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Obama faces Veto Dilemmas at the United Nations and 114th Congress

As 2014 was closing a vote on a draft resolution introduced by the Jordanian UN Ambassador at the Security Council hit what may be a temporary speed bump for PA President Abbas. He is striving g to impose a draconian solution to the long simmering dispute on the Jewish nation of Israel. The draft resolution failed to achieve the requisite 9 votes, losing by one vote.  The US and Australia voted no.  Five others abstained including the UK, Lithuania, South Korea and Nigeria. France, Luxembourg, Russia, China, Jordan, Chile, Argentina, and Chad voted in favor of the draft resolution. The draft resolution sought to fix a one year deadline for negotiations on declaration of a Palestinian state with its capital in East Jerusalem based on the infamous War 1949 Armistice line. What fabled Israeli Foreign Minister Abba Eban deemed the “Auschwitz line”.  The draft resolution would require the end of the alleged ‘occupation’ of the West Bank by Israel losing its control over the Jordan Valley approaches and protection of over 350,000 Israelis in both Samaria and Judea.

Virtually on the announcement of the vote, PA President Abbas, now serving in the tenth year of an elected four year term, signed 20 UN covenants including the Rome Treaty making it eligible for observer status at the International Criminal Court (ICC) at The Hague. That would enable it to bring a charge of war crimes against Israel. This will confront the ICC with a choice between recognition of anti-Israel issues versus international law matters. Further, the unilateral move by Abbas will likely cause the incoming GOP led Congress to consider retaliatory legislation further consternating Administration diplomacy in the region.  Israeli PM Netanyahu countered saying:

The one who should fear the International Criminal Court at The Hague is the Palestinian Authority, which is in a unity government with Hamas, a declared terrorist organization like ISIS that commits war crimes.

We will take steps in response and we will defend the soldiers of the IDF, the most moral army in the world. We will repel this latest effort to force diktats on us, just as we have repelled the Palestinian turn to the UN Security Council.

 US UN Ambassador Power blasted the PA vote because it precluded consideration of security guarantees outlined in UNSC Res. 242 for Israel to have defensible borders.  She noted in her remarks, “The deadlines in the resolution take no account of Israel’s legitimate security concerns.” The State Department director of its press office, Jeff Rathke, criticized  the PA saying:

 We are deeply troubled by today’s Palestinian action regarding the ICC. Today’s action is entirely counterproductive and does nothing to further the aspirations of the Palestinian people for a sovereign and independent state.

Palestinian Resolution reprise Veto

Besides the ICC ploy, the PA was anything but supine. The change in the non-permanent membership of the UNSC might afford them another opportunity to re-submit the draft resolution, possibly obtaining the requisite 9 votes.   As former US UN Ambassador John Bolton in a Wall Street Journal op Ed published today, “The U.N. Vote on Palestine Was a Rehearsal,”   wrote, “An influx of new Security Council members means a likely ‘yes’ vote – and a veto dilemma for Obama.” Obama, as we have noted previously in Jeffrey Goldberg’s Atlantic interview gave a broad hint that the US might abstain.

Bolton notes in his WSJ op ed the elements of this dilemma that may shortly face the Administration:

A firmer U.S. strategy might have prevented the dilemma from arising. The White House’s opening diplomatic error was in sending strong signals to the media and U.S. allies that Mr. Obama, wary of offending Arab countries, was reluctant to veto any resolution favoring a Palestinian state. Secretary of State John Kerry took pains not to offer a view of the resolution before it was taken up. Such equivocation was a mistake because even this administration asserts that a permanent resolution of the Israeli-Arab conflict requires direct negotiations and agreements among the parties themselves.

No draft resolution contrary to these precepts should be acceptable to the U.S., or worth wasting time on in the diplomatic pursuit of a more moderate version. This American view, advocated for years and backed by resolute threats to veto anything that contradicted it, has previously dissuaded the Palestinians from blue-smoke-and-mirror projects in the Security Council.

Bolton addresses how the reprise could shortly occur:

Several factors support a swift Palestinian reprise. First, they obtained a majority of the Security Council’s votes, even if not the required supermajority of nine. In today’s U.N., the eight affirmative votes constitute a moral victory that virtually demand vindication, and sooner rather than later.

Second, the text of Jordan’s resolution was wildly unbalanced even by U.N. standards—for example, it demands a solution that “brings an end to the Israeli occupation since 1967,” and calls for “security arrangements, including through a third-party presence, that guarantee and respect the sovereignty of a State of Palestine.” A few meaningless tweaks here and there and several countries that abstained could switch to “yes.” Third, on Jan. 1 five of the Security Council’s 10 nonpermanent members stepped down (their two-year terms ended), replaced by five new members more likely to support the Palestinian effort.

Consider how Wednesday’s vote broke down, and what the future may hold. Three of the Security Council’s five permanent members (France, China and Russia) supported Jordan’s draft. France’s stance is particularly irksome, since it provides cover for other Europeans to vote “yes.” The U.K. timidly abstained, proving that David Cameron is no Margaret Thatcher; the abstention signals that a more “moderately” worded resolution might be enough to flip London to a “yes.”

Washington cast the only permanent member’s “no” vote, which is characterized as a veto only when nine or more Security Council members vote in a draft resolution’s favor. Will President Obama now have the stomach to cast a real veto against a U.N. Charter majority backing the Palestinians? Is this the point where the “liberated” Mr. Obama allows a harsh anti-Israel resolution to pass?

Happy New Year, Jerusalem.

He notes the lineup of new rotating non-permanent members in the UNSC that could tip the vote over the required 9 votes:

Three “yes” votes came from Jordan, Chad and Chile, which all remain Security Council members in 2015. Two additional supporters, Argentina and Luxembourg, have been replaced, respectively, by Venezuela (no suspense there) and Spain. Spain narrowly won election in October, defeating Turkey after three ballots. Madrid might be expected to support Washington, but not necessarily, given recent EU hostility to Israel and the appeasers’ argument to soothe wounded Muslim feelings about Turkey’s loss by backing the Palestinians.

Only Australia joined the U.S. in voting “no.” Its successor, New Zealand, would either have abstained or voted affirmatively, according to Foreign Minister Murray McCully.

South Korea abstained, but its replacement, Malaysia, is a certain affirmative vote. Angola, taking Rwanda’s seat, is an abstention at best. While abstainers Lithuania and Nigeria remain, Nigeria’s Boko Haram problem could easily move it to “yes” as an olive branch to the Muslim world. And Lithuania, as a new member of the euro currency union, could well succumb to arguments for EU solidarity, especially if Britain also surrenders.

Bolton notes in conclusion:

The Obama administration can only prevent what it dreads by openly embracing a veto strategy, hoping thereby to dissuade pro-Palestinian states from directly confronting the U.S.

And if that fails, the veto should be cast firmly and resolutely, as we normally advocate our principles, not apologetically. As so often before on Middle Eastern issues, a veto would neither surprise nor offend most Arab governments. If the Administration had courage enough to make clear that a veto was inevitable, it would minimize whatever collateral damage might ensue in Arab lands. But don’t hold your breath.

Iran Sanctions Veto

However, this is not the only veto dilemma facing the Administration in 2015.   On Tuesday, December 30, 2014, Reuters reported  that Undersecretary of The Treasury for Finance and Terrorism, David Cohen issued new financial sanctions “against nine targets who Washington says have helped Tehran avoid existing sanctions or commit human rights abuses.”    The IRNA news agency noted these comments by an Iranian foreign ministry spokeswoman, Marzieh Afkham saying: “At a time negotiations are underway with P5+1, such a move raises doubts about America’s intentions and violates the good will principles” “This action is for mere publicity and will have no bearing whatsoever on our commercial policies,”

Just prior to the onset of Republican control of the 114th Session of Congress on January 6, 2015, Illinois Senator Mark Kirk gave an interview on December 28, 2014  on Fox News Sunday following statements by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham that new sanctions against Iran’s nuclear program may be brought up for an early vote.

That followed an NPR interview with President Obama that he might be prepared to use his veto authority on specific legislation passed by the new Congress.  Kirk in the Sunday Fox interview indicated that 17 Democrats, including New Jersey’s Bob Menendez and New York’s Charles Schumer may have the requisite votes to pass new stronger sanctions legislation against Iran’s nuclear program in view of the Islamic regime fobbing off failed P5+1 negotiations . Those 17 Democratic Senate votes would make such a measure veto proof. This puts President Obama in a difficult situation regarding his engagement of the Islamic Regime in Tehran. A regime that has successfully outmaneuvered the P5+1 and Administration and likely has already achieved nuclear breakout. Omri Ceren chronicled this in a Commentary article,“Enabling Iran’s Nukes” saying, “The lies began at the very beginning with American assurances had secured a ‘halt’ in Iranian nuclear program.”   This is a matter of great concern to Israel’s PM Netanyahu who would support such Congressional action on tougher Iran sanctions.  Watch the Fox News interview with Sen. Kirk.

Iran is feeling the ravaging of its economy due to the loss of revenue from oil and gas production.  Given the precipitous fall in world energy prices, due in part to the drop in demand and the vaulting of US energy production to first rank in 2015.  That has forced Iran to suggest that fellow OPEC member Saudi Arabia cooperates to cut production. This is an unlikely prospect since the Saudis are unwilling to relent given their $750 billion dollar hard currency reserve cushion.

We shall shortly see whether President Obama will issue vetoes at the UNSC against a reprise of the Palestinian draft resolution and another against tougher sanctions legislation passed on a bi-partisan basis in the new Republican controlled Congress against the Iranian nuclear program.

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

Geert Wilders’ Anti-Islamization Immigration Stand Resonates Across Europe

Geert Wilders, leader of the Freedom Party (PVV) in the Netherlands is being investigated for the second time in five years by Dutch prosecutors for  alleged hate speech during  his March 2014 local election campaign rally statement of “fewer Moroccans”.  This comes while his ratings in Dutch polls has rocketed him to the top with fully 30 seats in the Hague parliament, if snap elections were held.  That is more than the combined seats currently held by the ruling Rutte coalition of the PvdA and VVD parties.  Note  this remark: “The short message of PVV-leader Geert Wilders to the Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte: ‘The revolution in The Netherlands has started now, Mark.”

Poll 21-12-2014

Dutch polls 12-21-14. For a larger view click on the image.

Wilders drew attention to that irony in a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) op-ed, “Talking About the Moroccan Issue is not A Crime”.  Wilders is exercising free speech, something that Americans take for granted as a right guaranteed under the First Amendment of the US Constitution.  Wilders’ message about “fewer Moroccans” reflects the social consequences of permissive mass Muslim immigration undermining the social fabric of foundational  Western values of, liberty, freedom and tolerance. In Holland’s case it is exemplified by the rejection of those values by the Dutch Moroccan émigré community that even Dutch liberal parties have begrudgingly come to recognize.

What Wilders’ PVV and other parties in EU countries deemed ‘far right” have drawn attention to is the seeds of destruction of national values from compliance with UN humanitarian refugee programs straining resources and social welfare budgets caused by Jihadist warfare in the Middle East.  That is reflected in the rallies in Dresden and throughout major cities in Germany this Christmas season by the Pegida movement (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamization of the West).

As Al Jazeera reported Pegida rallies for “the right to preserve and protect our Christian-Jewish dominated West culture”, and against parallelgesellschaft – a German term used to describe immigrant communities that maintain their cultural norms and don’t integrate in local society.”  The third mass Pegida rally of more than 17,500 occurred Monday night before the Semper Opera House in Dresden where the Pegida movement arose in October. The trigger for Pegida was the more than 200,000 Syrian refugees granted asylum by Germany. Recently, the short lived Swedish Social Democrat liberal government fell on a no confidence vote allegedly provoked by the anti-immigration Swedish Democrat party. It had forged an alliance with center right parties in Sweden’s parliament over the issue of a ballooning social welfare budget to accommodate 80,000 Syrian war asylumees.

Participants hold German national flags during a demonstration organised by anti-immigration group PEGIDA in Dresden

Pegida Rally  Semper Opera House Dresden, Germany 12-22-14. Source: Reuters.

Wilders’ WSJ op-ed reflects the Dutch unease with the policies of the ruling coalition government in the Hague  Parliament. Those concerns have  that has now cross the EU and even here in America to comply with UN humanitarian refugee standards.  The subsequent generations of Muslim émigrés in host EU countries have led to spikes in Antisemitism, Synagogue fire bombings, allegations of sexual assault and grooming of non-Muslim women, tolerance of Shariah law in so-called Muslim dominated “no go areas”, murders perpetrated in the name of Jihad against Jews and others.  The specter stalking across the EU landscape of 28 members is the threat of homegrown Jihadists as returning veterans from the barbaric Salafist Islamic State.  That threat was crystallized by the murders of Israeli tourists and workers at the Brussels Municipal Jewish Museum by returning Syrian war French jihadist Mehdi Nemmouchet.

The large Muslim émigré communities in the EU were the results of granting host country citizenship coupled with the deficit in manpower to rebuild Europe following World War II. It was also a reflection  of the Eurabia paradigm articulated by the scholar Bat Ye’or  driven by OPEC control  over the  World’s and EU’s energy needs that arose during the October War of 1973. That led to the EC and the EU ‘accommodation’ of  Organization of Islamic Cooperation demands for tolerance of Sharia Blasphemy codes  demanded  by burgeoning Muslim émigré communities under the guise of host country hate laws.

That is the wind behind Wilders’ WSJ op–ed and the sudden emergence of groups like Pegida in Germany, and anti-Mass immigration parties in Denmark, Austria and Sweden.

Geert Wilders

Hon. Geert Wilders, PVV.

Note these excerpts from Wilders’ WSJ op-ed:

In the Netherlands, as in many other Western European countries right now, problems arise when Muslim immigrants refuse to assimilate and integrate into the wider community. In our case I referred specifically to the Moroccans not because I have anything against them generally but because they are one of the largest immigrant groups here and are over represented in our crime and welfare statistics.

Moroccans are suspects in violent robberies 22 times as often as indigenous Dutch. Between 1996 and 2010, more than 60% of the Moroccan male youths born in 1984 had at least once been suspected of a crime, a rate three times as high as their indigenous counterparts. … According to Dick Schoof, the Dutch national coordinator for counterterrorism and security, Moroccans also account for three-quarters of all Dutch Muslims who leave for Syria to wage jihad.

[…]

For almost a decade, my party has proposed three measures to address this issue. First, we want an end to immigration from Muslim countries. Second, we want to expel all criminals of foreign nationality and, for those offenders who have dual nationality, deprive them of their Dutch citizenship, sending them back to the country of their other nationality. Third, we want to encourage the voluntary repatriation of non-Western immigrants.

The prosecutor’s decision can’t be seen as being anything but politically motivated, especially when he has refused to prosecute two leading politicians of the governing Labor Party, Diederik Samsom and Hans Spekman, for similar statements on Moroccans. Mr. Samsom said that Moroccans have an “ethnic monopoly” on street crime, while Mr. Spekman said that Moroccans who don’t abide by the law have to be “humiliated in front of their own people.”

Polls have indicated that more than 43% of Netherlanders agree with me…. I was thus expressing the feelings of millions in my country. In a democracy, a public debate about important political issues, such as “the Moroccan issue,” shouldn’t be restricted by criminalizing the expression of certain problems and policy proposals.

 […]

Prosecuting me as an elected politician for expressing the opinions of my constituents is absurd. Excluding certain problems from the political debate by making it a crime to discuss them won’t lead to the disappearance of these concerns, let alone contribute to a solution. This prosecution, moreover, is also dangerous. People will begin to lose their trust in the democratic process. Festering political problems do not go away simply because they are kept in a dark corner. I wish the Dutch public prosecutor had been wise enough to see that.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of a protest sign which reads “No Hatred, No Violence, No Koran” at the Pegida rally in Germany. Source: Al Jazeera Yermi Brenner

Obama’s October Secret Letter to Ayatollah Khamenei seeks help in fighting ISIS

While President Obama sought “common ground” with the GOP controlled Congress in 2015 at yesterday’s news conference, he was deepening his detente strategy with Iran in a dangerous gambit to secure their aid in the fight against ISIS.  The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported that a secret letter had been sent by the President to Ayatollah Khamenei seeking to enlist Iran’s support in the war against ISIS in exchange for the quid pro quo of the supreme Ruler’s assent to a nuclear deal, “Obama Wrote Secret Letter to Iran’s Khamenei about Fighting Islamic State.”  The supposed deadline for a deal between the P5+1 and Iran is less than a month away on November 24, 2014; however that deadline may be moved.  The October letter was the fourth such direct communiqué with Iran’s Supreme Ruler by this Administration. Obama’s letter to the Ayatollah has been acknowledged by Administration “senior officials.”

There have been indications that the P5+1 deal under discussion would preserve Iran’s capability for nuclear enrichments with more than 19,000 centrifuges and allow for replacement with a new generation of faster ones.  We heard from Israeli Minister of Defense Moshe Ya’alon during his recent visit to Washington that Iran was perhaps less than a year from achieving ‘break out’, meaning being able to assemble a nuclear device.

Speaker John Boehner of the US House of Representatives was cited in the WSJ report saying:

“I don’t trust the Iranians, I don’t think we need to bring them into this,” Mr. Boehner said. Referring to the continuing nuclear talks between Iran and world powers, Mr. Boehner said he” would hope that the negotiations that are underway are serious negotiations, but I have my doubts.”

Obama’s October letter to Ayatollah Khamenei reflects this Administration’s offer to enlist Iran in the coalition fighting to “degrade and destroy” ISIS, further exacerbating relations with Sunni allies in the air campaign and isolating Israel.

The WSJ Report revealed that both Sunni allies and Israel had not been notified of this latest Administration outreach to Iran’s Supreme Ruler:

In a sign of the sensitivity of the Iran diplomacy, the White House didn’t tell its Middle East allies – including Israel, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates-about Mr. Obama’s October letter to Mr. Khamenei, according to the people briefed on the correspondence.

Leaders from these countries have voiced growing concern in recent weeks that the U.S. is preparing to significantly soften its demands in the nuclear talks with Tehran. They said they worry the deal could allow Iran to gain the capacity to produce nuclear weapons in the future.

Arab leaders also fear Washington’s emerging rapprochement with Tehran could come at the expense of their security and economic interests across the Middle East. These leaders have accused the U.S. of keeping them in the dark about its diplomatic engagement with Tehran.

Meanwhile, Ian’s Quds Force Commander, Gen. Qassem Suleymani has been a highly visible ‘item’ in Iraq. He has been advising Iraqi Shiite militia and national security forces in recent operations with Kurdish Peshmerga pushing back ISIS. Both Iraqi Shia militia and Hezbollah veterans of the Syrian civil war conflict and even the 2006 War with Israel have been involved in training and advising this effort. The trigger for their involvement was ISIS’ threat to destroy a revered Iranian Shia pilgrimage Mosque in Samarra in June.  The ISIS advance was halted by Shia militia with help from Suleymani’s Quds Force. Al Arabiyya and IRNA reported in August 2014 funerals for Iranian and Hezbollah commanders killed in this not so shadow war by Iran’s Quds Force in Iraq against ISIS.

Yesterday, AP reported on Quds Force and Hezbollah cadres under the direction of Gen. Suleymani supporting Iraqi national security forces and Peshmerga wresting the embattled town of Jurf al-Sakher last week, “Top Iranian general, and Hezbollah lead Iraq ground war.” The Iraqi town is located south of Baghdad on the road to another revered Shia pilgrimage site in Karbala. Jurf-al Sakher had been occupied by ISIS since August. Note these excerpts from the AP article:

Photos soon emerged on independent Iraqi news websites revealing a more discrete presence – the powerful Iranian general  Qassem Suleymani – whose name has become synonymous with the handful of victories attributed to Iraqi ground forces. Local commanders said Lebanon’s powerful Shiite Hezbollah group was also on the front lines.

[…]

Militia commanders told The Associated Press that dozens of advisers from the Iranian Revolutionary Guard and Lebanese Hezbollah were on the front lines in Jurf al-Sakher, providing weapons training to some 7,000 troops and militia fighters, and coordinating with military commanders ahead of the operation.

[…]

Suleymani’s Quds Force, the special operations arm of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard, has been involved for years in training and financing Iraq’s Shiite militias. It has long worked with Hezbollah in Lebanon and has been aiding Assad’s forces.

In June, Revolutionary Guard advisers under Suleymani provided guidance for Shiite militiamen in shelling Sunni insurgent positions around Samarra, a Sunni-majority city north of Baghdad that is the home to a revered Shiite shrine, local commanders said. Suleymani was also seen as playing a key role in relieving the Islamic siege of the Shiite Turkmen town of Amirli.  And a top Revolutionary Guard general said in September that Suleymani had even helped Kurdish fighters defend their regional capital Irbil.

According to Ken Timmerman, veteran Iran watcher and author of Dark Forces, Gen. Suleymani may also have been involved with planning the insertion of Quds Force operatives to support local Islamist militia in the 9/11-12/2012 attack in Benghazi that killed four Americans.  This and other allegations may be heard by the House Select Committee on Benghazi under the chairmanship of Rep. Trey Gowdy (R-SC). Suggestions have also been raised that the republican-controlled Senate might conduct its own Benghazi investigations when the 214th Session begins in January 2015.

Moreover, disclosure of this letter to Ayatollah Khamenei might complicate the President’s announced request for Congressional passage of amended war powers authorization for the fight against ISIS.  This raises the question of how can the Administration provide training and equipment to alleged Syrian opposition forces fighting the Assad regime, while simultaneously reaching out to Iran and its proxy Hezbollah both actively involved in Syria fighting those rebel forces.  Congress rushed before a mid-July 214 recess to appropriate $500 million diverted from Defense appropriations for overseas covert operations to fund training and equipping of ‘vetted’ Syrian opposition forces.  The sponsor of the funding proposal, outgoing Arkansas Senator Mark Pryor, was cited by The Hill at the time saying, “Syria is a kaleidoscope of ever-changing circumstances and loyalties. Our friends today could be our enemies tomorrow”.

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

Have the Syrian Kurds turned Kobani into ‘Stalingrad’ in the War against ISIS?

Sunday, October 19, 2014,  three USAF C-130’s flew over the Syrian  Kurdish YPG- held Western area of embattled Kobani.  Air  crews dropped 27 bundles of much needed arms, ammunition and medical supplies. Only one bundle went awry and was promptly destroyed by an accompanying coalition air fighter escort.  An NPR report noted the importance of this successful air drop and rising level of air strikes punishing besieging ISIS Jihadists:

In a statement, U.S. Central Command said the airdrops, executed by three C-130 cargo planes, were intended to help Kurdish fighters defend the city against the group calling itself the Islamic State.

“This assistance is another example of U.S. resolve to deny ISIL key terrain and safe haven as well as our commitment to assist those forces who oppose ISIL,” CENTCOM said in the statement, using a widely-used acronym for the Islamic State.

Polat Can, a spokesman for Kurdish forces in Kobani, acknowledged the delivery on his Twitter feed and added that he would soon be posting some “good news.”

In the past two weeks, U.S. forces have conducted 135 airstrikes against ISIL in and around the city of Kobani. The CENTCOM statement says the strikes have killed hundreds of fighters for the Islamic State and badly degraded the group’s military resources.

In a Pentagon briefing CENTCOMM commander Gen. Lloyd J. Austin stated that despite stepped-up strategies and efforts by allied forces, “Kobani could still fall.”

Others have called the defense of Kobani by YPG forces as “very impressive”. Impressive because of the grit, determination and valorous sacrifices of Kurdish fighters with some mixed units led by women commanders.  The YPG fighters’  motivation is to stave off the ISIS rampage from conquering this outlying Syrian bastion of their  ancestral Kurdish homeland crossing the borders of neighboring Turkey, Iraq and Iran.  Kobani has not been completely overtaken  by ISIS in the more than two months siege now in the brutal urban warfare phase. It has become a symbol of armed resistance  not unlike the Russian defense and ultimate victory over the  German Sixth Army at Stalingrad in early 1943.  The Kurdish resistance in Kobani  could be the turning point in the War against ISIS if properly supported by the Coalition.  This despite the obduracy of Turkish President Recep Erdogan, whose tanks silently stand on the border at Suruc overlooking the Kobani battle ground.

Erdogan is fearful that providing weapons and support to the YPG forces in Kobani would inflame the outrage of PKK allies in adjacent  Southeastern Turkey whose towns have been placed under virtual military control with  dozens of protesters killed. That set off street battles between Kurdish émigrés and ISIS supporters in Hamburg, Germany.  There have been protests at the White House by American Kurds and their supporters  requesting  President Obama  to support  those YPG fighters in Syria and Peshmerga in Iraq.  Support  also came from the  Kurdish Jewish community in Israel. The Times of Israel reported attendees at the annual  Saharanah festival denouncing ISIS and Turkey, “Concern for Brethren  in Syria marks Kurdish Jews Celebration”.    Yehuda ben Yosef, chairman of the National Organization of Kurdish Jews said:

This year, we focused an important part of the celebrations to call on the Israeli government and  the US, to denounce  two-faced Turkey, which doesn’t allow aid to reach the Kurdish army fighting there.  Genocide is being carried out on its borders, which are NATO borders. This is unbelievable. It’s as if the Holocaust is starting to return, and the world stands there silently.

 The US Administration was forced by public opinion outraged by the barbaric ISIS beheadings of Americans and British that fed into concern over support for  the Kurdish defense of Kobani.  Those developments forced President Obama to form a coalition of air contingents from several Sunni countries in the Middle East and the Persian Gulf that morphed into Operation Inherent Resolve. If that resolve is inherent in the battle against ISIS it is in the Syrian Kurdish YPG and Iraqi Peshmerga forces putting their lives on the line. Those Kurdish fighters communicated a message we haven’t heard since the dark days of WWII in May 1940 when Sir Winston Churchill was appointed as wartime Prime Minister, “give us tools and we’ll get the job done”.

Faith Mc Donnell of the Washington, DC-based Institute for Religion and Democracy drew attention on their blog yesterday, about the successful international social media effort led by the National Security Communications Task Force (NSCTF) of the Lisa Benson Show, “Twitter Success and Courageous Warriors”.   That was the fourth and most successful twitter rally that the NSCTF has conducted since June, 2014. The first was directed at a #DefendHamas campaign aimed at supporting Israel’s Operation Protective Edge during the 50 day rocket and terror tunnel war with Hamas in Gaza.   McDonnell wrote:

On Thursday, October 16, activists of the National Security Communication Task Force sponsored a Twitter Rally to lobby Congress for action to stop ISIS and protect the Kurds, Christians, Yazidis, and others victimized by the brutal Islamic “State.”

Messages such as #SupportTheKurds, #SaveKobani, #DefeatISIS, #ArmTheKurds, etc. were tweeted in an effort to push for more U.S. action to stop the brutal Islamists. And even as those tweets were flying, the war against ISIS was being fought on the ground by Syrian rebels and both male and female Kurdish soldiers, as well as by unusual new reinforcements, biker gang members — from the Netherlands and Germany.

Thank you to all who joined the Twitter Rally. There were many participants tweeting seriously for the first time. Passionate about impacting U.S. Iraq/Syria/ISIS policy, their goal was to push the U.S. government into arming the only official fighting force truly standing against the caliphate-builders right now: the Kurds.

The Twitter Rally was very successful. #SupportTheKurds reached 800 tweets per hour. This particular message also trended in the National Security category.

McDonnell  further writes about Dutch and German bikers who left to join those courageous Kurdish defenders of Kobani with their governments’ promise that they will not be prosecuted  upon  their  return. That is unlike the thousands of ISIS wannabes who have left the West and joined up via Turkey’s jihadist highway  only to return from Syria and Iraq as dangerous homegrown terrorists. She also notes the courage of Kurdish YPG women fighters.

The last weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal on October 18-19, 2014 drew attention in a report to those YPG women fighters, who constitute one-third of the Kurdish forces defending Kobani, “Kurdish Women Battle Islamic State on Front Lines.”  One 19 year old woman fighter, “Dilar” who joined up in an all female Martyr Warsin brigade, named in honor of a fallen teacher, said, “When I walk with my gun, the men who haven’t volunteered keep their eyes down around me. My bravery shames them.”

The valor of Kurdish women fighters in Kobani was reflected in the burial of four women near the Turkish Syrian border who fell fighting ISIS.   The courage that ‘Dilar’ and the fallen men and women of the YPG in Kobani have  displayed brought encouragement to other groups inside Syria fighting ISIS.  McDonnell cites Walid Phares noting the support of Christian allies of Syrian Kurds fighting in Kobani.  He stated, “The city was pronounced falling by Washington and Ankara but not by the fighters on the ground. ISIS is being pushed back by the people.”

Watch this Wall Street Journal video on Kurdish women fighters undergoing Peshmerga training in Iraq:

While President Obama is refraining from US boots on the ground in the battle for Kobani, he needs to continually replenish those Kurdish forces  in Kobani and Peshmerga in Iraq with the “tools to finish the job”.  He should urge CENTCOMM and Coalition commanders Gens. Austin and Allen to schedule more air drops with heavier weapons and ammunition coupled with robust close air support missions to complement communications and intelligence from Kurds on the ground. Consider the casualties that the Kobani YPG fighters inflict on ISIS reported daily by the Syrian Human Observatory as retribution for ISIS beheadings of Americans James Foley and Steven Sotloff and Britons, David Haines and Alan Henning.  Perhaps, just perhaps, like Stalingrad, Kobani could demonstrate to the uncooperative Turks, President Obama and the coalition in Inherent Resolve that fighting Kurds have the resolve  to “defeat and degrade” ISIS.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Syrian Kurdish Women YPG fighters

Syrian Opposition Leader Attends International Counter Terrorism Conference in Israel

President Obama’s eve of 9/11 speech  in which he declared “war” on the Islamic State, formerly ISIS, contained a commitment to arm and support so-called moderate Syrian opposition to assist in “degrading and ultimately destroying” the Salafist Jihadist self-declared Caliphate. He may have been referring to the Free Syrian Army. But which Free Syrian Army (FSA)? One group has been headed by American –Syrian members of the Muslim Brotherhood who have dominated the Syrian National Council like Louay Safi with access to the White House. Moreover, as we have learned tragically, it is this Free Syrian Army, with a Supreme Military Command in Erdogan’s Ankara, that purportedly sold American Journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, who were barbarously murdered by ISIS. Those graphic beheadings deliberately conveyed on videos aroused American public opinion demanding action that prompted Obama’s televized address to the nation. This weekend, ISIS revealed another grisly beheading of British aid worker David Haines. In August 2014, President Obama had dismissed the moderate Syrian opposition as a group of “bankers, doctors and pharmacists.”

Dramatically, one leader of the “moderate” Syrian opposition Dr. Kamal al-Labwani, a veteran Syrian secular opponent of the Assad regime, surfaced in Israel this weekend at the annual International Counter Terrorism  (ICT) Conference in Herzliya. You may watch live feed of the ICT conference, here. According to the Times of Israel , who interviewed him, he is in Israel for 10-days on what Labwani described as “academic” and “exploratory” and stated he was prepared to meet with Israeli policymakers “whenever they want.”

Labwani’s attendance at the ICT conference may reflect the outreach by the other FSA led by the Syrian Opposition Coalition headquartered near embattled Aleppo composed of ex-Assad military including Alawites, Christians and Sunni tribal leaders currently battling ISIS inside Syria. My colleague Ilana Freedman estimates through her sources that there could be as many as 50,000 Syrian opposition fighters in this “other FSA.”

In our September NER, article, Did Assad and Maliki Facilitate the Rise of the Islamic State? An Interview with M. Zuhdi Jasser and Sherkoh Abbas, we noted this exchange with Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser:

Gordon:  Syria lies on Israel’s Golan frontier. What has Israel contributed to the alleviation of the plight of Syrians and has there been any relationship between the democratic opposition in Syria and the Israeli government?

Jasser:  I think that’s such an important question and the Syrian National Council, they are still slowly coming around to that view. I would ask people to look at some of the writings and comments of Dr. Kamal al-Labwani who in the past few months has come out and said we should have visited more closely with Israel and guaranteed them security on the Golan as being a mechanism by which we could actually protect some of the more moderates in Syria. He’s realizing that there was no hope for the Syrian National Council (SNC) because it was being protected by Turkey and Qatar. The Islamists, including many American Syrians including Louay Safi and others who went back to run the SNC from an Islamist Brotherhood perspective. Labwani is awakening to the fact that the West is his friend, Israel is at the head of that coalition and the Golan is part of that.

Dr. Labwani has spent ten years in and out of Assad regime jails for his activism in support of a secular and democratic Syria. Labwani lives in exile in Sweden. Adam Pechter in a Fall 2007, Middle East Quarterly profile noted Labwani’s treatment by the regime of Bashar Assad for his dissidence:

Labwani has long been a thorn in the Syrian regime’s side. He angered officials with his advocacy for human rights and fundamental freedoms and has been a consistent advocate for reform. On August 28, 2002, a Syrian court sentenced him to three years in prison for his activities promoting reform during the “Damascus Spring,” the short period in 2000-01 in which the Syrian regime appeared to tolerate more open political criticism. Rather than cow Labwani, his previous imprisonment emboldened him. Following his September 2004 release from prison he founded the Democratic Liberal Gathering which calls for political and free-market reforms and equality for women.

On May 10, 2007, one week after Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice met Syria’s foreign minister Walid al-Moallem for the highest-level bilateral talks between the two governments in more than two year a Syrian court sentenced Kamal al-Labwani to twelve years imprisonment and hard labor. That the harsh sentence coincides with Washington’s decision to reengage Damascus suggests that Assad believes the White House no longer holds it accountable for its persecution of nonviolent dissidents.

The Times of Israel report discussed Labwani views critical of Obama’s new ISIS strategy at the ICT Counter Terrorism conference, “Syrian opposition leader skeptical of US plan to arm rebels”. Labwani commented:

“Currently, the aid could fall into the wrong hands in the absence of good management and oversight,” Labwani said. “Real authority on the ground requires investment in organization before the aid is even sent.”

“We cannot fight terror with terror or crime with crime,” he said. “We must combat all the criminals, be they the regime or the terrorists from the Islamic State and the other gangs. You can’t have the Syrian people choose between a criminal named Bashar Assad or a terrorist named [Abu Bakr] al-Baghdadi.”

“We must reconstruct a new leadership connected to the people,” he said. “This would also require a no-fly zone. It would be pointless to create a system inside and have the [Assad] regime destroy it.”

“They [the Americans] have relied on failed regimes. They gave a portfolio to Qatar and a portfolio to Saudi Arabia … but it’s the Syrians who must take responsibility and run their own lives. We could, for instance, form a base in liberated areas in the north and the south and establish good relations with people. But to receive orders from a Saudi sheikh or a Qatari sheikh or from foreign intelligence agencies? That won’t work.”

“How can we turn this chaos into order? We need to build an authority on the ground. This requires a budget, an economy, institutions, reconstruction, and protection. Weapons aren’t enough.”

An op-ed in the Weekend Edition of the Wall Street Journal resonated Dr. Labwani’s comments, Obama Needs the Free Syrian Army to Defeat the Islamic State. The authors are Oubai Shahbandar and Michael Pregent. Mr. Shahbandar, a former Pentagon analyst, is an adviser to the Syrian Opposition Coalition of which Dr. Labwani is a member. Mr. Pregent is an adjunct lecturer at National Defense University and a former U.S. Army intelligence officer. They noted:

Until recently, the U.S. intelligence community had a grim assessment of the prospects of working with the Free Syrian Army opposition forces in an anti-ISIS campaign. Issues with command and control and unclear links to a political framework were often cited as reasons for hesitation to invest in the type of military partnership the U.S. has with Kurdish security forces in Iraq in fighting ISIS.

Nonetheless, the success of President Obama’s strategy in Syria clearly depends on the ability of the Syrian Opposition Coalition and the Free Syrian Army to fight ISIS. The good news is the FSA has established a command center outside the village of Marea in the strategically important province of Aleppo to direct and manage the battle against ISIS in northern Syria. And in August the Syrian Revolutionary Command Council, an alliance between FSA and other rebel factions, was formed to increase coordination and unity.

How can these rebel groups help the U.S. assault on ISIS? Even with the world’s most advanced intelligence reconnaissance and surveillance platforms, the U.S. military still needs “eyes on the ground” to round out the intelligence picture of ISIS’s capabilities, locations and vulnerabilities. Establishing an advice and assist relationship with the Free Syrian Army and tribal networks in eastern Syria would pay dividends for military planning. In late July, the Shaitat tribe in eastern Syria rose up against ISIS and drove them from the villages of Abu Hamam, Kashkiyeh and Ghranijup. The Shaitat have in turn faced brutal recriminations, with ISIS fighters capturing and slaughtering some 700 tribal members.

In Iraq, Kurdish Peshmerga forces have proved to be the anvil to the hammer of U.S. airstrikes, denying ISIS strategic terrain and recapturing lost territory. ISIS suffered its first strategic setback in Iraq in August with the loss of the Mosul Dam —an important blow to its image among its fracturing Sunni support base. Iraqi Sunni tribes, whose tribal confederation crosses over into eastern Syria, are also joining the fight against ISIS. In Syria, airstrikes should enable the FSA and allied tribes to retake the country’s eastern oil fields, which are vital to sustaining and funding ISIS operations.

Perhaps, Dr. Labwani’s visit to the ICT conference in Israel may also discuss possible mutual interests regarding  covert support of the FSA military command and indigenous Sunni tribes’ opposition to ISIS and the Assad regime.  If the case, one can only hope that might include linking up with Syrian Kurdish resistance forces, despite earlier differences.

Watch this March 31, 2014, MEMRI video interview with Dr. Labwani that may have prompted his current visit to the IDC conference in Herzliya.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on the New English Review. The featured image is of  Syrian Opposition Leader, Dr. Kamal Labani on right at ICT Conference Herzliya Israel 9-11-14. Source Moti Kahana,  Times of Israel.

Iran/ North Korean Nuclear & ICBM Development Precludes a P5+1 Agreement

Reuel Marc Gerecht, Senior Fellow of the Washington, DC-based Foundation for Defense of Democracies published a book review in Friday’s Wall Street Journal by former Pentagon official, Matthew Kroenig, A Time to AttackThe Looming Iranian Nuclear ThreatMatthew Kroenig is an Associate Professor and International Relations Field Chair in the Department of Government at Georgetown University. Kroenig, who served under former Secretary of Defense, Robert Gates, presents a thesis that the only way to stop the Islamic regime in Tehran from achieving nuclear hegemony is for the US, not Israel, to bomb several key facilities in Iran. The suggested targets are the centrifuge enrichment centers at Fordow and Natanz, the uranium conversion facility at Isfahan, and the plutonium producing heavy water reactor at Arak.

timetoattackbookcoverWhy? Because as Gerecht relates, the sanctions regime has not deterred Iran from investing over $100 billion in the project to achieve nuclear hegemony replete with the means of delivery. Further, as he points out in his review, the US has the means to seriously cripple those facilities with 30,000 pound bunker busting deep penetrating bombs. The hoped for Stuxnet malworm and other cyber warfare is past. Gerecht notes in his review, they have only “gummed up” the whirling centrifuges enriching weapons grade uranium. Neither does he believe that targeted assassination of Iranian nuclear scientists, allegedly by Mossad, has put a dent in Iran’s pursuit of a nuclear capability. Given that the current P5+1 discussions with Iran seeking to perfect a final agreement with a deadline of July 20th, Gerecht makes this prediction:

Next month in Vienna, Iran and the P5+1 world powers will extend the interim agreement they struck six months ago on Iran’s nuclear program. Secretary of State John Kerry will hold a press conference, offering both sides solemn praise for finding common ground. All the while, through this tough compromise and historic collaboration, the Islamic Republic’s 9,000 spinning centrifuges will keep on enriching uranium; the other 10,000 installed centrifuges won’t be dismantled. Eventually these centrifuges, or thousands of new-and-improved ones, will be able to produce bomb-grade fuel.

Kroenig cautions:

Why would anyone believe that we would fight a nuclear war with Iran if we didn’t even have the stomach for a conventional war with a nonnuclear Iran?

Gericht’s conclusion from his review of Kroenig’s, A Time to Attack:

Mr. Kroenig readily admits that there will be costs for preventive military action. Tehran will likely respond with terrorism, directly or through proxies. But Mr. Kroenig contends that those costs are much lower than allowing Iran to go nuclear. Whether or not he’s right, we will soon find out.

Watch this May 12, 2014  C-SPAN Book TV discussion with Prof. Kroenig about A Time to Attack.

Problem is that the Obama Administration failed to foster regime change in Iran in the fraudulent elections of June 2009. Israel and many others concerned over Iran’s rising hegemony in the Middle East believe that America doesn’t have the will and the unity to undertake what Kroenig suggests. Just look at the President latest tracking poll numbers; less than 37% of American thinks that he is pursuing foreign policies protecting our nation’s interests.

Claudia Rosett in the weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal  published an op ed, Iran Could Outsource Its Nuclear –Weapons Program to North Korea. Rosett commented:

The pieces have long been in place for nuclear collaboration between the two countries. North Korea and Iran are close allies, drawn together by decades of weapons deals and mutual hatred of America and its freedoms. Weapons-hungry Iran has oil; oil-hungry North Korea makes weapons. North Korea has been supplying increasingly sophisticated missiles and missile technology to Iran since the 1980s, when North Korea hosted visits by Hasan Rouhani (now Iran’s president) and Ali Khamenei (Iran’s supreme leader since the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989).

In the March edition of the NER, we published a piece entitled, Has Iran Developed Nuclear Weapons in North Korea?  We wrote:

The UN nuclear watchdog agency, the IAEA has no access to North Korean nuclear facilities. These developments corroborate the assessment of private intelligence and national security analyst Ilana Freedman. See The Freedman Report on January 31st, “A Friendlier Iran? Or Have They Just Moved Their Nukes to North Korea?

Rosett in the WSJ op ed lays out the case for what the NER article demonstrated was a plausible means of evading sanctions. The evidence for that we noted was North Korean/ Iranian cooperation with Assad’s Syria creating a plutonium reactor on the Euphrates at Al Kibar destroyed by Israel’s Air Force in September 2007. We drew attention to Iranian/ North Korean joint development of large rocket boosters sufficient to loft nuclear MIRV warheads and the likelihood that Iran might have that capability within a few years. In June 2014, The Algemeiner reported an Iranian official announcing that it possessed a 5,000 kilometer (approximately 3,125 miles) range missile that could hit the strategic base of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean:

“In the event of a mistake on the part of the United States, their bases in Bahrain and (Diego) Garcia will not be safe from Iranian missiles,” said an Iranian Revolutionary Guard adviser to Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Majatba Dhualnuri.

Kroenig wrote in his book:

Iran is building ICBMs No country on Earth, not even the United States, mounts conventional warheads on ICBMs. Traditionally, ICBMs have had one purpose: to deliver nuclear warheads thousands of miles away. If Iran is not developing nuclear weapons, then why does it have such a robust ICBM development program?

The clock is ticking on  P5+1 and Iran endeavoring to reach an agreement by July 20th. Five days of talks in Vienna ended yesterday. They will reconvene on July 2nd and may or may not conclude with an agreement on July 20th.  The Wall Street Journal in a report on those negotiations contrasted the views of US Negotiator, Deputy Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, with those of Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.  It noted that the talks ended without a joint statement. Sherman said: “We are at a very crucial moment in these negotiations. Our Conversations this week have been very tough but constructive.”  Zarif commented that only a deal could emerge if the US backed away from what he termed were “excessive demands.” “I advised them to think more seriously and to be realistic and to look for a solution.” Translated that means, we are poles apart. Meanwhile those centrifuges at Fordow and Natanz keep whirling enriching uranium while Iranian/ North Korean joint ICBM and MIRV development continue.  If we were bettors, we’d put even money on Gericht’s prediction: no agreement by July 20th or even six months hence.

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

IDF arrests 100 Hamas Leaders after kidnapping of three Jewish boys

It hit us like a proverbial 2×4 this morning when we opened today’s Wall Street Journal (WSJ) with a report on 100 Hamas leaders arrested yesterday by the IDF, “Israel Arrests Hamas Officials”. These arrests were in retaliation from the alleged Hamas kidnapping of three Jewish youths caught hitchhiking home five days ago from a yeshiva in the Gush Etzion bloc between Bethlehem and Hebron. See our Iconoclast post, “IDF Raids Seek an American and Two Israelis Allegedly Abducted by Hamas”.

Among those  the IDF detained was  Abdul Aziz Duwaik, speaker of the non-functioning Palestinian parliament and a University of Pennsylvania Architecture graduate.   Students  from the  University of California  at Irvine Olive Tree Initiative program purportedly met him by accident in the disputed territories back in 2009. We chronicled that in our NER article, “Does the Olive Tree Initiative Lack Credibility?”   This is not the first arrest for Duwaik as the IDF previously detained him in January 2012 in the wake of the October 2011 release by Hamas of former IDF soldier Gilad Shalit, held in captivity in Gaza since his capture by terrorists in 2006.  Duwaik had previously been detained by the IDF in 2006, when Shalit was originally abducted.

Investigations by local Orange County Zionist activists, among  them Deidre or “Dee” Sterling  and Debra Glazer, had revealed funding of the OTI program in part by an affiliate of the Orange County Jewish Federation, the Rose Project,  and the Chancellor of the UCAL University system. Those revelations of the chance encounter  with Duwaik raised contretemps over why a Jewish Federation of Orange County (JFOC)  was funding the OTI program that  put  UCIrvine students, both Jewish and not, in harm’s way during trips to the disputed territories.  A subsequent OTI trip included a visit to Ramallah to pay respects at the tomb of the late Fatah-PLO leader, Yassir Arafat.   In our NER article on the episode we noted:

The JFOC’s credibility problem surfaced from a response to a California Public Records Act (PRA) request by local activists from Ha’Emet. That information surfaced a “smoking gun” letter sent by JFOC President Elcott to UCI Chancellor Drake in October, 2009 revealing a meeting between OTI students and Hamas representative Duwaik. The JFOC leaders seized upon this letter as evidence that they had brought this to the attention of UCI administrators seeking an investigation. The JFOC leaders never informed the community.

In the JFOC letter the authors wring their hands about the fact that Jewish students on the 2009 OTI trip inadvertently met with a Hamas leader of the West Bank, Aziz Duwaik, on September 16th. The students were told by an unidentified person, presumably, the field co-coordinator for the OTI program, to say nothing while passing through Israel or upon arrival back in California, as it might look as if under our laws they were giving material assistance to a designated foreign terrorist organization.

As noted in a  FrontPage Magazine article, “The Patrons of Anti-Israelism”, U.Cal   Chancellor Yudoff also provided funds to OTI:

. . . only a matter of weeks after the Hamas meeting was made known to Drake, University of California Chancellor Mark Yudoff donated $5000 to the OTI via the Lumina Foundation for Education. This was followed in May 2010 with a $2000 award to the STUDENT LEADERS OF OTI by Yudoff for the university’s Presidential Leadership Award.

Sources tell us that the same OTI program leaders who perpetrated the 2009 encounter with Duwaik are still in charge at UCIrvine.  Further that UCIrvine graduate are conducting OTI program elsewhere in the UCAL university system.

Then there was Sheik Hassan Yousef, co-founder of Hamas in West Bank and father of the fabled Shin Bet double agent,  Mosab Hassan Yousef, subject of the 2010 bookSon of Hamas , and the  acclaimed 2014 Sundance Festival movieThe Green Prince.   We had contacted  the younger  Yousef in 2010 to facilitate  legal clinic aid to assist him in fighting a  Department of Homeland  Security  (DHS) immigration hearing that might have resulted in his being deported  back to Israel.  The immigration Judge dismissed the charges in a June 2010 decision granting Mosab asylum.  We noted in an Iconoclast post on the DHS immigration hearing decision:

The efforts of many, including his former Shin Bet handler, have been rewarded with this decision of the DHS. We had been an early advocate for Congressional investigation of this misinformed deportation matter.

Ha’aretz in a March 2010 report noted that Sheik Hassan has disowned his son Mosab when it was revealed that the latter had become an agent for Shin Bet. Mosab had  assisted  in conducting intelligence operations disrupting terrorist plans purportedly saving lives, both Israeli and Palestinians.   Part of the Sheik’s animus for doing this was Mosab’s public conversion to Christianity. The Ha’aretz article cited the Sheik’s message conveyed by letter while serving a six year term in an Israeli prison:

Hamas Web sites published a letter by Sheikh Hassan that the militant group said was smuggled out of the Israeli prison where he is serving a six-year sentence.

In the letter, he said his family announced its “complete renunciation of the one who was once our eldest son, who is called Mosab.” The father said though he was sorry to take such [a step], he had no choice after his son “disbelieved in God…and collaborated with our enemies.”

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

Let the Little Children Come Unto Me: What is Behind the Humanitarian Crisis on our Southern Border?

This morning on Fox and Friends I watched  a segment  with Texas Governor, Rick Perry.  He  drew  attention to the spike in Central American, Syrian and other Middle Eastern illegal immigrants seeking asylum . The Washington Times quoted as  saying:

That the Obama administration has dropped the ball on border security and must improve diplomatic relations with Central American nations to stem the surge of illegal immigrants trying to cross the nation’s southern border.

This president is totally and absolutely either inept, or making some decisions that are not in the interest of American citizens, particularly from the public safety standpoint.

The federal government must step up because Texas does not have the money or manpower to protect its 1,200 mile southern border.

Then Perry went on to express an abiding concern about illegal immigrants harboring possible terrorist threats:

There are a record number of illegal immigrants that are being apprehended at the border that come from countries that are home to groups that pose a threat to the United States.

These people are coming from states like Syria that have substantial connections back to terrorist regimes and terrorist operations. It is a huge problem and a great concern.

Last week Fox Latino there was a report on radioactive materials in Mexico stolen by armed gun men at  the National Construction Lab. They seized Cesium 37 and  americium-beryllium  that could be used for  creation of  a terrorist device. Last December some thieves in Mexico stole a vehicle with deadly Cobalt 60 virtually assuring their demise from radiation sickness.  Then we recall the 2011 episode involving  a Mexican drug cartel,  Iran’s Qud Force working with an Iranian American plotting to kill the Saudi Ambassador to Washington.  The Iranian American was convicted in June 2013 to 25 years for his role in the assassination plot.

Governor Perry’s comments come in the face of a veritable onslaught of unaccompanied alien minors and women and small children from Central America swarming our borders.  There are daily reports news stories about youngsters being warehoused, and given medical treatment.  They are given bus tickets to stay with alleged relatives on the promise to show up for a Immigration court  to hear  their petition for asylum.  They are threatened with physical harm by the rampant drug related murders in Central American countries like Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

The Wall Street Journal investigated the concerns expressed by Texas Governor  Perry in an article yesterday, “Migrant Surge Jams Border”.

Frustration is mounting along the Texas border as federal officials struggle to check a surge of Central Americans illegally crossing into the state—an influx critics say is being aggravated because the Obama administration is allowing more migrants, primarily women traveling with children, to be released into the U.S. pending deportation proceedings.

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) hasn’t disclosed statistics on how many immigrants it has released. But the agency has confirmed that due to a shortage of detention space in Texas, it has shipped hundreds of immigrants recently apprehended in Texas to Arizona for processing, and subsequently dropped some off at bus stations there, allowing them to travel to locations around the country until they can be deported.

Texas US Democrat Congressman Henry Cuellar  was cited in the WSJ report  pointed  to the  11,000 illegals who were effectively let go in the Rio Grande Valley and other border locations.  The numbers are staggering.  The DHS has stepped up deportations from 235,093  last fiscal year, up from 151,893 four years earlier.

The major concern are those unaccompanied alien minors as the federal Office of Refugee Resettlement calls them.  The number doubled over the previous fiscal year to more than 47,017 and federal officials expect that to double to in excess of 90,000.  Last Tuesday, the Senate Appropriation Committee authorized  $2 Billion to address the problem,  a billion more than the Obama Administration requested.  The Federal government has an obligation to handle unaccompanied minors separately.

The reality is the current surge is literally swamping the Immigration Courts system used to handle asylum and deportation matters.  Currently the backlog exceeds 350,000 pending cases.

Watch this CNN news video on the crisis in unaccompanied minors illegal immigrants on the Southern border:

The Refugee Act of 1980 was enacted to comply with international standards for handling humanitarian refugees which meant complying with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees program.  The Act has resulting in over 3 million refugees  being settled in the US,  granting them temporary cash benefits, Medicaid eligibility and a Green Card leading to US citizenship in five years. The refugee resettlement program has been fraught with fraud especially among Somali and other African refugees. It has allowed asylum for Iraqi terrorists in Kentucky  and on April 15, 2013, the refugee  Tsarneav Brothers  from Dagestan committed the Boston Marathon Massacre. Then there are Somali émigrés who  returned to their country to fight and die for Al Shebaab, an Al Qaeda affiliate.  The current crisis in the Middle East looms large on the refugee program with the prospect of more than 20,000 Syrian refugee eligible for settlement here.

The Refugee Act is overdue for an overhaul that a number of critics have suggested requires Congressionally sponsored Government Accountability Office audits and  special investigative hearings. The estimated administrative cost of the Refugee Resettlement program exceeds $2 billion annually, not counting the recent Senate Appropriations aimed at dealing with the influx unaccompanied alien minors.  Add to that state welfare and Medicaid costs and some immigration experts maintain that the annual costs could well exceed $10 to 12 billion annually.

The late Sen. Ted Kennedy was a sponsor of the 1980 Refugee Act.  The co-sponsor of that was then Sen. Joe Biden. Vice President Biden  was on  a trip  this week to Central American countries endeavoring to stem the tide. As the WSJ article noted one Administration official said “that they were looking at ways to “enhance”  their support to these Central American countries.   Further they are urging parents to ‘think twice’ about sending children on such a dangerous journey that doesn’t result in long-term residency in the U.S.”

So who is fomenting the current humanitarian crisis on our southern border? Ann Corcoran of Refugee Resettlement Watch suggested in a recent article that may be the same religious groups that were behind the so-called Sanctuary Movement of the 1980’s in the Southwestern US that sent illegals across the country, “Invasion on the border: religious groups telling them to come!

Corcoran cites a Border Patrol officer reflecting the comments of unaccompanied alien minors as to who told them to come here:

Cueto (Art Del Cueto, president of the National Border Patrol Council Local 2544 in Tucson) says when he asked a group of children about their motivation, they spoke of the “announcer on the radio” who encouraged them to head for the United States. Cueto says Central American radio, television, other media, and religious groups have all encouraged people to move north to the United States.

Who are those religious groups suggesting that these Central American children come here? The beneficiaries of the recent Senate emergency appropriation to take care of these children, Voluntary Agencies authorized by the federal Refugee Resettlement programs. They are:

This surge is indicative of the Cloward Piven strategy espoused by two Columbia University social work theorists in the 1960’s. Their thesis was swamping the system would result in a crisis and force transformation to benefit the least able among us.  Thus, the voluntary agencies in the Refugee Resettlement community are simply following the Parable of Matthew 14:19 : Let the little children come unto me. Jim Holt of the Gateway Pundit blog tells the whole story with this headline, “Obama’s Cloward Piven Strategy floods Southern US with Illegal Immigrant Children.

RELATED ARTICLE: Texas Ranchers Under Attack, Overrun by Illegal Immigrants

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

Iraq on Brink of Disintegration: ISIS Blitzkrieg threatens Baghdad – Kurds Seize Kirkuk

The ISIS Jihad  blitzkrieg seized the oil-rich Northern Iraqi City of Mosul Wednesday, while the Iraqi Army fled. This leaving  nearly half a million civilians, Assyrian Christians among them,  to flee to rural areas of the province of Biblical Nineveh. ISIS is the Salafist –Jihadist Al Qaeda terrorist army, the Islamic State of Iraq and Sham,the Levant.

ISIS has looted nearly a half billion in cash and tons of gold bullion making the terrorist army perhaps the largest well funded Al Qaeda affiliate.  Add to that the significant oil fields and Iraq’s largest refinery in Mosul, the ISIS literally may have the fuel to follow through with their threat to attack Baghdad. Mosul  was festooned with the decapitated heads of  Iraqi policemen. This despite Prime Minister Nouri al- Maliki putting on a brave face calling upon his parliament to declare a state of national emergency. Now he has to rely on the loyalty of the US trained Iraqi army and militia from his Shia base to defend the capital.

Meanwhile, the Kurdish Regional Government  (KRG) in Irbil dispatched its peshmerga forces to take over what they couldn’t do by plebiscite, the oil rich city of Kirkuk.  A Kirkuk that the Kurds consider as “their equivalent of Jerusalem”.  Now, as one report cited, just a mound of dirt separates Kurdish peshmerga from ISIS jihadi.

At risk is the future of this artificial country created by the British from the Mesopotamian Mandate of the League of Nations following WWI.   Ironically the US surge strategy of General Petreaus nearly a decade ago used nation building and bribery to defeat the al Qaeda forces in the Anbar provinces and Mosul.  Given current developments the  refusal of the Al Maliki government to negotiate a status of forces agreement with may have contributed to this looming debacle.  That choice was up to Maliki.  Because of these missteps we have looming a possible  Sunni Caliphate stretching across neighboring Syria deep into Iraq.  Today the picture gets even murkier as Iran announced dispatch of battalions of its  Quds Force to bolster the defense of Nouri al-Maliki’s beleaguered capitol.  This episode may rival the legendary history of the  sweep of the first Grand Jihad over 14 centuries ago. The Washington Post in a report today on these rapidly deteriorating developments in Iraq quoted President Obama saying:

“I don’t rule out anything, because we do have a stake in making sure that these jihadists are not getting a permanent foothold in either Iraq or Syria,” Obama told reporters after a White House meeting with visiting Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

“I think it’s fair to say that . . . there will be some short-term, immediate things that need to be done militarily, and our national security team is looking at all the options,” he said. “But this should be also a wake-up call for the Iraqi government” about the need for political accommodation between the country’s Shiite Muslim majority and the Sunni minority, he added.

ISIS loots Mosul Central bank

The International Business Time(IBT)  wrote of how much booty the ISIS secured in the capture of Iraq’s second largest city, Mosul Seized: Jihadis Loot $429m from City’s Central Bank to Make Isis World’s Richest Terror ForceThe IBT reported:

Nineveh governor Atheel al-Nujaifi confirmed Kurdish television reports that Isis militants had stolen millions from numerous banks across Mosul. A large quantity of gold bullion is also believed to have been stolen.

Following the siege of the country’s second city, the bounty collected by the group has left it richer than al-Qaeda itself and as wealthy as small nations such as Tonga, Kiribati, the Marshall Islands and the Falkland Islands.

The financial assets that ISIS  now possesses are likely to worsen the Iraqi government’s struggle to defeat the insurgency, which is aimed at creating an Islamic state across the Syrian-Iraqi border.

[…]

They also seized considerable amounts of US-supplied military hardware. Photos have already emerged of Isis parading captured Humvees in neighboring Syria where they are also waging war against President Bashar al-Assad’s regime.

What  is really worrisome is that the vast treasury that ISIS has seized that will enable them to  pay on average $600 a month to attract  thousands of  foreign jihadis, especially those in the West.

Just yesterday, ISIS forward elements seized Tikrit the ancestral home town of the late Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein, putting it less than 95 miles from Baghdad. ISIS has also surrounded the city of Samarra less than 70 miles from the nation’s capital.

http://www.ekurd.net/mismas/articles/misc2012/11/kirkuk754.jpg

Kurdish peshmerga troops in Kirkuk. Source: ekurd.net.

Kurdish Peshmerga Seize Kirkuk

The autonomous KRG Peshmerga forces went into action today seizing a virtually defenseless Kirkuk. The KRG had been thwarted by the Al Maliki government from conducting a plebiscite to take back this resource rich original part of the Kurdish homeland.    The Guardian’s report conveys the sense of how rapidly Iraqi forces had abandoned the defenseless city,  Kurdish Peshmerga seize a chaotic victory in Kirkuk:

Capturing the city and its huge oil reserves, just outside the area controlled by the KRG, is a huge achievement. Yet victory looks far from glorious or orderly.

[…]

On Thursday Kurdish officials said they had stepped in to protect the city after government troops fled before advancing rebels from the Sunni jihadi group Isis.

Locals alleged that weaponry inside the K1 base had been seized by Kurdish Peshmerga forces belonging to both the Kurdistan Democratic Party (KDP) and the Patriotic Union of Kurdistan (PUK), the two main political forces in the KRG. But in the confusion of Iraq’s deepening crisis it is hard to be quite certain.

[…]

“There are no security concerns at this moment and the situation is calm in the city,” said Dler Samad, the Kirkuk governor’s press officer. The governor, Dr Najmadin Karim, had visited Peshmerga forces near Hawija, just 3km away from ISIS units. But a minister responsible for regional security forces survived a bomb blast as he drove into Kirkuk.

Chaldean Archbishop Emil Shimoun Nona of Mosul, Iraq. Sourcs CNS Church in Need Service.

The ISIS threat to Christians in Nineveh

We have written extensively of the flight of the beleaguered  Assyrian Christians. A report by Nina Shea in the National Review On-line depicted the crisis that this ancient Christian community faces  in the midst of  the ISIS jihadist onslaught, The Cleansing of Iraq’s Christians Is Entering Its End Game.  Shea wrote:

Mosul’s panic-stricken Christians, along with many others, are now fleeing en masse to the rural Nineveh Plain, according to the Vatican publication Fides. The border crossings into Kurdistan, too, are jammed with the cars of the estimated 150,000 desperate escapees.

[…]

Since 2003, Iraq’s Christian community has suffered intense religious persecution on top of the effects of the conflict and, as a result, it has shrunk by well over 50 percent. Mosul, the site of ancient Nineveh of the Assyrians, who converted to Christianity in the first century, has become the home of many Christians who remained. Considered by Christians the place of last resort inside Iraq, Mosul and the surrounding Nineveh Plain has been home to many Christian refugees driven out of Baghdad and Basra.

ISIS on the march

Sources: The Institute for the Study of War, The Long War Journal. The Washington Post. Published on June 11, 2014, 9:37 p.m. For a larger view click on the map.

Who do you pin the blame on?

Earlier we  noted the failure of the Maliki government to conclude a status of forces agreement when the remaining US forces left three years ago. This was just as the civil war in Syria arose in bloody earnest that spawned ISIS’ terrorist Jihad in the region.  The Wall Street Journal cited Sen. McCain and  House Speaker John Boehner laying blame on Obama, while the Chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Service Committees, Republican Rep. Buck McKeon and  Democrat Sen.Carl Levin held differing views:

Several top Republican congressional leaders Thursday blamed President Obama for what they called policy failures leading to the collapse of Iraqi armed forces and the fall of major Iraqi cities to the control of Islamist militants.

[…]

“Now they’ve taken control of Mosul, they’re 100 miles from Baghdad. And what’s the president doing? Taking a nap,” Mr. Boehner said.

Mr. McCain said the administration’s decision to leave in 2011 was politically motivated.

“The trouble is, as the events of this week show, what the Americans left behind was an Iraqi state that was not able to stand on its own,” he said. “What we built is now coming apart.”

He said the U.S. must “take immediate action” to head off the militants’ advance, and reconsider the decision by Mr. Obama to wind down the U.S. presence in Afghanistan in 2016.

[…]

Rep. Buck McKeon (R., Calif.), who heads the House Armed Services Committee, told reporters that he opposed airstrikes and any additional involvement by the U.S. in a crisis that has seen Sunni militants and Kurdish military units make incursions around the country. Iraq’s government had a chance to sign a status-of-forces agreement with the U.S. but didn’t, Mr. McKeon said.

“We lost a lot of blood, a lot of treasure there and gave them an opportunity and they wouldn’t sign the agreement,” Mr. McKeon said, adding that any assistance would add another strain to the military when officials are trying to slim down budgets. “They all take money, they all take resources, they all put people at risk.”

Sen. Carl Levin (D., Mich.), chairman of the Senate armed services panel, blamed Iraq’s government for not doing enough to unify the country and stave off sectarian violence. He also questioned whether U.S. airstrikes would be effective given that Iraqi security forces, he said, have “melted away” in some places.

“While all options should be considered, the problem in Iraq hasn’t been so much a lack of direct U.S. military involvement, but a lack of reconciliation on the part of Iraqi leaders,” Mr. Levin said.

Fred Kaplan in Slate had views close to that of McKeon and Levin in an article, “If jihadists control Iraq, blame Nouri al-Maliki, not the United States”.  Kaplan is the author of The Insurgents and the Edward R. Murrow press fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. After reviewing the success of General Petreaus’ surge in the western provinces and Mosul, Kaplan concludes about the current debacle:

Maliki has his own political problems. His party won a plurality of votes in the recent election, but not enough to declare victory…. The threat from ISIS—and it’s now a dire threat—might move some factions to strengthen the nation’s leader, or it might move more to abandon all confidence in Maliki and turn to someone else.

One hope for Iraq is that ISIS might have gone one rampage too far. While stomping through Mosul, some of their militiamen stormed the Turkish consulate and kidnapped Turkish diplomats. Under international law, that amounts to an attack on Turkey, and it’s unlikely that the Turks will simply shrug. Iran, which has emerged as Maliki’s main ally, has no interest in seeing Sunnis regain power in Baghdad. A strange alliance among all three may come to life to beat back this equally strange insurgency.

With news today that Iran is sending battalions of its elite Quds Force to fight in Iraq, Kaplan’s views appear like grasping a thin reed. Supplying more US military aid and perhaps air resources by the Obama Administration may not even put a dent into the ISIS Jihadist blitzkrieg poised to possibly conduct a siege on the capital.  Iraq is for all intents and purposes a failed state. The world and we in America will pay for its possible demise with a spike in both oil and gas prices. Time for us to bolster the independence of Kurdistan and let the Shia provinces become veritable client states of Iran, while a Jihadist  Sunni Emirate arises. Saudi Arabia will doubtless consider its options with  the failure of Iraq further endangering the Gulf region and its oil fields. Could a regional war of global proportions be in the offing?

Will the US Embassy in Baghdad be evacuating before being overwhelmed? Stay tuned for developments.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Jihadist behind takeover of Mosul released from U.S. custody in 2009
Iraq Isis Crisis: Medieval Sharia Law Imposed on Millions in Nineveh Province
Obama: “The World Is Less Violent Than It Has Ever Been”
Decapitated heads of policemen and soldiers line the streets of Mosul as ISIS imposes Sharia

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

What does Rep. Eric Cantor’s Primary Loss in Virginia Really Signify?

Republican Majority Leader Eric Cantor’s hopes to replace House Speaker John Boehner were crushed with his defeat by Randolph Macon Economics Professor David Brat by 11 points, 56% to 45% in Virginia’s Tuesday primary. After the stunning upset victory in suburban Richmond, Virginia’s 7th Congressional District by Republican challenger David Brat, a self-styled Tea Party libertarian, Republican Party leaders are confounded about future prospects. They are concerned about House contests and national mid-term and Presidential elections in both 2014 and 2016. Long term Virginia 7th C.D. incumbent Republican and US House of Representatives Majority Leader Eric Cantor has no choice but to resign forcing the House GOP majority to elect a new leader. Because of the immigration issue raised in this defeat of Cantor by Tea Party upstart Brat this could be a further warning to House Speaker John Boehner that he might face similar prospects in his home district in Ohio this November. The Wall Street Journal in its report on Cantor’s upset loss to ‘underfunded’ Brat commented:

Mr. Cantor’s defeat marked an unexpected and staggering turn in this year’s primary-election season, overturning the building narrative that Republican Party leaders and allied business groups had trampled the GOP’s tea-party wing, which has fought to push the party to the political right.

Mr. Cantor’s defeat could reshape many areas of policy in Congress, foremost the prospects for immigration legislation. Many Republican leaders say the GOP won’t make gains with the fast-growing Hispanic population unless it helps to liberalize immigration laws and grant legal status to some illegal immigrants. House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) has said he wants to take up the issue, but opposition from conservatives in his ranks has stalled the effort.

In his largely under-the-radar campaign, Mr. Brat, 49 years old, primarily sought to cast himself as more conservative than Mr. Cantor on immigration policy. He also criticized the GOP leader’s alliance with business groups and his record on fiscal issues, particularly his votes to raise the federal borrowing limit, casting Mr. Cantor as part of a leadership team that he argued had grown disconnected from its constituents.

While many are shocked about the Brat primary victory that dethroned House Majority leader Eric Cantor, we do not believe it was because he is Jewish. Rather, it is reflective of the extreme polarization of both parties. Democrats who recently were polled to determine if they were moderate versus liberal, skewed towards liberals. In January 2014 the Gallup organization released findings of self-identification in more than 13 polls taken in 2013 of 18,000 Americans. Their report confirmed this trend:

Americans continue to be more likely to identify as conservatives (38%) than as liberals (23%). But the conservative advantage is down to 15 percentage points as liberal identification edged up to its highest level since Gallup began regularly measuring ideology in the current format in 1992.

On the GOP side, the traditional country club business moderates that we were occasioned to see in prominence as party leaders over the period from the 1940’s through the Reagan, Bush I and II eras have been diminished by the rise of the Tea Party and libertarian grass roots movements.  That is reflected in the ironic confrontation in the November Henrico Virginia Congressional District race which is now between two professors at Randolph Macon University., Brat, a self styled tea Party libertarian, versus Democrat candidate, Jack Trammell, who styles himself as “liberal progressive”. Given the 7th CD voting preferences heavily skewed to conservative Brat might represent the district in the next Congress. As to why Cantor lost, look no further than the comments of David Wasserman of the Cooke Report quoted in this USA Today article on Cantor’s defeat:

Cantor’s leadership position, unwillingness to prolong last October’s government shutdown, far-fetched attacks on Brat, and stylistic clash with Virginia’s gun-owning, very conservative 7th (district) all played a role in the ‘perfect storm’ of base anger that engulfed him.

In a warning sign of Tea Party discontent in Cantor’s Richmond-based district, activists booed and heckled Cantor during a party convention in May. Cantor had invested nearly $1 million into the primary, running television ads and sending mailers attacking the underfunded and little known Brat.

Former Connecticut US Senator Joe Lieberman was upended in a highly partisan primary in August 2006 in the Nutmeg state.  As a Connecticut resident then, many of us were appalled to find that a minority of registered Democrat voters nominated Ned Lamont, scion of a wealthy Greenwich family; many were progressives, virulently anti-Israel and pro-Palestinian. That energized involvement of a number of us in the Lieberman Independent campaign and resulting victory in November 2006.  A majority of those who elected him were Republicans and a distinct minority were union members, what pollsters called conservative lunch bucket Democrats.  That was an indication that the progressives had taken over local Democratic politics.  See my Israpundit post, August 10, 2006.

Unlike the Lieberman example, Cantor can’t run as a ‘sore loser’ Independent candidate in Virginia. And even if he could, he would lose because of the polarized Conservative electorate who didn’t appreciate his moderate views on immigration and other issues.  The defeat of Cantor may possibly lead in the next Congress to overturning current House Speaker John Boehner.  Polarization at the extremes of both parties has vaporized bi-partisan resolution of major public policy issues perhaps reflected in the low approval ratings of Congress. More ominously it may presage the emergence of an autocratic executive branch of our government relying on executive orders.   That could translate to a majority of Independents and moderates in the country being turned off, not voting and both Congressional and Presidential race outcomes determined by activist minorities.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review. The featured photo is courtesy of the Associated Press.

Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl could be facing a Court Martial for desertion

If the reports we have posted from members of Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl’s platoon in the 25th Infantry Division in Afghanistan are any indication, he could, upon investigation, be subject to possible charges of desertion.  The Los Angeles Times reported  Facebook posts by Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, that could make this  be a distinct possibility, “Gen. Dempsey: Army may still pursue desertion charge for Bowe Bergdahl”.

192px-General_Martin_E._Dempsey,_CJCS,_official_portrait_2012

General Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Cheifs of Staff.

Dempsey wrote on his Facebook page:

Like any American, he is innocent until proven guilty. Our Army’s leaders will not look away from misconduct if it occurred.

Any decision on disciplinary measures will be up to the Army, Dempsey said in the interview. He said he does not want to pre-judge Bergdahl or say anything that might influence Army commanders.

In the Facebook post, Dempsey said in response to “those of you interested in my personal judgments about the recovery of SGT. Bowe Bergdahl, the questions about this particular soldier’s conduct are separate from our effort to recover ANY U.S. service member in enemy captivity.”

He added: “This was likely the last, best opportunity to free him.”

Dempsey said: “I want to thank those who for almost five years worked to find him, prepared to rescue him, and ultimately put themselves at risk to recover him.”

That last comment was perhaps an allusion to the six Army personnel from his unit who were killed  while  conducting a search for Sgt. Bergdahl. Article 85 of the Universal Military Code of Justice, Desertion, reads as follows:

(a) Any member of the armed forces who—

(1) without authority goes or remains absent from his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to remain away therefrom permanently;

(2) quits his unit, organization, or place of duty with intent to avoid hazardous duty or to shirk important service; or

(c) Any person found guilty of desertion or attempt to desert shall be punished, if the offense is committed in time of war, by death or such other punishment as a court-martial may direct, but if the desertion or attempt to desert occurs at any other time, by such punishment, other than death, as a court-martial may direct.

That prospect could be what awaits Sgt. Bergdahl after he recovers from his ordeal and  evidence is presented to have him charged and brought before a courts martial proceeding.

The Los Angeles Times report cites Yale Law School military law expert, Eugene Fidell, who reviewed the conditions under which evidence might lead to a desertion charge under Article 85 and what options the Army might have available.

Bergdahl could face court-martial if the Army uncovers sufficient evidence of desertion, said Fidell. The Army might also decide to separate Bergdahl from the service through administrative procedures.

Any physical or psychological trauma could make Bergdahl unfit for continued service, Fidell said. If so, the Army would likely begin the process of arranging for retirement, medical care and other benefits.

Because the U.S. is not formally at war with the Taliban — Congress authorized military force against terrorists — a soldier serving in Afghanistan would not face the death penalty if convicted of desertion, Fidell said. The maximum penalty under these circumstances is five years in prison and a dishonorable discharge for “intent to avoid hazardous duty or shirk important service,” Fidell said.

[…]

Fidell said the military may decide that, regardless of any offenses Bergdahl may have committed, he suffered nearly five years in enemy custody and should not be punished further.

The Obama Administration seized the opportunity to exchange Bergdahl for release of five Taliban commanders and war criminals to the custody of the Emir of Qatar for a year to reduce Guantanamo’s last contingent of hard core Jihadist detainees.  That has been strenuously objected to by both the Chairmen of House Intelligence and Armed services Committees and several Ranking members of similar committees in the Senate.  They are calling for a investigation followed by hearings on the release of these Taliban commanders who might organize capture of other US and ISA coalition forces before the conflict in Afghanistan winds down.

Any actions against the 28 year old Army sergeant may be unlikely to come to the fore because of the objective of extracting virtually all US? ISA troops from combat operations before election day in 2016.  That is, unless Congress weighs in with investigative hearings.

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MAD Magazine poster on release of Bergdahl. For a larger view click on the image.

Brett Stephens in a Wall Street Journal   op ed, The Bergdahl Dishonor, quoted a White House official saying “Frankly we don’t give a sh-t why he left”. “He’s an American soldier. We want to bring him home.”  A point also made by General Dempsey. That comment came n from the June 2012 Rolling Stone piece on the Bergdahl desertion controversy written by the late Michael Hastings, “America’s last Prisoner of War. 

But that belies the fact that others died trying to secure his freedom from the Jihadists, while he forsook his oath upon enlistment in the Army:

I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

Moreover, the capture of Bergdahl may have emboldened the Taliban to undertake murderous attacks using I.E.D’s and other means resulting in casualties to other US ISA troops operating in the same province. Those issues were sharpened in a Weekly Standard piece, contrasting remarks by Susan Rice, National Security Adviser, with a soldier in Bergdahl’s unit, ‘We Swore to an Oath and We Upheld Ours. He Did Not.’

In an appearance on ABC’s This Week on Sunday June 1, 2014, National Security Adviser Susan Rice claimed that Bergdahl “wasn’t simply a hostage, he was an American prisoner of war, taken on the battlefield.” She added: “He served the United States with honor and distinction.”

“That’s not true,” says Specialist Cody Full, who served in the same platoon as Bergdahl, and whose tweets over the weekend as @CodyFNfootball offered an early firsthand account of Bergdahl’s departure. “He was not a hero. What he did was not honorable. He knowingly deserted and put thousands of people in danger because he did. We swore to an oath and we upheld ours. He did not.

RELATED VIDEOS:

Obama Smiles Immediately Upon Hearing Bergdahl’s Dad Declare Muslim Victory Call

[youtube]http://youtu.be/yBrp0VDUvjA[/youtube]

 

Wall Street Journal – Taliban release video of Bergdahl’s release

RELATED ARTICLES:

US Troops who served with Abdullah Bergdahl feared he was giving Taliban intel: “IEDs Started Going Off Directly Under The Trucks, They Were Getting Perfect Hits Every Time”
Special forces found Bergdahl and captors but wouldn’t risk rescue for “deserter”
Col. David Hunt: Bergdahl Called Unit The Day After He Walked Away Saying ‘I’ve Deserted’
Bergdahl Left Note Saying He Wanted to Renounce His American Citizenship and Go Find the Taliban

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review. The featured image is courtesy of WPTV Channel 5, West Palm Beach, FL.

Judgement Day: Pro-Israel Z-Street trial “Will Force the IRS to Open its Books”

In the August 2013 New English Review (NER) we interviewed Lori Lowenthal Marcus, national correspondent for The Jewish Press and co-founder of Z Street- the Zionist antidote to anti-Israel J Street.  It was about the July 19, 2013 hearing held before Judge Ketanji Brown of the DC Federal  Court in the matter of Z Street v IRS. The case had been filed in the Eastern District in Pennsylvania and then transferred  to the DC Federal court as this was a federal government matter. The original Z Street matter was based on a First Amendment issue, “viewpoint discrimination”. In our NER interview article we noted what the basis of the original filing was about:

news release by Z STREET, issued  just prior to the DC court proceeding cited the June 24, 2013 House Ways and Means release of acting IRS Commissioner Danny Werfel’s responses to a letter from Ranking  Member, Sander Levin (D-MI). Z STREET’s supplementary filing revealed that there were no “progressive” groups scrutinized by the IRS “Touch and Go” Group (TAG) in Washington, DC. Instead due diligence of the IRS documents revealed that Z STREET was the sole subject by the TAG review because of “Israel-connected” views of the group in its original 501 (c ) (3) application.   

We further noted the contretemps at the July 19, 2013 DC federal court hearing:

Alana Goodman of The Washington Free Beacon who attended the DC Federal Court hearing noted in her report the IRS argument and the reaction of Judge Brown:

The government argued in court on Friday that Z STREET should resolve its tax-exempt status, which is still in limbo, before any policy questions can be addressed.

Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson seemed skeptical of the argument, saying that the government appeared to be mischaracterizing the remedy that Z Street was seeking.

“That’s not what they want,” Judge Jackson snapped at one point.

Z STREET said the government was misrepresenting its position.

“We’re not seeking tax-exempt status in this case. We are seeking an untainted process,” said Counsel Jerome Marcus. “What is the policy that the IRS has been following since 2010, and is that process constitutional?”

Is the Z Street case against the IRS evidence of bureaucratic ineptitude or something else? If discovery is granted by the DC Court ruling we may find who and why an unconstitutional act of viewpoint discrimination was perpetrated against STREET.

Today’s Wall Street Journal reported Judge Katanji Brown ruling effectively granting discovery to Z Street, “IRS Judgment Day: The un-talkative agency comes under scrutiny from a federal judge”:

In August 2010, Z Street sued the IRS on grounds that the position amounts to viewpoint discrimination and violates the First Amendment. The IRS responded by claiming special protections, including the Anti-Injunction Act, a law written to protect the IRS from litigation that could interfere with its ability to collect revenue.

But Washington, D.C. federal district Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson ruled that the Anti-Injunction Act has not been interpreted by the courts as preventing constitutional claims. In its attempt to “thwart” the action, she wrote in denying the IRS motion to dismiss, the IRS tries to “transform a lawsuit that clearly challenges the constitutionality of the process . . . into a dispute over tax liability.”

The IRS also tried to duck out under the sovereign immunity doctrine, which was designed to deter lawsuits against the feds. But that claim fails, Judge Jackson writes, because the Administrative Procedures Act “waives sovereign immunity with respect to suits for nonmonetary damages that allege wrongful action by an agency or its officers or employees, and the instant lawsuit fits precisely those criteria.”

This ruling will force the IRS to open its books on the procedures it used and decisions it made reviewing Z Street’s tax-exempt application, procedures it has tried to keep shrouded. As the case proceeds, Z Street’s attorneys can seek depositions from many who have been part of the larger attempt to sit on similar applications by other conservative groups.

It will be fascinating to see which names— Lois Lerner, former head of IRS tax-exempt scrutiny?—show up in the internal email traffic. The Administration may have a harder time evading accountability now that a judge will be supervising the testimony.

In our NER interview with Ms. Marcus, we asked her what the best outcome that might emerge with Judge Ketanji’s ruling.  Here is the exchange:

Gordon:  What do you believe would be the best outcome of the D.C. Federal Court after its review of the various filings in terms of handing down a ruling in this case?

Marcus:  Naturally, I think the court should sign the proposed Order that we submitted and provide us with access to what is called discovery. Meaning we are permitted to seek information about how the IRS set about creating this policy, who formulated it, who approved it, who knew about it, who had to apply it, to whom was it applied. That is what we need to find out in order to learn how the IRS came to create policies that are not just inappropriate, not just mismanagement, but which constitute violations of the U.S. Constitution. We need to find out because unless we do, there are going to be greater and greater restrictions on fundamental freedoms.

Way to go Judge Brown.  Now the IRS has no shield against discovery by Z Street. This could an interesting turn of events vis a vis the original viewpoint discrimination issue raised in the Z Street Federal court filling.  Whatever names emerge on the BOTL emails might cause  a flood of filings from other possible social welfare filers. As baseball great Yogi Berra might opine, “It ain’t over till it’s over”.  Congratulations to Lori Lowenthal Marcus and her counsel, her husband Jerome, for undertaking this landmark case for Z Street and all Americans. Let’s see how the IRS counsel  responds  to Judge Brown’s ruling.

As a Z Street board member this federal court ruling has justified the four year wait for justice to be done in the matter. To paraphrase Justice Brandeis Judge Brown’s ruling is good “disinfectant”.

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

Boston Strong?

April 15th marked the first commemoration of the Boston Marathon Bombing that occurred at the Boylston Street finish line on April 15, 2013 in two devastating explosions at 2:49 PM triggered by homemade pressure cookers bombs packed with lethal shrapnel. The nation was riveted for five days by the pursuant of refugee Jihadists of Chechen origin, Tamerlan and Dzhokhar Tsarneav who planned and perpetrated the bombing. The elder Tamerlan dies in a hail of bullets, while his younger sibling Dzhokhar was captured cowering in a boat in the backyard of a Watertown neighborhood. Dzhokhar’s trial is scheduled in a Boston Federal Court in November 2014.  The Federal prosecutors are seeking a death penalty for his actions.

President Obama observed the Bombing in a private moment of silence. Vice President Biden journeyed to Boston to join in a memorial with Mayor Marty Walsh, former Mayor Thomas Menino, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick first responders and four survivors at a series of scheduled events at the Hynes Convention Center.

Biden commended these survivors for their “pure courage”.  Further he said, “You have become the face of America’s resolve.” He completed his speech saying, “We are Boston. We are America. We respond, we endure, we overcome, and we own the finish line.”

Governor Patrick reflecting the Hub City’s community spirit said, “We are no strangers here.”

These remarks at today’s commemoration and memorial bolstered the imagery of Boston Strong defiant, yet grieving over the losses in both human and spiritual terms.  There is an exhibit at the Boston Public Library at the head of the Copley Square with a selection drawn from the City of Boston Archives of the global outpouring of sympathies.  There were blessings for runners who have signed up for the 2014 Marathon, re- scheduled for April 21st, who will run in  the name of those killed and injured, many maimed for life with missing limbs. There will be panel discussions of the resilience of the Boston community and books to be published on the occasion of this commemoration.

Governor Patrick has contended that  security planning for this year’s Boston Marathon is has been “very thorough”,   preparing  for the legendary race’s 26 mile plus route from suburban Hopkington, Massachusetts to the finish line in Copley Square.

The devastation is reflected in the opening stanzas of our article on this tragic event in the May 2013 edition of the New English Review, Refugee Jihad Terror in Boston:

Those Boston Marathon blasts occurred less than 13 seconds apart at approximately 2:49 PM on Monday, April 15, 2013. They left a trail of deaths and destruction in what is now called the Boston Marathon Massacre involving three dead and more that 282 treated for injuries. Fourteen were severely maimed for life with missing limbs. The deaths caused by the Tsarnaev brothers include 8 year old Martin Richard, 29 year old Krystle Campbell and 23 year old Lu Lingzi, a Chinese national and Boston University graduate student. 26 year old MIT police officer Sean Collier was killed by the Tsarnaevs while in his patrol car in Cambridge. Richard Donahue, a 33 year old Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority police officer was also shot and critically wounded.

Notwithstanding, perhaps because of today’s commemorations in Boston there are lingering questions even before the trial of younger brother Dzhokhar begins later this year in Boston.

Questions remain regarding whether the Jihad attack could have been prevented given emerging evidence.

There is  evidence of Russian intercepts of telephone conversations between Tamerlan and his mother in Dagestan expressing jihadist ideology passed on to the FBI in 2011.  A recent Intelligence Inspector General report exonerated the FBI pointing a finger at the alleged failure of the Russian intelligence service to respond to follow up questions.  There are allegations by Dzhokhar’s lawyers that the FBI tried to enlist elder brother Tamerlan as an informant.

Then there is a question raised in a recent Boston Magazine investigative article “Murders before the Marathon” about the Middlesex County prosecutor and FBI investigations of the grisly 2011 murders of three men, two of them Jews,  in an alleged  bust drug deal in Waltham, Massachusetts on 9/11/2011.  The three murdered men Brendan Mess, 25; Raphael Teken, 37; and Eric Weissman, 31, were found with their throats cut in September of 2011, and their bodies were covered with marijuana.” The author of the Boston Magazine article had met one of the victims Eric Weissman, a purveyor of designer marijuana in a casual deal as a college student and was able to interview the victim’s wife and the girl friend of one of the accomplices killed in an Orlando, Florida shooting by an FBI agent.

 According to the Boston Magazine article the information available to Middlesex County police and prosecutors might have led to indictment of the Tsarneavs thereby preventing implementation of their jihad at the Marathon finish line in 2013. Those investigations into the Waltham triple murders went cold for over 570 days, only reignited by the Tsarneav perpetration of the Marathon Bombing.  There was  both DNA evidence and corroboration of  the perpetrators by the wife of the one of those murdered linking the participation of Tsarneavs along with an accomplice,  fellow Chechen Refugee, Ibragim Todashev.

Todashev, according to Ann Corcoran at Refugee Resettlement Watch, was granted asylum by the US DOJ Executive Office of Immigration Review under false pretenses pointing to a threat to his life in Chechnya, despite the fact that his father was a Chechen official.  Todashev was killed in an alleged assault in his Orlando apartment nine months ago in a shooting by an FBI agent allegedly justified by a knife attack by Todaschev. That killing is still being investigated by independent Florida prosecutors. However, recently the FBI Agent’s actions were deemed “justified”.

There is also the matter of  whether the Mosque in Cambridge, affiliated with Muslim Brotherhood-backed Islamic Cultural Center of Boston (ISBCC) should have been subject to community policing akin to that of the NYPD.  We raise this because another Muslim Brotherhood front, MPAC with entree to the Obama White House, FBI and the Department of Homeland Security’s advisory council, has been promoting an initiative, “Safe Spaces”.  According to a Wall Street Journal article,  “Mosques get a New Message”, Safe Spaces , is about  a voluntary program  by boards of  American  Mosques engaging in identifying and ‘converting’ extremists in their midst thereby co-opting local and national law enforcement profiling of their communities.  The trigger for the MPAC initiative is an incident that occurred at the Cambridge Mosque involved Tamerlan in January 2013. The WSJ article noted the event and reactions of the ISBCC spokesperson to the MPAC Safe Spaces initiative:

In January 2013, months before the bombing, [Tamerlan] shouted at a speaker who compared Martin Luther King Jr. to Muhammad, calling him a “hypocrite.”

Afterward, mosque leaders gave him an ultimatum, saying that if he ever interrupted Friday service again he would be expelled, said Yusufi Vali, a spokesman for the mosque.

The MPAC report said Mr. Tamerlan’s outbursts “were more than enough cause for concern to warrant intervention from community leaders to help provide counseling” which “might have revealed other red flags that would generate greater concern” and eventually have alerted law enforcement.

Mr. Vali said he hadn’t yet read the MPAC report, and declined to comment on it, “so I can’t respond to adopting the initiative or whether that would have been a better approach.”

This first commemoration is focused on the resilience of Boston honoring the memories of those who lost their lives at the hands of the Jihadists, the Tsarneav brothers.

Tuesday evening, Boston Police detained a man for questioning about two unattended backpacks left at the Boylston Street Marathon finish line.  ABC news reported the bomb squad blew u p the backpacks. Police have cleared the area. Trains are bypassing the nearby Copley Square station. The police department has tweeted asking people to avoid the area.

Given the continuing investigations into the Bombing and these latest developments, are Boston and our nation prepared to prevent another jihadist attack in a public space?

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

Erdogan: Don’t believe Your Lying Ears!

Erdogan and son Bilal

Turkish Premiere Erdogan and son Bilal

Premier Erdogan appears to be digging a hole deeper and deeper hole in his credibility to keep his Premiership in Turkey.  The latest example is the kerfuffle that was created by the release of several alleged phone calls with his son, Bilal, a person of interest in the corruption probe, mid-December 2013.  The several calls with Bilal over December 17th and 18th, when the public prosecutor revelations hit the media,  appear to be deliberate attempts to scatter in excess of 30 million Euros ($40 million) to relatives and favored businessmen in Turkey. Erdogan in rebuttal said it was all a fabrication by the Gulenist “deep state” out to embarrass him in the final run up to the March 30th municipal elections in Turkey.  It appears he may survive the onslaught of his self inflicted political injuries, because of a divided opposition if you believe some Turkish polls. Reuters noted:

“They went and made a shameless montage and released it,” Erdogan told deputies. “They are even listening to the state’s encrypted telephones. That’s how low they are.”

“There is no allegation that we cannot answer.”

The “they” cited by Erdogan was a reference to those among the followers of U.S.-based Islamic cleric Gulen he accuses of building a “parallel state” using influence in the judiciary and police. Gulen denies the accusation.

“We will reveal one-by-one the disgraces of the parallel organization and we will make those who walk with them so embarrassed they won’t be able to go onto the street,” he said.

Watch this purported English translation of the Erdogan calls on this You Tube video:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/AzEZKox66_c[/youtube]

Watch this France 24/7 report on the Erdogan phone calls and his suggestion to have the Turkish government Scientific Research Institute do a voice print analysis to settle the matter:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/HgG1LGmEuHY[/youtube]

Over this weekend there were conflicting reports from the Wall Street  Journal  about analysis of audio  supplied to labs in New Jersey and Manhattan by what appears to  audio files US Turkish allies of Erdogan. The Wall Street Journal, article in the Weekend edition, WSJ Turkish Scandal Ripples in US, noted the peculiar circumstances behind the two audio lab reports.  However, Sunday’s Zaman had a rebuttal in its report, “American company says Erdogan voice recording genuine”.   Their report cited the conflicting audio lab tests saying:

John Marshall Cheary III, founder and CEO of John Marshall Media Inc., issued a statement on his company’s Facebook account on Wednesday denying the claims of some Turkish pro-government media that the telephone recordings had been proven to be fake after technical analysis by his company. He said his company has not issued any opinions on any Turkish-language digital recordings, calling the document a blatant forgery that is signed with the company name “J Ou Productions” and has a John Marshall Media business card stapled to the top. “This is not official JMM letterhead. And the fact that the company in the signature and the business card stapled to the top are different companies makes this an obvious attempt at deception,” Cheary III said in the statement.

[…]

The other company, Kaleidoscope Sound, mentioned in the [WSJ] story as having provided technical evidence that the recordings had been spliced together, also issued a Facebook message explaining that their report could only determine whether the recording had been edited or was a continuous conversation. Owner Randy Crafton said that making any determinations beyond this “would certainly require at least a native Turkish speaker.”
“We are a commercial recording studio that specializes in recording, editing, and mixing audio, mostly music. We have no credentials as audio forensics specialists, just our experience as audio professionals,” Crafton said. “Please do not construe this to be an indication of innocence or guilt on anyone’s part; it is simply an answer to the question asked,” he added. Those who say the recording is genuine admit they are an audio file containing five different conversations that took place at different locations over 26 hours.

Sunday’s Zaman referred to a McClatchy Newspaper report by a qualified expert Joshua Marpet who issued a formal report that appears to confirm that the audio files are authentic.  Read the 11 page report with graphics of matching voice prints, here.  Zaman noted:

Joshua Marpet, managing principal of cyber analytics firm Guarded Risk, told McClatchy that the recordings appear to be genuine. The only apparent “montage,” Erdo?an’s term for the recordings, was the combination of the five different conversations into one audio file, said Marpet, who was reported to have testified in court on the validity of computer evidence in Turkish criminal cases. He said there was no sign that the individual conversations had been edited. “If it’s fake, it’s of a sophistication that I haven’t seen,” he said.

Note what Erdogan did in furtherance of the France 24/7 suggestion as reported by Sunday’s Zaman:

Erdogan rejected claims that the recordings are genuine in a written statement and later at public rallies, claiming that they had been “dubbed” and edited. In the speeches, however, he acknowledged that his encrypted phones had been tapped, which has been perceived as a confession that the conversations actually occurred. Science, Industry and Technology Minister Fikri Itik, who is responsible for the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey , seconded Erdogan, saying, “He feels that the recordings were manipulated.”

He also stated that five TÜB?TAK employees in charge of the encrypted phones had been sacked.

Evidence of the recordings’ authenticity abounds . On Wednesday, audio engineers and specialists released analyses they had conducted in professional labs to verify that the talks had not been edited or spliced and that the voices actually belong to the prime minister and his son. A former Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy and IT specialist Tacidar Seyhan, the studios Babajim Records and STD, among many others, found no trace of doctoring in the recordings.

Meanwhile, the WSJ reported on the Teflon-like poll figures for Erdogan versus the opposition  in the March 30th municipal elections,  WSJ Swing Voters Swinging Erdogan’s Way.

Our usually well informed European – based observer of developments in Turkey had these comments:

As far as I have heard Erdogan is losing votes and might lose the cities of Istanbul and Ankara. People are being asked to apply as election booth controllers so that the AKP does not rig the ballot boxes. We have another month until the elections and a lot of mud will be slung by Erdogan and the opposition.

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

US Appeasement of Iran Endangers the entire Persian Gulf

Following the Iconoclast post yesterday on the “Two Faces of Sen. Dianne Feinstein”, there was an exchange of views with Shoshana Bryen, Senior Director of the Jewish Policy Center and Sarah Stern, President of the Endowment for Middle East Truth.  We were discussing a  matter related to the threat that Iran posed  to the US in the Western Hemisphere; the Administration succumbing to de facto Iranian nuclear hegemony in the Persian Gulf. Daniel Pipes in an, NRO-The Corner article, drew attention to  Administration appeasement enabling Iran to strike deals with Oman and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). This resulted in  Iran gaining potential control over the strategic Straits of Hormuz, “Has Iran gained a Foothold in the Arabian Peninsula”?

Pipes’ important article appeared while Washington and the world media were focused on the implementation of the Six Powers Joint Plan of Action, portions of which were released by the White House yesterday.  Other salient provisions  of which were sequestered at the request of UN nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).   He drew attention to the agreements both the UAE and Sultanate of Oman:

According to a sensational report by Awad Mustafa in Defense News, a Gannett publication, not only has Tehran signed an agreement with the UAE  over three disputed islands near the Strait of Hormuz, but it has also reached a possibly even more important accord with the government of Oman. Both of these agreements have vast implications for the oil trade, the world economy, and Iranian influence.

According to an unnamed “high level UAE source,” secretive talks taking place over six months led to a deal on the Greater and Lesser Tunbs finalized on Dec. 24: “For now, two of the three islands are to return to the UAE while the final agreement for Abu Musa is being ironed out. Iran will retain the sea bed rights around the three islands while the UAE will hold sovereignty over the land.”

This is big news, but yet bigger potentially is the source’s stating that “Oman will grant Iran a strategic location on Ras Musandam mountain, which is a very strategic point overlooking the whole gulf region. In return for Ras Musandam, Oman will receive free gas and oil from Iran once a pipeline is constructed within the coming two years.”

Both agreements center on the Strait of Hormuz, the world’s most important oil passageway and vulnerability.

  • The UAE deal involves the tiny but strategic islands of Abu Musa and the Greater and Lesser Tunbs near the straits, occupied by Iranian forces since 1971, just as the UAE emerged as an independent country.
  • It’s not clear what granting to the Iranians “a strategic location on Ras Musandam mountain” means but Musandam is the very tip of the Straits of Hormuz and Tehran winning access to any sort of military position there could enhance their ability to block the oil trade as well as make trouble on the peninsula.

Oman’s role in facilitating the UAE-Iran talks, says the source, was approved by Washington: “Oman was given the green light from Iran and the US to reach deals that would decrease the threat levels in the region and offset the Saudi Arabian influence in the future by any means.”

Couple this development with what happened at a US Senate Foreign Relations confirmation hearing Wednesday involving the Obama emissary who facilitated those back channel conversations with Tehran in Oman, Puneet Tawar.   The Global Affairs blog of The Hill in a post noted how two Republican minority members, Florida Senator Marco Rubio and Idaho Senator James Risch stopped Tawar’s confirmation, “Rubio, Risch block Obama nominee over ‘back channel’ talks with Iran”:

Sens. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and James Risch (R-Idaho) are holding up a vote on a State Department nominee over his involvement in back channel talks with Iran that have infuriated Republicans, The Hill has learned.

The Republican lawmakers prevented the Senate Foreign Relations Committee from voting Wednesday to confirm White House Iran adviser Puneet Talwar as the new Assistant Secretary of State for political military affairs.

Talwar was one of several U.S. officials who met in secret with Iranian negotiators in Oman in 2012 and 2013 before multilateral talks officially resumed following President Hassan Rouhani’s election in June.

“Sen. Rubio is requesting additional information from Mr. Talwar about his role in the so-called ‘back channel’ outreach to Iran,” a Rubio spokeswoman told The Hill in an email.

[…]

“It focused exclusively on the nuclear issue, so there were no other side discussions underway,” Talwar responded. “And it was merged [with the multi-party talks] after the conversations gained traction.”

In my discussion with Bryen and Stern I drew attention to what an Iranian nuclear hegemon in the Persian Gulf might do to US national interests.  Iran producing a nuclear weapon might threaten US Fifth Fleet base in Bahrain and possibly its strategic base at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean.  Both of these facilities   protect the free flow of oil to U.S. allies South Korea and Japan, among others.  Bryen pointed out that Japan may choose an energy deal with Russia rather than risk an oil cutoff from the Gulf if the U.S. is no longer the guarantor.  Such a deal would change the nature of American “pivot to Asia” and alliances there.  If Iran produces nuclear weapons, which it may have already, it is likely to play a form of n-dimensional nuclear Three Card Monte.   If the US capitulates, then the Gulf emirates and the Saudis may have to resort to baksheesh to preserve their access to the Persian Gulf and Straits of Hormuz to make mega-revenues in the world energy trades.  The Saudis at least have pipelines to secure Red Sea ports. The Iranian Shia mullahs on the opposite  shore of the Persian Gulf will simply use hidden nuclear suasion to gain revenues from their despised Sunni members in the Muslim Ummah.

In a Wall Street Journal excerpt  from former Secretary Gates’ memoir, Duty, he criticized the political operatives  populating the West Wing National Security Council (NSC). In contrast to other Administrations,  many Obama NSC advisers are people to whom the Administration owed political favors. Among those he cites are  Tom Donilon, former Clinton era chief of staff at the State Department, who like his  NSC deputy, Denis McDonough, the later is Obama’s current Chief of Staff, had limited  national security groundings.  Early Obama Administration NSC chief, former Marine Gen., Jim Jones criticized Donilon for “his lack of overseas experience”,   telling him “You have no credibility with the military”, according to Bob Woodward’s, Obama’s Wars.  McDonough, prior to joining  Senator Obama’s staff  was a foreign affairs aide to former Senate Majority Leader  Tom Daschle and subsequently served in the same capacity with former Interior Secretary and Colorado Senator Ken Salazar.  We wrote about McDonough’s role in meeting  with Muslim Brotherhood leaders at the 2012 Brookings Doha Qatar Center meetings. Wendy Sherman, a colleague of Donilon at State during the Clinton Administration,   did us no favors over the oil/ food for no nukes deal with  North Korea under Kim Jong -Il, the late father of the current ruler, Kim Jong- Un.   All we received from Ms. Sherman’s efforts were nuclear tests;  test  of ICBMs and exchange of technology to assist Iran in its bomb making.  Now as Undersecretary of State, Sherman has brought us the P5+1 agreement.  As to nuclear bomb making support by North Korea just recall, the pictures we have of Iranian and North Korean scientists assisting Syria in building the nuclear bomb factory on the banks of the Euphrates destroyed by Israel in September 2007.  The Administration has failed in the view of many to meet the sense of the Kissinger adage: “America has no permanent friends or enemies, only interests”.

The Obama Administration has jeopardized potential strategic control of the oil rich Persian Gulf.  Both the UAE and Oman know that. This could present a threat to Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean with its stockpile of nuclear weapons and  cruise missiles and B-52 bombers.  As Bryen commented, “When Munich occurred at least the Chamberlain rationale was that it gave the British and French time to prepare for war against Nazi Germany”.  However, what rationale does the Administration have?

The Persian Gulf allies have witnessed the Administration losing resolve in the region causing them to seek whatever cover they can from the predatory hegemon to avoid becoming what Churchill called, “crocodile food”.   Is Israel next?

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