This is a blog dedicated to a personal interpretation of political news of the day. I attempt to be as knowledgeable as possible before commenting and committing my thoughts to a day's communication.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Abbas faces more fiascos after the UN rejects his unilateral path to a Palestinian state

DEBKAfile Special Report December 31, 2014, 9:24 AM (IDT)
Mahmoud Abbas loses his first UN round
Mahmoud Abbas loses his first UN round
The United Nations Security Council Tuesday night, Dec. 30, rejected a Palestinian resolution demanding that Israel withdraw from disputed territories within three years. The motion fell one short of the minimum nine "yes" votes in the Security Council, confirming debkafile’s reporting ahead of the vote. The US and Australia voted against; Russia, China, France, Argentina, Chad, Chile, Jordan and Luxembourg voted in favor and the UK, Lithuania Nigeria, South Korea and Rwanda abstained.
The document called for Israel to fully withdraw from all “occupied Palestinian territories” by the end of 2017 and for a comprehensive peace deal to be reached within a year. It also called for new negotiations to take place based on territorial lines that existed prior to the 1967 war in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip..

The resolution was submitted by Jordan after its endorsement by 22 Arab states and the Palestinian Authority.

After the vote, the Palestinian delegation claimed it had been surprised by Nigeria’s abstention. However, that was just a pretense. Nigeria had been persuaded some time ago by the US and Israel not to endorse the resolution. Indeed, shortly before the vote, the Israeli prime minister talked by phone to the rulers of Nigeria and Rwanda.

The vote was also a setback to the politicians running against Likud for the March 17 general election. They maintain tirelessly that Netanyahu has dragged Israel into international isolation and lost the ability even to raise an American veto against a hostile Security Council resolution.
His leading detractors on this score are the two Labor leaders Yitzhak Herzog and Tzipi Livni, the Future leader Yair Lapid and Yisrael Beitenu leader Avigdor Lieberman, although he serves as foreign minister in the Netanyahu government.

In fact, it turned out well before Tuesday night that the United States was perfectly ready to slap down its veto if the Abbas motion managed to gain nine votes. US Ambassador Samantha Power strongly rebuked the Palestinians for their action “because … peace must come from hard compromises that occur at the negotiating table,” she said.

The Palestinians may fare no better if they submit their motion again to the Security Council after Jan. 2015 in the hope of a more favorable reception by its new lineup. They may be in for a surprise from India. debkafile’s diplomatic sources report that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is considering abstaining or even opposing Abbas’ motion, seriously jolting the Palestinians who had always counted on India as a leading member of the nonaligned bloc of nations automatically acting as the backbone of their support in the world body.

India’s turnaround would represent another diplomatic feat for the Netanyahu government and demonstrate Israel’s real strength in Asia and the Middle East.

The French vote for the Palestinian motion was not unexpected. Paris is spearheading Europe’s anti-Israel stance in an attempt to boost its military ties with the Persian Gulf nations.

Straight after their fiasco in New York, the Palestinians announced their leaders would meet in Ramallah the next day and decide on their next step. Abbas proposes immediately applying to join the Rome Treaty to advance their bid for accredited statehood. One of his first actions would be to prosecute Israeli for war crimes at the International Court at the Hague.

American officials in Washington pointed out before the Council vote that the Palestinians are unlikely to get very far in their suit. The court’s standing is ambiguous: it is not recognized by the US, Israel, Russia, India or China and has held no more than 21 trials in decades. The court has so far evaded cases against national leaders responsible for the most heinous crimes and causing hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths, like Syria’s Beshar Assad.

Even if the international court accepts the Palestinian case, they themselves will have opened the door to the prosecution of countless numbers of Palestinians responsible for decades of terrorism and other crimes against humanity.

Labels: , , , , , , ,

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

A Chaos, A Panic

"Everyone there was trampling on each other to get onto the helicopter."
"First children, then women and then men. But the men, they started hitting us so they could get on first. They didn't take into consideration the women or the children, nothing."
"[The rescue scene was] a chaos, a panic [with passengers feet burning from the fire underneath] And from the feet up we were soaked."
Christos Perlis, Greek truck driver

"The jungle law prevailed."
"There was no queue or order. No respect was shown for children."
Irene Varsioti, Greek passenger from the Italian ferry Norman Atlantic

"As an old seaman, I offer my deferential salute to the ship captain for having done his job with great dignity and competence."
"He was last off, as a captain should be."
Admiral Giuseppe De Giorgi

"There was no alarm -- this was the absolute tragedy. They didn't knock. They didn't advise us. We woke from smoke that entered in the room."
Dimitra Theodossiou, Greek soprano, ferry passenger

"We were soaked from the water they doused to extinguish the fire. Our feet froze. People were forced to move closer to the fire to keep warm. We waited outside for hours."
Aylin Akamac, Turkish ferry passenger
The Greek Coast Guard released dramatic footage of a burning car ferry, the Norman Atlantic, during a 36-hour rescue operation.

It wasn't quite the wretched catastrophe of the wreck of the Costa Concordia in 2012 when Captain Francesco Schettino abandoned both his ship and the passengers aboard it as it sank, leading to the death of 32 people, but the way in which this event unfurled shone no light of heroic action on those whose responsibility as captain and crew were the almost 500 passengers aboard the ferry Norman Atlantic.

Did the required drills for fire and evacuation never take place to ensure that the ship authority would have both under control in the unlikely event that a fire did happen and such a large contingent of people needed emergency evacuation? Order and calm above all, and the assurance that those held to be in control of the ship would have been of immense value to the desperate and fearful passengers, living a nightmare between Arctic chill and the fires of hell.

It was, in the event, the Italian military that appears to have distinguished itself for a difficult rescue mission in dreadful environmental conditions. They succeeded against high winds and surging seas, asphyxiating smoke from the fire, and the dark Adriatic night to airlift over four hundred people off the ferry decks while the fire blazed on. Their timely response saved many from death, including two dogs in an expression of wider humanity.

Some of the passengers, lifted into helicopter baskets were suffering from hypothermia, from carbon monoxide poisoning, exhaustion and trauma. The ferry captain, Argilio Glacomazzi did his duty in remaining with the ship until all but the 9 crew left to guide the ferry back to shore were evacuated. Which is very nice, but back again to preparedness to act swiftly, efficiently and calmly to guide passengers in such an event; it was absent, and was that not one of his responsibilities?

There were 427 people rescued, but the passenger manifest was incomplete. So much so that it is estimated after the fact that though 13 people are now acknowledged to have lost their lives in the event of the fire and the circumstances that followed, up to 40 are yet unaccounted for. he roster of the dead may yet be larger than that of the Costa Concordia. Not to mention the 80 rescued whose names did not appear on the manifest.

Had he done his duty, the captain would have in retrospect something to be proud of. The pushing and shoving, the passengers desperately and furiously thrusting at one another over slots on lifeboats and helicopter baskets needn't have occurred. The Italian and Greek helicopter rescue crews did their jobs well, to their credit in the evacuation of the survivors. Some 427 rescued, but a ship's manifest of 478; quite the disparity.

Some of those not registered on the manifest held to be migrants fleeing war in Afghanistan and Libya and elsewhere in the dysfunctional Middle East. The mostly Italian crew seemed incapable of rising to the occasion. Had bribes been taken for the covert placement of desperate migrants looking for haven in Europe? No practical aid was given the passengers by the crew; passengers were alerted to the situation by other passengers waking them from sleep, banging on their doors.

"When we got out on deck the flames were huge and all the cars were on fire", said Nick Channing-Williams, describing the scene that confronted him. Passengers eventually received an order to obtain life vests and come to the upper decks. "The fire was basically cooking everybody's feet ... People just panicked. When the flames are licking up the side of the boat and there's no sign of help ... you do feel somewhat helpless", said Mr. Channing-Williams in classic British understatement.

More will be learned eventually, as an investigation into the cause of the fire delves a little deeper into the suspicion that it was deliberately set....

Smoke billows from the Norman Atlantic in the Adriatic Sea on Sunday, December 28, In this image released by the Italian Navy. Smoke billows from the Norman Atlantic in the Adriatic Sea on Sunday, December 28, In this image released by the Italian Navy.

Labels: ,

UAVs as Potential Threats

"The RCMP is always concerned about the use of new technology for potential terrorist purposes, including UAVs [unmanned aerial vehicles]. However, we take the appropriate steps to address these potential threats and to ensure the safety and security of Canadians is protected."
Sgt. Greg Cox, RCMP spokesman

"[Experts are divided about a UAV's] ability to hit a target in a precise manner within centimetres and to detonate IEDs [improvised explosive devices] or disperse chemical/biological agents at the desired time."
"It could also be very difficult to refine an effective dispersal device for chem/bio agents and to obtain or develop biological agents."
"[However] some attack scenarios may warrant further scientific study to determine the feasibility and requisite safeguards."
RCMP intelligence assessment document
high definition stock photo - Stock Photo - MQ-9 Reaper Drone - UAV - Predator B - Royalty Free  MQ-9 Reaper Drone - UAV - Predator B

Unmanned aerial devices are still, in some respects, in the experimental stages in the sense that their capabilities are still being refined, and may be eventually in advances that usher in greater threats to public security in ways that have not yet been fully realized. If the agents of change are those whose intention it is to do great harm, such as the suggestions of biological or chemical dispersal within a population, catastrophic results could occur.

The Extremist Exploitation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles intelligence assessment produced by the RCMP cites over a dozen plots globally with the intention of using remote-piloted aircraft to carry explosives or chemical and biological agents. Great good fortune, or perhaps the challenge of carrying out sophisticated attacks that these would represent being beyond the capacity of the plotters has seen to it that none of the plots matured to action, let alone success.

Concern is rising, however, respecting the potential of such attacks being carried out undetected in advance by intelligence agencies who would otherwise compromise its success. To that end, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police struck a committee to develop guidelines for the interception of weaponized drones or UAVs. Among the issues being considered is whether proactive decisions to simply shoot them down, represents one quite direct solution. And an obvious enough first start.

Draft guidelines hold that "members attempting to defeat or disable a UAV must first consider public and peace officer safety. Unless situational factors dictate otherwise, members will not discharge their firearm at a UAV." Thus shooting down the theory that the obvious enough first start of shooting them down is immediately feasible; shoot first, ask questions later; in the event of causing larger harm. But how to judge whether that is the case, to begin with?

Experts, it seems, are divided with respect to the level of threat that UAVs conceivably pose, since up to the present plots have been successfully interrupted through intervention. So far, thirteen identified cases where terrorists have made an attempt or planned to modify remote-controlled aircraft for attacks against targets including the Capital building in Washington, the Pentagon in Arlington, Virginia, the House of Commons in Britain and the military headquarters in Pakistan, were thwarted.

high definition stock photo - ScanEagle UAV Stock Photo - UAS - Unmanned Aerial System ScanEagle UAV - UAS - Unmanned Aerial System

Those are all high-value targets. Hitting any of them would produce a monumental blow to Western society and security at its deepest, most fundamental level. In the case of Pakistan, there is the potential of its nuclear arms being appropriated should such an attack ever be successful. Most such plots came awry of intervention in the planning phase, others foiled during the testing phase. That such sophisticated plans were being developed is food for pause if not panic.

On a lower level of harm, yet instructive respecting a certain level of success, the use of drones by organized crime to fly remote-controlled helicopters over prison walls to drop drugs and cellphones to inmates has happened at jails across Quebec. Even hobbyist use of UAVs has become a problem. Let alone law enforcement, TV and film crew use of the robots. Which brings Transport Canada into the picture.

New guidelines were issued the past fall that such aircraft not be flown within nine kilometres of airports or higher than 90 metres above ground. They must also not be flown close by large groups of people, busy streets, military bases and prisons, and always kept within the line of sight. All others, logically, should be summarily arrested in flight -- by being shot down, of course. Any otherwise law-abiding citizens should face steep fines for not obeying those Transport Canada rulings.

As for the terrorists plotting their threatening operations, attempts to shoot them down should also be taken under consideration.

Labels: , , , ,

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Israeli-Palestinian (U.S.) Peace Talks

"The usual claim is 'occupation,' but the Israelis are only 'occupying' the West Bank because we -- in the form of Jordan -- occupied land promised to them, and then repeatedly attacked them."
"A more recent claim is 'settlements', but the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] was formed in 1964, before there were any 'settlements', so what exactly was it planning to 'liberate'? If you look at any Palestinian map to this day, it encompasses the entire country of Israel. To the Palestinian Authority and many Arabs and Muslims, all of Israel is one big 'settlement'. Last week, Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi said, 'Haifa, Jaffa, Acre and Nazareth are Palestinian, despite the Americans and the Israelis.' Next week it will be some other pretext."
"The truth is that PA President Mahmoud Abbas has been trying to turn the State of Israel into the State of Palestine. He has been trying to create confusion in Europe and at the UN -- evidently, unfortunately, with some success. He has been falsely accusing Israel of committing 'genocide' in the Gaza Strip. Regardless of the fabricated numbers issued by Hamas, more than half of the 2,000 Gazans killed over the summer were Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist operatives, not 'innocent civilians'. It was Hamas that ordered its own people onto the roofs of apartment buildings in Gaza while Gazans were firing rockets, mortars and missiles into Israel. It was Hamas that used its own people as human shields to prevent Israel from being able to defend itself, or, when it did, so there would be more Palestinian 'dead babies' to show to the intimidated television crews, to make Israelis look villainous."
Bassam Tawil, Palestinian Journalist, Gatestone Institute, December 28, 014

"I said to him [Mahmoud Abbas], the choice is not between everything and nothing. And your choice in the end was to get nothing."
"For me, any day that goes by without a solution is another lost day For those believing in the idea of Greater Israel another day that passes without an agreement is another day of victory and taking more land."
Tzipi Livni, Israeli Member of Parliament
www.jewishnews.co.uk  Secretary of State John Kerry stands with Israel's Justice Minister and chief negotiator Tzipi Livni, right, and Palestinian chief negotiator Saeb Erekat

Back in March, U.S. President Barack Obama hosted Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and introduced him to an American framework for a peace agreement. In that framework the U.S. administration reflected its views on major issues confronting both sides inclusive of borders, security settlements, Palestinian refugees and the status of Jerusalem. Mr. Abbas was given a heads-up to consider the fairness of both Israel and the Palestinians agreeing to make certain compromises in the greater interest of finally reaching an agreement both could live with.

It appears that as Israel's lead negotiator in the talks, Tzipi Livni thought the framework fair and justified. Even Prime Minister Netanyahu had evinced a willingness to proceed with negotiations honouring the framework even while claiming to have certain reservations. Mr. Abbas on the other hand held his counsel, deigning to honour the proposed framework with a yea or a nay, and his senior negotiator explained the situation "difficult".

In other words, while Israel prepared itself to work within the framework proposed by the United States, meant to balance and moderate the perceived needs of both; the existing and the incipient country, President Abbas refused to entertain its use. Obviously seeing no need for any of the Palestinian demands to be compromised in the sacrifice of having to surrender to practical reality agreeing to not having everything they demanded.

In the event, Israel considered that to give the wavering momentum some incentive to continue, it was prepared to make additional offers. In the end, the Palestinians refused to honour the framework, and with that decision, dumped the entire negotiating process. Tzipi Livni at that time viewed her president's acceptance of a negotiation on the basis of 1967 borders and swaps to be a major shift in Israeli bargaining. As such, when the Palestinians made it clear they had no interest in continuing, it seemed simple enough to conclude that for them, it was all or nothing.

Should negotiations have proceeded, the government of Israel was prepared to release several hundred Palestinian prisoners, and should negotiations continue beyond the April deadline, Israel was prepared to slow down or freeze Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Negotiations at a standstill thanks to the Palestinian decision not to proceed, the Palestinians still insisted on a settlement freeze and the release of the hundreds of prisoners, and if that did not occur, they would proceed to the UN.

They did, in any event, surprising Tzipi Livni who still believed that given a chance the negotiations would proceed after all. They weren't given a chance, since the decision had already been made to begin a process whereby the Palestinians would join 15 international agencies, a move it swore it would not proceed with before the negotiations deadline. Confidence-building measures undertaken by Israel came to naught; all was refused by the PA.

And then to everyone's surprise came the announcement of yet another reconciliation agreement between Fatah and Hamas. Which meant, needless to say, a complete withdrawal by Israel, since it would hardly be possible for the state to negotiate with a terrorist group whose mandate clearly states its primary goal to be the violent destruction of Israel.

Good to its reputation as a terror group, Hamas initiated increased rocket barrages into Israel, cooked a scheme to abduct three Israeli teens and murder them, infiltrated Israel through tunnels for the purpose of committing more terror attacks; all in the interest of demonstrating that they could, and matters heated inevitably into an Israeli response resulting in the Gaza war and additional propaganda coups for Hamas setting the stage for more dead Palestinians.

A Palestinian man looks at what used to be a tunnel leading from the Gaza Strip into Israel. NurPhoto/Sipa Press

Labels: , , , , ,

A Jew In Pakistan

"I want the government to recognize the Jews as a minority in Pakistan."
Fishel (Faisal) Benkhald, Pakistani Engineer

"Naturally there is an anti-Israel feeling which is very strong. But this is our heritage, irrespective of whether we are Jewish, Muslim or Christian, and we have to protect it."
Arif Hasan, Karachi architect, provincial government cultural heritage committee 

"There are people who want to come over and make this a Muslim graveyard. They tell us we will give you money to give this area to us."
Chand Arif, graveyard caretaker

Abandoned Jewish cemetery (illustration)
Abandoned Jewish cemetery (illustration)
Flash 90
Faisal Benkhald considers himself to be the last Jew in Pakistan. And he feels it to be his responsibility to see that Pakistan's largest city with a population of 20 million people honours its heritage by preserving the old Jewish cemetery. He is not Jewish, however, he was raised a Muslim; father Muslim, mother an Iranian Jew. He is honouring the memory of his mother and the former Jewish residents of Pakistan who were forced to leave the country in fear of their lives.

Traditional anti-Jewish attitudes had been amplified on the occasion of the declaration of the State of Israel in 1948. Although there is now no Jewish population, anti-Semitism in Pakistan is endemic and fierce. So a man with a Muslim father and Jewish mother who identifies himself as a Jew, despite his Pakistani ID listing him as a Muslim is either horribly foolhardy or passionately devoted to justice and fairness and the need to honour history.

He has sent letters to authorities, he has launched a Twitter campaign, and his requests have been ignored by authorities. The cemetery continues to disintegrate. It has, in fact, been cared for by Chand Arif and his extended family, for several generations. They and their goats are in virtual control of the cemetery. And they seem to respect the fact that it is a Jewish cemetery, seeing no reason for it to be uprooted for any reason from its historical position reflecting a once-thriving Jewish-Pakistani community.

The Mewa Shah burial district is behind moves to convert the Jewish cemetery to a Muslim cemetery. Karachi architect Arif Hasan prefers an option to turn the cemetery into a heritage site. Dating from the mid-19th Century there are about 300 graves remaining there. A grand sarcophagus set within a square sandstone building holds the remains of one Solomon David, founder of the Magen Shalom synagogue in Karachi who died in 1902.

An apartment building was built in the 1980s over where the synagogue had been situated. At that time one of the last remaining Jews requested that the city provide a replacement synagogue, but the developers saw no need for anything of that nature. The handful of Jews remaining in Karachi appear to have intermarried, or hidden their Jewish identities. In a city of that size it makes sense that an apartment building would have priority over a reconstructed synagogue with a handful of residents using it.

A situation which certainly would not endear the users, identifying themselves as Jews and attending prayers at a building housing a place of worship for a despised religion bringing attention to their presence in a country where persecution of ethnic and religious minorities distinguishes the geography as wholly dysfunctional, where even Muslims themselves cannot be certain their schoolchildren will return home safely after their classes.

Labels: , , , ,

The Arab Heritage of Jesus' Divinity

"Palestine is here, exactly where it always was. It has been lived in for 4000 years, by Arabs, Christians, Jews and anyone else who showed up. The Roman Emperor Augustus called it Iudaea. Later, in 135 CE, the Romans renamed it Syria Palaestina in an attempt to sever all connection to it by the Jews.  It was part of the Ottoman Empire until its dissolution in 1918, then called Palestine again under the British Mandate. After Israel's war of Independence in 1948, it was and still is called Israel."
"There never has been a Palestinian state. Ever. The West Bank was Jordanian, the Golan Heights were Syrian and the Gaza Strip was Egyptian."
Bassam Tawil, Palestinian Journalist, The Gatestone Institute, 28 December 2014

Mahmoud Abbas, Pope Francis
Mahmoud Abbas, Pope Francis
Atta Jaber/Flash 90

A re-writing of history, however, has Palestinians living since forever in "Palestine". It's true that they did live there, only they weren't then Palestinian Arabs, they were Jews living in "Palestine". There never has been a time when Jews didn't live there. The Palestinian Arabs who now claim to have their heritage firmly lodged in Palestine are relatively recent migrants, having moved from Egypt and Jordan into the area that once was Judea. The ancient place names are familiar to anyone reading the Old Testament, as a geography familiar for its Jewish presence.

But now, not only did those Palestinian Arabs originate from the area, they are also responsible for the presence of Jesus of Nazareth, the God's tender gift to humankind. How in error the world has been from antiquity to the present to attribute the birth of Jesus the Christ to a Jewish mother, Mary, and a Jewish father, Joseph. Mary and Joseph may have been Jewish, and even that must be questioned, according to the new Palestinian narrative, but their son was most certainly of Palestinian Arab origin.

The Palestinian Authority has authorized a "Christmas tradition"  to enrich the Palestinian claim to exceptionalism in the geography, to be honoured by the international community and Christianity in particular. Jesus was no Jew; he was an Arab Palestinian. Senior figures of the Palestinian Authority, along with PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas declare it thus, and so it must be; Jesus was "Palestinian". A new art exhibit demonstrates these claims through artistic license and the examples below are testament to their sincerity.
Here’s the original by Raphael:
Raphael The Deposition (1507)
In what has become a "Christmas tradition" for the Palestinian Authority (PA), PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and other senior figures of the group once again made the ahistorical claim that Jesus was "Palestinian." This is a historical truth dating back to the year before which was the first time that claim was made; at the time the Israeli Foreign Ministry responded by declaring: "We forgive him because he knows not what he does."

But, again, a week ago the official PA newspaper WAFA was informed by Mahmoud Abbas officially that: "We celebrate the birth of Jesus, a Palestinian messenger of love, justice and peace"; decoded by Palestinian Media Watch. Poor History; it has the parentage and ethnic roots of the most influential prophet in religious history all wrong; how utterly incongruously ignominious. Christianity itself must now look to somehow making amends by recognizing Christ as an Arab, not an accursed Jew.

Ignoring at the same time the inconvenient other bit of history that it was hundreds of years after the death of Jesus that the Roman Empire, still occupying the geography of the Middle East, thought to alter the name of that particular region from Judea to "Palestina". The name itself resurrected thousands of year afterward during the British mandate when after World War I the name change from Israel to "Palestine" took place.

Another update to history and looking forward into the future had the Palestinian Authority Supreme Sharia Judge Mahmound Al-Habbash authoritatively announce the soon-to-occur disappearance of Israel, for a religious war, incited by Mahmoud Abbas is on the near horizon. "Christmas is also a Palestinian holiday because Jesus, peace be upon him, was Palestinian. He was born in Palestine; lived and was sent (as prophet) to Palestine. Therefore Christmas has a special Palestinian flavour."

As though all of this doesn't appear firm enough in validating the historical correction, District Governor of Ramallah and El-Bireh, Laila Ghannam, announced on official PA TV that "We are standing here, Muslims and Christians, in Yasser Arafat Square (named after) the symbol of our cause, to celebrate Christmas. So too we will stand united to celebrate victory, far off as it may be. Merry Christmas, let's celebrate and be merry; Jesus the Messiah is Palestinian, and we are Palestinians and will continue to hold our heads high."

To clinch this new version of religious historical transfiguration, Adnan Al-Damiri, official spokesman for the PA Security Forces celebrated on his December 25 Facebook entry: "The anniversary of love and peace, the birth day of Jesus the Palestinian", while PA chief negotiator Saeb Erekat of Fatah's Central Committee, spoke of "the first Martyr, the first Palestinian, Jesus." Not to be outdone, Tawfiq Tiraw, another Fatah Central Committee member wished the "united Palestinian people a new Christmas that will herald liberty as did Jesus, the first Palestinian."

Jesus -- who knew? -- ordained that the Palestinian Arabs had first place in God's love, and it was they who were chosen to be a light unto the world. We have it on the highest authority of the Palestinian Authority. And so, it is right and proper for Palestinian Arabs to host the world thronging as they do annually to Bethlehem, when tourism is at its height in adoration of a Palestinian Arab chosen by God Almighty as his only son to bring peace and tranquility to the world.

We can judge for ourselves how successful the Palestinian Arabs, anointed by God who sacrificed his only living son as a Palestinian Arab to the cause of world peace -- while the iniquitous Jews continue to claim what is not rightfully theirs; the State of Israel, somewhat truncated from its original, but if the Palestinian Authority has anything to say about it, and they do, soon to be no more -- have demonstrated by their brotherly forbearance that peace is preferable to slaughter..

Pope Francis appeared to keep his counsel to himself when during his visit to the Holy Land in May the Palestinian Authority entertained the pontiff with an extraordinary art exhibit presenting Jesus in his true historical persona as a "suffering Palestinian martyr."

Here’s the Palestinian version of the Rafael painting, from the current Palestine Museum exhibit:

"Jesus’ legs replaced by a photo of the wounded legs of a Palestinian, carried by a man as an Israeli soldier looks on".  The inference relating to 'violence committed by Israel against modern day Palestinians' by Israeli Jews; an historical line from Christ-the-Arab's divine agony to that of his present-day 'descendants'. Now that's artistic innovation for you, hugely aiding historical revisionism to sound success.

Labels: , , , , , ,

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Another Peek Within The Cauldron of Primitive Butchery

Foreign jihadis fighting with the Islamic State terror organization. Photo: Twitter.

Another Peek Within The Cauldron of Primitive Butchery

Speaking anonymously with captive Islamic State jihadis, Israeli journalist Itai Anghel spoke of his impression, how "horrifying" it was to hear descriptions of conscienceless tactics employed by the Islamist jihadis. Their graphic details proved to be too much for his tender sensibilities. Which makes one wonder where he's been. After all, it's been no secret that beheading captives with dull knives represents an especial delight to ISIS terrorists.

Mass rape, torture, beheadings, crucifixions and mass executions have all distinguished them from the more tame battlefield exploits of al-Qaeda and al-Nusra who satisfy themselves with a little bit of torture here and there and cannibalism when it suits their fancy, although they aren't completely averse to beheadings and crucifixions themselves, it's just kind of messy. There have been ample show-off propaganda videos by ISIS, loving those horror shows and the effect they have on Westerners.

So -- what? Itai Anghel finds this disturbingly new?

Evidently he spent a week in Syria and Iraq within Kurdish-held territories for the purpose of producing a report on ISIS for the Israeli television show Uvdah. Interviewing ISIS jihadis taken prisoner by Kurdish forces (for their part Islamic State jihadis are more given to slaughtering those they take prisoner on the battlefield, it's just more efficient leaving them with no prisoners whose actions they need be concerned with, nor a need to feed them), he sought details and was not disappointed.

Inquisitive about their modus operandi, their opinions, their perceptions of the beheadings, how they feel about Jews and Israel, Mr. Anghel asked some key questions and the captives, blindfolded during the interviews, unaware that the man questioning them was Israeli, responded in full, evidently. "One of them said that he deliberately uses a knife which is not the sharpest knife because he wants the beheading process to take longer and inflict more pain and suffering on his victim", Mr. Anghel was revulsed.

"And you hear it and you see his face and he's absolutely cold and technical in the way he's telling it. It was something beyond any logic ... Even with all my experience." Which statement can only lead to the conviction that his experience has been limited. To equate the raw emotion of hatred with logic is absurd to begin with. There is no logic to rage, to venomous hatred, to the delusional belief of a superior being in heaven ordering the slaughter of those created by that same maker.

But wait: Mr. Anghel, once an editor for Israeli Army Radio, had reported in previous years from Croatia, Bosnia, Pakistan, Rwanda, Afghanistan, Egypt and Tunisia, visited Iraq repeatedly and was twice in Syria. During his trips he met James Foley, decapitated by ISIS terrorists in August. And this seasoned journalist remains naive to the extent that the brutish actions of the Islamic State fascists are beyond his ken?

When ISIS jihadists responded to Mr. Anghel's query about how they felt when killing, one responded he was indifferent, the other that it was an occasion for great personal joy because "I was killing infidels". The explanation that the jihadis undergo an intensive indoctrination process of Sharia leaving them with the impression that God insists they must kill infidels to prove their piety, brings them to a point where "they feel very complete with themselves"

This is the passion extraordinaire of totalitarian Islamofascism.

Labels: ,

If At First You Don't Succeed: Do It right

Hamas stabbing instructional video. Photo: screenshot.
Hamas stabbing instructional video. Photo: screenshot.

A stabbing attack by a Palestinian wielding a wicked knife against two Israeli border policemen in Jerusalem's Old City failed in its purpose to kill, rather than merely wound. Perhaps it was a mite too ambitious; one assailant, two targets. Those who have such a vested interest in pursuing such attacks have no patience for such amateur attempts, however. If Palestinians cannot manage to do the job right, they need some instruction.

And so, that instruction was forthcoming. A training video, no less, with the title "How to stab right".
The sincere work of Palestinians to extract major damage against Israeli Jews should not go in vain. Revved up to honour Islam after Muslim prayers, the assailant left both attacked officers wounded, but they are now on the mend in a Jerusalem hospital, one treated for a stabbing neck wound, the other for a stabbing on his hand. The passion is there to produce far more damage than mere wounds; the expert advice to succeed badly required.

But since the attacker successfully fled the scene after a scuffle with police that he managed to evade, he will have the opportunity to try again. He just needs that refresher course in stabbing proficiency to give him both more confidence and expertise. And with the help of the newly-produced video, he can hope to succeed in future such attacks. In the video, an instructor, nicely masked, holds a knife, while a "victim" helps the assailant to demonstrate how to do it right.

To inflict maximum injury to the victim, once the attacker successfully makes the stab, he must also twist the knife to produce the most efficacious after-effect. Done properly, in one fluid movement, the attacker is enabled to swiftly make himself scarce, so chances of being apprehended are completely minimized. There is a delicate science to the pursuit of properly injuring, or if luck is with one, not only disabling, but killing a prospect.

The YouTube clip is already a sensation, appearing on Palestinian Facebook and Twitter groups in Jerusalem and the West Bank. After the delight of watching the how-to instructional, viewers are urged to get right to work: "What are you waiting for? Go out and stab!"

Labels: , , ,

Polarized Versions

The U.S.-led airstrike mission over Iraq to restrain the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham from gathering additional geographic territory to the huge one-third swath they have already taken from the government of Iraq is at somewhat of a standstill as far as additional initiatives are concerned. Islamic State has dug in, resilient to the combined airstrikes and Iraqi military push-backs with Iran's Revolutionary Guards and non-state Shiite militias combining with the Kurdish Peshmerga to rout them from territory gained. But they have been curtailed from making new gains.
Takfiri terrorists (file photo)
ISIS Jihadists -- Iranian Press TV

And their threat to push on to Baghdad appeared to be on the threshhold of succeeding until the unspoken unholy alliance of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the United States to act in concert with the Kurdish Peshmerga to ensure they would not. Still, the coalition strategy for the defeat of the Islamic State finds itself at a standstill. A situation conditioned by coalition partners' unwillingness to commit commandos, infantry, armoured and artillery units to make a defining impact on the jihadists.

Irbil, Kirkuk and Baghdad appear to be, for now, removed from any working strategy the Islamic State might have harboured to invade and conquer. In Mosul they remain in firm control, as they do in the other wide-flung areas in Iraq and Syria that comprise their caliphate. The Islamic State is not languishing for want of eager conscripts, which continue to flood into Syria and Iraq from other points of the Muslim compass, including Europe.

Hundreds of thousands of Iraqi Christians from Mosul and other traditional areas have celebrated Christmas in a manner none of them might have imagined a year ago. Yazidis who have managed to escape the carnage inflicted on many of their ethnic-religious group mourn those who have been slaughtered, and think mournfully of the women who have been raped, sold and enslaved as sexual chattel, ostensibly in accord with Islam's dictates on the spoils of war against non-believers.

A 27-point manifesto published a month ago gave a detailed religious justification for "masters" right under Islamic law to "buy, sell, gift" and pass on captured female "slaves" to male heirs while detailing the right of jihadists to have sex with those female slaves, including pre-pubescent girls. There is no odious offence against humanity that the Islamic State cannot glory in, however repulsive and savage, as their right.

The Public Relations Department of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps announced the death on duty of Brigadier General Hamid Taqavi, killed while busy on "an advisory mission" in Samarra, while conducting a cooperative mission with the "Iraqi army and popular mobilization forces against Islamic State". Samarra sits around 68 miles north of Baghdad, home to the Shiite-sacred shrines of the tenth and eleventh Shia Imams. Infamously, the Islamic State jihadis consider all Shiite shrines an insult to Islam and they are busy destroying the historical heritage of Islam.

Iran, slamming any suggestion it would work alongside the Great Satan of America is indulging in propaganda equating the United States with those who have funded terror groups like al-Qaeda, most famously wealthy Saudi patrons. The creation of al-Qaeda which Iran views as the real motivator behind ISIS, is the work of the United States, Saudi Arabia, and oh yes, Israel, and here are some memorable lines to prove that deadly trifecta's work:

Basically, ISIS, ISIL, whichever you want to call it – it’s been called many names – it’s just no more than al-Qaeda. What ISIS is is the same thing that’s happening in Ukraine, the ones that are lining themselves with that government there, are nothing but this so-called al-Qaeda, this boogeyman that was created.
But it’s really the US Department of Defense private contractors that Darth Vader Dick Cheney created during his reign. He allowed this privatized mercenary group to be created under Halliburton, mainly - that’s what was protecting oil pipelines, that’s what took over the oil in Iraq. Prior to the Iraq war, Iraq government controlled 90 percent of the oil and Halliburton got 10 percent.

We are aware, and US intelligence is quite aware, and I’m not an intelligence officer but I have many that I work with on a daily basis, are telling me that the funding is coming out of Saudi Arabia, that it’s coming out of Aramco, called the American Arabian Oil Company, who daddy Bush is the Saudi Arabian partners going back to 1982.
Now we do know that ISIS, its members, are being treated in Israeli hospitals after they’ve been wounded and shot. That tells you that it’s the Israelis and US Department of Defense private contractors, mercenaries, that are these ISIL members.
The US government has come to realize that. The Obama administration and also John Kerry has come to realize that.
What we have, and if you see the staged roles during the hearings this past couple, three, four days in Washington where Kerry was up there asking for approval to go after them, basically, in the event if he needs troops on the ground, which he does not need to do, all you’re seeing is AIPAC, the American-Israeli pact controlled Congress and Senate up there...John McCain and the others, sitting, yelling and screaming and demanding troops on the ground.
What they want to do, the Congress and Senate that’s controlled, and the Israelis and the crime syndicate, Cheney and Bush, that is daddy Bush – junior never had any brains – what they want to do is put 100,000 plus troops on the ground because their intention is to take over the whole frigging Middle East for its oil including Iran, along with Israel and make it a big state of Israel – the whole Middle East. Press TV has conducted an interview with Stew Webb, a columnist from Veterans Today, from Kansas City, to discuss the situation in the Middle East.

Labels: , , , , ,

Gatestone Institute

To prevent this Palestinian State that Europeans seem determined to push down our throats, many people are discussing a "Palestinian Spring" revolution. They simply do not know what else to do to protect ourselves from these "Goodists" of Europe.
Do they honestly think we will have better lives in a "Palestinian State"?
What we talk about is how the Europeans and their diplomats are paying our leaders to kill the Jews for them -- with their money but with our lives -- so that they can finish the job without getting their hands dirty and still keep on feeling good about themselves.
ISIS operatives are already in Egypt, ready to take over the Sinai Peninsula, and with their eyes set on Libya. Is this what the Europeans really want?
Listening, in both English and Arabic, to the latest speeches of Palestinian Authority [PA] President Mahmoud Abbas and his fellow Fatah Central Committee members, we get the uncomfortable feeling that the Palestinian State, now being promoted in Europe, will not only be a threat to the stability of the entire region, but to us who have to keep living here, as well to those countries in Europe who promote it.

As Palestinians discuss among themselves -- far from the diplomats in their five-star hotels -- rather than accept this "gift" that Europe seems determined to push down our throats, many people increasingly see no choice but to launch a "Palestinian Spring" revolution. It would not be, as you might think, to rid them of Israel but finally to rid us of our wretched leadership and corrupt system of government -- and to stop the European counties that are imposing this brutal system on us by financing it.

We have been fortunate enough to see from Israel how a democracy works. So although a Palestinian Spring revolution might cause chaos in the region and elsewhere for a while, its chances of success are far more assured than in the other places in the Middle East, where it has been tried but has not always succeeded.

We do not want to do this, of course, but if we are forced by Europe to have this corrupt dictatorship called Palestine, terrorist groups such as Hamas, Al-Qaeda, Islamic Jihad, and ISIS will flood the West Bank in less than week, and our lives will be even worse than what we have now. We simply do not know what else to do to defend ourselves from these "Goodists" of Europe.

The Palestinian leadership, which represses people rather than confers with them, would of course deny all this to the European diplomats. The Palestinian leaders just want to keep the funds coming and keep their jobs. And of course, the European diplomats do not talk to us, the man on the street, the frustrated rest of us. They only talk to each other, their "counterparts," as they call them, in their air-conditioned meeting rooms and hotels.
What we talk about is how the Europeans and their diplomats are paying our leaders to kill the Jews for them -- with their money but with our lives -- so that they can finish the job without getting their hands dirty and still keep on feeling good about themselves.

And they evidently think that we cannot see through this plan. And to thank us they will to trap us under another corrupt Arab dictatorship?

It is not the fault of the Israelis. In a weird way, the Israelis are just the other victims whom the Europeans -- in collusion with our leaders -- are manipulating us to hate. The Europeans pay our leaders to shape how we think. It is a brainwashing that never lets up.

The Europeans put their own people on trial for "hate speech" when they have said nothing but the truth; and yet they pour millions into non-stop propaganda and bloodthirsty hate-speech on our government-controlled TV -- the only kind we have here. They fund any baseless sewage our leaders can think up.

The usual claim is "occupation," but the Israelis are only "occupying" the West Bank because we -- in the form of Jordan -- occupied land promised to them, and then repeatedly attacked them.

A more recent claim is "settlements," but the Palestine Liberation Organization [PLO] was formed in 1964, before there were any "settlements," so what exactly was it planning to "liberate"? If you look at any Palestinian map to this day, it encompasses the entire country of Israel. To the Palestinian Authority and many Arabs and Muslims, all of Israel is one big "settlement." Last week, Fatah Central Committee member Tawfiq Tirawi said, "Haifa, Jaffa, Acre and Nazareth are Palestinian, despite the Americans and the Israelis." Next week it will be some other pretext.

What is becoming more and more clear is that just about everything going wrong here can be laid at the feet of Europe, at the feet of the leaders there who fund and cheer on the corruption and lawlessness which they would not tolerate in their own countries for a minute, but which they expect us to.

Palestine is here, exactly where it always was. It has been lived in for 4000 years, by Arabs, Christians, Jews and anyone else who showed up. The Roman Emperor Augustus called it Iudaea. Later, in 135 CE, the Romans renamed it Syria Palaestina in an attempt to sever all connection to it by the Jews.[1] It was part of the Ottoman Empire until its dissolution in 1918, then called Palestine again under the British Mandate. After Israel's war of Independence in 1948, it was and still is called Israel.

There never has been a Palestinian state. Ever. The West Bank was Jordanian, the Golan Heights were Syrian and the Gaza Strip was Egyptian.

The truth is that PA President Mahmoud Abbas has been trying to turn the State of Israel into the State of Palestine. He has been trying to create confusion in Europe and at the UN -- evidently, unfortunately, with some success. He has been falsely accusing Israel of committing "genocide" in the Gaza Strip. Regardless of the fabricated numbers issued by Hamas, more than half of the 2,000 Gazans killed over the summer were Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist operatives, not "innocent civilians." It was Hamas that ordered its own people onto the roofs of apartment buildings in Gaza while Gazans were firing rockets, mortars and missiles into Israel. It was Hamas that used its own people as human shields to prevent Israel from being able to defend itself, or, when it did, so there would be more Palestinian "dead babies" to show to the intimidated television crews, to make Israelis look villainous.[2]

It is Hamas that expresses in both its charter and daily statements the intention of committing genocide on the Jews -- not the Israelis, the Jews.

Article 7 of the Hamas charter openly calls for the genocide of the Jews, an act "legitimized" by Islam, as part of the religious legacy of Muhammad's oral tradition (the hadiths).[3]
Abbas has also been calling for a "peaceful popular resistance" against the Israelis, by "using all available means" within "international law" -- courtesy of Europe. "The Palestinian resistance," evokes brave Frenchmen daring to attack Nazis, not Palestinian terrorists driving cars into people, emerging from tunnels to kill and kidnap kindergarteners, or slaughtering old men while they are praying.

The truth is that Mahmoud Abbas' appeals to world leaders are to help him circumvent the Israeli government, peace negotiations and legally binding peace agreements, all in order to achieve a Palestinian state unilaterally -- without having to recognize Israel as the homeland of the Jewish people and without reaching a final status agreement with it.

If I were Israeli, I would understand that when Mahmoud Abbas says he wants a safe passage between the Gaza Strip and the West Bank, as well as full control of air and sea lanes, he means he wants to receive arms from Iran without interference.

So, are we actually accusing the Jews of "genocide" while it is we who are striving kill all of them and drive them "into the sea"? Are the Europeans actually buying this nonsense? We all ask ourselves: If Europeans like to feel so righteous about themselves, then why are they acting as the accomplices and accessories to criminals? Does that not make them criminals, too?

It is Abbas, who, instead of distancing himself from Hamas's ISIS-like dreams of establishing an Islamic Emirate on the ruins of Israel, has yoked himself to the same Islamist terrorist ideology. He and his close associates are not only trying to sidestep negotiations to which both sides committed themselves in the 1995 Oslo II Accords, but they daily keep whipping up violence. He also clearly seems to be to be hoping that European countries and the United Nations will recognize Palestine as a state even before it promises to end the daily violence, which now will be funded even more lavishly, thanks to the new Palestinian rapprochement with the major funders of terror, Qatar and Iran.

PA President Mahmoud Abbas (r) meets with the Hamas political bureau chief Khaled Mashaal in Qatar, July 20, 2014. (Image source: Handout from the Palestinian Authority President's Office/Thaer Ghanem)

It is clear that Abbas, despite constant tensions, instead of siding with Muslims who genuinely believe in peace, and who condemn terrorist organizations such as Hamas and ISIS, actually sides with Hamas. Hamas is his partner in the "Unity Government" between the Palestinian Authority and Hamas. Both Palestinian governments commit war crimes and distort the true meaning of Islam.

Furthermore, the Palestinian Authority, Fatah and Hamas continue to promote violence. The government-controlled PA TV calls for attacking Israelis, and daily honors terrorists and calls for funds to be given to their families.

Much of these funds are supplied by the European Union, with no transparency or accountability despite years of efforts to have the amounts of this funding made public, as is required by law in the EU's own mandate. Therefore, we have no choice but sadly to conclude that the EU is just as cynical and corrupt as the sclerotic dictatorship to which it is trying to consign us.

Mahmoud Abbas and his associates in the Fatah Central Committee have been continually escalating their anti-Israeli rhetoric -- the result of his surrender to the might of Hamas in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Instead of trying to beat Hamas, which is clearly beyond his capabilities, he has joined Hamas -- the coward's way out ever since Hamas threw him out of the Gaza Strip in disgrace in 2007, when he barely escaped with his life.

Hamas has continued to try to kill Abbas, as he found out to his shock last summer. But apparently, Abbas keeps on hoping. As the proverb says: a Muslim doesn't let himself get bitten by the same snake twice.

Hamas follows the Muslim Brotherhood's murderous ideology, which seeks only to impose itself on the entire world, in direct contravention of the Qur'an, which states that people are not to be converted to Islam by compulsion (Qur'an 2:256). Even Jordan's King Abdullah II, in the United Nation on September 24, 2014, said that there was a civil war in the Islamic world between the terrorist extremists and genuine Muslims.

If European leaders really cared about us, instead of sending money to us to help rid them of the Jews, they would help us find a better leadership -- a leadership that would care about the daily lives and well-being of its people instead of just taking more and more free money from Europe. It is now a big business for the Palestinian leaders, and comes with no conditions; why should they stop? Even now, after the crushing defeat of Hamas, no one in Europe has even suggested that Hamas should be disarmed and the Gaza Strip demilitarized as a condition before funding its rebuilding.

Do European leaders honestly think we will have better lives in a "Palestinian State"? At least now we do not have Hamas occupying more land and exchanging the abuses we suffer now for religious fanatics' abuses that would be even worse.

If we are going to be honest with ourselves, as we here can see here every day on the ground, Israel has never called for the destruction of the Palestinians; and research strongly suggests that they have never tried to "destroy the Palestinians" or any other ethnic group -- not Christians, Muslims, Kurds, Yazidis or Copts.

Israel has never said or done anything that indicated any plan to destroy the Palestinian people. On the contrary, Israel, while protecting itself, has done its utmost not to harm Palestinian civilians, even though it could inflict untold damage if it wished. We laugh about how fortunate we are to have Israel as our "enemy;" that everyone should have an enemy like that. Can you imagine what a massacre of the Jews -- and Christians and others -- would be like if Iran or ISIS had the weapons Israel has?

On the contrary, it is we, the Palestinians, who for decades have been calling for the destruction of the "Zionist entity" and for driving the Jews into the sea. Some of us still act to achieve that aim.

The current leadership here, of course, has, as usual, been seeking to turn these feelings of rising anger and frustration against Israel. But increasingly the people here see through that and keep talking about the literally hundreds of millions of euros a year the Europeans are giving to the leadership and politicized so-called "human rights charities" to keep it that way.
Here, people are now saying that the real problem is not Israel and, certainly -- laughably -- not the lack of a peace accord, as much as the Americans, like Neville Chamberlain 1938, might like to have one to wave at gullible viewers.

Israel is tough, yes, but has largely been fair -- more than one can say for other countries in the region. Israel, so long as it is not provoked, has been a remarkably decent neighbor. Not everything is perfect by far -- there are problems and have been unspeakably savage revenge attacks by a few Israelis here and there. But those have always been exceptions, and have always been severely condemned and punished by the Israelis, not celebrated and glorified, as with the Palestinian leadership.

It is to this Palestinian leadership whom these European leaders would like to abandon us: a government that not one of them would want to live under for a day.
ISIS operatives are already in the Sinai Peninsula, planning how to take over Egypt, and with their eyes set on Libya.
Is this really what the Europeans want?
Bassam Tawil is a scholar based in the Middle East.

[1] H.H. Ben-Sasson, A History of the Jewish People, Harvard University Press, 1976, page 246. "When Archelaus was deposed from the ethnarchy in 6 CE, Judea proper, Samaria and Idumea were converted into a Roman province under the name Iudaea."
[2] Terror Tunnels: The Case for Hamas's Just War against Hamas by Alan M. Dershowitz. Rosetta Books, 2014.
[3] Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (saas) as saying " The last hour would not come unless the Muslims fight the Jews. The Jews. The Jews would hide themselves behind a stone or a tree and a stone or a tree would say, 'Muslim, or the servant of Allah, there is a Jew behind me; come and kill him.'" AbdallaSahih Muslim, Kitab al-Fitan wa Ashrat as-Sa'ah, Book 41, 6985.
Related Topics:  Bassam Tawil

Labels: , , , , , , , ,

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Hyperbolic Belligerence

"[Russia could use nuclear weapons should aggression] threaten  the very existence [of the Russian state]."
"...A buildup of NATO military potential and its empowerment with global functions implemented in violation of international law, the expansion of NATO's military infrastructure to the Russian borders [has been placed at the top of perceived military threats to Russia."
New 29-page Russian military doctrine
Russian President Vladimir Putin, centre, heads the Security Council in Moscow's Kremlin on Friday.
Alexei Druzhinin / Presidential Press Service / RIA Novosti     Russian President Vladimir Putin, centre, heads the Security Council in Moscow's Kremlin on Friday.
"Any steps taken by NATO to ensure the security of its members are clearly defensive in nature, proportionate and in compliance with international law."
"In fact, it is Russia's actions, including currently in Ukraine, which are breaking international law and undermining European security."
Oana Lungescu, NATO spokeswoman

Is this, then, truly the new Cold War? When not so very long ago the West sighed with relief that Cold War tensions had dissolved with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the world seemed to fall into the blissful relaxation that no longer would the globe be embroiled in large multi-nation wars for in this new era of post-Communist goodwill, who would want to pursue another large-scale conflict?

Well, how wrong we were. There will always be someone to come along whose  self-delusion and paranoia combine to wreak havoc on the scale of fomenting troubles of monumental proportions through their personal lens on the fitness of national ambition combined with a strong hold on power, supported by a population fed a nationalistic propaganda line held with great devotion to altered history.

The Yury Dolgoruky nuclear-powered submarine.(RIA Novosti / Pavel Kononov)
The Yury Dolgoruky nuclear-powered submarine.(RIA Novosti / Pavel Kononov)

Moscow convinced itself it still has historical entitlements. And under President Vladimir Putin, the Kremlin decided that the Crimean Peninsula was wasted on Ukraine which had no heritage right to it in any event, despite its legal and territorial rights. And much has flowed from there, with Moscow's vituperative slanders on the world stage against Kyiv and the mercenary, illegal and threatening actions of the European Union and NATO, setting Ukraine against its natural mentoring neighbour.

The outcome of which, due to the fears of the Baltic States shuddering in the shadow of a newly-aggressive Russian nationalistic imperialism is the installation of a rapid response team of NATO members responding to the threats straight out of the bear's mouth about nuclear weapons. But though it has been Vladimir Putin who reminds his perceived enemies that Russia has nuclear weapons, it is his adversaries that he blames for threatening to use those weapons.

And while Vladimir Putin has signed a new protocol of self-defense, characterizing NATO as his nation's top military threat -- even while himself threatening he would not hesitate to use the expensive new hardware at his military disposal of conventional weapons, without ruling out the use of Russia's stockpile of nuclear weapons should the need arise -- it is NATO which represents the threat to world peace.

AFP Photo / Natalia Kolesnikova
AFP Photo / Natalia Kolesnikova

The new doctrine, while maintaining provisions of the previous edition of 2010, states that Russia could use nuclear weapons in retaliation to the use of nuclear or other weapons of mass destruction threatening Russia or its allies. Didn't mutually assured destruction that prevailed as a tacit understanding that the realization of what would result from a nuclear strike restrained the U.S. and the USSR from using those weapons in the past?

Resurrecting the heated passions of ideological challenges with threats to use all means at a military's disposal does not quite reflect a temperature of a country interested in living in peace with its neighbours. In early December, Russia airlifted its Iskander missiles to the Kaliningrad exclave bordering NATO members Poland and Lithuania for drills; a demonstration of readiness for crisis. Those missiles, capable of hitting targets up to 480 kilometres distant could be permanently stationed there, Russia threatens, to balance the U.S.-led NATO missile defence plans.

Russia's military test-fired the RS-24 Yars intercontinental ballistic missile from the Plesetsk launch pad in Northwestern Russia on Friday. Russia is playing hardball. And plenty of military drills, in case anyone fails to notice which way the wind is blustering. Where Western nations had cut back on their military spending, including now the belt-tightened United States, Russia, now teetering on the brink of bankruptcy has for years steadily built up its military might to reflect state-of-the-art technology.

And now that the stage is set with all the siege mentality military equipment in place to break out of a siege and prepare 'defensive' action against threats, the new doctrine states for the first time that Russia could make use of precision weapons "as part of strategic deterrent measures", without being any more specific, just leaving that vague and dissonant threat hanging on the air, as it were, of concerned neighbours.

Military modernization has emboldened Russia to its re-dedication of its vision of itself as a potent world power, one that will brook no nonsense, let alone interference from outside sources when it feels like throwing its regional weight around. And when foreign military forces appear on the territory of Russia's neighbours where the threat is clear enough: "political and military pressure" on Russia, that level of response is seen to be mandated.

Labels: , , , ,

Getting Into That Indiscriminate Bed

"There are some concerns that this treaty affects lawful and responsible firearms owners. We remain committed to making a decision on whether to join the treaty if it is determined that doing so is good for Canada, and for Canadians."
Adam Hodge, spokesman, Foreign Affairs Minister John Baird

"The ATT [Arms Trade Treaty] is the most important conventional weapons control treaty in a generation."
"As more states join the treaty -- Israel became a signatory just last week -- Canada's absence becomes more stark. Why isn't Canada party to this international effort to end irresponsible weapons transfers across borders?"
John Siebert, executive director, Project Ploughshares, Waterloo, Ontario

"As the Arms Trade Treaty comes into force today, New Democrats urge Conservatives to stop undermining it."
"Despite the opposition from the powerful gun lobby, even the United States has signed the treaty, so there is no reason why Canada wouldn't do the same."
Helene Laverdiere, NDP assistant foreign affairs spokesman
Canadian Army G-Wagens

Well not quite; the U.S. has signed, but not yet ratified the treaty. Splitting hairs, perhaps, but the process hasn't been completed. Although other NATO members have, without exception, either signed or ratified the treaty. Leaving Canada in some rather questionable company from the perspective of a Western democratic country. Although Canada voted in favour last year, it now stands alongside Russia, China, Syria and North Korea in refusing to sign.

Mr. Hodge, speaking for Foreign Affairs, has stated that the government's refusal to sign the agreement is not all that intransigent on the world stage, since signing it "would not improve upon how we assess exports of military items (as) Canada already has some of the strongest export controls in the world". On the other hand, deigning to sign, and for the reasons given as well, do not place Canada in a very admirable position.

If only for the company it's keeping. The treaty, points out arms-control groups, will be of great assistance in curbing the flow of weapons and ammunition to the Middle East, Africa and other regions. Precisely those geographic stages throughout the world where conflict, human rights abuses and political-societal instability are most volatile and destructive.

If the mercenary nationalist agenda of boosting Canadian arms exports to aid the economy is the prime motivator here, it's a quite unsavoury reason indeed. The focus on selling Canadian-produced armoured vehicles, helicopters and associated military products to countries in the Middle East, South America and Asia has increased to balance off the reality of weakened markets to allies cutting back on their defence spending.
Light Armoured Vehicle III.

A contract valued at over $10-billion between General Dynamics Land Systems based in London, Ontario and Saudi Arabia where GDLS is contracted to build dozens of armoured military vehicles, the largest such deal in Canadian history was helped along by the Canadian government last year. Saudi Arabia (another country refusing to sign) used similar Canadian-produced armoured vehicles in aiding Bahrain to 'control' demonstrations of its Shiite minorities during the Arab Spring in 2011.

Labels: , , ,

Friday, December 26, 2014

Privation in Donetsk

"It was just a massive boom, the windows cracked, and we threw ourselves on the floor. We know what to do."
Antonina Sumina, Pervomaisk, Ukraine

"No one has any money. If there is food in the shops, we can't afford to buy it. It is worst for the elderly, the grandfathers and grandmothers who cannot leave the house to get to the soup kitchens or do not have family to help. They are the ones who will starve."
Irina Shtiben, nursery worker

"We have 250,000 individual registered users and we shift 20,000 individual aid packages a day. If it was a commercial operation, we would probably be one of the biggest retailers in the region."
Andrei Sannin, manager, Donetsk Shakhtar FC stadium
An armed supporter of the self-proclaimed "People's Republic of Donetsk" stands gurad as a Russian convoy carrying humanitarian aid for residents of the Eastern Ukrainian Donetsk Oblast approaches the city of Makiyivka near Donetsk, on Dec. 12, 2014.
In eastern Ukraine, residents come under bombardment fairly frequently. Six people were killed in an apartment building on December 8 when a Grad rocket slammed into the building. The heating station was knocked out so it cannot now be relied upon to supply heating during the winter months in the area. The following day a truce that seems to be holding came into effect

A detachment of the Russian-based Don Cossack Host controls the town. During the lull, a soup kitchen has been opened and Russian aid is being distributed consisting mostly of clothing. The town square has seen a traditional municipal Christmas tree to cheer up residents.

In Pervomaisk, situated 80 kilometres north-east of Donetsk, only 20,000 residents of a pre-revolution population of 80,000 remain. The government in Kyiv has seen no purpose in paying pensions or wages to public-sector workers since July. After all, the Russian-speaking rebels have declared Donetsk and Luhansk to be fully independent of Kyiv. As independent states it is up to the newly established 'governments' to administer as they must.

Since many private businesses have been forced by the violent crisis to shut down, people working for them haven't fared any better. The Ukrainian government was evicted from the "people's republics", but the governors of those republics have done little, aside from seizing power, to alleviate the burden suffered by the residents for whom they are now responsible.

A decree signed by Petro Poroshenko on December 1, suspended state services and banking operations in rebel-held areas. This move was meant to have the rebels face the need to support the financial burden of operating the regions they seized. And they have not, unfortunately, risen to the occasion. As such, schools and hospitals, prisons and water treatment plants have no funding.

To access bank accounts, residents must travel across the front line; their credit cards no longer work. Lines for food, warm clothing, cash handouts on a one-time basis, and other types of aid are evolving in towns and villages in the Donetsk and Luhansk regions. The aid effort, however, is not well co-ordinated and dreadfully insufficient.

Some foreign agencies like Medecins Sans Frontieres and the Red Cross have supplied aid to hospitals. And in the gap where aid is required it seems that the management of the Donbass Arena in Donetsk has assembled an army of volunteers, sorting pasta, baby food, sunflower oil, canned meat and other needs into aid packages to distribute to towns across the region.

The club's owner, oligarch Rinat Akhmetov, took it upon himself to initiate an assistance program through his charitable foundation. What has resulted is an efficient operation earning praise from professional NGO workers for its success in getting aid to those who crucially need it.

Unfortunately, frustrated by the sorry progress of official talks between the separatists and Kyiv, semi-autonomous battalions have stated they will allow convoys of relief supplies through only in exchange for the release of Ukrainian prisoners. Should neither side blink, the civilians effectively held hostage by the rebels will be facing a dismal January 7 Orthodox Christmas.

Labels: , ,

() Follow @rheytah Tweet