The American Kafir

2011/04/05

The NY Times Never Lets The Facts Get In the Way of a Good Blood Libel

Filed under: Gaza, Hamas, Israel, Progressives — Tags: — - @ 10:04 am

Imagine that the NY Times not wanting to print the TRUTH…W

Written By Jeff Dunetz

In a spectacular reversal, this past Friday Judge Richard Goldstone published an op-ed  in the Washington Post which reverses the key charge against Israel in the report about the Gaza War which bears his name. He no longer believes the blood libel put forth in his document, that Israel deliberately targeted Gaza civilians in the war, and  he now believes Hamas was the war criminal.

“We know a lot more today about what happened in the Gaza war of 2008-09 than we did when I chaired the fact-finding mission appointed by the U.N. Human Rights Council that produced what has come to be known as the Goldstone Report. If I had known then what I know now, the Goldstone Report would have been a different document.

When the story broke in the Washington Post, it seemed strange that Judge Goldstone would choose the D.C. paper to print his retraction.  Goldstone has written op-eds in the NY Times defending his report. Others, including former President Jimmy Carter, have also filled the Times opinion pages with defenses of the Goldstone Report, so it would seem logical for the Judge to publish his retraction in the same vehicle he used for its defense.

The answer to this mystery is simple, according to Israeli Newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth,  the New York Times was offered Goldstone’s piece first, but refused to print it.

Yedioth Ahronoth’s English Website YNet reported:

Not only did Judge Richard Goldstone’s words of regret fail to match the global resonance of his original report, it now comes to light that one of the most important newspapers in the world refused to publish his retraction.

Yedioth Ahronoth reported Monday that a source close to Goldstone stated that in the past few days the judge had approached the editor of the New York Times opinion pages requesting to post the article he wrote in the paper – and was told his article was rejected.

Has the New York Times sunk so low that it refuses to allow someone to correct a report that resulted in violent incitement against Israel?  Ynet’s source in the Goldstone camp believes it so:

The editor gave no explanation as to why the article was rejected, but the source believes this was due to the newspaper’s political agenda.

The letter was ultimately published in the more conservative Washington Post over the weekend.

The New York Times said in response that they do not comment on the editorial or reporting process. In recent years the New York Times adopted a highly critical line of reporting towards Israel. Lately, its senior commentator Thomas Friedman has been publishing extremely aggressive articles against Israel and its current government.

The NY Times political agenda was also evident in its coverage of the Goldstone op-ed. The “Gray Lady” does its best to deny that Israel has a right to defend itself against the false charges that it targeted civilians and tries to perpetuate the blood libel charges in the repudiated Goldstone Report. Its article called  Israel Grapples With Retraction on U.N. Report, the Times begins with:

Israel grappled on Sunday with whether a retraction by a United Nations investigator regarding its actions in the Gaza war two years ago could be used to rehabilitate its tarnished international image or as pre-emptive defense in future military actions against armed groups.

Why not begin by saying that Goldstone recanted on his central charge against Israel. Why would it talk about a pre-emptive defense?  The fact is the charge of Israel targeting civilians was false.  If the New York Times was unfairly charged with a serious crime and then cleared, it would try to spread the news loudly and broadly, why is it news that Israel is trying to get the word out?  Maybe because the Times doesn’t believe the retraction. It believed and printed all of the other articles written by Judge Goldstone, but then again those articles made Israel look bad.

Another NY Times article,  Head of U.N. Panel Regrets Saying Israel Intentionally Killed Gazans described the effect of the Goldstone Report as:

Mr. Goldstone’s article fell like a bomb in Israel, where many people considered the 2009 publication of the Goldstone report as one of the most harmful events in recent years. It was viewed as offering spurious justification for damaging accusations, which Israelis considered to be part of a campaign to delegitimize the state and label it as a war criminal.

As if the Times was saying being accused of being a civilian-targeting pariah nation in a United Nations report wasn’t really so bad, but Israelis overreacted.

Read The Rest At NRB

2011/04/04

The Palestinian UN Gamble – Irresponsible and Ill-Advised

Source Link: JCPA

Written By Alan Baker

  • The Palestinian leadership has announced its intention to abandon the negotiation process and to unilaterally seek a UN resolution that will impose a solution upon Israel. Facing a possible veto in the Security Council, the Palestinians are aiming to impose a UN resolution through the General Assembly “Uniting for Peace” procedure, which they hope will be supported by the UN member states.
  • While such a resolution would not have the authority to alter the legal status of the territories, the negative consequences of such a course of action would nevertheless serve to void the very basis of the peace process. It would undermine the legal existence of the Palestinian Authority and violate commitments by Yasser Arafat to settle all issues by negotiation,
  • Such unilateral action outside the negotiation process would constitute a fundamental breach of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement, thereby releasing Israel from its reciprocal commitments.
  • Such unilateral action would undermine the international community’s reliance on Security Council Resolutions 242 and 338 which form the foundation of all the agreements between the parties. It would also place into question the integrity and credibility of any Security Council resolutions or agreements resolving conflicts between states.
  • It would render as meaningless the signatures of the major powers as witnesses to previous negotiated agreements. It would also be incompatible with provisions of resolutions and agreements requiring negotiated solutions to the Jerusalem and refugee issues.

Palestinian Leaders Say the Peace Process Is Over

The international community has recently witnessed a series of widely publicized and authoritative declarations voiced by Palestinian leaders, according to which “the current peace process as it has been conducted so far is over” (Palestinian Authority Foreign Minister Riad Malki, March 22, 2011), and “the Palestinian leadership institutions (PLO and Fatah) have decided to submit a request to the UN for recognition of a Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with its capital in East Jerusalem” (Sa’eb Erekat – AFP, March 20, 2011).

These declarations join an earlier plan by Palestinian Authority Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, announced in August 2009, to unilaterally declare a Palestinian state upon completion of the preparations for Palestinian governing institutions by September 2011.

A “Uniting for Peace” Resolution?

In the face of a probable U.S. veto of any further attempts by the Palestinian observer delegation to the UN to attain a Security Council resolution recognizing a Palestinian state, the Palestinians are aiming to bring about the adoption of a “Uniting for Peace” resolution in the September 2011 session of the UN General Assembly. This resolution would be based on a procedure established in 1950 at the initiative of then-U.S. Secretary of State Dean Acheson in the context of the Korean crisis as a means of overcoming a lack of unanimity among the permanent members of the Security Council which was preventing the Council from fulfilling its duty to maintain international peace in the event of a perceived “threat to the peace, breach of the peace or act of aggression.”1

In such a case, the General Assembly “shall consider the matter immediately” in an emergency special session with a view to adopting a General Assembly resolution that could recommend collective measures and other possible action to deal with a perceived threat to international peace and security.

Emergency special sessions of the General Assembly have been convened under this procedure in over ten instances, including the Korean crisis (1950-1953), the Suez crisis (1956), Hungary (1956), Congo (1960), Afghanistan (1980), and Namibia (1981). The procedure has frequently been used regarding Middle East issues, as in 1967, 1980-82, and in the 10th emergency Special Session which, at the behest of the Palestinians and Arab states, has in fact been continuously active since 1997 to this very day.

Clearly, the factual and legal situations regarding each case are unique and thus cannot be seen as indicative of the outcome or content of any possible future “Uniting for Peace” resolution. In this light, the legal and political background to any Palestinian attempt to unilaterally declare a state and to have it recognized by the UN is quite different from any previous use of the “Uniting for Peace” procedure.

A General Assembly resolution adopted through the “Uniting for Peace” procedure would not provide the General Assembly with any powers beyond the recommendatory powers that it exercises in any other routine resolution. It would not be a mandatory resolution, but could only recommend collective or individual actions by states. It would not have the power to change the status of the territories, nor, in and of itself, to alter Israel’s status vis-à-vis the territories.

Voiding the Oslo Agreements

The projected action by the Palestinians of declaring void the agreed-upon negotiation process, and proceeding to a unilateral process with the approval of the UN, could have a number of very negative consequences for the Palestinians and for the peace process, as well as for the international community.

With respect to the Palestinians:

  • The Palestinian action would be a clear violation of the assurance given by Yasser Arafat in the first formal contact between Israel and the Palestinians, in his exchange of letters with Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin in 1993, according to which “all outstanding issues relating to permanent status will be resolved through negotiations.”2 By leaving the negotiating table, taking unilateral action, and seeking to have the UN impose an outcome on Israel, the Palestinians are in fact undermining the very basis of the “peace process” and of Arafat’s commitment.
  • The Palestinian action would be a clear violation of Article XXXI (7) of the 1995 Israeli-Palestinian Interim Agreement by which the parties undertook not to “initiate or take any step that will change the status of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip pending the outcome of the permanent status negotiations.”3 Since there is not yet any outcome to the permanent status negotiations, the Palestinian unilateral action runs directly against this commitment and renders it void, and as such opens up the option for Israel to undertake its own unilateral actions regarding the status of the territories, should Israel consider this to be necessary.
  • In generating a fundamental breach of the Interim Agreement, the Palestinians would be responsible for this agreement’s demise. Since the agreement serves as the legal basis and source of authority of the Palestinian Authority itself, its institutions, its parliament, courts, the office of its president, the president himself, and all powers and responsibilities, the PA leadership would, in fact, be placing in question the very legitimacy of their own existence, with all that that would imply.

Voiding the Credibility of the International Community

With respect to the peace process and the international community:

  • The Palestinian action of seeking to impose a solution through the UN would be incompatible with the terms of Security Council Resolutions 242 (1967) and 338 (1973). Resolution 2424 specifically calls upon the parties to agree upon “secure and recognized boundaries,” and thus, by implication, not to impose boundaries outside such an agreed process. Further to this, Resolution 3385 calls for “negotiations…between the parties concerned…aimed at establishing a just and durable peace in the Middle East.”
  • By seeking to bypass these resolutions through action in the UN with the support of the international community, the Palestinians are basically obliging the member states of the UN to remove the foundations from the entire peace process which are based entirely on those two resolutions, as stated in all the agreements and memoranda signed between the parties and witnessed by members of the international community. It is questionable if the members of the international community could agree to be party to an action undermining such central and important Security Council resolutions that they themselves initiated and adopted.
  • Bypassing and voiding Resolutions 242 and 338 would also have consequences on the yet-to-be-conducted peace negotiations between Israel and its neighbors Syria and Lebanon, by removing the central factors around which such peace negotiations are intended to take place.
  • The precedent that this will create could have serious consequences for the credibility of other Security Council resolutions that determine outcomes of other disputes in the world, and render such resolutions completely voidable at the whim of any group of organizations or states that can recruit a majority in the General Assembly.
  • Since the leaders of the U.S., EU, Russia, Norway, Egypt and Jordan are signatories as witnesses to the 1995 Interim Agreement, it may be asked how such states could support a Palestinian action in the UN that is clearly intended to undermine and frustrate that agreement. What value would there be to states and organizations signing as witnesses to important international documents if no credibility, reliability, or integrity are attached to such witnessing?

Impact on Jerusalem

The international community has consistently refused to recognize Israel’s right to establish its capital city in Jerusalem pending a negotiated agreement on the status of the city. Hence, diplomatic missions are not located in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital. In light of this, one might ask how member states of the UN will be able to support a Palestinian resolution affirming a Palestinian right to establish its capital in Jerusalem.

This would be a clearly one-sided act by the international community in violation of all declarations and commitments directed toward a negotiated settlement regarding Jerusalem. Furthermore, it would undermine the commitment between Jordan and Israel in Article 9 of the Jordan-Israel Peace Treaty, according to which: “In accordance with the Washington Declaration, Israel respects the present special role of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan in Muslim Holy shrines in Jerusalem. When negotiations on the permanent status will take place, Israel will give high priority to the Jordanian historic role in these shrines.”6

Impact on the Refugee Issue

Similarly, if, as the Palestinians have been intimating, they will seek to include a provision in a “Uniting for Peace” resolution affirming and imposing the right of return of the Palestinian refugees, this would, in fact, conflict with the relevant provision of Resolution 242 calling for “achieving a just settlement of the refugee problem.”7 Assuming that the “refugee problem” refers also to the issue of Jewish refugees resulting from the Middle East crisis, then the unilateral determination regarding Palestinian refugees only would be discriminatory and violate Resolution 242.

It would also violate the relevant undertakings in the Oslo Accords, specifically the 1993 Declaration of Principles on Interim Self-Government Arrangements (Article V(3)) which determines that the final status issues to be negotiated (and not imposed by the UN) “shall cover remaining issues, including: Jerusalem, refugees, settlements, security arrangements, borders, relations and cooperation with other neighbors, and other issues of common interest.”

Imposing a UN determination regarding the refugee issue would be incompatible with and undermine the agreement between Jordan and Israel in Article 8 of their 1994 bilateral Treaty of Peace, according to which the refugee issue will be dealt with “in negotiations, in a framework to be agreed, bilateral or otherwise, in conjunction with and at the same time as the permanent status negotiations.”8

The potential confusion, disorder, and substantive damage of a Palestinian-motivated UN resolution – to the Palestinians themselves, to the peace-negotiation process, and to the credibility and reliability of the United Nations and international community in general – is likely to be immeasurable. While the beginnings of such a process might be clear, there can be no foreseeing the final outcome and the concomitant consequences.

The question remains whether the members of the UN who are being drawn by the Palestinians into this irresponsible and ill-advised exercise are fully aware of the damage it may cause.

*     *     *

Notes

1. http://www.un.org/en/ga/sessions/emergency.shtml

2. http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Guide+to+the+Peace+Process/Israel-PLO+Recognition+-+Exchange+of+Letters+betwe.htm

3. http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Guide+to+the+Peace+Process/THE+ISRAELI-PALESTINIAN+INTERIM+AGREEMENT.htm

4. http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Guide+to+the+Peace+Process/UN+Security+Council+Resolution+242.htm

5.  http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Guide+to+the+Peace+Process/UN+Security+Council+Resolution+338.htm

6. http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Guide+to+the+Peace+Process/Israel-Jordan+Peace+Treaty.htm

7. http://www.mfa.gov.il/MFA/Peace+Process/Guide+to+the+Peace+Process/UN+Security+Council+Resolution+242.htm

8. See note 6 above.

*     *     *

Amb. Alan Baker, Director of the Institute for Contemporary Affairs at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, is former Legal Adviser to Israel’s Foreign Ministry and former Ambassador of Israel to Canada. He is a partner in the law firm of Moshe, Bloomfield, Kobo, Baker & Co. He participated in the negotiation and drafting of the various agreements comprising the Oslo Accords.

A Week in the War: Afghanistan, March 30-April 4, 2011

Source: Stratfor
April 4, 2011 | 1740 GMT

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A Koran Burning and Social Unrest

Afghanistan has seen substantial protests following the March 20 burning of a copy of the Koran by controversial Florida pastor Terry Jones. Unrest began April 1 in the normally peaceful city of Mazar-i-Sharif, the capital of Balkh province, where demonstrators overran a U.N. compound, killing three U.N. staffers and four Nepalese guards. (Initial reports suggested that as many as 20 staffers had been killed and that two foreigners had been beheaded.) Some 80 people were reportedly wounded the next day in Kandahar, where protesters attacked businesses.

Unrest continued in Kandahar through the weekend, as well as in Jalalabad in Nangarhar province and in Parwan province. In Kandahar and Jalalabad, the demonstrators took to main highways and attempted to block traffic. At least 10 people were killed in the violence in Kandahar over the weekend.

That it took almost two weeks between the burning of the Koran and the onset of unrest suggests a deliberate campaign to rile people up. This is similar to the way the initial release of controversial Danish cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed went largely unnoticed until later protests gained traction across the region. While Gen. David Petraeus, commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) and U.S. Forces-Afghanistan, apologized for and condemned the Koran burning (as did President Barack Obama), the incident came just as American servicemen went on trial for killing Afghan civilians and following the release of photos of American soldiers posing with the body of a dead Afghan.

What all this means is that after nearly a decade of occupying Afghanistan, the American-led coalition is already in a very precarious position, particularly as it tries to win over hearts and minds using a counterinsurgency strategy. Frustration with night raids and civilian casualties has been mounting for years, and the ISAF has always faced an uphill battle in the war of perception.

It is hard to imagine that the actions of a single individual on the other side of the world could affect a counterinsurgency campaign, but inflammatory acts — even at a distance — can ignite longstanding frustrations. In Afghanistan, the Florida incident galvanized a wide swath of a largely rural, conservative and decidedly non-secular society against the liberal, secular and Western countries that constitute the ISAF. And it is significant that the unrest began in a place like Mazar-i-Sharif, where the Taliban’s presence and influence is much more limited and where the ISAF has had much more success than in other parts of the country. The protests cannot simply be written off as Taliban-provoked; many anti-Taliban elements in Afghanistan are expressing outrage over the Koran burning, and condemnation of the act by Petraeus and Obama has done little to calm the unrest.

It is far from clear how sustained this week’s unrest will be. But one thing is certain: It is symptomatic of frustrations that run deep throughout Afghan society. Whether or not this particular round of protests continues, it has significant implications for the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan and its aggressive timetable.

Taliban Attack in Waygal

The Taliban’s military efforts continue as well, with reports March 29 that the district center of Waygal in Nuristan province had been overrun by Taliban forces, causing police and government officials to flee to the provincial capital. Waygal was also reportedly the destination of the police recruits kidnapped last week in the neighboring Chapa Dara district. Both lie close to the long-contested Pech Valley, from which American forces have been withdrawn.

This sort of development is nothing new for the Taliban, and it takes place in an area where the United States has deliberately decided to remove its forces from the equation. Neither Nuristan nor Kunar province contains any key terrain or other areas of interest in the U.S. strategy, and the success or failure of the U.S.-led effort will not hang on what happens in this isolated corner of eastern Afghanistan. But it is a reminder of the tenuous position of Afghan security forces and local government as the ISAF inches toward July, when it will begin handing over full responsibility for security in certain areas of the country to Kabul.

ANA Raid in Pul-e-Alam

Elsewhere, in the Pul-e-Alam district of Logar, which lies between two areas of interest for the ISAF, the Afghan National Army’s (ANA) 4th Brigade of the 203rd Corps reportedly conducted an independent, quick-reaction raid and succeeded in killing nine insurgents. While Afghan security forces continue to suffer challenges in terms of intelligence, planning and logistics, it is independent Afghan army operations like the one in Pul-e-Alam that will increasingly indicate the capabilities of Afghan security forces as they begin to take on more and more responsibility for security with increasingly limited support from the ISAF.

ISR Capabilities

Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell announced this past week that $1 billion in aerostat (lighter than air) and fixed platforms for electro-optical sensors and turrets are being surged into Afghanistan. In high demand, these platforms are geared toward providing organic intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities at lower echelons of the ISAF. As the United States and its allies prepare to do more with fewer troops, having the intelligence to employ them more efficiently will be critical.

Al Qaeda’s Latest Issue Of ‘Inspire’ Magazine

Source: Stratfor

Click on image below to watch video:

Vice President of Tactical Intelligence Scott Stewart analyzes the latest edition of al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula’s English-language jihadist magazine.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Last week, al Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula released the fifth edition of “Inspire,” their English-language magazine. We’re going to take a look at “Inspire” now to see what it says about the organization.

Like many of the other editions of “Inspire,” this one has a wide range of articles. Some of the content is original, but much of it is borrowed from elsewhere. For example, there are two articles that reproduce speeches that were given by al Qaeda No. 2 man Ayman al-Zawahiri who’s an Egyptian doctor. One of the recurring themes we’ve seen in this magazine has been the theme of jihadists being radicalized in the West by this magazine but then conducting attacks in the West. This theme like in past editions has been echoed over and over and in fact we see at least three repetitions of it in this magazine.

The magazine also seeks to encourage these jihadists to conduct lone wolf attacks. Lone wolf assailants are really the most difficult type for government intelligence and security agencies to gather intelligence about. Really to find a lone wolf assailant, you need to monitor his activities closely and understand what’s going on inside his head if he doesn’t communicate to other people. Because of this, the lone wolf really presents a challenge to Western security and intelligence agencies.

Now, like the other editions of “Inspire” magazine, this magazine also is very slick production-wise. It’s meant to be appealing especially to younger aspiring jihadis in the English-speaking world. Places like the U.S., the U.K., Canada, even countries like Pakistan and India. One of the hooks that Samir Khan uses in this magazine to kind of draw in his readers is the use of lampoons with these fake advertisements that he puts in the magazine. In this current edition we see ads put in ridiculing Moammar Gadhafi, the Libyan leader, also the Yemeni president, Saleh.

“Inspire” magazine has a regular feature called “Open Source Jihad.” And this is the feature that is intended to train these lone wolves and small cells in the West to conduct attacks and to provide them with the tools necessary to do attacks. However, in this edition of the magazine, the only article that’s in the “Open Source Jihad” section is an article on field-stripping the AK-47. And obviously that’s not a particularly useful skill for someone in the West looking to conduct a terrorist attack.

To help place “Inspire” in context, it’s important to remember that Samir Khan was raised in the United States and he was living in his parents’ house in North Carolina, publishing jihadist literature from the U.S. for several years. After receiving pressure from the FBI he moved over to Yemen and began publishing “Inspire.” But it’s important remember that he is really more of a jihadist cheerleader and not a real seasoned and battle-hardened veteran.

Iran: Parliament Approves Committee Formation For Economic Jihad

Filed under: Iran, Jihad, National Security, Obama, Radical Islam — Tags: — - @ 3:25 pm

Source Link: Stratfor
April 4, 2011

Iran’s parliament approved the creation of the Economic Jihad Committee on April 4, paving the way for the implementation of Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei’s directives stated in his Nowruz statement, Mehr reported.

Khamenei urges ‘economic Jihad’ on Iran new year

By   AFP
March 21, 2011

TEHRAN: Supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called on Monday for an all-out “economic Jihad” in the year ahead to foil enemy plots, as Iranians celebrated Nowruz, the Persian new year.

“These sanctions that the enemies of the Iranian nation have planned or implemented are intended to strike a blow to the progress of our country, or impede its accelerating progress,” Khamenei said in a message broadcast on state television.

His speech came as Iranian family members gathered around the Haft Seen, a traditional table with seven items starting with the letter ‘S,’ meant to welcome happiness, health and prosperity in the new year.

“However, (the enemies) could not achieve the goal they had sought to come out of these sanctions… thanks to policies of our officials and the cooperation of the nation,” Khamenei said.

“For this reason, I declare this year as the year of economic Jihad,” he said adding that he expected officials and the people to act accordingly.

Nowruz, meaning “new day” in Farsi, marks the transition from winter to spring and Iranians celebrate that very moment, which came at 0250 local time (2320 GMT) this year.

The holiday stops nearly all political activities until April 3, and newspapers are not published during its first week.

Nowruz also marks the renewal of nature, and Iranians use it to breathe a new life into their family relations and friendships.

The two-week holiday also provides an opportunity for travel, with authorities expecting nearly 50 million people, out of a population of 74 million, to take trips around the country.

The capital Tehran seems lifeless as tourist destinations such as Isfahan, Shiraz, Yazd, the seaside areas around the Caspian Sea and religious cities of Mashhad and Qom are filled with visitors.

During his speech, Ayatollah Khamenei also touched upon the uprisings in the Arab countries.

“This year’s celebrations are not as refreshing since bitter events are happening against the people in Bahrain, Yemen, Libya… I hope that God will bring immediate relief to these nations and punish their enemies,” he said.

Earlier in a message broadcast Sunday on the occasion of Nowruz, US President Barack Obama criticized the Tehran regime for what he called its “campaign of intimidation and abuse” against its opponents.

He also expressed solidarity with Iran’s young people, saying “I am with you.”

Statement by H.E. Mr. Mohammad Khazaeeat the Expert Panel Meeting on: “Nowruz and the Earth: Harmony between Culture and Nature”

Filed under: Iran, National Security, Obama, United Nations — - @ 2:28 pm

Source Link: www.Iran.Un.og

Statement by

H.E. Mr. Mohammad Khazaee

Ambassador and Permanent Representative

of the Islamic Republic of Iran to the United Nations

at the Expert Panel Meeting on:

“Nowruz and the Earth: Harmony between Culture and Nature”

(21March 2011 – New York)

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم

بهار آمد بهار آمد بهار خوش عذار آمد

خوش و سرسبز شد عالم اوان لاله زار آمد

ز سوسن بشنو ای ریحان که سوسن صدزبان دارد

به دشت آب و گل بنگر که پر نفش و نگار آمد

Spring is nigh, spring is nigh
Beautiful spring has come by
the whole world is green and fresh
Tulips raise their heads up high.

Listen to the Lily, sweet Basil
Lily in ten tongues speaks so well
watch the waters and the roses fields
how colors and shapes multiply.

It gives me great pleasure to welcome the distinguished scholars, researchers, academics and guests to this event and to express my warmest greetings and heartiest congratulations and on the occasion of Nowruz, the Persian New Year, and the joyous revival of the nature.

Our intention is to explore various aspects of Nowruz and the messages it carries. The recognition of Nowruz and making it being recognized by the world community along with its characteristics are significant steps to be taken.

Nowruz is the transformation in time and nature. Great lecturers and poets have accordingly called it “the festive of revival”, symbolizing the resurrection and rebirth of the world.

Nowruz marks the commencement of the spring; the season of movement, dynamism, excitement and emotion. The enchanting beauties of the nature in spring have been a great inspiration for the people to recall the charming spirit of creation; while, through observing the amazement of creatures attest to the might of the creator.

The infinity of Nowruz has to be attributed to the fact that it has neither been an artificial social contract nor a politically imposed celebration. It is the birthday party of the earth, the commemoration of happiness in world, fiesta of blooming, excitement of rebirths and the overwhelming resumption.

While other festivities mainly involve closed ceilings and limited spaces with man-made ornaments and symbols, Nowruz drives the man out of such limits to the eternal and free domain of nature. Where the ceiling is the sky and the walls are the mountains and the green uphill; the weather gentle as spring, warm with sunlight which is shaking by the excitement of creation, charmed by the artistic moves of breeze and drizzle, beautified by blossoms, sprouts, buds and grasses, scented by the smell of rain washed bee balm, soils and branches, and overwhelmed by mesmerizing merry carol of the singing birds.

Nowruz, this aged celebrated occasion which has lived with us since the legendary mystical Iranian king – the Jamshid has always been an auspicious occasion to wipe the color of plight and grief off the face of the people and mingling their souls with the joyful and reinvigorating spirit of nature. Moreover, Nowruz has in one hand bonded consequent generations of different nations, while brought closed together different nations and peoples living in every given period of history up to the present, on the other.

Following the footsteps of our ancestors, in these moments which correspond with the commencement of the first day of creation, we officially and for the first time hoist the flag of Nowruz as the symbol of friendship and unity among the nations of the world in the United Nations and demonstrate the true beauties of togetherness.

Nowruz can open a new chapter to bring together all the nations. The table of Nowruz calls all members of the human family, regardless of their distance or political and geographical borders, to come together under the roof of friendship and compassion. Nowruz has the potential to be set as a means to assemble humanity and to sweep the stains of distance, discord and quarrel away while strengthens peace, friendship and solidarity among peoples. It is an invaluable inspiration which deserves to be promoted throughout the world.

The principal building elements of Nowruz are attention to the revival of nature and its poetic resemblance of the resurrection of human-being himself, philanthropy and revisiting pure moral and social values, cleansing the carnal and spiritual bodies from filth and dull repetitions and dressing them with fresh and new outfits, and reconciliation and harmony with nature and the environment.

These are the very key factors that the modern humanity tired of all the filths and worrisome of the materialistic culture, thirsty for spiritual respite and humane life in reconciliation with true humanity is questing for so many years. This is the reason behind recognition of Nowruz and its commemoration by Islam as celebration of divine, humane and natural values. As such, Quran the holy book has a distinct place in the Nowruz proceedings and table.

Promotion of shared humane feelings throughout the universe is the goal of the Nowruz festival. Stirring common sentiments of humanity and strengthening solidarity among people regardless of all seemingly divisive racial, ethnic, economic and political factors are the symbolic specifications of Nowruz.

Alongside the rejuvenation of the earth, Nowruz promises the restoration of the grounds of friendship and reconciliation; and collaboration based on our common values and perfectionist temperament.

Happy spring, happy Nowruz, and
Thank you very much

2011/04/03

CIA documents, the FBI and PF show how the acts of Islamic terror network in Brazil

Source Link: Veja

The Federal Police has evidence that al Qaeda and other extremist organizations use the four country to spread propaganda and plan attacks, finance operations and attract militants

The terrorist Osama bin Laden, leader of Al Qaeda (Disclosure / AFP)

Khaled Hussein Ali was born in 1970 in eastern Lebanon. Follower of the Sunni stream of Islam, military service. Then disappeared. In early 1990, reappeared in Sao Paulo. He married and had a daughter. Thanks to her, obtained in 1998 the right to live in Brazil. Lives in Itaquera, East Zone of São Paulo, and supports his family with the profits from an Internet cafe. Ali leads a double life. It is one of the chief propaganda arm of Al Qaeda, the terrorist organization headed by Osama bin Laden. São Paulo, the Lebanese extremist coordinates in seventeen countries. The text or video of Bin Laden’s disciples are not made available by its approval. More: it is for the Lebanese to give logistical support to al-Qaida operations. He is part of a terrorist network that extends its tentacles in Brazil.

Treated as “Prince” by his henchmen, Ali was followed by four months by the Federal Police until his arrest in March 2009. Besides the evidence of terrorism on the Internet, Federal Police found the computer of spam sent Ali to the U.S. to incite hatred of Jews and blacks. Approached by Veja, Ali denied his identity. This material, however, allowed the Federal Police to indict the racism, incitement to crime and gang formation. Saved himself from charges of terrorism because the Brazilian Penal Code does not provide for this crime. The Lebanese stayed 21 days in prison. He was released because the prosecutor did not report to the Federal Justice. Cases like Ali feeds the divergences of the U.S. government with Brazil.

Two months ago, SEE had access to reports of PF on the terror network in Brazil. Besides Ali, twenty militants of Al Qaeda, Hezbollah, Hamas and other groups use or have used Brazil as a hideout, logistics center, a source of raising money and planning attacks. The magazine report also obtained reports sent to Brazil by the U.S. government. These documents allow you to see pinpoints Ali and four other extremists. They live in Brazil as if they were ordinary citizens. Although the author of the research, PF takes an ambiguous behavior to comment on the findings of its staff. The institution dodges, saying it “does not label people or groups who could otherwise act with inspiration terrorist.” This discourse dubious and inconsistent not only facilitates the entrenchment of extremist organizations in Brazil and creates great risks for the immediate future.

2011/04/01

Afghanistan: 20 Killed After Protests Of Koran Burning

Filed under: Afghanistan, Christianity, Radical Islam — Tags: , , — - @ 4:15 pm

As far as I am concerned Terry Jones and his followers have their hands bloodied the same as the Radical Islamic Individuals who carried out this murderous atrocity. Terry Jones was warned and told over and over,  the burning of the Qur’an in a public spectacle, would set some Radical Muslim’s into a tizzy and would murder over the burning, yet Jones chose to ignore those warnings. It is not the book, Terry Jones, it is the Ideology, just as your Ideology disgust a lot of Christians.

Christians will call Terry Jones out for his wrongful part, I hope that the ‘Moderate’ Muslims will call the individuals out who committed the murders. W

Source Stratfor

Afghan protesters, after seeing the burning of a Koran by U.S. pastor Terry Jones, attacked a U.N. compound in Mazar-e-Sharif and killed up to 20 U.N. staff members, Reuters reported April 1. A police spokesman said that at least eight foreigners were killed after attackers took out security guards, burned parts of the compound and climbed up walls to topple a guard tower. Five of the protesters were killed and around 20 were wounded. The governor of Balkh province said that Insurgents had used the protests as cover to attack the compound.

The Archeology War

Filed under: Arab Nations, Israel, Muslim, OIC, United Nations — Tags: , , , , — - @ 3:12 pm

Source Link: Jewish Ideas Daily
Written By Alex Joffe

Tunnels, City of David.

The Islamic Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) was founded in 1979 by the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC). It has three basic goals. The first is to spread a Saudi version of Koranic education throughout the Islamic world. The second is to publicize Islam to the non-Islamic world, both positively by touting Islamic civilization and its accomplishments—this it dubs “Dialogue among Civilizations”—and negatively, by protesting what it calls the “anti-Islamic campaign.”

The third goal is to oppose the “Judaization of Al-Quds”—i.e., Jerusalem. To that end, a recent ISESCO meeting in Amman has bitterly attacked archeological projects in the Holy City conducted by “the Israeli occupation authorities . . . in full breach of the relevant international laws and conventions.” Citing supposedly “objective and well-documented information on the alteration of the Sacred City’s character and obliteration of its Arab and Islamic identity,” ISESCO vigorously denounced all such “attempts to Judaize Al-Quds Al-Sharif.”

Of course, Muslim claims that Jews are threatening Jerusalem have a long pedigree. So, in particular, do attacks on Israeli archeological practice there. In 1974, UNESCO—the international organization that ISESCO nominally apes—was forced by the Arab states to vote sanctions against Israeli digs in Jerusalem and to deny Israel membership in the organization’s European regional group. Although Israel was readmitted in 1977, UNESCO’s bias continued to be so blatant that in 1984 the U.S., UK, and others temporarily left the organization.  Such a principled act is difficult to imagine today, even after UNESCO has declared Rachel’s Tomb to be a mosque and has condemned Israel for putting West Bank archeological sites on its list of National Heritage sites.

Is it necessary to point out that, in this area as in others, the true situation is the exact opposite of the one being portrayed? Israeli archeologists and the Israel Antiquities Authority have studied and preserved Islamic sites throughout the country. In the meantime, Islamic authorities and activists have exercised to the utmost their ability to deny and, if possible, obliterate evidence of any pre-modern Jewish connection to, in particular, the city of Jerusalem.

Islamic authorities have, for example, converted interior spaces of the Temple Mount into mosques and have removed immense amount of debris that happen to contain remains of earlier periods of Jewish occupation. Muslim “graves” have appeared overnight on disputed plots of land around Jerusalem. Efforts have been made to have Canadian authorities seize Dead Sea Scrolls being exhibited in Israel on the grounds that they are Palestinian cultural property illegally obtained. And, in a move as illogical as it is brazen, Palestinian intellectuals have attempted to manufacture a claim to Jerusalem that predates that of Jews by arguing descent from “Jebusites”—the city’s pre-Davidic residents whose presence is attested only in the Bible itself.

In the meantime, the international campaign continues on its course. In a Google search, the term “Judaization of Jerusalem” yields over 100,000 results and merits a separate Wikipedia entry that patiently explains its various meanings. In the narrow sense, Judaization signifies any effort to demonstrate or suggest that Jews have a historical connection to Jerusalem—a connection explicitly and repeatedly denied by Palestinian propaganda. In a broader sense, it encompasses any change whatsoever to the economic, political, demographic, architectural, or other fabric of Jerusalem that can be construed as in Israel’s interest. Archeology is suspect prima facie, especially in the Old City, the Western Wall area, and the City of David.

Note that the term is “Judaization,” not “Zionization” or some other coinage. In all its usages, “Judaization” is an accusation against Jews, not just Israelis, and anything that demonstrates Jewish antiquity in the city is by definition Judaization.

And now ISESCO and other non-governmental organizations are upping the ante and planning to broaden their campaign by bringing actual lawsuits against Israel in international courts, notably the UN’s world court in The Hague. According to Ziad Saad, director of Jordan’s department of antiquities, “We aim to gather sound scientific evidence for politicians to take up the case at the international level.” This “evidence” will support the charge that Israel is guilty of, in the words of the Jordanian archeologist Moawiyah Ibrahim, using “biblical texts to support their national narrative and disregard[ing] the Arab-Islamic heritage.”

This latest move is part of the widening conduct of “lawfare” against Israel, whereby any and every international venue is exploited to investigate, isolate, and indict the country and its citizens. Manipulating the practices of “international jurisdiction,” which permits local officials of non-governmental entities to bring suit in European courts, the campaign has begun to undermine the ability of Israeli military and political leaders to set foot on the European continent. That Arab archeologists are following suit is disturbing but, one supposes, hardly surprising.

How long will it be before Israeli archeologists are unable to get off a plane in London lest they be served with a subpoena initiated by a Palestinian NGO?

Existing international organizations and “international law” appear nearly powerless before the combination of Arab and Muslim pressure and the behavior of Western officials—and scholars—cravenly or eagerly falling into line. Armed with resources provided by European and other donors, the criminalization of everything Israeli proceeds. ISESCO, for its part, has the full backing of the Saudi regime and the OIC, whose multifarious organs reach into every Muslim country and most non-Muslim ones. Its relentless positioning of the Arab-Israeli conflict as a paramount Islamic cause shows no sign of yielding to the “Dialogue among Civilizations.”

It is a truism that Israeli archeological practice can be legitimately criticized, not least for the murky relations between the state and private entities undertaking development in the West Bank. It is a bigger truism that such failings pale into insignificance when compared with the wanton destruction of antiquities and the abuse of people in the name of both archeology and development that go on regularly in China, Iran, Egypt, or Saudi Arabia. But such considerations are also irrelevant. As is well known, one square foot in Jerusalem produces exponentially more hysteria than hundreds of square miles elsewhere. If everything that happens in Israel is “political,” the world revolves around Jerusalem as it does around no other city.

The reason is, precisely, the fact of Jewish control. When Jordan or the Ottoman empire controlled Jerusalem, the attention paid by the outside world, even to well-documented instances of anti-Christian persecution, was intermittent at best. Now, thanks to the city’s elevation as the Muslim cause célèbre, nothing goes unnoticed. And therein may lie the explanation for the latest, unrestrained alarm of ISESCO and its scholars. As recent archeological expeditions in Jerusalem expose more and more evidence of an ancient Jewish presence in the city, the worst fears of these scholars threaten to materialize. To protect their own investment in decades of official denial, they are acting quickly to mobilize the Islamic and Western worlds to help shut it all down.

Alex Joffe is a research scholar with the Institute for Jewish and Community Research.  He last wrote for Jewish Ideas Daily on the state of Jewish studies.

The Stakes in Jerusalem Justus Reid WeinerJewish Political Studies Review.  As Palestinians continue to move into Jerusalem, their leadership protests ever more vociferously against the city’s “Judaization.” Why?

Clerics against Judaization Ahmed el-BeheriAl Masry Al Youm.  According to some Islamic judges, Israel is building a “subway tunnel” under the Al-Aqsa mosque and has injected its walls with “certain chemicals” that will hasten the building’s erosion.

Mobilizing the Dead Allan NadlerJewish Ideas Daily.  In July 2010, Palestinian activists pointed to a sudden efflorescence of “old” gravestones as evidence that Israel was bent on destroying a historic Arab burial ground.

Syria’s ‘reformer’

Filed under: Dictators, Hillary Clinton, National Security, Obama, Syria — - @ 2:52 pm

Source Link Washington Post
Written By Charles Krauthammer

Many of the members of Congress of both parties who have gone to Syria in recent months have said they believe he’s a reformer.

— Hillary Clinton on Bashar al-Assad, March 27

Few things said by this administration in its two years can match this one for moral bankruptcy and strategic incomprehensibility.

First, it’s demonstrably false. It was hoped that President Assad would be a reformer when he inherited his father’s dictatorship a decade ago. Being a London-educated eye doctor, he received the full Yuri Andropov treatment — the assumption that having been exposed to Western ways, he’d been Westernized. Wrong. Assad has run the same iron-fisted Alawite police state as did his father.

Bashar made promises of reform during the short-lived Arab Spring of 2005. The promises were broken. During the current brutally suppressed protests, his spokeswoman made renewed promises of reform. Then Wednesday, appearing before parliament, Assad was shockingly defiant. He offered no concessions. None.

Second, Clinton’s statement is morally obtuse. Here are people demonstrating against a dictatorship that repeatedly uses live fire on its own people, a regime that in 1982 killed 20,000 in Hama and then paved the dead over. Here are insanely courageous people demanding reform — and the U.S. secretary of state tells the world that the thug ordering the shooting of innocents already is a reformer, thus effectively endorsing the Baath party line — “We are all reformers,” Assad told parliament — and undermining the demonstrators’ cause.

Third, it’s strategically incomprehensible. Sometimes you cover for a repressive ally because you need it for U.S. national security. Hence our muted words about Bahrain. Hence our slow response on Egypt. But there are rare times when strategic interest and moral imperative coincide completely. Syria is one such — a monstrous police state whose regime consistently works to thwart U.S. interests in the region.

During the worst days of the Iraq war, this regime funneled terrorists into Iraq to fight U.S. troops and Iraqi allies. It is dripping with Lebanese blood as well, being behind the murder of independent journalists and democrats, including former prime minister Rafiq al-Hariri. This year, it helped topple the pro-Western government of Hariri’s son, Saad, and put Lebanon under the thumb of the virulently anti-Western Hezbollah. Syria is a partner in nuclear proliferation with North Korea. It is Iran’s agent and closest Arab ally, granting it an outlet on the Mediterranean. Those two Iranian warships that went through the Suez Canal in February docked at the Syrian port of Latakia, a long-sought Iranian penetration of the Mediterranean.

Yet here was the secretary of state covering for the Syrian dictator against his own opposition. And it doesn’t help that Clinton tried to walk it back two days later by saying she was simply quoting others. Rubbish. Of the myriad opinions of Assad, she chose to cite precisely one: reformer. That’s an endorsement, no matter how much she later pretends otherwise.

And it’s not just the words; it’s the policy behind it. This delicacy toward Assad is dismayingly reminiscent of President Obama’s response to the 2009 Iranian uprising during which he was scandalously reluctant to support the demonstrators, while repeatedly reaffirming the legitimacy of the brutal theocracy suppressing them.

Why? Because Obama wanted to remain “engaged” with the mullahs — so that he could talk them out of their nuclear weapons. We know how that went.

The same conceit animates his Syria policy — keep good relations with the regime so that Obama can sweet-talk it out of its alliance with Iran and sponsorship of Hezbollah.

Another abject failure. Syria has contemptuously rejected Obama’s blandishments — obsequious visits from Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry and the return of the first U.S. ambassador to Damascus  since the killing of Hariri. Assad’s response? An even tighter and more ostentatious alliance with Hezbollah and Iran.

Our ambassador in Damascus should demand to meet the demonstrators and visit the wounded. If refused, he should be recalled to Washington. And rather than “deplore the crackdown,” as did Clinton in her walk-back, we should be denouncing it in forceful language and every available forum, including the U.N. Security Council.

No one is asking for a Libya-style rescue. Just simple truth-telling. If Kerry wants to make a fool of himself by continuing to insist that Assad is an agent of change, well, it’s a free country. But Clinton speaks for the nation.

letters@charleskrauthamm er.com

Uprisings in Syria

Filed under: Muslim Brotherhood, National Security, Obama, Protests, Syria — - @ 2:44 pm

Source: Stratfor

Analyst Reva Bhalla explains the factors behind the Syrian president’s apparent confidence as the regime prepares for a more forceful crackdown.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

While protests in Syria are increasing in size and scope, the Syrian regime does not appear to be taking chances by parsing out political reforms that could further embolden the opposition. Instead, the Syrian regime is more likely to resort to more forceful crackdowns, which is likely to highlight the growing contradictions in U.S. public diplomacy in the region.

Syrian President Bashar al Assad delivered a speech to parliament on Wednesday in which he was expected to announce a number of political reforms including the lifting of the state of emergency, which has been in place since 1963. Instead, Bashar al Assad largely avoided talk of reforms. He said that security and stability needs to come first. He also built on a narrative that foreign elements were exploiting the grievances of the Syrian people and trying to break the country apart.

The minority Alawite regime in Syria faces immense socioeconomic challenges as well as demographic challenges but there are a number of reasons why the Syrian president appears to be so confident. Protesters in Daraa have come under heavy pressure by Syrian security forces and continue to come out in large numbers. Protests have also spread beyond Daraa to cities like Damascus, Latakia, Homs, Hama and Kamishli, but the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood, which is the main opposition group in the country, has not put its full weight behind the demonstrations and probably for good reason. The Muslim Brotherhood remembers well the 1982 massacre at Hama which devastated the movement and essentially razed that city to the ground. The Brotherhood is likely looking for assurances from the West that they’re going to receive protection as the crackdowns intensify.

But there’s really no guarantee that the Syrian opposition is going to get those assurances. The U.S. administration has been very careful to distinguish between the humanitarian military intervention in Libya and the situation in Syria, arguing that the level of repression in Syria hasn’t escalated to a point that would require military intervention. The U.S. really has no strategic interest in getting involved in Syria in the first place. Syria would be a much more complicated military affair. The prospects for success would be low and the downfall of the al Assad regime is also not a scenario that the Israelis want to see. The al Assad regime remains hostile to Israel but the virtue in that regime from the Israeli point of view lies in its predictability. The Israelis don’t want to see situation developed in which Syrian Islamists could create the political space in which to influence Syrian foreign policy.

To help ensure that it’s not going to get the Libya treatment, the Syrian regime is likely looking to Turkey for some assistance. Turkey, which has become much more assertive in the region and has stepped up its mediation efforts in Syria, does not want to see another crisis flare up on its border. While encouraging reforms in Syria, the Turks have also likely played a key role in getting the Syrians to clamp down on Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad activity in the Palestinian territories recently. While the Turks will be encouraging the al Assad regime to make reforms at the right time, they could play key role in quietly sustaining external support for the Syrian regime. Syria’s crisis is far from over and the protests could continue to escalate especially now that the al Assad regime has made clear it’s not willing to go down that slippery slope of offering concessions to the opposition. The Syrian security and intelligence apparatus remains a formidable force and remains fairly unified in its approach to dealing with the uprising. What we’ll see in the coming days is whether those crackdowns will actually have the regime’s desired effect.

Why Russia, Turkey Look Toward Armenia and Azerbaijan

Filed under: Armenia, Azerbaijan, National Security, Russia, Turkey — - @ 2:40 pm

Source: Stratfor

Armenian President Serzh Sarkisian announced Thursday that he would personally be on the first civilian flight from Armenia into the newly rebuilt airport in Nagorno-Karabakh when it opens in May. (Nagorno-Karabakh is an Armenian-backed secessionist region enclosed within Azerbaijan.) Azerbaijan had earlier announced that it would shoot down any plane over its occupied territories. For now, the issue is at a standoff as both sides have laid a challenge that could not only propel the region back into the brutal war of the 1990s, but could also pull in some global heavyweights. That said, STRATFOR is looking beyond the political theater that normally, and incessantly, takes place between Yerevan and Baku to whether this has been orchestrated by the country that has held the peace between the two, Russia.

The southern region of the Caucasus has seen countless struggles in the past century, though one of the most enduring is between the Armenians and Azerbaijanis over Nagorno-Karabakh. Soviet rule from the 1920s onwards stifled these battles for the most part. But as soon as the Soviet Union’s disintegration looked imminent, conflict flared up when Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence from Azerbaijan, with intention to unify with Armenia. Free of being restrained by Moscow, Azerbaijan defended its territory and a full-scale war erupted, stretching across Armenia and Azerbaijan until Russia brokered a cease-fire.

Though simmering hostilities have continued, there are two reasons the conflict has remained frozen. First, beginning in the mid-1990s, neither Armenia nor Azerbaijan had the resources to continue fighting. Armenia’s economy was, and is, non-existent for the most part. Without the financial means, it would be impossible for Armenia to launch a full-scale war. At the same time, Azerbaijan’s military has been too weak, thus far, to assert control over the occupied lands.

After nearly two decades, the issue is beginning to thaw again as the balance between Armenia and Azerbaijan is beginning to change. Baku has grown exponentially stronger in the past six years. Rich with energy-wealth, Azerbaijan has started creating a modern and competent military and the largest out of the Caucasus countries. Moreover, Azerbaijan’s close ally, Turkey, has renewed its commitment to defend Azerbaijan in any conflict with Armenia, recently signing a strategic cooperation agreement to this end. On the other hand, Armenia has been reduced to a satellite of Russia for the most part, with little independent foreign policy, politics or economy. Being folded under Russia’s wing, Armenia feels protected against its rival. These two shifts have led to an increase in tensions between Baku and Yerevan over whether either is bold enough to revive hostilities.

The involvement of Turkey and Russia is the main cause of deterrence that is holding the two sides back. Both Ankara and Moscow know that any Azerbaijani-Armenian conflict would not remain contained within the region. Each power would be expected by Baku and Yerevan to defend their respective ally — whether they actually would is unclear. Therefore, the standoff has become more about Moscow and Ankara holding back each side and not allowing the instability to become exacerbated to the extent of an open conflict or war.

However, two other issues are also evolving. First, Baku is becoming more powerful than Moscow is comfortable with. It is not that Russia is concerned it cannot handle Azerbaijan on its own, but Russia is attempting to maintain a regional balance by dominating each of the three Caucasus states in its own way. Baku’s resource wealth and hefty foreign connections are beginning to tip those scales in comparison to the other two states. Still, Russia has held back as to not launch a larger conflict with Turkey, which Moscow is wary to provoke.

This is where the second development comes in. Turkey is engulfed in other large conflicts and is one of the key members in the Middle Eastern theater helping the United States suppress the instability. Turkey is struggling within NATO to carve out a leadership role and is embroiled in a standoff with some European NATO members over how extensive the Libyan intervention ought to be. Ankara is also using its influence in the Iranian-Saudi struggle over Bahrain and the Arab world in general. There are also domestic politics to consider, with important elections coming up in June for Turkey. Such a string of endless conflicts also has the United States, which has deep relations with both Yerevan and Baku, preoccupied.

On the other hand, Russia isn’t wrapped up in any of those issues. Moreover, Moscow feels pretty confident these days with its position globally. First, Russia has been largely successful in its resurgence into its former Soviet sphere. Second, as of the past few months, it has even more room to maneuver now that the West is dealing with the instabilities in the Islamic theater. Third, Europe is torn over taking part in those conflicts and its need to focus on its own set of domestic challenges, both economically and politically. Lastly, the conflicts have caused energy prices to soar and many countries to demand more supplies — of which Russia is the winner. Russian international reserves crossed over the $500 billion mark on March 18 for the first time in two and a half years. The last time Russian reserves were in the $500 billion range, Moscow confronted Georgia in August 2008.

If there ever were a time for Russia to look at the more difficult issues it has avoided — like the standoff between Azerbaijan and Armenia or challenging an ascendant Turkey that does not seem to be slowing down, it would be now. It is most likely that Russia is not looking to launch a new conflict, but instead it wants to test how assertive Azerbaijan feels with its strengthening position against Armenia and just how willing Turkey is to dance with the bear. It is easier to feel such things out when the rest of the world is looking elsewhere.

Saudi nukes in the Gulf

Source Link: Washington Times

Kingdom is poised to build potent weapons as protection from Iran

Illustration: Saudi nukes by Alexander Hunter for The Washington Times

Overlooked in the welter of fast-moving events throughout the Arab world was a Saudi Arabian call for transforming the six-nation Gulf Cooperation Council into “an entity identical to the [27-nation] European Union” – plus nuclear weapons.

Saudi Arabia has grown impatient “Waiting for Godot.” Samuel Beckett’s famous play depicts the “meaninglessness of life,” with its repetitive plot in which nothing much happens. In Saudi eyes, that’s Iran and its secret nuclear weapons program. And eyedrop Western sanctions have done nothing to deter Iran’s aging theocrats.

Iran began nuclear research with French assistance in the 1960s. In 1972, the late Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi told this reporter that Iran would one day be a nuclear power. Britain had relinquished all its geopolitical responsibilities east of Suez in 1968.

Under the Nixon Doctrine that followed the British withdrawal from the Gulf, the “shahanshah” (king of kings) became the “guardian” (and gendarme) of the Persian Gulf from the Strait of Hormuz to Kuwait.

The religious fanatics that succeeded the shah have similar ambitions – this time to spread their brand of religious extremism. A prime target is Bahrain, a tiny island linked to Saudi Arabia by a 16-mile causeway, which is also home port for the U.S. Fifth Fleet, and whose 1 million people are 70 percent Shia Muslims (as in Iran).

Saudi Arabia, answering an appeal from the Bahraini monarch, dispatched some 1,500 troops and armored vehicles across the causeway to guard vital installations while local law enforcement coped with daily demonstrations and riots.

On Jan. 18 when the Arab volcanobegan erupting in Tunisia and spreading political lava through Libya, Egypt, Syria, Jordan, Bahrain and Oman, the powers-that-be in the West fell silent, evidently prepared to ditch erstwhile friends and allies. The lesson was not lost on the Saudis.

It wasn’t until Libya’s megalomaniacal Col. Moammar Gadhafi announced he was planning to kill without mercy his own dissident citizens in Benghazi that President Obama perked up and Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton talked retaliation with the European allies. The Germans balked. Then U.S., French and British fighter-bombers decimated Col. Gadhafi’s tanks headed for Benghazi. But Mr. Obama, already saddled with two military theaters and anxious to avoid a third, kicked Libya operations over to NATO and the Europeans.

In his first attempt to unveil what was quickly dubbed the “Obama Doctrine,” the president, in effect, bought Col. Gadhafi more time by declaring regime change by force would be a mistake. George H.W. Bush made the same decision in 1991 by declining to chase Saddam Hussein’s legions back to Baghdad. This, in turn, led to a 12-year, $14 billion no-fly zone over Iraq, followed by Gulf War II in 2003. The Saudis paid the tab, as they did for most of the war.

This time, the Saudis, armed with compensatory cash, managed to dodge popular wrath oozing through the Arab body politic. The only noticeable demonstration was a small one (about 1,000) in favor of the divine right of kings (enunciated by the Stuarts in Britain in the 16th century).

But Saudi soldiers in Bahrain, now backed by police from the United Arab Emirates (a federated union of seven sheikdoms, including Abu Dhabi and Dubai), face indefinite security duty in another country. Some 70 percent of Bahrain’s work force is on strike and clashes with police are now routine.

Former U.S. ambassador to Saudi Arabia Chas W. Freeman Jr. says, “The one plausible source of contagion for Saudi Arabia is the civil strife in its much smaller sister kingdom of Bahrain … where the ouster of its royal family … could incite instability in the other small city-states” that make up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) with Saudi Arabia. And they all fear that majority Shiite rule in Bahrain would draw the island into the Iranian orbit, handing Iran a strategic base of influence in their midst.

Prince Turki Al-Faisal, the man who headed the Saudi intelligence service for a quarter of a century before his appointment as ambassador to Britain and later the United States, reminded Western countries that the GCC’s mutual defense pact is similar to NATO’s in its obligations.

Now chairman of the King Faisal Research Center, Prince Turki launched the drive for the GCC countries to acquire nuclear weapons, now described as essential vis-a-vis the two other regional powers that already posses them. He named Iran and Israel.

Prince Turki, in a little reported talk but clearly speaking for the kingdom at the annual conference of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies, called for a joint Gulf army “acquiring the nuclear might to face that of Iran.”

While international efforts have clearly failed to convince Tehran to cease developing nuclear weapons and Israel to dismantle its own arsenal, a nuclear future for the GCC is now an imperative.

Between them – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain and Oman – there is no shortage of cash in their Sovereign Wealth Funds to bankroll a nuclear weapons program. They can pay top dollar for nuclear scientists and engineers from Western powers and Russia.

“We ought to be effective regarding major international affairs and prevent others from dictating options to us,” said Prince Turki, scion of the late King Feisal, the monarch who created the modern Saudi state.

Qatar, the wealthiest Gulf state with a per capita income of $78,000, was the first non-NATO country to respond to the “no-fly zone over Libya” appeal from the 22-member Arab League. A third of its French-made Mirage squadron flew to a Greek base in Crete where they joined a French squadron and flew four-plane joint patrols over northeastern Libya.

The UAE followed the Qatari lead with 12 F-16s.

Qatar also has a global reach through Al Jazeera TV news, in both Arabic and English. Lavishly funded, the network has more bureaus and correspondents than any other TV news operation anywhere in the world.

The next act in the Gulf sweepstakes won’t be a walk in the park.

Arnaud de Borchgrave is editor-at-large of The Washington Times and United Press International.