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Obama Advisors: Time for Israel to Surrender Jerusalem

July 3….(Israel Today) A Washington-based think tank that is viewed as one of the primary sources of foreign policy advise for US President Barack Obama is recommending that Israel surrender control of Jerusalem to an international body. The Center for American Progress (CAP) correctly determined that the issue of Jerusalem is the primarily obstacle to peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. As such, in order to move forward with the land-for-peace process as a whole, CAP has suggested that a third party administer and police the city while both Israel and the Palestinians maintain their claims to sovereignty until an agreement can be reached. CAP expects that agreement would take a very long time to reach, if ever, but that in the meantime the rest of the conflict could be concluded. There are concerns in Israel that Obama will adopt the recommendation considering his close ties to CAP and his overriding determination to oversee an Israel-Palestinian peace agreement. Bloomberg News reported that "CAP has been an incubator for liberal thought and helped build the Democratic party platform that triumphed in the 2008 campaign." It was also noted that Obama adopted many of CAP's policy recommendations while he was still president-elect.



Israel Must Attack Iran, Insists Bolton

July 3….(Israel Today) Former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton told The Washington Post on Thursday that the only way left to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons is to support an Israeli military strike on the Islamic Republic. Bolton said the soft approach taken by US President Barack Obama had only hastened the Iranian nuclear threat, and that today the only options that remain are to allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons or intervene militarily. With Obama almost certain to never order a military strike on Iran, that leaves only Israel. Bolton urged Israel to decide quickly whether or not it will strike. "Israel's decision of whether to use military force against Tehran's nuclear weapons program is more urgent than ever," said Bolton, adding that he is confident new Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu fully grasps the gravity of the situation and will respond accordingly.



Obama Stands With Dictators and Tyrants

July 3….(Washington Times) Dictators and demagogues can rest easy on President Obama's watch. When thousands of Iranians flooded the streets of Tehran protesting a rigged election and were beaten and shot down by pro-regime thugs, the president bided his time before making a series of noncommittal statements. He seemed to hope it would all just go away. However, when a socialist demagogue was ejected unceremoniously from Honduras on Sunday by his own government for trying to establish a presidency for life, Obama instantly sprang to his defense. What happened in Honduras was not a military coup. Honduras has a civilian president, Roberto Micheletti, a member of former President Manuel Zelaya's own Liberal Party, who was elevated to the post after Zelaya was removed. The army did not seize power, but acted as the elected government's instrument in ousting Zelaya, who was well on his way to subverting the Honduran constitution and erecting a dictatorship. The crisis followed an intense week of political drama over a planned referendum seeking to convene an assembly to rewrite the 1982 constitution to allow Mr. Zelaya to serve in office beyond the mandated one-term limit, which would have ended in January 2010. The Honduran National Congress opposed the referendum, and the Supreme Court declared it illegal. The plan was denounced by majority and opposition political parties, the Catholic Church and the Honduran Human Rights Commission. The military impounded the illegal ballots, and Zelaya fired military chief Gen. Romeo Vasquez for refusing to distribute them. This prompted resignations from Defense Minister Edmundo Orellana and all the service chiefs. The Supreme Court quickly ruled the firing was illegal. Meanwhile, Mr. Zelaya led a band of followers to air force headquarters and seized the illegal ballots, seeking to hold the referendum regardless. The Congress then acted to remove this renegade ruler and defend the Honduran constitution. Zelaya is a demagogue in the mold of Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, who bolstered the Zelaya regime through a subsidized energy program called Petrocaribe and gave direct financial support through the ALBA Bank. The acronym stands for Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, a Chavez-backed anti-US alliance of nine Latin American states, prominently Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua, all of which are pursuing explicitly anti-US policies. In throwing its unqualified support to Mr. Zelaya, the Obama administration is enabling America's strategic foes. This shortsightedness is truly breathtaking and underscores the incoherence of the administration's foreign policy. Smart power? We think not. By sending Mr. Zelaya to El Salvador, the new government gave him the opportunity to rally world opinion. The exiled former president also benefited from the fact that the new government limited press coverage, which did not bolster the legitimacy of the transfer of power. Now Zelaya has secured the backing of numerous Latin American leaders, the United Nations and the United States. He had planned to return to Tegucigalpa on Thursday, but the Organization of American States has given Honduras three days to reinstate him. Honduran Attorney General Luis Alberto Rubi has issued an arrest warrant for Mr. Zelaya on 18 charges, including abuse of power and treason. Whatever the outcome of the crisis in Honduras, Mr. Obama has failed another key test of international leadership. The United States is in an increasingly perilous position in Latin America and needs solid allies to stem the anti-American tide being led by Venezuela. Mr. Obama should think twice before rushing to stand beside the likes of dictators such as Mr. Chavez and Cuba's Fidel Castro. They support Mr. Zelaya because he is a fellow traveler, a socialist in good standing, a member of their anti-gringo alliance. There's no reason for America to support him.



The Curse of Comfortable Christians

(Jane Chastain presents evidence for why church needs to repent this July 4)

July 3….(WND) July 2 marks the 233rd anniversary of our legal separation from Great Britain. It was on this day in 1776, that the Second Continental Congress voted to approve a resolution of independence. The next day, John Adams, the man who would become our second president, wrote to his wife Abigail: I am apt to believe that it will be celebrated by succeeding generations as the great anniversary festival. It ought to be commemorated as the day of deliverance, by solemn acts of devotion to God Almighty. It ought to be solemnized with pomp and parade, with shows, games, sports, guns, bells, bonfires and illuminations, from one end of this continent to the other, from this time forward for evermore. As it turned out, Adams' timing was off by a couple of days. July 4, the day the formal document was approved, became the nation's official birthday, but the die was cast on the day our Founding Fathers, "with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence," mutually pledged to each other their "Lives, Fortunes and sacred Honor" to establish and defend the United States of America. Adams proudly put his name on that document. He was a Christian, as were the overwhelming majority of the signers of Declaration of Independence, and for some 200 years, the laws of our nation were a reflection of the moral laws God set forth in the Bible. As a result, the hand of Providence remained over this country, allowing us to become the most affluent, influential and powerful nation on earth. In the last few decades, we have turned away from God, the way the Children of Israel turned their back on the great I AM. It is not surprising, that His hand of protection now has been lifted. That is why many Christians will be forgoing the traditional celebrations this year, using this birthday as a day of repentance. This Sunday, July 5, is a call to fall on your knees, repent of your sins and pray for forgiveness and healing in our land. Robert Knight laid out the dramatic changes that now threaten our very existence in his book, "Fighting for America's Soul." As Knight points out, these changes violate our constitutionally guaranteed freedoms, while creating "group-based 'rights' that are used to punish individuals who do not conform to the New Age vision of limitless government, 'equality' over freedom, the eclipse of American sovereignty and the transformation of biblical morality into a form of 'bigotry' punishable by law." Why do I, as individual, and we, as churches, need to repent? Aren't these things out of my/our control? Not at all. Here in the United States of America, we the people are, in affect, Caesar, and the overwhelming majority are Christians. There is no excuse for what we have allowed to happen to this land. There is no such thing as a value-free law or a value-free piece of legislation. Therefore, if we aren't electing lawmakers who are passing laws based on our values, somebody else is. The truth is that we, as Christians, have become too comfortable, too given to the pursuit of wealth, fame, entertainment and personal pleasures to spend our time watching what is happening in the halls of government. We don't carefully examine the candidates before we vote. We don't consider their stand, even on the moral issues. In short, we select our president and the rest of our representatives the same way a 7-year-old selects her Barbie doll. Once in office, we treat our elected representatives like kings and queens. We don't hold them accountable for what they do. Most of us don't even know how or where to begin. We, as Christians, have ignored the biblical prohibitions and warnings against borrowing and have allowed our country to become a debtor nation to communist China and other anti god nations. We, as Christians, want the government to provide for our every need. We have elevated government to the place that God once occupied in our lives. We, as Christians, have been afflicted with "terminal niceness." We would rather wink and nod at immorality than confront it. We, as Christians, pretend that we don't know that an unborn child is a human being, created in God's image, with certain inalienable rights. We, as Christians, have allowed our tax dollars to pay for abortions and "safe sex" education that encourages our young people to experiment with fornication and homosexuality. We, as Christians, have been silent and allowed good to be called evil and evil to be called good. Shame on us! It is, indeed, time to humbly fall on our knees, ask for forgiveness and be willing to turn from our wicked, slothful ways. When we do that we have the assurance that God will hear from heaven and heal our land.



'US Can't Even get Arabs to Commit to Normal Israel Ties'

July 3….(Ha Aretz) The US administration has not been successful in securing commitments from Arab countries to take steps toward normalizing relations with Israel, a senior source in Jerusalem said Wednesday. The source said US President Barack Obama's recent meeting with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia did not produce a commitment to encourage the other Arab states to begin normalization. "In such a situation, the Americans can't continue demanding gestures only from Israel, such as the demand that Israel freeze settlement construction," the source said. In response, a senior White House source said talks with the Arab states are continuing with the aim of obtaining a commitment to make gestures for recognition toward Israel, and there is still hope for progress. Defense Minister Ehud Barak returned to Israel on Wednesday from a meeting with US Mideast envoy George Mitchell. A senior White House official confirmed reports that progress was made on the issue of settlements, though no agreement had been reached. He added that similar progress had been made in contacts with Arab countries. Haaretz has learned that the talks with Mitchell included discussions of a package deal to include a curb on settlement construction. Barak reportedly argued that any steps taken by Israel would have to be accompanied by assurances that the Arab states would also move forward. This would lay the groundwork for resumed talks on a final regional peace agreement. Within the next two weeks or so, Mitchell is expected to visit Israel to continue talks. A senior diplomatic source said that even if a meeting between Mitchell and the prime minister doesn't resolve the settlement issue, it will narrow the gap, and the prime minister may request a meeting with Obama in Washington in the coming months to seal an agreement. Barak noted that if a package deal is reached, Israel might agree to a temporary construction freeze in the settlements, but this would not apply to more than 2,000 housing units already being built.

Obama Must 'Bring Down Iranian Regime'

July 2….(Newsmax) Foreign policy expert and author Michael Ledeen tells Newsmax that President Barack Obama "hasn't done anything" to help the Iranian people as resistance to the country's repressive regime continues. Ledeen also says that the talks Obama seeks with the current regime will go nowhere, charges that Iranians "have been killing Americans all over the world," and warns that, as soon as the Islamic Republic acquires a nuclear weapon, it will "test" it on Israel. But he also believes the regime is unlikely to survive. Israel certainly will attack Iran if the West fails to stop the ayatollahs from completing a nuclear weapon, Ledeen said. "They've said as soon as they get a nuclear weapon, they're going to test it on Israel, so that's a pretty big threat," Ledeen said, adding, "I expect the Israelis to eventually attack the Iranian nuclear facilities if the rest of the world doesn't find some other way to do it. Whether they will bomb it or not, I can't tell. There are a lot of ways to do it." Ledeen holds the Freedom Scholar chair at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies. He is a former consultant to the US National Security Council and the Departments of State and Defense, and is a contributing editor to National Review. Iranian authorities say 17 protesters and eight members of the volunteer Basij militia have been killed in two weeks of unrest and that hundreds of people have been arrested. But Iranian authorities have barred journalists for international news organizations from reporting on the streets and ordered them to stay in their offices. Ledeen contends that the death toll in Iran actually runs in the hundreds and that thousands of people have been arrested. Riot police clashed with up to 3,000 protesters in Tehran on Sunday. Newsmax.TV's Ashley Martella asked Ledeen where he sees the conflict headed. "Nobody knows," said Ledeen, whose books include "The Iranian Time Bomb" and "The War Against the Terror Masters." "They've killed hundreds by now, and thousands of people are in prison. It does seem like the people are so furious, so angry, both with the electoral fraud and now with the repression, that it's hard to imagine this going away any time in the near future. "Whether there will be big demonstrations, whether there will be small-scale demonstrations or protests or strikes or general strikes, nobody really can tell." Martella asked whether Iran will continue to operate as a police state or will change come to the oil-rich nation. "Historically you have to say that it is possible to keep on operating a repressive police state if you're willing to kill everybody that gets in your way," Ledeen responded. "In Iran the numbers are violently against the regime, because out of 65 or 70 million Iranians there are probably 50 or 55 [million] that don't like the regime. And they've shown in the last couple of weeks that they're actually going to take the chance and put their lives on the line. "Under those circumstances it's unlikely that the regime will survive. It's really a contest of will at this point." As for the talks Obama says are still possible with Iran over its nuclear ambitions, Ledeen declared: "We're never going to get a deal with Iran. Every president from Jimmy Carter through George W. Bush and now to Obama has tried to strike some kind of bargain with Iran, and they've all failed. "So I don't see why anybody would imagine that they could succeed now." Iran has rebuffed widespread claims of fraud in the presidential election and officially declared that President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was re-elected, beating Mir Hossein Mousavi. Martella asked if that makes a difference, considering that "Iran is a brutal theocracy ruled by mullahs." Ledeen answered: "Yes, because Mousavi has made it clear that he wants to dismantle that brutal theocracy." And that regime is a "huge threat" to the US, Ledeen told Newsmax. "Iran's been at war with the United States for 30 years, and Iranians have been killing Americans all over the world all that time," he said. "They are killing Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan and elsewhere as we speak. "So it's a big threat. It's declared itself a threat. It has said it wants to destroy us." Martella asked: "If you were giving Obama advice about Iran, what would you tell him?" Said Ledeen: "Support the Iranian people. Say publicly that all these people have not died in vain and that Iran must be free, and then support them. Bring down the Iranian regime." Martella: "Do you think he's not done enough so far?" Ledeen: "He hasn't done anything to help the Iranian people. He's been dragged kicking and screaming to the point where he's finally condemned the repression, but that's it."



Obama to Persuade all Americans to Accept Homosexuality

July 2….(Culture) President Barack Obama says that while he's dedicated to expanding homosexual rights, many Americans still cling to what he calls "worn arguments and old attitudes." At a White House celebration of Gay Pride Month, Obama said he hopes to persuade all Americans to accept homosexuality. ""There are good and decent people in this country who don't yet fully embrace their gay brothers and sisters, not yet," said the president. "That's why I've spoken about these issues, not just in front of you, but in front of unlikely audiences, in front of African-American church members." Obama acknowledged that many Americans still disapprove of homosexuality. "There are still fellow citizens, perhaps neighbors or even family members and loved ones, who still hold fast to worn arguments and old attitudes," he stated. He added that Congress should repeal what Obama referred to as "the so-called Defense of Marriage Act," and that his administration is working to pass a hate crimes bill and to repeal the "don't ask, don't tell" policy on homosexuals in the military. The audience at the White House ceremony included Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson and other homosexual clergy. Obama introduced Robinson as a "special friend."



The Day of the Lord

July 1….(Charles Stanley) Today’s passage is about what Peter calls “the day of the Lord.” He’s not referring to a 24-hour interval but rather a season of time. Certain events within that period lead up to Jesus Christ establishing a new heaven and earth. For instance, living saints are raptured into heaven while the bodies of dead believers are resurrected. Those days will also be when the Antichrist rises to power and tribulation fills the earth. But at the end, Jesus returns victorious to judge the world. Some people claim that we are already in the tribulation period, but that is not the case. It will be a time of God’s judgment upon the earth, and the church need not endure that. We are destined for salvation rather than for wrath (1 Thess. 5:9). The trials and hardship spreading around the earth today are “merely the beginning of birth pangs,” (Matt. 24:8) a prelude to the great ordeal yet to come. The pains of a laboring woman gradually accelerate and intensify. Doesn’t that sound like the increasing frequency and potency of heartaches in our world? Jesus warned believers to expect wars, rumors of wars, earthquakes, famine, persecution, and death even before the end times (Luke 21:9-12). These disturbances are among the signs that our redemption is drawing near, though no one knows the exact time (Matt. 24:36). The day of the Lord will creep upon most of the world’s inhabitants like a thief in the night (1 Thess. 5:2). They can’t see that events are unfolding according to God’s plan. But the church should pay attention and work diligently to reach suffering people with the hope of the gospel (Luke 21:13).



Hamas: Fear of Jihad Led US Voters to Arab-Friendly Obama

July 1….( In a public address delivered on Al-Aqsa TV by Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal, the Damascus-based terror boss informed Arab viewers that US President Barack Hussein Obama came to power in the United States due to Islamic jihad in the Middle East. During the June 25 discourse, Mashaal said Obama's administration, and its interest in achieving détente with the Arab world, did not come about through American altruism. Rather, witnessing the combative efforts of Palestinians, Lebanese, Iraqis and Afghanis led Americans to vote for Obama in order to "protect their own interests." Mashaal condemned Obama for acknowledging the victimization of Jews during the Holocaust, while ignoring "our suffering and the holocaust perpetrated by Israel for decades against the Palestinian people," according to a transcript translated and publicized by the Middle East Strategic Information (MESI) organization, with the help of the Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI). However, he also praised Obama for the US president's warming toward Hamas, an organization listed by the US State Department as a terror organization. "We appreciate the new language used by Obama with regard to Hamas," Mashaal said. "It is the first step in the right direction, toward direct dialogue with no preconditions. We welcome this. Any dealings with Hamas and with the Palestinian resistance forces must be based on respect for the will of the Palestinian people and its democratic choice." Regardless of the Arab-friendly political climate, Mashaal assured viewers that violence will continue to be used to achieve Arab goals. "The peoples of Europe exercised this right against the Nazis, the USA exercised this right against British rule, and so did the peoples of Asia and Africa that had been occupied," Mashaal said. "As for 'peaceful resistance,' which people are trying to preach to us - it is suitable for the struggle for civil rights, but not for the liberation of a homeland." Mashaal also used the opportunity to address Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's recently set criteria for formulating a Palestinian state. "First of all, we categorically reject the Israeli position, stated by Netanyahu, with regard to the Palestinian rights," Mashaal said, "especially pertaining to the issues of Jerusalem, the refugees' Right of Return, the settlements, normalization of relations with the Arabs, his views on a Palestinian state, its territory, and its borders, and his condition about a demilitarized state." He issued a warning to all Arabs not to be "lenient" in accepting Israel as a Jewish State. The "bare minimum" Hamas will accept, stated Mashaal, is full sovereignty in all of pre-1967 Israel, including Jerusalem, the destruction of all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, and the admission of PA Arabs as citizens into the State of Israel.



US Commander Warns: Iran Continues to Back Violence in Iraq

July 1….(DEBKAfile Special Report) Parties, processions, a parade in the fortified Green Zone seat of government and embassies, and prime minister Nuri al-Malikii's proclamation of June 30 National Sovereignty Day celebrated the US military's handover of towns and cities to Iraqi security personnel on the way to a full withdrawal by the end of 2011. But the day was also darkened by the deaths of four US soldiers from "combat-related injuries" in Baghdad and a bomb-vehicle explosion which killed at least 27 Iraqis in a Kirkuk market in the north. The Iraq regime signaled its hopes for a new era by holding an auction Tuesday for eight oil and gas fields, Iraq's first major opening to foreign investment since the energy industry was nationalized 40 years ago. Yet our military sources stress that unresolved tensions among Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds still simmer and may erupt now that 130,000 US troops have withdrawn to 39 rural bases - nowhere near on hand for emergencies in the towns. A small number remains in the cities to train and advise Iraqi forces, but Baghdad, Basra, Kirkuk and Mosul will be more vulnerable than ever and security in the small towns of Falluja, Ramadi and Baquba may also veer out of control under massive, multi-casualty bombing attacks. Few really believe that the 650,000-strong Iraqi military is up to maintaining stability or dealing with a serious insurgency or wave of terror. We are not leaving," the US commander in Iraq Gen. Ray Odierno assured Iraqis. "We'll continue to be in support of Iraqi security forces to maintain stability throughout the country." However, differences have begun to surface. The prime minister has attributed the pre-withdrawal spike in violence, which claimed more than 250 lives this month, to al Qaeda and remnants of the Iraqi Baath insurgents, whereas Gen. Odierno blamed Iran, which he said "is still supporting, funding and training surrogates who operate inside of Iraq. They have not stopped and I don't think they will stop," he said. On Monday, US ambassador Christopher Hill said he was concerned that illegal arms continue to flow into Iraq from Iran. DEBKAfile's sources point out that US president Barack Obama's pledge on attaining office to withdraw US soldiers from Iraqi cities by June 30 - on the road to ending an unpopular war which has claimed the lives of 4,321 US soldiers and tens of thousands of Iraqis - has no military justification. Iraqi cities, especially Baghdad, have been left wide open to an upsurge of violence expected in the coming weeks. And the situation in the Maliki government is so fluid that a local Iraqi officer, in Mosul, say, might hypothetically seek US military assistance in a crisis and meet a refusal from central government in Baghdad. The decision would then devolve on the American command.



Pastors: If Not You, Who?

(Dave Welch challenges clergy to sign on to righteous-citizenship declaration)

July 1….(WND) The nature of the moral and/or philosophical bankruptcy of government leaders, from President Obama's tyrannical policies and deception to South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford's adultery, are constant and tragic reflections of the collective heart of the American people as we have sought comfort, convenience and prosperity rather than obeying God. We have weak, shallow leaders in office because Christians, starting with pastors, have not cared enough about who we place there to make it a priority, or even worse, have openly defied any responsibility for handing God's authority to the ungodly. Shame on us. It is very simple, and I can't dress it up, give it a friendly face or put a "warm fuzzy" on the raw truth. Until a remnant of at least 10 to 20 percent of Bible-believing pastors and churches step up to the plate and start raising up and sending out godly leaders into civil ministry, we will be governed by tyrants or self-serving leaders. That means instilling in our men, women, youth and children the biblical mandate, constitutional duty and desperate need for them to serve God and their country by considering running for elected offices such as water/sewer district, school board, city council, etc., to state and federal offices. They must, however, be grounded and trained. We must also have a firm commitment in every church that every eligible citizen cast an informed, biblically grounded vote that transcends race, political party loyalty and personal interest. I can promise that very few churches are doing what should be done to achieve this, and it is not complicated. We believe that it is a legitimate ministry of the local church to assure that our congregants are educated and active citizens, beginning with casting informed votes in EVERY election. The following plan can effectively be implemented in every church, and we are asking that senior pastors commit to leading this effort and overseeing its completion prior to the next General Election. The righteous gain authority in this nation by God working through the choices of the people. Over 1.2 million Americans have died to give each of us the freedom we are enjoying but doing pathetically little to protect. The runaway tyranny of the Marxist/communist agenda dominating our federal and state governments is OUR fault, and it is OUR duty to get it under control. Don't blame God for our failure. Senior pastors: If not you, who? If not now, when?



Israel Reiterates Promise not to Build Settlements

June 29….(Jerusalem Post) Responding to international demands that Israel freeze construction in the West Bank, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's media advisor said Saturday night that Israel would do so. "The government of Israel has already articulated that we will not build new settlements, nor will we expropriate further land for the purpose of settlement building," said Mark Regev. The comments followed statements on Friday by both the Group of Eight summit of the world's major industrialized nations and the Middle East Quartet, the US, Russia, EU and UN, urging Israel to freeze all settlement activity. The call included a freeze on "natural growth" construction, referring to building intended to cope with the housing needs of growing families in Jewish towns in the West Bank. The Quartet also urged the government to dismantle settlement outposts erected since March 2001. "Let's be clear here. The final fate of the settlements will be determined in negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians," Regev said. "Our position is that neither the Israeli nor Palestinian side should take any steps that could prejudge final status negotiations. In the interim, our position is that inside existing communities normal life should be allowed to continue." The G8 and Quartet meetings took place in Italy, as foreign ministers of the G8 countries met to discuss various issues, mainly recent events in Iran. US Mideast envoy George Mitchell and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon were among the participants at the Quartet meeting. G8 nations also called on Israelis and Palestinians to renew direct negotiations over all disputed issues. A range of Arab League nations will join a follow-on session Friday afternoon. Israel was not invited, but the Italian Foreign Ministry said that the decision on who to invite was made by the Quartet, not Italy. The Friday declarations follow a week of pressure on Israel to freeze all settlement growth. On Wednesday, French President Nicolas Sarkozy called for a complete halt to the construction during a meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Paris



Israel-US Settlement Dispute Remains Unresolved

June 29….(Israel Today) Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak is scheduled to depart for Washington on Monday to try and calm growing tension between Israel and the US over the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's refusal to comply with President Barack Obama's demand for a complete halt to Jewish construction in Judea and Samaria. Barak noted that a deep rift remains between the two sides over the issue, especially as it regards the natural growth of Jewish communities in those areas and the building of homes in neighborhoods on the eastern side of Jerusalem. According to a report in Israel's largest newspaper, Yediot Ahronot, on Sunday, Barak plans to offer the Americans a full construction freeze for three months in order to get the land-for-peace process back on track, with the understanding that after that time Washington will support the natural growth of larger Jewish settlements. Right-wing members of the cabinet responded in outrage, noting that this wouldn't be the first time Barak had miscalculated and made offers he had no mandate to make. Barak's previous term as prime minister came to an abrupt end in 2000 when he made far reaching concessions to the Palestinians at Camp David leading to the exit of several coalition members from his government and his defeat in a no-confidence vote in the Knesset. Meanwhile, Netanyahu told reporters on Sunday that he had found a receptive audience for his new peace policies when he visited European capitals last week. Netanyahu said most European leaders had no problem with his demands that the Palestinians recognize Israel as the Jewish state, that a future Palestinian state be demilitarized and that a final status peace agreement be the end of all Arab demands on Israel. Netanyahu said that without these demands being met, his government would never sign a peace deal with the Palestinians



Weakened Ahmadinejad May Seek Military Adventures

June 29….(DEBKAfile Special Analysis) Two fundamental conceptions underpinning the Obama administration's Middle East policies have been swept away by the upheaval in Iran. DEBKAfile's Washington sources report that direct or even multilateral nuclear negotiations with Iran have vanished in the distance, for one, and the premise that progress on the Palestinian peace front is the key to a breakthrough with Iran is another. The turmoil in Tehran has demonstrated that any connection between internal unrest in the Islamic republic, its nuclear program and the Israel-Palestinian issue is contrived. Still, White House officials, who refuse to publicly admit they were wrong, continue to pressure the Netanyahu government to freeze all settlement construction as though it were relevant to their Middle East woes. Now, they have decided that Binyamin Netanyahu is weak enough to be squeezed into surrendering and the Obama administration can then claim a big Middle East success. Sunday, June 28, a number of Washington observers familiar with White House thinking cited insiders as speculating that should Netanyahu venture to defy the US, his coalition government is too fragile to survive a breach with Israel's foremost ally, he would be pushed out and succeeded by defense minster Ehud Barak. The main Israeli settlement concentrations cover no more than 1.7 percent of West Bank territory and the marginal expansion for growth would add less than one percent. Clearly, the controversy is more political than territorial. Some circles in Jerusalem suspect the Obama administration has blown it up more to undermine Netanyahu than to placate the Arabs. DEBKAfile's sources note that these evaluations about the durability of the Netanyahu government were released by Washington ahead of Barak's arrival Monday, June 29, to iron out the settlement controversy between the Israeli and US governments. They were meant to signal Netanyahu that any understanding his defense minister might achieve with the Americans would not serve the prime minister but be fodder for his political rivals. This approach was designed mainly by the White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel who now arguments that the failure to corner Netanyahu on the settlement issue will dent the Obama administration credibility in Arab eyes. In other words, the Iranian scarecrow is now replaced by an Arab bogyman for brandishing in front of Netanyahu. Washington and Jerusalem share the fear that Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's humiliation and diminished status at home may well goad him into embarking on a dangerous military adventure against Israel or US targets in Afghanistan or Iraq. In Jerusalem it makes sense for the United Stats to strengthen the informal Saudi-Egyptian-Israeli connection as a bulwark against wild Iranian ideas. This alliance, the brainchild of Barak, has been enthusiastically embraced by the prime minister. They are entirely of one mind on this policy. Therefore, the White House's presumption that the defense minister can be turned against Netanyahu makes no sense in Israeli terms. From Jerusalem, it looks suspiciously as though the Obama White House anti-settlement drive has become a two-pronged campaign to undercut Netanyahu's position at home and assemble a new set of principles, or at least a strategy, to replace the president's engagement policy which Ahmadinejad blocked in his weekend slanging match with the US president.







Top Bush Advisor Validates Israeli Claim About Agreement on Settlements

(Elliot Abrams, former deputy national security advisor, says Obama administration 'is wrong' to deny existence of understanding between Sharon, Bush on natural growth in settlements)


(FOJ) Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, President George W. Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and Jordan’s King Abdullah, June 4, 2003. The US and Israel reached a clear understanding about natural growth.

June 26….(YNET) Despite fervent denials by Obama administration officials, there were indeed agreements between Israel and the United States regarding the growth of Israeli settlements on the West Bank," a former senior advisor to the Bush administration wrote in the Wall Street Journal on Thursday. The editorial, penned by former Deputy National Security Advisor Elliot Abrams, validates the Israeli government's claim that then-Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and President George W. Bush came to an agreement that would allow for some degree of growth within existing settlements. Titled 'Hillary is wrong about the settlements,' the opinion piece rejects the current US administration's repeated denials about the existence of such an understanding. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has explicitly denied any such exchange. The tensions between Jerusalem and Washington over the settlement issue have yet to be resolved. The Americans will not accept anything but a complete freeze of all construction in the West Bank, including the neighborhoods adjacent to Jerusalem itself. Israel however says that the understanding with the previous administration allowed for the building of new housing units within the boundaries of existing settlements. It is with these tensions in the air that the meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and George Mitchell, President Barack Obama's special envoy to the Middle East, was canceled. Defense Minister Ehud Barak is to leave for Washington next week in an attempt to bridge the gaps with Mitchell. Netanyahu has said on a number of occasions that he agrees that no new settlements would be built, but that he cannot tell families in the existing ones "not to have children."

    Abrams, now a senior fellow for Middle Eastern Studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, handled Middle East affairs at the National Security Council from 2001 to 2009. He writes: "On settlements we also agreed on principles that would permit some continuing growth. Mr. Sharon stated these clearly in a major policy speech in December 2003: "Israel will meet all its obligations with regard to construction in the settlements. There will be no construction beyond the existing construction line, no expropriation of land for construction, no special economic incentives and no construction of new settlements." "Ariel Sharon did not invent those four principles. They emerged from discussions with American officials and were discussed by Messrs. Sharon and Bush at their Aqaba meeting in June 2003. They were not secret, either. Four days after the president's letter, Mr. Sharon's Chief of Staff Dov Weissglas wrote to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice (to confirm the understandings)." Referring to Clinton's denial of any such understandings, Abrams says: " These statements are incorrect. Not only were there agreements, but the prime minister of Israel relied on them in undertaking a wrenching political reorientation - the dissolution of his government, the removal of every single Israeli citizen, settlement and military position in Gaza, and the removal of four small settlements in the West Bank. This was the first time Israel had ever removed settlements outside the context of a peace treaty, and it was a major step. "It is true that there was no US-Israel "memorandum of understanding," which is presumably what Mrs. Clinton means when she suggests that the 'official record of the administration' contains none. But she would do well to consult documents like the Weissglas letter, or the notes of the Aqaba meeting, before suggesting that there was no meeting of the minds." Expressing surprise, Abrams ends his piece with saying: "For reasons that remain unclear, the Obama administration has decided to abandon the understandings about settlements reached by the previous administration with the Israeli government. We may be abandoning the deal now, but we cannot rewrite history and make believe it did not exist.



US Views Syria as Key Player for Mideast Peace

June 26….(Ha Aretz) US President Barack Obama's administration is examining a proposed Israeli-Syrian peace plan that is based on demilitarizing the Golan Heights and transforming it, along with a strip of the Jordan Valley, into a nature preserve, or "peace park," that would be open to visitors during the day. The decision to send an American ambassador to Damascus after a four-year absence, along with the recent visit to the Syrian capital by US Middle East envoy George Mitchell, were meant to prepare the ground for a resumption of Israeli-Syrian talks under American auspices. A senior diplomatic source told Haaretz yesterday that Washington has concluded that including Syria in the peace process is key to the effort to bring about an internal Palestinian reconciliation, without which the chances of progress on the Israeli-Palestinian track are small. The Americans believe the crisis in Iran has created an opportunity for the United States to draw Syria closer and resume Israel-Syria negotiations, the source added.
Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak has encouraged Obama to recruit Syrian President Bashar Assad's support for Egypt's efforts to achieve reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas by July 7. Under the Egyptian proposal, all the various Palestinian factions would set up a joint committee, answerable to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, to govern the Gaza Strip. The main obstacle to this proposal is Khaled Meshal, the Hamas politburo chief, who is based in the Syrian capital. Uri Saguy, who headed Israel's negotiating team with Syria during Ehud Barak's term as prime minister, said in a lecture in Jerusalem several days ago that Assad is not exaggerating when he says it is possible to consider 80 percent of the differences between Israel and Syria as having already been resolved. Saguy pointed out that the main obstacle was not water rights or security arrangements, but where the border would pass. He said the Syrians' attitude changed when they realized that the June 4, 1967 lines are less advantageous to them than the international border in certain important respects. It was at that point, he said, that they agreed to discuss proposals for bridging the gaps on the border issue, including the notion of a "peace park." Fred Hoff, who serves as Mitchell's deputy and is charged with the Syrian and Lebanese files, put forth a proposal under which much of the Golan Heights would be turned into a nature reserve open to visitors from both Israel and Syria during the day. The demilitarized area would be under international supervision, led by US officers, while the pullout and dismantlement of Israeli settlements on the Golan would be carried out over several years, in parallel with a normalization of ties between Syria and Israel.


Nixon Administration Pressured Israel on Nukes

(Documents released by Nixon Library show US tried to pressure Israel to sign Nonproliferation Treaty. 'If Israel elects to go the nuclear route it would cause a fundamental change in the US-Israeli relationship,' says unsigned memo, including 'our long-standing concern for Israel's security')

June 26….(YNET) Inside the Nixon administration four decades ago, American officials weighed options to pressure Israel to declare that it had a nuclear weapons program. US officials concluded Israel was "actively working to improve its capability to produce nuclear weapons on short notice." In an unsigned National Security Council memo, prepared sometime between April 1969 and March 1970, officials worried that the program might make elusive peace with the Arabs even harder to attain. The memorandum, part of a collection of memos and tape recordings released Tuesday by the Nixon Presidential Library, shows efforts to get Israel to sign the 1968 Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty. This would have required Israel to open itself to international inspection and dismantle any nuclear weapons program it had. Israel resisted, which the memorandum anticipated, "because Israel views its nuclear option on the NPT as an integral part of its national security." Israel would not be easily influenced, the unsigned memorandum predicted. The treaty requires all but five states - the United States, Russia, China, Britain and France, not to develop nuclear weapons. A total of 189 countries are parties to the treaty. The four exceptions are Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea. Next month, US President Barack Obama will meet with his Russian counterpart, President Dmitry Medvedev, in Moscow and again at a summit of world leaders in Italy. Obama will carry with him a determination to reduce the spread of nuclear weapons. He has said it is "absolutely imperative" that the United States take the lead. Back in the Nixon era, with little sign of progress toward a peace agreement on the horizon, "Israel's leaders have probably decided Israel cannot afford to surrender the nuclear option," the NSC memo concluded. In fact, the document added, Israel preferred to keep the Arabs guessing as to its power to deter attack, while the program provided bargaining power in negotiating a settlement. But the longer Israel would hold out against signing the treaty, it also would reduce prospects for settling the Arab-Israeli dispute, the memorandum said. "We must be prepared whether to make this a crunch issue with Israel and to make it clear that if Israel elects to go the nuclear route it would cause a fundamental change in the US-Israeli relationship." And that, the memo says, includes "our long-standing concern for Israel's security."



Russia Tries to Secure Bigger Role in Mideast Peace Process

June 25….(Israel Today) Russian President Dmitry Medvedev on Tuesday said he had finally secured support from all necessary parties to host a major Middle East peace summit in Moscow in the near future. During a speech in Cairo, Medvedev said the Moscow conference would be an important step forward in securing a final status peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians. Medvedev said his envisioned outcome of those talks is the birth of a Palestinian Arab state with the eastern half of Jerusalem as its capital. In that way, his vision matches that of US President Barack Obama, though many see the intended Moscow summit as a Russian attempt to relieve the US of its leadership role in the Middle East.



Documents Link Saudi Arabia to Sept. 11 Extremists

June 25….(In The Days) Documents gathered by lawyers for the families of Sept. 11 victims provide new evidence of extensive financial support for Al Qaeda and other extremist groups by members of the Saudi royal family, but the material may never find its way into court because of legal and diplomatic obstacles. The case has put the Obama administration in the middle of a political and legal dispute, with the Justice Department siding with the Saudis in court last month in seeking to kill further legal action. Adding to the intrigue, classified American intelligence documents related to Saudi finances were leaked anonymously to lawyers for the families. The Justice Department had the lawyers’ copies destroyed and now wants to prevent a judge from even looking at the material. The Saudis and their defenders in Washington have long denied links to terrorists, and they have mounted an aggressive and, so far, successful campaign to beat back the allegations in federal court based on a claim of sovereign immunity.Allegations of Saudi links to terrorism have been the subject of years of government investigations and furious debate. Critics have said that some members of the Saudi ruling class pay off terrorist groups in part to keep them from being more active in their own country. But the thousands of pages of previously undisclosed documents compiled by lawyers for the Sept. 11 families and their insurers represented an unusually detailed look at some of the evidence. Internal Treasury Department documents obtained by the lawyers under the Freedom of Information Act, for instance, said that a prominent Saudi charity, the International Islamic Relief Organization, heavily supported by members of the Saudi royal family, showed “support for terrorist organizations” at least through 2006. A self-described Qaeda operative in Bosnia said in an interview with lawyers in the lawsuit that another charity largely controlled by members of the royal family, the Saudi High Commission for Aid to Bosnia, provided money and supplies to the terrorist group in the 1990s and hired militant operatives like himself. Another witness in Afghanistan said in a sworn statement that in 1998 he had witnessed an emissary for a leading Saudi prince, Turki al-Faisal, hand a check for one billion Saudi riyals (now worth about $267 million) to a top Taliban leader. And a confidential German intelligence report gave a line-by-line description of tens of millions of dollars in bank transfers, with dates and dollar amounts, made in the early 1990s by Prince Salman bin Abdul Aziz and other members of the Saudi royal family to another charity that was suspected of financing militants’ activities in Pakistan and Bosnia. The new documents, provided to The New York Times by the lawyers, are among several hundred thousand pages of investigative material obtained by the Sept. 11 families and their insurers as part of a long-running civil lawsuit seeking to hold Saudi Arabia and its royal family liable for financing Al Qaeda. Only a fraction of the documents have been entered into the court record, and much of the new material is unknown even to the Saudi lawyers in the case. The documents provide no smoking gun connecting the royal family to the events of Sept. 11, 2001. And the broader links rely at times on a circumstantial, connect-the-dots approach to tie together Saudi princes, Middle Eastern charities, suspicious transactions and terrorist groups. Saudi lawyers and supporters say that the links are flimsy and exploit stereotypes about terrorism, and that the country is being sued because it has deep pockets and was home to 15 of the 19 hijackers. “In looking at all the evidence the families brought together, I have not seen one iota of evidence that Saudi Arabia had anything to do with the 9/11 attacks,” Michael Kellogg, a Washington lawyer representing Prince Muhammad al-Faisal al-Saud in the lawsuit, said in an interview. He and other defense lawyers said that rather than supporting Al Qaeda, the Saudis were sworn enemies of its leader, Osama bin Laden, who was exiled from Saudi Arabia, his native country, in 1996. “It’s an absolute tragedy what happened to them, and I understand their anger,” Mr. Kellogg said of the victims’ families. “They want to find those responsible, but I think they’ve been disserved by their lawyers by bringing claims without any merit against the wrong people.” The Saudi Embassy in Washington declined to comment. Two federal judges and the Second Circuit Court of Appeals have already ruled against the 7,630 people represented in the lawsuit, made up of survivors of the attacks and family members of those killed, throwing out the suit on the ground that the families cannot bring legal action in the United States against a sovereign nation and its leaders. The Supreme Court is expected to decide this week whether to hear an appeal, but the families’ prospects dimmed last month when the Justice Department sided with the Saudis in their immunity claim and urged the court not to consider the appeal. The Justice Department said a 1976 law on sovereign immunity protected the Saudis from liability and noted that “potentially significant foreign relations consequences” would arise if such suits were allowed to proceed. “Cases like this put the US government in an extremely difficult position when it has to make legal arguments, even when they are the better view of the law, that run counter to those of terrorist victims,” said John Bellinger, a former State Department lawyer who was involved in the Saudi litigation. Senior Obama administration officials held a private meeting on Monday with 9/11 family members to speak about progress in cracking down on terrorist financing. Administration officials at the meeting largely sidestepped questions about the lawsuit, according to participants. But the official who helped lead the meeting, Stuart A. Levey, the under secretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, has been outspoken in his criticism of wealthy Saudis, saying they have helped to finance terrorism. Even if the 9/11 families were to get their trial in the lawsuit, they might have difficulty getting some of their new material into evidence. Some would most likely be challenged on grounds it was irrelevant or uncorroborated hearsay, or that it related to Saudis who were clearly covered by sovereign immunity. And if the families were to clear those hurdles, two intriguing pieces of evidence in the Saudi puzzle might still remain off limits. One is a 28-page, classified section of the 2003 joint Congressional inquiry into the Sept. 11 attacks. The secret section is believed to discuss intelligence on Saudi financial links to two hijackers, and the Saudis themselves urged at the time that it be made public. President George W. Bush declined to do so. Kristen Breitweiser, an advocate for Sept. 11 families, whose husband was killed in the World Trade Center, said in an interview that during a White House meeting in February between President Obama and victims’ families, the president told her that he was willing to make the pages public. But she said she had not heard from the White House since then. The other evidence that may not be admissible consists of classified documents leaked to one of the law firms representing the families, Motley Rice of South Carolina, which is headed by Ronald Motley, a well-known trial lawyer who won lucrative lawsuits involving asbestos and tobacco. Lawyers for the firm say someone anonymously slipped them 55 documents that contained classified government material relating to the Saudi lawsuit.



N. Korea Threatens to Wipe US Off the Map

June 25….(Newsmax) North Korea threatened Wednesday to wipe the United States off the map as Washington and its allies watched for signs the regime will launch a series of missiles in the coming days. Off China's coast, a US destroyer was tailing a North Korean ship suspected of transporting illicit weapons to Myanmar in what could be the first test of UN sanctions passed to punish the nation for an underground nuclear test last month. The Kang Nam left the North Korean port of Nampo a week ago with the USS John S. McCain close behind. The ship, accused of transporting banned goods in the past, is believed bound for Myanmar, according to South Korean and US officials. The new UN Security Council resolution requires member states to seek permission to inspect suspicious cargo. North Korea has said it would consider interception a declaration of war and on Wednesday accused the US of seeking to provoke another Korean War. "If the US imperialists start another war, the army and people of Korea will wipe out the aggressors on the globe once and for all," the official Korean Central News Agency said. The warning came on the eve of the 59th anniversary of the start of the three-year Korean War, which ended in a truce in 1953, not a peace treaty, leaving the peninsula in state of war. The US has 28,500 troops in South Korea to protect against an outbreak of hostilities. Tensions have been high since North Korea launched a long-range rocket in April and then conducted its second underground atomic test on May 25. Reacting to UN condemnation of that test, North Korea walked away from nuclear disarmament talks and warned it would fire a long-range missile. North Korea has banned ships from the waters off its east coast starting Thursday through July 10 for military exercises, Japan's Coast Guard said. South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported Wednesday that the North may fire a Scud missile with a range of up to 310 miles (500 kilometers) or a short-range ground-to-ship missile with a range of 100 miles (160 kilometers) during the no-sail period. A senior South Korean government official said the no-sail ban is believed connected to North Korean plans to fire short- or mid-range missiles. He spoke on condition of anonymity, citing department policy. US defense and counterproliferation officials in Washington said they also expected the North to launch short- to medium-range missiles. The officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss sensitive intelligence. South Korea will expedite the introduction of high-tech unmanned aerial surveillance systems and "bunker-buster" bombs in response to North Korea's provocations, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper said, citing unidentified ruling party members. Meanwhile, a flurry of diplomatic efforts were under way to try getting North Korea to return to disarmament talks. Russia's top nuclear envoy, Alexei Borodavkin, said after meeting with his South Korean counterpart that Moscow is open to other formats for discussion since Pyongyang has pulled out of formal six-nation negotiations. In Beijing, top U.S. and Chinese defense officials also discussed North Korea. US Defense Undersecretary Michele Flournoy was heading next to Tokyo and Seoul for talks. South Korea has proposed high-level "consultations" to discuss North Korea with the US, Russia, China and Japan.



Polls Show Americans Less Pro-Israel Yet Tougher on Iran

June 25….( Two recent polls have shown that while less Americans see themselves as pro-Israel, more Americans support coming to Israel's aid if Iran attacks it. A recent Rasmussen poll found that 49 percent of Americans thought the US should help Israel if the Jewish state attacks Iran’s nuclear facilities. 37 percent said the the United States should do nothing while 2 percent believed the US should help Iran. Last summer, just 42 percent of Americans said their country should help Israel while 46 percent said it should do nothing.

Israel support down or up?

These poll results seem to contradict another poll, which was conducted for The Israel Project and leaked to the media in an unofficial manner earlier this month. The poll found that 49 percent of American voters called themselves supporters of Israel, down a whopping 20 points from 69 percent last September. That poll was conducted among 800 registered voters by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research, JTA reported. It found that 44 percent of voters thought the United States should support Israel, down from 69 percent a year ago. Five percent of voters believed the United States should support the Palestinians, and 32 percent were undecided. One way to reconcile the two polls would be to say that while less Americans identify themselves as pro-Israel in general, the American public has become more aware of the Iranian threat and would want the US to help Israel if push came to shove between it and the Islamist country. Support of Israel has fluctuated in past years as well: according to the JTA report, the number of Israel supporters hit a low of 38 percent immediately following the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza.

Americans more pessimistic on PA Peace

Recent polls have also found that many Americans and Israelis think peace between the Jewish State and the Palestinian Authority is unlikely any time soon. According to a Rasmussen poll released Tuesday, 74 percent of Americans think it unlikely there will be a lasting peace between Israel and the PA in the next 10 years. These numbers are even lower than those among Israeli Jews: in the Peace Index poll released earlier in the month by Tel Aviv University, 67.5 percent of Jewish Israelis agree that peace with the PA is an unlikely prospect. Eighty-one percent of Americans said that PA leaders must recognize Israel’s right to exist. Only seven percent disagreed with this statement. On the other hand, only 27 percent believed it was even somewhat likely PA leaders would make such a concession. 35 percent of Americans thought President Obama was not supportive enough of Israel, 48 percent thought the US President’s Israel policy was just about right, and 10 percent said he was too supportive of the Jewish state.



Obama Sent Secret Letter of Support to Khamenei Before Election

June 25…(DEBKA) US and Iranian sources report that before Iran's presidential election, the Obama administration sent a secret letter to its supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei calling for "cooperation in regional and bilateral relations" and a resolution of the dispute over Iran's nuclear program. The Iranian media gave great prominence to the disclosure, for which they cited the Washington Times of Wednesday, June 24, in order to underline US president's backing for Khamenei and president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in contrast to his latest words of condemnation for the regime and support for the "reformists." According to the WT, a senior Obama administration official speaking on condition of anonymity refused to confirm or deny that this letter had been sent to the supreme leader or whether there had been a response. DEBKAfile's Iranian sources say the Iranians are using this expose to embarrass president Obama for telling a news conference in Washington Tuesday that Iran's rulers are on the wrong side of history. The secrecy of the communication can only add to the awkwardness because it points to Obama being convinced that once the protest movement dies down, he can go back to his plan for engaging Iran's leaders in dialogue. Khamenei himself referred indirectly to the missive when he commented in his sermon last Friday: "On the one hand, they write a letter to us to express their respect for the Islamic Republic and for re-establishment of ties, and on the other hand, they make these remarks. Which one of these remarks are we supposed to believe." Following the disclosure of the Obama letter, White House spokesman Robert Gibbs announced: "Given the events of the past many days, those invitations [for Iranian diplomats to attend July 4 events in different world capitals] will no longer be extended." The events going back and forth in a single day, Wednesday, signaled a conspicuous retreat in the process of US-Iranian rapprochement.



Bible's 'Ark of the Covenant' About to be Unveiled?

(Ethiopian patriarch tells pope he will show artifact to world)


June 25….(WND) The patriarch of the Orthodox Church of Ethiopia says he will announce to the world Friday the unveiling of the Ark of the Covenant, perhaps the world's most prized archaeological and spiritual artifact, which he says has been hidden away in a church in his country for millennia, according to the Italian news agency Adnkronos. Abuna Pauolos, in Italy for a meeting with Pope Benedict XVI this week, told the news agency, "Soon the world will be able to admire the Ark of the Covenant described in the Bible as the container of the tablets of the law that God delivered to Moses and the center of searches and studies for centuries." The announcement is expected to be made at 2 p.m. Italian time from the Hotel Aldrovandi in Rome. Pauolos will reportedly be accompanied by Prince Aklile Berhan Makonnen Haile Sellassie and Duke Amedeo D'Acosta. The Ark of the Covenant is in Ethiopia for many centuries," said Pauolos. "As a patriarch I have seen it with my own eyes and only few highly qualified persons could do the same, until now." According to Pauolos, the actual Ark has been kept in one church, but to defend the treasure, a copy was placed in every single church in Ethiopia. He said a museum is being built in Axum, Ethiopia, where the Ark will be displayed. A foundation of D'Acosta will fund the project. The Ark of the Covenant is the sacred container of the Ten Commandments as well as Aaron's rod and a sample of manna, the mysterious food that kept the Israelites alive while wandering in the wilderness during their journey to the promised land. The Bible says the Ark was built to the specifications of God as He spoke to Moses. It was carried in advance of the people and their army by priests. It was also carried in a seven-day procession around the walled city of Jericho. The idea that the Ark is presently in Ethiopia is a well-documented, albeit disputed, tradition dating back to at least 642 BC The tradition says it was moved to Elephantine Island in Egypt, then to Tana Kirkos Island in Ethiopia and finally to its present site at St. Mary's of Zion Church in Axum. Ethiopians believe it is destined to be delivered to the Messiah when He reigns on Mount Zion, the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. Jeremiah 3:16 points to a time when the Ark will vanish not only physically, but from the minds of the people: "And it shall come to pass, when ye be multiplied and increased in the land, in those days, saith the Lord, they shall say no more, The ark of the covenant of the Lord: neither shall it come to mind: neither shall they remember it; neither shall they visit it; neither shall that be done any more." The Book of Revelation says the Ark is in the temple of God in heaven (Rev. 11:19). Muslim scholars say it will be found near the end of times by the Mahdi, a messianic figure in Islam.



Is Mousavi Worse for Israel? Israeli Experts are Divided


June 24….( Israeli experts disagree on whether the Jewish state is better off with Mahmoud Ahmadinjad as Iran’s president, or with his challenger Mir-Hossein Mousavi. While Mousavi is seen as more moderate than the incumbent, many experts think this actually makes him a greater threat, because the danger he poses is harder to see. Mossad director Meir Dagan told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee last week that "if the reformist candidate Mousavi had won, Israel would have had a more serious problem because it would need to explain to the world the danger of the Iranian threat."

Ahmadinejad as Diplomatic Asset

As prime minister in the late 1980s, Mousavi was among the initiators of Iran’s military nuclear program, explained veteran analyst Ron Ben-Yishai in a recent article on the Hebrew language website Ynet. “He was the one who began the clandestine program for acquisition of know-how and equipment for nuclear weapons production from Pakistani scientist Abd-el Kadr Khan.” In addition, Mousavi made it clear on the eve of the recent elections that he would continue Iran’s nuclear program as President, meaning that his election probably would not cause Iran to give up its military nuclear ambition. Ahmadinejad, on the other hand, is “a diplomatic asset for the West in general and for Israel in particular. His Shi’ite fanaticism and Holocaust denial have frightened Arab and Western countries and assisted in creation of a global anti-Iranian front,” Ben-Yishai added. Ephraim Inbar, director of the Begin Sadat Center at Bar-Ilan University, agrees. "Just because Mousavi is called a moderate or a reformist doesn't mean he's a nice guy. After all, he was approved by the Islamic leadership," he is quoted as saying by CBS News. "If we have Ahmadinejad, we know where we stand. If we have Mousavi we have a serpent with a nice image." "Mousavi and Ahmadinejad are from the same school, and we have already seen Mousavi as an enemy of Israel supporting terrorist groups," said Menashe Amir, who hosts Voice of Israel Radio's daily Persian language news show, which is very popular in Iran. "Mousavi declared during the television debates that he will not change the nuclear policy and that he won't stop Iranian support to the Palestinians."

Peres Thinks Otherwise

President Shimon Peres, on the other hand, thinks that a regime change in Iran may come quicker than an end to the country's nuclear program. "You never know what will disappear in Iran first, their enriched uranium or their poor government," Peres said in a speech before the Jewish Agency in Jerusalem. "I hope their poor government will disappear first." The Iranian nation, said Peres, “is trying to bring its own image back to its culture. Let the youth shout louder for freedom and a positive policy,” he said. “Let the women, a particularly courageous group, give voice to their thirst for equality.” Meir Javedanfar, an Iranian-born Israeli who co-authored a book on Ahmadinejad, "The Nuclear Sphinx of Tehran," is closer to Peres’s view than to Dagan’s. Javedanfar acknowledged that Ahmadinejad may serve Israel better in the short-term information war, but said in the longer term, Mousavi and his allies could change Iran’s foreign policy and make it less confrontational. "The reformists are for more human rights inside Iran, and for a reduction in tension with… other countries in the region," he said



Russia To Host Mideast Peace Summit This Year

June 24….(Reuters) Russian president Mededev said in Cairo Tuesday that Moscow aimed to hold a Middle East peace conference before the end of 2009, a move backed by Egypt and which Russia said also had Israel's approval. Russia, which has proposed such a conference in the past, is a member of the Quartet of Middle East negotiators, along with the European Union, the United States and the United Nations. "We paid special attention to Middle East issues. We highly appreciate efforts by the Egyptian president to create an atmosphere of trust and cooperation in the region," Dmitry Medvedev said after talks with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. "The Moscow Middle East conference, which we plan to hold before the end of the year, will also contribute to achieving this goal," he said at a joint news conference in Cairo. Mubarak, speaking after the two sides signed cooperation agreements, said Egypt backed the conference in Moscow. Israeli spokesman Yigal Palmor said Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman recently told Russia that Israel "would, in principle, agree to attend, provided, of course, that anti-peace elements such as Hamas and Hezbollah are not invited". Moscow is the only Quartet member talking to Hamas, the group that controls Gaza but which is snubbed by Israel and the West. Russia also has good contacts with Israel. "We have ensured agreement from all countries including the new Israeli government (for the Moscow conference)," Medvedev said later in the day at the Cairo-based Arab League. Yasser Abed Rabbo, aide to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, told Reuters: "We welcome the holding of an international conference in Moscow. But before it can go ahead there must be real improvements." This included stopping Israeli settlement activity and an Israeli commitment to a two-state solution, he said. The Palestinians, like Egypt and other Arab states, have dismissed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's conditional proposal for a demilitarized Palestinian state. Medvedev's trip to Egypt comes less than three weeks after US President Barack Obama visited Cairo to deliver an address aimed at improving Washington's ties with the Muslim world. In that speech, Obama also said he would "personally pursue" a two-state solution. "The creation of an independent, sovereign and viable Palestinian state with the capital in east Jerusalem should become the result of such a settlement (of the Arab-Israeli conflict)," Medvedev said in his Arab League speech. He also said "mentoring, imposing democracy or directly interfering from outside are absolutely impermissible" in the Arab world. "Understanding of this fact is growing in the world. The recent speech in Cairo University by US President Barack Obama testifies to this fact," Medvedev added.



Can Third Temple be Built Without Destroying Dome of the Rock?


June 23….(Jerusalem Post) A new Jewish interfaith initiative launched last week argues building the Third Jewish Temple in Jerusalem would not necessitate the destruction of the Dome of the Rock. "God's Holy Mountain Vision" project hopes to defuse religious strife by showing that Jews' end-of-days vision could harmoniously accommodate Islam's present architectural hegemony on the Temple Mount. "This vision of religious shrines in peaceful proximity can transform the Temple Mount from a place of contention to its original sacred role as a place of worship shared by Jews, Muslims and Christians," said Yoav Frankel, director of the initiative. The Interfaith Encounter Association at the Mishkenot Sha'ananim's Konrad Adenauer Conference Center in Jerusalem is sponsoring the program, which includes interfaith study and other educational projects. According to Islamic tradition, the Dome of the Rock, built in 691, marks the spot where Muhammed ascended to Heaven. But according to Jewish tradition, Mount Moriah, now under the Dome of the Rock, is where the Temple's Holy of Holies was situated. Until now Jewish tradition has assumed that destruction of the Dome of the Rock was a precondition for the building of the third and last Temple. However, in an article that appeared in 2007 in Tehumin, an influential journal of Jewish law, Frankel, a young scholar, presented a different option. His main argument is that Jewish doctrine regarding the rebuilding of the Temple emphasizes the role of a prophet. This prophet would have extraordinary authority, including the discretion to specify the Temple's precise location, regardless of any diverging Jewish traditions. Frankel considers the scenario of a holy revelation given to an authentic prophet that the Temple be rebuilt on the current or an extended Temple Mount in peaceful proximity to the dome and other houses of prayer such as the Aksa Mosque and nearby Christian shrines. However, both Muslims and Jews have expressed opposition to the initiative. Sheikh Abdulla Nimar Darwish, founder of the Islamic Movement in Israel, said it was pointless to talk about what would happen when the mahdi, the Muslim equivalent of the messiah, would reveal himself. "Why are we taking upon ourselves the responsibility to decide such things?" Darwish said in a telephone interview with The Jerusalem Post. "Even Jews believe that it is prohibited to rebuild the Temple until the messiah comes. So what is there to talk about. "The mahdi will decide whether or not to rebuild the Temple. If he decides that it should be rebuilt, I will go out to the Temple Mount and help carry the rocks." Darwish warned against any attempt to rebuild the Temple before the coming of the mahdi. "As long as there is a Muslim alive, no Jewish Temple will be built on Al-Haram Al-Sharif [the Temple Mount]. The status quo must be maintained, otherwise there will be bloodshed." In contrast, Baruch Ben-Yosef, chairman of the Movement to Restore the Temple, made it clear that the Temple had to be built where the Dome of the Rock presently stands. "Anybody who says anything else simply does not know what he is talking about," he said. "A prophet does not have the power to change the law which explicitly states the location of the Temple." Ben-Yosef also rejected the idea that rebuilding of the Temple had to be done by a prophet. "All you need is a Sanhedrin," he said. Mainstream Orthodox rabbis have opposed attempts to rebuild the Temple since the Mount came under Israeli control in 1967. The Chief Rabbinate of Israel even issued a decree prohibiting Jews from entering the area due to ritual purity issues. However, several grassroots organizations such as the Movement to Restore the Temple, and maverick rabbis, including Rabbi Israel Ariel, head of the capital's Temple Institute and a leading member of the revived Sanhedrin led by Rabbi Adin Steinsaltz, have called to take steps to renew the sacrifices on the Temple Mount and rebuild the Temple.



Al Qaeda Would Use Pakistani Nukes Against US


June 23….(In The Days) In this file photo a Hatf-VI (Shaheen-II) missile, with a range of 2,000 km (1,242 miles), takes off during a test flight from an undisclosed location in Pakistan April 21, 2008. If it were in a position to do so, Al Qaeda would use Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in its fight against the United States, a top leader of the group said in remarks aired Sunday. If it were in a position to do so, Al Qaeda would use Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in its fight against the United States, a top leader of the group said in remarks aired Sunday. Pakistan has been battling al Qaeda’s Taliban allies in the Swat Valley since April after their thrust into a district 100 km (60 miles) northwest of the capital raised fears the nuclear-armed country could slowly slip into militant hands. “God willing, the nuclear weapons will not fall into the hands of the Americans and the mujahideen would take them and use them against the Americans,” Mustafa Abu al-Yazid, the leader of al Qaeda’s in Afghanistan, said in an interview with Al Jazeera television. Abu al-Yazid was responding to a question about US safeguards to seize control over Pakistan’s nuclear weapons in case Islamist fighters came close to doing so. “We expect that the Pakistani army would be defeated (in Swat) and that would be its end everywhere, God willing.” Asked about the group’s plans, the Egyptian militant leader said: “The strategy of the (al Qaeda) organization in the coming period is the same as in the previous period: to hit the head of the snake, the head of tyranny, the United States. “That can be achieved through continued work on the open fronts and also by opening new fronts in a manner that achieves the interests of Islam and Muslims and by increasing military operations that drain the enemy financially.” The militant leader suggested that naming a new leader for the group’s unit in the Arabian Peninsula, Abu Basir al-Wahayshi, could revive its campaign in Saudi Arabia, the world’s top oil exporter. “Our goals have been the Americans, and the oil targets which they are stealing to gain power to strike the mujahideen and Muslims.” “There was a setback in work there for reasons that there is no room to state now, but as of late, efforts have been united and there is unity around a single leader.” Abu al-Yazid, also known as Abu Saeed al-Masri, said al Qaeda will continue “with large scale operations against the enemy,” by which he meant the United States. “We have demanded and we demand that all branches of al Qaeda carry out such operations,” he said, referring to attacks against US-led forces in Iraq and Afghanistan. The militant leader said al Qaeda would be willing to accept a truce of about 10 years’ duration with the United States if Washington agreed to withdraw its troops from Muslim countries and stopped backing Israel and the pro-Western governments of Muslim nations. Asked about the whereabouts of al Qaeda’s top leaders, he said: “Praise God, sheikh Osama (bin Laden) and sheikh Ayman al-Zawahri are safe from the reach of the enemies, but we would not say where they are; moreover, we do not know where they are, but we’re in continuous contact with them.”



Ahmadinejad Tells West not to Interfere in Iran

(Amid allegations of election fraud and ensuing civil unrest, president says with 'hasty' remarks US, Britain will 'not be placed in circle of friendship with Iranian nation')


June 22….(YNET) Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad told the United States and Britain on Sunday to stop interfering in the Islamic Republic's internal affairs after its presidential election, the ISNA news agency said. "Definitely by hasty remarks you will not be placed in the circle of friendship with the Iranian nation. Therefore I advise you to correct your interfering stances," Ahmadinejad was quoted as saying in a meeting with clerics and scholars. Ahmadinejad, who often rails against the West, was directing this remark at US President Barack Obama and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, ISNA said. Many Western countries have criticized the election, which was won by Ahmadinejad according to official figures, and its aftermath. His main opponent, moderate Mirhossein Mousavi, says the vote was rigged. The government denies the charge. "They (Western countries) want to portray as small the great and powerful position that has been created for the Iranian nation inside and outside after the recent election, by which of course they made a mistake and they showed they still do not know the Iranian nation," Ahmadinejad said. "Definitely recent events will add to the Islamic Republic of Iran's greatness and might," he said. Earlier on Sunday, in an address to foreign diplomats in Tehran, Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki denounced what he described as "interfering remarks" by British officials regarding the vote. He said Britain for a long time had "targeted elections" in Iran and suggested that people linked to British intelligence had travelled to the country prior to this month's election. Britain's Foreign Secretary David Miliband responded by saying that foreign countries have played no part in supporting the violent street protests that erupted in Iran after the disputed presidential election. "I reject categorically the idea that the protesters in Iran are manipulated or motivated by foreign countries," he said in a statement. "The UK is categorical that it is for the Iranian people to choose their government and for the Iranian authorities to ensure the fairness of the result and the protection of their own people."



Mousavi Issues Unprecedented Criticism of Khamenei as Iran Protests Grows

(Opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi fired off an unprecedented attack at Ayatollah Khamenei Sunday pushing Iran closer to the precipice as police again clashed with thousands of defiant protesters on Tehran's streets.)

June 22….(Deutsh Welle) Mousavi, who has led a massive wave of public opposition to the disputed June 12 vote that returned hardliner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad to power, accused the country's rulers of "cheating" and warned of a dangerous path ahead if the crackdown on demonstrators continued. "If this huge volume of cheating and changing the votes, which has hurt people's trust, is presented as the very evidence of the lack of cheating, then it will butcher the republican aspect of the system, and the idea that Islam is incompatible with a republic will be proven," Mousavi said. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, who last week ordered a probe into allegations of electoral fraud, had insisted in his Friday sermon that the margin of Ahmadinejad's victory over Mousavi meant there had been no cheating. Iran's electoral watchdog, the 12-member Guardians Council, said on Saturday it was ready to randomly recount up to 10 percent of the ballot boxes from the election, state television reported. Mousavi added that the Islamic Republic must be purged of what he called lies and dishonesty, sending out a direct challenge to conservative rulers after a week of unrest in Iran. The opposition leader, who claims victory in the poll, told supporters he was "ready for martyrdom", according to an ally. But he said he did not seek confrontation with the authorities. "We are not against the Islamic system and its laws but against lies and deviations and just want to reform it," he said in a statement on his website at the end of another tumultuous day. Mousavi said if authorities refused to allow peaceful protests they would face the "consequences," an apparent rejoinder to Khamenei's warning that opposition leaders would be held responsible for any bloodshed resulting from protests. "The people expect from their officials honesty and decency as many of our problems are because of lies. The Islamic revolution should be the way it was and the way it should be," Mousavi said. "If the people's trust is not matched by protecting their votes, or if they are not able to defend their rights in a civil peaceful reaction, there will be dangerous ways ahead." Mousavi's statements came after police firing tear gas and water canons clashed with thousands of protestors who defied an ultimatum from Ayatollah Ali Khamenei for an end to their street protests. At least one person was wounded when shots rang out during Saturday's rally as demonstrators faced off against hundreds of security personnel to assemble in Enghelab (Revolution) Square in the heart of the capital, witnesses said. Helicopters criss-crossed Tehran and ambulance sirens wailed into the night after streets emptied of protesters who had defied Friday's stern warning from Khamenei during his weekly prayers. The head of Iran's Security Council, Abbas Mohtaj, on Saturday delivered a specific warning to Mousavi and his supporters. "Your national duty tells you to refrain from provoking illegal gatherings," Mohtaj said in a statement. "Should you provoke and call for these illegal rallies you will be responsible for the consequences." Since the protests began, scores of prominent political activists, including reformist leaders and former government officials, have also been rounded up by the authorities.



In Spreading Disorder, Iran's Nuclear Assets are Matter of Concern

June 22….(DEBKA) As the Islamic Republic slides deeper into unrest, the fate of Iran's nuclear resources is becoming a pressing matter of concern, DEBKA-Net-Weekly's Washington sources reported Friday, June 19. Iran's nuclear program is far more advanced than generally acknowledged in the West; so is its ballistic missile development. Should factional strife or civil war paralyze central government, those assets would become vulnerable. Iran has accumulated a mountain of nuclear data and a large staff of scientists working inter alia on enriched uranium. Facing opposition in Pakistan, al Qaeda might find Iran a tempting proposition. Its tacticians have long shown an aptitude for operational opportunism; more than once they managed to about-turn and relocate jihadi manpower to new arenas more rapidly than the transfer of Western forces. This situation has a nightmarish precedent. After the collapse of the Soviet empire in the early 90s, it later transpired that at least 12 nuclear cruise missiles and four Kh-55 nuclear warheads were stolen from the Russian stockpile in the Ukraine and reached the hands of Iran and China who copied their nuclear technology. And scores of "nuclear suitcases" designed as tactical weapons for Russian special forces vanished and were never traced. Iran lacks nuclear products of this level of sophistication but it has accumulated a large quantity of enriched uranium and valuable prototypes of nuclear devices and warheads, ballistic missiles and a great deal of know-how for making "dirty bombs." In a breakdown of order in Iran, those scientists may well decide to take off and peddle their nuclear trove to the highest bidder. The strained relations between the Islamic regime and Washington have made it impossible for the administration to access any leading Iranian official to help prevent Iran's nuclear resources from reaching the wrong hands. President Barak Obama is under pressure at home to extend more forceful encouragement to the protest movement rather than placating the regime.



Fiery Chaos Reigns in Streets of Tehran

(19 killed as protesters face guns, batons, tear gas)

June 22….(AP) Clashes between protesters and Iranian security forces heightened today as police reportedly beat protesters and fired tear gas and water cannons at thousands who rallied in defiance of Iran's Islamist government. Unconfirmed reports put the death toll as high as 150 on the seventh day of post-election protests. Sources at one Tehran hospital confirmed 19 deaths Saturday, according to CNN. Foreign journalists in Tehran, meanwhile, have been banned from reporting from the streets or attending mass rallies the past few days, prompting news agencies to appeal to Iranians to pass on information. "Some reports could not be independently confirmed. Foreign news organizations, including the BBC, have been subjected to strict controls which prevent reporters from leaving their offices," read an online news report from the BBC. The British network, along with other agencies like the Associated Press and the AFP, appealed to those on the streets in Tehran to pass along information and documentation, like photos and video. The restrictions on the press have been in place since violent protests erupted following the announcement eight days ago of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's disputed re-election. "If three days from now no journalists are able to testify on what is happening in Iran, it will pave the way for all sorts of abuses," warned Jean-Francois Julliard, secretary general of the Reporters Without Borders organization. Julliard's group confirming at least 12 journalists have been arrested since last week. His organization staged a rally last week outside the Iranian embassy in France to demand and end to all media clampdowns in Iran. The move to ban reporters from going outside was just a fraction of the restrictions imposed by the Iranian government in attempts to crack down on democratic protests taking place in the country's capital. According to reports by Reuters and the Associated Press, the Iranian government temporarily halted all cell phone service in the country at one point last week. Some service was restored, although many Iranians reported they could not send text messages. More reports of temporary cell phone service closures came in yesterday and today. Iran reportedly also moved to close down opponent websites and filtered some social networking sites, although according to reports, Twitter has been used to spread some rally information. The newspaper owned by opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi has not been allowed to publish a print edition in days. Tehran Province Police Chief Ahmad Reza Radan today announced his police forces would crack down on any gathering or protest rally. The head of the State Security Council issued a stern warning to Mousavi that he would be held responsible if he encouraged protests. In today's violence, witnesses told AP between 50 and 60 protesters were hospitalized after beatings by police and pro-government militia. The clashes reportedly took place near Revolution Square in Tehran where protesters, many wearing black, were reportedly yelling, "Death to the dictator!" and, "Death to dictatorship!" Police reportedly fired tear gas, water cannons and guns. The BBC also quoted a witness saying live ammunition was fired. One stringer told the BBC he saw one man shot and others injured amid running fights. Last week, 20 people were reportedly killed in protests. Most of the shots were reportedly fired by un-uniformed gunmen many suspect of working with the Iranian Revolutionary Guards, which openly back Ahmadinejad.

Opposition leader 'ready for martyrdom'

Mousavi, meanwhile, is "ready for martyrdom," according to one of his aids who was quoted by Reuters. "In a public address in southwestern Tehran, Mousavi said he was ready for martyrdom and that he would continue his path," said the aid, who was reportedly speaking by telephone from Tehran. Mousavi also told his supporters in a statement that he would always be at their side, the semi-official Fars news agency reported. He added in the statement he was not confronting the Islamic state. He warned, however, that by not allowing legal protests, Iran may face "dangerous consequences". Mousavi also repeated calls for the election to be annulled on the grounds it was rigged. According to official state television, two people were killed today in a suicide bombing at a shrine for Khomeini. Iran's English-language Press TV said eight people were also wounded in the bombing, later adding the attacker also died. The semi-official Fars news agency said the bombing took place at the northern wing of the shrine. Its report was confirmed by a senior police official.

Obama emerges from sidelines

Finally weighing in on the issue as opposed to his sideline position during the last week, President Obama said in a taped interview with CBS yesterday he is very concerned by the tenor and tone of Khamenei's comments as well as by the crackdown by security forces of public protests. "If the Iranian government seeks the respect of the international community, it must respect the dignity of its own people and govern through consent, not coercion," Obama said.







Khamenei In Tough Sermon Defends Ahmadinejad, Warns Protesters

(Ayatollah Ali Khamenei in stern, uncompromising mode)


June 19….(DEBKA) In his first public appearance since the disputed presidential election of June 12, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said Iran's enemies sought to shake the people's confidence and trust in the Islamic regime. They suffered an earthquake and the Islamic regime won a celebration. Revolutionary Guards commander Mohsein Rezai was the only one of the three losing presidential candidates to be present at the mass-attended Friday sermon at the main mosque in Tehran. The street rallies, Khamenei charged, were used as the cover for Western "armed terrorist groups" who attacked Bassij militiamen and Tehran University of Tehran students. He said the "street riots" are the wrong way and must stop, or else their leader would be held responsible for the consequences. Without trust, the voters would not have turned out in such numbers, said Khamenei. He asked rhetorically: How can voting be rigged when there is a difference of 11 million votes [between the candidates]?" and won loud cheers. He criticized the mutually vituperative campaigns of winner Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and loser Mir Hossein Mousavi and attacked the allegations of corruption against Rafsanjani and his family. But he said he and the president were close on foreign policy. This was an expression of support for Ahmadinejad's approach to the US. They shouted "Death to America!" when the supreme leader poured contempt on what he called US repression in Afghanistan, its destruction of Iraq and treatment of the Palestinians. Khamenei attacked the United Kingdom as the most treacherous of Iran's enemies. The audience shouted: "Death to the UK, Israel and the US!" Three months ago, he said, "I heard whispers of a rigged vote." He accused the Zionist-ruled media of stirring up treasonable crowd demonstrations. "But the vote was free and transparent. All the candidates and their campaigns were within the revolutionary establishment. None of the four came from outside. There was no campaign for and against the Islamic regime. The election showed religious democracy for all the world to see and how it brought the people together in solidarity behind the Islamic revolution." The audience cheered loudly when Ahmadinejad's name was said and again when he said corruption should be fought.



Khamenei Signals Showdown with Iran Opposition

June 19….(Reuters) Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei's uncompromising demand for a halt to street protests over Iran's disputed presidential election puts him in the forefront of a power struggle that could turn bloody. In a rare Friday prayer sermon, Khamenei, 69, essentially read the riot act to anyone questioning the integrity of last week's election that gave hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad a big margin over moderate challenger Mirhossein Mousavi. "If there is any bloodshed, leaders of the protests will be held directly responsible," the black-turbaned, white-bearded cleric told tens of thousands of worshippers in Tehran in a televised speech that offered no concessions to the opposition. Iran, the world's fifth biggest oil exporter, whose nuclear programme has alarmed the West, faces one of its gravest internal crises since the 1979 revolution. Iran expert Anoush Ehteshami of Durham University said Khamenei had made clear the gloves were coming off. "He was totally uncompromising and, dare I say, totally misreading the mood of the people in that he did not give an inch on their core demands," Ehteshami said. Khamenei, whose authority theoretically cannot be challenged in Iran's complex system of clerical rule and limited democracy, appeared to offer his own life for the Islamic revolution in an emotional finale that drew tears from his audience. "We will do what we will have to do," he declared. "I have an unworthy life, a defective body and little honour, which was given to me by you. I will put all of these on the palm of my hand and spend them on the path of the revolution and Islam." The message of the Supreme Leader, whose right hand was crippled in a 1981 assassination attempt, was that defiance of his will amounted to a counter-revolutionary act, analysts said. Khamenei's proclaimed support for Ahmadinejad gives a stark choice to Mousavi's camp, which includes many pillars of Iran's clerical and political elite, such as former presidents Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani and Mohammad Khatami: capitulate or face the full force of the security and judicial apparatus. There was no immediate word on how Mousavi, a former prime minister, and his influential backers would respond.

  Ehteshami said he doubted such establishment insiders would defy Khamenei, who accused those asserting the election was rigged of playing into the hands of Iran's foreign enemies. "But if Mousavi stays the course, there will be violence," Ehteshami predicted. "If the opposition feels there is no recourse through the legal due process, will they take up arms? "We are really on a knife edge." To enforce his writ, Khamenei can call on the elite Revolutionary Guard, the religious basij militia and other forces, but analysts said there would be a political cost. "All it does is put the Leader right in the middle of the fray," said Iran analyst Ali Ansari of St Andrews University. "It will reassure his base, his core constituents, who will think it's the strong leadership they want, but those who are no longer convinced will be as disgusted as they were before. "For someone calling for national calm, he will have simply reinforced the polarities in the country," Ansari added. Khamenei, chosen to succeed Iran's revolutionary founder, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, when he died in 1989, controls the armed forces and has the ultimate say in all matters of state, including nuclear policy and relations with the United States. But the drama of the past week, when hundreds of thousands of Iranians have ignored his calls for them to rally behind Ahmadinejad, accept the official election result and stay off the streets, may have dented his standing as the final arbiter. "Khamenei standing above the fray is out the window now. Whatever he does, he will have to take sides," said Mehrdad Khonsari, an exiled Iranian opposition activist in London. Karim Sadjadpour, an associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, suggested that the power struggle sharpened by the election was taking Iran into uncharted territory. "Previously sacred red lines in Iran are now being challenged," he wrote on the eve of Khamenei's address. "It is unprecedented that people would begin to openly challenge Khamenei's legitimacy as Supreme Leader, and indeed question the legitimacy of the institution of the Supreme Leader." With his own authority at stake, Khamenei may feel compelled to suppress the most widespread anti-government protests Iran has witnessed since the revolution, even if it means confronting Mousavi's broad coalition of moderate and conservative leaders. "We are in for a long summer," said Ansari. "The problem is that he will get short-term stability for long-term insecurity."



Iranians Betrayed by Obama Administration

June 17….(Kenneth R. Timmerman) More than 1.5 million protesters took to the streets of Tehran on Monday, marking the largest anti-regime demonstration Iran has seen since the final days of the shah in early 1979. Seven people were killed by anti-riot police and roving bands of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad supporters. Many of those supporters shielded their faces from surveillance videos that plainclothes police were shooting. The protesters included some unlikely participants: 16 Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps officers pledged to join the people’s movement, according to initial reports from Tehran. That signaled that the once-solid support of the guard corps for Ahmadinejad is beginning to crack. The 16 officers were arrested after meeting secretly with top regular army officers on Monday night. Many of the older men and women who took to the streets also demonstrated to bring down the shah 30 years ago, wrote Kaveh Mohseni, who publishes the French-language Web site, Iran-Resist. Now, “people are waiting for international support,” Mohseni wrote. That support wasn’t coming, at least not from President Barack Obama's administration in Washington. "It is up to Iranians to make decisions about who Iran's leaders will be. We respect Iranian sovereignty and want to avoid the United States being the issue inside of Iran," Obama said during the weekend. He reiterated his long-held position that his administration wants to pursue a "tough, direct" dialogue with Tehran. For many Iranians, Obama’s words were reminiscent of President Bill Clinton, who washed his hands when reporters asked him on July 9, 1999, whether the United States would come to the aid of Iranian students who were revolting in 18 cities across Iran. America could do nothing, Clinton said, echoing almost exactly the taunt Ayatollah Khomeini had used repeatedly during the revolution. The Obama administration’s quandary comes after it covertly threw its support behind the election campaign of former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi. Mousavi made his first appearance since the election at Monday’s rally. Many in the crowd wore red scarves, a color favored by supporters of Reza Pahlavi, the son of the former shah. In two messages in Persian, widely circulated through the Internet during the weekend, Pahlavi called for nationwide nonviolent resistance to the regime, the first time he has called for an open revolt since leaving Iran in 1979. “I stand united with my fellow Iranians and call for the end of the Islamic Republic, or any other prefix in front of the name of my beloved Iran that indicates theocracy or any other form of disregard for democratic and human rights,” he said in one of the messages. To some, this latest protest, and similar demonstrations in Shiraz, Kerman, Isfahan, Mashad, Tabriz, Rasht, and other major Iranian cities, shows that the regime finally has awakened Iran’s silent majority. In Tabriz, there were reports that the city’s business district had shut down on Sunday as a sign of joining the anti-regime protests. Many of the protesters shouted, “Death to the dictator,” a slogan not heard in large crowds of demonstrators for decades. In Tehran on Monday, the official Islamic Republic News Agency reported that former President Mohammad Khatami traveled to Cairo during Obama’s trip there and met with a “senior administration official” to discuss the upcoming Iranian election. Although Ahmadinejad controls the news agency, Iranian observers believed the report was accurate, because it is hard to openly slander such a public person as a former president even in Iran. Newsmax asked spokesmen for Obama and Vice President Joe Biden to comment on the allegation but received no reply. On Tuesday morning, the Guardians Council in Tehran announced it would engage in only a “limited recount” of individual ballot boxes whose results had been disputed by one of Ahmadinejad's three opponents. Getting the Guardians to examine the election results at all took a great deal of pressure. When Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei first announced Ahmadinejad’s victory, he defiantly called the election a “divine assessment” and certified the results immediately. But pressure from within the ruling clerical elite gave him pause. The next day, former President Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani announced with great fanfare that he was traveling to Qom, 80 miles south of Tehran, to convene the Assembly of Experts, a council of 86 top clerics who have the authority to name the supreme leader, or depose him. Rafsanjani chairs the Assembly of Experts and said he wanted them to examine Khamenei’s decision to certify the election, giving rise to rumors that he was hoping to depose Khamenei as leader. Monday’s massive demonstration also suggests that the Iranian people have loosened the shackles of fear, Kaveh Mohseni said. In a third message to Iranians, Reza Pahlavi called on the police and security forces to “never forget that these demonstrators confronting you in the streets are your brothers and sisters who are fighting for your rights.” Joining him was his mother, who spoke to the security forces “as a mother and as an Iranian” to encourage them “not to use violence against their brothers and sisters.” Iranian political activists have long criticized Reza Pahlavi for his inaction, and US government analysts say they doubt that he has many supporters inside Iran. But the protests inside Iran go way beyond one person, one faction, or one party. They have become a national grass-roots movement, a budding revolt that could soon reach a tipping point. And a regime change could spark reform in other areas. Conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer said, “Our only hope of changing the nuclear issue with Iran is not in the negotiations. It would be in the change of regime.”



Reformist’ Iranian Candidate Mousavi Founded Hezbollah

June 17….(Newsmax) The leading contender of the “reformist” camp in Iran’s presidential elections, former Prime Minister Mir Hossein Mousavi Khameneh, was a founder of Hezbollah and a key architect of the Islamic Republic’s dreaded intelligence services, Iranian political activists and scholars tell Newsmax. His wife, Zahra Rahnavard, is making campaign appearances with him wearing an Iranian-style Islamic veil. Some in the West are even calling her the “Michelle Obama” of Iran. And yet, a recent photograph from an official Iranian news agency shows her stomping on an American flag. Is Mousavi really a “reformer” who, if elected on June 12, will change significantly the way the Iran treats its own citizens and deals with the outside world? Or is he just the latest smiling face being put forward by the regime to raise false hopes among Iranians and beguile the West, just as Mohammad Khatami managed to do in 1997? Well, he's no reformer, in the eyes of the spokesman for the hard-left People’s Fedai Guerillas of Iran, who uses the nom de guerre “Bahram'.” “He believes in the most radical ideology of the regime, but he sometimes appears more logical than the other candidates,” Bahram told Newsmax. “No one should expect more freedoms in Iran if he is elected.” Mousavi was “one of the architects of the Ministry of Intelligence and Information” when it was established in 1984, Bahram said. That ministry, also referred to as MOIS, was modeled closely after the KGB and was established with the help of Soviet advisers. Like its predecessor, SAVAK, the MOIS plays a key role in suppressing domestic dissent. It recruits informers, arrests critics of the regime, and tortures them brutally in special political prisons. MOIS also has been involved in murdering Iranian dissidents overseas and has been cited as a key player in terrorism cases from Germany to Argentina. In 2007, Interpol issued its third arrest warrant for former Intelligence Minister Ali Fallahian on terrorism charges. Fallahian is an adviser to Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei. A former Iranian intelligence officer, Abdolghassem Mesbahi, tells Newsmax that he used to work for Mousavi when Mousavi headed the regime’s intelligence services as Iran’s prime minister. Today’s reformer was yesterday’s terrorist, he says. “Mir Hossein Mousavi was one of the founders of Hezbollah. Ayatollah Khomeini put him on the Hezollah leadership council when the group was created in 1982-1983. “ In an interview with Payane Enghelab magazine in 1981, Mousavi called for the creation of an Iranian-controlled Lebanese militia to spearhead a military confrontation with Israel. “We are ready to participate with an armed force to fight Israel,” he said. “We have repeatedly announced that we are ready to have an actual, real and military presence in Southern Lebanon and on the borders of the occupied Palestinian lands,” a euphemism for Israel. Once Iran created Hezbollah in 1983, Mousavi coordinated the financing for it as the head of the Bonyad Mostazafan, which he chaired as prime minister. “For example, working with Mehdi Hashemian, a deputy oil minister, Mousavi set up a scheme so that Hezbollah would get a share of Iranian oil sales,” Mesbahi said. Hashemian is a cousin of then-parliament speaker Ali Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani. Under the scheme, Hashemian established front companies for the oil transactions in France, Germany, and Cyprus, “and the banks would do the rest, putting commissions into the Hezbollah accounts under fictitious names,” Mesbahi said. The Bonyad-e Mostazafan, known in the West as the Foundation of the Oppressed, or the Alavi Foundation, was created from the vast real estate and corporate holdings of the former shah of Iran, and is under the direct control of the supreme leader. The Bonyad-e Mostazafan “makes purchases for several hundred companies in Iran and buys equipment for the Iranian nuclear weapon, chemical/biological weapon and missile programs,” according to the Wisconsin Project on Nuclear Arms Control. Western intelligence agencies have cited the foundation, and a sister organization known as the Martyrs Foundation, as a major funding source for Iranian-backed terrorist groups. For many years the Martyrs Foundation was run by Hojjat-ol-Eslam Mehdi Karoubi, another self-styled “reformist” candidate in the presidential election. Mir-Hossein Mousavi comes from a large clan, and is said to be a younger half-brother of Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei. The Mousavi family originally was Arabic and claims to descend from the seventh of the 12 Shiite imams, Musa al-Kazim ibn Jafar as Sadiq. The founder of the Islamic Republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Mousavi Khomeini, was also a member of the extended clan, as was Abbas Mousavi, a Hezbollah secretary general killed in Lebanon in an Israeli missile strike on Feb. 16, 1992. Mousavi was prime minister at the end of the Iran-Iraq war in 1988 when tens of thousands of political prisoners were murdered in cold blood on the orders of Ayatollah Khomeini. Students would like to debate Mousavi on the 1988 massacre at an election rally,” said Roozbeh Farahanipour, a leader of the student uprising in Iran in 1999. Farahanipour sent Newsmax photographs of banners on display during Mousavi’s election rally on May 21 that read, “We Want Revolution Again.” In a cell phone video recording, the students can be heard interrupting Mousavi with chants, “Death to the Dictator.” Pro-democracy groups, including Farahanipour’s Marzeporgohar Party, have called on Iranians to boycott the elections, with one saying, “This is a selection, not an election.”



China Sells Off US Bonds to 'Show Concern'

June 17….(Breitbart) A decision by China to reduce its US Treasury holdings suggests concern about the US attitude towards its economic woes, Chinese economists were quoted as saying in state media Wednesday. The remarks, coming after US data showed a modest decline in Chinese investments in US government bonds, were in contrast to an earlier statement in Beijing which had said the recent sell-off was a routine transaction. "China is implying to the US, more or less, that it should adopt a more pragmatic and responsible attitude to maintain the stability of the dollar," He Maochun, a political scientist at Tsinghua University, told the Global Times. According to US Treasury data issued Monday, Beijing owned 763.5 billion dollars in US securities in April, down from 767.9 billion dollars in March. It was the first month since June 2008 that Beijing failed to purchase more US T-bills. Zhang Bin, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said China's move showed a more cautious attitude. "It is unclear whether the reduction will continue because the amount is so small. But the cut signals caution of governments or institutions toward US Treasury bonds," Zhang told Xinhua news agency. China's foreign ministry said Tuesday that its purchases of US Treasuries remained based on "security, liquidity and value preservation". For Zhao Xijun, deputy director of the Finance and Securities Research Institute of People's University, China may have reduced its holding of US Treasuries simply because it needed the money.



Russia: Dump Dollar as World Reserve Currency

June 17….(Newsmax) Russia will advocate a cautious approach to changing the system of global reserve currencies when the world's biggest emerging economies hold their first formal summit on Tuesday, the Kremlin's top economic aide said. Brazil, Russia, India and China, which account for 15 percent of the $60.7 trillion global economy, will focus on ways to reshape the financial system after the economic crisis. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev will raise the issue of a global reserve currency at the meeting, top economic aide Arkady Dvorkovich, said. "There is an understanding that the last thing we need now is turmoil on financial markets," Dvorkovich told a news briefing. "No one wants to ruin the dollar, including us." The meeting is scheduled to last about 2 hours. Dvorkovich said BRIC leaders, who control nearly $3 trillion in foreign currency reserves, would also discuss the idea of investing their reserves in each other's currencies. Before the BRIC meeting, Medvedev told the leaders of a summit of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), which includes China, that the grouping should think about using their national currencies for trade with each other. "We must strengthen the international currency system not only by strengthening the position of the dollar, but also by creating new reserve currencies and possibly the creation of supranational payment tender and ways to make settlements." Medvedev added that members should think about investing in each other's financial instruments. Chinese officials have in recent days played down talk of a discussion on a new supranational reserve currency to reduce dependency on the US dollar. Goldman Sachs, which coined the BRIC term in 2001, now predicts that in 20 years' time the four countries could together dwarf the G7 and China's economy will overtake the United States in total size. "These four countries are all quite influential in international economic development, and I think if in the meeting they raise some proposals and initiatives, that would be fair and reasonable," said Wu Hailong, a senior Chinese Foreign Ministry official. "Especially, some countries have proposed establishing a super-sovereign currency, and I think their impetus is ensuring the security of each country's foreign currency reserves." Detractors say the idea overstates their potential and that the four BRIC countries are as divided as they are united. Immediate agreement on practical steps among the members of this loose and untested bloc appears unlikely. As part of proposals to rebuild the financial system, Medvedev has made proposals on giving a greater role to the International Monetary Fund's Special Drawing Rights that echo ideas from Chinese central bank chief Zhou Xiaochuan. Russia said it would reduce the share of US Treasuries in its $400 billion reserves and buy IMF bonds. China, Russia and Brazil have pledged to help capitalize the IMF as they seek more influence at the fund.



Ahmadinejad’s Dirty Landslide

June 17….(National Review) Many Iranians are displaying the courage of despair, in the knowledge that they have been deceived and cheated. They were promised an election for president. The incumbent president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, is a fanatic who has alienated huge sections of the population, and Iranians’ hope was that this election would provide some sort of test of public opinion. Not the independent official that the title seems to describe, the president is responsible for putting into practice the policies of the “supreme leader,” and as such he is hardly more than a public dogsbody. Under the disguise of clerical robes and turbans, the Islamic Republic is a classic example of thugocracy. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader, evidently believed that the electoral maneuver could be carried out as usual, according to his sole and uncontested will. He may even believe that he is popular and respected. So an election with the superficial air of a contest was arranged. A field of 475 possible candidates (no women, naturally) was whittled down to Ahmadinejad and three elderly members of the Islamic establishment. Khamenei and Ahmadinejad prepared to coast to victory. One of the three selected elders, Mir-Hossein Mousavi, quite unexpectedly turned out to be willing and able to criticize Ahmadinejad, and emerged as a figurehead for genuine opposition. Pres. Barack Obama was excited by what he described as “a robust debate,” though this soon enough proved to have no content. Ahmadinejad accused Mousavi of “Hitler-style” smears and falsifications, and of having Zionist links. The Iranian ballot is not secret; voters can be identified and punished. Huge numbers of blank ballot papers were available to the authorities. Suspect Web sites and publications were closed down. Foreign observers were forbidden. So when the votes were counted, Ahmadinejad was found to have about 63 percent, with a majority in every sector, ethnic minorities, women, students, and so on. Mousavi received about 33 percent, and, although he is an Azeri, he was declared to have been outvoted in his own Azeri province, thus confirming the unstoppable zeal of those who had rigged the outcome. What had happened, Mousavi said, was “a dangerous charade.” Ahmadinejad responded by declaring that he could not guarantee Mousavi’s safety. It is possible that Mousavi will have to pay, perhaps with his freedom or his life, for telling the truth. In their thousands, his supporters have taken to the streets, setting fire to tires and trash. The basij,  the regime’s paramilitary forces, are operating as usual in pairs, one driving a motorcycle and the other on the pillion swinging a baton, while their colleagues on foot beat demonstrators and drag them off under arrest. So a country governed according to Islamic principles that supposedly are peaceful by definition proves to be a police state like any other. Nothing like this has been seen since the shah was overthrown 30 years ago and the Islamic Republic installed. How far repression will go is unforeseeable, but the regime’s misguided manipulation and recourse to violence is a lasting stain. The supreme leader and his president have little choice except to pretend to strength. President Obama should call them on it, lending the opposition his rhetorical support. So far, he has given the impression that he wants the dictatorship to stabilize itself so he can get back to the work of appeasing it. The more Obama extends that hand of his, the likelier the regime is to try to crush its bones.



Is There Revolution in Iran?

June 17….(Joel Rosenberg) I’ve been tracking events in Iran closely over the past few days. Not since the Islamic Revolution of ‘79 have we seen such ideological ferment and such passion in the streets of Iran. What fascinates me is how hungry the Iranian people are to overthrow their current regime. They want change. They want democracy. It’s not Mir Hossein Mousavi they want (after all, 70% of Iranians are under the age of 30 and don’t remember how bloody, despicable and tyrannical he was in office during the 1980s). They just want someone, anyone, to lead them out of the darkness Khomeini, Khamenei, and Ahmadinejad have dragged them into. They want someone who will lead the fight for their God-given right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Why is the White House silent? Why won’t President Obama endorse and support the Reformers in Iran, rather than engage the Radicals who run the regime? Tens of millions of Iranians have abandoned Islam. Most are Reformers at heart, looking for political liberation. Millions are Revivalists, experiencing spiritual liberation. Both groups deeply oppose the Radicals that are strangling their country and destroying the lives of their children. Let’s keep praying for the full liberation of Iran, spiritual and political. And let’s be clear: the Ayatollah Khamenei is not really the Supreme Leader of Iran. Jesus Christ is, the King of kings and the Lord of lords. May His name be lifted up in Iran today. Thousands of Iranians swarmed the streets of Tehran on Tuesday in rival demonstrations over the country's disputed presidential election, pushing a deep crisis into its fourth day despite a government attempt to placate the opposition by recounting a limited number of ballots. Iran's supreme ruler drew a firm line against any threats to the regime, warning Iranians to unite behind the country's Islamic system as authorities imposed severe restrictions on independent media. Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei made an extraordinary appeal in response to tensions over the disputed election, which has presented one of the gravest threats to Iran's complex blend of democracy and religious authority since the system emerged from the 1979 Islamic Revolution. A day after a massive opposition rally that ended in deadly clashes with pro-government militiamen, Iran's main electoral authority said it was prepared to conduct a limited recount of ballots at sites where candidates claim irregularities took place. Reformist candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi has called the election an "astonishing charade," demanding it be canceled and held again. His representative, reformist cleric Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour, reiterated that demand Tuesday after a meeting of the Guardian Council, calling along with representatives of two other candidates for an independent investigation of voting irregularities. The Guardian Council is an unelected body of 12 clerics and Islamic law experts close to the supreme leader and seen as supportive of Ahmadinejad. Mousavi said Monday he believes the council is not neutral and has already indicated support for Ahmadinejad. "If the whole people become aware, avoid violent measures and continue their civil confrontation with that, they will win. No power can stand up to people's will," Mohtashamipour said. "I do not think that the Guardian Council will have the courage to stand against people." A spokesman for the Guardian Council, Abbas Ali Kadkhodaei, did not rule out the possibility of canceling the results, saying that is within the council's powers, although nullifying an election would be an unprecedented step. In the afternoon, the government organized a large rally in Tehran, as if to demonstrate it also can bring people into the streets. Thousands waved Iranian flags and pictures of the supreme leader, thrusting their fists into the air and cheering as speakers denounced "rioters" and urged Iranians to accept the results showing Ahmadinejad was re-elected in a landslide Friday. "This nation will protect and defend its revolution in any way," Gholam Ali Haddad Adel, a prominent lawmaker and Ahmadinejad supporter, told the pro-government crowd in Vali Asr Square. He called on Mousavi's supporters to accept the results and press their complaints through legal means. "After all, in all elections there will be losers and winners, naturally," he said. "This should not cause a rift between the people." The appeal for unity failed to calm passions, and a large column of Mousavi supporters, some of them with green headbands and their faces masked against tear gas or to hide their identities, marched peacefully along a central avenue in north Tehran, according to amateur video. A witness told The Associated Press that the pro-Mousavi rally stretched more than a mile (1.5 kilometers) along Vali Asr avenue, from Vanak Square to the headquarters of Iranian state television. Security forces did not interfere, the witness said, and the protest lasted from about 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Other witnesses told the AP that about 100 people continued the protest in front of state TV past 9:45 p.m. The witness spoke on condition of anonymity for fear of government reprisal.  Mousavi appeared to be trying to harness the days of street rage into a more carefully directed campaign of civil disobedience. In a message on his Web site, he said he would not attend Tuesday's demonstration and urged his supporters not to resort to violence. The Web site said Mousavi and his supporters planned another large demonstration along the path of Monday's massive protest, for Wednesday afternoon. It said they have asked the Interior Ministry for permission but didn't say whether they got a response or if they would go ahead if rejected. Ahmadinejad, who has dismissed the unrest as little more than "passions after a soccer match," attended a summit meeting in Russia that was delayed a day by the unrest in Tehran. That allowed him to project an image as Iran's rightful president, welcomed by other world leaders. In Washington, President Barack Obama expressed "deep concerns" about the legitimacy of the election and post-voting crackdowns but declined to term Ahmadinejad's re-election a fraud. "I do believe that something has happened in Iran," with Iranians more willing to question the government's "antagonistic postures" toward the world, Obama said. A Web site run by former Vice President Mohammad Ali Abtahi said the reformist had been arrested. Saeed Hajjarian, a prominent reformer, also has been detained, Hajjarian's wife, Vajiheh Masousi, told the AP. Hajjarian is a close aide of former President Mohammad Khatami. Iranian state radio said seven people were killed in Monday's protests, the first confirmation of deaths from the demonstrations that started Saturday after the election results were announced.



‘Netanyahu Exposed True Root of the Conflict’

June 16….(Israel Today) Israeli Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon on Monday praised the peace policy speech given by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu a day earlier for exposing the true root of the Israeli-Arab conflict: the Arabs’ long refusal to accept Israel as the national homeland of the Jews. Speaking to Army Radio, Yaalon said that Netanyahu’s speech had unmasked Palestinian rejectionism. Yaalon repeated Netanyahu in noting that Israel has surrendered large areas of land to the Palestinians already, only to receive increased terrorism in return, thus proving that the conflict isn’t really over a few scraps of land. While Netanyahu disappointed many of his right-wing backers by supporting the eventual creation of a Palestinian state, he put such conditions on that outcome that it is very likely to never become a reality. First, Netanyahu was adamant, and spent much of his speech demanding that the root of the conflict highlighted above be addressed, that the Arabs explicitly recognize Israel as the national homeland of the Jewish people before any final status peace deal is considered. Second, Netanyahu firmly and repeatedly stated that his government will only ever agree to the establishment of a demilitarized Palestinian state, as the only purpose for such a state to have weapons would be to threaten Israel. And third, Netanyahu was clear that major Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria will not be uprooted to make room for a Palestinian state, nor will that state be given even one inch of Jerusalem as its capital. The above conditions have all been roundly rejected by the Arabs in the past, leading many Israeli commentators to note that while Netanyahu is representing Israel’s initial core peace demands in a way that former prime ministers failed, he has effectively and indefinitely stalled progress in the land-for-peace process.



Netanyahu Endorses Creation of Palestinian State

(Prime minister endorses creation of Palestinian state, stresses any such entity will have to be demilitarized and acknowledge Israel as a Jewish nation. 'The claim that territorial withdrawals will bring peace with the Palestinians has up till now not stood the test of reality,' says Netanyahu)

June 15….(YNET) The prime minister endorsed the creation of a Palestinian state that would exist alongside Israel for the first time on Sunday. Two and a half months after taking office and following considerable pressure from Washington, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu finally uttered the coveted term in his policy speech at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies at Bar Ilan University. However, Netanyahu repeatedly stressed, any such entity would have to be demilitarized. "The territory under Palestinian control must be demilitarized with ironclad security provisions for Israel," the prime minister said. "If we receive this guarantee regarding demilitarization and Israel’s security needs, and if the Palestinians recognize Israel as the State of the Jewish people, then we will be ready in a future peace agreement to reach a solution where a demilitarized Palestinian state exists alongside the Jewish State," he said. Vowing to speak in plain terms about the complicated issues at hand, Netanyahu spoke firmly on the demand that Israel make more territorial concessions. "Many good people have told us that withdrawal from territories is the key to peace with the Palestinians. Well, we withdrew. But the fact is that every withdrawal was met with massive waves of terror, by suicide bombers and thousands of missiles... The claim that territorial withdrawals will bring peace with the Palestinians, or at least advance peace, has up till now not stood the test of reality. "Those who think that the continued enmity toward Israel is a product of our presence in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, is confusing cause and consequence. The attacks against us began in the 1920s, escalated into a comprehensive attack in 1948 with the declaration of Israel’s independence, continued with the fedayeen attacks in the 1950s, and climaxed in 1967. All this occurred during the fifty years before a single Israeli soldier ever set foot in Judea and Samaria."

'I will go to Damascus, to Beirut'

On the issue of settlements and outposts in the West Bank the prime minister touched on only briefly, saying that Israel has no intention of expropriating land to build new settlements but that there is a need to allow settlers to live "normal lives," alluding to the demand of 'natural growth' within the existing settlements. Answering US President Obama's statement in Cairo that Israel was built as a result of the Holocaust, Netanyahu said, "The right of the Jewish people to a state in the land of Israel does not derive from the catastrophes that have plagued our people. There are those who say that if the Holocaust had not occurred, the state of Israel would never have been established. But I say that if the state of Israel would have been established earlier, the Holocaust would not have occurred. "This tragic history of powerlessness explains why the Jewish people need a sovereign power of self-defense. But our right to build our sovereign state here, in the land of Israel, arises from one simple fact: this is the homeland of the Jewish people, this is where our identity was forged. However, Netanyahu also said that Israel must recognize that millions of Palestinians live in the heart of the West Bank, and continued control over these people is undesirable. "In my vision, there are two free peoples living side by side each with each other, each with its own flag and national anthem," he said. The prime minister declared that the solution of the Palestinian refugee problem must be "outside Israel," and drew a parallel to the expulsion of hundreds of thousands of Jews from their native Arab nations with the creation of Israel and their subsequent absorption in Israel. "The Palestinian refugee problem must be resolved outside the borders of the state of Israel. On this, there is a broad international consensus," Netanyahu said, adding that with international investment this "humanitarian problem" can be solved. Netanyahu also called for Arab leaders to meet him and contribute to Palestinian economic development. "I support the idea of regional peace that is being led by (US President) Obama," Netanyahu said. "I appeal, from here this evening, to the leaders of the Arab states and say: Let's meet. Let's talk peace. Let's make peace. I am willing to meet with you any time, any place - in Damascus, in Riyadh, in Beirut."



Obama: Netanyahu's Speech an Important Step

June 15….(Jerusalem Post) US President Barack Obama expressed his support for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's "endorsement" of the goal of a Palestinian state to exist alongside Israel as expressed in the Likud leader's Bar Ilan speech, while refraining from remarking on the demand for an American guarantee of the Palestinian entity being demilitarized. "The President welcomes the important step forward in Prime Minister Netanyahu's speech," Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said in a statement. "The President is committed to two states, a Jewish state of Israel and an independent Palestine, in the historic homeland of both peoples. He believes this solution can and must ensure both Israel's security and the fulfillment of the Palestinians' legitimate aspirations for a viable state, and he welcomes Prime Minister Netanyahu's endorsement of that goal," the statement read. "The President will continue working with all parties, Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Arab states, and our Quartet partners, to see that they fulfill their obligations and responsibilities necessary to achieve a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and a comprehensive regional peace," it concluded.



Netanyahu: PA Must Defeat Hamas in Gaza before We Negotiate

June 15….( On Sunday evening at Bar Ilan University, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu delivered his long-awaited reply to US President Barack Obama's historic Cairo speech. Netanyahu did say the words 'Palestinian state' which nationalists hoped he would not say. However, he also laid down stringent conditions for establishment of such a state, and, arguably, even for negotiations to take place. Toward the end of the speech, Netanyahu said: "Above all else, the Palestinians must decide between the path of peace and the path of Hamas. The Palestinian Authority will have to establish the rule of law in Gaza and overcome Hamas. Israel will not sit at the negotiating table with terrorists who seek their destruction." This appears to indicate that the very act of restarting negotiations with the PA is conditional upon its defeating the Hamas terror militia in Gaza.

The text of the speech, as communicated by the Prime Minister's Office, follows:

Honored guests, citizens of Israel. Peace has always been our people’s most ardent desire. Our prophets gave the world the vision of peace, we greet one another with wishes of peace, and our prayers conclude with the word peace. We are gathered this evening in an institution named for two pioneers of peace, Menachem Begin and Anwar Sadat, and we share in their vision. Two and half months ago, I took the oath of office as the Prime Minister of Israel. I pledged to establish a national unity government, and I did. I believed and I still believe that unity was essential for us now more than ever as we face three immense challenges, the Iranian threat, the economic crisis, and the advancement of peace. The Iranian threat looms large before us, as was further demonstrated yesterday. The greatest danger confronting Israel, the Middle East, the entire world and human race, is the nexus between radical Islam and nuclear weapons. I discussed this issue with President Obama during my recent visit to Washington, and I will raise it again in my meetings next week with European leaders. For years, I have been working tirelessly to forge an international alliance to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Confronting a global economic crisis, the government acted swiftly to stabilize Israel’s economy. We passed a two year budget in the government, and the Knesset will soon approve it. And the third challenge, so exceedingly important, is the advancement of peace. I also spoke about this with President Obama, and I fully support the idea of a regional peace that he is leading. I share the President’s desire to bring about a new era of reconciliation in our region. To this end, I met with President Mubarak in Egypt, and King Abdullah in Jordan, to elicit the support of these leaders in expanding the circle of peace in our region. I turn to all Arab leaders tonight and I say: “Let us meet. Let us speak of peace and let us make peace. I am ready to meet with you at any time. I am willing to go to Damascus, to Riyadh, to Beirut, to any place- including Jerusalem. I call on the Arab countries to cooperate with the Palestinians and with us to advance an economic peace. An economic peace is not a substitute for a political peace, but an important element to achieving it. Together, we can undertake projects to overcome the scarcities of our region, like water desalination or to maximize its advantages, like developing solar energy, or laying gas and petroleum lines, and transportation links between Asia, Africa and Europe. The economic success of the Gulf States has impressed us all and it has impressed me. I call on the talented entrepreneurs of the Arab world to come and invest here and to assist the Palestinians, and us, in spurring the economy. Together, we can develop industrial areas that will generate thousands of jobs and create tourist sites that will attract millions of visitors eager to walk in the footsteps of history – in Nazareth and in Bethlehem, around the walls of Jericho and the walls of Jerusalem, on the banks of the Sea of Galilee and the baptismal site of the Jordan. There is an enormous potential for archeological tourism, if we can only learn to cooperate and to develop it.

Conditions for the Palestinian leaders

The Palestinian leadership must arise and say: “Enough of this conflict. We recognize the right of the Jewish people to a state of their own in this land, and we are prepared to live beside you in true peace.” I am yearning for that moment, for when Palestinian leaders say those words to our people and to their people, then a path will be opened to resolving all the problems between our peoples, no matter how complex they may be. Therefore, a fundamental prerequisite for ending the conflict is a public, binding and unequivocal Palestinian recognition of Israel as the nation state of the Jewish people. To vest this declaration with practical meaning, there must also be a clear understanding that the Palestinian refugee problem will be resolved outside Israel’s borders. For it is clear that any demand for resettling Palestinian refugees within Israel undermines Israel’s continued existence as the state of the Jewish people. The Palestinian refugee problem must be solved, and it can be solved, as we ourselves proved in a similar situation. Tiny Israel successfully absorbed tens of thousands of Jewish refugees who left their homes and belongings in Arab countries. Therefore, justice and logic demand that the Palestinian refugee problem be solved outside Israel’s borders. On this point, there is a broad national consensus. I believe that with goodwill and international investment, this humanitarian problem can be permanently resolved. So far I have spoken about the need for Palestinians to recognize our rights. In am moment, I will speak openly about our need to recognize their rights. But let me first say that the connection between the Jewish people and the Land of Israel has lasted for more than 3500 years. Judea and Samaria, the places where Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, David and Solomon, and Isaiah and Jeremiah lived, are not alien to us. This is the land of our forefathers. The right of the Jewish people to a state in the land of Israel does not derive from the catastrophes that have plagued our people. True, for 2000 years the Jewish people suffered expulsions, pogroms, blood libels, and massacres which culminated in a Holocaust, a suffering which has no parallel in human history. There are those who say that if the Holocaust had not occurred, the state of Israel would never have been established. But I say that if the state of Israel would have been established earlier, the Holocaust would not have occurred. This tragic history of powerlessness explains why the Jewish people need a sovereign power of self-defense.

A vision of peace

But our right to build our sovereign state here, in the land of Israel, arises from one simple fact: this is the homeland of the Jewish people, this is where our identity was forged. As Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion proclaimed in Israel’s Declaration of Independence: “The Jewish people arose in the land of Israel and it was here that its spiritual, religious and political character was shaped. Here they attained their sovereignty, and here they bequeathed to the world their national and cultural treasures, and the most eternal of books.” But we must also tell the truth in its entirety: within this homeland lives a large Palestinian community. We do not want to rule over them, we do not want to govern their lives, we do not want to impose either our flag or our culture on them. In my vision of peace, in this small land of ours, two peoples live freely, side-by-side, in amity and mutual respect. Each will have its own flag, its own national anthem, its own government. Neither will threaten the security or survival of the other. These two realities, our connection to the land of Israel, and the Palestinian population living within it, have created deep divisions in Israeli society. But the truth is that we have much more that unites us than divides us. I have come tonight to give expression to that unity, and to the principles of peace and security on which there is broad agreement within Israeli society. These are the principles that guide our policy. This policy must take into account the international situation that has recently developed. We must recognize this reality and at the same time stand firmly on those principles essential for Israel. I have already stressed the first principle, recognition. Palestinians must clearly and unambiguously recognize Israel as the state of the Jewish people. The second principle is: demilitarization. The territory under Palestinian control must be demilitarized with ironclad security provisions for Israel. Without these two conditions, there is a real danger that an armed Palestinian state would emerge that would become another terrorist base against the Jewish state, such as the one in Gaza.

Knock out Hamas

Above all else, the Palestinians must decide between the path of peace and the path of Hamas. The Palestinian Authority will have to establish the rule of law in Gaza and overcome Hamas. Israel will not sit at the negotiating table with terrorists who seek their destruction. Hamas will not even allow the Red Cross to visit our kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit, who has spent three years in captivity, cut off from his parents, his family and his people. We are committed to bringing him home, healthy and safe. With a Palestinian leadership committed to peace, with the active participation of the Arab world, and the support of the United States and the international community, there is no reason why we cannot achieve a breakthrough to peace. Our people have already proven that we can do the impossible. Over the past 61 years, while constantly defending our existence, we have performed wonders. Our microchips are powering the world’s computers. Our medicines are treating diseases once considered incurable. Our drip irrigation is bringing arid lands back to life across the globe. And Israeli scientists are expanding the boundaries of human knowledge. If only our neighbors would respond to our call, peace too will be in our reach. I call on the leaders of the Arab world and on the Palestinian leadership, let us continue together on the path of Menahem Begin and Anwar Sadat, Yitzhak Rabin and King Hussein. Let us realize the vision of the prophet Isaiah, who in Jerusalem 2700 years ago said: “nations shall not lift up sword against nation, and they shall learn war no more.” With God’s help, we will know no more war. We will know peace.



President Obama Favored Losing Candidate in Iran's Election

June 15….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis) Friday night, June 12, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad was already on his way to victory in Iran's turbulent presidential election although only the first votes had been counted. By Saturday morning, it was clear he had won a landslide for a second term, widening the gap with his closest rival opposition leader Mir Hossein Mousavi. According to final results, the incumbent won 62.6 percent of the vote, Mousavi 33.75 percent. This contradicted Western predictions that the record-breaking turnout of 85 percent of Iran's 46 million eligible voters favored the challenger. Yet strangely enough, even then, Washington and the US media were still doggedly insisting that that the reformist Mousavi could still make it in a run-off, although that door had been finally slammed shut by the president's broad majority. Indeed a high-ranking White House official, quoted by a British TV correspondent, even stated that a second round was inevitable and Mir Hossein Mousavi was bound to win. Even before that, President Barack Obama said optimistically: "Whoever ends up winning the election in Iran, the fact there has been a robust debate hopefully will advance our ability to engage them in new ways." Their insistence on hoping against hope for a change of presidents in Tehran remains a big puzzle, now that it is obvious that the Islamic Republic's exercise in democracy was carefully stage-managed for a predetermined outcome. This became apparent in the next developments. By Saturday afternoon, riot police and Revolutionary Guards thugs were clashing with thousands of protesters who surged onto the streets of Tehran after their defeated hero, Mousavi, said he strongly protests "the many obvious violations that could lead to tyranny in Iran." Police blocked him when he tried to hold a press conference and blacked his efforts to send text messages to his supporters. Iran's ultimate authority, supreme ruler Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, ordered "all Iranians to support the elected president." So how come the Obama administration, with so much at stake, continued to back the loser well after his defeat could no longer be denied?

DEBKAfile's Washington sources have two explanations:

1. The White House was given erroneous intelligence evaluations about the way Iran's presidential election was managed. The administration's Iranian experts missed the point that in Middle East politics (except for Israel) it is not the people who determine an election, the shape of government and its policies but the unelected head of the tribe, in this case supreme ruler Khamenei. This was the second time in a week that an American intelligence prediction missed out on a Middle East election result. Having widely anticipated a massive Hizballah win in Lebanon's parliamentary elections of Sunday, June 7, Washington was stunned by the victory of the pro-Western camp.

2. Mousavi's portrayal as a "reformist" by the Western media was false. As prime minister in the 1980s under the Islamic revolution's founding father, Ayatollah Khomeini, he laid the foundations for Iran's nuclear program and international terror network ("exporting revolution"). He was therefore hardly the figure to step out of the Islamic regime's value system and make good on his campaign platform of change.

But the White House decided to seize on Mousavi's build-up as a candidate capable of beating the hard-line Ahmadinjed and leading Iran to change in order to vindicate Obama's hopes of a successful dialogue with Tehran.

By falling through, this scheme placed a big question mark over the US president's essential strategy of diplomatically engaging rogue states to de-emphasize conflict. The way the North Korean crisis was handled illustrates this point. Closely in step with Iran on their nuclear and missile development, Pyongyang has brought its relations with the United States to the brink of a military confrontation whose conclusion no one can predict. Finally removing the gloves, Washington persuade UN Security Council members to unite Friday, June 12, behind a resolution imposing harsh sanctions for the North Korean nuclear test last month. US warships were authorized to search North Korean vessels for suspected nuclear materials, financial measures were tightened. The Obama administration will now have to follow through on the Security Council's directives, even in the face of North Korea's threat to treat a US embargo as "an act of war" and respond with military, including nuclear, action. Failure to do so would make America a paper tiger, which no US president can afford especially under the eye of the re-elected Ahmadinejad. Newly empowered for a second four-year term in office, Ahmadinejad need not be expected to let Obama off the hook for supporting his leading challenger. The tough Iranian president will drive a harder bargain than ever when they sit down to talk. And in other parts of the Middle East, despite the US envoy George Mitchell's unquestioned diplomatic skills, the tour he began in Israel and the Palestinian Authority, moving on to Cairo, Amman, Beirut and finally Damascus on Saturday, has produced no breakthroughs. Iran's election results, hailed enthusiastically by the Palestinian Hamas and Jihad Islami, are a shot in the arm for the most radical forces in the region, such as Syria and the Lebanese Hizballah. DEBKAfile's political sources advise Israel's prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, to take Ahmadinejad's victory into account when he finalizes the text of the major policy speech he is scheduled to deliver at Bar-Ilan University near Tel Aviv Sunday, June 14. Israel is stuck for another four years with the same aggressive champion of a nuclear-armed Iran and radical Islamic terror, hater of Israel and Holocaust denier, as before. He will now maintain that his positions are endorsed by the Iranian people. Originally billed as the Israeli response to Obama's Cairo speech of June 4 and his policies on the issues in dispute between them, Netanyahu has the choice of echoing Washington's wishful thinking on the Middle East or looking at the real problems of the region squarely through the prism of Israel's interests. If he wavers between the two courses, he will end up with a wishy-washy product that satisfies no one.






US Rejects Victory Claim by Iran's Ahmadinejad

June 13….(Yahoo News) The US on Saturday refused to accept hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's claim of a landslide re-election victory in Iran and said it was looking into allegations of election fraud. "We are monitoring the situation as it unfolds in Iran, but we, like the rest of the world, are waiting and watching to see what the Iranian people decide," US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said at a news conference with Canada's foreign affairs minister, Lawrence Cannon. Minutes after Clinton spoke, the White House released a two-sentence statement praising "the vigorous debate and enthusiasm that this election generated, particularly among young Iranians," but expressing concern about "reports of irregularities." Neither Clinton nor the White House mentioned Ahmadinejad or his chief rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi, by name, or acknowledged the incumbent's victory declaration. Iranian authorities reported that Ahmadinejad was re-elected with 62.6 percent of the vote. He called on the public to respect the vote. But Mousavi, a former prime minister who has become the hero of a youth-driven movement seeking greater liberties and a gentler face for Iran abroad, rejected the results and accused authorities of rigging Friday's vote. In brief remarks in Canada, Clinton cited "the enthusiasm and the very vigorous debate and dialogue" in the run-up to the vote. "We obviously hope that the outcome reflects the genuine will and desire of the Iranian people," she said. Cannon said his country was "deeply concerned" by reports of irregularities in the election. "We're troubled by reports of intimidation of opposition candidates' offices by security forces," he said. "Canada is calling on Iranian authorities to conduct fair and transparent counting of all ballots." The election outcome will not sharply alter Iran's main policies or sway major decisions, such as possible talks with Washington or nuclear policies. Those crucial issues rest with the ruling clerics headed by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. But the election focused on what the office of the Iranian president can influence: boosting Iran's sinking economy, pressing for greater media and political freedoms, and being Iran's main envoy to the world. Iran does not allow international election monitors. During the 2005 election, when Ahmadinejad won the presidency, there were some allegations of vote rigging from losers, but the claims were never investigated.



Election Turn into Chaos in Iran

June 13….(AP) Opponents of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad clashed with police in the heart of Iran's capital Saturday, pelting them with rocks and setting fires in the worst unrest in Tehran in a decade. They accused the hard-line president of using fraud to steal election victory from his reformist rival. The brazen and angry confrontations, including stunning scenes of masked rioters tangling with black-clad police, pushed the self-styled reformist movement closer to a possible moment of truth: Whether to continue defying Iran's powerful security forces or, as they often have before, retreat into quiet dismay and frustration over losing more ground to the Islamic establishment. But for at least one day, the tone and tactics were more combative than at any time since authorities put down student-led protests in 1999. Young men hurled stones and bottles at anti-riot units and mocked Ahmadinejad as an illegitimate leader. The reformists' new hero, Hossein Mousavi, declared himself the true winner of Friday's presidential race and urged backers to resist a government based on "lies and dictatorship." Authorities, too, pushed back with ominous measures apparently seeking to undercut liberal voices: jamming text messages, blocking pro-Mousavi Web sites and Facebook and cutting off mobile phones in Tehran. The extent of possible casualties and detentions was not immediately clear. Police stormed the headquarters of Iran's largest reformist party, the Islamic Iran Participation Front, and arrested several top reformist leaders, said political activists close to the party. The activists spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitivity of the situation. Mousavi did not appear in public, but warned in a Web message: "People won't respect those who take power through fraud." Many backers took this call to the streets. Thousands of protesters, mostly young men, roamed through Tehran looking for a fight with police and setting trash bins and tires ablaze. Pillars of black smoke rose among the mustard-colored apartment blocks and office buildings in central Tehran. The door for possible compromise was closed by Iran's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. He could have used his near-limitless powers to intervene in the election dispute. But, in a message on state TV, he urged the nation to unite behind Ahmadinejad, calling the result a "divine assessment." There are no independent election monitors in Iran. Mousavi's claims, however, point to some noticeable breaks with past election counting. The tallies from previous elections, time-consuming paper ballots, began to trickle in hours after polls closed. This time, huge chunks of results, millions at a time, poured in almost immediately from a huge turnout of about 85 percent of Iran's 46.2 million voters. The final outcome: 62.6 percent of the vote to Ahmadinejad and 33.75 for Mousavi, a former prime minister from the 1980s. The US refused to accept Ahmadinejad's claim of a landslide re-election victory said it was looking into allegations of election fraud. US Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton said she hoped the outcome reflects the "genuine will and desire" of Iranian voters. In 2005, when Ahmadinejad was first elected, the losing candidates claimed irregularities at the polls, but the charges were never investigated. "The majority of Iranians are certain that the fraud is widespread," said Tehran-based analyst Saeed Leilaz. "It's like taking 10 million votes away from Mousavi and giving them to Ahmadinejad." Whether this is enough to spawn a sustained opposition movement remains an open question. Much depends on how much they are willing to risk. The heartland of Iran's liberal ranks is the educated and relatively affluent districts of north Tehran. It's also the showcase for the gains in social freedoms that began with the election of President Mohammad Khatami in 1997. A real protest movement could threaten their coveted Western-looking lifestyle and risk a brutal response from groups vowing to defend the Islamic system. The political chief of the powerful Revolutionary Guard has warned it would crush any "revolution" against the Islamic regime by Mousavi's "green movement," drawing parallels to the "velvet revolution" of 1989 in then-Czechoslovakia. "The massive demonstrations of police and army presence on the streets was designed to show that they were quite ready to kill protesters if they had to in order to impose order," said Patrick Clawson, deputy director at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. "On the whole, these guys in north Tehran who are terribly upset about what is happening are not ready to die." Hadi Ghaemi, spokesman for the International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, denounced the outcome as "a Tehran Tiananmen," a reference to China's brutal 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy activists, and urged the international community not to recognize the result. Mousavi called on his backers to avoid violence, but he is still talking tough about pressing his claims of election fraud. He charges the polls closed early but has not fully outlined all of his fraud allegations. Unlike his ally Khatami, Mousavi is a hardened political veteran who led the country during the grim years of the 1980-88 war with Iraq. He also could join forces with the powerful political patriarch Heshemi Rafsanjani, who strongly opposed Ahmadinejad's re-election during the intense month-long campaign. Amjad Atallah, a Washington-based regional analyst, called it "one of the most existential moments" in Iran since 1979 Islamic Revolution. "You can't overstate how important what is happening now is for Iran," he said. In Tehran, several Ahmadinejad supporters cruised the streets at dawn waving Iranian flags out of car windows and shouting "Mousavi is dead!" Hundreds of anti-riot police blocked the streets leading to Tehran University's dormitory, home to thousands of students and the site of the 1999 student riots that marked the biggest disturbances in post-revolution Iran. Ahmadinejad addressed a crowd in Tehran, but did not mention the unrest, saying only "a new era has begun in the history of the Iranian nation." But there were no hints of any new policy shifts on key international issues such as Iran's standoff over its nuclear program and the offer by President Barack Obama to open dialogue after a nearly 30-year diplomatic estrangement. All high-level decisions are controlled by the ruling theocracy.



Ahmadinejad Declared Winner by State

June 13….(Reuters) State media declared President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad the winner of Iran's election but challenger Mirhossein Mousavi alleged irregularities and claimed victory for himself. The state election commission said early Saturday that Ahmadinejad, a hardline conservative, was ahead with 66 percent of the votes in Friday's election after 21 million ballots were counted. Ahmadinejad's main challenger, moderate former prime minister Mirhossein Mousavi, had 31 percent, according to the commission, which is part of the Interior Ministry. It said 61 percent of all ballot boxes had now been counted. The official news agency IRNA said: "Dr Ahmadinejad, by winning most votes at the 10th presidential election, has secured his victory." It said results would be announced at 8 a.m. (0330 GMT). A bitterly fought campaign has generated intense excitement inside Iran and strong interest around the world, with policymakers looking for signs of a change of approach by Tehran, whose ties with the West worsened under Ahmadinejad. Mousavi had earlier tried to pre-empt official announcements by calling a news conference at which he alleged there had been irregularities, including a shortage of ballot papers. "I am the definite winner of this presidential election," he declared. It was unclear how his supporters, who thronged the streets of Tehran nightly in the run-up to Friday's vote, might react to an Ahmadinejad victory. US strategic intelligence group Stratfor called the situation "potentially explosive," with a considerable risk of unrest. Scuffles broke out early Saturday between police and chanting Mousavi supporters in a Tehran square, a Reuters witness said. Police say they have increased security across the capital to prevent any unrest. All gatherings have been banned until the publication of final results. Analysts had said a victory for Mousavi could help ease tensions with the West, which is concerned about Tehran's nuclear ambitions, and improve chances of engagement with US President Barack Obama, who has talked about a new start in ties with Tehran. In Washington, Obama said his administration was excited about the debate taking place in Iran and he hoped it would help the two countries to engage "in new ways." Mousavi, a former prime minister, said many people had not been able to cast their ballots even after voting was extended by four hours. At his news conference, he listed what he said were problems with the voting process. "(We) are waiting for the counting of votes to officially end and explanations of these irregularities be given," Mousavi said. "We expect to celebrate with people soon." Ahmadinejad draws his bedrock support from rural areas or poorer big city neighborhoods. Mousavi enjoys strong backing in wealthier urban centers, and was expected to attract votes from women and young Iranians. Two other candidates attracted only a tiny share of the vote, according to early results. Under election rules, 50 percent of the vote is needed to win outright; otherwise a second round run-off would be held on June 19 between the two front-runners. Long queues formed earlier at voting centers, after a heated campaign in which inflation, officially around 15 percent, and high unemployment were leading issues. Ahmadinejad, 52, won power four years ago on a pledge to revive the values of the 1979 Islamic revolution. He has steadily built up Iran's nuclear program, rejecting Western charges that it is aimed at building an atomic bomb, and stirred international outrage by denying the Holocaust and calling for Israel to be wiped from the map. Mousavi, 67, rejects Western demands that Iran halt uranium enrichment but analysts say he would bring a different approach to Iran-US ties and talks on the nuclear issue. Ultimately, however, nuclear and foreign policy are determined by the country's supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei. The United States has had no ties with Iran since shortly after the revolution but Obama said in Washington that the United States had "tried to send a clear message that we think there is the possibility of change" in relations.



US to Face a Bolder, More Confident Ahmadinejad

June 13….(Ha Aretz) According to reports emerging from Iran's election supervisory agencies, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad garnered at least twice the number of votes compared to that of his main rival, Mir Hossein Mousavi. Even when factoring in the number of forgeries, irregularities, disturbances, and threats against voters, this statistic is testament not only to the potency of the conservative camp but also the political acumen of Ahmadinejad. Ahmadinejad's landslide victory (barring any surprises in the counting of the remaining votes) is not expected to change Iran's policy vis-a-vis its nuclear program nor will it impact Tehran's developing ties with the United States. On these two matters, final say is not in the hands of the president but rather the Supreme Leader, Ali Khamenei. Even Iran's support for Hamas, Hezbollah, and Syria is determined by numerous figures, among which Ahmadinejad is just one among equals. Nonetheless, the US, which took great pains in not declaring its support for any of the candidates and even declared its intention to hold a dialogue with Iran prior to the elections - is now likely to face a more rigid, self-confident Iranian interlocutor, a leader who feels no need to rally public opinion to his side given the fact that he is legally unable to run for a third term as president in Iran. The question that must be addressed now is to what extent can the Obama administration begin a direct dialogue with Khamenei, who once against demonstrated his ability to impact the election results. The election outcome thus serves an important role in understanding the political and ideological processes that are unfolding in Iran and the scope of their potential influences on the decision-making process. The conservatives could have opted to vote for another candidate, Mohsen Rezai, the former commander of the Revolutionary Guards. Yet, their preference for Ahmadinejad indicates that the conservative establishment, the apparatuses which sustain its hold on power, and particularly Supreme Leader Khamenei himself, all of whom were not enthusiastic about Ahmadinejad, viewed his rival Mousavi as not just any reformist, but one who threatens the regime's very system of rule. As such, they rallied around Ahmadinejad out of concern that Rezai would not be able to muster a challenge against Mousavi. In addition, they wanted to avert a second round of elections in which they envisioned Mousavi winning a majority of votes. On the other hand, Mousavi's impressive showing and his success in forming a full-fledged political movement in a relatively short time frame publicly highlighted the depth of the chasm between the reformists and the conservatives, a chasm that the Supreme Leader will need to take into account while enacting policy. Aside from the political considerations and the support from the conservative establishment, Ahmadinejad's oratory skills proved superior to those of Mousavi and reformist Mehdi Karrubi during the candidates' televised debates. His command of populist demagoguery, the fact that he sprung up from one of Tehran's hard-scrabble neighborhoods, the fact that he does not belong to one of the more affluent families, and his unbridled money handouts on the eve of the vote, all these factors contributed to his victory. Yet it also appears that his foreign policy also lent great weight to the final result. Ahmadinejad claimed credit for bending the will of the West, forcing the US into a dialogue with the Islamic regime, and elevating his country to the status of a global power. His rivals could not boast of a similar record, thus enabling the leader to preserve the Iranian "tradition" in which the president stay in officer for two consecutive terms.



A Word on Citizenship

June 12….(by Heidi Swander) It's been many years since I've been able to sing The Star Spangled Banner without choking up. Given the opportunity to do it today, I doubt I could actually enunciate the words for weeping. America is sinking fast. There was a period in Israel's history when the sins of the nation became so abhorrent to God that He told the prophet Jeremiah, "Therefore do not pray for this people, nor lift up a cry or prayer for them, nor make intercession to Me; for I will not hear you" (Jer. 7:16). Has America become this abhorrent to Almighty God? We cannot know the mind of God, but Romans 1:18-32 shows a series of judgments that God will bring to a society that forsakes Him. A glance at your favorite news source these days will confirm that our country is well down this path of destruction. We are not only in moral decline, but headed toward political, financial, and social ruin. Our founding fathers, though saddened by this turn of events, would have gravely nodded their heads at what is taking place in America today. Thomas Jefferson once wrote, "God who gave us life gave us liberty. And can the liberties of a nation be thought secure when we have removed their only firm basis, a conviction in the minds of the people that these liberties are a gift from God? That they are not to be violated, but with His wrath? Indeed I tremble for my country when I reflect that God is just, and that His justice cannot sleep forever." When I think of my beloved America, I grieve. But God has recently made poignant to me this truth: I am not a citizen of this country. I am an ambassador to this country and a citizen of another. So are you if you are a child of God by faith in Jesus Christ! Paul told the Philippians, "For our citizenship is in heaven, from which we also eagerly wait for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ" (Phil. 3:20). Can you, today, get your mind around that concept? If you can, it will make a world of difference in how you view the news, how you respond to the dangers of our world, and how you look to the future. We are actually commanded to set our mind on things above; but also, not on things on the earth. Now would be a very good time to recognize and obey this command! Thinking of myself as an ambassador does three things for me. First of all, it gives perspective to the freefall that America is in. I am still saddened, because I've lived here a long time and America has been a wonderful place to reside. But America isn't really home, so I find that I'm often looking at all that is going on with a kind of emotional/spiritual detachment. Secondly, it reminds me that I have a job to do and that I may not have much longer to get it done! Our "special and temporary diplomatic assignment" (from Webster's definition of "ambassador") is to introduce as many people to the Lord Jesus Christ as possible. Lastly, as I see all that is happening around me, I anticipate being recalled to my Home Country! There are many reasons for an ambassador to be recalled, not the least of which is the anticipation of a declaration of war. One day, perhaps very soon, war will be declared on this earth, but before that takes place, the Lord's ambassadors will be recalled to Heaven!



Mitchell: US Won't Turn its Back on Palestinians

(After meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, US special envoy says President Obama, Secretary of State Clinton 'made our policy clear - the only viable resolution to conflict is two-state solution')


(FOJ) Very interesting picture, is it not? US Peace envoy George Mitchell stands in front of pictures of Abbas and the notorious terrorist Yasser Arafat, as if either one truly ever wanted peace with Israel. America is entrenched upon a plan to divide the Promised Land. Sadly, this peace plan will find America coming under a curse from Jehovah. (see Joel 3:1-3 and Zechariah 12:1-3)

June 11….(YNET) US envoy George Mitchell met Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, reiterating that the two-state solution was the only viable answer to the Middle East conflict. "The president of the United States (Barack Obama) and Secretary of State (Hillary Clinton) have made our policy clear, the only viable resolution to this conflict is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states," Mitchell told reporters after the meeting in Ramallah. "As President Obama said last week, America will not turn its back on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity and a state of their own," he said, referring to Obama's address to the Muslim world. The US envoy also reiterated statements he made the previous day in meetings with Israeli leaders that Washington was seeking "conditions for the prompt resumption and early conclusion of negotiations." And he said that both Israelis and Palestinians had obligations under the 2003 international Road Map peace plan that among other things calls on Palestinians to halt violence and on Israel to stop settlement activity. Mitchell's visit received an encouraging boost from Damascus on Tuesday, as Hamas head in Syria Khaled Mashaal said American pressure on Israel to freeze settlement construction was a necessary move for the revival of the political process. Mashaal, for his part said urged the international community to recognize his organization as a "positive instrument" in efforts to achieve peace in the Middle East. "President Obama is speaking a new language, but we expect real pressure on the Israelis," Mashaal said. "There are demands that Israel freeze settlement construction, but this is not that price we are looking for, despite that fact that it is an important step."



America's First Muslim President?

June 10….(By Frank J. Gaffney, Jr.) During his White House years, William Jefferson Clinton,, someone Judge Sonia Sotomayor might call a "white male," was dubbed "America's first black president" by a black admirer. Applying the standard of identity politics and pandering to a special interest that earned Mr. Clinton that distinction, Barack Hussein Obama would have to be considered America's first Muslim president. This is not to say, necessarily, that Mr. Obama actually is a Muslim any more than Mr. Clinton actually is black. After his five months in office, and most especially after his just-concluded visit to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, however, a stunning conclusion seems increasingly plausible: The man now happy to have his Islamic-rooted middle name featured prominently has engaged in the most consequential bait-and-switch since Adolf Hitler duped Neville Chamberlain over Czechoslovakia at Munich. What little we know about Mr. Obama's youth certainly suggests that he not only had a Kenyan father who was Muslim, but spent his early, formative years as one in Indonesia. As the president likes to say, "much has been made," in this case by him and his campaign handlers, of the fact that he became a Christian as an adult in Chicago, under the now-notorious Pastor Jeremiah A. Wright. With Mr. Obama's unbelievably ballyhooed address in Cairo Thursday to what he calls "the Muslim world" (hereafter known as "the Speech"), there is mounting evidence that the president not only identifies with Muslims, but actually may still be one himself. Consider the following indicators:

n  Mr. Obama referred four times in his speech to "the Holy Koran." Non-Muslims, even pandering ones, generally don't use that Islamic formulation.

n  Mr. Obama established his firsthand knowledge of Islam (albeit without mentioning his reported upbringing in the faith) with the statement, "I have known Islam on three continents before coming to the region where it was first revealed." Again, "revealed" is a depiction Muslims use to reflect their conviction that the Koran is the word of G-d, as dictated to Muhammad.

n  Then the president made a statement no believing Christian, certainly not one versed, as he professes to be, in the ways of Islam, would ever make. In the context of what he euphemistically called the "situation between Israelis, Palestinians and Arabs," Mr. Obama said he looked forward to the day "when Jerusalem is a secure and lasting home for Jews and Christians and Muslims, and a place for all of the children of Abraham to mingle peacefully together as in the story of Isra, when Moses, Jesus and Muhammad (peace be upon them) joined in prayer."

Now, the term "peace be upon them" is invoked by Muslims as a way of blessing deceased holy men. According to Islam, that is what all three were, dead prophets. Of course, for Christians, Jesus is the living and immortal Son of God. In the final analysis, it may be beside the point whether Mr. Obama actually is a Muslim. In the Speech and elsewhere, he has aligned himself with adherents to what authoritative Islam calls Shariah, notably, the dangerous global movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood, to a degree that makes Mr. Clinton's fabled affinity for blacks pale by comparison. For example, Mr. Obama has, from literally his inaugural address onward, inflated the numbers and, in that way and others, exaggerated the contemporary and historical importance of Muslim-Americans in the United States. In the Speech, he used the Brotherhood's estimates of "nearly 7 million Muslims" in this country, at least twice the estimates from other, more reputable sources. (Who knows? By the time Mr. Obama's friends in the radical Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN) perpetrate their trademark books-cooking as deputy 2010 census takers, the official count may well claim considerably more than 7 million Muslims are living here.) Even more troubling were the commitments the president made in Cairo to promote Islam in America. For instance, he declared: "I consider it part of my responsibility as president of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear." He vowed to ensure that women can cover their heads, including, presumably, when having their photographs taken for passports, driver's licenses or other identification purposes. He also pledged to enable Muslims to engage in zakat, their faith's requirement for tithing, even though four of the eight types of charity called for by Shariah can be associated with terrorism. Not surprisingly, a number of Islamic "charities" in this country have been convicted of providing material support for terrorism. Particularly worrying is the realignment Obama has announced in US policy toward Israel. While he pays lip service to the "unbreakable" bond between America and the Jewish state, the president has unmistakably signaled that he intends to compel the Israelis to make territorial and other strategic concessions to Palestinians to achieve the hallowed two-state solution. In doing so, he ignores the inconvenient fact that both the Brotherhood's Hamas and Abu Mazen's Fatah remain determined to achieve a one-state solution, whereby the Jews will be driven "into the sea."



Obama: US Not Trying to Topple Netanyahu Government


June 9….(YNET) As US-Israeli tensions persist, US officials assure Barak during his visit to Washington that the Obama administration is not trying to topple Netanyahu's government. US officials assured Defense Minister Ehud Barak during the latter's visit to Washington that the Obama administration is not trying to topple Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government. Barak discussed this with Netanyahu in his meeting with the Prime Minister on Friday following the former's return from Washington. The defense minister met with a series of senior administration officials, including US President Barack Obama, Vice President Joe Biden, National Security Advisor James Jones, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, and Senator George Mitchell, Obama's special envoy to the Middle East. The string of meetings held at such a sensitive time in US-Israeli relations is testament to the Americans' desire to use the Labor chairman as their connection to the otherwise right-wing government. Barak was also told in his meetings that Washington does not expect peace to break out thanks to an Israeli declaration in favor of the two-state solution or Israel's willingness to freeze construction in the settlements and dismantle illegal outposts in the West Bank. However, said senior Israeli sources who were briefed following Barak's return, the US officials also stressed that the aforementioned Israeli gestures are inevitable given the current reality. Doing so would aid in creating a moderate Arab alliance that would support efforts to tackle the Iranian nuclear threat, and that would allow the completion of US involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. Washington fears that instability on the Israeli-Palestinian front may undermine the willingness of Arab nations to promote US interests in the region.



Obama Wants Immediate Israel-Palestinian Talks

June 9….(Israel Today) US Middle East envoy George Mitchell on Monday said President Barack Obama wants to see renewed peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority “immediately.” Speaking to reporters following a meeting of donors to the Palestinian Authority in Oslo, Mitchell said Obama has now classified the creation of a Palestinian state as a matter of national security for the US, and so expects both sides to stop stalling and move forward right away. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he is ready to renew direct negotiations with no preconditions, but can make no guarantees regarding the speed of progress given the Palestinians’ past failures to honor their commitments. Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Monday reiterated his refusal to meet with Netanyahu until the latter explicitly agrees to surrender ancient Jewish lands for the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state. Abbas claimed in remarks to reporters that his regime had met all its obligations, but that Israel was in violation of signed agreements by continuing to build Jewish homes in Judea and Samaria.



Gingrich: Christians 'Surrounded by Paganism'

June 9….(Newsmax) Christians in the US today are "surrounded by paganism" and need to get involved in politics to preserve religion in American life, former House Speaker Newt Gingrich declared. Gingrich spoke at a "Rediscovering God in America" forum at a church in Virginia Beach, Va., on Friday, and said: "I think this is one of the most critical moments in American history. "We are living in a period where we are surrounded by paganism." Gingrich and other speakers, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee, pointed to the availability of abortion, the spread of gay rights, and attempts to remove religion from school history books as threats to Christian values. Gingrich told the gathering that the ties to religion in American government date back to the Declaration of Independence, when Thomas Jefferson wrote that men are endowed by God with certain inalienable rights, The Virginian-Pilot's Web site reported. "I am not a citizen of the world," he said. "I am a citizen of the United States because only in the United States does citizenship start with our Creator." Huckabee, who like Gingrich has been mentioned as a possible Republican presidential candidate in 2012, criticized President Barack Obama's statement in his Cairo speech last week that one nation should not be exalted over another. "The notion that we are just one of many among equals is nonsense," he said, calling the US a "blessed" nation.



Fears in Beirut of Hizballah Coup after its Election Defeat

June 9….(DEBKAfile Special Report) Early Monday, June 8, Saad Hariri announced his 14 March bloc had retained its parliamentary majority of 70 out of 128 seats in Sunday's Lebanese election. A politician close to the Hizballah-led March 8 coalition, which is supported by Syria and Iran, admitted defeat. Both spoke as the votes were still being counted. DEBKAfile's Middle East sources report Hizballah, although tipped to win, prepared a backup plan ready to seize power in Beirut if it failed at the ballot. If confirmed, the results are a victory for US influence against an Iranian and Syrian takeover of Lebanon. These elections bear heavily on Iran's presidential vote Friday, June 12, since the incumbent Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threw all his personal weight and an estimated $100 million behind the pro-Iranian alliance's bid to gain control of Lebanon through the ballot-box, our Middle East sources report. He badly needed a win to prove his rivals wrong, especially Mir Hossein Mousavi, in denouncing his external policies as wildly adventurous. Losing Lebanon to the pro-US bloc presents a major setback for Ahmadinejad's chances of reelection. He may not take it lying down. Sources in Beirut have spoken openly in the past of Hizballah's Plan B to reverse its unexpected defeat by the bullet. Hassan Nasrallah is confident that his militia can swing a coup after working hard in recent weeks to persuade Shiite troops which form around half of the 75,000-strong national army to join forces with Hizballah in this event. He believes the Iranian and Syrian military officers attached to his campaign headquarters will make sure the seizure of power is fast, smooth and virtually bloodless. There is no organized military force in Beirut capable of resisting Hizballah, unless president Michel Suleiman orders the army to stand up to the pro-Iranian militia, which he refrained from doing against its assault on the government last year. Alive to the real danger of their country being converted to a second Iran, Lebanese Christian and Sunni Muslim voters turned out in force, app. 54 percent, which is 20 percent more than in 2005. This may have tipped the scales and preserved the country's multi-confessional Western character under the camp led by Saad Hariri and prime minister Fuad Siniora and backed by Washington.



Lebanon's Pro-Western Majority Declares Election Victory over Hezbollah

June 8….(Jerusalem Post) Lebanon's pro-Western coalition declared victory early Monday, as local television stations reported the faction had successfully fended off a serious challenge by Hizbullah and its allies to grab the majority in parliament. Official results for Sunday's election were not expected until later Monday, but the winners were already celebrating by shooting in the air, setting off fireworks and driving around in honking motorcades. The election was an early test of US President Barack Obama's efforts to forge Middle East peace. A win by Hizbullah would have boosted the influence of its backers Iran and Syria and risked pushing one of the region's most volatile nations into international isolation and possibly into more conflict with Israel. "I present this victory to Lebanon," Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said on television after stations projected his pro-Western coalition was winning. "It is an exceptional day for democracy in Lebanon." OTV, the television station of one of Hizbullah's key Christian allies, former army chief Michel Aoun, conceded that the party's candidates who challenged pro-Western competitors in several Christian districts had been defeated, preventing a victory for the Hizbullah coalition. But Aoun was able to hang on to his representation in other districts. Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation, a leading private Christian TV station, projected the pro-Western coalition to win 67 seats in the next parliament, with 52 for Hizbullah and its allies, two for independents and seven undecided. That would almost replicate the deadlock that existed in the outgoing parliament, in which the pro-Western bloc had 70 seats and an alliance of Hizbullah and other Shi'ite and Christian factions had 58. The leader of the largest bloc in the pro-Western coalition, Saad Hariri, said early Monday in a televised speech that he extends his hand to the losing side "to work together and seriously for the sake of Lebanon." He urged supporters to celebrate without provoking opponents. But despite the conciliatory tone, Lebanon was at risk of sliding again into a political crisis over formation of the next government similar to the one that buffeted the country for most of the last four years. Hizbullah had veto power in Saniora's Cabinet for the last year, which it won after provoking the worst street clashes since the 1975-1990 civil war. The pro-Western coalition had vowed not to give Hizbullah and its allies a blocking minority in the new government if they won. The battle in Christian districts was the decisive factor. Lebanese generally vote along sectarian and family loyalties, with seats for Sunnis and Shi'ites in the half-Christian, half-Muslim, 128-member parliament already locked up even before the voting started. Christians in the pro-Western coalition warned that Hizbullah would bring the influence of Shi'ite Iran to Lebanon. The Maronite Catholic Church made a last-minute appeal, warning that Lebanon as a state and its Arab identity were threatened, a clear reference to Hizbullah and its Persian backer, Iran. Sunnis were also driven to vote for the pro-Western coalition to get back at Shi'ite Hizbullah gunmen for seizing the streets a year ago in Beirut from pro-government supporters. Some 3.2 million people out of a population of 4 million were eligible to vote, and the interior minister said after polls closed that the turnout nationwide was about 52.3 percent, an increase over the 2005 figure of 45.8 percent. Saniora won his first parliamentary seat in the southern port city of Sidon, defeating a pro-Hizbullah Sunni incumbent, according to TV projections. The race for the parliament is the first major event in the Middle East since Obama reached out to the Arab and Islamic worlds last week in his speech in Cairo in which he called for a "new beginning between the United States and Muslims." Obama challenged Muslims to confront violent extremism across the globe and urged Israel and the Palestinians along with Arab states to find common ground on which to forge peace. Hizbullah, which the US considers a terrorist organization, has been one of the staunchest opponents of US policy in the Middle East and a sworn enemy of Israel. It fought the Jewish state in southern Lebanon in 2006 in a devastating war and has tried to smuggle weapons to Hamas in Gaza through Egypt. Obama's speech did not resonate in the election campaign. But warnings by the United States that it could reconsider aid depending on the election's outcome have sparked Hizbullah accusations of US interference. The US has given around $1 billion to Lebanon's pro-Western government since 2006. In his Cairo speech, Obama said the United States "will welcome elected, peaceful governments, provided they govern with respect for all their people." Former US president Jimmy Carter, in Beirut to monitor the elections, expressed hope that the United States, Iran and other countries will recognize the results "and not try to interfere in the process." Hizbullah's coalition includes the Shi'ite movement Amal and Aoun's Christian faction. Opposing it are the overwhelmingly Sunni Muslim supporters of current majority leader Hariri, allied with several Christian and Druse factions. Hizbullah tried to strike a moderate tone in the election campaign. The group only fielded 11 candidates and must work with its various political allies. The group's Christian allies argue that involving Hizbullah more deeply in the political process, rather than shunning it, is the only way to bridge the country's sectarian divides. Their opponents counter that the heavily armed Hizbullah would be driving Lebanon into the arms of Iran, which could use it as a front in the Islamic republic's confrontation with Israel. In Israel, Hizbullah officials were concerned about gains by Hizbullah. Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom said last week a victory by Hizbullah would be "very dangerous for the stability of the Middle East, and by that, the stability of the entire world."



Saudi King Urges Obama to Impose Mideast Solution

June 8….(Reuters) King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia has urged US President Barack Obama to impose a solution on the festering Arab-Israeli conflict if necessary, a Saudi newspaper said on Sunday. Saudi Arabia and other Arab states want Obama to get tough with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who has balked at Palestinian statehood and defied US calls to halt the expansion of Jewish settlements. King Abdullah told Obama during his visit to Riyadh last week that Arab patience was wearing thin and that a solution of the Arab-Israeli conflict would be the "magic key" to all issues in the region, al-Hayat said, quoting what it called informed sources. "We want from you a serious participation to solve the Palestinian issue and impose the solution if necessary," the Saudi monarch told Obama, according to the paper, which is owned by a nephew of the monarch. It did not elaborate. Saudi Arabia was the driving force behind an Arab peace initiative first put forward by Arab states in 2002 offering Israel recognition in return for withdrawal from Arab land occupied in 1967 and a Palestinian state. Israel has reacted coolly to the offer, renewed in 2007, saying a return of Palestinian refugees to areas now inside Israel would destroy the Jewish character of the state. "We (Arabs) want to devote our time to build a generation capable of confronting the future with science and work," King Abdullah said, according to al-Hayat. Saudi Arabia believes the collapse of Middle East peacemaking has given Iran a chance to expand its regional influence through Sunni Islamist groups such as the Palestinian Hamas, as well as its Shi'ite traditional Hezbollah allies in Lebanon.



Tehran Taps Nasrallah as Strongman for Reforming Lebanon as Second Iran

June 8….(DEBKAfile Special Report) If Lebanon's March 8 bloc headed by Hizballah wins Lebanon's election Sunday, June 7, as it fully expects, its sponsors in Tehran have big plans for Hizballah's leader, the fiery Hassan Narallah, to become strongman, charged with establishing a second Iran and remodeling Hizballah on the lines of Iran's Revolutionary Guards. The two candidates for prime minister are Parliament Speaker Nabih Beri, leader of the Shiite Amal movement, and Abdullah Miqtay, a very good friend of Syrian president, Bashar Assad, with whom Tehran will share the spoils of defeating the pro-Western bloc led by Saad Hariri and incumbent prime minister Nouri Siniora. Whichever wins to job, the prime minister, government and its ruling mechanisms will all be reduced to rubber stamps for the will of the new national overlord, Hassan Nasrallah, and ultimately Tehran. Their putsch, executed in the guise of a democratic election, will gradually force Lebanon, in all its walks of life, government, army, police, intelligence, education, religion and civil rights, into the molds of their counterparts in the Revolutionary Republic of Iran. In time, the large and vibrant pro-Western Christian community, which gives Lebanon its multi-religious, cosmopolitan character, will emigrate leaving behind a tame satellite of the ferociously radical Iran. The Christian community is alive to the threat. Saturday, June 6, in an effort to rally Christian voters to turn out in force, the Maronite Christian Patriarch Nasrallah Butros Sfeir warned that Lebanon faces a threat to its very existence as an Arab entity. DEBKAfile's Middle East sources dismiss the predictions in Riyadh, Cairo, Washington and Paris that the election will produce a national unity government. They are offering castles in the air to distract attention from their failure to halt the galloping Iranian-Syrian-Hizballah momentum for seizing control of Lebanon. It is too late now to stop Nasrallah's rise to the top or Lebanon's decline as the first Arab country to have fallen in the hands of Iran and a terrorist organization because none of Iran's opponents were determined enough to stop this happening.







Obama to Muslim world: I'll See That Jewish Settlement Stops

June 6….(By Stan Goodenough) US President Barack Obama Thursday effectively and publicly stripped Israel of its special place in American foreign relations, marking "a new beginning between the United States and Muslims around the world." Israel is to be made to pay to ensure Obama's effective "reaching out" to the planet's 1.5 billion adherents to Islam, and especially to those who are Arab. To engage the Muslim world, the president made it clear that the United States will at least partially disengage from the Jewish world, specifically from that part that holds to the faith of its fathers. In what was widely applauded as a momentous and historic address, the president told the cheering audience at the Cairo University, and untold millions of approving onlookers around the world, that he will "personally" see to it that the heart of the Jewish homeland is rendered Jew-free and handed to the Palestinian Arabs for the creation of a state of their own. "The only resolution" to the Arab-Israeli conflict, he said, "is for the aspirations of both sides to be met through two states, where Israelis and Palestinians each live in peace and security." This was "in Israel's interest, Palestine's interest, America's interest, and the world's interest. That is why I intend to personally pursue this outcome." The President maintained that "to see this conflict only from one side or the other is to be blind to the truth." Despite the fact that the Jews have both a biblical injunction to settle the land (Numbers 33:53) and international legal recognition of their right to do so (the Balfour Declaration and League of Nations' San Remo Conference); and despite the fact that the Geneva Conventions do NOT apply to "the occupied territories" of Judea and Samaria, Obama insisted that "the United States does not accept the legitimacy of continued Israeli settlements." Building these homes for Jews "violates previous agreements and undermines efforts to achieve peace," he declared. "It is time for these settlements to stop!" To establish some form of positive recognition of America in Muslim minds, the president sought to "dumb down" the unique and incomparable historical experience of the Jews to the level of the quite unremarkable, and certainly not unprecedented, recent experience of the Palestinian Arabs. Obama compared 2000 years of Jewish suffering that culminated in the feeding of six million victims into the maw of the Holocaust, with the "pain of dislocation" suffered by the Palestinian Arabs who were made into refugees as a result of their own peoples' aggression against Israel, and whose leaders have preserved them in that status as pawns with which to achieve their own political and religious aspiration, which is Israel's demise. "For decades," Obama said, "there has been a stalemate: two peoples with legitimate aspirations, each with a painful history that makes compromise elusive." Israel's repeated willingness to compromise, to the severing of two-thirds of its promised land by the British, to the further dismemberment of that territory by the United Nations, to the further shrinkage of that territory under the Oslo Accords; and the Arab's steadfast refusal to compromise at any point over the past 100 years, was glossed over. According to Obama, America's relationship with Israel is an "unbreakable bond." But instead of acknowledging that this bond is rooted in belief in the same God, the God of Israel, the president said it is based "upon cultural and historical ties, and the recognition that the aspiration for a Jewish homeland is rooted in a tragic history that cannot be denied." He proceeded to parallel the Jews' millennia of yearning to return to their God-given and once gloriously independent national homeland with the Palestinian Arabs' sixty-year long hopes of establishing a homeland for the first time in history on land they have never nationally possessed. The audience at the university, which remained unmoved when Obama mentioned Jewish suffering and Jewish hopes, burst into repeated applause at every mention of America's standing with and taking up the cause of the "Palestinians." Obama insisted that Israel, whose 4,000-year existence has been richly recorded, both biblically and extra-biblically, must acknowledge that the Palestinian Arabs' "right to exist" as a nation, despite it having no more than six decades of history, and never having had a national homeland, a national flag or any other national symbol, to its name, "cannot be denied." Not only must the Jews surrender their most precious national assets to Arabs, but it is also Israel's obligation, Obama continued, "to ensure that Palestinians can live, and work, and develop their society." "Progress in the daily lives of the Palestinian people must be part of a road to peace, and Israel must take concrete steps to enable such progress," he said. Informed observers will know that Israel's repeated efforts to enable "normal Palestinian life" have always backfired at the cost of innocent Jewish lives and sometimes devastating blows to the economy of the Jewish state. What Obama would not do, is place the onus on the Arab states, who have the land, the resources, and the moral obligation, to ensure that there is hope and a future for the "Palestinians." (En route to Cairo, Obama stopped for consultations in Saudi Arabia - the nation where Islam was spawned in the 7th Century, and with whom the United States has long had enormously lucrative oil dealings.) Of the "six specific issues" Obama said he believes America and the Islamic world "must finally confront together," "violent extremism," "the situation between Israelis, Palestinians and the Arab world," "the rights and responsibilities of nations on nuclear weapons," "democracy," "religious freedom," and "women's rights," the American gave the most time to the Arab-Israeli conflict.



Obama Overture to Hamas Suggests Acceptability of Terror Group's Dominance Among Palestinians

(The mention of terror group Hamas as a leader of Palestinians has some wondering just how far President Obama is going to change US policy toward the Mideast)

June 4….(Fox News) In an apparent policy shift, President Obama on Thursday invited Hamas, a designated terror organization -- to "play a role" in the future of the Palestinian people. During his speech to the Muslim world in Cairo on Thursday, the US president bluntly recognized the group, which has called for the destruction of Israel, in a two-sentence passage that was part of a broader discussion about the terms for peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians. "Hamas does have support among some Palestinians, but they also have to recognize they have responsibilities. To play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations, to unify the Palestinian people, Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist," Obama said. The president then called on Israel to end settlement construction and for both sides to embrace a two-state solution. He reiterated that the US bond with Israel is "unbreakable." Some observers said they were struck by the firm tone Obama took with both sides in addressing the generations-old conflict and particularly with his recognition of Hamas, which may signal to the group that it is seen as an inevitable part of the Palestinian future. "That is a major shift in Middle East policy and it's not good," said Marc Thiessen, former speechwriter for former President George W. Bush, who sought to isolate Hamas. "Israel has reached out to the Muslim world by giving Gaza back and they have even talked about a Palestinian state. But all of these entities, Hamas, Hezbollah and others, have said Israel's right to exist should not be guaranteed," said Rep. Dan Burton, R-Ind., ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Subcommittee on the Middle East and South Asia. The three "responsibilities" Obama mentioned, an end to violence, recognition of past agreements and of Israel's right to exist, have been part of US policy toward Hamas for years. But those responsibilities are often stated as conditions for engagement with Hamas, not for implied Western support of Hamas governance. Bruce Riedel, a foreign policy fellow with the Brookings Institution and former Middle East adviser to several US presidents, said Obama, ever the pragmatist, was merely trying to steer an undeniable force in Palestinian life and politics into the mainstream. "I think he's challenging them. He's saying if you want to lead your people forward, here's what you need to do," he said. "The reality is Hamas now controls Gaza, more than 1 million people. It can't be ignored." Currently, the Fatah government of Mahmoud Abbas is in charge of the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank. Hamas controls the Gaza Strip, which Israel vacated in 2005. Fatah and Hamas broke ties from a coalition government two years ago when Hamas won a majority of votes in parliamentary elections, but could not control key ministries and maintain Western support because of its widespread designation as a terror group. One Hamas official Mahmoud Ramahi offered qualified praise for the speech. "I have followed the speech closely. There are many positive points," Ramahi is quoted saying in the Jerusalem Post. "There is a difference between his policy and Bush's policy. I see a change in the US foreign policy discourse." Other Palestinian leaders also praised the tone Obama took in his address. "This speech touched me because it's the first time an American president saw the human face of the Palestinians," Mustafa Barghouthi, a member of the Palestinian Legislative Council, said in a statement. As for Obama's statements on Israeli settlements and the two-state solution, Riedel said they were tough, but necessary. "It was about as direct and forceful as you could have gotten... he didn't pull any punches with either side," he said, noting that Obama's also forcefully condemned Holocaust deniers, a message likely aimed at Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and those who call for the destruction of Israel. But he said the speech is sure to cause a backlash in Israel. "The Israelis are not going to like some of what they heard, especially about settlements," he said. In the days leading up to his address, the president's prior call for Israel to abandon all settlement construction drew criticism in the Jewish state, and had been rebuffed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Netanyahu's issued a statement after the speech praising the U.S. president in broad terms. "The government of Israel expresses hope that President Obama's important speech will lead to a new period of reconciliation between the Arab and Muslim world, and Israel," the statement said. "Israel is obligated to peace and will do as much as possible to help expand the circle of peace, while taking into consideration our national interests, the foremost of which is security," it concluded. But Israeli media reported Thursday that settler leaders were frustrated by Obama's address. Habayit Hayehudi chairman Daniel Hershkowitz was quoted saying Obama presented a "fabricated history" and ignored those Palestinians who have not renounced terror. "The government of Israel is not America's lackey. The relations with the Americans are based on friendship and not submission, and therefore Israel must tell Obama that stopping natural growth in the settlements is a red line," he said, according to the Jerusalem Post. Obama's speech also exposed divides among Israel's lawmakers over the settlement and statehood issues. Other politicians welcomed Obama's tough talk, and said it proved Netanyahu represents narrow interests by opposing elements of that roadmap to peace. Meanwhile, Palestinian news outlet Ma'an News Agency reported that Hamas invited Obama to visit the Gaza Strip in a letter, which anti-war group CodePink planned to deliver Thursday. In the letter, Hamas urged Obama to visit the territory to "witness the results of the Israeli war," referring to the offensive launched by Israel in late December in response to a barrage of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip. "Such a visit will put the United States in a higher position in the view of the entire world in order to solve the conflict," the letter said.



Obama Does not Recognize Israel Land Claims, Security Needs

June 4….(Israel Today) In his much anticipated address to the Muslim world in Cairo on Thursday, US President Barack Obama said he does not recognize the legitimacy of any Israeli presence on the biblical lands of Judea and Samaria, and scolded the Jewish state for security measures he said are unnecessary and counterproductive. In a speech in which he repeatedly referred to the “Holy Koran” and the many lessons of peace it holds for us, Obama appeared to paint Israel’s reluctance to surrender land for the establishment of a Palestinian Arab state as the sole remaining obstacle to ending the Israeli-Arab conflict. The audience at Cairo University was silent as Obama began by recalling the Jews’ painful history, deriding anyone who would deny that history and reaffirming the Jewish people’s righteous quest for a homeland. They erupted in applause as he continued by equating that history and that quest to the suffering of the Palestinian Arabs and their own efforts to forge an independent state. His listeners were left to believe that Obama views the Palestinian plight in the same light as the Nazi Holocaust, and sees little difference between the Nazi death camps and the Palestinian “refugee” camps. That the Palestinians’ situation has been brought on largely by their own violence, while the Jews did nothing to provoke the Nazis but be Jews, was conveniently glossed over. Obama insisted that for peace to reign over the region, Israel must halt all “settlement activity” in the areas it has greatest historical claim to. He said America and the rest of the world will never recognize the legitimacy of those settlements. The president scoffed at Israeli security measures imposed on those areas that have been surrendered to the Palestinians, saying they were only producing the opposite result. He was adamant that imposing a blockade on Gaza and manning checkpoints in Judea and Samaria cannot bring security to Israelis. He failed to address the rampant Palestinian terrorism that plagued Israeli cities before those measures were put in place. Obama did take issue with Palestinian violence in general, but attempted to downplay it by saying very few participate in it or support those groups that do. His remarks ignored years of public opinion polls showing that the vast majority of Palestinians support violence against Israel and the most recent Palestinian legislative election in which Hamas won a landslide victory. A recent survey revealed Hamas will score an even bigger victory when Palestinians again go to the polls later this year. Israelis were anxious prior to the speech, fearful that Obama was going to sacrifice Israel to bring reconciliation between America and the Muslim world. After watching the speech live on television, many were left feeling that is precisely what happened.



Obama Blames America, Reaches Out to Islam


June 4….(Politico) In remarks being translated live for broadcasts and Webcasts in every major language, President Barack Obama said Thursday that the United States wants “common ground” and “a new beginning” with the Muslim world, where America’s image plummeted with the Bush administration’s response to the 9/11 attacks. The 55-minute speech was remarkable and historic not so much for the delivery or even the words, but for the context, the orator, the moment. Obama included blunt talk about the United States, Israel, Iraq, his predecessor and al Qaeda. “I am aware that some question or justify the events of 9/11,” he said, speaking before a red curtain and six pairs of US and Egyptian flags. “But let us be clear: al Qaeda killed nearly 3,000 people on that day.” US President, who left the room to applause from an audience carefully chosen to reflect diverse perspectives, invoked the “Holy Koran” twice, and the “Holy Bible” once. Obama got a standing early ovation when he declared: “I consider it part of my responsibility as President of the United States to fight against negative stereotypes of Islam wherever they appear. The speech, delivered in Egypt, where the political opposition can be jailed, beaten or outlawed, is a major test of Obama’s ability to translate his appealing rhetoric into real change at what he acknowledged is “a time of tension between the United States and Muslims around the world.” But conservative former US Ambassador to United Nations John Bolton said he considered that one of several "flawed premises" upon which the speech was built, noting America's longstanding alliance with Saudi Arabia as sign that it's not all tension between the US and Arab allies. "This is another Obama blame America first moment," Bolton said. Bolton also criticized Obama for what he called "a very hard line against Israeli settlements." Obama concluded with more brief quotations from the Koran, and a couple from the Talmud and the Bible, the holy books of what he called “the three great faiths.” Then he added: “The people of the world can live together in peace. We know that is God’s vision. Now, that must be our work here on Earth. Thank you. And may God’s peace be upon you.” The administration has been signaling a tougher line with Israel, and Obama made remarks that can be taken as sympathetic to Palestinians for what he called “the daily humiliations, large and small, that come with occupation.” “So let there be no doubt: the situation for the Palestinian people is intolerable,” he said. “America will not turn our backs on the legitimate Palestinian aspiration for dignity, opportunity, and a state of their own.” In remarks that will likely rankle some supporters of Israel in the US Congress, he added: “Israelis must acknowledge that just as Israel’s right to exist cannot be denied, neither can Palestine’s. US President Barack Obama made a major gesture of conciliation to Iran by insisting that the US owed Iran an apology for being involved in a Cold War coup in 1953 to overthrow the former Iranian Prime Minister, who was an ally of Russia. Obama said that any nation, including Iran, "should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty." He said such a "commitment" is at the treaty's core and "it must be kept for all who fully abide by it." "And I am hopeful that all countries in the region can share in this goal," Obama said



Palestinians Pleased with Obama's Numerous Koran Quotes

June 4….(YNET) Sources in the Palestinian Authority expressed their satisfaction with Barack Obama's speech in Cairo on Thursday, stressing the fact that the American president did mention the word "terrorism" even once. The sources said they were pleased with the fact that Obama did not differentiate between isolated Israeli settlements and the settlement blocs as a whole, as well as with his call to stop Palestinian "suffering". "It is very important that Obama addressed 1.5 billion Muslims from such an important city like Cairo, and it is very important that he quoted seven verses from the Koran and stressed that there was no hostility between the US and Islam," a Palestinian source said. "Obama did not use the word 'terror' even when speaking of al-Qaeda, and used 'violence' instead; he did not speak like (former US President) George W. Bush. Obama understands that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is the root cause of instability in the Middle East, and therefore we can we be calm; it is the Israelis who should be worried," he said. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said "there is a change between the speech of President Obama and previous speeches made by George Bush.



Obama Reshuffles America's Middle East Allies

June 4….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Analysis) During his fast-moving two days stay in the Middle East, crowned by a speech from Cairo to the world's Muslims on June 4, US president Barack Obama pursued some practical politicking behind the scenes, DEBKAfile's regional sources report. His private talks with Saudi King Abdullah and overnight stay in Riyadh June 3 and his conversation with Hosni Mubarak at the presidential Quba palace the next day cemented a new coalition between the US, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. This was the first strategic bond ever signed by those three nations as a combined front for combating Islamic radicalism, chiefly al Qaeda and Taliban, and applying the brakes to Iran's drive for a nuclear weapon. Osama bin Laden was quick to respond by warning Muslims that "alliances with Christians and Jews would turn them into apostates." For all three allies, it is a major transformation, but most of all for Israel, from whom President Obama proposes to gradually minimize America's strategic ties. This means that the US president and his advisers intend to start cutting down on their military and intelligence discourse with Israel. Instead of conferring with Israel on its military and undercover moves the Middle East and Muslim world, Washington will make Cairo and Riyadh the crux of its regional teamwork, only turning to Jerusalem when unavoidable. Administration leaders have opted for this policy reorientation because they seek to enter into negotiations with Iran unencumbered by Israeli baggage. Close US ties with the Jewish state are also seen as a burden in Obama's prospective diplomatic engagements with Arab and Muslim governments such as Syria, which he wants to see harnessed to his new Arab line-up. When he said in his epic speech "America will align its policies with those who seek peace," he was saying that his hands are free to henceforth pick and choose US allies without being bound by the past.



Iran Leader Says US 'Deeply Hated' in Mideast

June 4….(Fox News) Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Thursday the United States was "deeply hated" in the Middle East and that Israel is a "cancerous tumor in the heart" of the Muslim world. Khamenei, speaking on the same day President Obama was due to give a major speech to the Islamic world in Cairo, said the hatred felt toward America could not be changed with "slogans," according to a Reuters report. "The nations of this part of the world deeply hate America," the news agency quoted Khamenei as saying. "Even if they give sweet and beautiful (speeches) to the Muslim nation, that will not create change," he said in a televised speech. "Action is needed." Khamenei said the Muslim world is instead looking for practical changes to US policies. The leader's speech in Tehran marked the 20th anniversary of the death of his predecessor, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the founder of the Islamic Republic.


 Obama Makes You Sacrifice for Him

June 4….(Townhall) Let us compare two historical situations. One took place several thousand years ago. The other took place on Monday. According to legend, during the 13th century BC, there was a Greek king named Agamemnon. He was bound and determined to attack and raze the city of Troy. When Agamemnon sought to launch his ships for Troy, however, the goddess Artemis sent a stagnant wind to stop Agamemnon's fleet. Agamemnon responded by calling out his daughter, Iphigenia, and sacrificing her to appease Artemis. Fast forward to last Monday. In announcing the bankruptcy of General Motors, President Barack Obama spoke directly all those who would lose their jobs and their livelihoods. "I want you to know that what you're doing is making a sacrifice for the next generation, a sacrifice you may not have chose to make, but a sacrifice you were nevertheless called to make so that your children and all of our children can grow up in an America that still makes things; that still builds cars; that still strives for a better future," he said. Obama is fond of calling upon Americans to make sacrifices, or rather, he is fond of forcing Americans into sacrificing themselves at a time and place of his choosing. Heroic sacrifice requires volunteerism, or at least an element of extraordinary choice; Obama's sort of sacrifice runs along Agamemnon-esque lines. He names the time and the place, and you are expected to put your neck on the altar. Obama's sacrificial ideology is particularly egregious because it targets minority groups who can do nothing to defend themselves. Obama targets the taxpaying minority, forcing them to pay for bank bailouts and auto gratuities while falsely promising that taxpayers will earn that money back (when do we get our checks?). He targets GM bondholders, the same folks whose retirement money has been keeping the ailing carmaker afloat; his new bankruptcy plan makes their holdings worthless. He demonizes Chrysler's investors as "speculators" and attempts to portray them as villains in Chrysler's demise. He forces banks to take TARP money, then defenestrates bank chiefs and caps executive pay. It would be one thing if Obama expected all Americans to sacrifice equally. Clearly, however, he does not. He, for one, isn't willing to sacrifice, he's ready to spend $24,000 of taxpayer money to take his wife on a date to New York. And Obama doesn't expect his allies to sacrifice, either. The United Auto Workers, whom Obama has praised for its "sacrifice," now owns a majority of Chrysler and a huge chunk of GM; not coincidentally, UAW gave millions to Obama's campaign. Obama refused to bail out California unless it revoked pay cuts for members of the Service Employees International Union; not coincidentally, SEIU gave $33 million to Obama's campaign. Obama's self-centered idea of sacrifice, sacrifice yourself on Obama's behalf, or he'll sacrifice you, doesn't stop at the water's edge. America's foreign allies are feeling similar pressure to sacrifice themselves for Obamemnon's glory. Thus, Obama presses Israel to stop building new houses in Jewish Jerusalem while encouraging Palestinian Arabs to build illegal settlements within Jerusalem. Thus, Obama tacitly allows Iran to develop nuclear weapons and reaches out to the illegitimate mullahs while stifling any freedom movement within Iran. Thus, Obama allows China to violate human rights while offering them the Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval for their supposed work on global warming, all in order to entice China to keep buying our debt. Sacrifice, it seems, is only to be made by those who least deserve to make it. There is one crucial difference between Agamemnon and Obama: Agamemnon led his troops to victory at Troy. Iphigenia was merely an innocent bystander used to accomplish his purposes. Obama, by contrast, is bound to lead America to ruin precisely because of the sacrifices he is forcing upon the most productive Americans and our most important allies. Obama's philosophy makes the sacrifice of individual liberty irrelevant to the broader communal good as he defines it. What we are losing on the Altar of Obamemnon is far more than a few bucks, it is the fundamental basis of free government.




Obama Arrives in Riyadh to Open Muslim Dialogue

Obama Visits With Saudi King on Eve of Speech to 'Muslim World'

June 3….(YNET) President Obama is beginning his latest bid to open a dialogue with the Muslim world by paying a call on Saudi King Abdullah, guardian of Islam's sacred sites in Mecca and Medina.


(FOJ) US President Barack Obama, left, is greeted by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, right, during the arrival ceremony at King Khalid International Airport, Wednesday, June 3, 2009 in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


"The United States and Saudi Arabia have a long history of friendship. We have a strategic relationship," Obama said as he visited the monarch's desert horse farm. The US president called Abdullah wise and gracious, adding: "I am confident that working together that the United States and Saudi Arabia can make progress on a whole host of issues of mutual interest." In turn, Abdullah expressed his "best wishes to the friendly American people who are represented by a distinguished man who deserves to be in this position."

Obama and Abdullah then sat together in gilded chairs, sipped cardamom-flavored Arabic coffee from small cups and chatted briefly in public before retreating to hold private talks on a range of issues, centering on Israel and the Middle East Conflict. With Abdullah alongside him, Obama told reporters: "I thought it was very important to come to the place where Islam began and to seek his majesty's counsel and to discuss with him many of the issues that we confront here in the Middle East." The president was to stay overnight at the king's farm outside Riyadh. Abdullah, who hosted then-President George W. Bush at the ranch in January of last year, keeps some 260 Arabian horses on its sprawling grounds in air-conditioned comfort. In any effort to court Muslims, the Saudis will be key, not just for their oil wealth, but by virtue of the authority they wield at the center of Arab history and culture. Obama's meeting with the 84-year-old Abdullah was his second in three months. The two saw each other at the G-20 summit in London, a meeting both sides called friendly and productive. Perhaps a bit too friendly: Critics accused Obama of bowing to the Saudi monarch during a photo-op. The White House maintained he was merely bending to shake hands with a shorter man.



Palestinians Like Obama

June 3….(Israel Today) A day before his reconciliation speech to the Muslim world in Cairo, senior Palestinian officials on Wednesday said they like what they have seen so far from US President Barack Obama. Obama is determined to endear America to the Muslim world, and the Palestinians are confident that effort will come at Israel’s expense. “Looks like we finally have a friend in the White House who is sympathetic to the Arab cause,” a Palestinian cabinet minister told The Jerusalem Post. The minister said he was following with “great satisfaction” the growing rift between Obama and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A senior aide to Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas said the US has always been the only country capable of imposing the two-state solution on Israel, and looks like with Obama, there is finally a president willing to use that power. Abbas returned from a visit to Washington last week optimistic that Obama was going to put an end to the Jewish presence in Judea, Samaria and the eastern half of Jerusalem. Since then, Obama has put heavy pressure on Israel to halt even natural growth of Jewish communities in those areas.



Ahmadinejad Says Holocaust a Big Deception

June 3….(Newsmax) Iran's hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is seeking a second term in office, reiterated on Wednesday his anti-Israel stance by calling the Holocaust a "big deception." Ahmadinejad also said liberal democracies of the world have degraded "human values," the Iranian state television news website quoted him as saying. "The identity of the liberal democracy has been exposed to the world by its protection of the most criminal regime in the history of humanity, the Zionist regime, by using the big deception of the Holocaust." "There is no doubt that the only way to replace the liberal thought is to go back to the teachings of the divine prophets," Ahmadinejad said. "The thoughts and the system of liberal regimes have lowered the benchmarks for human perfection ... The liberal regimes cannot solve the simplest of the political issues in the world," he said. Ahmadinejad was speaking to a gathering of 600 international scholars who have arrived in Tehran to mark the 20th anniversary of the death of the founder of the Islamic republic, Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, which falls on Thursday. He hopes to win another four-year term in the June 12 election. Ahmadinejad's presidency has been marred by anti-Israel tirades. Soon after he took office in 2005, he said Israel was "doomed to be wiped off the map," a statement that enraged global powers that was followed by another diatribe saying the Holocaust was a "myth."



US Demands Halt to Jewish Construction in Jerusalem, Too

June 3….(Ha Aretz) The Obama Administration has reportedly reacted angrily to Israel’s expected approval of plans to build a hotel on municipal-owned land adjacent to Jerusalem’s Old City. If it gains government approval, the hotel will be built just a few hundred feet from the northern wall of the Old City where an Arab wholesale market today stands. The plans call for the market to be replaced by a larger commercial center for local use. But senior American officials reportedly told Ha’aretz that Washington views those plans as Jewish “settlement activity,” which US President Barack Obama has explicitly forbidden as he drives through his vision for peace in the Middle East. The officials said the Obama Administration wants expansion of the Jewish presence on the eastern side of Jerusalem to halt completely, especially in the so-called “Holy Basin,” the area surrounding and including the Old City and Temple Mount. Media commentator Dr. Aaron Lerner of Independent Media Review & Analysis (IMRA) noted that the hostile American response is actually a blessing for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. When it comes to US pressure to uproot unauthorized Jewish outposts in Judea and Samaria, the Israeli public is divided, creating a sticky domestic situation for Netanyahu. But nearly all Israelis reject the notion that they do not have a sovereign right to all of Jerusalem, and foreign interference to the contrary will only galvanize them behind their elected leadership.



Obama Declares June 'LGBT Pride Month'

June 3….(Politics and Government) In a presidential proclamation on the White House website, Barack Obama has lauded what he calls "the determination and dedication" of the LGBT movement by proclaiming June as "Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month." "The LGBT rights movement has achieved great progress," Obama states in the official proclamation, "but there is more to be done. LGBT youth should feel safe to learn without the fear of harassment, and LGBT families and seniors should be allowed to live their lives with dignity and respect." The proclamation, released on Monday, credits the LGBT movement with being a factor in more Americans who ascribe to those groups "living their lives openly today than ever before." The president also takes pride in being the first US chief executive to appoint "openly LGBT" candidates to Senate-confirmed positions in the first 100 days of an administration. He uses the proclamation to emphasize LGBT-related initiatives that he intends to pursue in the future, both domestically and internationally. "I have joined efforts at the United Nations to decriminalize homosexual around the world," he states. "Here at home, I continue to support measures to bring the full spectrum of equal rights to LGBT Americans." Among those measures he lists "hate crimes" laws, civil unions, discrimination in the workplace, adoption rights, and ending the military's "don't ask, don't tell" policy "in a way that strengthens our Armed Forces and our national security."

Presidential pandering

Pro-family activist says Peter LaBarbera it is sad, but not surprising, that President Obama has chosen to issue a proclamation celebrating homosexuality. The president of Americans for Truth About Homosexuality says Obama is pandering to homosexual political activists. "Homosexuality is nothing to be proud of, bottom line," says LaBarbera. "The fact is people have left the lifestyle, people have overcome homosexuality [with God's help] I think that's something to be proud of...." LaBarbera warns of the repercussions of the president's pursuit of expanded rights for those who are confused about their sexual orientation. "This proclamation talks about the entire radical homosexual agenda that Obama supports, including homosexualizing the US military and federal so-called 'rights' based on homosexuality, which will impinge on the religious freedoms and freedom of conscience of other Americans." Christians, he believes, must reach out to homosexuals with the message of the gospel.



Obama Sets Deadline for Mideast Breakthrough

(US president sets two years for diplomatic breakthrough on two-state solution, adding that during schedule speech in Cairo this week he will offer his personal commitment to 'change the conversation' with Muslim world)

June 2….(YNET) US President Barack Obama has given himself two years for a diplomatic breakthrough on a two-state solution for Israel and the Palestinians, the London-based Sunday Times reported. According to the report, during his scheduled speech in Cairo this week Obama will offer his personal commitment to “change the conversation” with the Muslim world. Obama's Mideast tour will begin with a meeting with King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia in Riyadh on Wednesday to discuss the Arab peace initiative and relations with Iran before he arrives in Egypt the next day, the Times said. The Times quoted White House advisers as saying that Obama would “take on the tough issues”, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and offer to bridge differences with Muslims based on “mutual interests and mutual respect” - the same words used in his address to the Turkish parliament last month. The report said that the goal of two states living side by side, with the holy sites in Jerusalem under international jurisdiction, is to receive a new push by Obama.



US May Stop Supporting Israel at UN

June 2….(Israel Today) Senior US officials this week warned that the Obama Administration will discontinue America’s traditional defense of Israel at the United Nations if Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu does not agree to stop building homes for Jews in Judea and Samaria. The officials were quoted by the New York Times as saying US President Barack Obama is seriously considering no longer vetoing harsh anti-Israel resolutions in the UN Security Council if Netanyahu does not meet his demands regarding the natural growth of Jewish towns beyond the pre-1967 borders. Netanyahu on Monday responded that he will not halt life in existing Jewish towns and villages in Judea and Samaria. He and other Israeli officials have called the demand that Israel not even allow natural growth in those communities unfair, especially considering the rampant illegal construction by the Palestinians. "There are reasonable demands and demands that are not reasonable," Netanyahu told the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. However, Israeli authorities on Monday did forcibly remove a small unauthorized Jewish outpost in Samaria. Netanyahu did promise Obama that he would remove such outposts, and several have been uprooted since the prime minister’s return from Washington late last month.



Obama Administration Conditions UN Support on Freezing Settlements

June 2….(In The Days) The Obama administration is considering a series of symbolic measures to force Israel to halt all construction in West Bank settlements, the New York Times has reported. Administration officials said that measures under discussion include dropping the US’ near uniform support of Israel in the United Nations, according to the New York Times. “There are things that could get the attention of the Israeli public,” The Times quoted a senior administration official as saying. Nevertheless, the official also said, “Israel is a critical United States ally, and no one in this administration expects that not to continue.” Israeli officials said Monday that the US has made no mention of any such plans. The Obama administration has insisted on a total settlement freeze, but Jerusalem has balked at this demand claiming that existing communities in the West Bank deserve continued government attention. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday declared that Israel would not put life in West Bank settlements on hold, despite the United States demand that Israel completely halt construction in existing settlements. “There are reasonable demands and demands that are not reasonable,” Netanyahu told the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. He was referring to a request made by US President Barack Obama during a recent meeting in Washington with the premier. Netanyahu, however, did pledge that Israel would not build any new settlements. The prime minister’s comments came after Israeli security forces evacuated the northern West Bank outpost of Nachalat Yosef on Monday. The site, near the settlement of Elon Moreh, contained three caravans and had been described by its residents as a farm, Army Radio reported. Shomron Regional Council head Gershon Mesika said structures that were destroyed would be rebuilt. “The nation of Israel elected a government that is supposed to care for the settlements and not destroy them, using hypocritical legalities as an excuse,” Mesika said. A senior defense official said earlier on Monday that the government does not intend to destroy any of the 26 outposts slated for evacuation. The official added that the evacuation will take place only after discussion with the settlers. Monday’s evacuation came after renewed calls by the United States for Israel to honor past commitments to remove the outposts. Defense Minister Ehud Barak, however, said last week that Israel was not bowing to US pressure in evacuating the sites. One of the caravans was moved into Elon Moreh during the evacuation, which took place without incident, according to Army Radio. Last week, the Civil Administration yesterday released the full list of West Bank outposts where occupants of some buildings will be told they will be considered illegal residents if they do not leave the site within three days of the order.



Hamas West Bank Cells Ordered to Launch Terror War on Abbas, Israel

June 2….(DEBKAfile Exclusive Report) DEBKAfile's military sources disclose that Sunday night, May 31, Hamas commanders in Damascus and Gaza ordered all West Bank cells to unleash a terrorist assault on the West Bank with bomb cars, roadside bombs, snipers and missiles. They were told to set their sights on all Palestinian Authority officials including Mahmoud Abbas as well as taking aim at Israeli cities north of Tel Aviv. Our sources quote the Hamas directive as saying: "From tonight, you must go into action without delay against every Palestinian/Israel target within reach, using all the resources prepared in recent months." The directive continues: "There are no limits on targets, the more senior, central and important, the better." Israel's homeland defense authority was notified of Hamas' declaration of war Sunday as it embarked on "Turning Point 3", Israel's largest civil defense exercise ever, designed to simulate simultaneous missile attacks from Iran, Syria, Hizballah from Lebanon and Hamas from the Gaza Strip. The new Hamas directive placed Sharon towns north of Tel Aviv squarely within its sights. A number of Qassam missiles are believed to be hidden in Palestinian towns in Samaria, northern West Bank.  Hamas leaders' decision to unleash violence was triggered by three events:

1. In 48 hours, the fundamentalist Palestinian terrorists lost two top West Bank leaders in battle. Friday morning, May 29, an Israeli Border Guard counter-terror unit shot dead its Hebron commander, Abdullah Majid Dudin, when he resisted arrest. Before dawn Sunday, May 31, a special Palestinian Authority unit killed Hamas' northern Samaria commander Muhammad Saman after a seven-hour shootout in Qalqilya. PA troops also detained 22 members.

Hamas leaders, convinced that Israeli and Palestinian security forces acted in conjunction to liquidate their top commanders, determined not to let this go unanswered.

2. They believe that the Palestinian Authority US-trained security force directed by Gen. Keith Dayton, is not up to much and a determined Hamas offensive would blow the Fatah-led force away on the West Bank as easily as its comrades were defeated in the Gaza Strip.

3. Hamas is worried by the way the US President Barack Obama and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas are cooperating, as their White House talks Thursday, May 28 indicated. Its leaders are also fiercely opposed to Obama's forthcoming address Thursday, June offering America's hand of peace to the Muslim world.

From their command centers in Damascus and the Gaza Strip, Hamas chiefs have concluded that the most effective way to scuttle the US president's Middle East projects and his diplomatic and financial backing for Abbas' Fatah-led administration in Ramallah is to set the West Bank on fire by a wholesale terror offensive against the Palestinian Authority and Israeli urban targets.



Abbas: ‘Obama Committed to Ejecting Jews From Judea-Samaria

June 1….(Arutz) Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas on Saturday told reporters in Cairo that he is convinced that US President Barack Obama is firmly committed to finally ejecting the Jews from Judea and Samaria. Abbas spoke to the press after briefing Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on his visit to the White House late last week, during which Obama apparently agreed with his guest that existing Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria must not even be allowed to experience “natural growth.” “When the American administration talks about Israel's duty to stop the settlements - including natural growth - it is a very important step,” noted Abbas. Following their meeting last Thursday, Obama said that he also told Abbas to make a bit more of an effort to halt what he described as isolated and sporadic anti-Jewish incitement in Palestinian schools, mosques and media. Documentation by Israeli and international watchdog groups shows that the incitement is far from isolated or sporadic. Meanwhile, Israeli officials cited by Ha’aretz decried the Obama Administration’s stiff demands that no more houses be built for Jews beyond the pre-1967 borders. They noted that under former President George W. Bush, Israel reached understandings that the natural growth of existing towns would not subject to Israel’s commitments to halt settlement activity (commitments many Israelis see as null and void anyway since the Palestinians have failed to honor their reciprocal obligations). But one official said those understandings are now “worth nothing,” and that the US is taking an unfair position by completely siding with Palestinian demands that go far beyond the original peace agreements.

Other officials attributed Obama’s hard line positions against Israel to his efforts to reconcile with the Arab and Muslim worlds, which will be the focus of a much anticipated speech he will give in Cairo this Thursday.



Obama Promises Arabs Jerusalem will Soon be Theirs

(Official: President said Palestinian state with holy city capital 'in American interest')

June 1….(WND) President Obama and his administration told Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas during a meeting last week the US foresees the creation of a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital, according to a top PA official speaking to WND. "The American administration was very friendly to the position of the PA," said Nimer Hamad, Abbas' senior political adviser. "Abu Mazen (Abbas) heard from Obama and his administration in a very categorical way that a Palestinian state with Jerusalem as its capital is in the American national and security interest," Hamad said. Another PA official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told WND today that Obama informed Abbas he would not let Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "get in the way" of normalizing US relations with the Arab and greater Muslim world. "We were told from this new administration they will not allow a Netanyahu government to hurt their efforts of rehabilitating US relations with the Arab and Islamic world, which is a high priority of Obama," the official said, speaking during a visit to Cairo. Also in Cairo today, Abbas met with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, where the Palestinian leader briefed Egypt's president on his recent trip to Washington, saying the US was committed to bringing about an end to Israeli construction in the West Bank. Hamad's comments about Jerusalem today come as controversy abounded regarding the US position on Israel's capital city. Last week, the State Department refuted a speech in which Netanyahu said Jerusalem never will be divided. "Jerusalem is Israel's capital," Netanyahu said at an event marking Jerusalem's reunification. "Jerusalem was always ours and will always be ours. It will never again be partitioned and divided." In response, the State Department released a statement that Jerusalem "is a final status issue." "Israel and the Palestinians have agreed to resolve its status during negotiations. We will support their efforts to reach agreements on all final status issues," the statement said.






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