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Why the Secret Plan of the Bashir Regime Demands Reinstating Sanctions Against Sudan

President Bashir of Sudan, African Union Summit, South Africa 2015. Source (AFP)

On January 13, 2017 former President Obama signed Executive Order No. 13761 temporarily lifting  20 year old sanctions against Sudan led by International Criminal Court indicted war criminal President Omar Hassan al-Bashir. The Executive Order had a look back period of 180 days which ends on July 12th, whereupon the Trump Administration might permanently lift sanctions.  This comes at a time when new evidence surfaced that a strategic policy group of the Bashir regime in Khartoum continued genocide against the indigenous black African people in Darfur, Nuba Mountains, South Kordofan  and the Blue Nile region.

The rancorous dispute between Qatar and four Arab nations, over alleged support for Islamic terrorism and the Muslim Brotherhood, has placed Bashir in a difficult position, as he has been asked by Saudi Arabia to take sides.  The government of neighboring Chad issued a statement cutting diplomatic relations with Qatar. Chadian President Idriss Deby Itno has long been waiting for this moment. Qatar has hosted and supported Chadian Islamist groups who have been recruited for Sudan President Omar al-Bashir’s Rapid Support Force (RSF)/Janjaweed militias.

In one embarrassing episode in mid-June 2017 General Taha Osman al Hussein, State Minister in the Presidency and  Director General of the Presidential Palace in Khartoum, allegedly had been arrested in an failed attempted coup to overthrow President Bashir of Sudan.  General al Hussein is a dual Sudan and Saudi Arabia citizen. Subsequent news reports said that General al Hussein and his wife had left the Sudan for Saudi Arabia after he had volunteered to allegedly lead an overthrow of Qatar.

Sudan had initiated an influence campaign in Washington retaining the services of the lobbying firm of Squire Paton Boggs at $40,000 per month to roll back the sanctions permanently. The objective was to make a convincing case that Sudan, despite its terrible human rights record, had nevertheless co-operated in providing useful counterterrorism intelligence on the whereabouts of the notorious Joseph Kony of the Lord’s Resistance Army.  In fact one of the co-authors, General Abdallah of the Sudan United Movement (SUM), had provided information on Kony’s whereabouts to US AFRICOM.

The House Foreign Affairs Committee rebuts recommendation of former US Sudan Envoys

The controversy over lifting Sudan Sanctions rose to a peak in late June 2017, when a noted US Sudan human rights activist Eric Reeves issued a scathing rebuttal letter.  It challenged a letter sent to the US House Foreign Affairs Committee by former Special Envoys to Sudan Princeton Lyman and Donald Booth, along with former U.S. Charge d’Affaires in Khartoum, Jerry Lanier, suggesting there was evidence to lift sanctions.

Reeves wrote:

In this almost three decades of brutal, tyrannical, and serially genocidal rule, this regime has not changed in any significant way. It has certainly not changed in ways claimed as possible by Lyman in December 2011:

We [the Obama administration] do not want to see the ouster of the [Khartoum] regime, nor regime change. We want to see the regime carrying out reform via constitutional democratic measures.” (Interview with Asharq al-Awsat, December 3, 2011).

One hardly knows where to begin in parsing the absurdity of this statement, justifying the Obama administration’s opposition to regime change. [Regime change] overwhelmingly favored by the vast majority of Sudanese and indeed now the linchpin of political and military opposition to the regime throughout Sudan.

Reeves then proceeded to document the escalation of genocidal ethnic cleansing against the indigenous black African people in Darfur, Nuba Mountains and the Blue Nile region since the Obama Executive Order went into effect.

On June 30, 2017,  members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee responded by sending a signed letter to President Trump. It recommended that any decision to lift Sudan sanctions be deferred for at least a year past the July 12th. That would allow a new Special Envoy and team to be appointed and conduct investigations. The letter clearly stated the reasons for their recommendation to the President:

There has been substantial fighting [by] Sudan in Darfur in recent months, including evidence of targeting civilians by Sudanese armed forces and their affiliated militias.  As expected, no humanitarian access has been granted to South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, and only limited access to Darfur.

While the Sudanese government may seem cooperative on counterterrorism efforts, we believe they continue regularly scheduled support for violent non-state armed groups, like the former combatants of the Islamist group, Seleka, the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA). Other similar violent actors [are] operating in northern and central Africa, the Middle East and neighboring countries.

As the look back date of July 12th looms there were further troubling disclosures.

The Top Secret Minutes of the Sudan Security Intelligence and Political Committee

Amidst the swirl of events concerning the lifting of sanctions against the Sudan regime of President al-Bashir were stunning revelations contained in the “Top Secret” minutes of The Security Intelligence and Political Committee of Crisis Management held in the Office of the Director of the Sudan National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS) on June 18, 2017.  The secret document had been obtained by a reliable informed source and was translated.

Attending the Khartoum meeting were the power elite of the reigning National Congress Party (NCP) regime: President Bashir, Vice President Backri Hassan Salih, Foreign Minister Ibrahim Gandur, Minister of Defense Awad bn Ouf, Hamid Momtaz Secretary of NCP political affairs, and  State Minister in the Ministry of foreign affairs, General Mohamed Atta al Mola Director of NISS, General Ibrahim Mohamed al Hassan, Commander of Military Intelligence,  Ibrahim Mhamud Vice President of NCP and Professor Ibrahim Ahmed Omer President of Parliament.

The minutes of this Crisis Management Committee revealed the broad sweep of plans for assassination of a major Sudan resistance commander in the Nuba Mountains and senior Officers supporting him. It also addressed sponsorship of international ISIS terrorist activities in the Sahel region of Africa, especially in Libya, and the global Muslim Brotherhood Organization.  It elucidated web of deception in the Bashir regime’s influence campaign in Washington, DC to lift sanctions by the Trump Administration.

These top secret minutes also reflect the Bashir regime’s position in the current dispute between Qatar and four Arab Countries: Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirate, Bahrain and Egypt. It reveals that relations with Iran secretly continue despite the public cutoff in 2015.

The revelations in this NISS document further the case of the letter signed by Members of the US House Foreign Affairs Committee sent to President Trump. The following is a digest of key recommendations of the Sudan NISS Crisis Management Committee at the June 18, 2017 meeting.

Elimination of Nuba Mountains Resistance SPLA/N Commander General Abdalaziz Adam Alhilu

The Committee sought to isolate and eliminate Nuba Mountains SPLA/N Commander General Abdulaziz Adam Alhilu, through use of all government institutions, political, military, intelligence and propaganda. They also will promote Malik Agar, Governor of the Blue Nile State and a leader of the SPLM/N, through an extensive media campaign  focusing the African Union’s position supporting his legitimacy as SPLM/N head. Allegedly, the Committee minutes contend the South Sudan government does not support AbdulazizThey would create internal problems for Abdulaziz through tribal conflicts using Nuba people opposing him to foment conflicts inside SPLA/N to weaken and totally destroy it. They indicated that Churches are the main places where communities are gathering in Nuba Mountains and Blue Nile; so they want to use highly trained people to infiltrate into Christian religious communities and create problems for Abdulaziz and SPLM/N. They plan to assassinate officers supporting Abdulaziz using military force through the support of the Agar faction and tribes of Angassana to remove him from the Nuba Mountains.

Recruitment and Infiltration of ISIS fighters to support African and Global Islamic Terrorism

They will continue support for the Global jihad objectives of the Islamic State and the Muslim Brotherhood. To that end they indicated that ISIS fighters in Iraq and Syria were defeated and the desert terrain is not suitable for continued warfare.  They would relocate ISIS fighters from Iraq and Syria and infiltrate them into the areas of Bahr al Gazal and Equatorial regions in the South Sudan. The areas of Bahr al Gazal and Equatorial regions would allow ISIS fighters to establish linkage with Boko Haram in Nigeria in the West through  the Central African Republic and  with Al Shebaab of Somalia in the East.  They would infiltrate ISIS fighters into neighboring Libya to reinforce ISIS affiliate groups there seeking to defeat the Libyan National Army regime of General Khalifa Haftar to prevent him from attaining power, as they view him as a threat to their regime. They believe that South Sudan President Salva Kiir supports the overthrow of the Khartoum regime, thus they want to overthrow the regime of President Kiir. To that end they would train Southern Sudanese youth, people from West Africa and Nigerian students supporting Boko Haram as they resemble the South Sudanese Africa tribal people in the capital of Juba.  They would infiltrate them into South Sudan as secret agent provocateurs to raise resentment against the regime of President Kiir, seeking its overthrow.

Support for Qatar and Renewal of Iran relations

The Committee minutes indicated that Saudi Arabia is trying to force them to leave Qatar.  However, they are not going to leave Qatar because it has been supporting the regime both ideologically and financially.  They contend, without the support of Qatar they would have been overthrown and imprisoned. They would reestablish their relations with Iran because of shared Islamic Jihad goals. Qatar, Iran and Turkey have established a relationship which has become a main point of contention raised by the Saudi Arabia and the three other Arab states. As we have written previously, Qatar has provided $200 million under the guise of education reform to Sudan that was diverted to funding the recruitment, training and equipping of more than 24,000 Rapid Support Forces (RSF)/Janjaweed militia.  They are under the control of the NISS in 16 camps in the region around Khartoum. These RSF forces were immediately deployed to Darfur and the Nuba Mountains to accelerate the ethnic cleansing of native black African peoples in those conflict zones.

Campaign to influence the Trump Administration’s lifting of Sanctions

Prior to the July 12th review by the Trump Administration they allegedly could stop two planned terrorist attacks on American interests in the world to convince Americans of Sudan’s seriousness of helping the US in combating global terrorism to justify lifting the sanctions.

They want to prevail on Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to put pressure on the US to lift sanctions. Saudi Arabia had urged President Obama to sign the temporary lifting of Sudan sanctions with his Executive Order. They also think  they have co-opted the US Intelligence Community because they understood the way the US intelligence Community think and operate.  They contend they have given counterterrorism intelligence information that no other country in the world had given them.  In return the US Intelligence Community has very little information about what is happening in Sudan.

Conclusion

This secret document reinforces our earlier contentions based on the captured Arab Coalition Plan. The Bashir regime’s objective is to recruit a jihad army of upwards of 150,000 from across the African Sahel region, ISIS Middle East and foreign fighters. The objective is to create a Caliphate ruled under Islamic Sharia law from Khartoum sponsoring global Islamic terrorism in consort with Muslim Brotherhood sponsoring regimes like Qatar and in renewed relations with Shiite Iran.  That is reflected in the Libyan National Army discovery of documents attesting to the collusion of Sudan, Qatar and Iran in fostering ISIS terrorists seeking to dismantle the Libyan National Army led by General Haftar.  Given these secret document revelations, President Trump would be well advised to accept the recommendation in the letter from the  US House Foreign Affairs Committee. That would entail  deferring  consideration of lifting sanctions for at least a year until a new Special Envoy of Sudan and South Sudan is appointed and team  assigned to obtain facts  that might verify the revelations of the secret June 2017 Sudan Crisis Management Committee minutes. A vital first step would be the appointment of a knowledgeable Special Envoy with plenipotentiary powers to investigate and expose the Bashir regime genocidal jihad objectives.  Another would be promoting regime change.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Lt. Gen. Abakar M. Abdallah Lt. Gen. Abdallah is Chairman of the Sudan Unity Movement (SUM). He is a native of North Darfur who joined the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) in 1984 and became active in the Nuba Hills and Darfurian resistance movements. In 1989 he joined the Patriotic Salvation Movement in neighboring Chad based in Darfur. He served as an officer in the Chadian army for 23 years. He held senior intelligence and counterterrorism posts including as Coordinator of the Multi-National Joint Task Force of Nigeria, Chad and Niger. He was Coordinator of Pan-Sahel Initiative (PSI) Anti-Terrorism Unit of Chad and Commander of PSI Anti-Terrorism Battalion of Chad 2004. He is a December 2002 graduate of the Intelligence Officers’ Advanced and Combating Terrorism Courses, US Army Intelligence Center and Schools, Fort Huachuca, Arizona. He was a Counter Terrorism Fellow and a Graduate of the College of International Security Affairs, National Defense University, Washington, DC, 2005. He was an International Fellow and Graduate of the US Army War College, Class of 2008.

Jerry Gordon is a Senior Editor at the New English Review.

Deborah Martin is a 35 year veteran Sudan linguistic and cultural affairs consultant

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

Qatar – the end of the road?

Analysis: The Saudis and their Arab allies have had enough of Qatar and its media proxy al Jazeera’s behavior. They intend to win this fight.

The Emirate of Qatar is a peninsula that juts out from Saudi Arabia into the Persian Gulf. The only overland route out of Qatar is by way of Saudi Arabia and if that route is blocked, the only way to reach Qatar or leave it is by air or sea. However, flights to and from Qatar pass over Saudi air space part of the time and ships from or to Qatar have to pass through Saudi territorial waters. This means that Saudi Arabia can in effect declare a total blockade on Qatar if it so desires. It has never done so before, but it began the process on June 5th.

In addition to a blockade, the Saudis, joined by the United Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Mauritius, the Philippines and the Maldives, cut off diplomatic and consular relations with Qatar.  Egypt, Libya and the Emirates declared that they would ban Qatari plans and ships from their air space and territorial waters. In 2014, these countries took much milder steps in order to punish Qatar, cancelling them once Qatar agreed to accept the dictates of the Umma and signed the Riyadh agreement along with the rest of the Arab nations.

The reasons provided by the countries involved for the unprecedented severity of the current steps against Qatar included: “Qatar aids the Muslim Brotherhood and other terror organizations such as Hezbollah, Hamas, ISIS and Jebhat al-Nusrah” and “The Emir of  Qatar has declared that Iran is a good nation” as well as “Qatar destabilizes our regime,” as well  as ” Qatar provides hiding places and shelter to Muslim Brotherhood leaders who fled there from Egypt,” and “Qatar is giving aid to  the Houthi rebels (read Shiites) in Yemen.”

Another and most subtle reason, whose source is a Kuwaiti commentator, appears on al Jazeera‘s site: “Qatar refused to meet Trump’s financial demands.” This odd remark relates to a rumor on Facebook and other social network sites claiming that before Trump agreed to come to the Riyadh Arab League Conference, he demanded the Gulf Emirates purchase US arms in the legendary sum of one and a half trillion dollars, to be divided among Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Emirates. The three agreed, but Qatar pulled out at the last minute, causing the Emirates to follow suit, and leaving the Saudis holding the bill demanded by Trump.   The falling through of this deal, the largest in history, may have been the reason for Trump’s noticeably grim face in Riyadh.

Claiming that Qatar causes the destabilization of regimes is a veiled hint referring to al Jazeera which broadcasts from Qatar. Every since it began broadcasting in 1996 from the capital city of Qatar, Doha, al Jazeera has infuriated Arab rulers because it constantly carries out a media Jihad against them also aimed at others such as  Israel, the US, the West and Western culture. The channel also promotes and supports the Muslim Brotherhood and its offshoots such as Hamas, al Qaeda and the Northern Branch of the Islamic Movement in Israel headed by Sheikh Raad Salah. Al Jazeera‘s media strategy is determined by Qatar’s Emir and is carried out down to the last detail by its very professional leading broadcaster and editorial policy setter, Jamal Rian, a Palestinian born in Tul Karem in 1953, who moved to Jordan where he was active in the Muslim Brotherhood until expelled by King Hussein.

Every so often other Arab regimes, chief among them Egypt under Mubarak, attempted to close down al Jazeera‘s offices in their countries after overly harsh criticism was aimed at the ruling government, only to reopen them when al Jazeera simply stepped up its attacks

The general feeling is that any government official – or anyone at all – who opposes a ruling regime (and there is no shortage of these people in any Arab country) leaks embarrassing information to  al Jazeera all the time, so that the channel is always poised to expose the information when the time is ripe and especially if the now-cornered victim has been unfriendly to it and to Islamists. The thought of this happening is enough to paralyze every Arab leader who would like to clamp down on al Jazeera in his country.

Every time a conflict erupts between Israel and Hamas, al Jazeera comes out in favor of the terrorist organization because of Qatar’s support of it. Hamas leader Haled Mashaal, makes his home in Qatar and the Qatari Emir is the only Arab leader so far to visit Hamas-ruled Gaza. The Emir has give billions to Hamas, enabling the organization to develop its  terror infrastructure.

Qatar has budgeted half a billion dollars to “buy” organizations such as UNESCO (whose next head will, unsurprisingly, be from Qatar), as well as media, academic and government figures to advance the goal of removing Jerusalem from Israeli hands. Al Jazeera runs a well publicized and organized campaign in order to ensure this outcome. This is the face of media jihad.

Saudi Arabia has never allowed al Jazeera‘s reporters to work from within the country, but does allow them to cover special events once in a while, mainly the Hajj. The Saudis know exactly what the Emir had up his sleeve when he founded a media network that would rule over Arab monarchs by means of recording their slip-ups, taking advantage of the Arab obsession with avoiding public humiliation by broadcasting from a satellite that can reach every house in the Arab world with no way of blocking it.

The last reports are that the Saudis blocked access to the al Jazeera internet site from their territory.  It is harder to block al Jazeera‘s satellite channel reception legally and it can still be accessed throughout the monarchy. Arab media attribute the blockage to declarations supportive of Hamas and Hezbollah made by the Emir of Qatar after Trump’s speech in Riyadh in which the US president included Hamas and Hezbollah in his list of terror organization, equating them with al Qaeda and ISIS.

Sorry, but I do not buy that story. Declarations about third parties (Iran, Hamas, Hezbollah) are ordinarily not the reason a public dispute erupts between Iranian monarchs. In my opinion, the reason for blocking the al Jazeera site in Saudi Arabia is a photograph posted on the al Jazeera site while Trump was in Riyadh.

This photo shows King Suleiman of Saudi Arabia awarding the Gold Decoration, the highest honor of the Saudi monarchy, to Donald Trump, but that is not the reason it was posted on al Jazeera. The reason has to do with the woman appearing in it and standing between Suleiman and Trump. I do not know what her name is, but she accompanied Trump during his entire stay in Riyadh standing just behind him and carrying a briefcase. Perhaps she is an interpreter. She is carrying a briefcase filled with important documents that have to be with Trump all the time in one picture as he, of course, would not be seen carrying a briefcase and standing be

What is interesting about this woman is that she spent the entire time in the royal palace with her hair uncovered, like Melania Trump, the First Lady, did, even though women with uncovered hair are not to be seen in Saudi Arabia. In the palace, women are also not allowed to b e seen in the company of men. Al Jazeera posted this photo intentionally, in order to embarrass the king who granted Trump an award even though he was accompanied by women who, like those in the picture, who do not cover their hair. That photo of the king was the last straw and the Saudis blocked al Jazeera.

Qatar is now under great pressure. The nations that broke off relations with Qatar have stopped recognizing the Qatari Rial as a viable currency and have confiscated all the Qatari Rials in their banks. As a result, Qatar cannot purchase goods with its own currency and must use its foreign currency reserves. The supermarket shelves in Qatar have been emptied by residents hoarding food for fear that the blockade will not allow food to be imported. Long lines of cars can be seen trying to leave for Saudi Arabia to escape being shut up in the besieged, wayward country.

Qatar is trying to get the US to help improve the situation. The largest American air force base in the Gulf is located in  Qatar and it is from there that the attacks on ISIS are generated. Qatar also hosts the US Navy Fifth Fleet as well as the Central Command and Control of US forces in that part of the world. Qatari media stress the US concern about the siege that the Saudis have put on Qatar.

As part of its efforts to enlist US aid, Qatar has begun a counterattack: Qatar media have publicized that the U.A.E. ambassador, Yousef Al Otaiba , said on US election eve: “What star could make Donald Trump the president?” This is intended to cause a rift between the US and the Gulf Emirates, but will certainly not improve Qatar’s own relations with the Emirates.

Meanwhile, the Saudis and the Emirates have ejected Qatar from the coalition fighting the Houthis in Yemen, and there are rumors that they will also remove Qatar from the Council for Cooperation in the Gulf. The Saudis could suspend Qatar’s membership in the Arab League and other organizations if this dispute continues, raising the pressure on the Emir’s al-Thani clan.

The next few days will decide Qatar’s future. There  is a distinct possibility that the foreign ministers of Qatar and the Arab nations taking part in the boycott against it will meet in some neutral spot, perhaps Kuwait, Qatar will give in and new rules will be set by Arab leaders, that is by King Suleiman, to keep Qatar in line. They would include: toning down al Jazeera and perhaps even switching its managerial staff, ending the support for the Muslim Brotherhood and other terror organizations, ending cooperation with Iran and above all, listening to what the Saudi “Big Brother” says about issues, especially those having to do with financial dealings with the US. Once the conditions for Qatari surrender are agreed upon, we can expect the ministers to meet the press, publicize a declaration on the end of the intra-family dispute, shake hands before the cameras and smile – until the next crisis.

There is, however, another scenario: Qatar does not give in, the Saudis and its allies invade, their armies eject the Emir and Mufti of Qatar, and also Jamal Rian, the guiding brain behind Al Jazeera’s  policies. They would then appoint a new Emir from the ruling family, one who knows how to behave, one who listens to the Saudis.  No one except for Iran, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas would oppose this solution, and the soft-spoken condemnations will not succeed in hiding the world’s joy and sighs of relief if the Saudis actually carry out that plan.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in Arutz Sheva, translated by Rochel Sylvetsky, Op-ed editor and senior consultant Israelnationalnews.com.

Crock Boy: When the Media Get Owned by a 14-year-old

Take the money and run. With the huge windfall enjoyed by the Mohamed family — of clock-bomb-arrest fame — in “Islamophobic” America, one might think that little clock-maker extraordinaire Ahmed Mohamed would head to Switzerland for an internship with Rolex. Instead, news is his whole family is moving to Qatar after the boy accepted a scholarship from the Qatar Foundation for Education. Because, you know, if you’re interested in pushing back scientific frontiers, the Islamic world is where you go.

Now, Qatar is an interesting choice. Its official state religion is Wahhabi Islam — this is also the dominant faith in Saudi Arabia. And like Saudi Arabia, the nation’s main source of legislation is Sharia law (I’m sure Ahmed’s sisters will love it {and maybe they will}). It’s quite telling, however, that the Mohamed clan would choose such a place, although not surprising, really. With Ahmed’s father, Mohamed Elhassan Mohamed (talk about wearing out a name), being a Muslim activist who twice ran for the Sudan’s presidency, it wouldn’t be surprising if these people were “true believers.”

But what I really want to discuss are those other destructive true believers, in all things politically correct, who averred Crock Boy was Clock Boy and dubbed him an inventor. This brings us to the main point, something never quite articulated sufficiently.

Where’s the clock?

Experts in electronics have maintained that Ahmed’s “clock” is just the guts of an ‘80s commercial clock ripped out and placed in another housing. On the other hand, there are still liberals who believe Ahmed’s story, of being a creative scientific genius unjustly persecuted by a bigoted America.

Okay, show me. Barack Obama had originally tweeted, “Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House?” But when boy genius made an appearance on the South Lawn for Monday’s Astronomy Night, his clock was conspicuously absent. Hmm….

Nor has the media treated us to expositions on the nature, construction and brilliance of Ahmed’s “invention.” They haven’t made it Exhibit A in the persecution of a budding Muslim scientist and rubbed it in the faces of those stupid enough to mistake tomorrow’s technology for today’s terrorism. My, remarkably charitable of them.

Of course, that’s what would have happened had Ahmed’s creation been more clock than crock. Instead, the device has been “disappeared.” Like a magician using misdirection to distract his audience from his sleight-of-hand, the media and Mohamed clan have made Ahmed the story. “If I was a Caucasian male, I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t have gotten arrested,” said the beleaguered boy. Chimed in his father, Mr. Mohamed2, “Because his name is Mohamed and because of Sept. 11, I think my son got mistreated.”

Let me clue you in, fellas: if Ahmed were of European descent and named Alex or Justin, few would have even heard his story.

He wouldn’t have been on talk shows and done a world tour visiting leaders and the U.N.

He wouldn’t have been invited to the White House.

The media wouldn’t have made a federal case out of his tale.

And he wouldn’t have gotten money, scholarships and offers of opportunities from Facebook, Google, Twitter and others.

You know, like white kid Alex Stone, arrested for writing a fictional story in which he slew a dinosaur with a gun.

Or white Texas teen Justin Carter, who sat in prison for months — to the point of becoming suicidal — for making an obvious joke in social media.

Or the kids punished for chewing a Pop-Tart, cutting paper or forming fingers into the shape of a gun. Their races? White, white and white.

Of course, Ahmed had excitedly told a former teacher after his terrible, unjust persecution, “I told you one day I’m going to be — and you told me yourself — I’m going to be really big on the Internet one day.” Even more recently he said about his experience, “I’m glad this happened to me.” I’ll bet. It’s a neat con.

I know, I’m a terrible man to thus criticize a kid. You see, though, unlike most adults — who behave as if they don’t even remember being young — I do. And I know that while many 14-year-olds can be wonderful, some are manipulative, crafty and even downright rotten. And if Ahmed is so clever, why is it inconceivable that Clock Boy could be Crock Boy, a clever little con man?

It’s also ironic that the liberals who now say criticizing a 14-year-old is off limits are often the same people who provide sex education to pre-teens and want to give 14-year-olds voting rights.

I’m not saying Ahmed knew precisely how his story would play out. But it seems that the most charitable explanation is that he tried to impress teachers with a faux creation; it’s also not inconceivable that a boy juvenile could find bringing to school something resembling a bomb amusing. After that, the Mohamed clan, activist Mohamed2 and all, took the ball and ran with it.

Also note that Ahmed has a history of misbehavior, having been suspended from junior-high school for three weeks and spending time the next year in a “reassignment center.” Of course, privacy rules mean we can’t get details on Master Ahmed’s junior-high hell-raising, but you don’t get suspended for three weeks for “blowing bubbles” in school, as his family related when brushing the matter off. Consider as well that his oldest sister, Eyman, was also suspended — for allegedly wanting to blow up her school. As National Review’s Ian Tuttle observed, “Two siblings from the same family being falsely accused of “bomb”-related offenses is, well, quite a coincidence.” Yes, quite.

But then there was the fact that the wind beneath the Mohameds’ wings, the juvenile media, would rather play useful idiot than expose Crock Boy. Part of this, no doubt, is that his tale advances the leftist victim group/victimizer group narrative. And as a Students for a Democratic Society radical once put it, “The issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution.”

Yet there’s another factor: the media are generally ignorant and deluded.

And sometimes downright stupid.

There’s also a psychological phenomenon whereby people would rather participate in a fraud than admit they’d been duped. It’s “‘See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil’ — lest I fully realize I’m a dope.”

If those of us saying Clock Boy is Crock Boy are wrong, there was always a simple way to prove it. Exhibit A, the smoking gun — the clock. Where’s the clock?

Oh, yeah, it’s in the corn field with Hillary’s emails.

Contact Selwyn Duke, follow him on Twitter or log on to SelwynDuke.com

Lebanese Christian Politician Attacks Israel

Noted Israeli-Canadian scholar Dr. Mordechai Nisan’s, latest book, War and Politics in Lebanon, reveals that very few Lebanese Christian politicians and commanders had a high level of ethics.  See “Engimatic Lebanon”, in the September 2015, New English Review. Those who didn’t lust after power were few. Some were powerless like Charles Malek and Fuad Bustany. Others are dying like Antoine Lahd. Or are in exile such as Etienne Sacr.  Nisan cites  the  example of Christian leaders, like Michel Aoun who have opted to form alliances with Iran and its proxy Hezbollah.  Another Nisan also drew attention to is Samir Geagea, leader of the Lebanese Forces political party. Nisan wrote, “Aoun and Geagea .. both tore Maronite unity into shreds and bloodshed.”

Geagea led the Lebanese Forces Christian militia from 1985 to 1990 in full alliance with Israel. That was before he was jailed by the Syrian-backed regime in 1994 for eleven years for “assassinations of Lebanese citizens”.

Now Samir Geagea has apparently made  a major ideological and strategic change of direction. In a surprising statement issued yesterday, Geagea attacked “the aggressive Israelis for their violence against Palestinians, and Israel’s suppression of Muslims and Christians in Jerusalem.”   Contrast this with his earlier condemnation of Hezbollah in the  January 2015 attacks by Hezbollah the killed two IDF soldiers near Mount Dov near the Lebanese border. The Algemeiner reported Geagea saying at the time: “Hezbollah has no right to implicate the Lebanese people in a battle with Israel. There is a government and a parliament which can decide on that.”?

This statement didn’t appear out of the blue.  Geagea and his wife MP Setrida Geagea had just returned from a visit to Qatar; a major supporter of the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas. The visit took place after sources revealed that Geagea’s political party went in quest of funding.  He had received Saudi petrodollars in the past, according to wikileaks.

However, the pro-Muslim Brotherhood  and pro-Hamas attitude of Geagea isn’t of recent origin. He  dispatched a member of his party’s political bureau, MP Antoine Zahra, to Gaza in support of Hamas. Geagea supporters argue that he needs to play the Sunni card to create a balance with Hezbollah and Iran.  Lebanese Christian sources dismiss the Sunni Shia reason. They say, “Geagea could have kept his connections to moderate Sunnis like Sa’ad Hariri.  However, he openly allied himself with Qatar, the Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas which is a huge mistake. It is about Petrodollars of course.”

Waging an attack on Israel to buy credit among Islamist fundamentalists is not a Geagea invention. Before him, another Lebanese Christian leader General Michel Aoun who fought Assad in 1989 and went into exile for 15 years, reversed his position  upon his return to Lebanon in 2005.  He openly sealed an alliance with Hezbollah.  Aoun engaged in a decade long alliance with Assad, Hezbollah and Iran. Thus the two most powerful Christian politicians, who have fought the radical Islamists and Iran in the past, have become allies to the Jihadists, both Sunnis and Shia.  All to the surprise of  veterans of both the Lebanese Forces militia and the Lebanese Army.

In the 1980s, another former commander of the Christian militia, a close ally of Israel, Elie Hobeika, also  reversed course and shifted from being anti Assad to becoming an ally of the Syrian regime in 1985. He was attacked by both Geagea and Aoun in 1986 and removed from East Beirut. Ironically Geagea and Aoun, years later also abandoned their Lebanese Christian legacy to become allies with either Hamas or Hezbollah.

A Lebanese Christian scholar living in Beirut, who knew both Aoun and Geagea, said “this is a sickness of power. We haven’t seen anything like that when Bashir Gemayel was alive.  Geagea and Aoun are  power hungry. They abandoned their people and are aligning with radicals just  hoping one day they will snatch the supreme office of President of the Lebanese Republic. This is disgusting. We blame Geagea more, because he once led a force that was the heart of the Lebanese Christian resistance. He knew better, his betrayal is bigger.”

Geagea, we note,  fell short of  the  65 Parliamentary votes needed in the April 2014 election to succeed Michel Sleiman’s term as the Maronite President in the confessional political system. He only got 48 votes.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Samir Geagea  Christian Lebanese Forces political leader.

Saudi Arabia: Has Taken Zero Refugees but has Air Conditioned Empty Tents for 3 Million People

Paul Joseph Watson from InfoWars.com reports:

While European countries are being lectured about their failure to take in enough refugees, Saudi Arabia – which has taken in precisely zero migrants – has 100,000 air conditioned tents that can house over 3 million people sitting empty.

The sprawling network of high quality tents are located in the city of Mina, spreading across a 20 square km valley, and are only used for 5 days of the year by Hajj pilgrims. As the website Amusing Planet reports, “For the rest of the year, Mina remains pretty much deserted.”

The tents, which measure 8 meters by 8 meters, were permanently constructed by the Saudi government in the 1990’s and were upgraded in 1997 to be fire proof. They are divided into camps which include kitchen and bathroom facilities.

The tents could provide shelter for almost all of the 4 million Syrian refugees that have been displaced by the country’s civil war, which was partly exacerbated by Saudi Arabia’s role in funding and arming jihadist groups.

However, as the Washington Post reports, wealthy Gulf Arab nations like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and others have taken in precisely zero Syrian refugees. Although Saudi Arabia claims it has taken in 500,000 Syrians since 2011, rights groups point out that these people are not allowed to register as migrants. Many of them are also legal immigrants who moved there for work. In comparison, Lebanon has accepted 1.3 million refugees – more than a quarter of its population.

While it refuses to take in any more refugees, Saudi Arabia has offered to build 200 mosques for the 500,000 migrants a year expected to pour into Germany.

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Qatar Deports Hamas Politburo Chief Khaled Meshaal?

Just before year end, on December 30, 2014, we posted on pronouncements from Qatar about abandoning support for the Muslim Brotherhood and opening up dialogue with Egypt’s President El-Sisi. El-Sisi , then Defense Chief ousted President Morsi , a former Muslim Brotherhood leader in a coup on July 2013, Has Qatar turned Away from Islamist Support in the Middle East?  Earlier on December 6, 2014, we reported that the Qatari Ambassador to the US,  H.E. Mohammed Jaham Al-Kuwari at a presentation before the Pensacola, Florida Tiger Bay Club proclaimed, “We do not support Hamas”.  He astounded some in the audience. In retrospect, given today’s news about Qatar expelling, Hamas Politburo leader, that may have been a scoop.  If confirmed, that would end Meshall’s three year sojourn in the gas rich Gulf state.  However, denials by Senior Hamas leader and the lack of confirmation from Qatar raise questions.  CNN reported:

Senior Hamas official Izzat Risheq denied reports Monday that the group’s political leader Khaled Meshaal has been expelled from Qatar.

Earlier Monday, sources close to Hamas told CNN that Meshaal and members of the Muslim Brotherhood were expelled from Qatar, and were most likely on the way to Turkey.

The Qatari government has not commented.

Saudi Arabia has been working to improve relations between Qatar and Egypt.

Israel’s reaction to this development was what you might expect as reported by AP:

The Israeli Foreign Ministry issued a statement saying it “welcomes Qatar’s decision to expel the head of the Hamas political bureau, Khaled Meshaal, to Turkey.” It said the Qatari decision came after heavy diplomatic pressure from Israel.

“We expect the Turkish government to act responsibly in a similar way,” it added.

Hardly, likely.  Meshaal traveled to Ankara on December 25, 2014 and met with Islamist AKP President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  Meshaal then showed up on December 27, 2014 at the annual convention of AKP Party of President Erdogan held at the hometown of AKP Premier Dovutoglu in Konor. Al-Monitor reported his reception and remarks:

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu appeared on Dec. 27 with Meshaal in Davutoglu hometown, Konya, for the Justice and Development Party’s (AKP) annual assembly. Known for being conservative, Konya residents jubilantly greeted Meshaal, as reported by Islamist news network Takva Haber: “The democratic and secular Hamas leader reminded Konya residents of their protests in the 1980s in solidarity with Jerusalem.”

Turkish mainstream media reported Meshaal’s appearance in Konya as a surprise visit. Meshaal gave a brief but potent speech in which he praised Erdogan and Davutoglu multiple times as the crowd waived Turkish and Palestinian flags, passionately cheering “Allahu akbar” (God is great) and “Down with Israel.” Meshaal said: “A strong Turkey means a strong Jerusalem and a strong Palestine. … Inshallah [God willing], we will liberate Jerusalem together. A strong Turkey is a source of power for all Muslims.”

Erdogan has gone out of his way to support Hamas as fellow Brothers. That included the infamous exiled Egyptian Brotherhood preacher, the anti-American and anti-Semitic Yusuf al Qaradawi, head of the US Global terror financing conduit, Union of Good. In our December 6th post we drew attention to an Interpol Red Tag Warrant issued for the arrest of al-Qaradawi sought for extradition “to serve a sentence” for crimes including “incitement and assistance to commit intentional murder” in El-Sisi’s Egypt.  Al Monitor in a December 12, 2014 report on the Arrest Warrant noted Erdogan saying:

His resentment publicly at the Fifth Religious Council in Ankara Dec. 8, Erdogan said: “Look, a person who came to power through a coup is giving instructions to Interpol. Based on this instruction a step is being taken for the arrest of Youssef al-Qaradawi, president of the [International] Union of Muslim Scholars. What kind of a business is this?”

 The Qatari Ambassador’s  presentation on December 6th in Pensacola was eclipsed by the Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani’s  appearance at a GCC summit in Doha three days later on December 9th that marked the start of a lowering of Qatar’s profile internationally reflected in  a Wall Street Journal  op by Yaroslav Trofimov’,  Qatar Scales Back Role in Middle East Conflicts.   The Qatari Ambassador to Washington comments about Meshaal at the Pensacola Tiger Bay Club meeting in response to his status may have been cover for what may have happened yesterday when H.E. Ambassador Al-Kuwari said, “Better to have Khaled Meshaal in Qatar than across the Gulf in Iran”.  Meshaal, the political leader of Hamas is said to live in luxury and control funds estimated at over $2.0 billion.

 Now it is likely that Khaled Meshaal, and possibly MB Preacher Al Qaradawi and others in the Hamas Politburo entourage in Doha may have also found new refuge and safe haven for their ill-gotten billions in Turkey. Meanwhile Hamas leaders in Gaza are complaining bitterly that less than $100 million out of the $5.4 billion pledged to rebuild the enclave have been received since the Cairo conference with Arab states following the cease fire that ended the 50 day war with Israel in the summer of 2014.  Trofimov in his WSJ analysis noted the turnabout following the Emir al-Thani appearance at the Doha   Gulf Cooperation Council meeting on December 9th:

Trofimov in his WSJ analysis  noted the turnabout:

After their threats to boycott a summit of Gulf monarchies in Doha this month, Qatar revised its stance on the critical point of disagreement—how to treat the Muslim Brotherhood and the current Egyptian leadership, which ousted the Islamist group from power last year.

Having expelled several Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders ahead of the summit, Qatar sent a senior envoy to Egypt on Dec. 20 to seek a rapprochement with President Abdel Fattah El -Sisi.

Two days later, Qatar shut down the Egyptian channel of its Al Jazeera TV network, an outlet for the Brotherhood and other opponents of Egypt’s current leadership.

“The security of Egypt is important for the security of Qatar,” Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said.

Our conclusion from our December 30th post is worth repeating:

Thus, tiny Qatar has been forced to rein in its support of the Islamist jihadist causes because of geo-political realities, leaving Turkey’s President Erdogan as the lone supporter of Hamas in the region.  That has been fueled by the US energy revolution producing a glut in the weakened demand for oil and gas that precipitated the plummeting oil and gas prices.

We shall see if Qatar makes the transition away from being a Frenemy dropping its support for the Brotherhood in the region and in Gaza. Backing Egypt’s security was likely a show of good faith to be brought back into the fold of the Gulf Cooperation Council. If Qatar can clean up its problems with the construction of the FIFA 2022 World Cup including alleged human rights violations of foreign workers, it may be on the path to rehabilitation in the world community. Still Qatar is not a budding democracy as it tries to portray itself. Rather it an Arab autocracy granting little to no human rights to its 280,000 citizens and nearly 1.8 million foreign workers.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Khaled Meshaal, Hamas Politburo chief, at a Doha 7-23-14 news conference. Source: Reuters.

Has Qatar turned Away from Islamist Support in the Middle East?

Yesterday, The Wall Street Journal published an intriguing analysis by Yaroslav Trofimov of the of Qatar’s apparent withdrawal from being a broker in the murky world of Middle East peace and Islamist causes, Qatar Scales Back Role in Middle East Conflicts.   Trofimov noted:

From mediating in Lebanon and Sudan to helping rebels in Libya and Syria and backing the Palestinian group Hamas, Qatar has been involved in virtually every Middle Eastern flash point. But, under pressure from bigger neighbors Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, it has moved in recent weeks to distance itself from its traditional posture of championing Islamist movements—particularly the Muslim Brotherhood—in Egypt and elsewhere.

“The Qataris were a little bit shaken about how much blowback they have had,” said Abdullah Baabood, director of the Gulf Studies Center at Qatar University. “The recent events show they have overstretched themselves. They will now pick their battles and focus on what serves best their strategic interests.”

Trofimov drew attention to some demonstrable turns of events in December 2014 following the dust up in March when envoys from three Arab States in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia withdrew their Ambassadors.  In November the UAE followed Saudi Arabia and listed the Muslim Brotherhood and affiliates Hamas,  CAIR and the Muslim American Society in the US as terrorist organizations. Trofimov noted the turnabout:

After their threats to boycott a summit of Gulf monarchies in Doha this month, Qatar revised its stance on the critical point of disagreement—how to treat the Muslim Brotherhood and the current Egyptian leadership, which ousted the Islamist group from power last year.

Having expelled several Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood leaders ahead of the summit, Qatar sent a senior envoy to Egypt on Dec. 20 to seek a rapprochement with President Abdel Fattah El -Sisi.

Two days later, Qatar shut down the Egyptian channel of its Al Jazeera TV network, an outlet for the Brotherhood and other opponents of Egypt’s current leadership.

“The security of Egypt is important for the security of Qatar,” Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said.

Earlier on December 6, 2014, we reported that the Qatari Ambassador to the US,  H.E. Mohammed Jaham Al-Kuwari at a presentation before the Pensacola, Florida Tiger Bay Club proclaimed, “We do not support Hamas”.  He astounded some in the audience.  That was in contrast to the views of Jon Schanzer of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies who in a September 2014 Congressional hearing said, “That Qatar is currently Hamas’ ATM”.  We noted Qatar’s pledge of $1 billion to rebuild Gaza after the cease fire that ended the 50 day war in the summer of 2014. Qatar had provided a luxurious safe haven for billionaire Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal.  The Ambassador said, “Better to have Khaled Meshaal in Qatar than across the Gulf in Iran”.  But then there were other matters for example the Taliban office in Qatar that facilitated the exchange of senior commanders released from  Gitmo for US Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.  Oatar had provided a long exile of anti-Semitic and anti-American Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Preacher Yusuf al Qaradawi who coincidentally had an Interpol red tag warrant issued for his arrest and extradition to Egypt on the same day as the Ambassador’s Pensacola presentation. We cited US Treasury concerns over wealthy Qatari businessmen funding Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al Nusra in Syria and the Islamic State. These stood in contrast to GCC member Kuwait that had moved at US behest to shut off the spigot of such jihad donations from wealthy individuals there.  The Qatari Ambassador cited diplomatic recognition of Israel and a state office the Jewish nation had in Doha. Curiously, the other GCC member who maintains relations with Israel, Oman, apparently doesn’t support the Palestinian cause.

The Qatari Ambassador’s  presentation on December 6th in Pensacola was eclipsed by the Emir al-Thani’s appearance at a GCC summit in Doha three days later on December 9th that marked the start of a lowering of Qatar’s profile internationally reflected in Trofimov’s WSJ revelations.

There were also some fundamental economic realities; the plummeting oil and gas prices, reflecting the excess of supply over current global demand.  That resulted in hammering the revenues of oil producers like Russia, Iran and Venezuela.  There is the prospect in 2015 of the US vaulting to the forefront as both the world’s leading oil and gas producers propelled by the fracking revolution. If allowed by the Obama Administration exports of oil and gas would further weaken world prices that could result in a further drop in Qatar’s revenues.  Al Arab in a report on December 16, 2014 quoted the Qatari energy minister at an industry conference in Doha saying:

“Energy markets are interconnected, and we can see the effects of the oil price drop affecting gas too,” Mohammed al-Sada told reporters in Doha.

There was already a “strong degree of conversion of gas spot prices between different regions,” he said on the sidelines of the 16th ministerial meeting of gas exporting countries.

Oil prices have dropped by nearly 50% and natural gas prices 10% since June 2014.

Then there were still unresolved FIFA 2018 and 2022 bribery investigations of both Russia and Qatar. That has besmirched the reputation of the world football federation and its autocratic head, Sepp Blatter, following the resignation of former US Attorney Michael Garcia of the US law firm of Kirkland and Ellis, over the failure to release the final report of his investigation in bribery allegations. There have been  accusations that some of the $220 billion funds for the infrastructure  in preparation for 2022 FIFA World Cup competition  in Qatar may have involved bribes to FIFA officials and  possible  diversion of contractor payments  to fund the Jihad of the Islamic State.

Qatar’s estimated $220 billion investment in infrastructure to support the 2022 World Cup matches in its torrid climate has engendered another problem: the deaths of  nearly 1,000 foreign workers and their  near servitude-like employment and housing conditions. The Times of India in a December 24, 2014, report cited evidence of Qatar’s continuing toll of foreign workers:

A series of stories in The Guardian have shown that migrant workers from Nepal, India, Sri Lanka and elsewhere were dying in their hundreds.

While some were listed as having been killed in workplace accidents, many more were said to have died from sudden, unexplained cardiac arrest.

The government confirmed in the DLA Piper report that 964 workers from Nepal, India and Bangladesh had died while living and working in the Gulf state in 2012 and 2013.

The report recommended that Qatar do more to record and investigate the causes of death among the migrant population but it has made little outward progress.

After it was published, Qatar said it would reform the kafala system that keeps workers tied to their employer, and better enforce laws that require contractors to provide humane living conditions and ban them from seizing passports.

But the system that Qatar proposed to replace kafala would still leave workers tied to their employers for the length of their contract, which could be as much as five years.

Seasoned observers of the Middle East region say that Qatar under the two century rule by the Al-Thani family “has been punching internationally above its weight class” to use the boxing analogy. Yet Qatar has often been referred to as a Frenemy.  Not exactly a friend, not exactly an enemy.  The friend part is reflected in the forward operating base for the US CENTCOM at the al-Udeid airbase complex and multi-billion dollar purchases of weapons from US defense contractors. There was also the creation of an education hub for several US universities and the Brookings Institution Doha Middle East Research Center.  That may be winding down with status of forces agreement with the Afghanistan government and the Obama Administration ending active US combat participation in the conflict with the Taliban.  The enemy side of Qatar  had  until these latest developments been reflected in support for the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, Al Qaeda and Islamic State by wealthy fundamentalist Qataris.

Trofimov in his WSJ analysis cites the characterization of Qatar by a human rights critic:

Despite its rhetoric in favor of democratic change in the region, the absolute monarchy has remained just as repressive as its neighbors, said Najab al Nuaimi, the country’s former justice minister who is now a prominent human-rights lawyer.

“It is a police state. There is no democracy in Qatar. If you open your mouth, they will even strip you of your passport,” he said. “We supported directly all the uprisings, with violence, with guns—but only the Brotherhood, not the liberals.”

Thus, tiny Qatar has been forced to rein in its support of the Islamist jihadist causes because of geo-political realities, leaving Turkey’s President Erdogan as the lone supporter of Hamas in the region.  That has been  fueled by the  US energy revolution producing a glut in the weakened demand for oil and gas that precipitated  the plummeting oil and gas prices. We can thank American entrepreneurial enterprise for causing the drop in revenues to energy dependent producers like Russia, Iran and Venezuela and quickening the possible demise of OPEC.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Qatari Emir Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani at the Gulf Cooperation Council summit in Doha on 12-9-14. Source: Associated Press.

Qatar Ambassador to U.S.: “We Don’t Support Hamas”

Qatar’s Ambassador to Washington  H.E. Mohammed Jaham Al-Kuwari is a veteran diplomat with 32 years of service to the small gas rich wealthy Arab state on a peninsula jutting into the Persian Gulf off Saudi Arabia.  American educated at the University of Portland, Oregon with graduate work at the University of Madrid in Spain, he speaks several languages including Farsi used during a diplomatic post in Tehran.  He has held a number of diplomatic posts, Foreign Ministry and Cabinet positions. As Qatar’s Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary, he presented his credentials to President Obama in the Oval Office in March 2014. Ambassador Al-Kuwari spoke Friday, December 5th at the monthly meeting of the Tiger Bay Club in Pensacola, Florida.

Qatar with its capital of Doha has fewer subjects than the metropolitan Pensacola area, approximately 300,000. There are also upwards of 1.7 million foreign workers residing in Qatar with some evidence of human rights violations. Human Rights Watch in its 2014 World Report noted:

Migrants continue to experience serious rights violations, including forced labor and arbitrary restrictions on the right to leave Qatar, which expose them to exploitation and abuse by employers.

The soft spoken Qatari diplomatic representative flew in from “wintry DC” the prior evening to be greeted by Pensacola Mayor Ashton Hayward, Escambia County Commissioner Michael Underwood and the board of the Tiger Bay Club.  He presented a check for $10,000 to Mayor Hayward and proceeded to unroll a charm campaign on this Gulf Coast community in North West Florida with a heavy military presence.  Located in Northwest Florida are the famed Pensacola Naval Air Station, Navy Training and Information Dominance Commands, the Naval Flight Training Center at Whiting Field, the USAF Air Force Special Operation Command Headquarters at Hurlburt Field, Eglin and Tyndall Air bases.  It is not uncommon to see personnel from the six Arab States, members of the Gulf Cooperation Council, undergoing training at these facilities.  One of the Tiger Bay board members who attended the private dinner Thursday evening opined the Ambassador gave a “smooth performance.”

The Qatar Charm Campaign

Tiny Qatar across from Shiite Iran is endeavoring to explain the presence of the leaders from terror groups Hamas and Taliban ensconced in luxury in Doha.   There are also allegations by the US Treasury that some Qatar individuals and charities may have funded these groups, as well as, the self declared Islamic State, formerly ISIS. A bit ironic, as Ambassador Al-Kuwari said ISIS is a threat to them that needs to be addressed through immediate military action.

On the diplomatic side, Qatar is one of two Gulf Arab States, the other being Oman, that have diplomatic relationships with America’s ally in the Middle East, Israel.  He stressed their recognition of the State of Israel which has offices in Doha.  He spoke about the role of Qatar trying to bring about peace between the Jewish State and the Palestinians, what he repeatedly deemed as the principal  root cause of unrest and violence in the region. He spoke about the criticism from fellow Arab League members questioning why Qatar tolerates Israeli presence and Jewish visitors.

Ambassador Al Kuwari propounded the view that the Al Jazeera satellite TV network was founded as the “voice of the Arab Spring”, promoting democratic aspirations.  He pointed out Qatar’s own aspirations to build democratic institutions noting a possible future elected parliament, given the two century rule by the Al-Thani family.

“Qatar doesn’t support Hamas”

He astounded some in the audience when he claimed that Qatar does not support Hamas.  This despite the $1 billion pledge by Qatar made at a Cairo conference to underwrite one quarter of the $4 billion cost to rebuild Gaza after the third Hamas perpetrated war with Israel since 2008. In his Tiger Bay talk he referenced the 2,200 Gazans killed in IDF Operation Protective Edge, not mentioning that the majority were Hamas and Palestinian Islamic jihad operatives who had used civilians as human shields. Nor did he mention that the $400 millions pledged after the 2012 Gaza war may have been used to build the terror tunnels that enabled cross border attacks inside Israel during the recent summer war.   As he put it, “better to have Khaled Meshaal, the leader in Qatar than across the Gulf in Iran”.

As to questions concerning permitting a Taliban office in Qatar, the Ambassador said that was to facilitate discussions with the Afghan government leading to an inclusive democratic government.  He recommended the terror group relinquish its threats of violence and denial of empowerment of women through education.  He noted the role played by Qatar in release of several Taliban leaders from detention in Guantanamo in exchange for release of captive US Army Sergeant Bergdahl.  However he did not respond to questions as to whether any of the released Taliban commanders in Qatar were rumored to have subsequently joined ISIS.

When asked about the Muslim Brotherhood, he suggested that there could be democratically elected Islamist governments, decrying the imprisonment by Egyptian President el-Sisi of Brothers, liberals and human rights advocates by the newly elected government.  The Ambassador suggested that the Muslim Brotherhood may not have resorted to terrorism, which appears contradicted by Egyptian, Saudi and UAE designations.   He was, however, silent about the long term presence in Qatar of exiled Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood preacher, Yusuf al-Qaradawi founder of the Union of Good, a US Treasury Global Designated Terror Group supplying Hamas.

As Ambassador Al-Kuwari was finishing his presentation The Investigative Project was reporting:

 Interpol issued a bulletin Friday seeking the arrest of the Muslim Brotherhood’s most influential cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi. The bulletin was sparse on details but said that Egypt wanted the 88-year-old Qaradawi “to serve a sentence” for crimes including “incitement and assistance to commit intentional murder.” …  According to the Global Muslim Brotherhood Daily Watch, Interpol issued a “red notice” which is both its highest level alert, and a move subject to later review by the international police agency.

The Egyptian El-Sisi government had requested extradition by Qatar of al-Qaradawi to stand trial.

Ambassador Al-Kuwari painted a glowing picture of Qatar as the Switzerland of the Middle East with billions of dollars holding hundreds of international academic, business and interfaith conferences akin to Davos. He touted American universities like Cornell, Northwestern, Texas, and Virginia Commonwealth that set up programs in Doha. He said that Qatar wanted to invest in economic enterprises in the region to create jobs for the large number of unemployed university graduates.  In the US Qatar is spending $5 million funding university courses to teach Arabic.

 He emphasized the humanitarian contributions of Qatar reflected in the $100 million given for the rebuilding of New Orleans following hurricane Katrina, the $850 million to rebuild Haiti after the 2012 Earthquake in cooperation with the Clinton Foundation and a major push against Polio in the less developed world in conjunction with the Gates Foundation.  But there were also investments in the US, like the $1.5 billion City Center complex developed with the Hines group in Texas revitalizing a derelict section of Washington, DC.

When asked about the depiction of Islam as being prone to violence reflected in the barbarism of ISIS, he deplored that.  He contended that ISIS and Al Qaeda affiliates were a distinct minority that had infiltrated the demonstrated record of tolerance of Islam. His message was that Qatar was following the example of the 800 year Muslim reign in Al Andaluz, southern Spain, where allegedly Jews, Christian and Muslims lived in tolerance. This is not demonstrated by the history of intolerance and barbarism akin to that perpetrated by contemporary ISIS and the Taliban during the successive waves of invasion by extremist Berber-Muslims from North Africa.  He noted Qatar’s approval for building a new Catholic church.

Is Qatar a Frenemy?

Seasoned observers of the Middle East Region say that Qatar under the two century rule by the Al-Thani family “has been punching internationally above its weight class” to use the boxing analogy. Yet Qatar has often been referred to as a Frenemy.  Not exactly a friend, not exactly an enemy.

On the friend side Qatar has assisted in building several major bases including the forward command center at al-Udeid air base for the US Central Command, headquartered at MacDill Air Base just outside Tampa, Florida. Qatar has supplied air contingents in the US-led coalition of 60 countries seeking to “degrade and destroy” Sunni extremist group, the Islamic State, formerly ISIS. The capital, Doha has been turned into an international education hub for the Middle East with the aid of US academic institutions and think tanks like the Doha Center of the Washington, DC –based Brookings Institution.  Qatar has created jobs here in the US by purchasing $19 billion  of 50 Boeing 777s  for expansion of its Qatar Airways in major hubs  Dallas, Miami , Philadelphia to bolster existing facilities in Houston, Washington, DC, New York and Chicago .  Further, Qatar has signed agreements with the Pentagon to purchase more than $11 billion in Patriot Missiles, Apache helicopters and Javelin anti-tank missiles. Moreover, it acquired the Current TV channel, now Al Jazeera America, from former Vice President Al Gore and investors.

On the other hand, there is a troubling story.  Qatar in a New York Times op-ed by Israeli Ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor called Qatar a “Club Med for Terrorists”. He was referring to providing sanctuary for Khaled Meshaal, the billionaire leader of Hamas.  Dr. Jonathan Schanzer of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies in testimony before the Joint Subcommittee on Foreign Affairs on September 9, 2014 said “that Qatar is currently Hamas’ ATM”:

“If you add up the annual $400 million that we believe has been pledged by the Qataris and perhaps the rumored $300 million provided by the Turks, then you’re looking at $700 million out of a roughly $1 billion budget,” Schanzer told members of Congress. “I’m no math major, but that would be 70 percent.

Earlier this year three Arab states of the Gulf Cooperation Council, Bahrain, the UAE and Saudi Arabia, briefly withdrew their Ambassadors from Qatar.  They were, among other reasons, objecting to the Qatar funded Al Jazeera satellite TV network broadcasting across the region in Arabic the extremist inflammatory statements of exiled Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood preacher, Yusuf al Qaradawi.  In November 2014, the UAE joined Saudi Arabia placing the Muslim Brotherhood on its list of world terrorist organizations, including Hamas and, here in the US, Muslim Brotherhood affiliates, the Council of American Islamic Relations and Muslim American Society.

There are questions about what Qatar is doing concerning wealthy Qataris who have funded Al Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusrah and the Sunni fundamentalist Islamic State in both Syria and Iraq.

There have been  accusations that some of the $220  billion funds for the infrastructure  in preparation for 2022 FIFA World Cup competition may have involved bribes to FIFA officials and  possible  diversion of contractor payments  to fund the Jihad of the Islamic State.

Some Members of Congress have called for black listing both Qatar and Turkey because of these individuals’ contributions to ISIS, even suggesting that the U.S. move CENTCOMM bases in Qatar elsewhere in the region. Those accusations led the US State Department while calling the current relationship with Qatar “productive”, to also state that “disruption of terrorist financing by Qatari individuals and charitable associations remains inconsistent”.

Conclusion

Qatari Ambassador Al-Kuwari’s Pensacola presentation will doubtless be repeated frequently during his Washington, DC posting. After all the campaign is laced with prospects of American communities and businesses receiving billions in economic rewards.  If Qatar is to succeed it might wisely follow the path of fellow Gulf Cooperation Council member Kuwait and rein in terrorist financiers in the tiny state. Qatar might start by honoring the Interpol Red Tag warrant for the arrest and extradition of Muslim Brotherhood preacher Al Qaradawi.  As to fostering peace between Israel and the Palestinians, if Qatar’s track record negotiating cease fire proposals with Turkey on behalf of Hamas in the recent summer Gaza war is any indication, that is an unlikely prospect.

Listen to the Qatar Ambassador’s Pensacola Tiger Bay Club presentation.

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

House Intelligence Committee Benghazi Report Misleads and Conceals Facts

dark forces timmermanKen Timmerman, author of Dark Forces: The Truth about What Happened in Benghazi   was interviewed Wednesday, November 26, 2014 on 1330AM WEBY  in Pensacola by host Mike Bates and this writer.  This is the third in a series of interviews with Timmerman on the Benghazi terrorist attack that took the lives of four Americans, US Ambassador to Libya, J. Christopher Stevens, Foreign Service Information Manager Sean Smith, and CIA security contractors, Tyrone Power and Glen Doherty.  This latest interview with Timmerman was occasioned by the recently released House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence (HPSCI) chaired by outgoing Rep.  Mike Rogers (R-MI).

Timmerman’s views expressed in the interviews are reflective of his Daily Caller, article, “House Intelligence Committee Report Obfuscates Benghazi Arms Smuggling.“  His views parallel those of ex-CIA agent Larry Johnson and Col. Dick Brauer of Special Operations Speaks, that we posted: “UPDATE: The Benghazi House Permanent Select Intelligence Committee Report is a “Whitewash”. Overall Timmerman considers the report, “lame” and a “whitewash” of the conduct by the Administration and the Central Intelligence Agency leadership. He especially called in to question Deputy Director Michael Morell and the Chiefs of Base in Benghazi.

Timmerman believes the media abetted this deception by suggesting that the HPSCI Report exonerated the Administration and the CIA dismissing so-called conspiracy theories.  He noted that given the short news cycle following the release of the report, Friday, November 21, 2014, the press barely had time to digest the 37 page report let alone delve into the underlying transcripts.    Report findings denying that there was no stand down orders have been contradicted by surviving CIA security contractors in the book 13 Hours.  Those contractors engaged in the battle at the Annex  said  that the Chief of Base in Benghazi had issued such stand down orders  several times, resulting in a critical 21 minute delay  too late, to rescue Amb. Stevens and aide Sean Smith. When asked his opinion, Timmerman said that with arms and equipment already in a vehicle, the CIA contractors if released in a timely manner might have saved the lives of both Ambassador Stevens and Smith.

Timmerman said that the Report leaves many unanswered questions that might be addressed by the House Select Committee on Benghazi, led by Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC). He doesn’t believe that possible GOP Senate creation of a parallel Select Benghazi Committee in the 114th Session beginning January 2015 would be productive.  He noted there have already been five House Committee investigations, including this final report issued by the HPSCI.

On the matter of arms shipment from Libya to Syrian opposition, Timmerman drew a fine line between so-called Presidential Findings authorizing covert operations and liaison with foreign intelligence agencies, the latter not subject to Congressional oversight.   He said the CIA briefings on covert operations in Benghazi under Presidential findings were typically given to the Chairs and Ranking Members of both the House and Senate Intelligence Committees and the Senate Majority and Minority leaders as well as the House Speaker and Minority Leader, the so-called ‘eight Cardinals.’  According to his sources none of the briefed Congressional members made any objections. Timmerman, following the revelations by ex-CIA agent Johnson, indicated the filtration of arms was accomplished through a ‘cut out involving British, Turkish, and Qatari Intelligence and Australian contractors.

According to Timmerman, a 400 ton shipment of arms on the vessel Al Entisar was sent by a Libyan Jihadist group to a Turkish Muslim Brotherhood charity, IHH.  That attracted Western press whose reports embarrassed CIA Director Gen. David Petreaus and led to former Secretary of State Clinton dispatching the late Ambassador Stevens to Benghazi to shut the operation down.  The Turkish Embassy General Consul, who Stevens met in Benghazi on the evening of 9/11/2012, was likely an intelligence official.  Timmerman commented that Stevens had conducted liaison with Islamist Libyan militias during the Arab Spring rebellion against Gaddafi.  He said that was reflective of the Administration’s distinction that there were good versus bad Jihadists.

When asked about what was going on at the CIA Annex in Benghazi, Timmerman pointed out there were two groups of intelligence personnel there, not including the CIA security contractors at the Annex.  One group of CIA operatives was monitoring the activities of local Islamist militia and the arms filtration cut out operation with foreign intelligence agencies. Not even mentioned in the HSPCI report, Timmerman contends was the presence of NSA agents intercepting communications of local Islamist militias and Iranian Quds Force operatives in Benghazi.  Timmerman agrees with the comments of Col. Brauer that the Iranian Quds Force operatives had surveyed the Annex in Benghazi preparing it for a possible mortar attack.

Timmerman noted the HSPCI Report comment that use of mortars by the Taliban in Afghanistan was woefully inaccurate reflecting little training in the use of such weapons. Col. Brauer said in an interview with this writer that Soviet 82 mm mortars require a team of four and weigh over 120 pounds. Moreover, each rounds weighs over 7 pounds. Brauer pointed to the expertise in the use of mortars by the Iranian Quds force and military during the Iran-Iraq war of the 1980’s. Timmerman believes that members of the Quds Force in Benghazi were possibly involved in preparation and execution of the mortar attack in Benghazi.

Col. Brauer’s sources suggested that some Republican members of the HPSCI may not have been consulted on the release of Final Report.  That prompted observations by Timmerman that in too many instances, ruling majority parties are often side tracked by the interests of Chairman and Ranking Members.  That may have played a part in the timing of the release of the House Intelligence Committee report. Timmerman noted former CIA Director Michael Morell’s role in editing the talking points exonerating the Administration and subsequently joining a Washington, DC-based strategic consulting firm, Beacon Global Strategies.  The firm with close connections to former aides of Secretary Hillary Clinton and former Pentagon Chief, Leon Panetta.  Also joining the firm as Managing Director was Michael Allen former Majority Chief of Staff to outgoing House Intelligence Committee Chair, Mike Rogers.  It appears that the revolving door in Washington Intelligence circles creates conflicts overarching important national security interests.

Listen to the 1330 am WEBY interview with Ken Timmerman:

Segment 1Segment 2, Segment 3Segment 4.

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

Qatar’s Insidious Influence on the Brookings Institution

Steve Emerson’s Investigative Project on Terrorism has for years been at the forefront of alerting America to the threat from Jihad. Their latest work is an absolute must-read. In an ongoing investigation, IPT’s investigators have exposed a troubling alliance between Qatar, a foreign country with ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda, ISIS and other Jihadists, and an American left-of-center think tank…

Qatar’s Insidious Influence on the Brookings Institution

A Four Part Investigative Series: Brookings Sells Soul to Qatar’s Terror Agenda by Steven Emerson, John Rossomando and Dave Yonkman

IPT News October 28, 2014
Part 1 of a 4-part series.

The Brookings Institution bills itself as “the most influential, most quoted and most trusted think tank in the world,” but should it be?

Brookings’ long-term relationship with the Qatari government – a notorious supporter of terror in the Middle East – casts a dark cloud over such a lofty claim to credibility.

A September New York Times exposé revealed Qatar’s status as the single largest foreign donor to the Brookings Institution. Qatar gave Brookings $14.8 million in 2013, $100,000 in 2012 and $2.9 million in 2011. In 2002, Qatar started subsidizing the Brookings outreach program to the Muslim World which has continues today. Between 2002 and 2010, Brookings never disclosed the annual amount of funds provided by the Government of Qatar.

Sources of funding should not automatically discredit an organization, but critical facts and claims about Brookings should be examined in light of them, starting with a harsh indictment by a former scholar.

The Investigative Project on Terrorism has reviewed the proceedings of 12 annual conferences co-sponsored by Brookings and the government of Qatar comprising more than 125 speeches, interviews, lectures and symposia; a dozen Brookings-based programs that were linked to the Qatari financed outreach to the Muslim world; and analyzed 27 papers sponsored and issued by the Brookings Institution and scholars based in Washington and at the Brookings Doha Center since 2002.

Our review, which will be detailed in a four-part series beginning with this story, finds an organization that routinely hosts Islamists who justify terrorist attacks against Israeli civilians and American troops, who advocate blasphemy laws which would criminalize criticism of Islam, and which never scrutinizes or criticizes the government of Qatar, its largest benefactor.

Read more…

Turks Renege on Air Base, ISIS beheads Hundreds in Kobani while Surrounding Baghdad

Yesterday, National  Security Adviser Susan E. Rice went on NBC’s “Meet the Press “and glibly announced that Turkey had given permission for use of the Incirlik air base  by the U.S.-led  coalition assaulting ISIS from the air. She  triumphantly  commented, “That’s a new commitment and one that we very much welcome”.

Today, The Washington Post  reported  a senior Turkish official  denied such a claim, saying that talks were still underway, perhaps awaiting a Pentagon military planning team this week in Ankara. Meanwhile, Turkey’s President Erdogan has made it abundantly clear that he wants his priority demand  opening up a front against the Assad Regime. Erdogan’s negotiations tactics lend credence that he is tacitly supporting ISIS’ destruction of the Kurdish YPG fighters in Kobani.

It looks like the same stall tactics his AKP government used back in 2003, when the U.S. Army First Infantry  Division was prevented from off loading in the Mediterranean  port of Iskenderun to  transit of  Turkey and enter Northern Iraq. What is the expression, dog bites man first time, dog’s fault;  dog bites man second time, man’s fault.  Following in the wake of Ms. Rice’s gaffe on Benghazi on Meet the Press October 15, 2012 and now with this episode, she has lost credibility.

But then the Obama policies in the region have failed. 

Whether it is red lines in Syria, supporting a One Iraq policy in the face of disintegration of the Baghdad central government, and his ISIS strategy with a U.S. air assault but no boots on the ground.

Turkey’s stalling on permission  for  the US-led coalition  air contingents use the Incirlik air base less than 100 kilometers from the Turkish – Syrian border has complicated  air operations.  We have argued  that should have been the first orders of business by the Administration. Now US Navy squadrons on board the USS George H. W. Bush in the Red Sea, USAF  squadrons based temporarily at the Al Udeid air base in Qatar carrier and RAF squadrons based in Cyprus have to fly 1,100 mile round trip sorties  making it virtually impossible to engage in round the clock air operations.

We offer the following   suggestions about what to do with a recalcitrant Erdogan in Turkey,. One suggested by Jonathan Schanzer of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, is that Turkey be temporarily suspended  from the NATO alliance until it agrees to lend meaningful support to the US-led coalition.  The Administration might impose an embargo on sales of US military equipment and spare parts to Turkey, akin to what was done following Turkey’s invasion of Cyprus in 1974, lifted in 1978. The State Department might delist the Turkish Workers Party (PKK) from its designated terrorist list. There is the precedent of the delisting of the Iranian opposition group, the Mojahedin-e-Khalq  (MEK). That act outraged the Iranian Islamic regime. A similar action by the U.S. State Department might cause a diplomatic furor between Washington and Ankara further emboldening Kurdish protests in Turkey and elsewhere.

We have grisly reports from The Daily Mail, today, that hundreds of trapped Kurds in Kobani have been beheaded by ISIS jihadists to the cries of “allahu Akbar”. Rumor has it that a contingent of 200 Kurdish fighters with more modern weapons may be on their way to Kobani. But that may be too little too late to save  the encircled YPG fighters in Kobani.

 Meanwhile a  large column of 10,000 ISIS troops ,equipped with stolen US tanks, artillery and Humvees,  have virtually taken all of Anbar province encircling  Baghdad and threatening  the International airport. The UN reported today that more than 30,000 families, 180,000 persons  fled after the town of Hit was taken.

We had this exchange with a veteran U.S. security contractor in Baghdad.

Gordon:  Thank you for your comment on my Iconoclast post.  Suffice to say all of us pray for the safety of you and all your American colleagues in Iraq. The flight of the Iraqi forces before Mosul in June empowered ISIS with billions in US supplied arms, weapons, tanks and Humvees. ISIS military commanders are former Saddam Ba’athist commanders and quite capable in conducting operations against a corrupt Iraqi national army. ISIS has a friend in Turkey’s Erdogan, allied with the Muslim Brotherhood in the region. Despite the change in government and removal of former Premier Al-Maliki, Iraq remains a satrap of Iran for all intents and purposes. ISIS’ Jihad Qur’anic imperative, to borrow a phrase of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, is “Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of war” to the cry of “allahu Akbar”.  I trust that you and your colleagues can make it out to Kuwait and home before the Baghdad airport falls into ISIS hands.

Tim:  I agree with what you say. I have been able to see all this happen first hand. I have been over here for a total of five years. I believe that some plan has been made for our evacuation but nothing has been shared. We will see.

Yesterday,  Lisa Benson asked  us to join her, Dr. Sherkoh Abbas, President of the Kurdish National Assembly of Syria (KURDNAS) and the Hon. Karwan Zebari,the Kurdish Regional Government Ambassador in Washington.  Benson, has drawn  attention to the barbaric onslaught of ISIS against the YPG fighters in Kobani, and  the efforts of the KRG Peshmerga forces in Iraq. Benson has also reached out to activists to solicit relief assistance to Kurds, Yazidis and Christians in the KRG. She has told graphically of the escape of Yazidi women and girls from Raqaa who were sold into sex slavery by their ISIS captors and the price they had paid to reach safety and freedom in the KRG. Benson has mounted several twitter rally campaigns with hashtags #ArmPeshmerga and #SaveKobani.

In the discussion on this latest Lisa Benson Radio Show broadcast, we addressed revelations by Senior Iranian officials in contact with the Administration. They suggested  that Israel will be threatened by ISIS if the Assad regime is attacked.  Dr. Abbas, confirmed Iran’s double game strategy facilitating the rampage that emboldened ISIS’ conquest of large swaths of Syria and Iraq virtually destroying the map of the Levant. A map that began with the  British-French Sykes Picot secret agreement of 1916 that led to the French and British Mandates of the League of Nations at the San Remo Conference in 1920. This was followed by  the creation of the Kemalist Republic of Turkey in 1923 with the Treaty of Lausanne.

The big losers  in the Versailles conference in 1919 were the Kurds. They were promised a nation in their ancient homeland in what became modern Turkey, Iran, Syria and Iraq.

Ambassador Zebari  articulated  the failure of the so-called One Iraq policy propounded by the US Administration  as the basis for the strategy to “degrade and destroy” the Islamic State.  ISIS has become enormously wealthy from looting banks, extortion, and taxation of conquered people and sales of smuggled oil from fields in both Syria and Iraq.  The flood of ISIS fighters from 70 countries have travelled the jihadist highway allowed  by the Islamist regime of President Erdogan’s AKP government in Ankara.  Dozens have been  killed in  riots in Turkey’s predominately  Kurdish  southeast.

Benson fielded a call from a Kurdish American organizer of a hunger strike in support of Kurds in Kobani that will be launched across from the White House this Friday.  Another call, asked the probing question of Dr. Abbas and Ambassador Zebari, “ What could be done to arouse the Administration to alleviate this looming disaster?”  Ambassador Zebari suggested that Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have recognized the failure of the One Iraq policy and the necessity of supporting the Kurds.

Both Dr. Abbas raised the question of why Jewish advocacy groups in the US don’t support this, as they have been noticeably silent?   Benson contrasted the questionable appropriation  of more than $500 million by Congress in response to the President’s request to provide training and arms for  so-called moderate Syrian opposition forces, most of who appear to Islamist. The consensus of the discussions on Sunday’s program was the One Iraq strategy has failed and that the Kurds deserve a nation-state of their own.  Dr. Abbas and Ambassador Zebari  opposed  Secretary of State Kerry continued espousal of the failed One Iraq policy.

Dr. Abbas drew attention to  the US donation of  $212 million announced at the Cairo  Donor conference organized by Norway for reconstruction in Gaza. Over $2.7 billion was raised in pledges from EU and Middle East Muslim nations. There was nary a word about dismantling and verifying Hamas’s terror command and tunnels. Kerry also pushed for renewal of Palestinian – Israeli peace discussions. All while PA President Abbas pushes his campaign for a UN Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian State claiming he has 7 of 9 votes in favor.

Ambassador Zebari pointed out that  Israel and the Kurds are objects of scorn and hate by the Muslim Brotherhood, Shia and Sunni, Salafist and Wahhabist Jihadists  in the Middle East.

This should, in his opinion, arouse Americans  during the upcoming Mid-Term November elections to vote for Congressional candidates who support Kurdish nationalism and provide the arms  to fight against ISIS   Meanwhile, we had reports  from Jerusalem today that Israeli police closed down Palestinian rioters  at the Al Aksa Mosque on the Temple Mount. These rioters were  seeking to rain havoc with rocks and Molotov cocktails on Jews at the Kotel below celebrating the Festival of Tabernacles, Sukkoth.

The UN considered such Israeli actions, “provocative”.

RELATED ARTICLE: US “ally” Turkey bombs Kurds opposed to the Islamic State

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

Israel’s “Long War”

Tom Jocelyn, the American counter terrorism expert and Senior Fellow at the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies is the editor of The Long War Journal. It is a chronicle of the global Islamic jihad in the 21st Century, now in its 13th year. The global jihad was sparked by what the US State Department has taken to calling “core Al Qaeda”, most dramatically with 9/11. Subsequently it has metatisized driven by the Salafist doctrine seeking to replicate the great barbarism of the first jihad that burst out of the Arabian peninsula 14 Centuries ago. In many instances it has been a long war against indigenous populations, both Muslim and not. In the later case, it has witnessed the self-declared Caliphate of the Islamic State, formerly ISIS, confronting non-Muslims with the choice to convert, be subjugated, leave or be killed. It is sacralized barbarity emboldened with arms and advanced military technology abandoned by fleeing armies. It is financed by extortion and billions in booty, money seized in conquered territories and oil resources.

Mideast Israel Palestinians

Israeli Merkava tank leaving Gaza staging area August 5, 2014. Source: The Guardian.

Virtually alone and surrounded by these Jihadist forces is the Jewish nation of Israel. Israel has conducted a long war of its own over the 21 years since the conclusion of the 1993 Oslo Accords with the Palestinian Authority. An agreement orchestrated by former President Clinton between Israeli Prime Minister, the late Yitzhak Rabin and the late Yassir Arafat, first President of the Palestinian Authority. Arafat went on to ignite the Second Intifada in September 2000 using the excuse that the late Israeli PM Ariel Sharon had made an unauthorized visit to the Temple Mount. That intifada saw thousands of Israeli causalities, both dead and wounded,  that morphed into a seemingly unending series of military Operations. It began with Operation Defensive Shield following the bloody Park Hotel Passover suicide bombing in March 2002 that killed many Holocaust survivors. It culminated in the siege of Arafat in the Mukata in 2004 in Ramallah. A brief hiatus following the demise of Arafat saw Israel build a security barrier in the disputed territories that virtually brought to a close the Second Intifada. The late PM Sharon left Likud to found a new coalition party, Kadima, on the strength of a letter in 2004 with former President Bush giving Israel permission to defend itself with US assurances.

That led Sharon in 2005 to order the unilateral withdrawal from Gaza of 9000 settlers and 10,000 IDF personnel under the misguided pretext that it would make Israel more secure. The Bush Administration was preoccupied in the Long War in both Iraq and Afghanistan. It sought to foist the myopic view that the Islamist world could be transformed into budding western style democracies. This despite the rise of anti-democratic Muslim Brotherhood elements in Gaza, Egypt and other adjacent Muslim countries. They had been kept in check by autocracies supplied with both US and Russian military assistance and aid. Thus, the Bush Administration thought it had a willing peace partner in Arafat’s successor, the long serving PA President, Mahmoud Abbas. The Bush Administration prevailed upon Israel to relinquish its control over the strategic Philadelphi corridor along the Egyptian Gaza frontier installing Fatah bureaucrats. 2006 saw the one vote, one time election in Gaza of a Hamas dominated Palestinian Legislative Council. That  lead to the June 2007 ejection and literal defenestration of Fatah from Gaza, leaving Hamas virtually in control. Israel was forced to engage in a series of air assaults that resulted in assassinations of Hamas leaders, co-founder Sheik Yassin and Dr. Rantisi. Hamas took over the Rafah border with Egypt through which arms, rockets and missiles were infiltrated along with huge infusions of cash from foreign Muslim charities and backers, Iran and Qatar.

In 2006 Israel was embroiled in the Second Lebanon War with Iran proxy Hezbollah supplied by the former with thousands of rockets. That conflict was triggered by a kidnapping of two IDF soldiers followed by massive  Hezbollah artillery rocket barrages. The 34 day War with Hezbollah saw more than 4,000 rockets rain on Israel setting a pattern that was copied by Hamas in Gaza in 2009, 2012 and 2014. In that first clash with Hezbollah saw Israel’s population in the north sweltered in crude shelters or displaced to the central Mediterranean shore. It also sparked the development of technical countermeasures to protect the both Israel’s population and IDF defense. Those developments included the now recognized Iron Dome system of batteries equipped with Tamir anti-rocket missiles, and the less well known, Trophy system, used effectively in the most recent 2014 Operation protecting armored vehicles against anti-tank rockets and missiles. Just prior to the Second Lebanon War, a cross border raid by Hamas operatives kidnapped IDF soldier Gilad Schalit, holding him hostage until released in an October 2011 exchange for 1,027 Palestinian terrorist prisoners held by Israel.

In June 2009, President Obama made a dramatic speech at Cairo University extending outreach, many believed that emboldened Islamist elements in the Muslim ummah. In December,2011 the self-immolation of a fruit vendor in Tunisia sparked the so-called Arab Spring that erupted in North Africa and the Middle East. Autocracies in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt were overturned. The latter witnessed the ousting of strongman Mubarak with rise of the Muslim Brotherhood that saw the election of one if its prominent leaders, Mohammed Morsi as its President in June 2012. Morsi was backed by a National Assembly  composed of dominate Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist parties. They sought to impose Sharia law on women, secular elements and the country’s ancient minority Coptic Christian community. Virtually, a year later, Morsi and thousands of Muslim Brotherhood leaders were ousted, jailed and killed during a coup by his Defense Minister Gen.Abdel- Fattah El-Sisi. He was engaged in a counter terrorism campaign against Hamas linked Salafist terror groups in the Sinai.

The overthrow of the Libyan strongman Qadaffi, with aid from the US and NATO, spawned chaos with warring tribal and jihadist militias. That culminating in the Benghazi attack that killed the US Ambassador and three other Americans, a communications aide, and two CIA-contractors on 9/11/2012.

Meanwhile, Israel was concerned about security on its southern border with Egypt in the Sinai. Following cross border attacks near the Red Sea resort of Eilat it constructed a 200 mile security barrier seeking to prevent intrusion, only to be left exposed to rocket attacks. On Israel’s north eastern Golan frontier a raging civil war in Syria, now well into its third year, saw the Assad regime forces ranging across the Golan frontier fighting opposition rebel groups. These included al Qaeda affiliates the Al Nusrah front and the extremist Salafist spinoff, the Islamic State, formerly ISIS.

The latest IDF Operation Protective Edge that began on July 8th with barrages from Gaza from both homemade and Iranian supplied long range rockets covered fourth fifths of Israel. It was triggered by a botched kidnapping by Hamas operatives and that resulted in the murder of three Jewish yeshiva students, whose remains were discovered on June 30th. The Palestinian Authority in late April had announced a unity government with Hamas that scuppered any chances of a possible final stage agreement sought by US Secretary of State Kerry. Hamas is a foreign terrorist group so designated by the US, Canada and the EU. Its 1988 Charter, had sought not only the destruction of Israel but the killing of Jews globally. Israeli PM Netanyahu and his coalition cabinet had no choice but to call up what ultimately would be a massed IDF force of 80,000 elite brigades and reservists to conduct the ground phase of Operation Protective Edge. That culminated in the launch of ground operations in Gaza that ended with the seventh truce on August 5th that is holding for the moment. That truce occurred ironically on the Jewish Fast Day of Tish B’Av commemorating historic catastrophes that have befallen the Jewish people over the millennia.

Jocelyn’s FDD Long War Journal had this entry:

Israel

Israel accepted a Gaza ceasefire plan that will start with a preliminary 72-hour truce beginning tomorrow morning. Israeli officials will work out further details of the ceasefire over the next few days in Egypt. As of Aug. 1, at least 2,909 rockets had been fired at Israel from Gaza and 66 Israelis had been killed. In the first fatal attack in Jerusalem in three years, a Palestinian construction worker drove an earthmover into a bus, flipping it over and killing one Israeli and wounding five more. PM Netanyahu’s spokesman said Israel’s military campaign to destroy the Gaza tunnels is coming to a close, but that the overall operation will not cease until Israel experiences an extended period of quiet and security.

Jonathan Spyer, of the GLORIA Centre in Herzliya, published an assessment of Israel’s Long War in a PJ Media article, “Netanyahu’s Long War Doctrine.”  In it he paid tribute to Netanyahu’s cautious, but resolute position, overwhelmingly supported by Israelis, to bring to a conclusion the Hamas genocidal threat to the Jewish nation. A threat backed and financed by Qatar, a wealthy gas-rich emirate, a supporter of Muslim Brotherhood and extremist Salafist al Qaeda spinoffs. Qatar and the terrorist Salafist groups it funded and gave sanctuary to, including Hamas leaders, are viewed by Egypt, the UAE and Saudi Arabia as a dire threat to their regimes. That created a coalition of interest with Israel tacitly condoning the latter’s war against Hamas. The Administration in Washington and the UN were desperate to end hostilities seeking to engage MB supporting regimes in Turkey and Qatar to convince Hamas to stand down. Newly elected Egyptian President El-Sisi, who had ousted MB President Morsi and closed Gazan smuggling tunnels, had endeavored to broker several cease fires during the 28 day Operation Protective Edge. It became evident that Hamas had been seriously degraded, nearly three dozen terror tunnels neutralized, sustaining an estimated $5 billion in destruction of buildings and infrastructure in the 25 mile square area of Gaza. All while the world media falsely portrayed Israel as perpetrating mounting civilian casualties most graphically at UNWRA- run schools and refuge centers where over 180,000 Gaza residents had sought shelter. These schools were reported to have held rocket caches, that enabled Hamas rocketeers to launch barrages some of which misfired resulting  in civilian casualties. This barbaric strategy was confirmed in a captured combat manual of Hamas uncovered by the IDF in Gaza City.

As to Israeli PM Netanyahu’s conduct of Operation Protective Edge Spyer observed:

Netanyahu, in stark contrast to his image in Europe and to a lesser extent in North America, is deeply cautious when it comes to the use of military force.

Indeed, the record shows that Israel elected to begin a ground campaign on July 18th only when it became clear from its actions and its statements that Hamas was not interested in a return to the status quo.

Netanyahu’s caution derives, rather, from his perception that what Israel calls “wars” or “operations” are really only episodes in a long war in which the country is engaged against those who seek its destruction. In the present phase, these forces are gathered largely under the banner of radical Islam.

Spyer concludes his assessment of Netanyahu:

Netanyahu’s vision is a chilly one, though it is not ultimately pessimistic. It aims to provide firm, durable walls for the house that the Jews of Israel have constructed. Within those walls the energies of Israeli Jews will ensure success — provided that the walls can be kept secure, thus believes the Israeli prime minister. It is from the point of view of this broader strategic picture that the current actions of Israel need to be understood. Operation Protective Edge — like Cast Lead and Orchard and Lebanon 2006 and the others — is intended as a single action in a long and unfinished war.

The Tish B’Av truce concluding Operation Protective Edge saw IDF forces leave Gaza, remaining ready if the truce is broken to return, if recalled. The current truce may still hold, but, will not last, unless and until Gaza is demilitarized and its leadership dispatched.

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

Why Israel was Stunned by Discovery of the Tunnels in Gaza

The ground incursion by the IDF into Gaza that began on July 16th was triggered by the emergence of 13 Hamas commandos from a tunnel underneath the Gaza Israel frontier. They were detected by an armed IAF drone and quickly dispatched by a missile strike scattering both survivors and equipment near the opening of the tunnel. 17 days into the tough slog of the ground phase with 33 IDF soldiers fallen, including two Americans, more than 35 tunnels have been uncovered. A number of these were found to have entrances in homes, schools, apartment buildings and mosques. The Givati brigade has been assigned the dangerous tasks of inspecting these tunnels. After sending in small tactical robots detecting booby traps, the tunnels are destroyed.

However, the obvious question is why was the IDF caught flat footed by the enormity of the Hamas tunnel network when there were means available to map them? Despite their being excavated more than 25 meters below the surface.

Sheera Frenkel, Buzzfeed’s correspondent in Israel reported this comment:

Israeli military officers described an “underground city” in Shujayeh, made up of a labyrinth of tunnels in which Israeli soldiers clashed with Hamas fighters.

“Even with the intelligence the Israeli military keeps on Gaza, they were caught by surprise at the extent of what they found below ground,” said Amir Bohbot, a military affairs correspondent with Walla, a news site. “There were traps, explosives everywhere. There is no way for them to continue their operation without taking the risks of even heavier casualties.”

A source in Jerusalem told us this week that Tzahal was jarred  by the extent of the tunnels under the Gaza Israel frontier, and the purpose. Dan Diker, Executive Producer for the Voice of Israel sent my colleague Lisa Benson this chilling email message:

The news here is that Hamas was planning a doomsday mega attack for Rosh Hashanah, Sending hundreds , HUNDREDS OF Hamas Suicide commandoes via the underground terror tunnel networks to conquer Israeli towns and cities. This was planned to be  the equivalent of five 911’s .

That is the meaning of the tunnel threat. It is the most serious strategic threat Israel has faced since the 1973 war. The failed conception is also notable as there is a real question as to whether the intelligence echelons recognized the seriousness of the threat.

The Three Kidnapped and murdered teens saved Israel literally by mobilizing the IDF and public opinion to fight Hamas. We were saved by the skin of our teeth from strategic disaster.

But should Tzahal  have been surprised by this news?  A noted Israel geologist was cited in a Telegraph U.K. article complaining that the tunnel threat had been overlooked by the Israeli Ministry of Defense:

“For 10 years I’ve been crying and screaming to the highest possible levels – to the Defense Ministry, the chief of staff, the commanding officers of southern and northern command,” Dr Joseph Langotsky, an Israeli geologist who has long advocated greater attention to the issue of the tunnels, said in an interview with the Jerusalem Post.

“Although the tunnels are a low-tech option, they might be a strategic threat to our security,” said Dr Langotsky.

The heavily fortified areas of southern Lebanon that the IDF encountered in the 2006 Lebanon War should have raised alarm bells. Hezbollah with the alleged technical assistance of Iranian Quds Force engineers had prepared tunnels connecting command and control centers in villages, rocket launching areas, armories and firing positions.  Moreover, there were rumors that  Hezbollah with the aid of Iran and possibly North Korea had also dug tunnels underneath the northern frontier of Lebanon and Israel.

Ilana Freedman, veteran intelligence analys, raised the issue of the threat of tunnels crossing the Lebanon Israel frontier. The IDF was warned about the Hezbollah tunnels as early as April 2010, including a large tunnel which was being constructed from southern Lebanon to central Haifa. They were also informed of a number of small bore tunnels that were being built, to emerge in northern Israeli towns and kibbutzim. These were designed for Hezbollah’s child warriors who would be sent heavily armed and would be instructed to fire on anyone they see once they emerge in these towns. This information came from eye-witness sources in southern Lebanon.

When the Givati brigade went into Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-2009, they also encountered tunnels. The tunnels uncovered by Golani and Givati brigades in the current Operation Protective Edge were well prepared with concrete, steel reinforced with lighting and ventilation. A few were even large enough to accommodate trucks. The longest one discovered was over 2.5 kilometers in length. The average cost of the tunnels was estimated at $1 million each. It appears that the Hamas tunnel networks in Gaza may have expertly planned and executed using the Hezbollah playbook, possibly with both Hezbollah and Quds Force assistance.

When the eight day Operation Pillar of Defense ended on November 21, 2012, a cease fire was brokered by the former Egyptian President Morsi, a supporter of Hamas. The Obama Administration pressured the Netanyahu government to permit the delivery of cement and steel for the reconstruction of Gaza. Jerusalem had objected to the demands of Washington suspecting that the delivery of the materials to Gaza would be used for military purposes. Given what has been uncovered, those suspicions have been confirmed. Qatar put up more than $405 million for the alleged reconstruction of destroyed areas of Gaza. Those funds may have been substantially diverted for purchase of equipment and materials to construct the tunnel network.

The Telegraph U.K, article disclosed that the Israeli Ministry of Defense was working on the tunnel problem.  However, the means of detecting them would not be available until after the current conflict, “Israel tests hi-tech tunnel detection system to fight threat from underground.”  The report noted:

In a bid to find a solution, the IDF’s elite Talpiot unit has been working on developing a tunnel detection system which was tested in Tel Aviv. Its costs are estimated to be $59 million.

“The high-tech system, which uses special sensors and transmitters, is still in its R&D phase, and if all goes well, should be operational within a year”, notes a report on Israel’s I-24 news.

The most common type of technology for tracking down tunnels is focused on listening for sounds of digging, notes Inbal Orpaz in the Israeli daily Ha’aretz.

Another Israeli company, Magna, already provides defense systems for the Israel-Egypt border. It proposed digging a 70-km tunnel along the Israel-Gaza border, equipped with a sensitive alert system.

This “will provide real-time alerts of any tunnel digging that crosses our tunnel, whether above or below it. The IDF will know exactly where the attack tunnel is and how many people are in it, and can monitor the progress of digging it in real time, and decide how to respond to the threat,” the company’s founder and CEO Haim Siboni told Israel’s Globes publication.

An interview with a Canadian expert in Start –Up Israel reveals that Israel may have already had the means of mapping the tunnels, IDF ‘didn’t follow up’ on MRI-style, below-surface technology to find tunnels”:

Paul Bauman, a Canadian who is one of the world’s foremost experts on discovering underground tunnels and voids, insists that the technology exists and has been used in the US, Canada, Korea, and other places. “We actually did some work with the IDF some years ago, showing them how the technology we’ve developed works,” Bauman told The Times of Israel in an interview. “They were interested, but there was no follow-up. Why, I couldn’t say.”

[…]

Had the army worked with Bauman, using the sophisticated methods he has developed and successfully employed over the past decade, things might have been different. While there is no foolproof, single tech solution to discovering tunnels, a combination of several techniques — radar, tomography, and seismic measuring — could give Israel a technological advantage over Hamas, creating a map of what is happening under the surface, and making it much easier to find tunnels and the terrorists who dig them.

Bauman noted  the off the shelf technology that might have been used for detection and mapping of the tunnels:

It was on one of his exploration trips to Israel that Bauman showed the IDF some of the techniques it could use to discover underground tunnels. At the time, after another Gaza flare-up, Operation Cast Lead in 2009, a Teknion team led by researchers Dr. Raphael Linker and Dr. Assaf Klar were developing a system that uses a fiber optic cable buried one or two meters beneath the surface to detect underground movement. The system builds what is essentially an underground fence using BOTDR (Brillouin optical time-domain reflectometry) technology, which measures the stress on the cable underground.

The amount of stress may be very small, the team said, and its research shows that even small levels of deformation can be detected, making the system perfect for keeping tabs on tunnel builders. The cable is cheap, and as much as 30 kilometers of the border can be monitored simultaneously using one device. It’s not clear if the IDF considered that system as well, and in an email this week, Linker said that the system is still under development.

Also considered was ground penetrating radar:

Much better, than an Israeli concept of building a moat around Gaza, polluting the ground aquifer,  Bauman said, would be a technique like underground radar to find tunnels. “Israel has been very interested in this, and Israeli companies are working on underground radar systems,” said Bauman. “In an underground radar system, you aim the wave down below the ground, and when you get back a signal that is an anomaly — indicating that there is something different about the area you just checked than other areas — you know you’ve found something worth investigating.”

There are limitations to the system, though. “Depending on the frequency of the radar wave, you can have a system that can ‘see’ as far down as 100 meters, but at low resolution, or just 10 meters at a better resolution,” Bauman said. Radar could be very useful in discovering larger concrete tunnels, which have metal rebar in them — concrete and metal being much denser than the gypsum and salt-rich soil around the Gaza border — but not for the simpler, smaller wood-reinforced tunnels.

If the warnings and advices of Israeli geologist Dr. Langotsky and Canadian researcher Bauman had been heeded then could the surge in IDF casualties been avoided?  That is unfortunately past history. The issue before the IDF ground commanders is how most efficiently to destroy those tunnels that are encountered. Some experts have suggested use of Fuel Air Explosives (FAE). Russia’s Putin authorized used of FAE weapons against Chechen Islamists extremists when the provincial capital of Grozny (terrible in Russian) was virtually flattened in 2002.  Others recall napalm used to clear out tunnels on the Island of Iwo Jima from which suicide Imperial Japanese forces would sally forth to inflict heavy casualties on US Marines and soldiers. Perhaps this comment in the Buzzfeed article from an Israel Intelligence officer best sums up the military campaign that the IDF is waging against another group of fortified fanatics this time in Gaza:

‘“We are no longer looking at just dismantling the tunnel network [from Gaza to Israel]. The goals of Operation Defensive Edge are now to cripple Hamas so they will not be able to strike us again in a few years,” said the officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity. He also told Buzzfeed that Israel’s military was now preparing a timeline for its offensive in Gaza that could go on for “several weeks” and see the Israeli military create a “buffer zone” up to a mile into Gaza.

“We may suffer heavy losses doing this, but their losses will be heavier, I can assure you,” said the officer.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the New English Review. The featured photo is of an Israeli Givati Brigade Soldier at entrance of Hamas tunnel, July 23, 2014. Source: IDF Spokesperson/FLASH90.

United Arab Emirates Secretly Offers Funding for Israel’s Operation Protective Edge to Defeat Hamas

Ilana Freedman of The Freedman Report posted this from The Peninsula alleging the United Arab Emirates  (UAE) had met secretly with Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman offering to fund Operation Protective Edge to defeat Hamas.  The Peninsula report notes this about who might have facilitated this development:
clear

Former Fatah Security chief, Mohammad Dahlan circa 2006

Sheikh Abdullah’s Security Adviser, Mohamed Dahlan, was also present. Dahlan, a Palestinian, is a former Fatah member expelled from the party and Gaza and now lives in the UAE.

Former Palestinian Authority Security chief Dahlan had been cited by the Jerusalem Post at the start of Operation Protective Edge denouncing Hamas for “fostering  new terror groups,  threatening Egypt’s security, and laying siege to the Gaza Strip.”  Jonathan Schanzer of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense for Democracies chronicled the acrimonious split between Dahlan and PA President Abbas in his book, State of Failure: Yasser Arafat, Mahmoud Abbas, and the Unmaking of the Palestinian State.  Read our November 2013 NER review on The Failed State of Palestine  for more details about Dahlan’s split with Abbas.

The secret meeting between the UAE and Israel is in sharp contrast to Qatar that has gone on record yesterday in a The Gulf in the Media  report supporting the Palestinian people and Hamas in Gaza. Both developments in the Gulf come amidst the current Israeli ground incursion directed at destroying Hamas’ rocket inventory, launching facilities and extensive network of tunnels.  That appears to fit the Arab dictum “the enemy of my enemies is my friend”.  Despite supporting Hamas,  Qatar has a friend in the Obama Administration.  This is further evidence of a deep division among the six members of the Gulf Cooperation Council  (GCC) regarding the threats from affiliates of the Muslim Brotherhood the Islamic State, formerly ISIS.  PA President Abbas was in Ankara yesterday visiting Premier Erdogan, a Muslim Brotherhood and Hamas supporter.  Today, he was in Doha, Qatar seeking support for a cease fire in the current conflict, but without support from Egypt.  Today, 21 Egyptian soldiers were killed in a machine gun and rocket-propelled grenade attack at a Libyan border checkpoint 300 miles West of Cairo, perhaps by Muslim Brotherhood or Salafist terrorists.  That may be a why Egyptian President el-Sisi’s government is blocking the Gaza- Egypt frontier  while blaming Hamas for the current conflict.

Here is the Freedman Report post:

UAE, Israel have secret meeting, UAE ‘offered to fund Israel’s Gaza offensive’

Posted on July 19, 2014 by the Peninsula – 19 July, 2014

The UAE knew in advance of Israel’s plans for an offensive in Gaza and even offered to fund the operation provided the militant Palestinian outfit Hamas was eliminated in the process. Israel’s Channel 2 claimed in a recent report, according to local Arabic daily Al Sharq. The daily says in a report published today that Israel’s leading national TV station (Channel 2 in Hebrew) disclosed details of secret parleys between the UAE’s foreign minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and his Israeli counterpart, Avigdor Lieberman, in Paris at the end of last month.

Both leaders met on the sly in Paris on the sidelines of a meeting of foreign ministers from the GCC states and Jordan with US Secretary of State John Kerry.

Israel’s foreign minister was also in the city.

The meeting was to discuss the situation in the Middle East, including the Palestinian issue.

Al Sharq said the UAE was aware of Israeli’s planned military action in Gaza beforehand and Al Nahyan, at his meeting with Lieberman, expressed his country’s keenness to fund Israeli’s Gaza offensive provided the Hamas movement was annihilated since it had close links to the Muslim Brotherhood.

According to Al Sharq, Channel 2 reported that just a few days ago there was a meeting between Sheikh Abdullah and an Israeli minister in Abu Dhabi.

Sheikh Abdullah’s Security Adviser, Mohamed Dahlan, was also present. Dahlan, a Palestinian, is a former Fatah member expelled from the party and Gaza and now lives in the UAE.

Read the original article here.

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

The Tunnel Attack that Triggered Israel’s Ground Incursion in Gaza

In the pre-dawn hours of Thursday, July 17th, prior to a five hour UN –negotiated Humanitarian Pause, the IAF intercepted 13 black clothed terrorists emerging from a tunnel near the Shalom Keren frontier with Gaza. Spotted by an armed IAF drone, they quickly scampered back into their tunnel and were promptly dispatched by missiles.  Calm returned with the onset of the Humanitarian Pause holding to 3PM Israel time when with a roar a barrage of more than 130 rockets rained down from Gaza on Southern and Central Israel signaling the end of the Pause.  At 4:52 PM local time, the IDF announced its limited ground incursion with the express purpose of destroying those Gaza tunnels and underground armories containing upwards of 12,000 rockets and missiles. Israel had flooded Gaza with hundreds of thousands of leaflets announcing that civilians should flee targeted areas.  The ground incursion opened with  strikes by IAF F-16s and both naval and IDF bombardment of targets in Gaza. 80 Percent of Gaza was plunged into darkness with the loss of power.

idf soldier with captured weapons in gaza

IDF Soldier with captured Tunnel attack weapons. Source: Times of Israel.

The New York Times reported:

“We will strike Hamas and we are determined to restore peace to the state of Israel,” the military spokesman, Lt. Col. Peter Lerner, told reporters in a conference call. “It will progress according to the situation assessment and according to our crafted and designed plan of action to enable us to carry out this mission.”

Israel began to draft 18,000 reservists, adding to 50,000 already mobilized in recent days; Colonel Lerner said the ground forces would include infantry and artillery units, armored and engineer corps, supported by Israel’s “vast intelligence capabilities,” air force and navy.

Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, called the invasion “a dangerous step.”

Israel’s ground incursion in Operation Protective Edge is eerily familiar.  It looks like the continuation of Operation Cast Lead in 2008 and 2009 aborted on President Obama’s inauguration,  January 20, 2009. 22 days passed in that first operation endeavoring to root out Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad rockets hidden in tunnels and underground launching sites by terrorist rocketeers.

Virtually on the heels of Hamas’ takeover following Israel’s unilateral withdrawal from northern Gaza in August 2005, those terror rockets fell on the Eshkol region of the Western Negev using homemade Qassem rockets.  Then over the ensuing nine years the deadly barrages swelled to cover the heavily populated central and northern areas including  Jerusalem, Tel Aviv and Haifa. Rockets fell near hotels in the resort area of Eilat on the Red Sea.  Rockets were launched from Lebanon and from Syria on Israel’s North  and the Golan.  But the main threat was the Hamas arsenal in Gaza equipped with locally manufactured M-75, Iranian-supplied longer range Grad, Fajr-5 and Syrian made M-302 rockets with ranges from 10 kilometers to 160 kilometers.  Besides drone, F-16 and helicopter attacks, the only defense against the rain of death from Gaza was the Israeli-developed Iron Dome System.  That was deployed during the eight day Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012 with batteries of Tamir anti-rocket missiles. Those Iron Dome batteries have achieved an impressive 90% interception success rate against rockets intended for populated areas in Israel.  The cease fires with Hamas  that Israel brokered  via Egypt in those previous episodes never achieved the complete destruction of the underground tunnels.   We note that IDF says the removal of Hamas leadership is nor an objective in the current ground incursion.

At the start of Operation Protective Edge it was estimated that Gaza held more than 10 to 12,000 rockets and missiles. As of the start of the ground incursion today, the IDF estimated that it hit more than 2,000 targets , while Hamas  had  launched more than 1,300 rockets at Israel.   Those retaliatory actions by the IDF have resulted in an estimated 250 deaths and 2,500 injuries of both terrorist cadres and civilians in Gaza.  Actions  about which the IDF  warned intended targets with cell phone text messages, leaflets and non-explosive missiles knocking on roofs sending occupants scampering.  However, Hamas security was accused of useing human shields, a war crime. As PM Netanyahu said on a Sunday FoxNews Report on July 13th, “Israel defends its people with missiles, while Hamas defends its missiles with its people.” The Israeli toll prior to the ground incursion was one man killed by a mortar attack at the Northern Erez crossing caught while delivering food to IDF troops. There were reported  elderly heart attack deaths  shrapnel and explosive injuries to both Jewish and Bedouin citizens.

Warnings  of incoming rockets was communicated to Israelis by a new means, a Red Alert app downloaded to iPhones and Android equipped cell phones that pinged every time an incoming rocket was detected heading to their intended targets. Several hundred thousand downloads of the Red Alert app signaled  the threat of incoming rocket and missile barrages that occurred over the 10 days preceding today’s ground incursion in Gaza.

This morning I was co-host with Lisa Benson in a recorded interview with both Jon Schanzer of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and Shoshana Bryen of the Jewish Policy Center. That interview concerning the status and actors involved in Operation Protective Edge will air on Sunday, July 20, 2014 at 4PM EDT.  Schanzer drew attention to the IAF interception of terrorists caught emerging from a tunnel close by the Shalom Keren crossing.  When queried about whether Israel might unleash its long awaited ground incursion, Schanzer said “all bets were off” meaning that it was increasingly likely.  Bryen  noted that the  US Senate doubled an appropriation funding the Iron Dome System. She  cautioned that even with a high interception  rate there was no guarantee that the few rockets that got through would not result in casualties and damage; witness the fiery hits on factories and gas stations in Sderot and Ashkelon.   Hamas launched an Iran supplied Ababil drone promptly intercepted by a Patriot missile.

See the thwarted tunnel attack that occurred prior to the IDF ground incursion in Gaza:

The Jewish Week noted these comments from  a former IDF spokesperson about the significance of the tunnel attack:

Despite Israel’s aerial and sea assault against Hamas rocket launchers, command and control centers and other visible targets, Israel was unable to get at the network of tunnels that form a virtual underground city in the 25-mile long Gaza Strip.

That became most pronounced just hours before the cease-fire began when 13 Hamas terrorists from the Gaza Strip were spotted emerging from a tunnel inside Israel, according to Miri Eisen, the former Israeli government spokesperson during the Second Lebanon War.

“A woman observer saw them come out of the tunnel and when they heard the sound of a UAV [unmanned aerial vehicle], they ran back into the tunnel and the tunnel was attacked,” she said.

“In the last 10 days we have seen Hamas as a paramilitary organization, now we have seen the transition to a full-scale military, firing rockets and trying to attack Israel from the land, sea and air — and underground,” Eisen said in a conference call organized by The Israel Project. “They are trying to attack Israeli communities that are located around the Gaza Strip.”

[…]

Eisen added: “At the end of the day we’re not sure we actually killed the terrorists, but they dropped all their weapons — 15 antitank missiles and personal Kalashnikovs and ammunition.”

She said they were planning to attack a kibbutz and kidnap an Israeli soldier.

Shades of  Galid Schalit , the former IDF soldier  kidnapped during the Second Lebanon War in 2006  and held in captivity by Hamas for five years until released in exchange for 1,027 Palestinian prisoners in October 2011.  One of the demands by Hamas for a cease fire in Operation Protective Edge was the release of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel who participated in Schalit’s kidnapping.

Ms. Eisen’s comment about who was paying for construction of the tunnels and underground armories of Hamas was the subject of an op ed by Steve Emerson of  The Investigative Project just prior to the Israeli ground incursion,  “Hamas-Israel Cease Fire, its déjà vu all over Again”.

Emerson noted:

What happened to President Obama’s promises to Israel, as part of the November 2012 cease-fire agreement, to stop the flow of missiles to Gaza? In two words: Absolutely nothing. … The Obama administration focused its efforts on getting Israel to lift its blockade on steel and concrete, the two major building components of underground tunnels and storage facilities for munitions, on “humanitarian grounds.” Despite the administration’s much ballyhooed November 2012 “cease-fire” agreement that the Obama White House prided itself in bringing an end to the Israeli-Hamas war, somehow Hamas never got the message: From December 2012 to July 1, 2014, Hamas fired nearly 600 missiles into Israel.

Who funded the building of underground armories by Hamas that triggered the IDF current ground incursion? It is the gas rich wealthy emirate of Qatar who provided  over $400 million to ‘restore’ Gaza following the November 2012 Operation Pillar of Defense.  A Qatar noteworthy by its hold on the Administration given its role in filtering arms to Libya to overthrow Qadaffi and into Syria.   Qatar provides a luxurious sanctuary for Hamas leaders and senior Taliban commanders including those released from Guantanamo in exchange for captive Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl.

There was scrambling in Cairo with separate meetings PA President Abbas, Israeli and Hamas delegations. The difference this time is Egyptian President el-Sisi overthrew former President Morsi who brokered the November 2012 cease fire to save his Muslim Brothers of Hamas in Gaza. This time Egypt blamed Hamas for perpetrating the current IDF operation which might have the potential of destroying those tunnels and sending Hamas leaders to exile in Qatar.

Pray for the save return of IDF service personnel and success of this phase of Operation Protective Edge destroying the terror rockets  and Tunnels of Hamas in Gaza.

Watch this You Tube video MiSheberach Zahal:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/LJEpLklULs0[/youtube]

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