Baroness Warsi, the Conservative Party chairman, faces fresh questions over her business partner. The peer is under investigation over her undeclared links to Abid Hussain, a relative by marriage with whom she is involved in a catering business. Remember that this is her second husband, her first arranged marriage to her cousin Naeed Warsi ended when he divorced her. Iftikhar Azam's Number 1 wife didn't even realise she had been divorced so that he could marry Baroness Sayeeda; her English was so poor and her outlook domestic. .
However, there were calls last week for the inquiry, ordered by David Cameron, the Prime Minister, to be widened after Mr Hussain admitted that he had been involved in Hizb ut-Tahrir, a radical Islamist party that the Conservatives had pledged to ban.
In his first public statement, Mr Hussain said that he had attended its meetings, although he said he had never been a “member”, and had not told Lady Warsi about his involvement.
There were also questions over one of the trips to Pakistan by Lady Warsi on which she was accompanied by Mr Hussain . . . in the course of the trip opened the “Office for Overseas Pakistanis and British Nationals”, which she said “works with police forces across the UK and British consular services on issues such as forced marriage and kidnapping”.
However, The Sunday Telegraph has established that the office is operated from the premises of an opposition party, whose British arm organised a protest against US policy when President Barack Obama visited Britain. The Foreign Office described the organisation last week as a “private initiative” and as a “charity” that “helps British nationals overseas”.
However, The Sunday Telegraph has established that the organisation is run by a political party, the Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PML-N), headed by a former Pakistan prime minister, Nawaz Sharif, and his brother, Muhammad Shahbaz Sharif, the chief minister of the Punjab.
During the Lahore event, attended by Mr Sharif, Mr Hussain and Baroness Warsi were pictured with Anjum Chaudhary, the president of PML-N’s UK Youth Wing. Mr Chaudhary organised a protest outside Parliament in May last year against President Obama’s state visit. In the UK, the office, based in the party’s headquarters, in Romford, east London, is headed by the PML-N’s UK president, Zubair Gull, and shares several members of staff. It's address is actually Romford Road Manor Park, in the London Borough of Newham which is some 7 miles from Romford. Abid Hussain appears to be involved in the organisation, appearing in a number of photographs on its website.
The nature of Mr Hussain’s involvement in the radical party (Hizb ut Tahir) has already prompted questions over the extent of security vetting.
In the early 1990s, sources say, Mr Hussain joined Hizb ut-Tahrir and was nicknamed “Strapper” by other students because of his bulky frame. He lived for a time in one of its London houses, studying the radical form of Islam taught by its then leader Omar Bakri Mohammed, who is now banned from Britain.
In 1995, Mr Hussain attended a party rally filmed in a BBC a documentary and was seen laughing and joking with others. Mr Hussain issued a statement through a lawyer last night which said he “has never been a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir”.
A former Hizb ut-Tahrir member, Ghaffar Hussain, who now works for the Quilliam Foundation, the anti-radicalisation organisation, said: “He [Mr Hussain ]acted as a key recruiter and propagandist for the groups in the late 90s. “Hizb ut-Tahrir have a very idiosyncratic definition of the term 'member’. Only the very senior and public activists call themselves 'member’. “This gives the junior activists and those who don’t want to be public about their involvement plausible deniability by claiming that they are not officially 'members’.”
Mr Hussain’s brother is still a high-profile figure in Hizb ut-Tahrir, and is referred to as “Professor” Muhammad Nawaz Khan in videos and photographs on its website. Mr Hussain said last night he had not spoken to his brother in a decade.
A burning building in Yelwa, north central Nigeria, scene of increasing sectarian tension between Muslims and Christians. Two churches were attacked on Sunday by suspected Islamist terrorists. Photograph: George Osodi/AP
Two churches in northern and central Nigeria have been attacked, one by gunmen and the other by a suicide bomber, witnesses said.
There was no immediate word on casualties and no claim of responsibility. Attacking churches has become a trademark tactic of the Islamist group Boko Haram.
In Biu Town, in north-eastern Borno state, witnesses said three gunmen started firing at people outside a church before entering the main building. "Many people have been killed and wounded," said Hamidu Wakawa, who was at the church.
In the south-western city of Jos, a man drove a car to the entrance of the Christ Chosen church and detonated a bomb, said Emmanuel Davou, 53, who lives nearby.
Christian youths set up roadblocks and had to be dispersed by police, he said. "Angry youths have gone wild, even attempting to prevent the security personnel from getting to the scene of the incident. They had to force their way out by shooting in the air to disperse them."
Police were unable to give immediate details on either attack.
Boko Haram has been blamed for hundreds of killings over the past two years. Its leader, Abubakar Shekau, frequently says attacks on Christians are revenge for killings of Muslims in Nigeria's volatile "Middle Belt", where the largely Christian south and mostly Muslim north meet and sectarian tensions run high.
The group usually targets security forces, although attacks on Christian worshippers are increasingly common. Last Sunday a suicide car bomber killed at least 12 people at a church in the remote northern town of Yelwa.
Deadly Riots Raise Muslim-Buddhist Tensions in Myanmar
YANGON, Myanmar (AP) — Security forces in western Myanmar fired on rioters who burned hundreds of homes in an outbreak of sectarian violence that killed at least seven people, state-controlled news media reported Saturday, adding that calm had been restored...
...According to the television report, seven people were killed and 17 wounded. It said 494 houses, 19 shops and a guesthouse were burned down.
Myanma Ahlin said that about 1,000 “terrorists” were responsible for the rampage, and that some of them stormed Maungdaw General Hospital. State news media did not otherwise identify the rioters, but the area is 90 percent Muslim, and residents contacted by telephone said the people in the mob were Muslims...
Gunman opened fire on a church in the northeastern Nigerian town of Biu, killing at least one person and wounding several others, a Christian official said, in the second such attack Sunday.
"One female worshipper was killed while several others were wounded, two of them critically," Christian Association of Nigeria chairman in Biu Samson Bukar told AFP. "The gunmen escaped after the attack."
The first attack Sunday took place in the central Nigerian city of Jos when a suicide bomber drove his car into a church, killing at least two people and wounding dozens more, officials and witnesses said.
Recently, reading Guillaume Faye's book "Why We Fight", I found what he had to say on the topic of "Convergence of Catatrophes" interesting, particularly as he wrote it in 2001.
The converging lines of civilisational rupture that in the course of the Twenty-first century will consume the ‘modern world’ in a great planetary chaos.
For the first time in history, humanity as a whole is threatened by a convergence of catastrophes.
A series of ‘dramatic lines’ are coming together and converging, like merging river streams, in a perfect concomitance of ruptures and chaotic upheavals (between 2010 and ’20). From this chaos — which will be extremely painful at the planetary level — there will emerge the possibility of a new post-catastrophic world order — the painful birth of a new civilisation.
Briefly summarised, here are the principal lines-of-catastrophe:
The first of these is the cancerisation of Europe’s social fabric. The colonisation of the Northern Hemisphere by peoples of the South — which is becoming more and more imposing despite the media’s reassuring affirmations — is creating an extremely explosive situation; the failure of multi-racial society, which is already increasingly multi-racist and neo-tribal; the progressive ethno-anthropological metamorphosis of our Continent, a veritable historic cataclysm; the return of poverty to the West and the East; the slow, but steady progression of criminality and drug use; the continued fragmentation of the family; the decay of the educational system and especially the quality of instruction; breakdowns in the transmission of cultural knowledge and social disciplines (barbarism and failing competence); and the disappearance of popular culture for the sake of that mass cretinisation which comes with ‘spectacular’ culture. All this suggests that European nations are headed toward a New Middle Ages.
Factors of social rupture in Europe will be aggravated by an economic-demographic crisis that will culminate in mass poverty. Beginning in 2010, the number of active workers will no longer be sufficient to finance the baby-boomers’ retirement. Europe will teeter from the weight of its senior citizens. Her ageing population will then experience an economic slowdown, handicapped by the need to finance the health needs and pension requirements of her unproductive citizens; such an ageing population, moreover, will dry up techno-economic dynamism. Add to this the Third-Worldisation of the economy that comes with the uncontrolled mass immigration of unskilled populations.
A third dramatic line of the modernist catastrophe: chaos in the Global South. In pursuing an industrialisation that comes at the cost of their traditional culture, the countries of the South, despite their deceptive and fragile growth, are creating social chaos that will only get worse.
The fourth dramatic line of catastrophe, recently explained by Jacques Attali, is the threat of a world financial crisis, which promises to be qualitatively more serious than that of the 1930s, bringing another Depression. Stock market and currency collapses, like the East Asian recession of the late 1990s, are signs of what’s coming.
The fifth line of convergence: the rise of fanatical, fundamentalist religions, especially Islam. The upsurge of radical Islam is a repercussion of modernity’s excessive cosmopolitanism, which has imposed on the whole world its model of atheistic individualism, its cult of merchandise, its despiritualisation of values, and its dictatorship of the spectacle. Against this aggression, Islam has been radicalised, as it returns to its tradition of conquest and domination.
The sixth line of catastrophe: a North-South confrontation, highlighting ethnic-theological differences. With increased probability, this confrontation will replace the former East-West conflict. We don’t know the exact form this confrontation will take, but it will be very serious, given that its stakes are much higher than the former, rather artificial conflict between U.S. capitalism and Soviet Communism.
The seventh line of catastrophe: the uncontrollable pollution of the planet, which threatens less the planet (which has another four billion years before it) than the physical survival of humanity. Environmental collapse is the fruit of the liberal-egalitarian (as well as the Soviet) myth of universal economic development.
To this should probably be added: the likely implosion of the European Union, which is becoming more and more ungovernable; nuclear proliferation in the Third World; and the probability of ethnic civil war in Europe.
The convergence of these factors on our extremely fragile global civilisation suggests that the Twenty-first century will not witness a progressive extension of today’s world, but rather the insurgence of another. We need to prepare for these tragic changes, lucidly.
BURMA declared a state of emergency yesterday in its western Rakhine state after an eruption of deadly sectarian violence.
An order was signed into effect by President Thein Sein in response to clashes that saw hundreds of Buddhist villagers' homes set ablaze and left seven dead in rioting on Friday and Saturday, state television said. The violence in Rakhine threatens to undermine the progress of Burma's new government, which took power last year following decades of outright military rule and has ushered in a series of reforms.
Rakhine state is named for its dominant, mostly Buddhist ethnic group, but is also home to a large Muslim population including the Rohingya, a stateless people described by the UN as one of the world's most persecuted minorities.
The Burmese government considers the Rohingya foreigners and not one of the nation's ethnic groups, while many citizens see them as illegal immigrants and view them with hostility.
A cycle of apparent revenge attacks has gripped the state following the recent rape and murder of a Rakhine woman. Last Sunday, an angry Buddhist mob mistakenly believing the perpetrators of the rape were on board a bus beat 10 Muslim passengers to death. Buddhist's are peaceful people but do not forget that in centuries past they developed a range of martial arts as an aid to self defence. Rioting then flared on Friday (Friday again!) when at least four Buddhists were killed in the state, with a second wave of violence in remote villages early Saturday.
A Sittwe resident who declined to be named said he saw an ethnic Rakhine man stabbed and attempts to torch more homes early yesterday, and a standoff between Rakhine and Rohingya groups near the university in the afternoon. Accusing the Rohingya of "invading", he branded the weekend's unrest as "terrorist".
Earlier in the day, around 600 ethnic Rakhine gathered at the Shwedagon Pagoda, a revered Buddhist site in the main city of Yangon, demanding "Bengalis" - a term often used for Muslim communities living near the border with Bangladesh - be "removed from Myanmar".
I know that there is a sizeable number of Christians in Burma also - I believe they were persecuted under the totalitarian dictatorship, but so was everybody. I don't believe that they are regarded with the same level of suspicion.
In Bosnia, "European Islam" Looks Less And Less European
From the website Islam Versus Europe:
Bosnia-Herzegovina is on the way to becoming an Islamic centre based on the template of the Iranian capital Tehran. Under the eyes of the Wahhabist-oriented religious leader, the senior mufti Reis Ulema Mustafa Ceric, who has long been considered a pioneer of a European, moderate Islam, believers in other faiths and even moderate Muslims are persecuted, discriminated and threatened. After civil war, genocide and then peace, the city of many peoples is threatened with falling into the hands of militant Muslims and also missing out on the link-up to Europe.
Sarajevo’s moderate education minister, Emir Suljagic, has already announced his resignation after he received a death threat accompanied by a 7.23 calibre bullet, because he wanted to keep education secular. Since then, he has been in fear for his life.
The re-islamisation trend is documented most strikingly by new street signs. In Sarajevo alone, within one day 500 place and street names were changed, removing all references to non-Islamic luminaries. Ceric wants Bosnia to be placed completely under the rule of sharia. With the demand he has already made for a European imamate, he points to his future political objectives.
With its 300,000 inhabitants, the city Sarajevo is already 98% populated by followers of the prophet. In total, more than two million Muslims live in Bosnia-Herzegovina. The total population size if around 4.6 million. With ever greater self-confidence, the Muslims are putting believers in other faiths under pressure and attempting to drive out Catholic and Orthodox Serbs and Croats: Christian nuns are no longer served by Muslim bakers in Sarajevo, churches are attacked (the Catholic St. Luke’s church just on 22 May).
It is now an open secret that this renaissance of orthodox Islam is promoted by millions of dollar from the Arabian Gulf states, above all from Saudi Arabia. Already, there are 70 mosques in Sarajevo. Mostar is ever more breaking up into a Muslim eastern district and a western district where the Catholic Croats live. But even the Muslim community itself is ever more sharply split into liberals and radical “orthodox thinkers”. There have already been mass battles.
The advance of the radical holy warriors began in the 1990s thanks to the arrival of 2000 fighters from the Arab lands, including the founder of the radical terror group Abu Sayyaf on the Philippinen. After they had married local women, several hundred of the fighters remained in the country despite a withdrawal authorised after the peace agreement. Today they form the core of the Wahhabist influence, build mosques with Saudi support (like the imposing King Fahd mosque in Sarajevo), and are bringing about a radicalisation of the other Muslims. The movement’s strongpoints are in east Bosnia and the capital Sarajevo. An illegal sharia police persecutes couples kissing in public or in parks.
“They are now firmly anchored in our media, our religious administration and in the academic authorities, our mosques, our Koran schools, our scholarship, just everywhere,” the theologian Resid Hafizovic complained a few years back and pointed out that the Wahhabists wanted to operate the so-called Devshirme. This custom originating in the Ottoman empire institutionalises the forced recruitment and islamisation of non-believers, male youths and children, in order to train them into elite warriors.
The Bosnian Interior Minister Maria Fekter is fighting against these undercurrents. She wants to promote a “European Islam”, establish equality between man and woman and refers constantly to the symbolic bridge of Mostar. It links Christendom and Islam, Catholic and Orthodox. Only intercultural dialogue can stabilise the young state, she postulated recently. It remains to be seen when she, too, will receive a letter with a bullet enclosed.
After months of official silence, Israel PM Netanyahu led a chorus of Israeli officials Sunday condemning Iran and its Lebanese proxy Hizbullah of assisting the Assad regime in committing ‘genocide’ against Syria’s people. AP reported:
Netanyahu accused Syria's powerful, anti-Israel allies of helping the regime of President Bashar Assad of brutally suppressing the 15-month-old rebellion.
"This massacre is not executed by the Syrian government alone; it is assisted by Iran and Hezbollah, and the world should realize this is a concentrated axis of evil: Iran, Syria and Hezbollah," Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.
After keeping quiet in the early months of the Syrian uprising, Israeli leaders have grown increasingly outspoken in their calls for Assad to step aside. Israeli officials, however, adamantly reject suggestions that they are assisting Syrian rebels.
Vice Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz warned that Iran and Hezbollah could take the conflict beyond Syria's borders, and portrayed the slaughters in the harshest of terms.
"A crime against humanity, genocide, is transpiring in Syria today," Mofaz said in an interview with Army Radio, faulting world powers for what he called a "limp" response and singling out Russia because it is arming Syria.
President Shimon Peres also urged world powers to intervene, telling Israel Radio the international community was not doing enough to end the bloodletting.
"I have much respect for the rebels, who demonstrate daily in face of live gunfire, and I hope they triumph," Peres said prior to leaving for the US to receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom at a formal ceremony at the White House.
In a related development, the Jerusalem Postnoted the comments on Israel Radio by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon offering humanitarian assistance to Syrian opponents of the Assad regime in Damascus:
Though Israel is not in direct contact with the Syrian opposition, Ayalon said, it is in constant contact with the International Committee of the Red Cross.
"Without massive intervention from the United Nations forces, there will be no way to stop the sufferingof the Syrian nation," Ayalon said.
Meanwhile, in an effort to show unity and overcome criticism about Islamist connections, the opposition Syrian National Council (SNC) announced the appointment of a minority Kurd to head the group. Reuters reported:
The main Syrian opposition umbrella group, the SNC, [appointed] Kurdish activist Abdelbasset Sida as its leader at a meeting in Istanbul on Sunday, a Council statement said.
Sida, who has been living in exile in Sweden for many years, was the only candidate for the three-month presidency of the SNC at a meeting of 33 members of the Council’s general secretariat.
The 56-year-old Sida succeeds Burhan Ghalioun, a liberal opposition figure who had presided over the Council since it was formed in August of last year.
Ghalioun, another exile living in Paris, has come under criticism for having had his presidency constantly renewed when the Council was supposed to represent a democratic alternative to the authoritarian rule of President Bashar al-Assad.
The Muslim Brotherhood, the most influential player in the Council, had initially indicated it wanted Ghalioun to remain President, but then opted to support Sida after opposition activists inside Syria raised objections to Ghalioun following a third renewal of his term last month.
Adib al-Shihakly, a founding member of the Council, had also threatened to resign if Ghalioun remained President.
Opposition sources said the [apponutment] of Sida could help enlist more Kurds, who number one million out of Syria's 21
Demonstrations against Assad's rule have been regularly breaking out in Kurdish regions of Syria but without matching the intensity of protests in the rest of the country.
That may be partly because of support by Assad for the armed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is suspected of being behind assassinations of several anti-Assad Kurdish opposition figures since the revolt erupted in March 2011.
Kurdish members of the Council have also had open disputes with the remainder of the body over the issue of Kurdish rights and whether a post-Assad Syria would be built around a federal structure similar to that in neighboring Iraq.
Sherkoh Abbas, President of the opposition Kurdish National Assembly of Syria (KURDNAS) whom we interviewed in the June NER commented:
The US, Turkey, and the Muslim Brotherhood were behind this move to bring Kurds into the equation. It is part of the Council’s new tactics to involve Kurds in the fight.
It is the same business (Muslim Brotherhood and anti democratic groups) but under new management with zero power.
Sida, while a decent man, is looking for opportunities that could only slightly improve the plight of Kurds which is not acceptable to the Kurdish street and KURDNAS.
The announcement amounts to new packaging and marketing by the Council to bring Kurds on board with no real benefit to us.
That is why we need support from the US and Israel. The regime is on the verge of collapsing. However, the Council has no plans to support democratic groups and natural allies.
Talk is cheap. The right accuses the left of pursuing a fantasy, namely, that peace is possible. At the same time it suffers from what others consider, a fantasy of its own, namely, that Israel can defy the World. While many on the right believe it is no fantasy and can be done, they represent a minority of Israelis only.
You can count the instances where Israeli prime ministers defied the US on the fingers of one hand. Ben Gurion’s declaration of Statehood is one such example as was his refusal to withdraw in the ’48 war to the Partition line. He insisted instead on the Armistice lines. In part for his intransigence, he was punished with the creation of UNRWA. Eshkol’s decision to pre-empt the Six Day War and Begin’s courageous decisions to bomb Iraq’s nuclear reactor at Osirak, and to push on to Beirut in the first Lebanese War, were perhaps, others.
Begin, uncharacteristically gave up every inch of the Sinai, after much pressure and prodding. He even came to the conclusion that doing it was a good thing. The most important reason was that, Egypt, then Israel’s biggest Arab enemy, was prepared to break the Arab rejectionist front by making peace with Israel. This was considered a very big deal at the time.
It was due to the pressure and threa
Shamir was forced to participate in the Madrid Conference in 1991 and to negotiate indirectly with the PLO. He was also forced to put Jerusalem on the table. He may have given in as he desperately needed a US loan guarantee on a $10 billion line of credit in order to finance the aliya of close to one million Jews, or nearly Jews, from Russia. There may have been pressures applied to him as well, as he was dealing with James Baker who had no love for Jews.
ts that he and therefore Israel was subject to, that Rabin, when he became Prime Minister, opted to by-pass the pressure and to secretly negotiate a deal directly with Arafat, the head of the PLO. What resulted were the Declaration of Principles in 1993 and the Interim Agreement in 1995, together known as the Oslo Accords. These agreements were favorable to Israel as US was not in a position to support the Palestinian position. That is not to say that it wasn’t a huge mistake to invite Arafat back into Judea and Samaria. It was.
After Rabin’s assassination, Benjamin Netanyahu, in 1996, narrowly defeated Shimon Peres for the job of Prime Minister. He based his campaign on his rejection of the Oslo Accords or on his demand for reciprocity before Israel acts on them. Within two years he betrayed his long standing positions and signed the Wye Agreement in which he turned over to the PA, control 40% of the territories as required by Oslo without demanding reciprocity. Douglas Feith wrote on Wye and the Road to War, in Commentary which explains the significance of the agreement.
It was a known fact that Pres Clinton had promised to release Jonathan Pollard but I doubt that this was why Netanyahu signed the agreement. He may have thought he had no choice but to continue the Oslo process even in the face of Arafat’s non-compliance. In any event, it contributed to his defeat at the hands of Ehud Barak in the elections one year later.
Because of a wave of devastating suicide bombings, Barak resigned in 2001 and Ariel Sharon, the noted war hero, replaced him as Prime Minister. For all his toughness and his defense of the settlement enterprise, expectations were that he would not succumb to pressure. His first task was to put an end to the killings and accordingly he announced:
"All of our efforts to attain a cease-fire have been torpedoed by the Palestinians. The fire did not cease, even for one day. The Cabinet has therefore instructed our security forces to take all necessary measures to bring full security to the citizens of Israel. We can rely only on ourselves. [The following sentence, significantly, was said in Hebrew only] And from this day forward, we will rely only on ourselves."
But the thrust of Sharon's remarks [here translated from Hebrew] were directed westward:
"We are currently in the midst of a complex and difficult diplomatic campaign. I turn to the western democracies, first and foremost the leader of the free world, the United States. Do not repeat the dreadful mistake of 1938, when the enlightened democracies of Europe decided to sacrifice Czechoslovakia for the sake of a temporary, convenient solution. Don't try to appease the Arabs at our expense. We will not accept this. Israel will not be Czechoslovakia. “
Some in Israel though Sharon’s remarks were over the top, but I for one, and I was not alone, was thrilled to read them. Reuven Koret wrote about the statement and what may have caused it:
“Israeli officials were uncharacteristically reticent to comment on Sharon's remarks. Army Radio reported in the morning that they were unable to extract any quote from any government minister with whom they spoke.
“Part of the reason for the barely-veiled hostility the Prime Minister expressed with regard to the United States is evidently a less than understanding response of the Bush Administration to his request to include Hamas, Islamic Jihad and Hizbullah to the "A-list" of terror groups, especially after each of the groups launched attacks on Israel in recent days, with little or no action by the Palestinian Authority.
“Another explanation is believed to be the new Middle East "initiative" reportedly being introduced by the Bush Administration to gain support from reluctant Arab would-be coalition partners [for the invasion of Iraq.]
“The U.S. initiative reportedly calls for an independent Palestinian state, division of Jerusalem (Jewish areas to Israel and Arab areas to Palestine, including the Temple Mount), and the halt of all Israeli construction in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”
Sharon never once reiterated these sentiments and a year and a half later grudgingly was forced to accept this American initiative, then called the Roadmap. He did so with 14 reservations which were never heard from again even though the US agreed to “seriously consider them”.
This Roadmap, by including the Saudi Plan, drastically changed the terms of the Oslo Accords and put Israel into a strait-jacket. Oslo had made no mention of Res 194 which is the basis for the “right of return”, nor did it put a limitation on Israeli settlement construction. Thus the US was back in the game. The US forced Israel to agree because that was the price Saudi Arabia was demanding in exchange for her agreeing to the invasion of Iraq by the US.
Once again, as with Rabin, the pressure that Sharon was subject to resulted in him proposing to unilaterally disengage from Gaza on his terms. Such a proposal stood in the face of everything Sharon had stood for. To make the disengagement more palatable to Israelis, he negotiated with the George Bush administration for a letter which ostensibly allowed Israel the right to keep the settlement blocks and to reject the so-called right of return. (Pres Obama made short shrift of that letter declaring the US not bound by it.) Sharon originally intended to remain in control of the border between Gaza and Egypt in order to prevent smuggling. Condi Rice forced Sharon to accept the Rafah Agreement which provided for the monitoring to be done by the EU with Israel video access, albeit a day later. In time, the EU abandoned its post leaving no monitors in place. We all know with what results.
Similarly Rice spearheaded the formulation of UN Res 1701 to end the second Lebanon war in 2006 at the request of PM Livni. That too proved worthless. Thank you Condi.
In fact, every time Israel went to war she was on a very tight leash. The UNSC always passed a Chapter VII cease fire resolution sooner or later depending on the US position and Israel never violated such resolutions except perhaps for a few hours. This was so even when it was in Israel’s best interest to finish the job.
In 2009 Netanyahu once again became Prime Minister. Within a few months of taking office, he gave a speech at BESA in which he accepted the two-state solution contrary to the Likud platform and his own previous pronouncements. In the fall of that year he announced a ten month settlement freeze in Judea and Samaria seemingly as a gesture. No reason was given. No reciprocity demanded. Netanyahu proudly made the point that it didn’t apply to Jerusalem. Nevertheless for all intents and purposes he imposed a de-facto freeze, when the freeze expired, which applied to both the territories and Jerusalem. He merely allows the odd building project to go ahead in order to pacify his right wing. How can anyone have any confidence in his declarations that Jerusalem will remain the undivided capital of Israel?
Don’t ever underestimate the ruthless pressure Israel is subjected to. Last September, MK Aryeh Eldad said he had reliable information that Obama put a “gun” to Bibi’s head to prevent Israel from annexing Area C in response to the unilateral move by the PA for recognition at the UN. The “gun” was Obama’s threat not to veto the UNSC resolution recognizing Palestine.
When Netanyahu was invited to form the government based on the support he received from Parties on the right he began immediately to water down the influence of the right by forming a coalition with Labor headed by Barak. He also appointed establishment lawyer Yehuda Weinstein as Attorney General. In this position he is the legal advisor to the Government and is responsible for protecting the rule of law. Prior to the elections he also engineered that Moshe Feiglin would be low on the list so as to exclude him from the Knesset and he inviting Dan Meridor to join Likud. Meridor was subsequently given a senior cabinet post. And now he has added Kadima to the coalition. He is no longer threatened by the right as he was first time around. With Kadima, Labor and Likud in the coalition, he can comfortably rule from the centre.
A series of laws have been proposed by his colleagues on the right in order to make Israel more democratic and to handcuff the radical NGO’s supported by the EU and the NIF. In almost all cases he has opposed the legislation either because he didn’t want to alienate the left or because he didn’t want to alienate the EU.
Besides that he has followed the dictate of the international community not to do anything that would imperil the two-state solution. Obviously the freeze and the opposition to the legislation is part of that but something else is going on. In the last three years the EU has encouraged and financed the Palestinian’s efforts to take over “Area C” by planting or building. According to Regavim this program has resulted in the loss of thousands of acres and the rate of loss is growing exponentially. Not only is Netanyahu’s government not doing anything to stop them but it is aiding and abetting them. A recent example of that is Barak’s decision to uproot olive trees planted by Jews while permitting the Arabs to plant. The Arabs acquire title to the lands by doing so. The GOI required the Jews to waive their right to acquire title by planting which they did. They said their sole purpose was and is, to stop the Arabs from acquiring title. Still Barak wants to uproot the trees which the Jews have planted.
Another example is the government’s policy to demolish homes built by Jews on “private Palestinian land”, though no one is claiming ownership to such lands and though well accepted law in the west and even in Israel, allows for compensation when the homes have been built in good faith. The government policy is to direct the Court to issue demolition orders rather than to allow the residents the right to argue they built them in good faith.
Furthermore Netanyahu has opposed recent bills that would legalize houses built on “private Palestinian Land”. He threatened to fire any Minister that voted in favor of the bills resulting in their defeat. He didn’t even wait for the report of the Levy Commission appointed by him to recommend solutions. My guess is that Netanyahu was aware that the report would support the settlers.
Pres. Obama has taken position that a solution to the conflict can only be arrived at through direct negotiations. He uttered such a position to prevent the PA from circumventing negotiations by going to the UNGA or to the UNSC for recognition. He also uttered this position recently when Barak threatened to unilaterally withdraw. But the problem with negotiations is that the UN, US and EU meddle in them on the side of the PA. And now the PA, with the support of the EU and US, is putting facts on the ground which essentially pre-determines the outcome. At the same time they prevent Israel from putting facts on the ground. Inherent in the idea that one can negotiate, is the right to say “no”, to not offer what one doesn’t want to offer or to reject what one wishes not to accept. Thus negotiations, whether to buy a house of arrive at a peace agreement, don’t necessarily result in a deal. So negotiations are not the answer and Obama knows it. Putting facts on the ground is.
Israel must find the resolve to end the peace process and take the heat. Otherwise she is doomed to subservience. She must put the right’s “fantasy” to the test.
On June 1st when David Sanger’s New York Times article on Obama’s magisterial connection to Stuxnet appeared, I chuckled to myself and mused: “that’s a bit of an overreach.” Since then this and other examples of leaking on the assassination of Osama Bin Laden by US Navy Seal Team Six, the al Qaeda drone kill list authorization, the burning of a Saudi double agent ‘asset’ in Yemen over a foiled al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula bombing created a maelstrom of bi-partisan criticism in the US Congress. Last Thursday, there was a joint press conference on Capitol Hill in Washington with both Chairs and Ranking Members of the Senate and House Select Intelligence Committees, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) clearly irritated about a leaks campaign, with allegations about it originating from the White House. Sen. John McCain was equally perturbed and pushed for appointment of a Special Prosecutor ala Watergate. Leaks from the West Wing were damned by President Obama in a quickly scheduled press conference on Friday. He said how “offended” he was that anyone would accuse the White House of leaking information that would put the lives of service personnel engaged in covert special ops in danger. What quickly followed was Attorney General Eric Holder's announced appointment of two US Attorneys to conduct an official investigation into alleged leaks of classified information with threats of possible criminal prosecution for the culprits
Was the President or Timesman David Sanger off base reporting US and Israel involvement in development and launch of Stuxnet and its variants, Duqu and Flame? The Timesdenied that it received that information from White House sources. Clearly, the episode smacked of unfortunare campaign electioneering puffery. It was aimed at demonstrating control over the development and application of Stuxnet, except for the alleged “unfortunate’ Israeli leakage of the malworm.
When I was a mere child growing up during WWII we had those posters: “loose lips sink ships.” Other countries like the UK have Official Secrets Acts that can result in Star Chamber processes leading to incarceration for possible chargeable violations. Nothing in Israel gets published without first going through military censors. In Washington, leaking is a game. It amounts to floating a trial balloon to find out which way informed or public opinion is trending on allegedly critical issues. Sometimes, it has resulted in federal prosecution, such as in the leaks case of two former Senior Officials at pro-Israel advocacy group AIPAC that resulted in the government case collapsing upon appeal. But not before impleading and wrongfully convicting Larry Franklin, a former Pentagon analyst turned FBI double agent on a trumped up plea bargain – taking home allegedly secret Iran war plans.
That is why I was pleased to see a report on The Atlantic Wire blog based on a Ha’aretz interview with purported Mossad agents claiming bragging rights for developing and launching Stuxnet. The malworm that may have disabled those whirling centrifuges in the cascade halls at Iran’s Natanz nuclear enrichment facility. John Hudson in The Atlantic Wire blog post, “Israeli Spies Want Credit for Stuxnet” spilled the beans:
Israel's officials have a message for anyone praising the CIA for its sophisticated cyber attack on Iran: It was our baby. The Stuxnet computer worm, described by David Sanger in The New York Times last week as an invention by the Bush administration, was actually developed by Mossad, according to Israeli officials speaking with Ha’aretz journalist Yossi Melman on condition of anonymity:
The Israeli officials actually told me a different version. They said that it was Israeli intelligence that began, a few years earlier, a cyberspace campaign to damage and slow down Iran’s nuclear intentions. And only later they managed to convince the USA to consider a joint operation — which, at the time, was unheard of.
The irony of course is that both U.S. and Israeli officials spent years denying knowledge of who carried out the attacks, which reportedly destroyed thousands of Iran's centrifuges, ever since it became public in 2010. Now that it's out, it's time to claim credit! Of course, if you read Sanger's account, he certainly doesn't diminish the expertise of Israel's spies:
Israel’s Unit 8200, a part of its military, had technical expertise that rivaled the N.S.A.’s, and the Israelis had deep intelligence about operations at Natanz that would be vital to making the cyber attack a success.
Regardless, these Israeli officials say Sanger's account was too generous to the CIA. Amusingly, one of the officials tries to play it cool, in his remark to Melman:
My Israeli sources understand the sensitivity and the timing of the issue and are not going to be dragged into a battle over taking credit. “We know that it is the presidential election season,” one Israeli added, ”and don’t want to spoil the party for President Obama and his officials, who shared in a twisted and manipulated way some of the behind-the-scenes secrets of the success of cyber war.”
Translation: We don't need to tell anyone we're the ones responsible for Stuxnet, but just so you know, we're responsible for Stuxnet.
Now, we have written about Stuxnet, Duqu, Flame and the oil industry attacks in Iran. We tend to side with those unnamed Mossad sources because of something that was revealed about an interesting aspect of the Stuxnet code. Note this Computerworld report circa September 2010 endeavoring to confirm the Israeli origins of the malworm:
In a paper released today and presented at a Vancouver, British Columbia security conference, a trio of Symantec researchers noted that Stuxnet includes references in its code to the 1979 execution of a prominent Jewish Iranian businessman.
Buried in Stuxnet's code is a marker with the digits "19790509" that the researchers believe is a "do-not infect" indicator. If the marker equals that value, Stuxnet stops in its tracks, and does not infect the targeted PC.
The researchers -- Nicolas Falliere, Liam O Murchu and Eric Chen -- speculated that the marker represents a date: May 9, 1979.
"While on May 9, 1979, a variety of historical events occurred, according to Wikipedia "Habib Elghanian was executed by a firing squad in Tehran sending shock waves through the closely knit Iranian Jewish community," the researchers wrote.
Elghanian, a prominent Jewish-Iranian businessman, was charged with spying for Israel by the then-new revolutionary government of Iran, and executed May 9, 1979.
According to a contemporary account in Time magazine, Elghanian was the first Jewish Iranian to be executed by the revolutionary government, which seized power after the Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, fled the country in January 1979.
"Elghanian, who was convicted of spying for Israel, was said to have made huge investments in Israel and to have solicited funds for the Israeli army, which the prosecution claimed made him an accomplice 'in murderous air raids against innocent Palestinians,'" reported Time.
I don’t know many NSA cyber warriors who could come up with that date. Certainly the Mossad and IDF Unit 8200 backroom boffins could. Meanwhile, let the US Department of Justice investigators try and trace those leaks. I’ll bet a Bill Clinton Krispy Kreme doughnut that they come up with zilch. After all who ever did leak had the ultimate in plausible deniability, President Obama.