Israel’s Christians Who Defend the Jewish State

The Wall Street Journal weekend edition had an article by former Ha’aretz editor Adi Schwartz, “Israel’s Christian Awakening” discussing the grassroots movement led by a Greek Orthodox Priest, Fr. Gabriel Naddaf,  a charismatic former spokesperson for the Greek Orthodox Patriarch in Jerusalem. He hails from the village of Yaffia, located between Migdal Ha’emek and Nazareth. Nazareth, with its Church of the Annunciation is the largest Arab town in Israel. Once the boyhood town of Jesus and predominately Christian, it is now majority Muslim. Despite this, there are plans afoot to build a 100 foot statue of the community’s most famous son.

Fr. Naddaf, who has been featured in  the Jerusalem PostEcumenical News, Fox News, and Times of Israel  this year is doing something important. He and a team of Christian IDF serving officers and reservists have formed the Israel Christian Recruitment Forum. The aim of the group, Schwartz notes, is “to increase the number of Christians joining the Israel Defense Forces” from among the 130,000 Arabic -speaking Christians who constitute 1.6% of Israel’s 8 million population. Those Israeli Arabic speaking Christians are either Greek Catholic or Greek Orthodox.  Some of their liturgy harkens back to the language of their non –Arabic ancient forbearers, the Arameans – derived from the ancient name for Syria, Aram, who spoke the lingua franca  of Jesus and many ancient Jews, Aramaic. By contrast there are 1.3 Million Arab Muslims in the Jewish nation.

A Hebrew University specialist on Christians in Israel Amnon Ramon cited by Schwartz indicated that demographically Christians are closer to fellow Jewish citizens than Muslims; their median age is 30 versus 31; Christian women marry later and have fewer children and their educational attainment surpasses Jews.

Fr. Gabriel is seeking to integrate the Arabic-speaking Christian community into Israel and what better way to do that than through service in the Israel Defense Force (IDF). The Forum spokesperson, IDF 1st Lt.  (Res. )Shadi Khaloul, said that “the total number of Christians serving in the Israeli military has more than quadrupled since 2012 from 35 to 150”.  Fr. Naddaf reaffirms that saying, “ Israel takes care of us, and if not Israel, who will defend us?  We love this country, and we see the army as a first step in becoming more integrated with the state.” 18 years old Henry Zahir from the village of Reineh is cited by Schwartz agreeing with Fr. Naddaf saying, “Israel is my country and I want to defend it. The Jewish State is good for us.”

Lela Gilbert of the Hudson Institute wrote about the jeopardy that Naddaf’s leadership has placed both he and his family in a Fox News report, “In Nazareth a Christian-Arab priest seeks full integration into Israeli society”:

On December 6, the son of Nazareth priest, Fr. Gabriel Naddaf, was assaulted and beaten and is now hospitalized. Fr. Naddaf, who is Greek Orthodox, has received death threats for years; the attacker went after his son instead.

Prime Minister Netanyahu commented in a Times of Israel  report on the attack:

I have heard about the threats of physical attacks by extremist elements in Israeli society against Christians, Christian Arabs who want to enlist in the IDF, who want to be part of the State of Israel. Against these people is an extremist group that is threatening them. We will not tolerate this; I will not tolerate this. We will use all of our tools to stop these thugs and we will allow whoever – Christian, Muslim and Druze – wants to link their fate even more to the State of Israel and wants to serve in the IDF to do so.

Fr. Naddaf  commented about the source of the attack on his son in the Times of Israel report, saying, “Arab MKs have not issued any condemnation and I put the responsibility on them. This is the result of incitement that comes from them day and night.”  Schwartz noted  how virulently  an Anti-Israel Arab Muslim Member of the Knesset, Hanin Zoabi,  “wrote Naddaf  calling him a collaborator, accusing him of putting young Christians  in danger.” Zoabi told Schwartz,” We are a national group, not a religious one. Any attempt to enlist Christians is part of a strategy of divide and rule.” Forum spokesperson Khaloul, an officer who served in an IDF parachute brigade, countered Zoabi’s remarks saying,“We are not mercenaries. We want to defend this country together with the Jews. We see what is happening these days to Christians around us in Iraq, Syria and Egypt.”

Gilbert noted in her Fox News report:

In the Middle East, persecution against the region’s ancient churches continues to smolder, flare and rage out of control. Inflamed by Islamist ideology and specifically targeting Christians, brutality has escalated to unprecedented levels.

She drew attention to how Israeli Christians distinguish themselves from Muslims:

Speaking at a September Jerusalem conference, Fr. Naddaf, Capt. Bishara Shlayan, and a Christian IDF reserve officer, Lt. Shaadi Khalloul, offered their historical perspective.

Technically they are not Arabs, they emphasized, but are part of an ancient Christian community  — a community that did not convert to Islam during the Muslims’ Seventh Century invasion.

“I think we should be referred to as Israeli-Christians,” Capt. Shlayan affirmed, rejecting the Arab-Christian label.  “Yes, we speak Arabic. But our nationality is Israeli. And our religion is Christian.”

In fact, they are not only Christian Israelis, they are Zionists.

Theologically grounded in Aramaic and Assyriac liturgy and worship, this population has followed Jesus of Nazareth since he walked among them. Many of them even hail from Nazareth, his hometown – now Israel’s largest Arab city.

In their view, their spiritual heritage has been nearly forgotten, apart from within their churches. At the same time, neighboring Muslims harass and threaten harm while attempting to eradicate Christian shrines, signs and symbols.

Forum spokesperson Khaloul noted in an October video presentation (see below)  that the group is seeking  to have its  heritage nto included in Islamic and Arabic History Courses.  These Christian Israelis also want to form a Knesset Party, “B’nai Brith”, reflecting Ha Shem’s covenant with Jews and Christians.

When I shared these courageous acts of solidarity with the Jewish state by these Israeli Christians with author and scholar Bat Ye’or, she responded in an email:

This is quite a change! It is amazing that it took a century for Christians in the Middle East to understand that they were not Arab and that Muslims were not their friends. It is true that they were forced into this situation by France and England which declared that they will no more help them and that Christians had  to militate into the Arab Nationalism non-sense.

Yuval Brandsetter in a Jerusalem Post oped about Fr. Naddaf, “The Good Father, “noted something that impressed us.  This evident assertion of Israeli Christian identification and solidarity with Israel was a rejection of Dhimmitude; the 1,400 years of Islamic Imperialism imposed on Jews and Christians under the pact of Omar.  He wrote:

In spite of his lowly position, or maybe because of it, Fr. Gabriel Naddaf has reached the conclusion that Christians Arabs residing in Israel must link their fortunes to the Jewish state. In acting on this conclusion with fortitude and a free mind, Fr. Naddaf stands in defiance of the 1,300-year legacy of dhimmitude – the legacy that both his Jerusalem Patriarch and Istanbul’s Ecumenical Patriarch continue to observe.

Watch this video of Fr. Gabriel Naddaf at an October 2013 Liaison Committee of The Israel Christian Recruitment Forum.

Watch this video of IDF Reservists 1st Lt. Shadi Khalloul, at an October 2013 Liaison Committee of The Israel Christian Recruitment Forum.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Iranians: Geneva is ‘Treaty of Hudaybiyyah’

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says the deal brokered in late November 2013 in Geneva between the P5+1 allows Iran to “continue its [nuclear] enrichment” activities. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry says that the deal does not recognize a “right to enrich.” (Here’s the text of the so-called “Joint Plan of Action” – the Iranians are right.)

President Obama hailed the Geneva agreement as the most “significant and tangible” progress to date toward ensuring that Iran “cannot build a nuclear weapon.” Iranian Foreign Ministry spokesman Marzieh Afkham said “There is no treaty and no pact.” (It’s a “letter of intent,” say the Iranians.) For his part, the Iranian negotiator, Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, exulted that the document explicitly recognized the inclusion of an Iranian enrichment program in the final deal (it does).

There’s at least one major point of agreement, however, for both Americans and Iranians (although it’s doubtful the U.S. negotiating team actually understands what it means). That single point of agreement is about the temporary nature of the pact/letter/Joint Plan of Action: first it was going to be for six months, then it would be for six months after a few more details were worked out, then the technical discussions in Vienna collapsed on 11 December, then Secretary Kerry said the talks would continue in a few days. And then Mohammad Sadeq Al-Hosseini, formerly a political advisor to Iranian President Khatami and now a TV commentator, clarified everything.

This is the Treaty of Hudaybiyya in Geneva,” he said, speaking on Syrian News TV on 11 December 2013. Although it is doubtful that any of Kerry’s advisers is even remotely familiar with this key episode in the accounts about Muhammad and the early Muslims, the Center for Security Policy explained the story in its 2010 book, “Shariah: The Threat to America.” The context is about situations in which Muslim forces might lawfully enter into a treaty or truce with the enemy. With troubling ramifications for current day negotiations, those situations demonstrate the centrality and importance of deceit in any agreement between Muslims and infidels. As it is recounted, in the year 628 CE, Muhammad (whose forces already controlled Medina) agreed to a 10-year truce with the pagan Quraysh tribe of Mecca, primarily because he realized that his forces were not strong enough to take the city at the time. Islamic doctrine in fact forbids Muslims from entering into a jihad or battle without the reasonable certainty of being able to prevail. In such cases, as with Muhammad, Muslims are permitted to enter into a temporary ceasefire or hudna, with the proviso that no such truce may exceed 10 years (because that’s the length of the agreement Muhammad signed). And so, Muhammad agreed to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah. But just two years later, in 630 CE, now with some 10,000 fighters under his command, Muhammad broke the treaty and marched into Mecca.

The authoritative ahadith of Bukhari provide context for Muhammad’s actions: “War is deceit,” is a saying Bukhari attributes to Muhammad (52:269). Another says “By Allah, and Allah willing, if I take an oath and later find something else better than that, then I do what is better and expiate my oath.” (Bukhari: V7B67N427) Yasser Arafat, head of the jihadist Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), provided one of the clearest examples in modern times for how this works. He understood his Islamic obligations well, as demonstrated by his repeated public references to the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah following the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993. And while Western political leaders missed the significance entirely, Arafat’s Arabic-speaking audiences understood perfectly that his Camp David agreement meant nothing more than a temporary hudna or ceasefire that would give the PLO the time it needed to build up its forces to renew the jihad against Israel…which is exactly what happened.

The shariah (Islamic Law) in general discourages Muslim forces from making a truce, citing Qur’anic verse 47:35, which says, “So do not be fainthearted and call for peace, when it is you who are the uppermost.” The main reason Islamic forces are to avoid ceasefires, treaties and the like is that “it entails the nonperformance of jihad, whether globally or in a given locality…” Of course, the Iranians know all of this doctrine and history very well. The country’s constitution, in fact, dedicates its armed forces (the Army and the IRGC-Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps) to “the ideological mission of jihad in the way of Allah…” So, when a senior political commentator such as Mohammad Sadeq Al-Hosseini, who lives and works in Tehran, appears on an international TV broadcast interview and refers to the agreement (however tentative) reached by the P5+1 and Iran in Geneva as a “Treaty of Hudaybiyya,” we may be sure that he has chosen his words carefully. We also may be fairly certain that the Iranian regime and its sly and smiling Foreign Minister, Javad Zarif, at least tacitly agree with Al-Hosseini’s characterization.

We can only hope that someone tells senior Western leaders what the reference means, because there is no doubt that the Muslim world, especially the Sunni Muslim world, got it immediately. The Saudi royal family in particular clearly is under no illusions about Iran’s nuclear weapons ambitions-and is deeply alarmed, as much over the millennialist zeal of the arch rival Shi’ite Persians as the perceived perfidy of an American administration that has just switched sides, leaving Riyadh scrambling to cobble together a new defense policy. Thus the deliberate leaks about possible discussions with Pakistan concerning a nuclear weapons capability for the Saudis and the astonishing sight of a senior member of the Saudi royal family publicly shaking hands with a top Israeli diplomat.

As Ilan Berman notes in a 17 December 2013 piece entitled “The Real Cost of Geneva,” the balance of power in the Middle East is shifting, even before Iran has demonstrated a deliverable nuclear weapons capability. The U.S. pivot towards the Shi’ite jihadis (Iranians and Hizballah) leaves erstwhile allies among the Sunni jihadis (Saudi royals) aghast. Recognizing the new rising “strong horse” in the region, smaller Sunni sheikhdoms like the United Arab Emirates already are seeking to normalize relations with Tehran. All trends are not towards stability, however. The collapse of American leadership and acquiescence to Iranian hegemony in the region instead are encouraging Israel and others to pursue their own defense strategies in ways that soon could prove deeply destabilizing.

Whether or not the nuclear negotiations with Iran yield clear results in coming weeks or drag out inconclusively for months or more, the U.S. already has signaled its willingness to allow (and even facilitate) a dangerous realignment of power in the Middle East that favors the Shi’ite axis over the Sunni one. Reactions and counter-reactions already have been set in motion that could change the geostrategic landscape, not just in the region, but globally. The Iranian commentator Mohammad Sadeq Al-Hosseini may have been projecting from a distinctly Shi’ite perspective, but as the Iranians see it, first comes the Treaty of Hudaybiyyah in Geneva, and then “it will be followed by a conquest of Mecca.”

A Year End Recap of Obama’s Foreign Policy

Obama has turned U.S. foreign policy on its head. It is hard to avoid the conclusion Obama thinks U.S. enemies (particularly Islamists) are friends and friends are enemies.

Obama threatens to veto a Congressional sanctions bill if Iran fails to end its nuclear program and Obama sides with Iran on the issue even though Iran has just announced it is building newer and faster centrifuges. The Saudi’s accuse Obama of stabbing them in the back. Undoubtedly Israel feels betrayed by Obama as well.

In his Cairo speech Obama apologized to Islam on behalf of America’s predominantly Judeo-Christian population who don’t believe they have anything to apologize for?

In Egypt Obama congratulated the Muslim Brotherhood for taking control of the country and tried to reinstate Morsi an Islamic dictator after he was expelled as a result of a popular uprising by Egyptians seeking democracy.

In Libya Obama supported the Islamists over the more secular Gaddafi. Now Libya where Ambassador Stevens and his assistants were murdered has become an Islamic terrorist haven and its weapons have been distributed to terrorist groups throughout the Middle East. .

In Syria Obama entered into an agreement with Putin and Assad which expanded Iran’s power in the region allowing Iran to extend its unique Islamic oppression and terrorism in the region. It is now reported the schedule to destroy chemical weapons will not be kept. Obama calls this a foreign policy success even though the agreement assures Assad and his killing machine will now remain in power. The death toll has risen to 130,000 Syrians and two million refugees.

Obama called Turkey’s Erdogan (a corrupt Islamic strongman) one of his five closet international friends and forced Israel an ally to apologize to Erdogan which Erdogan rejected. Erdogan’s corruption may soon force him from office.

Obama is pressing Israel to make dangerous security concessions to the Palestinians (Islamists) who call for Israel’s destruction and won’t recognize the State of Israel. The PA now refuses to negotiate with Israel.

Obama promised to reset relations with Russia. Instead it appears we are witnessing a resurgence of the ‘cold war’.

China is taking aggressive steps against U.S. interests in the Pacific and allies are very concerned.

India is retaliating against U.S. citizens and diplomats in India in response to the strip-search treatment of an Indian diplomat and a threatened prosecution

One thing is certain. Obama has reduced U.S. influence and credibility in the Middle East and around the world. America’s allies no longer trust Obama and our enemies no longer respect or fear the U.S. This may be what Obama meant when he said he was going to transform America; but it isn’t what the American people had in mind.

Al Qaeda Connections in Turkey’s Corruption Scandal?

The revelations of duplicity in the Turkish corruption investigations have apparently reached Premier Erdogan and his family.  Could these unraveling developments destabilize relations with the Obama Administration over both Iran and Syria?

Yesterday, we posted on the Turkish gas for gold scheme with Iran.   The boxes of funds uncovered by Turkish prosecutors at the state-owned Halkbank resulted in the arrest of its general manager Suleyman Aslan.

Now  there  is more on why Premier Erdogan wanted to quash investigations and prevent a prosecutor from making  arrests; possible al Qaeda connections. Those connections involve a shadowy Saudi billionaire  who  the  US has designated terrorist financier , Yasin al-Qadi.  Also involved was the Turkish intelligence service,  MIT,  and Erdogan’s son Bilal.  They conspired to use Muslim charities to channel  funds to an Al Qaeda affiliate in Syria, the Al-Nusrah Front.

What is troubling is that Turkey is a NATO member, ostensibly an ally of the US.   Obama placed great trust  in forging a  partnership  with Erdogan dealing with problems in the region.  If these reports are confirmed it raises questions about the wisdom of the Administration’s dealing with Erdogan on Iran’s nuclear program.  US policy opposes Erdogan’s  covert support  of the Al Qaeda’s  agenda in neighboring Syria.

American Enterprise Institute Middle East Scholar, Michael Rubin, in yesterday’s Commentary blog Contentions, and Today’s Zaman columnist, Emre Uslu present the background in articles   Turkey Scandal’s Al-Qaeda Angle  and Yasin al-Qadi and the Erdogan Family.

Rubin in the Contentions blog post notes the al-Qadi/Erdogan connection and Al Qaeda money laundering:

Now it seems that the corruption being exposed also has an al-Qaeda angle that harkens back to the Yasin al-Qadi affair. In that case, Cuneyt  Zapsu, a close Erdogan confidant, donated money to Qadi, a Saudi businessman designated by the U.S. Treasury Department to be a “specially designated global terrorist.” Rather than distance himself from Zapsu, the prime minister doubled down and lent Qadi his personal endorsement.

Fast forward to the present day: According to Turkish interlocutors, there are consistent irregularities in 28 government tenders totaling in the tens of billions of dollars, in which kickbacks and other payments were made, a portion of which Turkish investigators believe ended up with al-Qadi’s  funds and charities. These funds and charities were then used to support al-Qaeda affiliates and other radical Islamist groups operating in Syria like the Nusra Front. Erdogan thought he had his plausible denial, but it seems that Turkish government funds supported the growth of these groups, which are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands and which subsumed the more moderate opposition.

Uslu, in his Today’s Zaman column tells us when the al-Qadi/ Erdogan connections first surfaced:

Saudi billionaire Qadi is a well-known figure within the security bureaucracy of the West. Right after the 9/11 attacks in the US, the EU as well as many other countries froze the Saudi billionaire’s assets. In recent years, the EU and many Western countries have unfrozen his financial assets; however, security services

Last June Mr. Qadi and his close associate Qutb were involved in a traffic accident in Istanbul and taken to a hospital. When they had the traffic accident, the prime minister’s chief of security was with them in the same car. More importantly, the prime minister’s son, Bilal Erdogan, was the first person to visit them in the hospital and “cleaned” the hospital records of the fact that they had had an accident while the prime minister’s chief of security was with them.

Even the pro-government Star daily confirmed an allegation that Qadi had met with the MIT chief. After the meeting, they returned to Istanbul and were involved in the traffic accident while Prime Minister Erdo?an’s chief of security, Ibrahim Yildiz, was with them in the car.

In that piece, I questioned Mr. Qadi’s relations with the prime minister and M?T and stressed the following: “Mr. Qadi may or may not have any relations with any illegal network; that is not important. What is important is that all of these examples create a fuzzy picture for the international community as to whether Turkey has become a center of a range of illegal activities, from nuclear smuggling to money laundering and helping terrorists.” (Today’s Zaman, Sept. 29, 2013)

Uslu tells what stopped Turkish prosecutors from arresting Qadi and Qutb this past week:

The details of the investigation have been revealed to the media. Mr. Qadi and Mr. Qutb are two key figures the prosecutor had asked the police to arrest; however, the police refused to comply with the order perhaps because Ankara did not want them to listen to what the prosecutor had ordered.

It seems that the prosecutor had gotten ahold of evidence that made AKP officials so panicked that they blocked the whole investigation process and created a political crisis that has deeply affected the economy.

Now, that these nefarious al-Qadi/Erdogan connections funding Al Qaeda affiliates are out in the open, one can understand the massive protests and calls for Erdogan’s resignation in Turkey.  Will these damaging revelations in the Erdogan corruption scandals blowback against US efforts in the roiling Middle East?  Could these disclosures of Erdogan family connections with alleged  money laundering via Muslim charities to  Al Qaeda  affiliate, the Al Nusrah Front, upend the scheduled Geneva II discussions  in late January 2014  seeking a truce in the 34 month civil war in Syria?  Stay tuned.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Alarming video: Al Qaeda growing and taking “a new approach to death”

[youtube]http://youtu.be/vRL0tNpA19U[/youtube]

Remember, when President Obama said “Osama bin Laden is dead and Al Qaeda is decimated and on the run?” If it weren’t for the fawning liberal progressive media, that statement could have been the “Lie of the Year” for 2012.

According to a CNN report,

The terror group’s manpower has increased in recent years, it has gained control of more territory in North Africa and the Middle East and is taking a different approach to death. While al Qaeda suffered significant setbacks after Navy SEALs shot and killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan in 2011, and drone strikes have taken out top terrorists along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border, the terror group and its close allies have rebounded in Yemen, the Sinai region of Egypt, Libya, Iraq, and parts of east and west Africa, among other places. Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, or AQAP, headquartered in Yemen, is particularly concerning.

CNN says sources have uncovered chatter that suggests “active plotting” and there are there are multiple indications that al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula is plotting attacks both within Yemen, against U.S. and Western structures and overseas,” according to Seth Jones, an analyst at Rand Corp.

If none of that concerns you, watch this video, which was released on Christmas Day. It calls for al Qaeda sympathizers to take things into their own hands and launch attacks in the West. In the two minute intro the speaker says, “We pray to Allah that the example set by Nidal Hassan becomes a source of inspiration for all Muslims.”

One year after the reelection of Barack Hussein Obama, Islamic totalitarians are not decimated and not on the run, but are stronger. No doubt Afghanistan will follow suit, if this is the paradigm for the Obama administration. The Middle East has been completely destabilized and with the current incursion into Southern Sudan by President Obama, one has to be concerned that it too will be destabilized, as was Libya.

This is what happens when the media is subjective rather than objective in analysis or telling the truth to the American people. But it’s too late now. We still face three more years of a failing Obama and a foreign policy that entices and emboldens our enemies. Weakness is intoxicating, and Islamic terrorists are drunk right now.

The next American president must be able to lead and command fear and respect from our enemies. Some may read this and say, “at this point in time what difference does it make?” But for those who’ve been on the receiving end of an AK-47, for those who will have to fight this resurgent enemy, and for those who will lose their lives in the next terrorist attack, it makes a doggone lot of difference.

This column originally appeared on AllenBWest.com.

Newest Video Games “Respect and Honor the US Military”

Like many families, my grandson wanted the new PS4 for Christmas. The video game industry has come a long way from Pong to todays high resolution and realistic games. Many of the most popular games depict the US military fighting battles from WWII to the War on Terror. The battle scenes are realistic down to the smallest detail.

So who is behind the design of these games?

RECOIL magazine’s Peter Suciu did a column titled “It’s All Gun and Games: How Firearms Experts Keep Video Games Realistic so You Keep Your Eyeballs on the Screen.” Suciu writes, “[Video] Games have indeed come a long way since the days of Pong and Pac Man – they’ve  even come a long way just in the last couple of years. Today’s first-person-shooter games often feature characters wielding small arms that look, operate, and sound just like the real deal. This takes more than just thumbing through books or scanning an airsoft replica to get it right.”

“Just as many filmmakers know that specific expertise is required, today’s game producers know that to make a blockbuster action game, calling in experts is key to authenticity,” notes Suciu.

Who are these “experts” called in to advise on the newest video games? Many are former military.

There are a number of firms providing the real life input to the video gaming industry. “One such firm is MUSA Military Entertainment Consulting, which is headed by Brian Chung, a retired U.S. Army Captain and combat veteran of Operation Iraqi Freedom. He worked on the Medal of Honor series, and more recently consulted on the design of the recently released Battlefield 4,” reports Suciu.

Others who have made video games more realistic include Dale Dye, Retired US Marine Corps Captain and Vietnam veteran, founder of Warriors, Inc. “There have been some interesting attempts at Vietnam War video games, but I have yet to see one based on the Korean War,” says Dye, recipient of the Bronze Star with Valor and three Purple Hearts during combat tours in Vietnam and Lebanon.

Suciu notes, “[W]hile games may seem to make war ‘fun,’ the consultants know that combat is deadly serious and [they] hope their attention to detail means that the players will appreciate the sacrifices that the soldiers paid in the field – oftentimes with their lives.”

Brian Chung states, “Games give a glimpse of being in combat, but without the danger of it. The carrying of the weight, the carrying of the ammo, the lack of sleep – none of that is in the game. Games are about those high-adrenaline moments, but getting it right for me is showing a level of respect for those who served and who are serving.”

Turkey’s Illegal Gold Trade with Iran

In our Iconoclast post on Harold Rhode’s speculations regarding a possible alliance of convenience between the Gulenists and Secularists that might topple Premier Erdogan, he drew attention to the illicit gold trading conducted by the state-owned Halkbank.  Suleyman  Aslan, the head of Halkbank at the center of the illicit  gold trading  had been prominent among the 52  arrested in the swirl of events in the current Turkish corruption  scandal.  Jonathan Schanzer and  Mark Dubowitz of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracy published an article in Foreign Policy Magazine  (FPM) covering  research into the “gas for gold ” scheme that the Obama Administration failed to stop, “Iran’s Turkish Gold Rush”.

Messrs. Schanzer and Dubowitz drew attention to the two principals at the center of the gas for gold trade between Turkey and Iran:

The drama surrounding two personalities are particularly eye-popping: Police reportedly discovered shoe boxes containing $4.5 million in the home of Suleyman Aslan, the CEO of state-owned Halkbank, and also arrested Reza Zarrab, an [Azeri] Iranian businessman who primarily deals in the gold trade, and who allegedly oversaw deals worth almost $10 billion last year alone.

The FPM article on the Turkey Iran  ‘gas for gold” trade  described  how it worked:

The Turks exported some $13 billion of gold to Tehran directly, or through the UAE, between March 2012 and July 2013. In return, the Turks received Iranian natural gas and oil. But because sanctions prevented Iran from getting paid in dollars or euros, the Turks allowed Tehran to buy gold with their Turkish lira — and that gold found its way back to Iranian coffers.

Earlier this year in May 2013 the FDD teamed with Roubini Global Economics and conducted an investigation into the dynamics of the gold trade and its significant alleviation of currency restrictions under sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program. The FDD report, “Iran’s Golden Loophole” indicated the scope and impact of the gas for gold scheme:

These foreign exchange reserves are Iran’s principal hedge against a severe balance of payments crisis, and help Iran withstand international pressure over its nuclear program. Since July 30, 2012, when the Obama administration issued an executive order prohibiting gold exports to the government of Iran, Iran has received over $6 billion in payment in gold for its energy exports—the value of the lack of enforcement of the golden loophole—mainly as gold payments to the Central Bank of Iran. These gold exports to the Central Bank of Iran already are a sanctionable activity under existing U.S. law; gold exports to any entity in Iran will become sanction able as of July 1, 2013. This report estimates that, unless gold sanctions are enforced, Iran could receive up to $20 billion a year, representing around thirty percent of Iran’s projected 2013 energy exports.

Schanzer and Dubowitz questioned why Turkey, a NATO ally of the US, had engaged in the Gold trade with Iran, and why the Obama Administration hadn’t closed it:

The Turks — NATO allies who have assured Washington that they oppose Iran’s military-nuclear program — brazenly conducted these massive gold transactions even after the Obama administration tightened sanctions on Iran’s precious metals trade in July 2012.

Turkey, however, chose to exploit a loophole that technically permitted the transfer of billions of dollars of gold to so-called “private” entities in Iran. Iranian Ambassador to Turkey Ali Reza Bikdeli recently praised Halkbank for its “smart management decisions in recent years [that] have played an important role in Iranian-Turkish relations.” Halkbank insists that its role in these transactions was entirely legal.

The U.S. Congress and President Obama closed this “golden loophole” in January 2013. At the time, the Obama administration could have taken action against state-owned Halkbank, which processed these sanctions-busting transactions, using the sanctions already in place to cut the bank off from the U.S. financial system. Instead, the administration lobbied to make sure the legislation that closed this loophole did not take effect for six months — effectively ensuring that the gold transactions continued apace until July 1. That helped Iran accrue billions of dollars more in gold, further undermining the sanctions regime.

In defending its decision not to enforce its own sanctions, the Obama administration insisted that Turkey only transferred gold to private Iranian citizens. The administration argued that, as a result, this wasn’t an explicit violation of its executive order.

Perhaps as the authors point out, the Administration had other concerns  not disturbing the relations with the Erdogan regime regarding  the latter’s role in the regional  alliance contending with the 33 month Syrian civil war . There was Turkey’s support for rebel factions and the safe haven it provided the massive stream of 1.5 million refugees.  However could  it have been  the  nearly $6 billion “they estimate the golden loophole” could have provided  Iran in the way of an ”olive branch” used during the secret negotiations  by the Obama Administration that led up to the November 24, 2013 P5+1  interim agreement?

According to a Zaman Today article, cited by the authors,  the illicit “gas for gold” trade between Iran could be vastly more  significant: “The  suspicious transactions between Iran and Turkey could exceed $119 billion — nine times the total of gas-for-gold transactions reported. “

There are suspicions about whether the “gas for gold” scheme enabled Iran to pay for machinery used in the production a new class of centrifuges announced by AEOI head Ali Akbar Salehi this week. Then there is the question of payments for Russian contractors and personnel engaged in projects like the Arak heavy water reactor that would enable Iran to produce plutonium.  And lest we also not forget  could have been used  to fund payments in the  waivers granted  by the US  for the Iranian  oil trade with China and others.  Clearly, the current corruption probe in Turkey may lift the veil on a vast underworld of transactions with Turkey  that may have enabled Iran to continue, if not accelerate, achievement of their nuclear weapons program objective: nuclear hegemony destabilizing the Middle East and the World.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Why the US must declare the Muslim Brotherhood a Foreign Terrorist Organization

The following column is co-authored by Alan Kornman and Wallace Bruschweiler.

It is time for U.S. State Department to declare The Muslim Brotherhood a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

A deadly explosion rocked the Daqahliya Security Directorate in the Nile Delta city of Mansoura, Egypt. The bombing, which took place Tuesday morning, resulted in the death of 16, mainly policemen, and the injury of more than 135.

The son of a high ranking Muslim Brotherhood member, 22 year old Adel Younis Rashid, was arrested in connection with the bombing. Mr. Rashid was taken into custody as he was trying to fly to Turkey with his mother and a friend.

The Egyptian government understands The Muslim Brotherhood will spawn and collaborate with terrorist groups when it furthers their objectives. The Brotherhood has all but declared war on the new Egyptian government that ousted their man Mohamed Morsi – this fact is not in dispute.

Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, a franchise of Al-Qaeda, took responsibility for the Mansoura attack.  However, the arrest of Adel Younis Rashid ties The Muslim Brotherhood to the attack which prompted the Egyptian government to designate the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization.

In Washington, the State Department condemned the attack but urged Egypt to have an “inclusive political process”. State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “We also note that The Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt condemned the bombing shortly after it occurred.”

Jen Psaki’s official comments signals the Obama Administration’s position The Muslim Brotherhood is still a legitimate negotiating partner in Middle East matters despite all the evidence to the contrary.

President Obama is Out of Moves Concerning Egypt

President Obama has only two choices with our Egyptian foreign policy. Back The Muslim Brotherhood or fully support Egypt’s Interim government and General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.

If President Obama continues to side with The Muslim Brotherhood there are only two possible outcomes. First, America will likely throw away all future political and military strategic influence in Egypt, and all her neighboring countries.

Second, The United States of America will push the new Egyptian government right into the arms of Vladimir Putin and the Russian Federation.

If President Obama makes the wrong decisions in the hours and days ahead it will take decades to repair the potential damage to our American foreign policy initiatives in the Middle East.

In 1979, President Carter made a similar disastrous move ousting the Shah of Iran in favor of the fundamental Islamist Ayatollah Khomeini regime. The negative repercussions of President Carter’s Iranian foreign policy are still haunting us today.

Safeguards built into the Constitution were designed to pit Congress against the executive branch making it difficult to make and then conduct a destructive foreign policy. The Foreign Policy Association states, “[T]he President’s most potent weapons for controlling foreign policy, is the power to commit the nation to a particular course of action diplomatically. Once he does so, it can be extremely difficult for the President’s opponents to alter that course.”

If President Obama chooses wrongly and sides with The Muslim Brotherhood it would be a dereliction of duty for John Boehner and the Congress not to exercise their Constitutional authority in opposition.

Egypt Reacts To The Bombing

AP reports, “The interim Egyptian government declared the Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist organization Wednesday, intensifying its campaign of arrests and prosecutions targeting its members and tightening the noose on the group’s network of charities and businesses. The declaration comes after another sweeping decision Tuesday aimed at draining the Brotherhood’s finances by freezing the funds of more than 1,000 non-government organizations with links to the group and putting more than 100 schools run by the group under government supervision. That directly attacks the grassroots strength of the Brotherhood, where it has much of its power in Egyptian life.”

An Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman said they will inform other Arab nations who are signatories on a 1998 anti terrorism treaty of the Cabinet’s decision.

The Brotherhood has organizations and political parties operating in other nations within the region. An Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman said the regional agreement for combatting terrorism requires Arab countries to hand over Muslim Brotherhood operatives wanted by Egypt.

President Obama In Bed With The Muslim Brotherhood?

President Barak Obama invited 10 Muslim Brotherhood members to attend his 2009 Cairo speech signaling a radical shift in Egyptian/US relations. President Obama demanded these 10 Muslim Brotherhood operatives sit in the front row during his Cairo Speech. It was perceived at that time, President Obama was backing the Muslim Brotherhood over Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Those perceptions were confirmed when the United States backed the ouster of President Hosni Mubarak in favor of Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi. The Muslim Brotherhood ruled Egypt for a year before the military removed Mr. Morsi for egregious presidential abuses with the backing of the Egyptian people.

President Obama continues to support The Muslim Brotherhood despite the mountain of evidence proving the Brotherhood is a Foreign Terrorist Organization.

FireShot-capture-702-Muslim-Brotherhood-Wikipedia-the-free-encyclopedia-en_wikipedia_org_wiki_Muslim_BrotherhoodConclusion

Why would President Obama not follow the wise decision of the Egyptian government by designating The Muslim Brotherhood a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) here at home?

The answer to that question will lead you to examine the Obama Administrations close ties with The Muslim Brotherhood and its franchises operating freely here on United States soil.

The Egyptian government has shown the world The Muslim Brotherhood is willing and capable of executing violent acts by their hands or the hands of their proxies to further their political objectives.

You are either with the USA or with The Muslim Brotherhood – where do you stand?

RELATED COLUMNS:

Egypt arrests ousted Muslim Brotherhood prime minister

Egypt: Bomb injures five after government widens crackdown on Islamic supremacists

Will a Gulenist/Secularist Alliance Topple Erdogan’s Government?

Harold Rhode, former Pentagon Islamic Affairs and expert on Turkey has a provocative Gatestone Institute analysis.   Could Premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan fall from power amidst the current corruption controversy in Turkey, “Are Erdogan’s Days Numbered”?

We published an interview with Dr. Rhode in the December NER concerning his role as the Savior of the Iraqi Jewish archives in May of 2003 during Operation Enduring Freedom. An exhibit of selected items from the restored and digitized Iraqi Jewish Archives is currently on exhibit at the Lawrence F. O’Brien gallery of the National Archives and Records Agency in Washington until January 5, 2014.

As we posted  in the Iconoclast, the current turmoil in Turkey arises from a split between two former Islamist allies, Erdogan, co-founder of the ruling AKP Party, and Sheikh Mohammad Fethullah Gulen, a reclusive  Islamist cult leader and ex-patriate resident in Eastern Pennsylvania  who fled arrest in Turkey in 1999.  Gulenists control the national and local police and judiciary.  Following the 2007 parliamentary sweep by the AKP in their second term, Gulenist prosecutors had tried and convicted former secular Turkish military officers and political opponents charged with conspiracy to overthrow the Islamist AKP.

The current turmoil in Turkey has witnessed the resignation of three AKP ministers, more than 52 arrests including two sons of these Ministers on charges bribery, and payoffs. Among those arrested was the head of the Turkish state-owned Halkbank engaged in illicit gold trading with Iran and others.  On Wednesday, Erdogan fresh from a brief trip to Pakistan reshuffled his cabinet and made 10 new appointments.  The departing Environment Minister Bayraktar called upon Erdogan to resign implying that others close to the Premier had also been involved with some of the corruption.  Erdogan Thursday sacked the prosecutor, who was in the midst of completing second corruption investigation that allegedly might have reached into the core of the Erdogan regime. This touched off a further drop in the Turkish Lira in trading against major currencies.

The co-founder of the AKP party with Erdogan is current Turkish President Abdullah Gul, a Gulenist.  The Turkish Presidency is a largely ceremonial post. Erdogan had been seeking a national referendum to transform the Presidency into an n executive post with significant authorities.  One Turkish commentator suggested in a Hurriyet Daily Newscolumn, that perhaps Gul might benefit by replacing Erdogan as Premier. In the meantime there is real question of who the AKP would nominate for the March 30, 2014 municipal elections.

erdoganresign poster

Erdogan Resign! Poster in Turkey. Source: Foreign Policy Magazine.

Rhode’s analysis suggests that Erdogan’s tenure may not be long.  Here are some engrossing excerpts:

Long-brewing political struggles within the ruling AKP have also surfaced. They boil down to two radically different views of Islam. In the first, Erdogan’s faction identifies and allies itself with the [Arab] Muslim Brotherhood. This faction was strongly supportive of the ousted Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood President Muhammad Morsi, and also of Syria’s fundamentalists. In the second view, supporters of Fethullah Gülen look down upon Arab Islam. To them, real Islam is the Islam of the Turks – meaning the people who live in Turkey, Central Asia, and Western China.

Since Erdo?an and his fellow Islamic fundamentalists took power in 2002, Gülen and his forces have been in the background, building prep-schools and propagating their version of Islam — in Turkey, in the Turkic world, and also in America.

[…]

Earlier this year, the enmity between Erdo?an and Gülen broke out into the open, evidently ignited by Turkey’s Geri Park protests — weeks of riots and demonstrations against the Turkish prime minister. Erdo?an encountered enormous difficulty putting them down; in so doing, he alienated large sections of Turkey’s population. Gulenists, active in this uprising, possibly discerning political weakness, may well have used that crisis as an opportunity to try to defeat their opponents.

Perhaps in revenge, Erdo?an . . . proposed laws to ban dershane [prep-schools], the bread and butter of the Gülen movement, and where Gülen recruits followers.   [They] later become the political and financial backbone of his movement.] For the Gulenists, Erdogan’s proposed ban appears to have been the decisive provocation.

[…]

Gulen’s supporters responded to this proposed ban by arresting 52 members of Erdogan’s closest associates, including sons of two of his cabinet ministers, and charging them with corruption. According to rumors circulating in Turkey, some of Erdogan’s relatives are also involved in the plot; the facts are still unclear. The central figure in this corruption scandal is an Iranian Azeri, Reza Zarrab — married to a popular Turkish singer — who was illegally trading with Iran. Zarrab is charged with bribing the sons of the Turkish ministers — some of Erdogan’s closest associates.

[…]

Further, the judiciary released from jail the retired General Çevik Bir, who had been strong advocate of U.S.-Turkish-NATO relations. …Bir was … one of the major architects of the Turkish-Israeli rapprochement in the 1990s, and a strong opponent of Fethullah Gülen, whom he apparently saw as an Islamic fundamentalist and a long-term danger to Turkey’s secular and democratic Atatürkist Republic. Because of Bir’s outspoken animosity against the Islamists, which included the powerful Gulen, Bir seems to have been an important factor in Gulen’s decision to flee the country.

So why was Bir — an opponent of Gulen — released by a heavily Gulenist judiciary? Although the reason behind Bir’s release are not yet clear , as an opponent of the Erdogan government …he could now be an ally of Gülen.

Where Turkey’s once highly influential military stands is unclear. So far, it has been silent. It has historically been — and its senior officers still are — steeped in the Atatürkist secular and pro-Western tradition. At least for the moment, the Islamist Gulenists seem to have forged an alliance of convenience with Turkey’s secularists. The beneficiaries of this political upheaval could well be the West, the U.S., NATO, and Israel. Stay tuned.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Iran Accelerates Uranium Enrichment to 60%! Now what?

In response to the introduction of the bipartisan Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act of 2013  last Thursday in the US Senate co-sponsored by 26 Senators, see our Iconoclast post here, the Iranian government struck back. Press TV filed a story Wednesday that 100 MPs in the Majlis, the Iranian Parliament, signed legislation to accelerate enrichment and completion of construction of the Arak heavy water reactor for production of fissile plutonium, should the Nuclear Weapons Free Iran Act be passed “Iran MPs draft bill on 60% uranium enrichment”.  Press TV reported:

Iranian lawmakers have drafted a bill that would oblige the government to produce 60-percent enriched uranium in line with the requirements of the nation’s ‘civilian’ nuclear program.

Signed by 100 legislators, the draft was presented to the Presiding Board of Majlis on Wednesday.

“If the bill is approved, the government will be obliged to complete nuclear infrastructure at Fordo and Natanz [facilities] if sanctions [against Iran] are ratcheted up, new sanctions are imposed, the country’s nuclear rights are violated and the Islamic Republic of Iran’s ‘peaceful’ nuclear rights are ignored by members of P5+1,” Iranian lawmaker Seyyed Mehdi Mousavinejad said on Wednesday.

The bill would oblige the government to put the Arak heavy water reactor into operation and enrich uranium to the 60-percent purity level in order to provide fuel for submarine engines if the sanctions are tightened and Iran’s nuclear rights are ignored, the MP underscored.

We noted in our Iconoclast post on the new US Senate sanctions bill:

Clearly, these Senators are skeptical that an ultimate agreement can be achieved with the Islamic Regime in Tehran based on the P5+1 interim agreement and Joint Plan of Action (JPA). This despite President Obama and Secretary of State Kerry’s lobbying effort aimed at providing a hiatus to resolve issues with Iran. They are not the only ones; French Foreign Minister Fabius also renewed his dour prediction that a final agreement to prevent nuclear breakout and a weapons delivery capability may not be possible.  The US Senators and French Foreign Minister Fabius can point to a Press TV news release with comments by Ali Akbar Salehi, Iranian head of their Atomic Energy Organization.  Salehi said “the country’s nuclear facilities, including Arak heavy water reactor, will continue running, dismissing Western governments’ call on Tehran to suspend activities at the facility”.

Kirk’s and Menendez’s statements introducing the new legislation reflected a deepening skepticism on Capitol Hill and in polls across America and in Israel that Iran will honor any agreements.  This is based on its track record of deception, relentless pursuit of nuclear hegemony in the Middle East and its global reach of terrorism against the West.

We further noted President Obama’s objections to the new US Senate sanctions bill:

President Obama in his year end press conference, prior to his departure for a vacation with family in Hawaii, responded to questions about the new Senate sanctions initiative, saying:

What I’ve said to members of Congress, Democrats and Republicans, is there is no need for new sanctions legislation, not yet.

Now, if Iran comes back and says, we can’t give you assurances that we’re not going to weaponize, if they’re not willing to address some of their capabilities that we know could end up resulting in them having breakout capacity, it’s not going to be hard for us to turn the dials back, strengthen sanctions even further. I’ll work with members of Congress to put even more pressure on Iran. But there’s no reason to do it right now.

Press TV  noted what immediately prompted the new Majlis uranium acceleration bill:

Moreover, the administration of US President Barack Obama on December 12 issued new sanctions against more than a dozen companies  and individuals for “providingsupport for” Iran’s nuclear energy program.  [For details see: US Department of the Treasury, Office of Foreign Asset Control Sanctions Designations, December 12, 2013]

The US Treasury Department said it was freezing assets and banning transactions of entities that attempt to evade the sanctions against Iran.

This is while under a nuclear agreement reached in Geneva last month, the United States should not impose fresh economic sanctions against Iran over the next six months.

Meanwhile, US National Security Adviser Susan Rice said on December 23rd that Washington seeks to include “triggers” in any final nuclear deal with Iran to automatically re-impose sanctions if Tehran violates the terms of the agreement.

The Islamic regime never ceases to threaten that they will not be deterred in achievement of their nuclear program objectives. That may be triggered by possible passage of new strengthened sanctions legislation or breakdowns in negotiations towards a final agreement based in part on the P5+1 Interim Agreement reached in Geneva on November 24, 2013.  Skepticism abounds about possible achievement of such a final agreement. Hence, concerns about possible military action should the process breakdown.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Egypt Declares Muslim Brotherhood a Terrorist Organization! Will the US follow?

After a powerful devastating suicide bombing that tore apart a police station in Mansoura, Egypt on Tuesday Egypt’s interim government Wednesday declared the Muslim Brotherhood (MB),  a terrorist organization.  An Al Qaeda affiliated group that claimed responsibility for the Mansoura bombing suggested  further retribution would befall Egyptian military who did not desert. The MB has reverted to violence that it had forsworn before the in June 2012 election of former President Mohammed Morsi. Morsi, along with hundreds of other MB leaders were jailed following the July 3, 2013 ouster by the Egyptian interim government. They are being brought to trial on charges of conspiracy and incitement to commit violence.

The AP report, “Egypt names Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group” noted the background that led to Egypt’s declaration  Wednesday:

Egypt’s military-backed interim government on Wednesday declared the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist group, criminalizing all its activities, its financing and even membership to the group from which the country’s ousted president hails.

The announcement is aimed at crippling the Brotherhood and poses a dramatic escalation of the fight between the government and group, which has waged near-daily protests since the July 3 popularly backed military coup that toppled President Mohammed Morsi.

Hossam Eissa, the Minister of Higher Education… said that the decision was in response to Tuesday’s deadly bombing targeting a police headquarters in a Nile Delta city which killed 16 people and wounded more than 100. The Brotherhood has denied being responsible for Mansoura attack and an al-Qaida inspired group on Wednesday has claimed responsibility for the suicide bombing.

“Egypt was horrified from north to south by the hideous crime committed by the Muslim Brotherhood group,” Eissa said. “It’s not possible for Egypt, the state, nor Egyptian people to submit to the Muslim Brotherhood terrorism,” he added.

[…]

The decision comes after a sweeping decision Tuesday aimed at draining the Brotherhood’s finances by freezing funds of more than 1,000 non-government organizations with links to the group and putting more than 100 schools run by the group under government supervision. That directly attacks the grassroots strength of the Brotherhood, where it has much of its power in Egyptian life.

Earlier Wednesday, Ansar Beit al-Maqdis, or the Champions of Jerusalem, said in an online statement that it carried out the attack Tuesday on the Mansoura police headquarters. The attack  was  to avenge the “shedding of innocent Muslim blood” at the hands of Egypt’s “apostate regime” — a reference to the security forces’ crackdown on Islamists following the July coup.

To any who knows the violent history of the MB since its founding in Ismailia in 1928 by Hassan al Banna, this comes as no surprise. A supporter of Hitler and the Nazis, al Banna established a virtual underground army trained and equipped with arms, and  its own intelligence service . The MB supported Haj Amin al Husseini during the 1930’s Arab Riots in the pre-state of Israel British Mandatory Palestine. When Egyptian Prime Minister Mahmoud an-Nukrashi Pasha “disbanded the group in December 1948 — seizing its assets and incarcerating many of its members he was assassinated by a member of the Brotherhood.” Al Banna was assassinated by agents of the Egyptian government in February 1949 following the murder of Premier Pasha. Later Egyptian President Nasser had members of the MB jailed after an assassination attempt on his life in 1954. Nasser brought to trial and executed Sayyid Qtub, an MB extremist whose violent anti-Western and infidel ideology provided the foundation of the Jihad doctrine of al Qaeda.

What is surprising is the US has supported the MB initiative in both Egypt and here.  Right now, it is back to the future in Cairo.

What prevents the Administration from following the example of the Egyptian interim government here in the US?  It could begin by sacking those agents of the MB who have penetrated our government starting with Mohamed Elibiary who  is  on the US Department of Homeland Security (USDHS) Advisory Panel.  Elibiary has visibly demonstrated support for the MB. Note this excerpt from a Bare Naked Islam  post in September 2013:

R4BIA symbolPerhaps the most distinctive feature of Elibiary’s Twitter profile photo is the black four-finger salute on yellow background located on the lower right.

The MB adopted the logo to symbolize the Aug. 14 “martyrdom” of pro-Morsi demonstrators in Cairo, according to FrontPage Magazine.

If his sympathies were still in doubt, on Sept. 6, Elibiary re-tweeted a photo “with love” depicting a Cairo pro-Motherhood Brotherhood rally as it made its way on a bridge crossing the Nile.

According to Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism there are five others who are allied the MB in America that have been granted positions in the Administration. They include:  Arif Alikhan, Assistant Secretary for Policy Development at USDHS, Rashad Hussein, former White House Deputy Counsel and now Special Envoy to the Saudi – backed Organization of Islamic Cooperation, Salam al-Maryati of MPACT, Islamic Society of North America President Mohamed Magid and Eboo Patel on the President’s Advisory Council on Faith-Based Neighborhood Partnerships. Given what occurred in Cairo Wednesday, perhaps Rep. Michael McCaul (R-TX), Chairman of the House Committee on Homeland Security can conduct long delayed investigative hearings about MB penetration of our government.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review.

Leaving Afghanistan

On December 31, the United States is slated to begin removing its troops from Afghanistan. They have been there since shortly after 9/11 in 2001. At this writing, Afghan President Hamid Karzai has refused to sign a security agreement that would permit contingents of U.S. and allied troops there to train and assist its security forces beyond the end of 2014.

Karzai says we have different definitions for terrorists. They were and they are the Taliban. He wants to negotiate with them. On Christmas day they attacked the U.S. embassy in Kabul. No one was injured.

In late December, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs, Gen. Martin Dempsey, held a Pentagon press conference in which they asserted that the Afghan security forces are capable of “overcoming and, in most cases, overwhelming their Taliban competitors for control of Afghanistan,” but that they “lack confidence.” In addition, they face a political transition in their central government, the outcome of which is unpredictable.

President Obama deemed the Afghan conflict a good war in contrast to Iraq. Since the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq, it has been in a state of political crisis with constant attacks that kill Iraqis on a weekly basis. On Christmas day, Christians were attacked three times in Baghdad, Iraq, killing at least 37.

At the heart of the Afghan and Iraq problem is Islam, its long battle between Sunnis and Shiites, and its enduring hatred of Christians, Jews and all other faiths.

We’re in Afghanistan because it was an al Qaeda staging area for 9/11. Had we taken the approach that freed Kuwait from Iraqi conquest in 1990, we would have been in and out in short order. The U.S. led assault on Iraqi forces began in mid-January 1991 and it was over by late February.

Instead, we remained in Afghanistan. There were 630 U.S. casualties in the years between 2001 and 2008, but following Obama’s “surge” they increased to 1,544 between 2009 and 2012. In 2013, there have been 126. The Taliban suffered casualties, but they did not go away. Parked in Pakistan, their main support, they can and will return. Much of Afghanistan’s problems stem from the establishment of Pakistan in 1947.

The National Priorities Project tracks the cost of the Afghanistan conflict, asserting that taxpayers have paid $683,242,655, 879 (and growing) since it began in 2001, calculating that it costs $10.45 million an hour. The Iraq war cost $816,255,519,665.

Neither conflict produced a desired outcome and, combined with Obama’s agenda to withdraw the U.S. from any military role in the Middle East, many Americans are believed to have embraced a neo-isolationism whose roots reach back to the Vietnam conflict and earlier. The reality is that most have grave doubts and concerns about five years of failed foreign policy by the Obama administration that has sided with Islamists.

A recent Pew poll said that 52% believe “the U.S. should mind its own business internationally and let other countries get along the best they can on their own.” The problem with that is the prospect of Middle East and African nations in which al Qaeda and other jihadists would gain control and expand their holy war on the West.

In an analysis of Afghanistan after a U.S. withdrawal, Daveed Gartenstein-Ross, a senior fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and an adjunct assistant professor in Georgetown University’s security studies program, noted recently that “Afghanistan has known some 2,600 years of foreign invasion. The invaders did much “to shape the country’s culture, religion, politics, and geography, and some of Afghanistan’s most critical turning points came as those invaders left the scene.”

There is considerable irony in what occurred when the then-Soviet Union invaded and was eventually forced out by Afghans and jihadists like Osama bin Laden who received considerable aid from the U.S. to drive out its army in 1989. This was followed by its collapse in 1991 and Afghanistan did as well, “into anarchy and civil war.”

Several scenarios were offered by Gartenstein-Ross, but given Afghanistan’s history few hold out much hope for a strong centralized government. As the Taliban say, the U.S. military wears watches while they measure time in decades and centuries.

My own best guess is that the Taliban conflict in Afghanistan will expand. Whether an Afghan army, still in its earliest years, can protect a central government is anyone’s guess.

When jihadists are emboldened enough to try to overthrow the Assad regime in Syria and as Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states join together to prepare for or deter a possible conflict with a nuclear-armed Iran, the Middle East holds the promise of a very ugly future. The implications for the U.S. can only be ignored at our peril.

Cover - AfghanistanEditor’s Note: An extraordinary book on our fighting forces in Afghanistan, a tribute to their courage and dedication, is “Afghanistan on the Bounce” by Robert L. Cunningham, a noted photographer of Presidents and heads of state who was embedded with our troops there, photographing all aspects of their lives. If you served there, know someone who did, or are a veteran, this is worth adding to your library.

© Alan Caruba, 2013

Syria’s Dictatorship Anniversary: Sympathy (?) for the Two Devils

Incidentally, Syria’s Ba’th dictatorship is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. The best Syrian analyst I can think of, a very honest guy, is Ammar Abdulhamid. I recently read an article he wrote and was struck by how sad the situation in Syria is. He wrote:

Re-legitimating the Assad regime today, after all it had done, will green light genocidal ventures elsewhere in the world. If world leaders are standing helpless in the face of one genocide today, what will they, I wonder, when they are faced with a dozen? The world witnessed similar conditions during the Cold War for sure, but this is supposed to be the post-Cold War Era, the Era of Never Again and R2P, an era where social media is creating deep links between average citizens and realities on the ground everywhere in the world. Allowing for a return of Cold-War-like realities and developments, or, to be more specific, allowing for the start of Cold War II, is a major step backward. It’s a major setback, a major failure, and it will come with a hefty price tag for all.

In other words, he is predicting terrible continued bloodshed in Syria, and the even more depressing probability of more genocide, since the international community is powerless to help. The likelihood is that Syria will become an Iranian colony.

Yet there is a big hole in Abdulhamid’s analysis; that of the fate of moderate Syrians, because for a moderate Syrian, the flip of the coin leads to an unavoidable outcome; heads they lose, tails they lose.

If the regime side wins, there will be a massacre of Sunni Muslims. If the Syrian rebels win, there will be a massacre of Alawites and Christians. Either way, there will be mass murder. This is horrible.

Let me make it plain. There will be mass murder, even genocide in Syria. There is no escape; one group will most certainly be at the mercy of another. Syrian rebels have made it clear they will enforce Shari’a.

I was in Syria once, and the regime soldiers ushered me out politely. In fact, I was riding in a taxi there at the moment Richard Nixon resigned. I remember a moderate Syrian Politician asking me, “Will I see democracy in Syria during my lifetime?”

I stood with my mouth agape, unable to reply. Seeing my jaw drop, he shrugged sadly and said, “Oh well, maybe in my children’s lifetime.”

Many of the Syrian rebels have in fact defected to al-Qa’ida. So much for the “moderates” that the American taxpayers support and arm.

On the other side of the picture, you have not just Russia, but also Iran and Hizballah protecting the Asad regime.

Roughly 40% of the Syrian territory is held by the regime; approximately 40% by the rebels; and about 20% by the Kurds. An estimated 70% of the population is controlled by the regime.

So dangerous and serious is the situation that I must in good conscience make a statement: The United States and the West are working on a solution that will probably end up being a genocidal situation in Syria. Ammar is correct, but either side winning the war will lead to more bloodshed.

Tens of thousands of children have been killed, only the prelude to tens of thousands more. An estimated 200,000 people have been killed thus far.

The Case for Military Prayer

The national security of the United States depends on military prayer. The greatest threat to our national security is the “war on prayer” currently being waged within our military.

EbtC_Cover_FrontNoShad-210x300I make these statements after reading the book “The Case for Military Prayer” by Colonel Ronald D. Ray, USMC (Ret.). Colonel Ray writes, “Our son graduated from boot camp in the spring of 2001 and entered VMI [the Virginia Military Institute] that August, just prior to 9/11. The following year, in 2002, the ACLU, and others, sued VMI to force the Institute to stop daily mealtime prayers.”

In 2002, Colonel Ray collaborated with First Principles Press and the Naval Aviation Foundation to defend the right of cadets at VMI. The case went to an en banc hearing before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Richmond, VA, which deadlocked 6-6. The case went on to the US Supreme Court, which declined to hear the ACLU vs. VMI case formally, but issued a remarkable and very unusual sixteen page opinion that concluded by declaring, “there was no injunction blocking prayer at the Virginia Military Institute.”

This led Colonel Ray on a path to research and gather historical documents and government issued prayer books used by military forces from 1643 to the present. The compilation of his efforts led him to understand that, “From that moment, from that generation to mine, I realized the history of American military prayer was a constant thread.”

“Further research revealed that prayer is vital to the US military, part of our ‘equipment’, as one famous general put it. This belief and confidence in prayer has spanned more than 350 years,” states Colonel Ray.

Colonel Ray notes, “Through our research, I was further impressed to learn that prayer was considered a foundation of the American military particularly by John Adams, who led the military committee that drew up the two first principles of the American military which are 1) Exemplary Conduct; and 2) Daily Prayer.”

Colonel Ray’s collection of prayers during the VMI case to “uphold and preserve the right of leaders and chaplains to pray” serves a dual purpose: First, it demonstrates the “Military Necessity” of prayer to the success of America’s military leaders and mission. Secondly, “military prayer is being disregarded, officially opposed by political and military leaders, and often treated as ceremonial deism or mere formality in military and nonmilitary circumstances.”

This historic collection, “Allows anyone regardless of rank or station, the opportunity to understand the crucial history of prayer, draw from its pages an evidentiary military prayer associated with a historic occasion or prayed by a significant historic figure, and use the collection individually or in groups to serve as inspiration in time of trial.”

As an Army Reservist currently serving in Afghanistan, who received a copy of the book, put it, “I particularly enjoyed the historical aspect of the prayers in your book, as it connects me to the long tradition of men serving in America’s military … Others survived it before, and we’ll survive it too.”

As the voices of presidents and military heroes recorded in this book have continuously maintained, America and her fighting forces must not lose touch with our nation’s understanding of the “Creator” named in the Declaration of Independence, and His broad and great endowment of Divine Providence for our “One Nation Under God.”

Prayer is ultimately vital to America’s national security, perhaps more so than any other nation in the world, because God has put His name here. Our official national motto, since its origin in the War of 1812 and official adoption in 1956 has been, “In God We Trust”. Our way of life is inextricably linked to our “Creator” by whom we were endowed with the right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Our soldiers in the field today need the support of prayer, especially when prayed by their chaplains and led by their Officers.

As General George C. Marshall declared, for the military to lose or ignore the “religious fervor of the soul is done at great peril.”

Chaplain James H. O’Neill, Chaplain for General Patton and the Third Army wrote, per the request of General Patton, in Training Letter No. 5, “[W]e must urge, instruct, and indoctrinate every fighting man to pray as well as fight … This Army needs the assurance and the faith that God is with us. With prayer, we cannot fail.”

I thank Colonel Ray for his service to the nation and for compiling this much needed book of military prayers. It is a must read for all Americans.

VIDEO: Endowed by Their Creator.

ABOUT COLONEL RONALD D. RAY

col_ray_usmc

Colonel Ronald D. Ray, USMC (Ret.)

Ronald D. Ray is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense under the Reagan administration. He is also a decorated Vietnam veteran and Colonel. He is now a practicing attorney in Kentucky.

Colonel Ray was born in Hazard, Kentucky on October 30, 1942. He received his B.A. from Centre College of Kentucky in 1964, and his juris doctorate, Magna Cum Laude, in 1971 from the University of Louisville School of Law, where he was Salutatorian in his class. Colonel Ray was a Partner with Greenebaum, Doll & McDonald for 15 years, and until 1986 headed the Labor and Employee Relations section of the firm. Colonel Ray was Adjunct Professor of Law at the University of Louisville School of Law for many years.

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Saudi Arabia an enemy of the United States?

In 2001/2002 we hit Afghanistan and overthrew the Taliban for aiding and abetting Al Qaida and for hosting Osama Bin Laden after the attacks on New York City, the Pentagon and Pennsylvania on September 11th 2001. We then went on to invade Iraq. This Iraq invasion had no constitutional reasoning and in my opinion was wrong.

Going back in time to the first Gulf war of 1990/Jan 1991, Iraq was no tactical, operational or strategic threat to the United States and we had no constitutional reason to liberate Kuwait from Saddam Hussein. This was a Muslim problem not an American problem. Osama Bin Laden offered up his Mujahedeen fighters to Saudi Arabia to liberate Kuwait from the Iraqi forces but the Saudi’s declined his offer. They decided instead to let American and European forces to shed blood in their place not Muslim blood. I was there in the Eastern Mediterranean Sea, forward deployed with and supporting fast attack submarines and SEAL units in this endeavor from 1990-1993.

Lets go back to the events after 9/11 2001. After we secured Afghanistan in 2002 and created conditions for free elections in October 2004 we then should have left Afghanistan our mission accomplished as per Article 2, Section 8 of the Constitution. I think after Afghanistan we should have then over thrown the leadership in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia not Iraq. That’s quite a strong statement to make but I justify what I say with this. Lets go forward in time to the present month Decembers 2013.

On December 19th 2013 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit overturned the 2005 Federal Court decision that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) was exempt from any civil lawsuits arising from the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks.

The 9/11 families and insurance companies are now able to continue forward with legal action against the Saudi Kingdom. Why though would the US government protect Saudi Arabia from civil legal actions resulting from 9/11 ? Good question. Perhaps it was because Saudi Arabia not Iraq that is the enemy of the United States but we must be denied this information to protect those decision makers from prosecution who have inflicted so much pain and suffering on the our military forces and our economy by invading Iraq and not addressing the real problem. KSA !

From the intelligence gathered some of which obtained allegedly from the CIA, Saudi Arabia and the Saudi High Commission knowingly provided the terrorist group Al Qaeda with funds and other support, that helped them carry out the 9/11 attacks on New York City and the Pentagon.

It would appear that the leadership of Saudi Arabia is our enemy not the people of Iraq. Iraq and Iran fought an 8 year war without American interference and we should have stayed out of Kuwait too in 1991. It was not our problem but Saudi Arabia made it our problem. We fell into the trap and did not follow the Constitution which tells us not to meddle in the affairs of foreign nations. We just can’t stop being the worlds Police department.

Thomas H. Kean was the Chair and Lee H. Hamilton the Vice Chair of the committee investigating the 9/11 attacks. Former Senators Bob Kerrey (D-Nebraska) and Bob Graham (D- Florida) in December 2012 both voiced their concerns about Saudi involvement in 9/11. They submitted affidavits in this case in 2012, stating that a Saudi government agent, along with other Saudi officials, played a key role during the lead-up to the attacks. You will also recall that all of the hijackers except two came from Saudi Arabia. Imagine that. We save Saudi Arabia’s backside from a potential invasion from Iraq in 1991 and they pay us back by allegedly funding the attack on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001. We should listen to our Founding Fathers and stay out of foreign nations squabbles and wars.

Senator Bob Graham, in the New York Times, said “I am convinced that there was a direct line between at least some of the terrorists who carried out the September 11th attacks and the government of Saudi Arabia,” in his affidavit, citing, among other things, the San Diego case of Saudi government Omar al Bayoumi, who provided direct assistance to two of the 9/11 hijackers.

I want the Congress of the United States to now force the release of these censored/classified 28 pages from the Congressional Joint Inquiry. These classified documents reportedly deal with Saudi financing and support for the 9/11 hijackers. They will help the families of 9/11 recover financial damages from the kingdom of Saudi Arabia and let the chips fall where they may in regards to future US relations with this Muslim country that hates Israel.

Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the attacks on our nation on September 11th 2001 would thus explain why they dumped all of their US Treasury bonds the day before the attack on September 10th 2001. This sell off was stopped when on the morning of 9/11 2001 all the phone lines to Wall Street and the Stock Exchange where cut when the second jet hit Tower II.

The Saudi’s, perhaps being complicit in the attack on the United States on 9/11 by backing and funding Al Qaeda would explain why they just lobbied President Obama the Kenyan Muslim to once again try and use our military but this time as Al Quadas’ mercenaries to take out President Assad in Syria. Saudi Arabia in my opinion is the head of the snake and British intelligence services and Iranian intelligence officers were also probably aware of the Saudi involvement in funding the attack on the United States.

We are in a war on terror partly because Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait in 1990 and the Saudi’s did not want Muslim blood shed to fix this problem. The Saudi’s used our boys and girls in our military to be their protector which has now made us the target of Al Qaeda. President Carters weakness in 1979 created these conditions for the original Russian invasion of Afghanistan and thus Al Qaeda was born.

We have no reason to be in Afghanistan, we have no reason to be in Iraq, we have no reason to be in the Sudan, Obama had no Congressional authority when he ordered the tomahawk missile attack on Libya an impeachable offense and we have no reason to buy oil from the Middle East. We have more than enough here in the United States.

We must replace our government on November 4th 2014 with one that is able to follow the Constitution. We must stay out of foreign entanglements unless its a direct threat to us and we must prosecute President Obama for crimes against the US Constitution.

We must stop protecting US – Saudi relations and expose the truth about the Saudi’s involvement in creating a ten year war in the Middle East that cost us trillions of dollars, and one that created a 23 year war on terror since 1990 that has cost us thousands of American lives not to mention the veterans now affected with PTSD and lost limbs etc.

A few days ago the Congress and the Senate repaid veterans who have shed their blood defending our nation by cutting their pensions. The Congress / Senate should be ashamed of themselves. I demand that they release and declassify the 28 pages of Saudi complicity in 9/11, lest they forget that the 4th plane that went down in Pennsylvania was meant for them.

We will remember who voted to cut the pay of the military veteran stuck in the wheelchair, hobbling on the crutches and who hides in his or her house afraid to live life because of the experiences he or she has endured to keep these bastard politicians free and Saudi Arabian government rich and prosperous. God Bless America.