no more, but there was no war between the Great Powers and the fleet subsists, though it is aging, and the Black Sea Fleet is a tenant of the Ukraine, needs the agreement of the Turks to exit the Black Sea, and is shadowed in the Mediterranean by the U.S. Sixth Fleet and can get to an ocean only via the Suez Canal or through the closely watched Straits of Gibraltar.
As this is being written, Russia has effectively invaded Crimea, reestablished a Crimean semi-autonomous republic, and given Ukrainian forces in the area an ultimatum. The commander of the Ukrainian navy, such as it is, has defected to the new pro-Russian entity of Crimea. The new government in Kiev has appointed new regional governors to replace the Yanukovych loyalists, but it is not clear that the writ of the central government will run any more authoritatively in the largely Russian eastern regions around Donetsk and Dnepropetrovsk and along the Russian border, a rich coal and steel area, than it has in Crimea. The danger to the West is that it goes on autopilot and Western leaders blather a lot of self-righteous paraphrases of King Lear about “costs” and red lines, which Putin could hardly be blamed for ignoring, and yet which will incite increased skirmishing between Ukraine and Russia and could lead to Russian aggression against Ukraine as a whole. This would be no day at the beach for the Russians: The Ukrainians are fierce fighters, and they would be assisted, at least materially if not in combat forces, by the West; and if Brezhnev’s Soviet Union could not hold Afghanistan, Putin’s shrunken remnant of that country would have insuperable problems with three times the number of Ukrainians, on the borders of NATO (albeit in terrain less conducive to guerrilla war than Afghanistan is). The Munich parallel, incidentally, has been overdrawn: Britain and France could not go to war to prevent Czech Germans (in the Sudetenland) from adhering to Germany. Chamberlain’s mistake was in spurning Stalin, agreeing to such a fast timetable, not securing a serious guarantee of the surviving Czechoslovakia (which the Poles and Hungarians then attacked), and representing the shabby episode as the triumph of “Peace with Honour.” (There was neither peace nor honor.)
The European Union appears to be ready to commit $35 billion to Ukraine, and the urgency of conditions may cause the Ukrainian political class, a pretty self-interested group on its record, to regroup in the unity of oppressed peoples and try to earn the respect of its compatriots. The glamorous former premier, Yulia Timoshenko, whom Yanukovych spuriously imprisoned for three years, hit the ground running last weekend, and could be an important player again. There is no point in threatening Putin with nameless vengeance that won’t happen. All the huffing and puffing over Syria and Iran has not got us very far and Obama’s pious bunk about red lines has become a butt of international mockery. The morale of the American public has suffered, as the means of its government have been dissipated, by $2 trillion and 50,000 casualties in the Iraqi and Afghan wars that seem not to have yielded very satisfactory results. The country is unenthused about military expeditionary activities. And Obama’s rank abdication of his constitutional role as commander-in-chief to the Congress in the Syrian fiasco does not cause America’s adversaries to tremble in contemplation of his countermeasures, as Japan did with Roosevelt over the Panay incident (1937), Stalin did with Truman over the Berlin Airlift (1948–49), Khrushchev did with Eisenhower after threatening to attack France and Britain after Suez (1956), Kim Jong Il did with Nixon after shooting down an American reconnaissance aircraft (1969), and as Qaddafi did after Reagan was provoked into bringing the rafters of his house down on him (1986).
Even after everything that has happened, there is an astonishing volume of uncomprehending nonsense in the Western media about what is at stake in Ukraine. On February 20, former Italian premier Romano Prodi had a piece in the New York Times urging collaboration with Putin in integrating Ukraine into Western Europe (exactly what Putin does not want). The sequel, on March 1 in the same place, by Georgetown professor Charles King, urged an incomprehensible form of countercultural tolerance on the beleaguered Ukrainians and imputed to the Russian leader the chief motive of an obsessive desire to reveal Western hypocrisy. (There has been no shortage of that, but it is scarcely relevant to the preservation of the independence of Ukraine.) This crisis is not and never has been anything except a struggle for primacy in Eastern Europe between Russia and the West. And despite the feebleness and irresolution of the West, it is still much stronger by every measurement than Russia, which is essentially an imposture, a make-believe effort to reenact the conduct and strength of a Great Power in the absence of the sinews of that power.
The West converted Japan to the Occident’s social, political, and economic virtues, which are now being partly emulated by China and India, and have displaced the palsied inefficacies and inhumanities of the czarist and Communist Russians and Ottoman Turks in much of Eastern Europe. The correlation of forces is favorable even in this week, in which British foreign secretary William Hague warned Russia of “costs and consequences” while a photograph of a position paper in the hands of a junior British official revealed that Britain would not actually seek sanctions or do anything; and in which the Western response took on a Gilbert and Sullivan air of reprisals through visas and the Paralympics. If Western leaders utter dire threats but follow through with such ineffectual nonsense, in the fine tradition of the infamous Joe Biden pledge to hit the “reset button” in U.S.–Soviet relations, Putin will just partition off the most Russian parts of the Ukraine and leave a much more homogeneous Ukraine of about 33 million people, well-launched with (mainly) German money. If the Western leaders completely overplay their hand — and with John Kerry in Kiev, any hyperbole is possible before the “unbelievably small” proportions of any likely response are revealed — Putin may actually invade the non-Russian Ukraine, which would in turn accelerate the collapse of his thugdom, swaddled as it is in the costs and artifices of his masquerade as a collector or breaker of nations like Catherine the Great, Alexander I, or Stalin.
Ukraine will be independent, possibly after a partition to save Russia’s ill-favored face, possibly even after repulsing a general Russian assault, and it will join the West. German influence will prevail over Russian in Eastern Europe, and the West will ultimately show Russia the way to being a great nationality not only in cultural, folkloric, and geographic terms, but as a civil society. This is a contest we cannot lose, not because our leaders seem to have much idea how to deal with it, unlike some of their recent forebears, but because they have every moral and material advantage over Russia, and if their incompetence deprives Ukraine of a swift resolution of this conflict, it will only be because that incompetence will induce Putin into adventurism Russia cannot support, a minor updated reprise of the failed occupation of Eastern Europe after World War II and the insane foray into the unremitting primitiveness of Afghanistan. Putin’s ego and braggadocio will, if necessary, insure us against the maladroitness of most of the West’s current statesmen. We could do worse, though some days it seems otherwise.
French webmaster was handed a one year jail sentence in a Paris court on Tuesday after being convicted of inciting and glorifying terrorism. The Muslim convert translated Al Qaeda propaganda into French before uploading it onto the web, but said he regretted his actions.
The 26-year-old, identified as Romain, was detained in September last year in the Normandy department of Calvados, where he lives.
Prosecutors say he acted as administrator of the Ansar al Haqq website, a "reference" for the radical Islamist movement, and as a translator of "Inspire" magazine, which is put out by militant group Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Paris prosecutors said.
His arrest was the first made under a new law passed in the aftermath of the Toulouse shootings, carried out by self-proclaimed Al-Qaeda inspired gunman Mohamed Merah.
At his trial on Tuesday he said: "I had no intention of encouraging people to attack France or the United States. I regret it and if I could go back I would not have done it."
The Ansar al Haqq website that he manages "has more than 4,000 members including 685 that are active" and Romain published statements from Al-Qaeda's north African branch AQIM on it, they added.
They said an investigation also found that the suspect had "an active role in the translation into French and the distribution of the tenth and 11th editions of the magazine Inspire."
Romain's lawyer Thomas Klotz saidthat the charges were against the European Convention on Human Rights and that hisclient was the only person in France being held under the new law. Nevertheless judges were not convinced by the defense and handed Romain a one year jail sentence.
The PVV wants “jihad brides” from Gouda to lose their passports, and that they be apprehended and questioned upon their return from Syria.
MP for the PVV, Joram van Klaveren posed Parliamentary questions to Ministers Asscher, of Social affairs, and Opstelten, of Security and Justuce, about the muslim women who are traveling to war-torn Syria to support male fighters, the AD reports.
According to the AD, the women concerned include one Dutch, a Bosnian and three Moroccan women. The “jihad brides” frequently use social media to maintain contact with the Syrian fighters.
Van Klaveren wants to ban the phenomenon of jihad brides. If the women have two passports, then the Dutch one should be confiscated, the PVV urge.
Requiring the Uighurs to remove themselves from all major Chinese cities outside of Xinjiang. Closing all the mosques outside of Xinjiang. It could thus contain the security problem largely limiting it to that Western region, so as to avoid having to police the whole country. And the Uighurs, frightened into silence and submission by such measures, would be very quiet indeed, and for a very long time. For the past two centuries there have been explosions of Muslim violence in China. The last time was in the early 1930s. All such explosions of violence, which took place in Xinjiang, have been ruthlessly suppressed -- and for a long time afterwards, the peace was kept, and for decades.
That is what some in the Chinese government might be contemplating. And while some in Western governments might, if they carried out such a strategy of self-defense, express a real or feigned indignation, there would be, tellingly, no echoing outcry from any Western peoples. They would remain quiet, because they will, as they ponder the example of Chinese policy, be lost in thought.
Feds Searching for Friend of Boston Marathon Suspect, 'Concern' Over Chechnya Trip
March 4, 2014
By MICHELE McPHEE
Investigators are searching for Heda Umarova, pictured here with Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev in an image on a Russian social networking site, after she failed to return from a family trip to Chechnya last year. The others pictured have been blurred out to protect their identity.
U.S. counter-terrorism officials are attempting to track down a female friend of the accused Boston Marathon bomber after she traveled to Chechnya last year and is believed to have since posted "alarming" jihadi imagery online, officials told ABC News.
Officials are concerned that Heda Umarova, 23, may have been radicalized to Islamist violence -- allegedly just like her friend Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, charged in the April 15 bombings, and his brother Tamerlan, who was killed in a police shootout -- and could pose a threat to Americans overseas because her U.S. passport allows easy foreign travel.[why not, at this point, simply invalidate the passport, so as to prevent such "easy foreign travel"? Is that beyond the power, or wit, of the American government? If it is not legal, then make it legal to revoke passports if there is sufficient reason offered to do so, in cases of suspected support for terrorism.]
Umarova left Boston with her family in July with a round-trip ticket to visit relatives in their native Chechnya, but she failed to return to Massachusetts with her parents at the end of August. Her family told federal authorities and ABC News she stayed behind to get married after she met a man there during Ramadan.
Her younger brothers, Adam, 20, and Junes, 18, were already under suspicion by some investigators because of their online support for the Tsarnaev brothers and social media postings that included tweets with Dzhokhar a day before the blasts. A photo of Junes Umarov and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev lighting fireworks appeared on one social networking site in January 2013, an ABC News investigation found.
"No one is calling Heda a terrorist but her travel has certainly garnered some attention. People are concerned that a 23-year-old is in Chechnya, a country that she fled from... and now she is deciding to stay on her own," a ranking law enforcement source involved in the Boston Marathon investigation told ABC News. The source said that her decision to stay in Chechnya also raised eyebrows because, at least until she is married, she didn't seem to have any "obvious means" of support.
"We were already concerned about the social media exchanged with her brothers, who remain on the radar, especially the younger brother Junes, who was Dzhokhar's best friend," the source added.
And now, sources said, the FBI has been monitoring Heda Umarova's apparent Internet posts recently, which include depictions of Chechen jihadis brandishing weapons and a photo-shopped image of a U.S. passport in a carry-on bag bearing the black flag of jihad.
Heda and her brothers did not respond to multiple attempts by ABC News to reach them through their parents and social media to comment on the sources' allegations.
In a brief interview at his family's home last month, Heda's father Hamzat Umarov told ABC News that he spoke to the "FBI and CIA" about the photographs but refused to talk about whether he believes his daughter is becoming radicalized.
"What does it mean, pictures? Pictures can be anywhere. It doesn't mean anything, the pictures. We don't want to talk about it. We talk with the FBI, everybody. The FBI came, CIA, everybody's come,'' he said.
Umarova's trip back to the same country from which her parents fled as refugees a decade ago to seek political asylum in the U.S. brought federal agents back to her family's Chelsea home -- the same second-floor apartment that armed agents searched last April during the manhunt for the accused marathon bomber, several law enforcement officials told ABC News.
Heda Umarova has not been indicted for any offenses, sources said.
A spokesman for the Boston FBI field office declined to comment on Heda Umarova or any possible threat she may pose. "It is the FBI's policy not to confirm or deny whether or not an investigation is being conducted,'' said Special Agent Gregory Comcowich.
Heda Umarova's Sister: We Were Treated Like 'Terrorists'
The Umarovs were questioned by immigration officials extensively about the reasons for the return trip to Chechnya when they left Boston last summer, scrutiny that only intensified when they returned without Heda, law enforcement sources said.
"They had a hard time getting out of the country and an even harder time coming back when she [Heda] was not with them,'' said a law enforcement official familiar with the Umarov family.
The questioning led Heda's sister, Hawa Umarova, 26, to complain to U.S. Customs and Border Protection and Boston Joint Terrorism Task Force officials that her family was treated like "terrorists," the sources said, despite their constant cooperation with various local and federal law enforcement agencies.[how dare she complain, given all of the evidence about Heda Umarova?]
Chelsea Police Chief Brian Keyes confirmed that Hawa Umarova was cooperative with his officers last April after the identities of the suspected marathon bombers became known and that her family submitted to a voluntary search of their home during the desperate search for Dhzokhar Tsarnaev.
Federal investigators were led to Chelsea initially by Twitter messages exchanged between Dzhokhar Tsarnaev and Junes Umarov a day before the twin blasts exploded along the finish line of the Boston Marathon, killing three and wounding another 260 others last April 15.
In addition to the social media exchanges between Junes and Dzhokhar, federal authorities are now also scrutinizing a Russian social networking page using the name Heda Umarova that was linked to a fan page for Dzhokhar on the same social networking site.
The page is sympathetic to Tsarnaev and his supporters, who insist on his innocence. It features several pictures of the Umarov siblings with Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, including one with Heda, her brother Adam, and "Johar" as a boy, which is the Russian spelling of the accused terrorist's nickname.
But the postings on the Heda Umarova VK page that have concerned federal counter-terrorism officials include photographs of several women dressed as jihadi fighters in Chechnya, taken probably about a decade ago, an expert said.
In one photo, a woman in a black headscarf is toting an AK-47 rifle. Other extremist postings support martyrdom and violence for Islam.
Days after ABC News spoke with Heda’s parents, the images in question and the link to the fan page for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev disappeared from the Heda Umarova VK page.
The social networking page also included links to Kavkaz Center, which is a jihadist media portal linked to Doku Umarov, the jihadi leader of the Caucusus Emirate who threatened to strike the Sochi Olympics last July. There is no familial relation to the terror leader and Umarov is a common name, family members in Chelsea, Mass. told ABC News.
Investigators found a YouTube page created by Tamerlan Tsarnaev that included a lecture given by a leader connected to Doku Umarov, law enforcement officials said, but there is no evidence the North Caucasus militant leader influenced the marathon attacks.
Heda's Mother: I 'Love' the US
During another interview last week, Heda's mother, Raisa Umarova, became emotional when asked why her daughter stayed behind in Chechnya, a country that she and her husband desperately wanted to leave 10 years ago when their five children were "babies."
"She is getting married. She doesn't speak good Russian. They [the Umarov children] come to this country as babies. This is my home now. I love this country. I love my children being here," the mother said through tears.
Raisa Umarova said her family came to Massachusetts as political refugees but became proud U.S. citizens after seven years here.
The Umarovs as new immigrants became friendly with the Tsarnaevs in 2004, three years after the Tsarnaevs arrived, Hamzat Umarov told federal officials, and acknowledged to ABC News that the families "knew each other."
Both families were natives of Chechnya -- though the elder Tsarnaevs now live in neighboring Dagestan -- who successfully sought political asylum in the United States by citing the staggering violence in that region and "the Tsarnaevs took them under their wing," an investigator said.[there is "staggering violence" affecting hundreds of millions, especially in Muslim countries, but why should they be invited in? The United States is not simply a land area open too anyone who claims, truly or falsely, that they are fleeing violence or persecution. We are allowed to pick and choose. Admission to the U.S. is not any foreigner's by right. And how their admission would affect Americans, and American society, should be the only intelligent criterion]
But despite her younger children's public support for Dzhokhar, Raisa Umarova insisted that she and her husband have no contact with the Tsarnaev family.
"I don't like them. I like my country,'' she said, referring to America.
No one in the Umarov family has been charged with a crime or named as a suspect complicit in the April 15 attack on the Boston Marathon.
Chelsea High School officials said federal investigators interviewed Junes' teachers and classmates after the marathon bombings last year.
Chelsea High Principal Joseph Mullaney told ABC News all five of the Umarov children attended the public school and called them "bright students." Junes and Adam were in Advanced Placement classes, like their older sister Hawa, who speaks several languages, Mullaney added.
Hawa went on to graduate from Mass College of Liberal Arts in North Adams, Mass. Junes and Adam are roommates and students at MCLA now. Adam Umarov was questioned on campus last year, officials said.
Chelsea High School librarian Thelma Dakubu said the entire Umarov family strongly identified with Chechnya. Adam even posted the Chechen flag of Ichkeria – which symbolizes the ongoing conflict between the Russian federation and nationalists there – on his Chelsea High School Yearbook page in 2012.
"They were fond of saying, 'We're not Russian. We're Chechen,''' Dakubu told ABC News. "Heda was the quiet one."
Dakubu was also quick to add that the family appeared tight-knit and hardworking. The family patriarch, Hamzat Umarov, even performed a custom Chechen dance at a high school talent show with his daughters, she said.
"They seem to be a close family,'' Dakubu said.
In his 2013 high school yearbook, Junes Umarov wrote, "I'm a stress free kind of guy" -- which is the identical quote Dzhokhar Tsarnaev tweeted two days after the bombings, one of several he sent during the chaotic search for the attackers.
Both Hamzat Umarov and his wife Raisa Umarova insisted in separate interviews that Heda stayed in Chechnya to get married. Raisa Umarova said that the future groom is "lovely" and that Heda met him during Ramadan services during the family trip.
The family, however, would not provide details on the wedding and declined to identify the groom to ABC News. Sources said law enforcement officials were similarly stonewalled.
Tsarnaev has been held in a Massachusetts federal prison at Fort Devens since his arrest and the Department of Justice has announced prosecutors will seek the death penalty. Tsarnaev is also charged with the assassination of MIT Police Officer Sean Collier, who prosecutors said was gunned down by Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarnaev on April 18.
U.S. District Court Judge George A. O'Toole ruled last month that the trial is slated to begin in November and allowed the defense team to add another death penalty attorney to work on the case. Last week defense attorneys complained in a court filing that the FBI is monitoring every file that they review with Tsarnaev, endangering his right to a fair trial. Much of the court filings on the case are under seal.
The story, which may cheer you up -- that is, if you are familiar with Medea Benjamin -- but even if all you know is this story, the hundreds of comments that follow her tale of woe will do so even more.
Hardly farther than the Miqata in Ramallah, and now Mohammed Dahlan is challenging even that. And so Abu Mazen -- Mahmoud Abbas -- worries about holding onto power, which is to say, to Western donors' endless mississippi of money.
Read about his main worry -- it's not a Hudaibiyya-ish hudna with Israel -- here.
There’s an old Jewish saying: “A good time to keep your mouth shut is when you’re in deep trouble.” President Barack Obama and his foreign policy advisers would have profited if they had been aware of this. Instead, the president went ahead with a 90-minute phone conversation on March 1, 2014 with President Vladimir Putin of Russia about the situation in Ukraine. Already, events had rapidly escalated with the Russian invasion of Crimea, supposedly because the regional Crimean government had asked for Russian military assistance to restore order in the area.
Obama expressed “his deep concern” over Russian actions, which he held were a violation of Ukrainian sovereignty and territorial integrity and thus a breach of international law. He had in an earlier press conference similarly expressed that clear concern. He also said there will be a price to be paid for Russian military intervention in Ukraine. It was not clear what that “cost” would be, nor who would be responsible for it. The U.S., said the president, will stand by the international community in affirming that there will be costs for the intervention.
That intervention occurred after the Russian parliament, the Federation Council of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, approved Putin’s request to use Russian Armed Forces on the “territory of Ukraine to the normalization of the political situation” in the country. In a specious statement, reminiscent of that by Adolf Hitler in invading Czechoslovakia in 1939, Putin explained his action as a result of the “provocations, and crimes by ultranationalist elements, essentially supported by the current authorities in Kiev.” Russia, he proclaimed, had the right to protect its interests and the Russian-speaking population of eastern Ukraine (Crimea).
Certainly there are complex issues of international law involved, as well as the real meaningful political ones. Ukraine is not a member of NATO, but some agreements have been made to help protect its sovereignty. Two in particular are relevant to the current situation.
The Budapest Memorandum of December 1994, signed by the U.S., Britain, and Russia, after Ukraine signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear state, affirmed that the three countries would refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine. The Distinctive Partnership Charter of 1997 is an agreement between Ukraine and NATO committing the NATO Allies to continue to support Ukrainian sovereignty and independence, and the principle of inviolability of frontiers.
The Obama administration is aware of these agreements but has not implemented them. Like Obama himself, other members of the U.S. administration, including Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel, have engaged in conversations with their Russian or Ukrainian counterparts to no particular end. These conversations by U.S. and European officials have led not to any resolution, but rather to displays of weakness and even absurdity.
For example, the U.S. media and cable networks, which have been pouring out information on the Ukraine and Russian intervention there, will not appreciate the remarks of Samantha Power, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations. She concluded that sending international observers from the U.N. or the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe was the best way to get the facts, monitor conduct, and prevent any abuses. The hapless Catherine Ashton, foreign representative of the European Union, called on the Russian Federation “not to dispatch troops but to promote its views through peaceful means.” She also advised the Ukrainian government not to break trading and cultural links with Russia.
But above all, it is the inaction of the Obama administration that is most disconcerting. This stems both from the view of Obama that rhetoric can be a substitute for action and from a misperception of the U.S. role in international affairs. This was already clear from his press conference on October 21, 2011. At that time, he held that “the tide of war is receding,” and that the U.S. was moving forward from a position of strength. It is not clear where the forward motion has gone, nor that strength has been exerted in response to the increasing power of Putin.
After thirteen years in office, that power of Putin is now evident, externally as well as internally, in Russia. After 16 years as a member of the KGB, including five years, 1985-1990, as a lieutenant colonel in East Germany, Putin was accustomed to the use of power. Internally, he has controlled public opinion and political life. With the law in September 2011 having changed the presidential term from 4 to 6 years, one can expect Putin, elected in 2012 after being president and then prime minister since 2000, to serve two six-year terms and to be in office until 2024. He is accompanied by a strong group of advisers, many coming from those he employed at the KGB.
On the world stage, Putin has moved from being a junior partner with the U.S. in 2000 to one of near equality, in spite of the differences in economic resources, military strength, and population of the two countries. Speaking fluent German and almost fluent English, Putin hosted the talks devoted to Syria at the G-20 summit at St. Petersburg in September 2013. His arrogance was shown when he kept Kerry waiting for three hours in the Kremlin, and when he took his Labrador dog to his first meeting with Chancellor Angela Merkel, who was bitten by a dog when she was a child. His policies, divergent from those of Obama, have been displayed in a variety of issues -- Libya, Syria, Iran, Georgia, Abkhazia and South Ossetia, Afghanistan, and Central Asia, and on anti-missile defense.
Putin has made no secret that his objective, while not to restore the Soviet Union, is to create a kind of Euro-Asian Union that can counter both the EU and NATO. The problem now is whether he can act unilaterally in areas such as the Crimea, which he, or some of his supporters, consider Russian. In view of Western inaction, it is likely that he now believes that NATO is a paper tiger, and that Obama is not to be taken seriously.
The specific problem of Crimea, ceded to Ukraine in 1954 by Nikita Khrushchev, then leader of the Soviet Union, for reasons that are still not absolutely clear, is complex because of the historic ties to Russia and the divided population, both ethnic Russians and 5,000 Tatars (Turkic Muslims, descendants of those who were deported by Stalin to Central Asia in 1944).
But what is needed for both the Crimea and the country of Ukraine is a strong U.S. response. Obama will clearly never respond with military force, and NATO is unlikely to do so either. There remain a number of options: sanctions against Russia until its troops are withdrawn, strong resolutions introduced at the U.N. condemning its actions, Western political support for any democratic leadership that emerges in Kiev, encouraging Ukraine to join the EU, and refusal by democratic countries to attend the group of 8 meeting in June 2014 in Sochi.
These are not dramatic actions, but they would allow Putin to realize that the West is not supine. It is time for the Obama administration to take the initiative and outline a clear policy in relations with the Russia of Putin, as well as in foreign affairs generally. Putin is aware of the old Russian proverb: “In a world of sheep, the wolf is king.”
Michael Curtis is author ofJews, Antisemitism, and the Middle East.
A French webmaster was due to stand trial in a landmark case in a Paris court on Tuesday on charges of inciting and glorifying terrorism. The Muslim convert translated Al Qaeda propaganda into French before uploading it onto the web. The 26-year-old, identified as Romain, was detained in September last year in the Normandy department of Calvados, where he lives.
Prosecutors say he acted as administrator of the Ansar al Haqq website, a "reference" for the radical Islamist movement, and as a translator of "Inspire" magazine, which is put out by militant group Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), Paris prosecutors said.
His arrest was the first made under a new law passed in the aftermath of the Toulouse shootings, carried out by self-proclaimed Al-Qaeda inspired gunman Mohamed Merah. The government reacted to the shocking killings by making incitement to terrorism an offence punishable by five years in prison and a fine of up to €45,000.
Romain converted to Islam when he was 20, prosecutors said. . . They said an investigation also found that the suspect had "an active role in the translation into French and the distribution of the tenth and 11th editions of the magazine Inspire."
Inspire is an English-language propaganda magazine published by AQAP that offers theological support and praise for jihadists.
How quickly the human mind turns to paranoia! The majority of what doctors call insults to the brain, either physical or chemical, can uncover man's underlyingly suspicious attitude towards the world, his ur-belief that others, real or imagined, must be plotting against him or doing him down.
It isn't only brain injury, but also experience, that causes paranoia. A short while ago, for example, a small incident turned me suspicious. I had viewed items in a preview of an auction and there was one that I wanted to buy as being of potential interest to me in my work. I put in a pre-bid to a maximum of £100.
I decided to attend the auction three days later. Actually, I was prepared to pay a little more than the maximum pre-bid I had made. The auctioneer knew that I was in the auction room. When the lot came up, the bidding by two others quickly there reached £100 and then promptly stopped once I had bid £110 against them.
Was it a coincidence that the other bidders were prepared to go to £100, precisely my maximum bid, but no further? I cannot prove that it was not, but yet I do not believe it. I think - I am all but convinced - that the two bidders were phantoms planted by the auctioneer to ensure that the lot made at least my maximum bid or a little more. I was tempted not to increase my bid and leave one of the phantom bidders with an item that he did not want. Its fate would have been interesting: would he have collected it at all, and would it then have appeared at the next auction?
But I thought better of it: the item was to me very interesting, and it would have been foolish to have deprived myself of it for the sake of £10. But I castigated myself for having reached my comparatively advanced age and yet be so naïve. It was obvious to me afterwards that I should not have put in a maximum pre-bid; it was possible then that I would have had the item for £50 or even less.
But, contented nonetheless with my acquisition, I began to admire the inconspicuous skill with which I had been gulled. It had required fine judgment on the part of the auctioneer. Rosencrantz, asked by Hamlet for the news says, 'None, my lord, but that the world's grown honest,' to which Hamlet replies, 'Then is doomsday near.' How dull an honest world would be, how little to write of in it.
Putin, according to Rubin is the consummate zero sum geo -politician. Diplomacy for the Kremlin thugacracy pales in comparison to unleashing military adventurism to recreate the former Soviet empire. Witness Georgia in 2008 with the severance of South Ossetia, Abkhazia and even the Kremlin support for Russian speaking breakaway state of Transnistria between the Ukraine and Moldavia. Remember Putin abhors NATO presence anywhere near the Russian sphere of influence. See the prescient title of a piece I wrote back in August 2008, Georgia: "Moscow Rules" and the West Wimps Out. We had Bush and Condoleezza Rice back then.
The 1991 Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (STARTI) witnessed the transfer of nearly 2000 nuclear missiles to Russia followed by 1994 Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances by the UK, US and Russia that guaranteed Ukrainian sovereignty including the rights of Russian citizens who chose to live there. Recently Russia negotiated the extension of the lease on the Black Sea naval base in Sevastopol from 2017 to 2042. The move was heavily criticized by the opposition forces now in power in Kiev. By seizing the Crimea province from Ukraine, the Russian guarantee of Ukrainian sovereignty has been breached. Russian military exercises near Finland and the Ukraine are clear demonstrations of military force to send a message to the EU and the Obama White House West Wing not to dare send NATO forces to the Polish Ukrainian border. Thus, while there will be lots of economic sanctions and isolation rattling by Washington and Brussels, it is up to the G-8 and G-20 groups to consider ejection of Moscow, which will doubtless come up short.
Sochi may lose tourist revenues from the upcoming Paralympics, followed by the loss of the G-8 Summit in June and even the inaugural Russian Formula 1 race scheduled for August 2014. Meanwhile the Moscow Stock Exchange and Ruble were punished in trading today. Whether that continues will be influenced by Putin's contempt for the West and the threats by Obama that "there will be consequences". So, while Obama's Russian reset strategy like his pivot to Asia and push for a Final Status agreement between Israel and the PA have been potential failures.
Just look at the interview with Obama by Bloomberg's Jeffrey Goldberg about the President's entreaties to Netanyahu to "seize the moment and make peace". This included a veiled no veto threat by the US should the PA, as suggested in the Oxford Union remarks of PA negotiator Saeb Erekat on Al Jazeera'sHead to Head program of last Friday, (watch it here), might opt for accession to the UN Security Council for statehood. This would let 5 million Palestinian UNWRA refugees file for compensation against Israel. Further, the PA could file a case for crimes against humanity brought before the International Criminal Court at The Hague the day after the April 29 deadline is passed for an agreement set by Secretary of State Kerry. Even the brief comments by Obama and Netanyahu in the Oval Office about "tough choices" versus non helpful Palestinian moves sent a chilling message. (See this CBS news report, here).
Tomorrow, we shall see what happens when Netanyahu speaks to 14,000 delegates at the AIPAC Policy Conference following Sen. Bob Menendez’s (D-NJ) speech. They would urge the delegates to scamper up Capitol Hill to convince their Senators and Representatives to pass the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act, S. 1881 co-sponsored by Sens. Mark Kirk (R-IL) and Menendez. Problem is that Iran may already have its nukes given a decade long cooperative weapons development and ICBM program with North Korea. Read my article; Has Iran Developed Nuclear Weapons in North Korea? As to Israel's capabilities, realize that it already has ICBMs - the nuclear equipped Jericho III. Yes, as the ancient Chinese curse goes, "may you live in interesting times”.
So few people have written books about the Uighurs that the handful who have are immediately sought out as experts, even if what they say shows an indifference to the effect of Islam on the minds of Muslims, in China as elsewhere.The Los Angeles Times reporter has gone to one such putative expert, a Professor Gladney, whose study's title betrays his understanding: he describes the Uighurs as engaged in "ethnic nationalism." No, they are engaged in the same fight that, for example, the Musliims in the southen Philippines are engaged in: Jihad against rule by non-Muslims. In the Chinese scheme of things, the Uighurs were treated not badly. They are the only group, in all of China, for example, that were not required to adhere to the one-child policy -- thus allowing their relative numbers to increase. That is not a minor concession. But what they could not abide is being part of a non-Muslim polity, in effect being directed by non-Muslim Hand Chinese. They know that it is not just, it is not right, for non-Muslims anywhere to rule over Musliims, anywhere, thoiugh the reverse -- rule by Muslims over non-Muslims -- is not only acceptable but energetically to be pursued.
“Politics has lost its ability to manage … Half of the country consists of the jobless or those who risk losing their jobs … Business is groaning under one of the world’s heaviest tax regimes … Everyone is seeking immigration … The judiciary is less trusted than even the mafia … The country is a wreck … The democratic regime is noisily cracking … Politics is in a quagmire of chaos, society is in pain … The compass-less country skids from one hell to another … A country lost. Pure tragedy...”
No, not Turkey. That was a portrayal, in a newspaper column, of Italy by one of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdo?an’s most prominent cheerleaders who was telling the Turks how lucky they were to have a “stable government,” while poor Italians were condemned to Dante’s nine circles of Inferno.
Goebbels would have horribly envied the euphemism a la Turca. But facts are facts.
Italy’s per capita income is three times greater than Turkey’s; its GDP, about twice as great. But, of course, money is not everything. There are 23 Italian universities in the world’s top 500, and two Turkish. There are four times as many areas under environmental protection in Italy as there are in Turkey. Italy’s forested area as percentage of land area is 157 percent larger than in Turkey.
Infant mortality rate in Italy is 3 percent versus12 percent in Turkey and life expectancy is 13 percent longer (hey, dear Islamists; by the way, per capita alcohol consumption is 10 times more in Italy!).
There is no child labor in Italy, while children account for 3 percent of the labor market in Turkey. Italy has 88 percent more hospital beds per 1,000 people than Turkey; health spending per person is 10 times more than in Turkey; total health spending as percentage of GDP is 31 percent higher in Italy; while obesity in Turkey is 41 percent more than in Italy.
It may be a coincidence that Italy has 14 Nobel laureates, and Turkey has one. But Italians consume 3.5 times more oil, 2.1 times more electricity; have 78 percent less chance of dying in infancy and 48 percent more chance of being employed. In terms of total crimes, G-7 member Italy is the world’s 9th safest country, and G-20 member Turkey, the 32nd. Manslaughter, for instance, is five times more frequent in Turkey. Not good enough?
There are more decent indicators, too. According to the World Economic Forum’s Global Gender Gap Report, Italy ranks 71st; while, in a list of 136 countries, Turkey ranks 120th. Turkey, according to Freedom House’s world map, falls into the yellow zone of “partly free” countries while Italy belongs to the green zone of “free” countries. And the World Press Freedom Index of Reporters Without Borders puts Italy’s world ranking at 49 vs. Turkey’s at 154th.
But there is one globally credible index that sums up all. The UNDP’s Human Development Report, a comparative measure of life expectancy, education, standards of living and quality of life, demonstrates whether a country is developed, developing or underdeveloped. On that index, Italy ranks 25th, and Turkey, 90th.
Needless to say, Italy is a member of the club Turkey has been striving to join over the last half a century. In fact, one may not need to recall any of these numbers to understand what is what. There is an increasing rate of legal and illegal immigration of Muslims into Christian Europe, including Italy, not to Muslim Turkey (except the Syrian force majeure).
The nearly 7 million Turks who live in “the wreck called Europe” are not doing so because they are masochists. Neither are younger Turks. An international survey showed last year that the most preferred destinations of the Turkish youth for higher education are, respectively, Britain and the United States; Germany; Canada; France and Italy; Spain; Australia and Switzerland; and Sweden.
These 10 overwhelmingly Christian countries account for 85 percent of Turkish students’ preferred destinations for university education.
Sadly, there is no research that reveals the percentage of desperate Italian youth dreaming of studying in glittering Turkey. But my guess, based on the thousands of column inches written by Goebbels’ Turkish reincarnations, would be that Italians may soon make up the second largest immigrant community in Turkey, after the Syrians
I have been following with interest the news bringing to the forefront of public attention again the efforts of certain left-wing politicians to bring down traditional British society.
It started with the Daily Mail last month reminding the public (which some of us had never quite forgotten, hence our mis-trust of them) that back in the 1970s the organisation the National Council for Civil Liberties (NCCL, now known as Liberty – and they are indeed a diabolical liberty, to use the old Cockney phrase) having successfully campaigned for the homosexual rights moved on to other sexual minorities, in particular the desire of paedophiles to have sex with children. Most notable are:
Harriet Harman MP, former leader of the Labour Party, de factor deputy Prime minister under Gordon Brown, Cabinet minister under both Blair and Brown
Jack Dromey MP husband of Harman, former Deputy General Secretary of the Transport and General Workers Union, Labour Party Treasurer
Patricia Hewitt Godmother to the Dromey-Harman children, former Secretary of State for Health, watched for years by MI5 for her communist sympathies, suspended from the Labour Party for corruption. She has had the grace to apologise and this, coupled with her no longer being in any position of power means that the main concern is about the position of Harman and Dromey.
Other notable persons who had a tentacle in the slime are Margaret Hodge MP for Barking, and her late husband Mr Justice Henry Hodge. I want to set down some thoughts, less about the specific individuals than their motives, and the motives of the circles on the left in which they moved.
I was a student in the early 70s and a very lowly Civil Servant by the late 70s. We admired the NCCL, going to the extent of engaging Tess Gill (a lawyer on the NCCL team, who with Anna Coote wrote a very useful handbook) to speak at our college on the subject of the proposed bill which eventually became the Sex Discrimination Act 1975.
Homosexual activity ‘between consenting adults in private’ was now legal. At that time we were aware of opportunities opening up which our mothers might only have dreamed of. We thought sex had only been invented in 1963 and that jealous adults wanted to spoil our fun.
Looking back at the scandals at the BBC from 40 years ago (not the career and crimes of Jimmy Saville which were and always will be abhorrent) but the free behaviour of some of the DJ’s around women and girls the emphasis and horror now is on the ‘under-age’ aspect of the activity. It must be remembered that then any sexual activity before marriage was considered wrong. What was wrong aged 15 years and 10 months did not suddenly become OK and acceptable 4 months later once the young person had reached the ripe old age of 16 years and 2 months old. It was wrong at 14, at 15, at 16 and at 17. Public opinion was (about those incidents that featured in the newspapers – there were a couple) disapproving regardless of the age. Therefore the liberals at the BBC, in pushing the boundaries in the direction of ‘free love’, to use the idiom of the 1960s, were also unconcerned about the official legal age of consent. Being aged 16 didn’t make it right; being under 16 didn’t make it even more wrong. It was just wrong.
The activities of the NCCL which have been revived are their championing of a rather nasty organisation called the PIE, the Paedophile Information Exchange, who (I believe) came out of a Homosexual rights organisation, possibly via NAMBLA. (the North American Man Boy Love Association)
There is plenty of information in the news this last few weeks about their campaign to lower the age of consent to 14, or 10 or even 4. My recollection at the time was distaste. My mother had been a great admirer of Mary Whitehouse and I was starting to think that lady had a point. To my relief the PIE campaign never seriously came to anything overtly, and I was able to turn my mind to family matters and my job.
10 years later in the court system, suddenly we were in the centre of enormous concern about child sexual abuse, child porn, child protection and the rest, culminating in the Cleveland Scandal of 1987. Bit by bit, with frequently the best of intentions, regulations to protect children grew, until now we have a situation where decent men are terrified to speak to any child who is not their own, lest they be accused of being a child molester. Anybody over the age of 18 who may encounter a child in a public situation has to have a police check certificate to prove their probity. That’s a certificate for every work or voluntary job they may have. An individual may hold one for the Guides, one for Sunday school, one for helping in their child’s school and one for the summer holiday club at the local sports centre. With so much regulation and scrutiny you might be forgiven for thinking that every child in the UK was as safe as houses and never suffers anything worse than cotton wool allergy.
So how did Female Genital Mutilation come to flourish, when it is illegal? Or so many girls be groomed for prostitution by gangs of Muslim men? Why are those in positions of power and influence so silent on the treatment of gay men and women in Islamic controlled areas like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Tower Hamlets?
In this Telegraph article from the weekend a letter from Philip McGuinness a housemaster of St Paul’s School dated 1976 asked
“I cannot help but think that you do not support civil liberties at all. Your aim is questionable in the extreme. Are you aiming for the destruction of society, for the enslavement of the individual, for the destruction of family life? Is your object to shatter prospective individual happiness at an early stage?”
Mr McGuinness concluded: “Your title is a shame and a masquerade. There must be some very twisted minds and pernicious malcontents behind your organisation if this is the sort of thing you advocate.”
Because the laws and changes in attitude they enforced were not for the wellbeing of children (or gays). Children were merely a means to an end. The end being the disintegration of traditional British, secular but Judeo-Christian based society. This wasn’t confined to the UK – similar things were happening in Western Europe, the US, Canada.
One of the factors which modified my under 20 enthusiasm for left wing politics (I blame George Orwell) was the arguments I had with fellow students about the nature of the family and working class values. Family at its best, extending to the warm network of grandparents, uncles, aunts and cousins, within which I grew up is (was then) the bedrock, the mainstay, of working class life. My argument was that as the proletariat, the working class, were the good guys in the revolution, emulating working class institutions was the way to go. Not so said some of my associates. The family was too patriarchal, too much a means of oppressing women, an enemy of female freedom. It was quite obvious now (but I didn’t realise it at the time) that they wanted it destroyed.
If the family is destroyed then individuals become depended on the state for support. This gives the state eventual ultimate control. Of behaviour, speech, view, even diet; 1984 was supposed to be a warning not a blueprint.
At some point between 1982 and 1984 (when I first noticed child sexual abuse cases hitting the courts in any numbers) the focus changed. I don’t know if this was a conscious or unconscious decision on the left. But I believe the thinking went something like this.
Homosexuality is now legal and women have easy access to contraception, and increasing access to abortion.
We are not going to get very far with reducing the age of consent. However the sexualisation of children as a way of undermining the family will happen gradually anyway as a result of the more liberal sexual mores set in motion.
We can do more damage, more quickly, by demonising all heterosexual men as potential rapists and child abusers, via this new programme of mass hysteria around the genuine need for child protection.
And then when mass immigration happened, and the left formed their unholy alliance with Islam, the tiger they will regret trying to ride, overlooking grooming, FGM, forced marriage, wife beating and the rest was a natural consequence.
So for Jamie Doward to write in the Guardian, blaming paedophiles for ‘infiltrating’ the NCCL is disingenuous in my opinion. Although he does set out the atmosphere of the period quite well albeit with more approval than I retain of those times.
I don’t know how this will end, but we do live in interesting times.
Richard Falk’s wife is top nominee for a post on the Human Rights Council Post.
UN investigator Richard Falk. Photo: Reuters
GENEVA – As UN chief Ban Ki-moon today joins foreign ministers from around the world in Geneva to inaugurate a month-long session of the United Nations Human Rights Council, he should tell the 47-nation body to stop a controversial appointment that will expose itself to ridicule.
The secretary-general is surely looking forward to the upcoming exit of Richard Falk, the council’s pro-Hamas investigator of “Israel's violations of the principles and bases of international law.”
More than once, Ban had to take the extraordinary step of condemning one of his organization’s own human rights experts -- Falk -- for spreading “preposterous” 9/11 conspiracy theories. After six years, term limits finally require Falk to go.
Yet it turns out that Falk may not really be leaving after all: the Human Rights Council is set to appoint his wife and closest collaborator to a similar post at the end of the month, days after Falk makes his final presentation to the plenary.
According to a UN document circulated in Geneva, Hilal Elver -- a Turkish academic on law and climate change who has been married to Falk for the past 18 years, co-authoring many of his articles -- is rated first among three nominees to become the council’s next “Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food.”
The troubled history of this UN mandate suggests the practices Elver would likely follow.
Despite its lofty title, the position was created by Cuba in 2000 as a political tool to attack the West, one of several UNHRC mandates created by third world dictatorships to disguise themselves as victims of human rights violations committed by Western capitalism, imperialism and racism.
The first right-to-food expert was Swiss socialist politician Jean Ziegler, a long-time shill for Havana’s Castro regime, and the shameless co-founder (and 2002 recipient) of the Muamar Gaddafi Human Rights Prize.
Turning a blind eye to genuine starvation in places like Burundi, Ziegler spent much of his time finding imaginative pretexts to use his UN mandate on hunger to attack America and Israel. He condemned the Jewish state so often that journalists began to describe him, mistakenly, as the council’s investigator on Palestine.
Sadly, there are many reasons to suspect that Elver would follow in this politicized and prejudiced path.
First, although Elver and Falk own a million-dollar Santa Barbara home by the Pacific Ocean, she devotes much of her writing to condemning America, and the West.
Like Falk, Elver is explicitly acknowledged in the world’s leading 9/11 conspiracy book, “The New Pearl Harbor” by David Ray Griffin, for the help she provided the author.
In turn, Elver’s academic work cites to Griffin’s conspiracy book, which argues that the Bush Administration helped orchestrate the attacks on the World Trade Center to justify wars against Muslims in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Elver’s words are more cautious, but hint in the same direction. In a 2012 law journal article citing to Griffin’s notorious conspiracy tract, Elver compares 9/11 to Pearl Harbor, saying that both incidents “gave permission to the government to unleash the war power” and “invade countries”, “create new hegemonies”, and “racially discriminate against and segregate the people inside the United States.”
According to Elver, the “American establishment” – she singles out the media and Hollywood -- is guilty of “hostility towards Islam.”
Second, like her husband, Elver’s work is infused with dogmatism and tendentiousness, with sloppy attention to facts.
In June 2011, after the Economist advised Turkish voters to vote against the party of Recip Tayyip Erdogan, Elver and Falk published an article on the Al Jazeera website accusing the British magazine of a “Eurocentric virus,” because it “never did venture such an opinion on the eve of the election of such reactionary and militarist figures as George W. Bush, Stephen Harper, or Binyamin Netanyahu.”
The magazine, they wrote, revealed “a mentality that has not shaken itself free from the paternalism and entitlements of the bygone colonialist days.”
The only thing was that the Economist indeed had advised American, Canadian and Israeli citizens how to cast their votes. “Don't professors do any homework nowadays?” asked the magazine in response.
Similarly, Elver’s very application for the UN post underscores her unprofessionalism. Her form is replete with spelling mistakes, non-sequiturs, and even self-disqualifying answers. Asked if she satisfied the job’s conflict-of-interest rules, she replied “No.”
Third, there is every indication that Elver would, like Ziegler, twist the hunger post to go after Israel.
In 2007, Elver accused the Jewish state of “genocide” and compared Israelis to “Nazis.”
As UN food expert, we know exactly what her first charge will be. At a December conference in Qatar, she gave a lecture on Israel entitled “Water Apartheid.”
Like Erdogan, Elver is obsessed with what she calls in her Turkish articles the “Yahudi lobisini” -- “the Jewish lobby.”
On the 10th anniversary of 9/11, Elver wrote that “the Jewish lobby” is “manipulating American politics” to ensure unlimited support for Israel.
In 2012, she warned about “the strong Zionist lobby” in the United States. Indeed, “many Muslim organizations are being controlled” in the American political arena by “pro-Israel lobbyist groups.”
Appointing Elver will be like appointing Falk. They travel, work and write together. She is not only his “constant companion,” says Falk, but also his “deepest collaborator.”
When in 2012 I urged Human Rights Watch director Ken Roth to finally remove Falk from one his organization’s influential committees, after he was condemned by the UK and other countries for anti-Semitism, they did so. Yet Falk’s wife remained on, allowing the couple to continue hosting HRW events in their home.
It seems like the UN is now trying to pull the same trick.
Hillel Neuer, executive director of UN Watch, will address the AIPAC Policy Conference today in Washington, DC.
Every so often in the newspaper a letter to the editor appears that sums up a matter, and offers, or speaks, home truths (and not only to Samantha Power). It is these letters, and not the contributions of regular journalists (even if those who do not sink to the level of Tom Friedman or Nicholas Kristof) are what one now looks for, in order to stay sane.
Here is one by Brent White of San Jose, California. It appeared in The Wall Street Journal on February 15, 2014:
We went from a population of 200 million people and a GDP of about $4.5 trillion in 1968 to today's population of 315 million people and GDP of $15-plus trillion, and I see absolutely no corresponding improvement in our lot that could be attributed to population growth. In fact, our situation seems to me much worse. Looking at our packed and crumbling roads and groaning infrastructure, I shudder to think of life here when we've become 500 million souls.
All our stupendous World War II achievements were the product of just 135 million Americans and a Depression-ravaged economy. What is it that we must do that will require 400 million people, then 500 million? Shouldn't we, as we mature, strive to become better rather than continuously bigger?
To Caroline Glick, senior contributing editor at theJerusalem Post, the concept of a "two-state solution," carving an invented state of Palestine from the tiny body of Israel and hopefully expecting the two resulting entities to live in harmony is, at best, a "chimera." Worse, it is a "humiliating, dangerous nightmare"; and worst of all, it spells the end of Israel.
What Glick proposes in her provocative new book, The Israeli Solution: A One-State Plan for Peace in the Middle East, (available March 4) is to brush away the web of mischief, ignorance, deceit and hatred that surrounds the "peace plan," and with newfound clarity, get rid of the misbegotten thing entirely. In its place, she proposes a one-state plan, the one state being Israel.
In Glick's own words:
The Israeli one-state plan entails the application of Israeli law-- and through it, Israeli sovereignty-- over the west bank of the Jordan River: the area that, from biblical times through the 1950s, was known to the world as Judea and Samaria. In Israel, Judea and Samaria remain the terms used to refer to the territory….
Judea and Samaria are the terms she uses throughout. Israel having withdrawn from Gaza in 2005, Glick does not include Gaza in her plan, nor does she believe, for legal and strategic reasons, that it should be reabsorbed into Israel. Her one-state solution, the application of Israeli law and sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, which is "based on actual Israeli rights rather than fictitious Israeli culpability,"
would liberate Israel to craft coherent strategies for contending with the…evolving regional threat and the international assault on its right to exist….Israeli sovereignty in Judea and Samaria will increase the security of all. It will transform the region from one governed alternatively by a military government and a terrorist kleptocracy into one governed by a unified, liberal rule of law.
The sine qua non of her plan, of course, is the understanding that the Jewish people are the indigenous Palestinians, not "colonial usurpers" or "occupying powers." "At no time," she reminds us, "have there been no Jews in the Land of Israel." She gives us census figures from the Roman holocaust of the first century CE and the subsequent Bar Kochba rebellion up to the 19th century "dawn of modern Zionism," when Jews again were the majority in Jerusalem. And she touches on some of the archeological finds that suggest a significant Jewish presence as early as 1050 BCE. Considering that the Palestinians have been trying to erase all vestiges of Jewish presence in Israel,
[T]he reconstitution of the Jewish state in the Land of Israel is an unprecedented historic accomplishment. No other indigenous people has preserved its national identity for so long and against such great odds, only to repatriate itself to its historic homeland….
But Glick stresses that her one-state plan is not intended as punishment of the Palestinians. On the contrary, she repeatedly demonstrates that Israeli rule has always been and will continue to be of great benefit to the Palestinians. After the Israeli victory in the Six-Day War of 1967, for instance, Israel's recapture of Jerusalem, Judea, and Samaria was, for the Palestinian Arabs, "an economic and civil rights boon." The entire population of 65,000 "lined up to receive Israeli identification cards that granted them permanent residency status in Israel." Among the positive results of "Israel's benign rule," she cites impressive statistics on improved Arab living standards, employment, GDP, literacy, schools and universities, life expectancy (48 in 1967, 72 in 2000), infant mortality, clinics, sewage, electricity and health insurance. Equally important,
[U]nder Israeli rule, the Palestinians of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza exercised political freedoms that were nonexistent in the rest of the Arab world. These included freedom of association, freedom of the press, enfranchisement of women, and the ability to seek the protection of the Israeli court system.
Keep in mind that during the illegal Jordanian occupation of Judea, Samaria, and Jerusalem from 1949 to 1967, not only were Jews prohibited from buying land, but any Arab accused of selling land to Jews faced the death penalty, and in many cases, still may.
Moving us to the present impasse requires Glick, of course, to provide a look at the historical background and context. In her necessarily condensed summary, Glick draws an inexorable line from European anti-Semitism through the treacheries of the British, with their Peel Commission and infamous White Paper, and the murderous antics of their Nazi sidekick Haj Amin El-Husseini, inventor of the Palestinians. Then come the spawn of El-Husseini, Arafat and now Abbas. There was the insanity of the Oslo Accords, which led in turn to the American "bipartisan pipe dream," currently embodied in the tragicomic farce that is John Kerry.
This is a history of heroes, villains and dupes, including numerous Israelis. But when it comes to American involvement, no one escapes whipping. In the face of continuous and open Palestinian calls for the complete destruction of the Jewish state, American administrations from Nixon's to Obama's have committed themselves to some version of a plan to establish a Palestinian state on all or most of the land won by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War.
The story of American pro-Palestinianism does not make for pleasant reading. It is difficult to be reminded of the slippery words of Presidents Clinton, Bush, and Obama; to confront again the loony obsession with Israel while the entire world is ablaze; to have to face, as Glick forces us to do, that were it not for America's feckless policy, the PLO would probably have self-destructed. To add to the irony, the Arab world would not have cared: Witness King Hussein of Jordan's 1970 slaughter of thousands of Palestinians. Or recall that in 1982, when Israel forced the PLO out of Lebanon, "no Arab regime offered to host them. It took U.S. pressure to persuade Tunisia to accept them. It would seem, says Glick, that the "wider Arab world's assessment of Arafat was voiced by Jordan's King Hussein, who reportedly remarked, 'Arafat never came to a bridge that he didn't double-cross.'" But successive American administrations were snookered.
Read here.Note toward the end Malcolm Rifkind vaporing on about "perverted" interpretations of Islam (on what textual or other basis does Malcolm Rifkind make this claim?).
But then consider the point of the whole thing. The "ex-Al Qaeda" member -- this presumably means he's now not only entirely trustworthy, but a keen analyst of how Muslims, "moderate" Muslims like himself think, has been taken seriously by the BBC, and his views on what the British (and by extension the rest of the West) "must do" to win Muslim favor, or at least not infuriate those (unfortunately quick to rage and commit attacks) Muslims. And thus the BBC appears to take seriously what he prescribes.
And what he prescribes is that the West feel that it must apologize and explain itself to the world's Muslims for not, always and everywhere, coming to their rescue, taking their side, doing what they want. But isn't it clear by now that Muslims feel no gratitude, none at all, for the Western and especially American efforts to remove despots, and then to pour in money for "reconstruction"? In Afghanistan the Americans alone --there was also great expense incurred by fellow NATO members -- spent more than $1 trillion and have incurred thousands of casualties. And have tried to buiild schools, hospitals, and so on. What has been the result? The ceaseless attacks by Karzai and others in his administration, the palpable lack of any heartfelt gratitude, the continued strength and appeal of the Taliban -- that is the result. And in Iraq, an even greater folly, where the Americans spent two trillion dollars, lost far more men, and kept trying to transform the country not only by pouring money into every kind of public works, but by preventing Arabs and Kurds, and Sunni Arabs and Shi'a Arabs, from being at each others' throats, what was the result? What was the gratitude? The Shi'a were rescued by the Americans from Saddam's massacring Sunni-officered army, but have any of the Shi'a politicians or religious leaders ever mentioned this, suggested that America had done well?
And in Libya where hysterical and naive enthusiasm led NATO to conduct 6,000 sorties, in order to depose Qaddafy, what was the result? And where is the gratitude toward the West? There is nothing the West can do to make Muslims not continue to blame others -- the Infidels - for their problems. And their problems -- the violence and aggression and hysteria and illogic and mental impoverishment and economic stasis -- are of their own making, that is of Islam's making, and Islam is the one thing they dare not examine, dare not analyze what it is about Islam that makes for their own mess.
What the "ex-Al Qaeda" member continues to express is what he shares with Muslims of all kinds -- those who are in Al Qaeda, those who left Al Qaeda, those who would never join Al Qaeda -- that is, a need to make absurd demands upon non-Muslims, and to find them perfectly legitimate.
What he says is absurd. But it wasn't too absurd for those who currently call the shots at the BBC. For them, nothing that helps explain away Muslim behavior and Muslim attitudes, without any examination of what Islam itself inculcates, is too absurd
This is not the first time, this year, that a Muslim has attempted to murder a Jew by ambushing him and stabbing him. It's just one more in the dismal litany of such attacks that take placde in Israel every year. And as such it forms part of the global war waged by Muslims upon non-Muslims, everywhere.
Not that the Israeli papers seem to understand that any better, at the moment, than all those who have been reporting on another Muslim frenzy of murderous stabbings, in the Kunming railway station, in China, at the very opposite end of Asia from Israel.
Here's Jerusalem Post, to begin with, as the story broke. Ben Hartman reporting.
'Assailant stabs, wounds haredi man in Petah Tikva'.
That is: a visibly Jewish man was targeted. One may note, too, that the haredi do not usually serve in the IDF (though this may be about to change, with a proposed revision of the laws on military service); and they do not go armed. The Muslim bully chose a "soft" target, as always. - CM
"A man sprung upon a group of ultra-Orthodox men [on] Sunday and stabbed one walking on Jabotinsky Street in Petah Tikva next [to] the Geha interchange, police said. The assailant then fled the scene on foot.
'The victim was moderately wounded and evacuated to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva.
At least the would-be murderer failed of his object. - CM
'Police were combing the area for the suspect, and said the motives behind the attack were so far unclear."
And so to Gil Ronen's slightly more detailed account in Israel National News.
'Stabbing in Bnei Brak: Terror Suspected, 8 Arrested'.
'Eight people have been arrested as suspects in a stabbing that took place in Bnei Brak, near Tel Aviv, Sunday evening.
'The background for the attack is suspected to be nationalistic.
'Nationalistic'. No. "Religious". Or "cult-driven". Motivated by Islam. By Muslim Jew-hatred, which is a subset of orthodox Quran-Sira-Hadith-driven Muslim hatred of and desire to domineer over, subjugate and destroy the najis kuffar, the filthy Infidels. - CM
'A man aged 31 was stabbed on Jabotinsky Street, next to the Dor Alon gas station.
'Medics and paramedics from Magen David Adom emergency services evacuated the victim to Beilinson Hospital.
'He was in moderate condition, with stab wounds in the upper body.
"Strike at their necks", the Quran commands. - CM
'An initial investigation by police determined that an Arab man (and I doubt he was a Christian Arab, or a nonreligious Arab; I'd bet my bottom dollar he was a Muslim - CM) pounced on a group of hareidim near the Geha bridge, stabbing one of them with a sharp object. The police set up roadblocks throughout the area and arrested eight suspects."
'Police arrest Palestinian suspected in Petah Tikva stabbing.
"Palestinian". Please, Times of Israel...and Jerusalem Post...and Israel National News...stop calling the murderers and would-be murderers this. Instead, call a spade a spade. Say, 'Arab Muslim'. Say, 'local Arab Muslim'. Or just cut right to the chase, to the one thing that explains it all, and say 'Muslim'. - CM
'Police arrested a Palestinian man (that is: a local Muslim man; he is sure to be a Muslim - CM) from Nablus [on] Sunday on suspicion that he stabbed a man near Tel Aviv in what police suspect was a terror attack.
He carried out a would-be murderous ghazi raid, aimed at Jews, whom Muslims are taught to hate and have been taught to hate for 1400 years. - CM
'The victim, a 31 ydear old resident of Bnei Brak, was moderately wounded after his upper body was slashed with a knife by another young man, according to witnesses at the scene. The attack took place under a bridge on a highway at the border of Bnei Brak and Petah Tikva.
'The assailant fled from the scene after the attack.
He ambushed and tried to murder a man whom he knew would be unarmed and unable to fight back; and then, like the cowardly mohammedan bully and jackal that he is, he ran away. - CM
'During questioning, the 34 year old suspect in custody told police that the attack was in retaliation for the actions of Israeli security forces, and was arrested, police said
Muslims always tell the Infidels that they are taking revenge for or retaliating for this or that. They always have an excuse du jour. But the real, fundamental grievance here is that the dirty Jews, as a nation, have in general been refusing to lie down meekly and allow the Mohammedan mob to stomp all over them as it fondly believes it is entitled to do. This Mohammedthug didn't attack Israeli soldiers, or police; he attacked a haredi Jew, an unarmed man. Likewise, the swarming mob of knife-wielding mohammedthugs in China attacked unarmed travellers. - CM
'In the aftermath of the attack, police had opened a widespread search for the assailant, detaining and questioning numerous people who fit witness descriptions.
'The injured man was rushed to Beilinson Hospital in Petah Tikva for emergency medical treatment.
That is what was required for what another of the reports, above, called a "moderate" injury. I think the Israeli meaning of 'moderate' might cover something a bit more drastic than what the average naive westerner thinks of when they hear the phrase 'moderately injured'.
And now to the Jerusalem Post, still evading the real issue.
'IDF troops, along with Shabak forces, arrested overnight Sunday an Arab terrorist (that is: an Arab Muslim terrorist - CM) from Shechem, who stabbed a Jewish man in Bnei Brak earlier Sunday night.
Full marks to Israel National News for reminding us that the Arab Muslim town of "Nablus" (which is in fact an Arabisation of the Greek phrase Nea Polis, "new town") sits atop of or very close to the much more ancient Israelite town of Shechem. - CM
'The 31 year old man was stabbed on Jabotinsky street...Police arrested 8 suspects in the stabbing, rounding up suspects who were in the area.
'Under interrogation, the suspects led police to the identity of the terrorist, who was rounded up later Sunday night.
'The terrorist (that is: the Muslim would-be murderer and ghazi raider - CM) admitted carrying out the attack, and was identified by witnesses as being the perpetrator.
'The terrorist told security officials that he had attacked a group of hareidi pedestrians near the Geha Junction, stabbing one with a blunt instrument. He did this, he told investigators, "as revenge for what the IDF is doing to Palestinians"...
In other words, he's furious because the IDF has been quite effectively resisting the ferocious Muslim Jihad against the Jews. Infidels are not supposed to resist Muslim attack; Infidels are supposed to either convert to Islam, and join the Mob, or else accept the misery of dhimmi status, under the so-called "protection" of Muslims, paying exorbitant jizya in order to be - just sometimes - grudgingly allowed to remain alive. And one should never, never forget that murderous mohammedan attacks upon Jews occurred periodically from the very beginnings of Islam, during the centuries when there was no Jewish state of Israel at all, and Jews unlucky enough to live in lands overrrun by Muslims eked out an existence as despised, exploited, degraded and perpetually-imperilled dhimmis. - CM
This is Boris Johnson in the Telegraph, still insisting that terrorism, jihad and a desire to reinstall the caliphate are a 'distortion of islam' but also recognising that islamic principles are a form of child abuse.
Every day in London and other big cities, there are thousands of counter-terrorism officers doing a fantastic job of keeping us safe. They have to work out who are the most vulnerable young people, who are the most susceptible – and they have to stop the infection of radicalisation before it is too late. That will sometimes mean taking a view about what is happening to them in their homes and families – and I worry that their work is being hampered by what I am obliged to call political correctness.
There is built in to the British system a reluctance to be judgmental about someone else’s culture, even if that reluctance places children at risk. . . look at the appalling failure of this country to tackle the evil of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). This practice is utter savagery. It involves the excision of the female exterior genital organs, including the clitoris, so as to minimise the possibility of sexual pleasure. The mutilation can cause infection, death, or constant pain.
There are still Left-wing academics protesting that the war on FGM is a form of imperialism, and that we are wrong to impose our Western norms.
I say that is utter rubbish, and a monstrous inversion of what I mean by liberalism. On the contrary: we need to be stronger and clearer in asserting our understanding of British values. That is nowhere more apparent in the daily job of those who protect us all from terror – and who are engaged in tackling the spread of extremist and radical Islam.
We are familiar by now with the threat posed by the preachers of hate, the extremist clerics who can sow the seeds of madness in the minds of impressionable young people. We are watching like hawks to see who comes back from Syria, and the ideas they may have picked up.
We know that the problem of radicalisation is not getting conspicuously worse – but nor is it going away. There are a few thousand people in London – the “low thousands”, they say – who are of interest to the security services; and a huge amount of work goes into monitoring those people, and into making sure that their ranks are not swelled by new victims of radicalisation.
What has been less widely understood is that some young people are now being radicalised at home, by their parents or by their step-parents. It is estimated that there could be hundreds of children – especially those who come within the orbit of the banned extremist group Al-Muhajiroun – who are being taught crazy stuff: the kind of mad yearning for murder and death that we heard from Lee Rigby’s killers.
At present, there is a reluctance by the social services to intervene, even when they and the police have clear evidence of what is going on, because it is not clear that the “safeguarding law” would support such action. A child may be taken into care if he or she is being exposed to pornography, or is being abused – but not if the child is being habituated to this utterly bleak and nihilistic view of the world that could lead them to become murderers. I have been told of at least one case where the younger siblings of a convicted terrorist are well on the road to radicalisation – and it is simply not clear that the law would support intervention.
This is absurd. The law should obviously treat radicalisation as a form of child abuse. It is the strong view of many of those involved in counter-terrorism that there should be a clearer legal position, so that those children who are being turned into potential killers or suicide bombers can be removed into care – for their own safety and for the safety of the public.
That must surely be right. We need to be less phobic of intrusion into the ways of minority groups and less nervous of passing judgment on other cultures. We can have a great, glorious, polychromatic society, but we must be firm to the point of ruthlessness in opposing behaviour that undermines our values. Paedophilia, FGM, Islamic radicalisation – to some extent, at some stage, we have tiptoed round them all for fear of offending this or that minority. It is children who have suffered.
There is no facility for commments which is a shame. Leaving aside his not seeing/unable to state the true picture about the NCCL and/or Islam he is right that the tip-toeing must cease.