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Pentagon: Kurds “Reliable and Effective” Partners in War Against Islamic State

Monday, July 6, 2015 was a red letter day in Washington with Pentagon officials acknowledging the critical role of Kurdish YPG and Peshmerga forces successfully fighting ISIS in Syria and Iraq. President Obama appeared at the Pentagon to give an update on the campaign to “degrade and destroy the Islamic state”.  It wasn’t a great score card since his declaration made on national television on September 10, 2014. He suggested that winning the war was going to a “generational conflict’.  “This will not be quick. This is a long-term campaign. (ISIS) is opportunistic and it is nimble,” Obama said. As usual he reiterated that the ISIS campaign was “not a war against Islam”.  This despite that ISIS  practices pure Salafist Islam that has attracted tens of thousands of foreign fighters from across the Muslim ummah. The President still hasn’t addressed a coherent strategy except to commit minimal numbers of  U.S. trainers to develop combat cadres in both Iraq and Syria and conduct air assaults against ISIS targets. During his remarks he pointed to more than 5,000 air strikes in Iraq, Syria and North Africa equivalent to just three days of  air operations during the Gulf Wars.

According to CNN, President Obama suggested that the ‘coalition’ was going after “the heart” of the Islamic State. He exhorted Congress to confirm the replacement head of the Treasury Department, Undersecretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence, Adam Szubin.  He suggested that U.S. Trained forces had some successes on the ground in both Iraq and Syria backed up by air support, without naming them.   They are the Kurdish YPG (Popular Resistance Forces) in Syria and the Peshmerga in Iraq.  In our July New English Review (NER) Article, “Empowering Kurdistan”, those front line Kurdish forces have been the only forces capable of rolling back ISIS forces.  Obama and his national security staff had met with President Barzani  and aides of the Kurdish Regional Government in early May 2015 during the latter’s meetings in Washington seeking quality weapons and support  in the war against ISIS. We noted in our NER article that both KRG and Syrian Kurdish leaders had met separately with Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) in the House and Senate Armed Forces Committee Chairman John McCain (R-AZ).  That resulted in amendments to the National Defense Appropriate Act authorizing military assistance for Kurdish fighting units in both Syria and Iraq.

Watch this C-Span video of President Obama’s Pentagon Conference on the ISIS War, July 6, 2015:

Secretary Ashton Carter and French Defese Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian Pentaon, July 6, 2019 Source Carolyn Kaster AP

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian, The Pentagon, July 6, 2015. Source: Carolyn Kaster/AP.

A few hours before President Obama and military leaders briefings on the War against ISIS, there was another Pentagon meeting with a more positive message. This one featured  Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter and French Defense Minister, Jean-Yves Le Drian to specifically discuss military aid for the Kurds.  McClatchey had a definitive report on that more substantive meeting recognizing the Kurds as “reliable and effective allies” in the war against ISIS, “Kurdish militia proving to be reliable partner against Islamic State in Syria.”   The McClatchey report noted:

In comments Monday, Defense Secretary Ash Carter acknowledged that Kurdish fighters from the YPG militia are identifying bombing targets for U.S.-led airstrikes. He referred to the militia as “capable,” hailed its “effective action,” and said because of the Kurds’ actions, U.S. forces had been able to “support them tactically.”

It was the first public description by a senior Obama administration official detailing the cooperation that has been unfolding for months between the United States and the militia, which has drawn the ire of key NATO ally Turkey.

The militia’s success is one of the reasons the United States is intensifying its bombing campaign against the Islamic State in Syria, Carter said.

“That’s what we were doing over the weekend north of Raqqa, which is conducting airstrikes that limit ISIL’s freedom of movement and ability to counter those capable Kurdish forces,” Carter said, referring to the Islamic State by a common acronym.

Carter’s singling out of the YPG, or the People’s Protection Units, comes after months in which U.S. officials have said they were putting off a more concerted campaign in Syria in favor of pressing against the Islamic State in Iraq because the U.S. lacked a capable ground partner in Syria. As long ago as October, then Pentagon spokesman John Kirby was blunt about why U.S. activities there were lagging: “We don’t have a willing, capable, effective partner on the ground inside Syria. It’s just a fact.”

Secretary Carter went on to commend the YPG, ironically an offshoot of the Turkish Kurdish resistance PKK, still listed as a terrorist organization. The YPG successes have unnerved Islamist Turkish President Erdogan that he has suggested invading Syria to establish a 100 x 30 mile buffer zone to forestall further Kurdish advances to the west of Kobani on the Turkish frontier at Suruc.  Turkish military leaders are less supportive of that incursion.  Moreover, Erdogan’s agenda may have been effectively eclipsed despite an agreement to form a working coalition with the Turkish National Party, HNP. The latter was one of three minority parties, including the Kemalist CHP and the upstart Kurdish HDP that won a plurality of seats in the Ankara Parliamentary elections of June 7, 2015.

Carter went to site the YPG contributions in Syria:

Backed by U.S. air power, he said, YPG forces have advanced in the past weeks to within 18 miles of Raqqa, the main stronghold of the Islamic State in Syria.

“That’s the manner in which effective and lasting defeat of ISIL will occur, when there are effective local forces on the ground that we can support and enable so that they can take territory, hold territory and make sure that good governance comes in behind it,” Carter said.

How far the YPG will push its offensive is uncertain. Raqqa is not traditionally a Kurdish area, and Kurdish forces, which are said to number an estimated 16,000 troops, are not expected to try to take the city alone.

But the YPG offers a much more robust anti-Islamic State force inside Syria than does the training program the United States has undertaken: so far, only about 190 so-called moderate rebels have been enlisted in the program, which is intended to train 5,000 anti-Islamic State fighters a year.

The United States last month also expanded its airstrikes to northern Aleppo, another key northern Syria city about 100 miles west of Raqqa, putting the Islamic State on notice that a new drive to remove them from what is called the Marea front could be in the offing.

[…]

Carter made it clear that U.S. and allied warplanes are increasingly depending on the Kurdish forces as part of the Pentagon’s broader campaign to defeat the Islamic State.

“We are doing more in Syria from the air,” Carter said. “I think you saw some of that in recent days. And the opportunity to do that effectively is provided in the case of the last few days by the effective action on the ground of Kurdish forces, which gives us the opportunity to support them tactically.”

What has not been addressed publicly is the delivery of quality military weapons and training of YPG and Peshmerga forces who have fought with Soviet era weaponry against U.Sl arms and equipment obtained by ISIS from fleeing Iraqi national forces routed from Mosul in June 2014 and Ramadi in late May 2015. That may soon be coming given the presence of French Defense Minister Le Drian.  You may recall Secretary Carter upon learning of the fall of Ramadi accused Iraqi national forces of having” no will to fight”.  The Kurds exemplify military valor and have a proven record.

Secretary Carter should move expeditiously to release weapons and equipment from the US War Reserve Stock pre-positioned in Israel to the YPG, KURDNAS forces in Syria and Peshmerga in Iraq. Moreover, Gen. James Allen who heads the U.S.-led coalition force should ramp up aerial sorties beyond the paltry 40 sorties used to provide close air support to the YPG this past weekend. President Obama, unfortunately, has yet to recognize the pure Salafist form of Islam that is embodied in the barbaric violence perpetrated by ISIS on women, children, ancient religious minorities and Syrian and Iraqi military prisoners. Yes, Mr. President this is a war against Salafist Islam that the secular Muslim Kurds recognize must be destroyed.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of a female Kurdish fighter known as ‘Rehana’ (Image from Twitter user / @PawanDurani).

Obama, J Street and the American Jewish Divide

Former Israeli Ambassador to Washington, Michael Oren is a native of West Orange, New Jersey best exemplifies the special relations between the two allies, Israel and the U.S. Ally-book cover jpgWith the publication of his memoir, Ally: My Journey Across the American-Israeli Divide (2015), he has another best seller. Previous ones were Six Days of War: June 1967 and the Making of the Modern Middle East (2003) and Power, Faith, and Fantasy: America in the Middle East, 1776 to the Present (2007)Having read Ally, I concur with praise from two pundits: Bret Stephens, the Tuesday Wall Street  Journal columnist of note, and Vic Rosenthal, a former resident of Fresno, California, now a Jerusalem resident whose Abu Yehuda blog  posts are a must read about an American  living in Israel.

Bret Stephens’ opening stanza in his June 29, 2015 WSJ column “The President Against the Historianexplains why Oren’s memoir is a must read:

Michael Oren, Israel’s former ambassador to the United States, has written the smartest and juiciest diplomatic memoir that I’ve read in years, and I’ve read my share. The book, called “Ally,” has the added virtues of being politically relevant and historically important. This has the Obama administration—which doesn’t come out looking too good in Mr. Oren’s account—in an epic snit.

Vic Rosenthal in his July 2, 2015, Abu Yehuda blog post, Michael Oren is tired of American Jews, and so am I, addresses  the yawning  divide between Israel and American Jews, another of Oren’s themes in Ally:

Rabbi Eric Yoffie is offended by Michael Oren, on behalf of (non-Orthodox) American Jews. These Jews, like America’s “first Jewish president,” turn out to be very easy to offend: just suggest that Israelis are more qualified than they are to decide the future of their country.

Oren’s new book has offended both Yoffie and the Obama Administration, which has launched an all-out media blitz against him (as far as I know, Obama spokespeople haven’t called him a ‘chickenshit’ yet, but give them time).

Yesterday morning, I dialed into an Israel Project  (TIP)sponsored presentation by Oren. He told the listeners ,unlike the daylight between Obama and Netanyahu over the Iranian nuclear nightmare threat, that there is no daylight across the political divide in the  obsessive democratic cockpit of the Knesset. As Oren tells it, whether Likud, Zionist Union and even Arab parties, all Israel is united that Iran achieving nuclear breakout is “a very bad deal”. Further, he said while some  in the media, the Obama claque of  “senior officials’ and former aides have excoriated him for the early publication  of his memoir, he was heartened that they haven’t addressed the facts of what the Administration has perpetrated. Listen to this recorded  TIP presentation by Oren and the following Q&A.

Oren’s memoir has a lot to say about President Obama and his Administration acolytes isolating Israel over Iran and  Netanyahu’s vigorous defense of Israel  sovereign right of Israel to warn America and the untrusting world about Iran’s nuclear  threat and the very bad P5+1  deal. Perhaps  a  deal about to be announced in Vienna in a few days. Or if not simply kicked down the road.  All while Iran’s  Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei  and Mahdist acolytes of terrorism perfect the means of taking out the “little Satan”, Israel ,with one bomb and the “big Satan”, the  US, with a nuclear tipped ICBM.

Oren clearly takes pride that his well honed skills as a Columbia and Princeton educated historian who earned his PhD in Middle East Studies with the venerable Bernard Lewis.   Not bad for a pudgy dyslexic , pigeon toed 15 year old who shook the hand of the late Israeli PM Yitzhak Rabin, when the latter was  Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the US.  He exclaimed on that memorable occasion that some day he would be Israel’s Ambassador.  A late bloomer in high school Oren fulfilled his quest, slimed down hardened through rowing .  Equipped with his backpack he made aliyah to Israel to go through  grueling  paratrooper training  earn his coveted red beret along with an oath taken  to defend Israel on Masada with his IDF comrades.  He ends up in combat and later as a reserve officer during the Second Lebanon War as a military spokesperson to the foreign press.  Along the way he  meets his  American wife Sally Edelstein, a  Jersey girl, dancer and former San Francisco hippy groupie when she makes Aliyah to Israel and they ultimately form their Israeli family.

Ally  depicts what it was like for an American-Israeli to fulfill his dream as his adopted country’s Ambassador in Washington  Israel’s  interests in the byzantine politics of the Obama era from 2009 to 2013. After leaving Washington, Oren turns home to Tel Aviv to lecture, teach at Harvard and Yale and write his memoir.   Oren is now a member of the Kulanu party headed by former  Likud Communications Commissioner and economic reformer Moshe Kahlon.  Oren is a thinking liberal and  both he and the family are members of a Reform synagogue.  His memoir culminates on a dramatic note when he  and Sally attend  a  Bar Mitzvah celebration for 13 year olds at  Kibbutz Na’an, with one of his former Washington Embassy aides, Lee Moser, mother of  one of the bar mitzvah candidates when a red alert sounds, sirens wail and they scurry for shelter. He writes:

I held Sally’s hand and glanced over my shoulder over my shoulder just as two Hamas rockets roared in. Then with twin booms that rattled the tin overhang  and shook the ground below, the missiles exploded. Iron Dome interceptors, developed by Israel and funded by the United States, scored perfect hits. For moment afterward, as we emerged into the uncertain night, the glow of those bursts hovered over us, beaming like kindred stars.

All  of which brings  us to why he has frosted the J Street  fawning rabbinic leadership of the Reform Movement in America and  earned  both Vic Rosenthal’s and my admiration. This came on the cusp of having orchestrated a  recent viewing and panel discussion of the Americans for Peace and Tolerance documentary, J Street Challenge with Pensacola pro-Israel colleagues; Rabbi Eric Tokajer of Brit Ahm synagogue, Mike Bates, 1330amWEBY general manger of “Your Turn host and Florida State Representative Mike Hill, a U.S. Air Force Academy grad.

Vic Rosenthal notes a similar experience in his Fresno in his Abu Yehuda column:

We tried to bring the local Jewish community – the organizations, the synagogues and individual Jews – along with us. With a few exceptions, mostly people like us who had lived in Israel or had relatives there, we had to drag them kicking and screaming. Most of our pro-Israel events drew the same few supporters.

The local Reform temple was probably the most frustrating. A film critical of J Street, followed by a discussion? Absolutely not, it would be ‘divisive’! The Jewish Federation and Hadassah were better, but it was always easier to organize an event about Jewish culture than Israel.

Is Oren right that American Jews are more interested in helping others than their own? Certainly they were far more upset about terrorism in Charleston than Jerusalem, and far more ready to criticize our Prime Minister than their own Administration. The Reform rabbi threw himself into activities to help the poor and homeless. He is seen on TV on panels with the Imam of the Islamic Cultural Center. He is an outspoken advocate of liberal causes, but he did not give a sermon in favor of PM Netanyahu’s speech about Iran before the Congress.

In preparation for the recent J Street Challenge  Pensacola event, we culled excerpts from Oren’s Ally about his views on J Street  and its defenders inside the Obama Administration, illustrative of what  concerns Vic Rosenthal.

On J Street’s inclusion in Major American Jewish organizations meeting with Obama in 2009 p. 78

He promised to be more evenhanded in asking all parties, not just Israelis, to make sacrifices for peace. Yet the meeting would be remembered as a turning point in the administration’s approach toward the Jewish State.

Included for the first time with the mainstream Jewish leaders were the heads of Americans for Peace Now and the newly founded J Street, both organizations stridently critical of Israel and its traditional American supporters.  Their presence rattled the other participants, many of whom had been personally slighted by these parvenus.

The President concluded, “When there is no daylight, Israel just sits on the sidelines and that erodes our credibility with the Arabs”.

Commenting on the discussion, J Street founder Jeremy Ben Ami cited Obama’s ability to connect with the Muslim World and his immense standing in America and the World. “He was very clear that this is a moment that has to be seized and he intends to seize it.  By contrast the other American Jewish leaders emerged from the meeting concerned about Obama’s departure from the long standing principle of “no daylight” in U.S. –Israel relations.

On J Street’s promotion of the Goldstone Report that Maligned Israel in Operation Cast Lead in 2008 – 2009 p. 102

Though J Street refrained from formally endorsing the [Goldstone Report], activists in the organization escorted Goldstone to Congress for meetings with progressive members.  Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner told the UNHRC of America’s disappointment with the document’s double standards. But he also cited Goldstone’s ‘distinguished record of public service” and called on Palestinians to investigate Hamas abuses. This, for Israelis, was tantamount to asking al-Qaeda to investigate 9/11.

On the contretemps between the Israeli Embassy and J Street P. 107

Irksome was the embassy’s continued imbroglio with J Street. Unlike my predecessor, Sallai Meridor, who had shunned the lobby, I initially engaged it in a dialogue.  I had no illusions about the group, which received funds from anti-Israel contributors, supported every legislator critical of Israel, and stridently attacked mainstream American Jewish leaders. Though J Street defined itself as “pro-Israel” and “pro-peace”, its logo bore no connection to Israel whatsoever, not even the color blue, and portrayed other pro-Israel organizations as anti-Israel. Before becoming Ambassador, I chanced to meet one J Street board member and asked him why he had joined. “I’m uncomfortable with the special relationship,” he told me. “I want to normalize U.S.-Israel ties.”

Outrageously, J Street members hosted Goldstone in Congress and lobbied  against sanctions on Iran. These actions were deeply deleterious to Israel’s security – “they endangered seven million Israelis,” I said –and made interacting with J Street virtually impossible. Both the Prime Minister [Netanyahu] and the foreign minister [Avigdor Liberman] vetoed my participation in its annual conference.

On the Obama White House relations with J Street p. 108

J Street… fashioned itself as the Administration’s wing in the American Jewish Community. Obama acknowledged that fact by sending his National Security Advisor [former Marine General] Jim Jones, one of Washington’s most powerful officials to greet the organization. “I’m honored to represent President Obama at the first national J Street conference.  And you can be sure that this administration will be represented at all other J Street conferences…” Obama’s newly appointed advisor on anti-Semitism, Hannah Rosenthal, an early J Street supporter, issued her first denunciation not of anti-Semites, but rather of me for boycotting the summit.

Michael Oren’s Ally might be considered a 21st Century version of Emile Zola’s J’accuse.  Oren , like Zola in the fin de siècle Dreyfus affair,  addresses the calumnies of President  Obama, nurtured  in Muslim Indonesia, creating daylight isolating Israeli PM Netanyahu over nuclear Iran and recognition of a Faux Palestinian State.  Daylight promised  to Obama’s  Chicago anti-Israel confreres, Rashid Khalidi, holder of the Edward Said Endowed Chair on Modern Arab Studies  at Columbia and Ali Abunimah , editor of The Electronic Intifada blog, that he wouldn’t forget them. Oren chronicles how Obama delivered on that promise.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of President Obama and former Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren, July 2009. Source: White House Photo

Turkey Aiding the Islamic State by Establishing a Buffer Zone in Syria to Punish Kurds

The Daily Beast has a report today, that Erodgan is threatening to establish  a buffer zone in Northern Syria, the better to halt the successful Syria Kurdish advance against ISIS, “Turkey Plans to Invade Syria, But to Stop the Kurds, Not ISIS”. These developments followed Erdogan’s remarks last Friday night at a Ramadan break-fast Iftar dinner saying that he would never accept a Kurdistan state comprised of southeastern Turkey and adjacent Northern Syria. The Daily Beast article noted the unease of Turkish military about this latest diktat by the figurehead President whose Islamist AKP party was defeated by a minority of Kemalist, Nationalist and a Kurdish secular party:

In a speech last Friday, Erdogan vowed that Turkey would not accept a move by Syrian Kurds to set up their own state in Syria following gains by Kurdish fighters against the so-called Islamic State, or ISIS, in recent weeks. “I am saying this to the whole world: We will never allow the establishment of a state on our southern border in the north of Syria,” Erdogan said. “We will continue our fight in that respect whatever the cost may be.” He accused Syrian Kurds of ethnic cleansing in Syrian areas under their control.

Following the speech, several news outlets reported that the president and Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu had decided to send the Turkish army into Syria, a hugely significant move by NATO’s second biggest fighting force after the U.S. military.  Both the daily Yeni Safak, a mouthpiece of the government, and the newspaper Sozcu, which is among Erdogan’s fiercest critics, ran stories saying the Turkish Army had received orders to send soldiers over the border. Several other media had similar stories, all quoting unnamed sources in Ankara. There has been no official confirmation or denial by the government.

The government refused to comment on the reports. Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu said “the necessary statement” would be issued after a regular meeting of the National Security Council, which comprises the president, the government and military leaders, this Tuesday.

The reports said up to 18,000 soldiers would be deployed to take over and hold a strip of territory up to 30 kilometers deep and 100 kilometers long that currently is held by ISIS. It stretches from close to the Kurdish-controlled city of Kobani in the east to an area further west held by the pro-Western Free Syrian Army (FSA) and other rebel groups, beginning around the town of Mare. This “Mare Line,” as the press calls it, is to be secured with ground troops, artillery and air cover, the reports said. Yeni Safak reported preparations were due to be finalized by next Friday.

There has been speculation about a Turkish military intervention ever since the Syrian conflict began in 2011. Ankara has asked the United Nations and its Western allies to give the green light to create a buffer zone and a no-fly area inside Syria in order to prevent chaos along the Turkish border and to help refugees on Syrian soil before they cross over into Turkey. But the Turkish request has fallen on deaf ears.

Remember Obama saying that he wished there were more Islamist leaders like AKP Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the Arab ummah of the Middle East. Erodgan’s threatening to invade Syria to build a buffer zone to do what,protect shrines of ancient Ottoman Sultans. We bet he’s mad at the Kurdish HDP party, that together with the Kemalist CHP and Nationalist HNP, thwarted his dream of becoming the Sultan of a neo-Ottoman empire with the minority parties copping a plurality of votes in the June 7th parliamentary elections. He’s also mad at the plucky Syrian Kurds for beating back the ISIS in a string of victories this month. This despite bloody raids by ISIS on both Kobani and Hasakah that were beaten back.

Those Kurdish actions may have cut off the main route for those foreign fighters that Turkey gives a wink and a nod to backed by funds and assistance from the infamous Muslim Brotherhood global IHH charity, You remember IHH? They backed the infamous 2010 Free Gaza Flotilla Mavi Marmara incident infamy. We wrote about IHH caught sending cash and weapons from Turkey into Syria for brothers in AQ and, ahem, ISIS. We bet the Turkish military isn’t so keen to do Erdogan’s bidding given their NATO membership and because the 45 days aren’t up to see if a ruling minority government can be formed or a new election is called so that Erdogan might return his Premier, Ahmet Davutoglu to power with a super majority.

Since the Obama White House doesn’t want to give the Syrian Kurds perhaps U.S. Rep. Trent Franks (R-AZ) and Senate Armed Forces Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) can put the squeeze on Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter to release those quality weapons from the U.S. War Reserve Stock already positioned in Israel. Perhaps this Daily Beast report may be a clarion call to action to deliver the quality weapons fro both Syrian Kurds and Iraqi Peshmerga to push back ISIS. They are the only boots on the ground doing this successfully. I’ve said my piece and more in a forthcoming July NER article with the apt title “Empowering Kurdistan”. watch for its release on Tuesday June 30th.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of female Kurdish fighters prepare to fight to the death to defend their homes against the Islamic State.

Bi-Partisan Policy Group Blasts Obama Iran Nuclear Deal and Middle East Strategy

The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP) released a major policy statement signed by a bi-partisan group of former nationally prominent legislators, Bush and Obama Administration national security, diplomatic officials and the former deputy of the UN International Atomic Energy Agency blasting the emerging P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran, perhaps just days away from  possibly being concluded on June 30th. The statement also condemned the Administration appeasement of Iran’s state-sponsored regional hegemony and the failure to develop a coherent strategy to combat the rise of Daesh, the Islamic State. The WINEP statement encompassed policy recommendations on these important national security issues. Among the signatories are former U.S. Senator Joe Lieberman (I-CT), former California U.S. Representative Howard Berman (D-CA), former CIA Director Gen. David Petreaus, former special negotiator Ambassador Dennis Ross, former Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, James Cavanaugh, Olli Heinonen, former Deputy Director of the IAEA, Stephen Hadley, former Bush Administration National Security Director, WINEP own experts and its executive director, Robert Satloff.

Among the key points in the WINEP-sponsored statement addressing the problems with the emerging P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran is the following:

  1. Monitoring and Verification: The inspectors of the International Atomic Energy Agency (the “IAEA”) charged with monitoring compliance with the agreement must have timely and effective access to any sites in Iran they need to visit in order to verify Iran’s compliance with the agreement. This must include military (including IRGC) and other sensitive facilities. Iran must not be able to deny or delay timely access to any site anywhere in the country that the inspectors need to visit in order to carry out their responsibilities.
  2. Possible Military Dimensions: The IAEA inspectors must be able, in a timely and effective manner, to take samples, to interview scientists and government officials, to inspect sites, and to review and copy documents as required for their investigation of Iran’s past and any ongoing nuclear weaponization activities (“Possible Military Dimensions” or “PMD”). This work needs to be accomplished before any significant sanctions relief.
  3. Advanced Centrifuges: The agreement must establish strict limits on advanced centrifuge R&D, testing, and deployment in the first ten years, and preclude the rapid technical upgrade and expansion of Iran’s enrichment capacity after the initial ten-year period. The goal is to push back Iran’s deployment of advanced centrifuges as long as possible, and ensure that any such deployment occurs at a measured, incremental pace consonant with a peaceful nuclear program.
  4. Sanctions Relief: Relief must be based on Iran’s performance of its obligations. Suspension or lifting of the most significant sanctions must not occur until the IAEA confirms that Iran has taken the key steps required to come into compliance with the agreement. Non-nuclear sanctions (such as for terrorism) must remain in effect and be vigorously enforced.
  5. Consequences of Violations: The agreement must include a timely and effective mechanism to re-impose sanctions automatically if Iran is found to be in violation of the agreement, including by denying or delaying IAEA access. In addition, the United States must itself articulate the serious consequences Iran will face in that event.

The group also addressed the inchoate Middle East strategy addressing Iran’s regional support for state terrorism and the failed strategy to combat the Islamic State:

  1. In Iraq: Expand training and arming not only of Iraqi Security Forces but also Kurdish Peshmerga in the north and vetted Sunni forces in the West. Allow U.S. Special Forces to leave their bases and help coordinate air strikes and stiffen Iraqi units. Sideline Iranian-backed militia and separate them from Shiite units (“popular mobilization units”) that are not under Iranian control.
  2. In Syria: Expand and accelerate the U.S. train and equip programs. Work with Turkey to create a safe haven in northern Syria where refugees can obtain humanitarian aid and vetted non-extremist opposition fighters can be trained and equipped. Capitalize on Bashar al-Assad’s increasing weakness to split off regime elements and seek to join them with U.S. trained opposition elements. Interdict the transshipment of Iranian weapons into Syria in coordination with the Kurds and Turkey, and consider designating as terrorist organizations Iranian-backed Shiite militias responsible for egregious atrocities.
  3. In Yemen: Expand support for Saudi Arabia and the UAE in pressuring the warring parties to the negotiating table while seeking to split the Houthi elements away from Iran.
  4. Regionally: Interdict Iranian arms bound for extremist groups and continue to counter its efforts to harass commercial shipping and our naval forces. Reaffirm U.S. policy to oppose Iran’s efforts to subvert local governments and project its power at the expense of our friends and allies.

The WINEP statement concludes:

Collectively, these steps also strengthen U.S. capability against Daesh (the misnamed “Islamic State”). Acting against both Iranian hegemony and Daesh’s caliphate will help reassure friends and allies of America’s continued commitment. And it will help address Israel’s legitimate concerns that a nuclear agreement will validate Iran’s nuclear program, further facilitate its destabilizing behavior, and encourage further proliferation at a time when Israel faces the possible erosion of its “qualitative military edge.” We urge the U.S. administration to create a discreet, high-level mechanism with the Israeli government to identify and implement responses to each of these concerns.

Taking the actions we propose while the nuclear negotiations continue will reinforce the message that Iran must comply with any agreement and will not be allowed to pursue a nuclear weapon. This will increase, not decrease, the chance that Iran will comply with the agreement and may ultimately adopt a more constructive role in the region. For the U.S. administration’s hopes in this respect have little chance so long as Iran’s current policy seems to be succeeding in expanding its influence.

The President’s ideological  mindset regarding a rapprochement with an untrustworthy Islamic Regime in Tehran coupled with  Secretary of State Kerry’s appeasement of the red-lines diktats issued  by Supreme Ruler Ayatollah Khamenei portend a disastrous emerging agreement, should one be concluded in its current form.  We fully anticipate the Administration will issue its own statements rejecting these compelling and cogent recommendations contained in the WINEP statement signed off by a broad array of bi-partisan national security experts, diplomatic negotiators, former national legislators and international nuclear weapons inspectors.  With the clock winding down on a final Joint Plan of Action,  Americans of all political stripes and Members of Congress  should heed the WINEP-sponsored recommendations concerning the emerging P5+1 agreement under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act  (INARA) of 2015.  The Congress will have a daunting task to respond in less than 30 days under INARA with the President poised to veto any negative vote, not easily overridden.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

“The President that Couldn’t”: Why Obama’s Agenda Failed by Thomas A. Firey

With time running out on his administration, President Obama has embarked on a sort of “apology tour” to disillusioned supporters. They are frustrated that he hasn’t delivered on many of their favored policies, from gun control to single-payer health care to carbon controls.

With candidates queuing up to replace him — many with very different policy goals than his — he apparently feels the need to rally the disaffected behind a successor who would carry on his agenda.

His message to the disheartened supporters is simple: The political failures aren’t his fault. He’s tried hard to deliver, but “Congress doesn’t work” and American government “is broken.” According to Obama:

As mightily as I have struggled against that… it still is broken. … When I ran in 2008, I, in fact, did not say I would fix it. I said we could fix it. I didn’t say, “Yes, I can”; I said — what? … “Yes, we can.”

Washington Post columnist Chris Cillizza, writing about the apology tour, throws some shade at the president, claiming that he did in fact promise to change policy. But ultimately Cillizza agrees with Obama, writing that the American “political system is … more broken than any one person — no matter who that person is or the circumstances that surround that person’s election — could hope to solve.”

But both the president and Cillizza are completely wrong; the American political system assuredly is not broken. The system was designed — and we should all be very grateful that it was designed — to not allow the radical change that Obama’s supporters — or supporters of other politicians across the political spectrum — want.

It is the rare times when such change does occur — think Franklin Roosevelt’s expansion of national government or George W. Bush’s anti-terrorism initiatives and war in Iraq — that American governance had failed and very bad things happen.

Today the United States is a nation of more than 320 million remarkably different people, living in unique situations, having highly individual concerns, desires, and risk preferences, and holding a wide variety of mostly noble values. They each operate in a world of uncertainty and limited resources. Given those dramatically varied circumstances, any national policymaking is likely to harm and anger tens of millions of people.

For that reason, the Framers (who likewise lived in an incredibly diverse nation for their era) designed American government to elevate private action and decentralize governance while limiting national policy to matters of broad consensus and compromise.

Because few of the policy goals advocated by President Obama and his “progressive” supporters have such support or allow for serious compromise (even the signature item that he did manage to enact), it shouldn’t be surprising that few of those goals have been achieved. That doesn’t mean American government is broken — quite the opposite! — but rather that Obama’s conception of governance is.

Perhaps the next president will better appreciate the genius of American government’s design and work within that design for policy change that he or she believes is important. But it’s clear from President Obama’s comments that he is not up to that task.

For the reason, we should all be very grateful that, no, he couldn’t.

Thomas A. Firey

Thomas A. Firey is a Maryland Public Policy Institute senior fellow, and also is managing editor of Regulation magazine, the Cato Institute’s quarterly review of business in government.

EDITORS NOTE: This first appeared at MDpolicy.org.

Is Kurdistan Rising?

In the Wall Street Journal Weekend edition, June 20-21, 2015, Yaroslav Trofimov writes of the possible rise of an independent Kurdistan, “The State of The Kurds”. An independent Kurdistan was promised by the WWI Allies in the Treaty of Sevres that ended the Ottoman Empire in 1920. That commitment was dashed by the rise of Turkish Republic under the secularist Kemal Atatürk confirmed in the 1923 Treaty of Lausanne denying an independent Kurdistan in what is now Eastern Turkey. Combined a future Kurdistan encompassing eastern Turkey, Northern Syria, northwest Iran and northern Iraq might comprise a landlocked republic of 30 million with significant energy and agricultural resources. The rise of Kurdistan is reflected in these comments in the Trofimov WSJ review article:

Selahattin Demirtas, Chairman of the HDP party in Turkey:

The Kurds’ existence was not recognized; they were hidden behind a veil. But now, after being invisible for a century, they are taking their place on the international stage. Today, international powers can no longer resolve any issue in the Middle East without taking into account the interests of the Kurds.

Tahir Elçi, a prominent Kurdish lawyer and chairman of the bar in Diyarbakir, Turkey:

In the past, when the Kurds sought self-rule, the Turks, the Persians and the Arabs were all united against it. Today that’s not true anymore—it’s not possible for the Shiite government in Iraq and Shiite Iran to work together against the Kurds with the Sunni Turkey and the Sunni ISIS. In this environment, the Kurds have become a political and a military power in the Middle East.

Elçi, amplifies a concern that Sherkoh Abbas, leader of the Kurdish National Syria Assembly (KURDNAS) has expressed in several NER interviews an articles with him:

The PKK has made important steps to adopt more democratic ways. But you cannot find the same climate of political diversity in [Kurdish] Syria as you find in [northern Iraq], and this is because of PKK’s authoritarian and Marxist background. This is a big problem.

As effective as the KRG government and peshmerga have been in pushing back at ISIS forces threatening the capital of Erbil, the real problem is the divisiveness in the political leadership. That is reflected in the comment of  Erbil province’s governor, Nawaf Hadi cited by Trofimov:

For 80 years, the Arab Sunni people led Iraq—and they destroyed Kurdistan. Now we’ve been for 10 years with the Shiite people [dominant in Baghdad], and they’ve cut the funding and the salaries—how can we count on them as our partner in Iraq?” All the facts on the ground encourage the Kurds to be independent.

That renewed prospect reflects the constellation of  events in Turkey, Syria and Iraq.

The fall of the AKP government in the Turkish Election of June 7, 2015

There was  the  stunning  defeat of the 13 year reign of  the Islamist AKP headed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan by the trio of secular, nationalist and upstart Kurdish parties, the CHP, HNP and HDP that might form a minority ruling coalition 45 days from the June 7, 2014 parliamentary elections. These minority parties garnered a plurality of 299 seats in the Ankara Parliament.  That is if these parties can coalesce. If not Islamist figurehead President Erdogan seek new elections if they can’t put together a new ruling government.  A Washington, D.C. forum on what the results of the Turkish  election convened by the Foundation for Defense  of Democracies (FDD) forum presented nuanced views. Watch this C-Span video of the FDD forum.

FDD Senior Counselor John Hannah moderated the discussion with former U.S. ambassador to Turkey and FDD Senior Advisor  former US Ambassador to Turkey Eric Edelman and FDD Non-Resident Fellow and former member of Turkish parliament Ayman Erdemir.

John Hannah

June 7 in my opinion was an inspiring performance, a much needed triumph of the spirit of liberal democracy in a Middle East landscape currently inundated with way too much bad news.

For those of us who have watched over the past decade with great dismay the slow drip of Turkey’s democracy being drained away by Erdogan’s creeping Islamism and authoritarianism, we frankly weren’t sure anymore if the Turkish people had this kind of an election in them.

Aykan Erdemir

My take-home message would be that we should not read these elections too much with a progressive, liberal-democratic interpretation. But we should not underemphasize the importance of it either, because ultimately June 7 proved to us that there could be a return from competitive authoritarianism, where an incumbent with huge advantages nevertheless can suffer a relative defeat in the ballot box.

I have always argued that Erdogan’s policies and politics cannot be interpreted within the nation-state borders. Erdogan’s policies right from the start have been transnational; it has always been a Muslim Brotherhood-oriented policy, whether in Syria, Jordan, or Egypt. He is a visionary transnationalist politician.”

Ambassador Edelman

Turkey is a deeply polarized society, and the bad news there is that the AKP is the only party that is competitive across the nation.

Erdogan will not see this vote in any way as inhibiting him in creating an executive presidency. …My suspicion is that Erdogan does not want to see a government formed within the 45-day period set by the constitution and would like to see the country go back to elections. He thinks that if he could apply the ‘keep voting until I get the right answer’ standard, there is a chance he will do better in a second election, get at least a governing majority if not the super-majority.

Dr. Harold Rhode, former Turkish and Islamic Affairs expert in the Office of the Secretary of Defense held a more optimistic view cited in a JNS.org article on the Turkish Elections, “noting that he personally knows pro-American and pro-Israel officials “within the senior leadership of all three of the [non-AKP] parties.”

Syrian YPG Fighters capture Tal Abyad  Reuters

Syrian YPG fighters capture Tal-Abyad from ISIS, June 2015. Source: Reuters.

Syrian Kurdish YPG victory at strategic border town of  Tal-Abyad

The second development was the victory by Syrian Kurdish PYG fighters , Christian Assyrian and secular  FSA militias  wresting the strategic border gateway of Tal-Abyad  from  ISIS with support from  US coalition air strikes. This followed the  January 2015 victory in  the siege at the border  city of Kobani. The Syrian PYG, affiliated with the Turkish PKK, a  terrorist group designated by  Turkey, EU and the US, whose leader Abdullah Ocalan is under house arrest in Turkey,  has been assisted  by fighting units of the Iraqi Peshmerga from the adjacent Kurdish Regional Government  (KRG)in northern Iraq.  The third development was the KRG Peshmerga wresting   control  of Kirkuk and its vast  oil field. Kirkuk, as Trofimov noted  is considered  the “Kurdish Jerusalem” .  Not to be outdone by Kurdish compatriots in Syria and Iraq, in mid-May 2015, Iranian Kurdish  Party of Free Life in Kurdistan ( PJAK)  forces in northwestern Iran’s Zagros mountain  fought  Iranian security forces in Mahabad.  Mahabad  was the capital of the short-lived State of Republic  Kurdistan established with Soviet Russian support in  Iran in 1945- 1946.

KRG Delegation meets with resident Obama VO Biden and National Security Council May 2015

Kurdish President Barzani and KRG delegation meet President Obama and VP Biden May 2015.

KRG Meets with President to Free up Arms Deliveries

The KRG quest for independence has been stymied by the Baghdad government of PM Haidar al-Abadi.  The Baghdad  government has not lived up to its agreement reached in December 2014 to provide regular payments to the KRG amounting  to nearly $5.7 billion in exchange for selling 550,000 barrels of oil. The result has been that KRG government  and the 160,000 Peshmerga force have not been paid in months.  More troubling has been the current agreements between the Obama Administration  and  the al-Abadi government for allocation and deliveries of heavy weapons that have not found their way to the highly effective Peshmerga fighting force. This is especially galling given the thousands of Humvees, mobile artillery, anti-tank, main battle tanks and MRAP vehicles abandoned by fleeing Iraqi national security forces in the conquest of Mosul in June 2014 and Ramadi in late May.

A  meeting occurred in Washington in early May 2015 with  KRG President Barzani and senior officials with President Obama, Vice President Biden and members of the National  Security Staff seeking resolution of this impasse.   Michael Knights of the Washington Institute for Near Policy wrote about this in a May 15, 2015 Al Jazeera, article, “A big win for Kurds at the White House”:

From May 3-8, 2015, Washington D.C. hosted a high-powered delegation from the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG). KRG President Massoud Barzani was flanked by Deputy Prime Minister Qubad Talabani, National Security Chancellor Masrour Barzani and Minister of Peshmerga Affairs Mustapha Sayyid Qadr, among other KRG ministers and officials.  [The delegation was originally scheduled for a five minute meeting with President Obama, instead the session lasted an hour].

In particular, the Kurds complained that Washington has allocated too small a proportion of its $1.6bn Iraq Train and Equip Fund (ITEF) assistance to Kurdistan.

Slow and indirect delivery of US weapons systems is a connected concern. Washington has chosen to funnel most weapons shipments via the federal Iraqi Ministry of Defense, the only entity entitled by US law to sign end-user certificates (EUCs) for the weapons.

[…]In reaction to these views, the House Armed Services Committee of the US Congress introduced clauses into the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), the Pentagon’s budget, in an attempt to protect the Kurds’ fair share of US weapons.

The draft NDAA for Fiscal Year 2016 was amended by congress to include a clause (Section 1223) that named the Peshmerga as one of a number of security forces collectively entitled to “not less than 25 percent” of the annual $715m of US support.

Most controversially the amendment would allow the KRG “as a country” to “directly receive assistance from the United States” if Baghdad failed to meet the aforementioned condition, a clause that sparked security threats from Shia militia leaders against US trainers in Iraq.

Baghdad protested the language, and US Vice President Joe Biden signaled one day before the Kurdish delegation landed that “all US military assistance in the fight against [ISIL] comes at the request of the Government of Iraq and must be coordinated through the Government of Iraq”.

[…]

Instead of trying to force the White House to do Kurdistan’s bidding through pressure politics, Barzani seems to have adopted a longer-term view in his dealings with the US on defense.

Section 1223 did not give the Kurds a great deal – sharing a quarter of US material collectively with Sunni Arab paramilitary recipients – but it would have soured relations with the Obama administration at a critical time.

Israeli Support for an Independent Kurdistan

One  Middle East nation that  supports an independent Kurdistan  is Israel . As exemplified by comments from  Israeli Prime Minister  Netanyahu, Israel supports the creation of an independent Kurdistan in  Iraq.  There is a long connection between the Kurds and the Jewish nation. There is  an estimated 150,000 Kurdish Jewish  population in Israel that has fostered  cultural –linguistic exchanges with Iraqi Kurdistan.  Iraqi and Iranian kurds smuggled Iraqi Jews to freedom via Iran, during the days of the late Shah, to Israel and the West.  Iranian Kurds continued that effort despite  the Islamic republic facilitating the departure of Iranian Jews  via Turkey to reach  Israel.  From the 1950’s to the mid-70’s Israel provided covert military training and  equipment  to Iraqi Kurds  against the Ba’athist regime of the late Saddam Hussein.  That ended with a treaty between the late Shah of Iran and Hussein orchestrated by Henry Kissinger in 1975.  During the 1980’s Hussein took his revenge on Iraqi kurds during the  Iran-Iraq War  in a series of genocidal revenge campaigns including a massive gas attack that killed thousands decimating Kurdish villages.   Israel currently hosts the huge U.S. War Reserve Stock for use in Middle East conflicts. Perhaps, the Obama Administration might relent on the current agreements with the Baghdad government and permit transfers from the US War Reserve Stock   in Israel of much needed weapons, equipment and munitions to the Peshmerga in Iraq and the Syrian Kurdish militias fighting ISIS.  Israel is less than several hundred miles from Erbil.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of supporters cheering Selahattin Demirtas, co-chair of the pro-Kurdish Peoples’ Democratic Party, HDP, in Istanbul, Turkey, in May, 2015. Source: Emrah Gurel/AP.

Does Obama’s Presidential Directive Mandate Outreach to Islamists?

Waleed Sharaby, is a secretary-general of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council   State Department  1-1-27-15(1)

Waleed Sharaby, Secretary General of the Egyptian Revolutionary Council Flashes Rabia MB resistance sign. U.S. State Department Jan. 27, 2015 Source: Facebook screenshot.

Our NER colleague Dr. Richard L. Rubenstein has called Obama, “the most radical American President, ever”. That was in an interview we conducted with him in 2010 that went viral on YouTube. One of the reasons for Dr. Rubenstein’s assessment was the extent to which the President had surrounded himself with like minded senior staff and advisers who condoned outreach to the Muslim Ummah. That was evident early in his first Administration given a trip to Ankara in April 2009, followed by his address at Cairo University in June where he declared a new foreign policy accommodating the concept of Islamist Democracy.  Dr. Rubenstein’s major book on Jihad and Genocide elucidated the anti-Democratic underpinning of Qur’anic doctrine.  Especially concerning him were the Muslim Brotherhood and derivatives, Al Qaeda, Hamas and the Shia Mahdist apocalyptic doctrine espoused by the Islamic Regime in Iran.  A revolutionary Islamist regime bent on achieving nuclear hegemony and possible destruction of Israel.  He also ascribed the President’s willingness to accommodate these views because of his early introduction to Islam as the adopted son of an Indonesian oil executive in his late mother’s second marriage. Rubenstein’s prescient analysis depicted President Obama accommodating Islamist movements as a peculiar form of demopathy, using both violent and civilizational jihad.  That is reflected in his Presidential Policy and Study Directives.

Dan Greenfield  delved into the underpinnings of the Obama radical accommodation of Islamism in a Frontpage Magazine article published on June 8, 2015 entitled, “Directive 11: Obama’s Secret Islamist Plan”:

Directive 11 brought together activists and operatives at multiple agencies to come up with a “tailored” approach for regime change in each country. The goal was to “manage” the political transitions. It tossed aside American national security interests by insisting that Islamist regimes would be equally committed to fighting terrorism and cooperating with Israel. Its greatest gymnastic feat may have been arguing that the best way to achieve political stability in the region was through regime change.

What little we know about the resulting classified 18-page report is that it used euphemisms to call for aiding Islamist takeovers in parts of the Middle East. Four countries were targeted. Of those four, we only know for certain that Egypt and Yemen were on the list. But we do know for certain the outcome.

Egypt fell to the Muslim Brotherhood, which collaborated with Al Qaeda, Hamas and Iran, before being undone by a counterrevolution. Yemen is currently controlled by Iran’s Houthi terrorists and Al Qaeda.

We have witnessed what the secretive Presidential Directive 11 has achieved in public and private meetings with radical Muslim Brotherhood clerics and leaders, both during and following the Arab Spring revolt in these countries from 2010 to the present. To facilitate the objectives of Directive 11 Obama had brought onto his White House and Department staffs members of MB affiliates in the US. He also reached out to academic centers promoting the views that there were “good Islamists”. Groups like the Center for the Study of Islam and Democracy  at Georgetown University, headed by Prof. John Esposito, funded in part by the State Department.  After a New York Federal Appeals court decision in 2009, the Administration lifted a visa ban inviting Oxford University Professor Tariq Ramadan, a grandson of the founder of the MB, Hassan al Banna, to participate in CSID forums and take an endowed Chair at Notre Dame University.

Egypt elected in June 2012 an Islamist government headed by former Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Morsi that sought to impose Sharia law on the Constitution. The Morsi government stealthily backed MB jihad pogroms against the Coptic Christian minority burning churches, destroying businesses, murdering men, raping and forcing conversion on female victims.  Ironically, Morsi’s Defense Minister, Col. Gen. Abdel Fattah Al- Sisi rejected Islamism and led a coup on July 3, 2013 jailing and prosecuting hundreds of Muslim Brother leaders including Morsi.  Many of whom, including Morsi are now awaiting possible death sentences for a massive jail break that freed them in January 2011.  Al Sisi in a dramatic January 2015 speech at Al Azhar University raised the matter of reform of Qur’an doctrine before an audience composed of leading Sunni clerics at Al Azhar University in Cairo.  Despite this Egyptian counter-revolution both the US National  Security Staff and State Department  invited former Muslim Brotherhood  Morsi regime political figures and clerics to assist in developing ‘messaging’ to contend with  Al Qaeda,  its affiliates and the self-declared  Islamic  State. We wrote about those instances in NER articles and Iconoclast blogs. What follows are the latest episodes arising from Obama’s Presidential Directive 11.  One concerns the withdrawal of funding of a US backed program seeking to create an alternative Shia civil polity to Iranian proxy Hezbollah that dominates Lebanon.  The other concerns the kerfuffle surrounding meetings of Muslim Brotherhood leaders in both January 2015 at the State Department and private meetings at the CSID in Washington this June.

U.S. withdrew aid to Lebanese Shia NGO seeking to extricate them from the clutches of Hezbollah. 

Lebanon next door to Israel appears to be dominated by Iran’s proxy Hezbollah that has infiltrated the country’s military.  This is a disheartening failure in the wake of the 2005 Cedars Revolution in Lebanon prompted by the assassination of Lebanese premier Rafik Hariri. Hariri was assassinated by Syrian intelligence agents of the Assad régime.  With the plummeting Christian population in Lebanon, demise of the former Amal Shia militia, Sheik Hassan Nasrallah filled the vacuum backed with hundreds of millions of dollars of annual support from Iran. An Iran that delivered hundreds of thousands of weapons, coupled with North Korean expertise building tunnels and fortifications in Sothern Lebanon. Nasrallah’s recklessness triggered the Second Lebanon War in 2006 with the abduction and murder of two Israeli IDF reservists.

Despite Hezbollah’s control over Lebanon there had been a limited US program seeking to arouse Shia opposition to Hezbollah through the auspices of the State Department funded International Republican Institute (IRI), chaired by US. Senator John McCain, (R-AZ).  IRI, like the International Democratic Institute counterpart, seeks to advance democracy abroad.  Both Institutes are outgrowths of the successful program in the 1980s that toppled the Polish Communist regime with church and Solidarity Movement support.  Unfortunately, in the wake of the Arab Spring  both Institutes had  been involved in training  candidates for the predominately Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist dominated Egyptian parliament elected  with now  ousted  President  Mohammed Morsi  in June 2012.  They were subsequently purged when the Morsi regime was overthrown a year later in July 2013 in a coup led by now Egyptian President Al-Sisi.

The Lebanese anti-Nasrallah Hayya Bina Shia program, funded by the IRI, lost US funding that it had received since 2007. According to the Wall Street Journal, it received $640,000 between June 2013 and December 2015.  The IRI notified Hayya Bina director Lokman Slim in April 2015 that the Obama Administration was terminating its support for the program.  The letter Slim received from the IRI read, “the State Department requests that all activities intended [to] foster an independent moderate Shia voice be ceased immediately and indefinitely”.  Could it be that as Obama moves closer to Iran and its proxy Hezbollah given the looming P5+1 nuclear agreement, that it will brook no local dissent in Lebanon among the Shia?  That should not be surprising.  Obama’s Middle East policy czar, Robert Malley, during his stint at the Soros-funded International Crisis Group held discussions with Hezbollah. Despite the later being on the State Department list of designated terrorist organizations.

Egypt objects to continuing Muslim Brotherhood Washington visits with U.S. officials

The Egyptian government has been angered by continued meetings of former Muslim Brotherhood leaders with State Department funded groups and, in some instances, with White House National Security staff.   In January 2015, the State Department hosted a visiting delegation of Muslim Brotherhood leaders from the former Morsi government.  Prior to and following his ouster, the White House National Security team and the State Department met with Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood clerics and legislator who was a former terrorist.

On June 8, 2015 the Egyptian foreign ministry requested an audience with US Ambassador to Cairo R. Stephen Beecroft  to express concern and outrage at the visit of another Muslim Brotherhood delegation to Washington.    State Department Jeff Rathke  spokesperson  was peppered  with  questions by  journalists at  Daily Press Briefings on both June 9th and 10th, about the Cairo foreign ministry  meetings with Ambassador Beecroft  and private meetings in Washington  at  the (CSID).  Rathke responded to one such question saying:

Well, again, we’ve met with this group in the past. We haven’t changed our policy. We will continue to meet with groups across the political spectrum. No – but we don’t have any plans to meet with this group at this particular time.

Watch this C-Span video clip of a June 9, 2015 State Department Daily Press Briefing with Press Spokesman Jeff Rathke in an exchange with journalists:

John Rossomando in an Investigative Project on Terrorism article noted the members of the Muslim Brotherhood delegation and the involvement of the CSID:

Egypt sought the recent meeting with Ambassador Stephen Beecroft to show its displeasure with American policy toward the Brotherhood, which it labels a terrorist organization.

Delegation members include Amr Darrag, whose handling of drafting and ratifying Egypt’s December 2012 constitution led to fears the Brotherhood aimed to impose a theocracy; and Wael Haddara, a Canadian Brotherhood member who served as an adviser to deposed President Mohamed Morsi.

Referencing the earlier January meetings, the IPT article noted:

Emails obtained by Middle East Briefing, a publication of the Dubai-based Orient Advisory Group, show that since 2010, Obama administration policy sought to support the Muslim Brotherhood under Presidential Study Directive 11.

State Department and White House officials met in January with a Muslim Brotherhood delegation whose trip had been partly funded by the Brotherhood-linked group Egyptian Americans for Freedom and Justice (EAFJ). EAFJ leader Mahmoud El Sharkawy is a member of the Brotherhood’s international organization and serves as liaison between his group and Brotherhood members exiled in Turkey, Egypt’s Al-Bawaba newspaper reported in April.

Former State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki downplayed the visit and denied it was a Brotherhood delegation, saying it was a delegation of former Egyptian parliamentarians which included members of the Freedom and Justice Party. Delegation member Waleed Sharaby said in a February interview with Egypt’s Mekameleen TV that the State Department agreed with their position that Egyptian President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi had not brought stability and that his removal would pave the way for a transition to democracy.

Conclusion:

President Obama, Robert Malley, and State Department Assistant Secretary for Near East Policy, former U.S. Ambassador to Egypt Anne Patterson, have led this country dangerously astray believing there are ‘good Islamists’ like the Brotherhood, Hamas and Hezbollah, Iran’s proxies. By extension that would include the Islamic Republic of Iran on the verge of becoming a nuclear hegemon. This has jeopardized relations with valued allies in the region, Israel, the Kurds in Iraq, Sunni members of the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Egyptian Al Sisi government. Is this part of a radical plan by the President to insinuate Islamic theocratic doctrine upending Judeo Christian values at the core of our Constitution?

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

“Manufactured Crisis:” Obama Administration’s Response to Iran’s Increase in Low Enriched Uranium

Following the release of the latest IAEA report on May 29th disclosing a 20% increase in low enriched uranium (LEU), the Washington, D.C. based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) analyzed the findings and in its report questioned why scrap was used to spike production. The IAEA report principal findings cited in an Algemeiner report were:

Contrary to the relevant resolutions of the Board of Governors and the Security Council, Iran has not suspended all of its enrichment related activities in the declared facilities.

The agency remains concerned about the possible existence in Iran of undisclosed nuclear-related activities involving military related organizations, including activities related to the development of a nuclear payload for a missile.

The New York Times published an article in response that reflected concerns over why Iran had continued LEU production, despite Joint Plan of Action (JPOA) agreements to the contrary.   The implication was that perhaps Iran had effectively been  ‘cheating’  using  it as a bargaining chip should no agreement be reached .  This would be a possible violation of the original November 2013 JPOA.  An Israeli diplomat commented in the Algemeiner report:

That’s exactly the problem with dropping the sanctions before Iran has proved any goodwill. The Americans are going to be doing business with Iran, and the Austrians, the Germans ,  the French and the whole world are going to do business with Iran.

That possibility was raised in a reporter’s question to Josh Earnest at yesterday’s White House Daily Press Briefing.  Ms. Marie Harf at the later State Department Daily Press Briefing expressed the view that the U.S. negotiating team “was perplexed” by the NYTimes report suggesting that nothing was awry and questioning whether it was a “manufactured crisis”. She alleged , the IAEA  had verified the LEU production under the JPOA, suggesting that Iran was in compliance.

Note these excerpted C-SPAN videos of exchanges with  journalists’ questions about  the Iran IAEA and NYTimes reports on LEU production at yesterday’s State Department and White House Daily Press Briefings.

Watch Marie Harf, State Department Spokesperson on “A Manufactured Crisis” over the NYTimes report on Iran LEU:

Watch Josh Earnest, White House Press Spokesman response to reporter’s question about Iran’s “Cheating” on LEU production:

The Daily TIP Report of The Israel Project summarized these latest concerning developments:

Iran has increased its stockpile of low-enriched uranium by one-fifth during the interim Joint Plan of Action (JPOA), according to a Monday report in The New York Times, despite repeated claims by the Obama administration that Iran has halted progress on its nuclear programThis raises concerns about the uranium stockpile in any future deal. In late March, during negotiations in Lausanne, Switzerland, Iran’s deputy foreign minister, Abbas Araqchi, said that the uranium would not be shipped abroad.  If Iran maintains a stockpile of low-enriched uranium or oxidized uranium (the latter can be reversed in the matter of a few weeks), it would have permanent access to multiple nuclear bombs’ worth of enriched uranium. A White House fact sheet released upon the signing of the JPOA in November 2013 stipulated that Iran would “[n]ot increase its stockpile of 3.5% low-enriched uranium, so that the amount is not greater at the end of [the agreement] than it is at the beginning.” According to the most recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency cited by the Times, not only has Iran increased its stockpile, but it has sped up the pace of enrichment.

Furthermore, in a May analysis, the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) concluded that most of Iran’s near-20% enriched uranium is in the form of scrap rather than fuel assemblies. Moreover, Iran is currently conducting R&D on how to recover this highly-enriched uranium from scrap. ISIS wrote previously that the administration has failed to take into account the fact that both the near-20% enriched fuel and near-20% enriched scrap can be reconverted back into enriched uranium for use in a bomb, which would drastically reduce breakout time. In its most recent report, ISIS wrote, the use of near-20% enriched uranium “can significantly speed up breakout timelines to well below 12 months.”

The understandings announced in Lausanne on April 2 call for the reduction of Iran’s uranium stockpile, but do not specify the mechanism by which that would be done.

As we noted the IAEA report also expressed unease that its findings did not include any inspection of military sites, a matter of increasing concern given comments by French Foreign Minister Fabius in a WSJ interview. Fabius contended that without inspection of military sites like Parchin ,and unknown others that Iran’s Supreme Ruler has blocked, the P5+1 final agreement targeted for the end of this month would be “useless.” With Secretary of State Kerry flown back to Boston for  repair and treatment of a broken leg  sustained in a bike accident in Switzerland, whether the U.S. negotiating team can produce a  “tough verifiable” agreement with Iran. One  capable of surviving a 30 day review by Congress under INARA.

President Obama in his interview on Israel’s Channel 2 suggested that a tough verifiable inspection with snap back sanctions approved by Iran would prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear device in 10, 15 or even twenty years.  Moreover, he suggested  there was no military option that would completely deter Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon.  The Israeli body polity and many Americans including the national ‘paper of record’, the New York Times, are increasingly skeptical of the President’s blandishments about achieving a tough verifiable deal.  A Capitol Hill panel  was composed of former US Senators Evan Bayh, Joseph Lieberman, former CIA director Gen. Michael Hayden, John Hannah and Ray Takeyh of the Iran Task Force of he Foundation for Defense of Democracies   discussed this on June 1st. They confirmed what Israeli Prime  Minister  Netanyahu and 47 GOP Senators had said in an address to Congress and a letter to Iran’s Supreme Ruler that the P5+1 process could result in  a “very bad deal”.  These latest revelations by the IAEA, NYTimes, ISIS and the  FDD Iran task Force suggest  that  a possible P5+1 agreement with Iran  may be slipping away from Obama’s grasp.

Watch the FDD Iran Task Force panel C-Span Video:

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

The Un-American Divider in Chief

The president of the United States of America was once known as the commander in chief.  The old saying about a house divided against itself may certainly be applied to our republic today.  Not since the civil war has our beloved nation been so separated ideologically.  The most noted era of division historically is the time surrounding the big war between the north and the south.  There were sharp disagreements over states’ rights as well as the argument over whether individuals should be allowed to hold others in the bondage of slavery.

As horrific as the states’ rights and slavery issues were considering the toll they took on the country, at least they were situations that mattered and worth the time and effort to resolve them.  Take for example, the ongoing mission of the divider and chief, Barack Obama and his embittered wife, First Lady Michelle Obama.  Just recently, Mrs. Obama gave a commencement address at the historic Tuskegee University in Alabama.  Instead of encouraging the hopeful graduates to go seek opportunities and to be the best they can be, she chose to focus upon the wasteful topic of the limitations of racism.

Here we are in a nation facing a major crossroad in her history and Mrs. Obama complained about the “daily slights” that she and her husband have experienced.  This is from a woman who’s own husband won’t even associate with you on any level if you are not a fellow progressive.  She talked about overcoming that “heavy burden” by channeling their frustration into “organizing and banding together.”  Mrs. Obama also stated that the frustrations that are playing out in “communities like Baltimore and Ferguson.”

She took a grand opportunity to embolden younger Americans who happen to be black (technically brown) in their goals of successful achievement and allowing their God given gifts and talents to make room for them and turned it into a pedestrian pity party for having been “black in America.”

Such worthless and insane topics to be repeated over and over within the ranks of Americans who happen to be black, only serves to insure failure, bitterness and misery for those who should be looking forward to climbing the ladder of success.  The horrendous economic policies of President Obama has done much more to thwart opportunities for all Americans, than the racists Mrs. Obama refers to could dream of.  In fact, as usual under most democrat administrations especially the current one, economic opportunities are much fewer today than during the time of the previous Bush administration.

Alright so let me get this straight according to the Obama’s, racism is today’s biggest impediment preventing blacks from succeeding.  Yet there are fewer opportunities today than when the president assumed office in this so-called racist nation.  So does that make the Obamas racists?  I already know they are rabidly anti United States bigots.

The president has allowed the influx of millions of illegal immigrants who are being offered just about anything they want, including the chance to displace Americans who happen to be black at the dwindling workplace.  Again, does that make President Obama and the First Lady racist?  If Mrs. Obama is so concerned about blacks being held back, she might review her husband’s economic policies and also take a look in the mirror.  Under the Obama administration, America’s highest corporate tax rate on the planet is just one of the many factors of this regime that has the economy basically stagnating at best.  Thus the real reason for fewer opportunities, not racism.

In addition, purposely dividing the republic over racial foolishness and class envy only keeps people focused on real or imagined divisions rather than authentic solutions to the stymied economy.  So now we are putting up with a divided and less prosperous republic turned mob rule democracy.  Mrs. Obama has unfortunately has proven to be nothing more than a middle aged progressive activist using race as a means to divide and weaken our country.  She along with her husband has scoffed at every viable free market economic solution to the current malaise.

Are there racists in America?  Yes there are, many of whom are black.  But there are many more non racists who are optimistic hard working Americans who simply want to see the nation restored not only economically, but in every facet of society as well.  I believe that many of my fellow Americans who happen to be white like myself, do not like the destructive policies of the Obama regime doesn’t make them racists.  But also like myself desire to witness a resurgence of the good values and principles that made the United States of America the envy of the world.

The freedoms, rights, privileges and responsibilities enumerated in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution can only be maintained if “We the People” are united as Americans. The progressive hyphenated Americans divided by race, class envy and increasingly immoral behavior only serves the purpose of those seeking to divide and conquer America.  America’s strength is in the good morality of her people.  The founding fathers recognized that in order for America to be and remain free is for her sovereign citizens to be more dependent upon God, their own good sense and opportunities than an intrusive overbearing and oppressive government.

The choice is yours my fellow Americans.  You can either be divided and conquered or United and free to live in liberty as God intended.   God Bless America and May America Bless God.

Obama Apologizes for Drone Strike in Pakistan that Killed U.S. and Italian Hostages

The Wall Street Journal reported the disclosure of a classified drone attack on an Al Qaeda compound in January that mistakenly killed an American hostage, Dr. Warren Weinstein and Italian aid worker, Giovanni Lo Porto.  An Al Qaeda senior operative, Ahmed Farouq who held dual U.S. and Pakistan citizenship was the target of the attack in the controversial CIA covert operation. Dr. Weinstein had been held since 2011.  The WSJ noted the reactions of the President, Italian Premier Renzi and Weinstein’s widow:

The intelligence that underpinned the drone strike turned out to have been tragically incomplete, U.S. officials and lawmakers said Thursday.

The deaths prompted President Barack Obama, who has expanded and redefined the use of U.S. drones, to take full responsibility.

“I profoundly regret what happened. On behalf of the United States government I offer our deepest apologies to their families,” he said at the White House.

But Mr. Weinstein’s family expressed disillusionment at the U.S. and Pakistani approach to his capture and imprisonment by al Qaeda.

“We were so hopeful that those in the U.S. and Pakistani governments with the power to take action and secure his release would have done everything possible to do so, and there are no words to do justice to the disappointment and heartbreak we are going through,” said Elaine Weinstein, the American hostage’s widow.

Mr. Obama said he spoke with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and Mr. Weinstein’s family.

Mr. Obama knew about the deaths of the hostages when he met with Mr. Renzi in Washington last Friday but Mr. Obama didn’t tell him, a senior administration official said. Mr. Obama wanted to first develop a plan for sharing the news with the families and the public, the official said.

Mr. Renzi on Thursday expressed “deepest condolences” to the Lo Porto family, as well to the family of Mr. Weinstein. The Italian foreign ministry’s crisis unit immediately contacted Mr. Lo Porto’s family after Mr. Obama’s call.

However, the CIA drone strike that mistakenly killed the two hostages met the rules of engagement:

It was the first known instance in which the Central Intelligence Agency killed hostages in a drone strike. The deaths were a major blow to the spy agency, which conducts the attacks largely behind a cloak of secrecy.

The CIA used rules of engagement that allow drone strikes against suspected militants even if the agency isn’t sure who they are.

The White House has launched a review of the strike to see if changes are needed to the program to avoid similar mistakes in the future. Officials said the program hasn’t been curtailed so far in response.

But Mr. Obama said the initial U.S. assessment of the strike shows it was fully consistent with the guidelines under which his administration conducts such counterterrorism operations.

The CIA launched the strike that killed the hostages under the broad authorities given to the agency to target suspected al Qaeda targets in Pakistan, senior Obama administration officials said. Mr. Obama didn’t directly sign off on the strike beforehand, they said.

JM Berger, author of Jihad Joe: Americans Who Go to War in the name of Islam writes about the demise of three American Al Qaeda operatives:  Adam Gadahn, Jewish convert to Salafist Islam who headed AQ Central Media operation, Samir Kahn who fled North Carolina to join American born AQAP leader, Anwar al Awlaki in Yemen to edit Inspire Magazine  and Omar Hammami, a Daphne, Alabama native, born of a Baptist mother and Syrian Muslim engineer father,  who became an Al Shabaab media star and commander.

The title of Berger’s Politico Magazine article, “Al Qaeda’s American Dream Ends”   is both a chronicle of the trio’s exploits and circumstances about their demise.  As we learned today, Gadahn was killed in a separate drone attack by the CIA covert program. Kahn was also killed in a drone strike in Yemen, as was American-born AQAP leader, Sheik Anwar al-Awlaki.  The two hostages, American development expert Dr. Warren Weinstein and Italian aid worker Giovanni Lo Porto were killed in a US Drone strike under murky circumstances in January 2015 along with AQ leader Ahmed Farouq who had dual US and Pakistani citizenship.  Farouq was allegedly head of Al Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent (AQIS)

President Obama apologized and took responsibility as Commander in Chief for the failure of the mission to secure the freedom of the hostages, although the decision was delegated to others in the clandestine drone program. The error is reflective of the lack of intelligence assets, a product of reliance on drones to attack AQ leaders under approved rules of engagement.

Hammami was killed in an ambush by Al Shabaab in 2013 because he became increasingly critical of the leadership. Both Gadahn and Khan, as Berger points out, provided a template for the slick graphic/ video production and social media campaigns run by ISIS. The title of Berger’s piece is somewhat misleading. While Gadahn, Kahn and Hammami were prominent American Jihadis, others, especially in the Muslim émigré communities in the US are taking their place as recruits for ISIS.  For AQ the American Dream may have ended. For ISIS it is only just beginning with few prospects for counterterrorism echelons in our government to create effective de-radicalization programs aimed at preventing these Americans from joining the thongs of tens of thousands from around the Muslim ummah to fight and die for the pure Islamic State. That is because the President refuses to recognize the attraction of Salafist Jihadist Islam at the core of Muslim terrorism.

Today’s revelations illustrate why the U.S. has lost credibility in relying only on drone strikes to degrade AQ leadership rather than coordinating it with verifiable intelligence from assets in the field.

We understand completely the grief and frustration of the Weinstein and Lo Porto families who criticized both the US and Pakistani governments for not securing the freedom of their late loved ones languishing for years as AQ hostages.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Dr. Warren Weinstein U.S. Development expert and Giovanni Lo Porto Italian aid worker killed in January 2015 by a U.S. drone attack. Source: AP and Facebook Page.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Unanimously Approves Iran Nuke Review Legislation

Our Iconoclast post title about a denouement today on the P5+1 Iran Nuke agreement review legislation was realized this afternoon in a unanimous Senate Foreign Relations Committee vote approving a compromise measure. The Committee action reasserted   Constitutional prerogatives forcing President Obama to relent his opposition. The vote was 19 to 0 based on the compromise language worked out between Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-TN) and Ranking Member Benjamin Cardin (D-MD). Assenting to the new version of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review  Act of 2015, originally co-sponsored by embattled  New Jersey U.S. Senator Bob Menendez and Sen. Corker, were two Committee Members, announced GOP Presidential Contenders, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) and Marco Rubio (R-FL).  Corker had not been a signatory to Arkansas Tom Cotton’s letter that was sent to the Leaders of the Islamic Republic in Tehran apprising them of the Senate’s advice and consent on major treaties and agreements.

This legislative victory preserves the right of the Congress to review changes in the prevailing sanctions against Iran occasioned by the presentation of the Administration of any definitive agreement reached between the P5+1 and Iran by the intended date of June 30, 2015.  Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif announced at a ministerial meeting in Spain today, that negotiations leading towards a possible definitive agreement would start April 21st in Lausanne, Switzerland.  U.S. House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) said the House would approve the veto proof measure. A vote on the measure should reach the floor of the Senate shortly, at which time Amendments might be introduced for possible consideration.

Tower report noted:

Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), the chairman of the committee, said that the legislation, which passed 19-0, “absolutely, 100% keeps the congressional review process — the integrity of it — in place.”

The compromise language, which was worked out by Corker and ranking Democratic Sen. Ben Cardin (D – Md.), shortened the amount of time of Congress would get to review a nuclear agreement with Iran from 60 days to 30, and softened some other provisions of the bill.

The bill is consistent with a poll released today by Suffolk University showing that Americans favor congressional review of any nuclear deal with Iran by a wide margin—72% to 19%.

White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said that President Barack Obama would sign the compromise bill, reversing the administration’s longstanding objection to any congressional oversight of a potential nuclear deal with Iran.

The New York Times reported how quickly Administration opposition to the legislation had folded:

Why Mr. Obama gave in after fierce opposition was the last real dispute of what became a rout. Josh Earnest, the White House spokesman, said Mr. Obama was not “particularly thrilled” with the bill, but had decided that a new proposal put together by the top Republican and Democrat on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee made enough changes to make it acceptable.

“We’ve gone from a piece of legislation that the president would veto to a piece of legislation that’s undergone substantial revision such that it’s now in the form of a compromise that the president would be willing to sign,” Mr. Earnest said. “That would certainly be an improvement.”

Senator Bob Corker, Republican of Tennessee and the committee’s chairman, had a far different interpretation. As late as 11:30 a.m., in a classified briefing at the Capitol, Mr. Kerry was urging senators to oppose the bill. The “change occurred when they saw how many senators were going to vote for this, and only when that occurred,” Mr. Corker said.

Mr. Cardin said that the “fundamental provisions” of the legislation had not changed.

But the compromise between him and Mr. Corker did shorten a review period of a final Iran nuclear deal and soften language that would make the lifting of sanctions dependent on Iran’s ending support for terrorism.

The agreement almost certainly means Congress will muscle its way into nuclear negotiations that Mr. Obama sees as a legacy-defining foreign policy achievement.

Under the agreement, the president would still have to send periodic reports to Congress on Iran’s activities regarding ballistic missiles and terrorism, but those reports could not trigger another round of sanctions.

The Times reported possible floor actions that might resurrect original provisions:

The measure still faces hurdles. Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, fresh off the opening of his campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, dropped plans to push for an amendment to make any Iran deal dependent on the Islamic Republic’s recognition of the State of Israel, a diplomatic nonstarter.

But he hinted that he could try on the Senate floor.

“Not getting anything done plays right into the hands of the administration,” Mr. Rubio said.

Senator Ron Johnson, Republican of Wisconsin, abandoned an amendment to make any Iran accord into a formal international treaty needing two-thirds of the Senate for its ratification, but he, too, said it could be revived before the full Senate.

The measure will be brought up for a floor vote later this month and is expected to pass both the Senate and the House in near veto proof form.

It is clear that the victors in this battle are the Republican Majority and concerned Democrats who have been monitoring polls and constituent opinions regarding Congressional Review prerogatives.  In retrospect  Sen. Cotton’s letter and the March 3rd address by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before a Joint Meeting of Congress alerted  Americans to problems with the P5+1 framework for a deal  announced on April 2nd despite the objections of President Obama and certain leading Democratic minority members of both the Senate and House. Perhaps the diktats announced last Thursday by Ayatollah Khamenei demanding the lifting of all sanctions upon signing of an agreement and denial of intrusive IAEA inspections of military nuclear weapons development sites conveyed to Senate Democrats that there were different opinions about the two Facts Statements. The one released by the State Department versus that of the Iranian Foreign Ministry. Add to that was Monday’s removal of a 2010 moratorium on the sale of an advanced Russian S-300 air defense system to Iran an indication that President Putin and Ayatollah Khamenei could void weapons sanctions agreements at will.

The losers in this episode are Secretary Kerry and President Obama. How those negotiations go starting April 21st will determine if Congress will have anything to review on June 30th.

RELATED ARTICLE: Commentators On Arab TV: Obama Supports Iran Because His Father Was A Shi’ite

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Robert Corker (R-TN) and Ranking Member Benjamin Cardin (D-MD). Source: Politico

Defending New Jersey’s Politicians

I’d be surprised to learn that anyone in the Obama and Holder Department of Justice even knows how to spell “justice.”

On the same day it announced an indictment of New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez (D) for allegedly taking bribes and engaging in various forms of corruption, it also announced that it would not pursue a criminal contempt of Congress resolution against Lois Lerner, the member of the Internal Revenue Service at the center of the effort to deny conservative groups the right to be certified for non-profit tax status.

Without such status, the group’s ability to raise funds and pursue their issues and agenda was significantly impacted. If you were a liberal group, however, you sailed right through. That’s that way the Obama administration has functioned in all aspects of governance since it began in 2009.

In what is now becoming a standard way of avoiding an investigation, last June the IRS announced that it had “lost” two years’ worth of Lerner’s emails in a 2011 computer crash. An IRS inspector general, however, unearthed the backup tapes believed to contain them. Lerner would not speak to lawmakers, but she has reportedly cooperated with the FBI.

In an April 1 Politico.com article, “Don’t Blame Menendez, Blame New Jersey” Jeff Smith and Brian Murphy would have you believe that New Jersey is a steaming heap of political corruption that has no equal. When was the last time a New Jersey senator was found guilty of bribery? 1981. Thirty-four years ago. An entire generation has been born and grown up in the Garden State since then.

I am born, bred, and live in New Jersey. Illinois has ex-Governors in jail and no New Jersey Governor ever shared that distinction.

Our current one, Chris Christie, came to statewide attention when, as the U.S. Attorney for New Jersey, he put a number of our politicians in jail for corruption in addition to a slew of convictions for sexual slavery, arms trafficking, and racketeering by gangs, along with other federal crimes.

He was a very good lawyer and had also been politically ambitious, rising through the ranks, campaigning for Bush 41 and 43, the latter who appointed him to the State Attorney post. In a very Democratic state, he would handily defeat Joe Corzine in 2009 to become Governor because Corzine was as incompetent then as Obama is today.

The rap on New Jersey is that politicians and those who donate a chunk of money to support their election are somehow different or special in some way. I doubt there is a political reporter or blogger in any other state that could not regale you with a history of their crooked politicians and appointees that would not equal or exceed ours.

AA - Sen. Menendez

New Jersey Senator Robert Menendez (D)

Now, let’s get to the heart of the charges against Sen. Menendez. More to the point, when the charges were announced. In early March he gave a speech to the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, Menendez made no secret of his displeasure that the Obama administration was negotiating with Iran. “When it comes to defending the U.S.-Israel relationship,” he told the group, “I am not intimidated by anyone—not Israel’s political enemies and not by my political friends when I feel they’re wrong.” He said that as long has he had an ounce of fight in him, “Iran will never have a pathway to a (nuclear) weapon.”

And Menendez had also made it clear that he opposed the normalizing of a diplomatic relationship with Cuba. “The deal achieved nothing for Americans.”

When the DOJ indictment was announced, the state’s largest daily newspaper virtually pronounced him guilty. “The litany of travel arranged by U.S. Sen. Robert Menendez’s good friend, Salomon Melgen, reads like the operation of a small airline.” It salivated over the 68-page indictment and the favors alleged between him and “his wealthy benefactor” that included “more than $1 million to various political campaigns connected to the senator.” No question about it, Melgen was Menendez’s friend and supporter. That is, however, not against the law.

I doubt there is a member of the U.S. Senate that does not have such wealthy supporters, nor any that have not accepted an invitation to vacation as their guest. Did Menendez reply by using the influence of his office to facilitate visas or the approval of deals by which Melgen would benefit? In one cited case that influence did not have any effect on the outcome, but simply stated this is part of the job. It is the quid pro quo of politics and always has been.

The Department of Justice indictment came at the same time the Obama administration had squandered 18 months in useless, senseless negotiations with Iran to arrive at an agreement that would ultimately permit Iran to produce nuclear bombs. No other nation wants that. Iran had never ceased to tell the world it intended to “wipe Israel off the map”, nor cease to call America the “Great Satan.”

The level of hubris from the President to the Secretary of State to those engaged in the negotiations is beyond measurement. It blinds them to the obvious.

The White House clearly could not permit a prominent Democratic senator to tell the Israelis and the world what a bunch of jackasses they were. They feared losing control of the rest of the Democratic senators and thus Menendez is being subjected to a long, costly indictment as a lesson to the others.

The indictment suggests a pattern of corruption based solely on the relationship between Menendez and Melgem, both longtime friends. If Menendez broke the law the DOJ should have been able to come up with comparable charges involving others for whom he intervened. If I was a gambling man, I would bet that Sen. Menendez beats the charges.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

RELATED ARTICLE: Meet Barack Obama’s Frenemy: Democratic Senator Bob Menendez

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of President Barack Obama shaking hands with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie while U.S. Senator Robert Menendez watches at Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst in New Jersey, December 15, 2014. LARRY DOWNING/REUTERS

Major Gaps between P5+1 and Iran on Framework Agreement

This Passover Easter weekend, the media was abuzz in speculative commentary on President Obama’s announcement in the Rose Garden on Thursday April 2nd of the P5+1 Framework for a nuclear deal with Iran. Problem is no one really knows what is involved in drafting let alone concluding a definitive technical agreement between the P5+1 and the Islamic Republic of Iran by June 30, 2015, 90 days from now. President Obama extolled the virtues of the deal saying:

Good afternoon, everybody. Today, The United States, together with Allies and Partners, have reached a historic understanding with Iran, which if fully implemented, would  prevent it from obtaining a nuclear weapon, As President and Commander in Chief, I have no great responsibility than the security of the American people. I’m convinced that if this framework leads to a final a final comprehensive deal, it will make our country, our allies, and our world, safer. This has been a long time coming. The Islamic Republic of Iran has been advancing its nuclear program for decades.

Sound familiar?  It should.  Read the opening stanza of former President Bill Clinton on October 18, 1994, when he announced a previous nuclear framework agreement that failed to stop North Korea from eventually creating a stockpile of nuclear weapons and nuclear tipped missiles:

Good afternoon. I am pleased that the United States and North Korea yesterday reached agreement on the text of a framework document on North Korea’s nuclear program. This agreement will help to achieve a longstanding and vital American objective: an end to the threat of nuclear proliferation on the Korean Peninsula.

This agreement is good for the United States, good for our allies, and good for the safety of the entire world. It reduces the danger of the threat of nuclear spreading in the region. It’s a crucial step toward drawing North Korea into the global community.

In the words of baseball great Yogi Berra, “its déjà vu all over again.”

Today on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” host Chuck Todd interviewed Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said:

“I’m not trying to kill any deal. I’m trying to kill a bad deal…The current plan “leaves the preeminent terrorist state of our time with a vast nuclear infrastructure.” It would spark an arms race among the Sunni states, a nuclear arms race in the Middle East,” the Israeli leader warned. “And the Middle East crisscrossed with nuclear tripwires is a nightmare for the world. I think this deal is a dream deal for Iran and it’s a nightmare deal for the world.”

Netanyahu stressed that when it comes to Iran’s nuclear capabilities, he prefers a “good” diplomatic solution to a military one.

He outlined such a solution as “one that rolls back Iran’s nuclear infrastructure and one that ties the final lifting of restrictions on Iran’s nuclear program with a change of Iran’s behavior” and insists that Iran stops “calling for and working for the annihilation of Israel.” He also called for further sanctions on Iran as a way to get the country to take a deal that contains no concessions.

Watch the NBC “Meet the Press” segment with Israel PM Netanyahu:

Sen_ Chris Murphy

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)

Connecticut Democratic  Senator Chris Murphy, member of the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Committee  who followed Netanyahu on Meet the Press  found the agreement announced by the President, “remarkable. “ He remarked that  “sanctioning Iran into submission is not what the partners signed up for. When the question of changing Iran’s behavior on support for global terrorism and violations of human rights came up, Murphy basically followed the Administration line of let’s get the nuclear agreement done first. The Washington Post reported  Murphy saying:

It’s true that this deal doesn’t turn Iran from a bad guy into a good guy”. “But it’s a little bit of rewriting of history to suggest these negotiations were about all of the other nefarious activities of Iran in the region. These negotiations were about ending their nuclear program, such that we can start to lift up the moderate elements … [and] talk about all these other issues.

You take this issue [the nuclear program] off the table and you empower people like Rouhani and Zarif, who may see a different path for Iran — less as an irritant, more as a member of the global community.  “And you may see a pathway to solving some of these other problems (ballistic missiles, support for terrorism and human rights violations) and you can do it potentially without new rounds of traditional sanctions.

Ehud Yaari

Ehud Ya’ari Israeli Middle East analyst and Channel 2 TV Commentator.

More emerged about the differences in the announcement about the framework parameters between the State Department Fact Sheet and Farsi statement of Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif. Noted Israel Middle East analyst, Ehud Ya’ari, a Washington, DC Institute for Near East Policy Fellow and Israel TV Channel 2 commentator, identified six major gaps The Times of Israel reported:

  1. Sanctions: Ya’ari said the U.S. has made clear that economic sanctions will be lifted in phases, whereas the Iranian fact sheet provides for the immediate lifting of all sanctions as soon as a final agreement is signed, which is set for June 30. (In fact, the US parameters state that sanctions will be suspended only after Iran has fulfilled all its obligations: “US and EU nuclear-related sanctions will be suspended after the IAEA has verified that Iran has taken all of its key nuclear-related steps.” By contrast, the Iranian fact sheet states: “all of the sanctions will be immediately removed after reaching a comprehensive agreement.”)
  2. Enrichment: The American parameters provide for restrictions on enrichment for 15 years, while the Iranian fact sheet speaks of 10 years.
  3. Development of advanced centrifuges at Fordo: The US says the framework rules out such development, said Ya’ari, while the Iranians say they are free to continue this work.
  4. Inspections: The US says that Iran has agreed to surprise inspections, while the Iranians say that such consent is only temporary.
  5. Stockpile of already enriched uranium: Contrary to the US account, Iran is making clear that its stockpile of already enriched uranium — “enough for seven bombs” if sufficiently enriched, Ya’ari said — will not be shipped out of the country, although it may be converted.
  6. PMD: The issue of the Possible Military Dimensions of the Iranian program, central to the effort to thwart Iran, has not been resolved, Ya’ari said.

The U.S. parameters make two references to PMD. They state, first: “Iran will implement an agreed set of measures to address the IAEA’s concerns regarding the Possible Military Dimensions (PMD) of its program.”

They subsequently add: “All past UN Security Council resolutions on the Iran nuclear issue will be lifted simultaneous with the completion, by Iran, of nuclear-related actions addressing all key concerns (enrichment, Fordo, Arak, PMD, and transparency).” The Iranian fact sheet does not address PMD.

The differences between the sides became apparent almost as soon as the framework agreement was presented in Lausanne on Thursday night. Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif issued a series of tweets late Thursday, for instance, that protested the U.S. State Department’s assertion that the nuclear deal struck between Iran and world powers would only see sanctions on the Islamic Republic removed “in phases.”

If this weekend is an example, the controversy about the framework “parameters” await the details from the final agreement targeted for June 30th. Problem is those negotiations may extend well beyond the current deadline, perhaps may spark further negotiations and may be incapable of resolution unless the Administration caves into all of Iran’s demands. In the meantime Swiss and French trade delegations are in Tehran discussing possible deals, the Germans have already held theirs, and, of course, Russia and China, have already conducted business with the Islamic Republic. Despite Turkey’s Erdogan expressing pique at Iran’s hegemony in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon and Yemen, he will soon hold trade talks again in Tehran on more gas deals.

Thursday’s announcement sent the Tehran Stock Exchange skyrocketing Friday. Iran’s Ayatollah Khamenei, President Rouhani and Foreign Minister Zarif are smirking over their victory contemplating keeping all of its nuclear, missile and military applications under wraps. Besides they also have four bargaining chips; three imprisoned Americans and a fourth missing for eight years.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of the P5+1 plus Iran and EU Foreign Relations Commissioner in Lausanne, Switzerland 4-2-15.

Christian students slaughtered in Kenya by Islamists

Early Thursday  morning Al Shabaab jihadis swarmed into the grounds of Garissa University College in northeastern Kenya with over  815 students stealthily knowing at 5:30 AM that Muslim students would be at morning prayers leaving vulnerable Christian students in their dormitories. The toll during the several hour siege was 147 killed, dozens of others injured and many students unaccounted for. USA Today reported “the White House strongly condemned the attack and said the United States was providing assistance to the Kenyan government. We extend our deep condolences to the families and loved ones of all those killed in this heinous attack, which reportedly included the targeting of Christian students,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said in a statement.”

Watch this AP Report on the Garissa, College siege:

 Fox News provided details on the Garassi College attack and siege:

Hours after the assault began, Kenyan security forces cornered the gunmen in a dormitory at the school, and President Uhuru Kenyatta said in a speech to the nation that the attackers were holding hostages.

“There are many dead bodies of Christians inside the building,” Al-Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Abdiasis Abu Musab told Sky News. “We are also holding many Christians alive. Fighting still goes on inside the college.”

Collins Wetangula, the vice chairman of the student union, said when the gunmen arrived at his dormitory he could hear them opening doors and asking if the people who had hidden inside whether they were Muslims or Christians.

“If you were a Christian you were shot on the spot,” he said. “With each blast of the gun I thought I was going to die.”

A spokesman for the terror group told the BBC that it attacked the school because “it’s on Muslim land colonized by non-Muslims.” The spokesman also said the gunmen had separated non-Muslims from Muslims and had freed 15 of the latter group.

The interior ministry said around 500 of 815 students has been accounted for, but hundreds remain missing. The students at Garissa are predominantly non-Muslim, a source told Fox News.

Police identified a possible mastermind of the attack as Mohammed Mohamud, who is alleged to lead Al-Shabaab’s cross-border raids into Kenya, and they posted a $220,000 bounty for him. Also known by the names Dulyadin and Gamadhere, he was a teacher at an Islamic religious school, or madrassa, and claimed responsibility for a bus attack in Makka, Kenya, in November that killed 28 people.

312 people have been killed in Al-Shabaab attacks in Kenya from 2012 to 2014. Thirty-eight people were killed and 149 wounded in Garissa in the same period, according to police statistics.

Bursting into their residences, these Al Shabaab killers used the same terrifying method perfected in September 2013 to kill innocent non-Muslims at the Westgate Mall massacre.  They asked whether they were Christians or if Muslim asked them to recite verses from the Koran or the Shahada-the profession of faith. If they responded as Christian they were summarily shot. Most of those Kenyan students at Garissa  College murdered by the al Shabaab attackers were Christians.  As Christian victims of this Jihad massacre they became like Jesus, the literal agnus die, lambs of G-d referring to the Passover sacrifice.  All of this occurred at the beginning of the conjunction of the Easter–Passover holy days in the Judeo-Christian calendar. Maundy Thursday that occurs three days before Easter commemorates the last supper between Jesus and his apostles believed to have been a Passover Seder.

The slaughter of these Christians in Kenya on Maundy Thursday is believed to be the worst terrorist event since the 1998 East African Embassies attacks by Al Qaeda in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.  It is alleged that Al Shabaab was reported by intelligence to be planning  a retaliation against soft targets inside Kenya for the US drone attack on March 18, 2015 that reportedly took the life of Adan Garar the  planner of the September 2013 Westgate Mall Attack in Nairobi. Al Shabaab had engaged in several spectacular recent attacks on hotels and offices in the capital of Mogadishu killing dozens.

The irony is that President Obama considered Somalia, like Yemen, “counterterrorism “successes, despite both being failed states. Yemen is being pounded daily by Saudi air strikes against Houthi rebels who have succeeded in taking the Presidential Palace in Aden. Somalia has been a perennial failed state since the eruption of civil war in 1990. It became the haven for Al Qaeda affiliate Al Shabaab, “the foot soldiers of Islam’ who have conducted an unrelenting campaign against fellow Somali Muslims and across the frontier in indiscriminate attacks on targets of opportunity in Kenya. A Kenya which holds one of the largest Somali refugee camps administered by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees from which residents have been sent for asylum in the United States. The irony that the children of those refugee émigrés in the US have been recruited to fight and die for Al Shabaab , and now  the Islamic State in Syria.  Many of those émigrés have been drawn from the twin cities of Minneapolis –St. Paul. They have become a US hub for ISIS and Al Shabaab recruitment aided by extremist Mosque leaders in those Middle West communities.

UN report released today estimated  that  more than 25,000 foreign Muslims  streamed to the Islamic State and Al Qaeda affiliate Al Nusra  from more than 100 Countries across the globe to be trained in “finishing schools” in Iraq and Syria, to return home as dangerous jihadis. The report noted that   besides 22,000 foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq, there were also 6,500 in Afghanistan and hundreds more in Yemen, Libya, Pakistan and Somalia.”According to Reuters, the UN panel report estimated that growth of these foreign Muslim jihad recruits rose by more than 70%. It likened the Islamic State as equivalent to Afghanistan in the 1990’s with the growth of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. President Obama met last September with the 15 nation Security Council to develop a strategy for contending with the threat of extremist Islamic terror threats like ISIS, Al Shabaab, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, and Boko Haram in Nigeria that resulted in this report.

This Easter weekend, Christians around the world should grieve for the 147 slaughtered by Al Shabaab jihadis at Garassi College on Maundy Thursday, 2015.

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EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured photo is courtesy of DPA.

Humanitarian Transfer of Palestinians the Solution for Israel’s Dilemma?

“Virgil” in today’s Breitbart report had a provocative assessment of Middle East issues in the wake of this Tuesday’s Victory by incumbent Israeli PM Netanyahu, The Future of the Middle East: Ominous Scenarios and a Possible Solution for Israel:

If we think hard, we can envision that Israel, the U.S., and the cause of moderation and modernization in the Middle East all have a real chance to make solid gains. But we will need to be alert to opportunities as they arise—and be ready to jump on them, making tough choices.

We can identify three likely future scenarios, potentially dangerous and, for sure, consequential:

Despite international pressure, Israel will not agree to the creation of a Palestinian state in the West Bank.

“Virgil” said this about the irresolvable Palestinian issue facing Netanyahu and Obama:

First, no Palestinian state. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has long opposed the creation of a Palestinian state, albeit quietly. And then, on March 16, on the eve of the Israeli election, he opposed it—loudly. And as a result, he rallied the nationalist right within his country and was re-elected by a wide margin, far wider than most experts had anticipated. Since then, under enormous pressure from the Obama administration and the mediaNetanyahu has sort of backed down—except, of course, that he doesn’t mean it. He doesn’t want a new Palestinian state, and neither do Israelis.

As a result of this flare-up, whatever lingering wisps of affection that might have existed  between Netanyahu and President Obama have now vanished.   So the immediate challenge for Israel will be to ride out the deep hostility of the Obama administration.

“Virgil” proposes something familiar, humanitarian  transfer as a solution to the Palestinian state impasse:

Since the Israelis believe that they need the land of the West Bank, permanently, for their own physical security, perhaps it’s best if the Palestinians depart. Okay, if one wants to put it more bluntly, perhaps it’s best if the Palestinians are forcibly removed from the West Bank.

In Israel today, the idea of removing the Palestinians is known as “transfer.”   Indeed, Breitbart News’s Ben Shapiro endorsed the idea back in 2003:

Here is the bottom line: If you believe that the Jewish state has a right to exist, then you must allow Israel to transfer the Palestinians and the Israeli-Arabs from Judea, Samaria, Gaza and Israel proper. It’s an ugly solution, but it is the only solution. And it is far less ugly than the prospect of bloody conflict ad infinitum. When two populations are constantly enmeshed in conflict, it is insane to suggest that somehow deep-seated ideological change will miraculously occur, allowing the two sides to live together.

Shapiro concluded: “Transfer is not genocide. And anything else isn’t a solution.”

Transfer would be controversial and it would not be easy. But if, in the next ten or more years, the three scenarios we have described come to pass—that is, the Palestinian problem continues to fester, the Muslim world continues to be shaken by sectarian strife, and Iran continues its march toward nuclearization—not to mention whatever else might be happening in the world, then Israel could have the opportunity, as well as the obligation, to change the demographic facts on its ground while the rest of the world might be preoccupied with other issues.

Moments in history such as that don’t come very often.

“Virgil” of Breitbart is extolling the solution of Humanitarian Transfer to solve Israel’s Palestinian Dilemma.  It is a solution that both Dr. Arieh Eldad, former National Union MK, and Palestinian Jordanian Murdar Zahran have proposed. “The Jordan is Palestine”  option that  the Obama Administration, the Netanyahu coalition in the last government, King Abdullah of Jordan, the now defeated Zionist Union and left parties in the Knesset have implacably opposed. Although Netanyahu’s ‘clarification’ of his no Palestinian State election stance post election prompted the ire of President Obama virtually icing relationship with the new Israeli government once formed.  Watch this post Knesset election Huffington Post interview with the President.

Here is what Dr. Eldad said in our 2008 interview,republished in our collection, The West Speaks:

Eldad: Humanitarian resettlement of Arab refugees is neither original to me nor is it new. Arab refugees are not under the responsibility of the United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees, but instead are controlled by a special agency designated only for Palestinians. – The UN Refugee Works Relief Administration or UNWRA. 50-70 million refugees have been resettled since the end of World War II. More than four million Palestinians are the only ones still in these UNWRA refugee camps. Because the UNWRA camps are virtually administered by Palestinians, these UNWRA refugees, now in the third generation in 60 years, have been taught incitement to hate against Israel and Jews, all thanks to funding of nearly a half billion dollar annually donated by tax payers in the West. … I am convinced that these people must be resettled, preferably in Jordan. Jordan is effectively, Palestine. 70% of the Jordanian population are Palestinians. This is the de facto fulfillment of “the two state solution.” If a large scale international program was created to bring water, energy, housing and jobs to a designated area in Jordan a willing transfer could happen. Within a few years we would be able to resettle 2-3 million refugees in Jordan.

This plan will not solve the problem of Arab Israeli citizens who oppose the state of Israel as a Jewish state. They do not want individual rights. They want national minority rights in Israel. They demand that Israel become a Bi-National state. They are not satisfied with Jordan as the Palestinian state. They want a third state for Palestinians only. Effectively what they are seeking is a ‘Judenrein’ (Jew free in German) state in Gaza, Judea and Samaria. They seek to undermine the State of Israel and reject it as a Jewish state. They want to eliminate Israel so that Jews will not have a state of their own in the world. They want to change the national Anthem “Ha’tikva” to something else that they can identify with, change the flag, and erase “the law of return” that grants Israeli citizenship to every Jew who makes Aliyah. In other words they are the enemies within the Jewish state of Israel.

Murdar in his 2012 Middle East Quarterly, article, “Jordan is Palestinian” wrote:

Thus far the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan has weathered the storm that has swept across the Middle East since the beginning of the year. But the relative calm in Amman is an illusion. The unspoken truth is that the Palestinians, the country’s largest ethnic group, have developed a profound hatred of the regime and view the Hashemites as occupiers of eastern Palestine—intruders rather than legitimate rulers. This, in turn, makes a regime change in Jordan more likely than ever. Such a change, however, would not only be confined to the toppling of yet another Arab despot but would also open the door to the only viable peace solution—and one that has effectively existed for quite some time: a Palestinian state in Jordan.

[…]

In most countries with a record of human rights violations, vulnerable minorities are the typical victims. This has not been the case in Jordan where a Palestinian majority has been discriminated against by the ruling Hashemite dynasty, propped up by a minority Bedouin population, from the moment it occupied Judea and Samaria during the 1948 war (these territories were annexed to Jordan in April 1950 to become the kingdom’s West Bank).

As a result, the Palestinians of Jordan find themselves discriminated against in government and legislative positions as the number of Palestinian government ministers and parliamentarians decreases; there is not a single Palestinian serving as governor of any of Jordan’s twelve governorships.

Witness this comment from Yossi Halevy of the Shalom Hartman Institute, the only voice  of reality during a biased Charlie Rose Show panel discussion on the 2015 Knesset Elections, ” Israelis believe that Palestinian State maybe both an existential solution and a threat given the impasse over negotiations”. Halevy conveyed  that view that Israelis across the spectrum view Obama consummation of an Iran nuclear deal an existential threat. Halevy quoted left wing author David Grossman saying that Obama Administration on Iran nuclear deal is “criminally naive and perilous for Israel.”

The Charlie Rose panel was composed of the usual suspects, save Halevy.  It included with Jeffrey Goldberg of The AtlanticAri Shavit of Ha’aretz, Ronen Bergman Military Intelligence Columnist of Yedioth Ahronoth, Yousef Munayyer of the US Campaign against Palestine Occupation and Jerusalem Fund advocate for Anti-Israel BDS, and Lisa Goldman of  leftist +972 Magazine and Israel –Palestine Fellow of the New America Fund.

The comments of Goldberg and Ronen were especially problematic and controversial. Ronen suggested that only the international BDS campaign could change things by hitting Israelis in their back pockets, calling out Netanyahu as the virtual unbeatable “Caesar from Caesaria.” Goldberg, who has virtually unlimited interview access to the Obama West Wing,  thought Netanyahu drawing attention to Israeli Arab votes was equivalent to a “Lee Atwater “southern strategy” suggesting that the narrow Right wing government would fall in a year with new elections. Suffice to say he warned that relations will (have) gotten worse with Obama. Shavit was his usual  self bemoaning the progressive peacenik failure on the Left in Israel, Israel losing its soul, portending looming violence -a reference to a Third Intifada-  and demographic problems ahead. Munayyer hewed to  his usual pro- Palestinian anti-Israel stance calling it a tribal election.  Goldman  in her comments praised the Joint Arab List third place in the Knesset elections as an important development for “Palestinian Israelis” but pooh-poohed  comments of Shavit  that a Third Intifada was not in the cards; “the West Bank is in lock down”. She is living now in Brooklyn and a colleague of Peter Beinart at the NAF who is a decidedly anti-Israel, liberal Zionist. Watch the Charlie Rose panel discussions:

“Virgil”, Eldad and Murdar may be correct that humanitarian transfer for Palestinians from Judea and Samaria may be a logical solution to the current impasse. But if isolated Israel under the new Netanyahu coalition ever considered such a unilateral move it would erupt in a firestorm of international criticism and spike the already toxic relationships between the Obama Administration and Israel and possibly rupture completely the existing Jordanian Israeli peace treaty. The irony is that the Sunni nations in the region witnessing the rise of nuclear hegemony over four Arab capital by the Shia Mahdists in Tehran, wouldn’t be troubled by such a proposal. Unlike, Obama and the EU, they do not believe any longer that peace in the Middle East doesn’t run through Jerusalem.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.