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Washington Post: Now That We’ve Finished Off the Redskins, the Texas Rangers Must Go

My latest in PJ Media:

Baseball, like the other major sports, has become insufferably woke, and so the Texas Rangers — like the Cleveland Indians and football’s Washington Redskins — are likely not long for this world. Buoyed by the scalping of the Washington Redskins, the Washington Post’s Karen Attiah, who wants white women to consider themselves lucky that she isn’t calling for “revenge” for their voting for Trump, is now calling for the Texas Rangers baseball team to change its name, because, doncha know, the Rangers were supposedly “white supremacists.”

Now, I myself have cautioned against looking for consistency or rationality from the left, but Karen Attiah’s demand is irrational far beyond even the attacks on statues of Frederick Douglass and Ulysses S. Grant from people who claim they’re lashing out against racism.

Karen Attiah apparently doesn’t realize that she has now entangled herself in a giant contradiction. After all, we have been hearing for years now that the Redskins, Indians, and the like had to change their names because they insulted and belittled Native Americans. But if that is true, and the law enforcement Texas Rangers were really the genocidal racists Attiah claims them to be, shouldn’t the baseball Texas Rangers actually keep their name, so as to insult and belittle Texas Rangers?

Attiah can’t have her cake and eat it too, no matter how hard she tries. If sports nicknames are negative and insult the people the teams are named after, and what she says about the historical Rangers is true (it isn’t: an actual historian of the Rangers, Dr. Jody Edward Ginn, details in his book East Texas Troubles that the Rangers helped break up a white gang in East Texas, and convicted them on the basis of testimony from black victims), then it’s altogether fitting and proper for the baseball Rangers to bear that name. But she is assuming in this case that sports nicknames actually glorify the people the teams are named after, and so it won’t do, not at all, to have a team named after the Texas Rangers, as these “white supremacists” must in no way be glorified.

But if the Texas Rangers baseball team constitutes praise for the Rangers, wouldn’t Indians, Redskins, Braves, and the like be favorable portrayals of Native Americans, in which case there would be no need to change the teams’ names?

There is much more. Read the rest here.

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EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

The Washington Post Wants You to Fast for Ramadan

My latest in PJ Media:

The far-Left anti-Trump propaganda organ masquerading as a news source and operating under the name the Washington Post on Thursday published an inspiring op-ed entitled “As American Muslims fast this Ramadan, maybe the rest of America should consider joining in.” The Post’s articles exhorting people to keep the Lenten fast or the Yom Kippur fast have not yet been published, but I’m sure that they will be when the appropriate times for them roll around again. Won’t they?

In the meantime, I’ll consider fasting for Ramadan, but I have a fairly good idea of what my conclusion will be. The article’s author, the imam Omar Suleiman, “founder and president of the Yaqeen Institute for Islamic Research and an Islamic studies professor at Southern Methodist University,” writes: “The end result of Ramadan for Muslims, according to the Koran, is for ‘you to complete the period and glorify God for that which He has guided you, and that you may be amongst the grateful.’”

That sounds terrific, but what exactly does the Qur’an mean by glorifying God? According to the Islamic holy book, one way that Muslims can glorify God is by fighting and killing infidels (cf. 2:191. 4:89, 9:5, 9:29, 47:4, etc.). In fact, according to the prophet of Islam, there is no better way to glorify the supreme being. A hadith has a Muslim asking Muhammad: “Instruct me as to such a deed as equals Jihad (in reward).” Muhammad replied, “I do not find such a deed.” (Bukhari 4.52.44) A jihad group explained: “The month of Ramadan is a month of holy war and death for Allah. It is a month for fighting the enemies of Allah and God’s messenger, the Jews and their American facilitators.”

Somehow that doesn’t sound as appealing as Omar Suleiman made it out to be. But the good imam can’t be faulted for walking through a door that the Washington Post opened. His article was published in response to a Post call: “The Opinions section is looking for stories of how the coronavirus has affected people of all walks of life. Write to us.” Suleiman saw an opportunity for dawah, Islamic proselytizing, and seized it.

Still, if someone had sent in those stories about how Americans should join in the Lenten fast, or the Yom Kippur fast, would the Post have published them? Almost certainly not. Suleiman’s article, however, is just one example of a general tendency: it is imperative in today’s society to be solicitous to Muslims and warmly positive toward even the aspects of Islam that are oppressive.

There is much more. Read the rest here.

RELATED ARTICLES:

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Ramadan in Afghanistan: Taliban murders 17 civilians and wounds 49 during first week of holy month

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Lebanon seeks $10,000,000,000 bailout from the IMF as Hizballah’s power increases

EDITORS NOTE: This Jihad Watch column is republished with permission. ©All rights reserved.

Who planned the Ankara Peace Rally Bombings?

Twin simultaneous bombings ripped through a crowd of opposition supporters and Kurdish activists at an Ankara peace rally today killing 97, maiming and injuring over 246. The bombings occurred just a few weeks before a snap election scheduled for November 1st.  There is suspicion that the Turkish President couldn’t have wished for a more timely mishap.  It comes before an election he called to try and eliminate the Kurdish minority HDP party and return his AKP  party to its previous super majority.  You may recall the Suruc bombing in July that killed 33 socialist youths affiliated with the HDP that kick started the PKK uprising in southeastern Turkey. That was used as a pretext for Erdogan’s subsequent counter terrorism campaign and air assault on both Syrian Kurdish YPG and PKK bastions in northern Iraq. The better to condition the US request for Turkish clearance of the use of Incirlik air base for the flagging air assault campaign against ISIS in both Syria and Iraq. It is not without coincidence that he PKK today called for a temporary truce before the looming election.  The conventional wisdom is, as in the Suruc case , that it was possibly the work of ISIS. However, there may have been other Islamist contenders for this latest terrorist spectacle in Turkey.  Recall that the Muslim Brotherhood affiliate, the IHH, an ally of the AKP regime, supplied funds and weapons to opposition Islamist groups in Syria.

Watch this ReutersTV video of the Ankara Peace Rally bombings.

Our usually astute  European observer of things Turkish drew attention  in a conversation following the Ankara blasts  that daily polls taken by Erdogan show that his standing has slipped . Thus, indicating that his quest for conversion of the currently ceremonial post of President in Turkey to an executive one with broad powers may be out of reach. Moreover, our colleague indicated that the opposition in the Ankara parliament, including Republican, Nationalist and the Kurdish HDP parties, are united against AKP supremacy.  In fact, he said, the parliament is rarely convened in Ankara by the caretaker government. He also noted that when he viewed Turkish television coverage of the Ankara  bombing incident there were HDP flags and banners  prominent in the footage along with those of trade union groups. However, following the deadly blast, he observed that footage somehow disappeared from Turkish television news reports.

With the dramatic entry of Russia in the Syrian fray both Erdogan’s and Obama’s vain hopes for control of the situation have been eclipsed. Calls for establishment of both no-fly zones and safe havens by the Turkish and US Congressional and Presidential hopefuls appear to be wishful thinking.  Russian President Putin has thrown in his lot with Iran  propping  up the besieged Syrian President Bashar Assad who controls less than one sixth of his country.  Thus, the suspicion is today’s Peace rally bombings might not been perpetrated by PKK, known Marxist terrorist groups or ISIS. That leaves the question of whether Islamists groups allied with Erdogan and the AKP may have been complicit in the bombings?  In the dictatorial regime of Erdogan with a chastened prosecution and judiciary, the answers to these questions may not emerge with any perfunctory forensic investigation by Turkish authorities.

Screen-Shot-2015-10-10-at-10.42.31-PM-800x594The Washington Post (WaPo) report described the grisly and chaotic scene following the bombings, “Blasts kill scores at peace rally in Turkey in sign of worsening instability.”   Note in these excerpts how the Turkish PM Davutoglu asserts this bombing was aimed as disrupting what passes for democracy in this NATO ally and other commentators immediately suspect ISIS.

Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu said Saturday there were “strong indications” the attack was carried out by suicide bombers, although there was no immediate claim of responsibility. He said the target was Turkish unity, democracy and stability.

“Early indicators would point to ISIS as the culprit,” said Soner Cagaptay, director of the Turkish research program at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Either way, “this could well be Turkey’s 9/11,” Cagaptay said. “This is simply the worst terror attack in Turkish history.”

The United States also condemned the twin bombings as a terrorist attack. “It is particularly important at this time that all Turkish citizens recommit to peace and stand together against terror,” the State Department said in a statement.

The demonstrators, mobilized by a coalition of Turkish trade unions, had gathered outside Ankara’s main [train] station hours earlier to chant, wave banners and flags and call for peace. The crowd included a mix of Kurdish and leftist Turkish activists, local media reports said.

A video circulated on social media showed demonstrators linking arms to perform a traditional dance before a fiery explosion erupted in the background, sending the crowd into a panic. It was unclear whether that explosion was from the first or the second bomb detonated outside the station.

Images from the scene showed dazed and bloody demonstrators clinging to one another in the aftermath of the blasts. Bodies, some of them dismembered, lay on the street, covered with flags protesters had brought to the march.

Tensions between police and demonstrators flared following the explosions, after activists accused security forces of blocking ambulances arriving to treat the injured. Turkey’s pro-democracy activists say they are fed up with a state that is quick to crack down on dissenters but cannot keep its own citizens safe from terrorists.

In a live television broadcast, Turkish Interior Minister Selami Altinok said in response to a reporter’s question that he would not resign because there had been no security breach.

Still, Turkish authorities announced a news blackout on images showing the moment of each blast, gruesome or bloody images or “images that create a feeling of panic,” according to the Associated Press. The agency also reported that social media users in Ankara were unable to access Twitter after the blast.

Turkey, which media watchdog groups say has one of the world’s worst records on press freedom, often blocks access to Twitter and other sites for content the government deems inappropriate.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Turkish Peace Rally protesters dancing moments before deadly bombings in Ankara. Source: Reuters TV.

Can the States Stop Implementation of Iran Nuclear Deal?

On the Sunday, September 20, 2015 Lisa Benson Show we interviewed, David B. Rivkin, Jr. a noted Constitutional  litigator, a partner in the Washington, DC office of the Baker Hostetler law firm. The topic was “Can the Senate Sue the President over his handling of the Iran Nuclear Deal?”  Rivkin is also   a Senior Fellow of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies (FDD).  He served in a variety of legal and policy positions in the Reagan and George H. W. Bush  Administrations, including stints at the White House Counsel’s office, Office of the Vice President and the Departments of Justice and Energy. While in the government, he handled a variety of national security and domestic issues, including environmental and energy policy, tax, trade and constitutional issues.  He is a much sought after as a media commentator on matters of constitutional and international law, as well as foreign and defense policy.

Rivkin recently won a landmark decision in the D.C. Federal District Court in the matter of House v. Burwell over the supremacy of Congressional appropriations authorities with regard to implementation of the Affordable Care Act that affirmed Congressional standing to bring such an action. He co-authored a September 6, 2015 Washington Post opinion article with Rep. Mike Pompeo (R-KS) suggesting a possible suit by the Senate against the President for non–compliance with the language of the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act requiring delivery of all requisite documents including the privileged IAEA side agreements.  A September 10, 2015 WSJ op ed by Rivkin and Elizabeth Price Foley discussed how the successful House v. Burwell suit gave standing to Congress to bring possible litigation against the President. Moreover, the suit in the ACA matter had survived a motion to dismiss by the Administration. We have published similar proposals by Sklaroff and Bender for Senate litigation over the JCPOA unanimously endorsed by the UN Security Council on July 22, 2015.

The Sklaroff Bender proposal required the Senate to change Rule 22 to achieve cloture to cut off filibusters by Minority Democrats, before Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) might offer up a resolution to treating the Iran nuclear agreement as a treaty under Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution requiring a two thirds vote under the advise and consent of the Senate.  However, to initiate that would have required McConnell to make changes in Rule 22 at the start of the 114th Congress in January 2015.  Currently, to cut off debate requires 60 votes. Congressional Research Service reports on this issue indicated previous proposals reducing the threshold down in steps to a simple majority vote. A number of prominent conservative activists and organizations advocated such a change at the start of the new Congress but McConnell pushed back, arguing that Democrats would use the new rules once they returned to the Majority to quash Republican concerns in the future.

The Senate Republican majority failed in a last move to upend the Iran Nuclear deal. As reported by the AP, a Senate vote on a resolution requiring Iran to recognize Israel as a quid pro quo to lifting sanctions failed once again to reach the 60 vote’s threshold.  The vote was 53 to 45 before the deadline of September 17th under the Corker-Cardin Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act.  Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) said, in an AP report on the Administration’s start to implement the JCPOA, the deal “likely will be revisited by the next commander-in-chief.”  The AP reportedHouse Speaker John Boehner suggesting that possible litigation might be an option. Other Senators and Members of Congress have suggested renewal of the Iran Sanctions Act of 2006 before it sunsets in 2016.

Watch this mid-April 2015  Wall Street Journal interview with David B. Rivkin, Esq. He had presciently predicted the problems confronting  Congress  under the Corker-Cardin Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act to pass resolutions rejecting the JCPOA.

During the Lisa Benson Show interview, Rivkin suggested that the President had violated Coker-Cardin by not delivering all of the requisite information, including the IAEA side agreements with Iran. As a result of this violation, the Congressional review period has never started and, consistent with the statutory language of Corker Cardin, the President’s authority to lift any sanctions against Iran or unblock any frozen Iranian funds has been vitiated. Rivkin expressed the view that, if the President were to indicate that he intends to lift sanctions, or unblock frozen assets, this decision can be challenged in court, either by the House or the Senate, or the States. Listen to the Rivkin interview on the Lisa Benson Show sound cloud, here.

Rivkin and colleague Lee Casey wrote about that possibility in a July 26, 2015, Wall Street Journal opinion article, “The Lawless Underpinnings in the Iran Nuclear Deal“. They argued:

The Obama end-run around the Constitution could yet be blocked if states exercise their own sanctions regimes …The administration faces another serious problem because the deal requires the removal of state and local Iran-related sanctions. That would have been all right if Mr. Obama had pursued a treaty with Iran, which would have bound the states, but his executive-agreement approach cannot pre-empt the authority of the states.

That leaves the states free to impose their own Iran-related sanctions, as they have done in the past against South Africa and Burma. The Constitution’s Commerce Clause prevents states from imposing sanctions as broadly as Congress can. Yet states can establish sanctions regimes—like banning state-controlled pension funds from investing in companies doing business with Iran—powerful enough to set off a legal clash over American domestic law and the country’s international obligations. The fallout could prompt the deal to unravel.

An explanation of the JCPOA State Sanctions impasse was outlined in a Steptoe International Compliance blog on August 15, 2015, “The JCPOA and State Sanctions” by Bibek Pandy:

The Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA) does not say much about Iran sanctions imposed by US state governments. Almost two dozen states (including New York, California and Florida) have passed laws that in some form (i) ban the awarding of government contracts to companies tied to Iran, and/or (ii) prohibit public funds from investing in companies doing certain types of business in Iran. These state restrictions can be more extensive in scope than US federal sanctions. For example, some state restrictions (e.g. in Florida) attach automatically to the parent entity of the company who engages in certain Iran activities. Laws in many states provide for the lifting of Iran sanctions when the President removes Iran from the list of countries that support terrorism; but the JCPOA does not do that, and, as a result, Iran sanction laws in most states will remain intact.

[…]

Companies considering engaging in activity authorized under the JCPOA need to be still mindful of non-federal Iran sanctions. In particular, state government contractors with Iran links should review state procurement laws before engaging in activities permitted by the JCPOA. Furthermore, contractors can face civil penalties in many states for providing false certifications related to their Iran activities. The bar for Iran-related disqualification in some states is relatively low, and the JCPOA does not change that.

David B RivkinDavid B. Rivkin, Jr., Esq.

Following the Lisa Benson Show, David Rivkin and this writer held a conversation to explore the possibilities of a state level initiative. Florida Attorney General (AG) Pam Bondi led a filing made in the 1st Federal District Court in Pensacola on behalf of Florida and more than two dozen other State AGs endeavoring to overturn the Affordable Care Act. Federal Judge Vincent heard oral arguments and ruled on the matter sending it ultimately to the 11th Circuit in Atlanta.   Rivkin thinks that a similar action could be mounted by Florida and a few other states in the same legal venue, the 1st District Court.  The filing might be based on existing Florida sanction law passed under the federal 2010 Comprehensive Iran Sanctions, Accountability, and Divestment Act (CISADA) supplemented by an Executive Order.

The State cause of action, according to Rivkin, could be filed in a matter of weeks, potentially forestalling the release of sanctions before the implementation date under JCPOA, December 15, 2015. As indicated in a September 11, 2015 FDD memo by Dubowitz, Fixler, et.al. the subsequent release of upwards of $120 billion of sequestered funds in several Asian banks would take an additional six months. Thus the Rivkin state litigation proposal, if implemented promptly, might possibly stop the release of Iran nuclear sanctions.

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

Democrat Senators provide final votes on the Iran Nuclear Pact

Maryland  Democrat Senator Barbara Mikulski clinched President Obama’s Iran Nuclear Deal  today by announcing  her support making it  a virtual fait accompli. The President can now veto Congressional Resolutions rejecting the pact.  The Washington Post headline  today  tells the story, “Chris Coons and Bob Casey back Iran deal, putting Obama one vote from major diplomatic victory.”  The Iran nuclear pact comes up for a vote  15 days from now at the latest could be mooted by a possible filibuster or may be ended by a likely Presidential veto of a majority vote  rejecting it in both Chambers of Congress.  It begs the questions of whether there is any means of stopping this dangerous and misguided deal from being implemented. Depending on whether a successor overturns the multilateral agreement that according to the Administration would be a major diplomatic faux pas.

As we have written in a September 2015, NER article there may be more options than simply voiding it as an executive political agreement by a new President in January 2017. Republicans and a few Democrats are seeking to target sanctions against Iranian Revolutionary Guard Leaders and the Ayatollah who own companies that would benefit economically from the release of $100 billion in sequestered funds in U.S. financial institutions resulting from implementing the JCPOA.  There is also increasing interest in several legislative alternatives. That is reflected in a FrontPage Magazine article published today by Robert B, Sklaroff and Lee S. Bender, Esq., “The Only Way to Block the Iran TREATY: Sue Obama.”  Their bottom line:

Emergency Prescription for Senate:  [1]—Pass rule that abolishes the filibuster; [2]—Pass resolution declaring the Iran nuke deal to be a “treaty”; [3]—Defeat the deal; and [4]—Sue President Obama to enjoin him from implementing the deal.

Opinion polls taken of Americans indicate that by a margin of 2 to 1 they urge members of both Congressional Chambers to vote against it.  Trusting that approval of this deal will cut off Iran from all pathways from achieving industrialization of nuclear weapons- whether in a few weeks, months or a decade or more- amount to sleepwalking towards oblivion.   Many analysts and military nuclear experts think that Iran may already have nuclear weapons and shortly the means of delivering them. Further, believing that $100 billion plus of sequestered Iranian funds will be devoted to rebuilding a beleaguered Iranian economy and raising the living standards of Iranians is myopic. It will go to lining the pockets of the Ayatollah Khamenei and Revolutionary Guard leaders. Furthermore, it will fund proxies, Hezbollah, Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and the Houthi rebels in Yemen to destabilize the Middle East and conduct low intensity warfare against America, Israel other Middle East allies. The Saudis, Egyptians, Emirates say that if the pact is approved they will develop their own nuclear weapons capabilities. War might likely loom.   President Obama has allegedly  called opponents “crazies,” criticized those who say he’s  anti-Semitic by replying  he doesn’t have a  smidgen of that, while  inveighing the infamous Juden frage- Jewish question , an innuendo  of dual loyalty.  We have witnessed Congress straying from the pathway suggested by Senators Cotton (R-AR), Cruz (R-TX), Johnson (R-WI), Rubio (R-FL) and others that the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action should have been treated as a treaty under Article III of the Constitution requiring the advice and consent of the Senate. The result was the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act  of 2015 enacted into law with a stroke of the President’s pen on May 22, 2015.

Following the announcement of the JCPOA on July 14, 2015 and the unanimous endorsement by the UN Security Council on July 22, 2015, testimony provided by Administration negotiators, led by Secretary of State Kerry, Energy Secretary Earnest Moniz, and Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman has, if anything, raised concerns about the enforceability of the Iran nuclear pact.  Most appalling they exhibited in their responses to Senate and House Committee Members less than curiosity about the provisions of confidential agreements between the UN nuclear watchdog agency, IAEA and the Islamic Republic of Iran.  They suggested that to do so would interfere with the confidential nature of such activities between the IAEA and the Islamic Republic under UN protocols.  The IAEA in turn requested an estimated $10.5 million annually as the required contribution from the US, a board member of the IAEA, to support their activities inspecting and monitoring Iran’s progress towards an alleged ‘peaceful’ nuclear energy program.

Watch this Yahoo News video of Secretary Kerry at the National Convention Center in Philadelphia, today making the final sales pitch for approval of the Iran Nuclear Pact:

Based on the hearing record, the expert witness testimony presenting contradictory views, Americans now realize that there will likely be less than a robust, intrusive inspection scheme. A scheme that would rely on the UN nuclear watchdog, the IAEA. Instead, Iranian inspection of known military development sites will be used to produce a Road Map of prior military developments enabling release of $100 billion of sequestered funds. Moreover, there already have been breaches of conventional weapons and missile technology purchases, despite the 5 and 8 year sunset provisions under UN Security Council Resolution 1929. There have also been breaches of lifting restrictions on travel bans and assets of more than 800 individuals and entities largely controlled by the Ayatollah, mullahs and Revolutionary Guard elite like Quds Firce Commander Qasem Soliemani.  Paul Alster in his Fox News criticism of the Iran deal  pointed out  that Iran has already launched attacks against Israel via proxies in the country’s North . He also suggest s the diversion of $1 billion of released funds that would go annually to underwrite the support of Iran’s terrorist proxies attacking U.S. ally Israel and others in the Middle East Region. Then there is the delivery of new precision rockets and missiles to Hezbollah, Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad.

We could go on, but it is moot given the President is likely before Labor Day to line up all of the votes required for him to veto the rejection resolutions voted by the Republican majorities of both houses with a sprinkling of Democrats with moral compasses.  There may never be a vote in the Senate, as Minority Leader Reid has offered up the alternative of killing the vote via a filibuster and resort to the so-called “nuclear option” used for approving Judicial appointment in 2013. That is unless the suggestion by Sklaroff and Bender about the Senate passing a rule banishing the so-called “nuclear option” is adopted.

This brings us to Plan B – a suit by the Senate against the President’s actions brought before the US Supreme Court that might result in a ruling granting the senior Chamber an up or down vote treating the Iran nuclear pact as a treaty.  We believe its time for serious consideration of the Sklaroff Bender proposal as the Senate would have standing whereas individuals may not. That is evidenced by Federal Judge Kenneth A. Marra’s ex cathedra remarks in the Palm Beach Federal District Court in response to a declaratory judgment motion filed by Larry Klayman of Freedom Watch on August 4, 2015. We commend Freedom Watch for bringing that action.

Listen to this 1330amWEBY segment that aired on September 1, 2015 with Mike Bates, Host of Your Turn and Senior editor, Jerry Gordon discussing the Iran nuclear pact and options to overturn it.

Now we have to see whether Senate Majority Republican Leaders have the courage of their convictions to bring such an important landmark case before the Supreme Court to protect Americans from the threat of an Iranian nuclear attack. Presidential hopefuls and Congressional leaders who will speak before a huge crowd of concerned Americans gathered on the back lawn of the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington on September 9th at the March to Save America  might echo their resolve to sue the President.  That is contingent on whether he carries out his threat to veto the majority vote in both Chambers of Congress rejecting the Iran nuclear pact backed by the opinions of a majority of Americans.

Now it is time for concerted action by those bi-partisan Members of Congress who reject the Iran nuclear pact. Tens of millions of Americans are disturbed by the President’s appeasement of a keystone member of the Evil Axis, the Islamic Republic of Iran.

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

The Koch Challenge

Last week, to my amazement, I read an article about Charles Koch in The Washington Post newspaper.  The amazing part was that it was a positive article about Koch.

For those who don’t live in D.C., The Washington Post is one of the most liberal newspapers in the country and rarely has anything positive to say about Republicans, especially those who are conservative or libertarian.

The Koch brothers get a bad rap in the media, especially when it comes to the Black community.  I tend to agree with them on many of the issues they are tackling:  shrinking the size of the government, reducing the federal deficit, criminal justice reform, school choice, lower taxes, etc.

When it comes to their interactions with the Black community, like most conservatives, they are trying to do the right thing; but are doing it the wrong way.

During their annual donor’s conference last week in Dana Point, California, Koch explained why his focus is now on the “disenfranchised” and “lower class.”  According to The Washington Post, Koch invoked the names of civil rights icons like Frederick Douglas and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Koch stated, “Look at the American revolution, the anti-slavery movement, the women’s suffrage movement, the civil rights movement.  All of these struck a moral chord with the American people.  They all sought to overcome an injustice.  And we, too, are seeking to right injustices that are holding our country back.”

The article reports that helping the lower class was echoed throughout the donor’s conference and they have plans to spend upwards of $ 800 million by the end of 2016 on issue advocacy, higher-education grants and political activity.

This is all well and good, but if they want to see positive results; they first must do a “forensic assessment” of their targeted audience—in this case the Black community.

It doesn’t appear to me that they have any relevant Blacks around them on the political side of the house who can help them properly navigate within the Black community.

For example, when you say “conservative” to a Black audience, we hear Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms.  When you say “libertarian” we think of someone who supports Jim Crow and segregation.  Former U.S. senator and linguist S.I. Hayakawa said, “Meanings are in people, not in words.”

Because of the liberal media, the Koch brothers, conservatism, and libertarianism all have a bad name in the Black community; and before you can begin to discuss the merits of their issues, the brand must be repaired.

As a student at Oral Roberts University, I had the fortune of working for Oral; and one of the things he would always say was, “Go into every man’s world and meet them at the point of their need.”

Too often, conservatives go into the Black community and tell us what they think is important to us, as opposed to asking us to tell them what is important to us.

A case in point is criminal justice reform.  Conservatives have the crazy notion that this issue is the gateway into the Black community.  In reality this is nowhere near the top of the priority list within the Black community.

The top three issues within the Black community are:  small business/entrepreneurship, education/school choice, and values/morals.  The logic is very simple.

Small business is the economic engine of our country; always has been and always will be.  Fortune 500 companies are steadily laying off workers, whereas entrepreneurs are creating all of the new jobs and doing all of the new hiring.

These small businesses need a labor pool that has basic skill sets like reading, writing, and arithmetic to fill various job openings.

Promoting “traditional values” within the Black community is part of our historical heritage going all the way back to Africa.  Liberalism is anathema to the Black community; but liberals have been effective in disguising it to the detriment of the Black community.

I totally agree with what Koch said in the article, “[we need] to be much more effective in articulating their [Koch] message.”  The first thing they must change is their verbiage.

If the Koch brothers are serious about engaging with the Black community, they must have a media strategy to push back on the liberal lies that are being constantly pushed within the Black community.  Conservatives cede too much to liberals in this regard.

The Koch brothers also need to have a strategic media plan for them (Charles and his brother David) to engage directly with the Black media to “demystify” who they are and their agenda.  Again, the liberal media has portrayed them as racist boogeymen to the Black community and they must begin to push back on this narrative.

A lie repeated enough becomes the truth.

Conservatives tend to surround themselves with Blacks they are “comfortable” with versus Blacks who can deliver results.  This is the major reason you don’t have more Blacks in the movement and I am not optimistic that this will change anytime soon.

If the Koch brothers are truly serious about engagement with the Black community, they must redirect their spending to the priorities that are important to Blacks, not the ones that are important to them; and they must begin to think and look outside of the box.

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of Charles Koch.

Dutch MP Geert Wilders’ Warning on CAIR’s abuse of the First Amendment

Geert Wilders was on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on April 30, 2015 at a press conference with Rep. Steve King (R-IA), Louie Gohmert (R-TX) and Scott Perry (R-PA).  He  warned  Americans  about the dangers of  mass  Muslim immigration  and  suggested letting  Americans who volunteer   leave and   join  the Islamic State but be denied  return  to this country. He said:

I am warning America. Don’t think that what’s happening in Europe today will not happen in America tomorrow because it will. Islamic immigration has proven to be a Trojan horse, the jihadists are among us,” he added, warning of “enormous security problems” in the United States if Muslim immigrants are allowed to stay. Let them go, but never let them return.

The Congressmen praised Wilders exercise of free speech vis a vis his criticism of Islam, defense of Judeo-Christian values and Israel. Wilders paid court to this” beautiful land” with its protection of free speech rights and expressed “the wish that the he and other citizens of the EU” had the equivalent protection.  Wilders is once again the target of investigations by the Dutch police as the behest of Public Prosecutors in the Hague over his alleged hate speech remarks at a Freedom Party rally during the May, 2014 European Parliament elections in the Hague, over “ fewer Moroccans”.   Wilders has criticized Islam for being an ideology and the Qur’an for being the equivalent of Hitler’s Mein Kampf.  His most recent book, Marked for Death, presented that and more fundamental arguments referencing    Qur’anic doctrine, Hadith, Sunna and Shariah Islamic Law. Wilders defeated an earlier hate crime charge brought against him in the Amsterdam district court in 2011.

Watch the Wilders Capitol Hill press conference with Reps. King, Gohmert and Perry:

Prior to his Capitol Hill press conference, Wilders gave a speech on April 29, 2015 at the Washington, D.C., Conservative Opportunity Society.  Two Muslim U.S. Representatives, Keith Ellison (D-MN) and  Andre Carson sent a letter  on April 23, 2015 to Secretary of State Kerry and Department of Homeland Security Chief Jae Johnson seeking to bar Wilders entry to the US on the grounds that his speech violated provisions of the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998. They wrote:

In the past, the United States has denied entry to international leaders under the authority of the International Religious Freedom Act which allows the Department of State to deny entry to a foreign leader who is responsible for severe violations of religious freedom. This precedent is applicable to Mr. Wilders.

[…]

In the U.S., freedom of speech is a bedrock principle that distinguishes free societies from ones living under oppressive regimes. Freedom of speech, however, is not absolute. It is limited by the legal and moral understanding that speech that causes the incitement of violence or prejudicial action against protected groups is wrong. As Mr. Wilders continues his pursuit of political power, granting him entry will embolden him to engage in further incitement of violence and discrimination against Muslims.

Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia are sweeping through Europe. Mr. Wilders is among the hateful leaders responsible for perpetuating prejudice. Allowing him to enter the United States will cause harm to our nation that values religious freedom and respects pluralism.

Eugene Volokh, a UCLA law professor and expert on free speech and religious freedom law in a “Volokh Conspiracy” column in the Washington Postexamined the arguments of the two Representatives, referencing Supreme Court case rulings, notably, Brandenburg v. Ohio and Hess v. Indiana, regarding “incitement. Volokh concluded:

Whether “Christian culture is superior to other cultures,” which groups should be allowed to immigrate into a country, and even whether Islam should be viewed as an ideology rather than a religion (an unsound distinction, in my view) are matters that the First Amendment allows us all to debate. The Congressmen quite clearly don’t want to allow Rep. Wilders to debate such matters here in the U.S. But their “In the U.S.” paragraph suggests that they view even such debates by Americans as constitutionally unprotected.

CAIR, the self styled Muslim civil rights group affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood,  sent  Government  Affairs Manager, Robert McCaw, to question Wilders and the Congressional Representatives who participated in Capitol Hill press conference.  The CAIR press release noted the exchange:

CAIR Government Affairs Manager Robert McCaw pressed Rep. Gohmert as to whether he stood by “Wilders’ statement that Islam is an ideology of a retarded culture.” Congressman Gohmert avoided the question only stating that he “proudly stands by Wilders” and that he may not always agree with him but will defend his right to make such comments.

McCaw also pressed Wilders on whether or not the Republican Party should adopt his Dutch Freedom Party’s proposal of “banning the Quran and the building of new mosques.” Wilders sidestepped the question by stating that he is “not trying to unify the two parties” and comparing the Quran to Hitler’s Mein Kampf.

[…]

“By endorsing and promoting Geert Wilders’ anti-Muslim hate, these elected officials tarnish the Republican Party’s reputation and harm our nation’s international image,” said McCaw.

CAIR arranged for a counter press with the authors of the letter, Reps. Ellison and Carson, joined by Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-NY) protesting Wilders anti-Islam stands and promoting inter-faith unity.

Watch the CAIR YouTube video of McCaw’s questioning of Wilders and Rep. Gohmert:

Tomorrow, May 3, 2015 Wilders will next appear at an event in Texas.  According to a Breitbart News report Wilders Will speak at the First Annual Muhammad Art Exhibit and Contest. The event will be held May 3rd at the Curtis Caldwell Center, which is owned and operated by the Garland Independent School District, and hosted by the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI). The Curtis Caldwell Center was the site of an “Honor the Prophet” rally in January. About two thousand Texans came out to protest that event.

 Pam Geller and Robert Spencer of AFDI will also be speaking at the event.  For those interesting in watching this event. It will be live streamed at 5-7 (CST) and 6-8PM (EST). Read more, here.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of Geert Wilders at a press conference near Capitol building April 30, 2015 in Washington, DC (AFP Photo/Brendan Smialowski).

Major Gaps between P5+1 and Iran on Framework Agreement

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sen_ Chris Murphy

Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT)

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

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

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

Ehud Yaari

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Iranian Nuke Deal a House of Cards?

Tony Blinken Source AP

Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Source: AP

Newly designated Deputy Secretary of State, former Deputy National Security Adviser, Antony “Tony” Blinken testified yesterday before the House Foreign Affairs Committee chaired by California Republican Congressman, Edward Royce. Royce and Ranking Democratic Member, Elliot Engel of New York, were trying to determine the status of the Administration’s P5+1 negotiations on an agreement to rein in Iran’s nuclear program. Blinken’s boss, Secretary of State Kerry, with the assistance of Energy Secretary Dr. Ernest Moniz are huddling in Lausanne, Switzerland with Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif and nuclear program head, Ali Akbar Salehi, to reach a political agreement by a self-imposed deadline of March 31st.  Moniz and Salehi share an Alma MaterMIT, where they both earned doctorates, one in physics and the other in nuclear engineering back in the 1970’s. Moniz was an Assistant professor at MIT, while Salehi was in the nuclear engineering program.

 The latest press leak indicates that Iran might be given 40% of nuclear fuel enrichment capacity which translates to 6,000 centrifuges. That may be more than ample, Israeli PM Netanyahu, fresh from his Knesset elections victory on March 17th, contends will enable Iran to become a nuclear threshold state, although there are those who contend it may already have achieve that status.  There is debate whether any final Memorandum of Understanding will have a 10 or 25 year sunset term, and whether, Iran’s nuclear program is susceptible to so-called verifiable inspections, given evidence to the contrary compiled by the IAEA inspectors.

It was against this background that Tony Blinken provided testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee. He roused the skepticism of the house panel with comments that the deal would bar Iran from achieving a nuclear capability in perpetuity. An AFP report on yesterday’s hearing noted this exchange:

The Obama administration insisted before skeptical lawmakers Thursday that any deal with Iran would ensure for “perpetuity” that it could not develop nuclear weapons.

A comprehensive accord would also see “phased, proportionate” relief from tough sanctions that have severely constrained Iran’s economy, but such relief could be swiftly reversed should the Islamic republic violate any final deal, said Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Several members of Congress and other critics have warned that the ongoing negotiations between world powers and Tehran would lead to a deal that would sunset after 10 years.

Once the deal ends, critics fear the Islamic republic could once again freely crank up its nuclear program and develop a bomb.

“That is simply not true,” Blinken told a hearing of the House Foreign Affairs Committee.

“To the contrary, Iran would be prohibited from developing a nuclear weapon in perpetuity — and we would have a much greater ability to detect any effort by Iran to do so.”

He said that while some constraints would be lifted after a “significant period,” others would last “indefinitely, including a stringent and intrusive monitoring and inspections regime” by the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency.

And should Iran violate the agreement and begin a rush to a bomb, a process described as “breakout,” Blinken stressed that restrictions on centrifuges and uranium mills would prevent Iran from completing a nuclear bomb for at least a year.

“That would provide us more than enough time to detect and act on any Iranian transgression,” he said.

Blinken said Iran would be indefinitely barred under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty from developing or acquiring a nuclear weapon.

Democrats and Republicans alike scoffed at the suggestion that such NPT restrictions would hold back Iran; with committee Chairman Ed Royce warning that Iranians “have been violating those commitments for years.”

Lawmakers also pointed to the need to include restrictions on Iran’s ballistic missile program in any nuclear deal, as reinforcement against the country using such a delivery system for an atomic bomb.

“The critical question of the possible military dimension of Iran’s program… would have to be part of any agreement,” Blinken acknowledged.

Blinken’s colleague at State, Deputy Undersecretary Wendy Sherman, who has been actively engaged in the P5+1 negotiations, has some relevant experience in dismissing Blinken’s assertion that the deal under consideration would bar Iranian’ nuclear breakout. Ms. Sherman was part of the Clinton Administration team that put together the executive agreement in 1994 with North Korea that was also supposed to stop the DPRK’s nuclear program by substituting light water reactors. That agreement was subject to a Congressional hearing.  By 2006, North Korea successfully evaded IAEA inspections, produced a nuclear fuel stockpile and tested a device resulting in collapse of the agreement. The Bush Administration stopped fuel oil deliveries to the DPRK.

Last time I looked at Blinker’s bio, he had a Columbia Law School degree, not in physics, like Energy Secretary Moniz or Iran negotiator, Salehi, both MIT alumni.

Washington Post columnist, Al Kamen, drew attention to Blinker’s obvious qualification enabling to make his perpetuity comment about a deal to stop Iran’s nuclear program. Blinken was apparently a consultant to the HBO series, “House of Cards”.   Kamen revealed:

Sometimes it’s good not to fast-forward through the credits roll. You never know what you’ll find.

So the other evening, when the credits came up for episode nine of this season’s “House of Cards,” this popped up: “Consultant: TONY BLINKEN.”

Whoa! As in the deputy secretary of state and former White House deputy national security adviser? That’s some pretty heavy-duty consulting power. Is Blinken moonlighting for Kevin Spacey?

Well, not exactly.

Blinken, a modest sort, said in an e-mail that “‘consultant’ vastly overstated” his role, which amounted to a “few phone calls” perhaps nine months to a year ago. That would have been when he was working in the White House. The calls came from head series writer Beau Willimon and some other writers for the show who wanted to “test the veracity or not of some foreign policy story lines.”

“At this point, I don’t remember the details or the issues” involved, Blinken said. And, no, he wasn’t paid for the advice. Probably a good thing, because the episode — one of the “Putin segments” — for which he got the credit line involves, even for the “House of Cards,” a wildly implausible shootout in the Jordan River Valley. (We’re not going to say more.)

And, yes, Blinken and wife Evan Ryan, the assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs, are binge-watchers.

Watch this C-Span video clip of Deputy Secretary of State Blinken being questioned at the March 19, 2015 House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on Iran nuclear negotiations:

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The photo shopped featured image is courtesy of the House of Cards TV series.

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

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

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

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

But then the Obama policies in the region have failed. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The UN considered such Israeli actions, “provocative”.

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

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

What will Israel do with ISIS on its Doorstep?

ISIS Flags at Gaza Funeral

ISIS Flags at Funeral in Gaza.

Yesterday, the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) declared a Caliphate to be ruled under Sharia in the lands it has conquered in Syria and Iraq.   Jerusalem-based Dan Diker on yesterday’s Lisa Benson Show, on the Salem Radio Network was in the midst of a discussion with Mudar Zahran about the ISIS threat with “Jordan in its gunsight”, listen here.   He commented that the announcement should be viewed as a political statement to Al Qaeda and its leader Ayman al Zawihiri.

Zahran noted that  Al Qaeda in Iraq (AQI) had morphed into ISIS.  AQI  founder Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was a Jordanian from Zarqa who became self indoctrinated, joined Al Qaeda in Afghanistan in 1990’s and  ran his own Jihadi training center. He established brutal barbaric assaults in Iraq in 2005 engaging against US military and contractors,  and Shia Iraqis that set a precedent for ISIS.  al-Zarqawi was killed in a 2006 USAF -F16a  bombing attack at a targeted safe house in Iraq.

The ISIS declaration was also a statement to other Sunni terrorist groups like the Muslim Brotherhood in Palestine, Hamas.  The Algemeiner reported  ISIS flags were flying this weekend on pickup trucks in Gaza for a funeral an indication that it was operating there.   Conquering large swaths of terrain, looting upwards of a billion dollars worth of  money and gold, capturing US supplied Humvees and Blackhawk helicopters abandoned by a corrupt and incompetent Iraqi Army have morphed ISIS into an Islamic State with its own army.

ISIS is more than just a political threat elsewhere in the sectarian turmoil of the Middle East. That was recognized in comments by  New York Rep. Pete King  onABC’s This Week that President Obama should be “very  very aggressive” about ISIS.  He was most immediately concerned about protecting our Embassy in Baghdad with  500 US security troops.  There are also 300 US military advisors engaged in assessing what to do with a divided Shiite- dominated al Maliki government in Iraq. A government whose military is now  supported by drones of Iran’s Quds Force gathering intelligence on ISIS forces near the capital of Baghdad.

King was also concerned about the estimated 100 American jihadis reported to be fighting with ISIS. ISIS has enticed them with English language  weekly and annual reports and videos.    My co-host on yesterday program, Lisa Benson,  commented off –line about the plethora of such sophisticated ISIS social media that is published daily.  That brought back memories of the campaign  2008 endeavoring to get Google to shut down Al Qaeda jihadist training sites.

The Administration for its part looks like the proverbial deer frozen in the headlights of ISIS.  Last week, It floated  the belated idea of funding $500 million to train “moderate” rebel fighters in the Syrian civil war. A civil war  that looks increasingly like a stalemate between ISIS and  the Assad forces are  backed by Hezbollah and Iran’s Quds Force with support from Putin’s Russia.  That Administration proposal may be more than a day late and a dollar short.  We had reports in mid-June from Der Spiegel and other sources that the some CIA-trained rebel fighters in Jordan  opted to join ISIS given its stunning successes.

As Diker pointed out on Sunday’s Lisa  Benson  Show the makeup of the anti-Assad  rebels  according to a Times of Israel report may control 95 percent on the Syrian side of the Golan Height. He, said, “we can see Hezbollah flags flying”.  Then he noted that the balance might be Al Nusrah, the official Al Qaeda anti-Assad contingent that increasingly has seen their fighters opt to join the “successful” ISIS.

ISIS Flags in Ma’an, Jordan

I asked Zahran, who is pro-Israel and promotes the view that Jordan is Palestine, about the peculiar circumstances  behind  last Thursday’s Jordanian Security Court decision acquitting  Al Qaeda preacher, Abu Qatada.   Abu Qatada had been extradited from the UK  for preaching incitement and allegedly raising funds for terrorist causes. The Jordanian court had dismissed one charge based on a failed 1999 plot to attack an American School in Amman. The second charge of plotting terrorism against Israel targets has yet to be heard.  Last month on May 28, 2014, the Jordanian Security Court had sentenced 11 allegedly involved in an  2012  Al Qaeda plot to attack both British and US Embassies in Amman.  Zahran drew attention to the nearly six decade dalliance with the Islamic Action front, the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, by the Hashemite Kingdom under the late King Hussein and now his son, King Abdullah II.   Zahran noted that the IAF, Muslim Brotherhood which is largely Bedouin, is the strongest organized Islamist group in Jordan. He drew attention to the daily pitched battles in  the southern town of Ma’an  between  Jordanian security forces and  local tribal supporters  of the IAF flying ISIS flags. Ma’an is located  less than three kilometers from Israel’s frontier.  The headline in a Washington Post report on the turmoil in Ma’an read, “Jordan fears homegrown ISIS more than invasion from Iraq”.

The security of Jordan as a buffer state, as  Diker pointed out is foremost on the agenda of Israel ‘s national security. We note the comments in The Times of Israel  by  former  Israeli  security cabinet strategic advisor Gen. Yaakov Amidror,  who  said that Israel should bolster the defense of Jordan against the ISIS onslaught.  At the Institute of National Security Studies  (INSS) of Tel Aviv University, yesterday Israeli PM Netanyahu underlined these security issues.     He talked about support for an Independent Kurdistan and completing a security fence along Israel’s eastern frontier from the Golan to Eilat.  Netanyahu said:

The forces of fanatical Islam are already knocking on our door” and  Israel needs to be proactive to bolster its defense against enemy infiltration.

“The first thing that we need to do is to build a security fence on our eastern border, and to build it gradually all the way from Eilat to merge with the security fence that we’ve been building over the last two years in the Golan Heights,” he said. “That fence does not hermetically prevent infiltration; it doesn’t prevent shooting through the fence as we saw tragically just a week ago; it doesn’t prevent barrages of missiles over it, or the digging of tunnels underneath it. But it does narrow down dramatically that permeatio on Israel’s border.”

Israel will not cede the Jordan Valley approaches, much sought after by Secretary of Kerry and the US facilitator in bi-lateral discussions between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, former US Ambassador to Israel, Martin Indyk.  Diker pointed out Indyk’s announced return to the Washington-based Brookings Institution indicative of the US failure to achieve a final status agreement with the unified Palestinian government of Fatah with Hamas.  Diker cited the abduction of three Israel youths, including one American, by Hamas the prime suspects sought in the massive Operation Brother’s Keeper as evidence that no security for Israel could have emerged from the US facilitated negotiations. Unfortunately, the bodies of the three youths were recovered by the IDF, today amidst grief for their families and sorrow expressed by many Israelis and Americans.

Deceased three Israeli abductees likely slain by Hamas suspects. From left: INaftali Fraenkel, Gilad Shaar and Eyal Yifrach, in three undated family photos. Credit Image by Reuters

Netanyahu’s  INSS remarks reflect the deep concerns about the stability of Jordan rife with more than 1.4 million Syrian refuges, and a million Iraqis. There are an estimated 1.5 million  Arabs Refugees of Palestinian origin.  Jordan’s population of 7.9  million is based on CIA Factbook estimates.  Note the last census was taken in 2004.  Then there is the  accommodation of Muslim Brotherhood and Salafist support growing in the country’s Bedouin population . They feel aggrieved about  the lack economic participation and high unemployment amid  alleged  corruption charges against the ruling autocratic Hashemite King and family.

Umm al Fahm, Israel protests by Islamic Movement, June 27, 2014.

Netanyahu also recognized internal threats to Israel’s  security at yesterday’s cabinet meeting.  He announced that  he would move to outlaw the Northern Branch of the Islamist movement, whose leader, Sheikh  Read Salah,  has proposed to establish  a Caliphate on the Temple Mount.  In October 2013, we wrote in the Iconoclast  post about Israeli Arab adherents of Sheik Salah joining up with anti-Assad Al Qaeda rebel forces in Syria.   Last Friday, there were rallies organized by  Salah and his Islamist adherents in the Israeli Arab town of Umm al Fahm protesting the raids by the IDF in Operation Brother’ s Keeper denying Hamas abduction of the three slain  youths.  Rock throwing by protesters was broken up Israeli riot police with tear gas and sound bombs. Netanyahu noted:

[The northern Branch of the Islamist Movement] constantly preaches against the State of Israel and its people. [The Islamist Movement ] publicly identify with terrorist organizations such as Hamas. Therefore, I directed the relevant authorities to consider declaring the northern branch of the Islamic Movement as an illegal organization. This would give the security authorities significant tools in the struggle against the  movement.”

In May 2014, Netanyahu had been thwarted in such a move against the northern branch of the Islamist Movement by the Justice Minister Tzipi Livni of Hatnua, because these enemies of the Jewish State are citizens. They are represented in Israel’s Knesset by Arab parties, espousing pro Palestinian positions verging on sedition.

Israel knows what it has to do with ISIS on its doorstep and fellow travelers inside. The question is the resolve of Jerusalem to take the hard steps. Israel’s friends in the US Congress are urging the Administration to undertake actions to protect its only reliable ally and interests in the region.   The ISIS Caliphate’s declaration means that Israel will have to defend itself from jihadis both inside and on its doorstep.

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.

Is the Malaysian Air Flight MH370 tragedy like Egyptian Air Flight 990?

I watched the confused early morning US live broadcast of press conference   held by Malaysian military and civilian aviation authorities. They were endeavoring to answer questions of an international press perplexed by the conflicting information about the final moments and whereabouts of Malaysian Air Flight MH 370 with 227 passengers and 12 crew on board departed Saturday, March 9th from Kuala Lumpur bound for Beijing. The Boeing 777 aircraft has redundant electrical and communications systems on board and a near faultless safety record, as does the operator Malaysian Air. Only three such aircraft have had accidents in an otherwise impressive airworthiness history. At today’s press briefing a Malaysian military spokesperson said that defense radars had last placed Flight 370 200 miles northwest of Penang Island. The search area has been extended to both sides of the Malaysian Peninsula covering 47,000 square miles .An international flotilla of more than 43 ships and 39 aircraft are involved in searching for the debris of the downed aircraft.

Watch this  CBS News report on the disappearance of Malaysian Flight MH370:

The confusion that I witnessed must have further perplexed the relatives of more than 14 nationalities aboard, the majority were Chinese passengers. Both the families of Chinese passengers and Chinese government officials have badgered Malaysian  airline staff in Beijing  requesting information on the ‘disappearance’ of Flight 370. Doubtless that  also would have been the response of the families of the other international travelers including  Australians and  three Americans on board  the flight.

Regarding the matter of passengers with stolen passports, we  know that neighboring Thailand is a major center for trafficking in such stolen documents. Two Iranian nationals had obtained  these stolen passports. These Iranians were cleared by US counterterrorism  authorities  of having any nefarious terrorist connections.  They were bound ultimately for destinations in Europe  and were on not on any no fly or watch lists..   While Interpol maintains a data base of such purloined passports, it is not entirely fool proof.  Thus, local photographic and biometric screening of departing passengers’ documentation is the only way to effectively identify and screen them for possible untoward missions.

Perhaps contributing to the confusion in locating Flight 370, is whether the impact occurred on land or more likely in the relative shallow depths of the Gulf of Thailand. There is also the matter of opacities in the international civil aviation radar coverage, especially in relatively undeveloped areas. Airline safety experts, both former National Transportation Safety Board officials and International Civil Aviation Organization and independent experts said that the sudden disappearance of Flight 370 transponder communications might be due to a possible criminal act, either from terrorist actions or a rogue pilot.

We know from a  report of an Australian tourists  that the co-pilot on Flight 370  had left the cockpit door open so that curious passengers on board might come up to the flight deck to see how the flight was being handled. If the case, that is a violation of international flight safety rules requiring the cockpit to be locked down s following the 9/11 skyjackings and suicide attacks in New York, Northern Virginia and southwestern Pennsylvania.

One example of  a plausible criminal act is what occurred with the loss  of Egyptian Air 990 that went down 60 Miles off Nantucket in late August 1999 with 217 passengers aboard.  As Flight 990, a Boeing  767,  crashed in international waters  the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) was the responsible  for conducting the investigation.  The ECAA initially denied that the relief pilot aboard might have deliberately plunged Flight 990 into the Atlantic.  Cockpit recordings and recovery of the flight recorders, the so-called black boxes, verified the sudden deliberate violent changes in flight controls.

Note this Wikipedia report on Flight 990:

As the crash occurred in international waters, the responsibility for investigating the accident fell to the Egyptian Civil Aviation Authority (ECAA) per International Civil Aviation Organization Annex 13. As the ECAA lacked the resources of the much larger  US National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), the Egyptian government asked the NTSB to handle the investigation. Two weeks after the crash, the NTSB proposed handing the investigation over to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, as the evidence they had gathered suggested a criminal act had taken place and that the crash was intentional rather than accidental. This proposal was unacceptable to the Egyptian authorities, and as such the NTSB continued to lead the investigation. As the evidence of a deliberate crash mounted, the Egyptian government reversed their earlier decision, and the ECAA launched their own investigation. The two investigations came to very different conclusions: the NTSB found the crash was caused by deliberate action of the Relief First Officer Gameel Al-Batouti; the ECAA found the crash was caused by mechanical failure of the airplane’s elevator control system.

Could Malaysian Flight 370 have suffered the same fate as Egyptian Air 990? That is, a rogue pilot seizing the controls plunging it into a steep dive and impact  possibly at sea? If the case, then the aircraft debris including large sections of the fuselage constructed of honeycomb material and baggage would have floated free for evidentiary recovery. If the impact was on land, the aircraft could have crashed in tropical areas with impenetrable triple canopy jungle areas. Should  the cockpit voice recorder and flight recorder ‘black box’ be eventually recovered, then we might learn whether a terrorist  or criminal act occurred.

Recovery of the aircraft debris, voice and flights recorders may be problematic Nonetheless, an Egyptian Air Flight 990 scenario could be a plausible, yet disturbing scenario.  The last voice transmission from Flight 370 was: “All right, good night”.

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

UPDATE: Given this morning news about the shutdown of the transponders and RR Engines telemetry data, it appears that MH370 was diverted by an experienced person on board the flight, whether, the Flight officer, co-pilot or terrorist passenger on board.  The RR telemetry data indicates that the Boeing 777 flew on after transpornders were shut down manually for four to five hours.  Therefore something akin to the Egyptian Aior flight 990 might be increasingly plausible, but with a difference; i.e., diversion of the flight to a forced landing location outside of the extended search area.  those large objects in the relatively shallow South China Seas were judged to be too big for an aircraft broken up at sea on impact like Egyptian Air 990. The South China Sea is only 146 feet deep in that area. The Boeing 777 stands about 61 feet high.

Saudi-led Gulf Squabble Spells Trouble for Obama?

The Obama White House and the world media are pre-occupied with Russian President Putin’s grab of the Ukrainian autonomous province of Crimea. There are undertones of “Back to the Future”- meaning a possible return to Cold War era geopolitics with Russia.

Despite that overriding ruckus there was a less well publicized series of events in the Persian Gulf region among members of the Gulf Cooperating Council (GCC). Does this spell trouble ahead for President Obama’s Middle East policies?

At the GCC meeting on March 5th in Riyadh, Qatar was effectively isolated by “sisterly” Sunni Arab states. The Emir of Qatar, a member of the GCC, has been prominent in supporting financial aid and assistance to Muslim Brotherhood (MB) affiliates in Egypt under Morsi, Hamas in Gaza and the Syrian Opposition Council, one of whose leaders is a dual American Syrian citizenLouay Safi.

Virtually on the heels of the squabble at the GCC gathering, Saudi King Abdullah announced decrees on Friday, March 7th. They listed the MB as a terrorist organization along with several AQ affiliates in Syria and Iraq, as well as Shia terrorist groups in North Yemen and in the oil rich Eastern Province. The latter are backed by both Iran’s Qod Force and Hezbollah. This should present problems and potential conflicts of interest for President Obama’s senior National Security advisor Robert Malley and White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough. Both of these men espouse outreach to the MB, Iran and proxies, Hezbollah and Hamas.

This train wreck about to happen has been in development since the July 3, 2013 ouster by Egyptian Gen. al-Sisi of President Morsi in Egypt. Morsi was a former leader of the Muslim Brotherhood endeavoring to create a Sharia compliant constitution with him as Emir. Egypt’s interim government in December 2013 outlawed the MB. This week an Egyptian court went after Hamas, the Gaza affiliate of the MB banning activities in Egypt. Following, the ouster of Morsi, Saudi Arabia and several of members of the GCC provided upwards of $12 billion in financial assistance to the interim Egyptian interim government. The stage now appears set for Gen. Abdel Fateh al-Sisi to run as the country’s President, a harkening back to the days of Gamal Abdel Nasser and the possible return of military autocracy in Egypt.

The flashpoint for the GCC isolation of Qatar was the notorious aged Egyptian MB preacher Yousuf al Qaradawi who had been in exile in Qatar before temporarily returning to Egypt in February 2011. He issued Fatwas for the reconquest of Al Quds (Jerusalem) and preached anti-Semitic hatred to crowds in Tahrir Square. In a January 2009 broadcast from Qatar, al Qaradawisaid about Jews: “kill them, down to the very last one.” While in Doha, Qatar he steadfastly refused to participate in annual International Interfaith Conferences.

A news report by Radaw noted the isolation of Qatar by “sisterly” Sunni Arab states because of the mischief of al Qaradawi and sanctuary provided by the Emir:

The Arab states of the lower Gulf are engaged in the latest and potentially most serious of their periodic family squabbles, which this week provoked three of them to withdraw their ambassadors from tiny Qatar.

The Qatar government expressed regret and surprise at Wednesday’s decision by the “sisterly countries” of Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, but said it did not plan to retaliate by pulling out its own envoys.

All four states, together with Kuwait and Oman, are members of the GCC.

The official reason for the diplomatic spat is Qatar’s alleged failure to live up to a recent commitment not to interfere in the internal affairs of fellow GCC states.

The three conservative states are particularly distressed that Qatar continued to provide a platform for Yousuf Al Qaradawi, a Qatar-based Egyptian cleric, to use his fiery sermons to attack Saudi Arabia and the UAE despite Riyadh’s threat to freeze relations unless he was silenced.

The scope of King Abdullah’s terrorist designations was reported by Al-Jazeera:

Saudi Arabia has listed the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization along with two al-Qaeda-linked groups fighting in Syria.

The decree against the Brotherhood, whose Egyptian branch supported the deposed Egyptian president, Mohamed Morsi, was reported on Saudi state television on Friday.

Egypt in December listed the Brotherhood as a terrorist organization, prompting the arrest of members and associates and forcing the Islamist group further underground.

Saudi Arabia also listed Jabhat al-Nusra, which is al-Qaeda’s official Syrian affiliate, and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Sham) (ISIS), which has been disowned al-Qaeda, as “terrorist organizations”.

It also listed Shia Huthi rebels fighting in northern Yemen and the little-known internal Shia group, Hezbollah in the Hijaz.

Early in February, 2014, Ayman al Zawahiri at Al Qaeda Central announced that the global Islamic terrorist group had no association with ISIS, instead providing support for the Al Nusrah front fighting against the Assad regime in Syria.  ISIS however has rampaged across the Anbar province in neighboring Iraq overtaking the Sunni town of Fallujah.

About the same time as the AQ ISIS declaration, King Abdullah had announced new counterterrorism policies that were directed against so-called reform movements in the Saudi Kingdom. The Washington Post  reported the new law “states that any act that ‘undermines’  the state or society, including calls for regime change in Saudi Arabia, can be tried as an act of terrorism.” This Saudi law appears  to be in violation of human rights taken for granted in the West, but clearly viewed as seditious in the autocratic and Sharia compliant Wahhabist Kingdom.

These latest Saudi initiatives could have significant implications for the Obama Administration and Secretary Kerry. Kerry is endeavoring to fashion an Israel- Palestinian final status agreement and resolution of the 37 month civil war in Syria.  We noted earlier the presence of Louay Safi as spokesperson for the Syrian Opposition Council at the recent Geneva II plenum talks. Safi was Research Director at the northern Virginia- based MB supported International Islamic Institute of Thought. Moreover, he was also Leadership Development Director at the MB front, the Islamic Society of North America, an unindicted co-conspirator in the 2008  Federal Dallas  trial and convictions of leaders of the Holy Land Foundation. The Muslim charity group had been accused of funneling upwards of $35 million to MB affiliate Hamas. Safi was also invited by the US Army Chief of Staff to lecture troops on Islam at Fort Hood in early December 2009 following the massacre perpetrated by Maj. Nidal Hassan a month earlier. Clearly, Safi’s rise to prominence in the Syrian Opposition Council is indicative of the MB controlling presence.

White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough and senior National Security Aides were present at the May 2012 meetings of the Brookings Doha Center in Qatar. They were engaged in outreach to MB officials from Egypt, Tunisia and other Arab states and facilitated assistance to ousted President Morsi. Obama Appointments of MB members, especially Department of Homeland Security Assistant Secretary for Policy, Arif Alikhan and Senior Advisory board member Mohamed Elibiary have been problematic. National Security Advisor Malley was a former Middle East foreign policy aide to President Clinton during the failed 2000 Camp David Israel-Palestinian negotiations between former Israeli PM Ehud Barak and the late Yassir Arafat. Malley had accused Israel of nixing the agreement, when it was evident that Arafat had purposely sabotaged it. Malley went on to become head of the Middle East and North African program of the International Crisis group and later advised then Senator Obama and was part of the President’s transition team. He holds views that may further complicate Administration Middle East policies.  Malley propounded speaking with terrorist proxies Hamas and Hezbollah as well as the MB. Malley, was recently appointed to the National Security Council. He has the portfolio for Israel -Palestinian peace talks and the Iran nuclear P5+1 diplomatic initiative.

Now that Egypt and Saudi Arabia have designated the MB as a terrorist group, would the Obama Administration dare follow their lead? How Messrs. McDonough, Malley and Secretary of State Kerry will contend with a plethora of problems arising from efforts by the Egyptian government and now the Saudi led GCC targeting the MB is a ‘puzzlement’.

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

Iranian Rockets Bound for Gaza Terrorists Seized

Credit the Israeli Naval Commandos of Sayeret 13 and missile boats with another coup seizing the Panamanian flagged vessel, the KLOS-C packed with clearly marked Iranian M302 Rockets bound ultimately for Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza.  You may recall the Sayeret 13 boarded the Turkish ferry the Mavi Mamara in the May 2010 Free Gaza Flotilla.  This time Iran has used Syria for transshipment of a consignment of M302 rockets via Iraq in the Persian Gulf.  The raid on the KLOS-C occurred in the Red Sea  off Port Sudan just before off loading for shipment  to Gaza via  Salafist Jihadist helpers in the Egyptian Sinai peninsula .  The M302 rockets have a range of  200 KM threatening all of the populous central Israel.

Watch this IDF video of the KLOS-C seizure of Iranian M302 rockets:

[youtube]http://youtu.be/ob6X07EzuX8[/youtube]

The Jerusalem  and Washington  Post accounts note this most recent episode in a more than 14 year history of IDF seizures, a credit to diligent naval intelligence as well as Israel’s special operations prowess.  Here are some excerpts from the Washington Post report :

The ship, the KLOS C, was carrying Syrian-made M-302 rockets and was intercepted more than 1,000 miles (1,600 kilometers) south of Israel off the coasts of Sudan and Eritrea, military spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner told reporters.

[…]

Previously, Gaza militants have only been able to reach about 50 miles (80 kilometers) into Israel with their homegrown M-75 missiles.  Hezbollah used M-302s in a 2006 war against Israel, the military said.

The operation, codenamed “Full Disclosure,” followed months of intelligence gathering. Lerner said the shipment originated in Syria. From there the weapons were flown to Iran and departed from the Bandar Abbas port. Lerner said the Iranians tried to “obscure their tracks” by shipping first via Iraq and then out to sea. The shipment was destined for Sudan, from where it was to be moved overland through Egypt to Gaza.

Lerner said the 17 crew members of the ship, flying under a Panama flag, were not suspects and were probably unaware of the content of their cargo. The vessel was being brought to the port of Eilat, Israel’s most southerly point, where the crew would be released and the cache unloaded. It was expected to arrive later this week.

The Washington Post chronicled the more than decade history of Israeli Naval seizures and air strikes against  Iranian weapons shipments to Gaza:

Three years ago, Israel seized the cargo ship Victoria loaded with weapons allegedly sent by Iran to Gaza , including land-to-sea missiles.

In November 2009, Israel took over the Iranian Francop vessel off the coast of Cyprus and captured hundreds of tons of rockets, missiles, mortars, grenades and anti-tank weapons on board that it said were headed to Hezbollah guerrillas in Lebanon.

Israel is also suspected of carrying out airstrikes in Sudan on arms shipments believed to be bound for Gaza. Israel has never confirmed carrying out the strikes.

In January 2002, Israeli forces stormed the Karine A freighter on the Red Sea, and confiscated what the military said was 50 tons of missiles, mortars, rifles and ammunition headed for the Gaza Strip.

In May 2001, Israel captured the vessel Santorini off its coastline, packed with explosives Israel said were being sent from Hezbollah to Palestinian militant groups.

The Jerusalem Post report drew attention to Iran’s use of Syria for transshipment of rockets and others strategic weapons to terrorist proxies in the Middle East:

The IDF Spokesman’s Unit said that the operation was made possible by inter-agency intelligence cooperation and the IDF’s enhanced capabilities. “This prevented the arrival of a shipment of deadly and advanced weapons, which was aimed at harming Israeli civilians, and intended to reach the terrorist organizations of the Gaza Strip who are waging confrontation against Israel.”

The spokesman added that special commando navy teams acted in accordance with international law during the raid and boarded the ship for armed searches before uncovering the rockets.

Iran flew the rockets to an Iranian air field, trucked them to a sea port, and shipped them to Iraq, where they were hidden in cement sacks.

The ship then set sail from Iraq to Port Sudan, near the Sudanese-Eritrean border, on a journey expected to last some ten days.

Had the shipment of rockets not been intercepted the rockets would likely have been unloaded in Egypt and taken by land over Sinai to smuggling tunnels into Gaza.

One day before reaching its destination, the Israel Navy pounced, raiding the vessel and bringing it under its full control. There were no injuries in the incident.

“We have certain proof that Iran was behind this,” a senior military source said.

“The final destination was the Gaza Strip, where Iran hoped to unload the rockets and transfer them to terrorist organizations,” he added.

Hamas, Islamic Jihad, and smaller groups are constantly working to build up their rocket arsenal, and are believed to have several thousand short range rockets that threaten southern cities and dozens of medium-range rockets that can reach greater Tel Aviv or Jerusalem.

By the end of 2013, Hamas was estimated by Israeli intelligence to possess 5000 short-range rockets and dozens of medium-range rockets, placing 70 percent of Israeli civilians in its range.

Gaza today has some 25,000 armed fighters. Of those, 16,000 belong to Hamas divisions. The Islamic Jihad has 5,000 fighters, split up into five divisions, and is armed with more than 2,000 rockets. Smaller terror groups have over 4,000 terrorists among their ranks, and are armed with dozens of rockets, as well as a large quantity of light arms.

In addition to replenishing its rocket arsenal, Hamas is trying to create capabilities to launch terror attacks, and possesses anti-aircraft missiles as well.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared on The New English Review. The featured composite photographic image is courtesy of CrownHeights.info.